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Comment Beta comment from an old-timer (Score 5, Insightful) 77

Obviously, I've been around the Internet and around here for a long time: started reading Chips & Dips and continued reading on a daily basis since then (overall, I don't think I missed a single story ever). I even (unknowingly) helped Rob with a Perl problem on comp.lang.perl when he was coding the original Slashdot (received a "Don't Fear the Penguins" T-Shirt when they made it into the big league - I still treasure it).

A couple of years ago, I switched to doing most of my reading on smartphones and tablets. One of the first apps I downloaded for my iPhone was the Slashdot app (I think it was branded by the then owners and included other sister sites) - it sucked though.

Anyway, I continued reading Slashdot daily through the RSS feeds and hardly ever logged on to the website itself. It wasn't just about the stories themselves - I got a lot of news and editorials from other tech sites as well (AllThingsDigital/Re-code, GigaOM sites etc). I loved reading the comments (trolls, shills etc included) and the RSS reader neatly provided the top 5 comments for each story which also enabled me then to drill through into parents, responses etc. Though I've always been more of a lurker, it is those comments that have made it a community that I've felt a part of for the past 17 years. I didn't mind crappy summaries, duplicate stories and other editorial failures - they were a part of Slashdot. About the only thing that I found annoying was the rampant islamophobia/xenophobia that developed over the past 10 years, supported by 1-2 editors, but it was mostly easy to ignore.

I've tried to support Slashdot whichever way I could. I clicked on ads on Slashdot when I wanted to buy something from those regular advertisers (Rackspace, ThinkGeek etc). I didn't even find Slashvertisments annoying as a lot of those introduced me to products and companies that I didn't know about - a good example was a video for Scottevest hoodies, which I've been buying regularly since.

I read some rumblings about Beta in the comments recently and didn't fail to notice :-) a torrent of them over the past week or two, so I decided to check out the Beta site.

The beta site is fundamentally broken! I appreciate where the defensive story yesterday came from and I know that a lot of actual technical bugs with the new site can and will be fixed. The problem though is that the idea behind the new site itself is broken, so whatever is being built is being built on wrong foundations (and feel free to replace "foundations" with "intentions", depending on your level of paranoia about Dice's ownership/plans). The commenting functionality very much feels like an add-on (and it is reflected in the UI design as well) - at which point you may as well just run a Wordpress blog with comments or a commercial web discussion plug-in. The commenting functionality needs to be the foundation that the rest of the Slashdot is built on, not the other way around.

Based on my own experience, I know how these things go and I know that these (and others') comments will be ignored because a lot of effort would have gone into the current Beta site already. Something reasonably functional will eventually emerge, after many iterations and after a lot of effort, but by that time, a lot of users will have been needlessly turned away.

Death by a thousand cuts is sad :-(


Submission + - Neil Armstrong on the Moon thanks to the secret Yu (

The Qube writes: A trailer on YouTube for a "docudrama", to be released in 2013, claims that the Apollo space program was based on the secret Yugoslav space program from 1950s and 60s that was "sold" to the United States by the Yugoslav President Tito in 1961. The program was allegedly based in a secret underground military facility, the Zeljava Air Base in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The claims have been widely covered by the blogs, including an interview with the Director, and the story has also been picked up by the Radio Free Europe.

Comment Re:Opt-out (Score 3, Informative) 212

Nice try, but this has nothing to do with the Australian Government.

Telstra and other ISPs are implementing a blacklist that is managed by Interpol.

The same system is in use by some ISPs in the UK and other European countries.

And as far as the list goes, it is actually very conservative in its definition of child pornography, only classifying sites depicting minors under 13, not under 18.

Submission + - IMDb refuses listing for a free BitTorrent film (

The Qube writes: An independent film producer from Australia, Enzo Tedeschi, said he tried five times since June to get his new film, The Tunnel, listed on the Internet Movie Database, But each time it has been rejected and Mr Tedeschi, who has had other films accepted, believes it is because he wants to distribute it for free through BitTorrent. In an article for Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Tedeschi says: "Some people think that by releasing our film legitimately on peer-to-peer networks that we are condoning piracy." Tedeschi said the production team is raising money to give away the film for free by selling single frames from the movie at $1 each online.

Comment Re:deal with the devil (Score 1) 252

You think Google would have been better? Yeah right... So, (b) is out of the question.

Yes, (a) is the way to go (whatever the platform). It's not just a problem with this situation, but the fact that unless you have a massively successful app (and those are rare), it's very difficult to recover your costs by selling to consumers.

Comment Re:this book can't be a complete set (Score 1) 252

They've left themselves open to litigation regardless, especially by failing to communicate to the DMCA Counter Notification letter. Based on the legal advice, I would definitely win the case against both the Apple and the the other party, but, the cost of the litigation would be more than my current losses (unless massive punitive damages were awarded). So, live and let live...

Comment Re:this book can't be a complete set (Score 3, Insightful) 252

It's not about being democratic or not. I can look at it from their point of view - they probably received legal threats from the other party and they went down the path of least resistance - it was easier to pull my app then to argue about it.

It's about communication. They are marketing themselves as being developer friendly etc, but don't actually look after the developers or even communicate with them.

Comment Re:this book can't be a complete set (Score 5, Informative) 252

I have no problem with "just cause" if there are avenues for communication and appeal. However...

My app was kicked out of the App Store after 12 months. It was the best app for cricket scores out there - #1 app in almost all cricket-playing countries, great online and offline reviews, featured by Apple several times etc. All of the scores etc for it were obtained from legal sources. However, the developers for the official app of the Indian Premier League (sort-of international cricket competition in March/April every year) complained to Apple that my app infringed on their exclusive rights to provide information on IPL matches and, after a bit of back-and-forth arguments between myself and them, Apple pulled the app.

Now, it's not the fact that they pulled it without "just cause" that upset me, but that they refused to comment and communicate about it in any way. I repeatedly sent emails to various official (and unofficial) contacts at Apple to seek clarification, complain and get the app re-instated, but not a peep from anyone. I even sent an official DMCA Counter Notification and not a single response on that either.

After no word from anyone for a long while, I had to close the service even for existing users who already had the app on their iPhones 'cos I couldn't afford to keep paying for the match data feeds with no revenues. Apple's decision has cost me thousands of dollars, but again, what really upsets me is the total lack of professionalism and common courtesy that they have displayed in this.

Comment Re:Astroturf... (Score 5, Interesting) 217

You only have to do that if you have a low-quality product. My app, Virtual Cricket, competes in a reasonably crowded segment (cricket scores, push alerts etc) and competes against some pretty heavy competition (ESPN, BSkyB etc).

However, I have a quality product and it was recognised as such by Apple who selected the app as the featured app in the App Store. This did more for my sales than spamming online forums etc.

Lesson: quality wins in the end.

Comment Re:Frustrating For Developers (Score 1) 149

To your first point, that's the mistake I made as well. The trick (as I discovered later) is, when you first release your app, to put the release date well in advance (say a month). When the app is approved, you can then change the release date to "tomorrow" and it will then show up at the top of the "New Releases" when the time comes.

You can apparently also do this after the app has been released, but I haven't tried it.

Regarding your second point - yes, it is very hard for small entries to be noticed. My app, Virtual Cricket, competes with the apps of big names such as ESPN, BSkyB, English Cricket Board etc. I believe (very objectively, of course) that my app (cricket scores, commentary, news etc) is better than all of them, but I don't have the resources of a big website to throw behind the marketing nor the brand that catches users' attention.

But you just need to persevere, try to market the app in as many ways as you can with the limited resources that you have and hope that users will notice the quality of your work and that the cream will rise to the top (eventually).

Comment Re:approval process blues - developers causing it! (Score 1) 149

Yes, I noticed the weather example - the developer was trying to spam the "New Releases" section of the App Store. But the approval process is somewhat random. For my app, Virtual Cricket (cricket scores), it sometimes takes just 3 days to get an approval for a new version and sometimes almost two weeks. It is extremely frustrating.

Comment Re:Great. Just amazing. (Score 4, Informative) 226

> One of those is 121 (or maybe it was 211)

You're thinking of 112. That is a standard emergency number for GSM mobile networks. Anywhere in the world, if you dial that number on a GSM mobile phone, you will be connected to the local emergency service. Also, mobile phones recognise that number as the emergency number and will automatically route the call through any available GSM network (even if your own mobile network is out of coverage). Also, the calls are obviously not charged, can be made when you don't have any credit left on your pre-paid account and can even be made if there's no SIM card in the phone.

Comment Re:Positive? (Score 1) 148

> more ways to nickel-and-dime gamers to death

This is not just about gamers. Yes, I'm sure that there will be games that will take advantage of this by selling more levels etc as well as having some dress-my-pet-toy type of games which will be completely over the top.
However, this is really about enabling serious developers to recover more money from the investments they made to develop serious apps with serious content. In my own case - sports apps that have premium quality commentary and live scores. I can't afford the costs for the existing professional data content in my app with just regular sales, let alone to add all of the other features I want to add to it (eg. video highlights, notifications/alerts, fantasy cricket etc). In-app purchasing will allow more serious users to have access to premium content - same as the real world.
By the way, my app is Virtual Cricket - yes, a completely shameless plug, but it's on topic at least :-)

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