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Nullsoft: The death of the last maverick tech company (2004) (slate.com)
302 points by diggan on Feb 5, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 168 comments

Despite the "change the world.. break the rules, etc." rhetoric, Silicon Valley couldn't be more different today.

I find it hard to imagine a Google employee releasing an ad blocker[0], or Popcorn Time raising a Series A round, or startups shipping crypto that breaks the law, or a startup selling offensive security software (there's a reason that business has been pushed overseas)

Today, startups that push the boundaries on bad laws and regulations are more likely to be roundly criticized than praised.

DMCA notices are automatically complied with without question via automated systems. The tech companies have become the media companies. Founders in file sharing or media make a point in investment pitches that they'll be conformist. YouTube's ContentID system means thousands of legal satire and parody videos are removed every day.

Not to mention whatever is/was happening between SV and the intelligence agencies.

It's pretty hard today to find projects or communities that have similar levels of energy and disregard for rules. When you do find them it's no coincidence that they're usually on the periphery of what SV touches.

[0] Brian Kennish quit Google and released Disconnect, a privacy plugin for browsers.

I often read stuff like that. "Now you couldn't do it like they did it before".

"You wouldn't be able to get away with the same jokes today."


"You wouldn't be able to publish the same story today."

I agree that time changes, but this is discarding the merits of those who did it then.

Believe it or not, at that time it was not easy either. The people that did it had huge balls.

Geeks were considered less that nothing by society. The working world didn't trust them, believe in them or value them. They were basically rejected, as something annoying you had to have somewhere in your closet. My father actually told me in 2003 that he was disappointed I choose to work in such a boring field.

Technology didn't exist. You couldn't google your way out of anything like today (now if you google, SO answer everything!). Networks and computer where slow and expensive (we now got unmetered VPS for 3€/month, come on!). Less libraries, less frameworks, no crazy powerful API (can you believe making uber before google map ?) and no proof whatsoever that what you wanted to do was achievable.

The market was unproven (the 2000 bubble killed so much). We had no experience in it. Not tools to recruit, sell, build...

It's was not easier to do anything. The constraints were just different.

The constraints of tomorrow will be also different.

Let's not use the change as an excuse.

Doing something that matters is ALWAYS HARD.

"Geeks were considered less that nothing by society. The working world didn't trust them, believe in them or value them. They were basically rejected, as something annoying you had to have somewhere in your closet. My father actually told me in 2003 that he was disappointed I choose to work in such a boring field."

Exaggerating a bit? By a bit I mean a lot? I know that some geeks had hard childhood and were bullied, but way more others were not. Plenty of fathers were disappointed over children choosing various professions.

The way you people talk about it makes it sound as if all people who ever went into tech were bullied outcasts and that is simply not true.

I'm not exaggerating by one bit.

At best you had an "ok" situation. Nothing like the "rock star" attitude you get today.

Not only geeks where the less popular in school, but the media mocked them. And this snowballed into the workplace where the only people threated like the IT department was the accounting one.

The pay was not nearly in the same area. Nobody would consider buying a dual screen for their IT dev a minimum requirement.

I can recall people dreading to call the sysadmin to deal with anything. Talking to them was considered a chore.

The best way to defend this is that before the ipod existed, noone would ever say "I'm such a geek". Today somebody playing too much on iphone would say that. We call girls with cute glasses "geeks".

"At best you had an "ok" situation. Nothing like the "rock star" attitude you get today."

Not being rock star is not an oppression. The ok treatment is what majority of people have. I mean, not being treated as something super special is not "considered less that nothing by society". It is being considered normal.

"And this snowballed into the workplace where the only people threated like the IT department was the accounting one."

There is nothing wrong with the accounting department. In pretty much all workplaces I have been at, they have been treated with respect. In any case, if that workplace treated accountants badly too, the workplace was shitty for more then one group.

"I can recall people dreading to call the sysadmin to deal with anything. Talking to them was considered a chore."

I have seen such behavior towards admin, but then again I did not liked talking with that particular admin either. I dont doubt that there were groups of great admins that were not treated fairly despite acting all polite and all that. Bad workplaces happen.

However, admin I considered chore to talk with was condescending too often and it was hard to get what I needed from him. He was good in tech, but talking with him was a chore.

"The best way to defend this is that before the ipod existed, noone would ever say "I'm such a geek"."

Yeah, I find everybody is a geek culture annoying too.

"We call girls with cute glasses "geeks"."

Guys with pretty much zero technical skills used to be called geeks just for liking a tv show or play videogame.

Regarding the IT department thing:

From my first job to my current one, I always made sure I was in good stead with the IT department (whatever its size) - it was where I could get cast-off hardware for my computer junk pile!

This is an interesting tidbit regarding pay. I have a feeling (no data) that the compensation for lots of professions mostly gravitate around some value that is connected to the perceived social status of said profession. Supply and Demand often really doesn't factor in as much as it should. But maybe it's just because compensation in Germany is weird in general.

it's because salaries aren't public. if you had public salaries you'd see a huge quick readjustment.

> The pay was not nearly in the same area.

Because the dot-com bubble had recently burst...

Seems to me he is mixing geeks and nerds.

The impression i have is that the geek label came into effect during the dot-com era as a way to be a web guy without the "no social graces" stigma.

These days you get geeks appropriating nerd elements as a element of their self promotion, resulting in hipsters...

Nerds is what we call today the people we called geeks yesterday.

To be honest, the difference between geeks and nerds is so regional that it's hardly ever worth trying to explain the distinction. I always found it interesting that the difference between the two words could change so radically depending on where you are, considering most of the west got the same movies and TV shows.

And yet back then we built the entire infrastructure of the internet and connected the world. Now we use it for Snapchat.

I'm not just being nostalgic. Before quick money ruled over all a lot more actually beneficial innovation took place. Now that the Balkanization is in full swing and the battle lines are drawn we've regressed: realtime chat is fragmented, non-corporate online entities are sidelined everywhere and any attempt at widespread integration and change goes crashing headlong into shortsighted gold rushes. Why do something that works for everyone? You can't monetize that. You can't fight Facebook with that. You can't impress your financial suitors with that.

We could do so much more than we're doing today - and we did. The most painful part of being embedded in Silicon Valley this long is seeing so much potential and momentum sacrificed on the altar of shit like G+.

How is Snapchat not something that connects the world?

Saying that Snapchat connects the world in the sense of GPwould be the same that saying that "AOL discs connect the world", or that "MSN is already web portal that connects the world". You really don't see the difference?

I don't think that you and nikcub necessarily disagree. I read his comment more as "technologists today tend to/are forced to conform more to the expectations of society/powerful instutitions" than a comment about everything being easier before.

> Geeks were considered less that nothing by society.

Please shitcan the hyperbole and grow some perspective. Until geeks are systematically denied fundamental civil rights, until their very lives are routinely under threat because of who they are, they have nothing on the average gay person, let alone the average Muslim, black, or transsexual person.

By the standards of society, most geeks enjoy very privileged lives indeed. They just lack the social wherewithal to play by society's rules.

Well, the sort of irreverent crackpottery that made up life in the first dot com boom doesn't really fly right now.

If you've read the "Life in the Boy's Dorm" series by Nancy Hauge, the power dynamic was very different then. Sun's engineers refused to stop smoking pot for the visit of the President (or Vice President, I don't remember which) of the United States. They promptly put on a protest against The Man when asked to cut out the potheadery. Completely unreasonable, and downright hilarious in their adherence to their principles, as illegal as that may be. That's not an engineering thing but it's emblematic of the wild seat-of-your-pants approach that characterized the Gold Rush years.

It was inevitable it wouldn't last, though. The market learned to harness this unbridled power and direct it along the appropriate channels. And that combined with a greater spread of information means that non-standard actions will meet the weight of the community.

Sun's cannabis-powered engineers unwilling to give up their fuel source weren't a well known thing and that may have helped. The thing with "break the rules" mode is that everyone wants you to follow the rules. If everyone knows you're willfully breaking the rules (often just for the sake of it) you will be hammered down. The justifications come afterward, and they're always easily accessible. After all, you _are_ breaking the rules. The broader the reach of news, the more conformist the reported must be if they are to get away with their actions.

Cormack and Romero ghost shifted on computers at their daytime employer. Philippe Kahn started Borland while illegally in the United States. How much of this would you tolerate? Probably little. Probably neither of those actions.

>Cormack and Romero ghost shifted on computers at their daytime employer. Philippe Kahn started Borland while illegally in the United States. How much of this would you tolerate? Probably little. Probably neither of those actions.

Definitely fine with both those. And had that happen at a less exciting circumstances but they were comparible. I like to cultivate people that take stands and believe in something instead of berate them. As I know the latter will only end up in those people doing it anyway but then in secret.

Yes, yes, of course there are individuals who would support that. But not everyone will, and given the breadth of exposure, those who don't will find out and they'll expend significant effort to drag violators down.

> Cormack and Romero ghost shifted on computers at their daytime employer

That's a very timely example given the Oculus lawsuit verdict...

There is pushing the boundary on regulation as a political act and there is pushing the boundary so that you gain competitive advantage over companies that follow the law.

There is element of idealism in pushing for open crypto which is simply missing from what (for example) Uber is doing. Uber behavior is closer to what Microsoft used to be doing (not in power, just in ethical considerations) then to what crypto pushing projects were doing.

"Not to mention whatever is/was happening between SV and the intelligence agencies. It's pretty hard today to find projects or communities that have similar levels of energy and disregard for rules."

What is happening between SV and the intelligence agencies is oftentimes disregard of the rules. The only difference is that their disregard for rules does not benefit you - but lawbreaking being done for benefit of random strangers is rather exceptional thing.

Well you might be forgetting about Uber and AirBnB disregarding laws in their operations.

that's who I was referring to - they get criticized

it's pretty hard to be innovative and not be illegal somewhere. Difference is many today see being illegal in China, Turkey, Iran, or wherever as a good thing while being illegal or borderline illegal in the USA is a bad thing

The USA has regulatory capture that is just as bad as ideological or dogmatic religious capture is in those other nations. It just happens that the largest markets with monopolies or cartels that are super profitable and ripe for tech disruption also usually/sometimes also markets that have built a moat via government regulation.

I think the criticism lobbied against AirBnB and Uber is for a reason, and the reason isn't the same "up-yours" attitude of past maverick tech companies. It's a little easier to buy the maverick attitude of something like gnutella when the author isn't getting close to billion dollar revenue yearly. It may seem a little strange, but the ethos is a bit easier to believe when you stay outside the system and benefit everyone instead of just looking out for yourself alone.

The reason Uber and AirBnB are the subject of scrutiny is simply because the difference between them and any other business is non-discernable except that they have the money to stall out legal issues. Just from a "feel" perspective, they don't really feel like they're fighting the fight for everyone, they're just trying to line their pockets. There's a world of difference between what they do (offer a service at cost) to something like bit torrent or gnutella.

I can't really say where or what the limit is on something like this, when a software maverick stops being a maverick and starts playing the game, but admittedly I haven't really carefully analyzed it beyond just "here's why I see a difference". Uber and AirBnB (and quite frankly, many other SV start ups) don't really have that hacker feel to them like we'd see with older projects - instead it feels much more like they're rooted in business and business alone.

Making a billion dollars a year revenue is pretty much the definition of "benefiting everyone", except when you're a part of regulatory capture (which AirBnB and Uber are not... yet).

> Making a billion dollars a year revenue is pretty much the definition of "benefiting everyone",

No, no it is not. One party making lots of money is not the same as something benefitting everyone.

Companies ignoring environmental regulations could make more money, but it wouldn't benefit everyone, as an example.

Before even talking about externalities like the environment it's worth noting that revenue isn't profit. So who benefits from revenue depends on profit margins.

If a startup disrupts a high margin industry, especially if that industry is also inefficient (which often goes together) and replaces it with a more efficient lower margin business model, then consumers will benefit.

If a startup disrupts an industry by finding loopholes in government regulations, the question of who benefits is much more complicated. I do believe that finding loopholes or even breaking the law to some degree is a necessary part of the democratic process. It's also unavoidable given the global nature of some businesses.

But whether or not regulatory arbitrage benefits anyone other than founders and investors very much depends on the specific business model and local circumstances. It's extremely complicated and varied. Finding out what all the effects are will probably produce a couple of nobel laureates in economics.

>If a startup disrupts a high margin industry, especially if that industry is also inefficient (which often goes together) and replaces it with a more efficient lower margin business model, then consumers will benefit.

If before you had independent smaller businesses or individuals, and now all that has been captured by a single company, then a job has just gone down the drain, and the road is open for monopoly.

That is always a danger. But I think history has shown that monopolies or oligopolies are often less stable than they appear.

The assumption, beginning with Marx I think, was that monopolies have a self reinforcing element. That's true, but there is also a self defeating element. The more a monopoly absuses its power, the more complacent it becomes and the greater the incentive to disrupt it.

The problem is that governments sometimes collude with monopolists instead of making sure that markets are actually functioning as they should.

I'm not sure I follow.

I didn't explain my point well now that I've re-read it but the idea is more than the early maverick hacker projects felt more like just a project, something that was made to make sure everyone's lives got better. Uber, AirBnB, et. al., were business from the beginning. Their interests look to be making money, not providing a service or making it better. The focus isn't on making transportation or hospitality better, it's about controlling a market with their system and earning a profit. Motive matters, and it just doesn't strike that they are really benefitting anyone but themselves.

This isn't saying their services can't be useful - heck, I have an AirBnB reservation for my holiday the next 3 weeks. But I also don't doubt that if AirBnB would change their service in an instant if it suited them. They're only doing hospitality because there's money in it. That's not really the same spirit and it's not really with our benefit in mind, it's with our wallets in mind.

> I'm not sure I follow.

So, thinking out loud... a billion dollars at $10 a ride, so lots of transactions, lots of customers. Theory says a transaction will only happen if both sides feel they will profit, so lots of people must have benefited, right?

But no, because you were talking about the total benefit, not total number of people who benefit.

Trivially, if the customers got a ride plus a share of a billion dollars, they'd be better off than if they just got the ride. More benefit would be delivered to customers if Uber had zero revenue, so using a massive revenue figure as a measure of value delivered to customers is meaningless.

But, the guy might still be on to something, since Uber benefiting lots of people only a little may still be more total benefit than some free software that hardly anyone uses, he just needs to back that idea up with something more substantial.

Uber and AirBnB made a billion dollars by having a lot of satisfied customers. Being satisfied is a benefit. In other words, they benefited a lot of people.

The fact that I have to explain this makes me wonder...

> Making a billion dollars a year revenue is pretty much the definition of "benefiting everyone"

This is by far the strangest thing I've ever heard.

How do you think revenue is generated? People give you money because they rather have your good/service than the money. Selling something to someone is benefitting them.

> Selling something to someone is benefitting them.

This is so myopically capitalist. It's like the argument for the free market distilled into a single sentence.

People would not just rather have the good or service than the money; people have no use for money. Money isn't a real thing. It's an artificial construct designed to allow us to exchange goods and services freely and to avoid loss.

Exchanging money has nothing to do with a benefit for the consumer. It is simply an exchange. There is no law of nature that says all exchange is fair, or a benefit. Quite often, the buyers are at a disadvantage. The entire idea of providing for a "need" precludes that someone can be taken advantage of.

If you sell me cancer drugs at $800 a bottle, it benefits me in that my cancer is staved off for a month. But then I have no more money, and can't buy the drugs, and die. Who did it really benefit?

>Exchanging money has nothing to do with a benefit for the consumer. It is simply an exchange.

Why are you making the exchange if it doesn't benefit you?

>There is no law of nature that says all exchange is fair, or a benefit.

Fair has nothing to do with anything. I never used that word. Don't put it in to my mouth.

Sure there's no law that says an exchange has to be beneficial to you. Do what you want. But most people choose their actions based on self interest and make trades that are beneficial to them.

>if you sell me cancer drugs at $800 a bottle, it benefits me in that my cancer is staved off for a month. But then I have no more money, and can't buy the drugs, and die. Who did it really benefit?

You benefited by a month of life. How is that not incredibly obvious?

... And then died due to the loss of money from the transaction. A transaction with a short term benefit that results in long term disaster is not really a benefit. It's like being sold slow poison.

A benefit is a profit or an advantage. People often have no choice in what they buy, or are forced to buy something. Like with the cancer drugs, if their only other option is to die, it really isn't a choice.

People can also be sold things that are bad for them that they need, like heroin. Buying heroin is not a benefit. Then there's buying things that are more unintentionally harmful, like blankets full of smallpox sold to American Indians, or overpriced half-faulty weapons sold to resistance fighters. Sometimes nations are forced to buy and sell goods at an inflated price only to later be accused of not supporting local goods more for political gain, making their transactions only beneficial to the banks that hold their money or the multinational corporations that provide the goods and services in the first place. At the far end, a grocer paying protection money to gangsters results in losing money, but no benefit.

In the real world, people do things for a variety of reasons, and not always good ones. I believe your argument is a facile generalization that completely ignores the reality of trade.

>... And then died due to the loss of money from the transaction. A transaction with a short term benefit that results in long term disaster is not really a benefit. It's like being sold slow poison.

Extending their life by a month doesn't result in the long term disaster though. They already have cancer. I don't follow extending life = slow poison at all.

>People often have no choice. Like with the cancer drugs, if their only other option is to die, it really isn't a choice.

So the benefit to performing the trade is so great that they wouldn't even consider not making it is somehow an argument against the trade being a benefit?

The rest of your argument appears to just boil down to "there are exceptions". Cool, checkmate on that one. You found exceptions. Bravo.

I look at plenty of companies that make billions of dollars yet benefits very few.

Do you have any examples where they did that purely on the market, without benefiting from regulatory capture?

Typical 'vice' companies? Gambling and cigarettes, oil? 'Big Pharma'? Does heath insurance count as 'regulatory capture'?

Gambling and cigarettes - lots of satisfied customers.

Big pharma - regulatory capture. Health insurance - mostly regulatory capture in the US.

If millions of people want to pay you money, you bet you're benefiting someone. Or else they wouldn't pay.

Wikipedia benefits just about everybody with an internet connection and they sure don't make a billion dollars a year. The same could be said of open source devs who contribute to core projects running our internet.

You're talking about the opposite of what I said. My implication was

1 billion USD revenue => benefiting everybody

Yours is

Benefiting everybody => 1 billion USD revenue

I stand by the first but not by the second.

You said: "A is the definition of B"

I said: "Here are some Bs that are not A"

If you had said the definition of a kangaroo was "a big marsupial from Australia" and I pointed out many kangroos that weren't actually big marsupials from Australia, It would suggest that the definition was flawed.

> You said: "A is the definition of B" > I said: "Here are some Bs that are not A"

Yes, and I pointed out that the two are unrelated.

> If you had said the definition of a kangaroo was "a big marsupial from Australia" and I pointed out many kangroos that weren't actually big marsupials from Australia, It would suggest that the definition was flawed.

If I had said that the definition of an A (kangaroo) is a B (big marsupial), and you pointed out that many As (kangaroos) aren't Bs (big marsupials), I would have been proven wrong.

However, I said A (companies making a billion dollars in revenue) implies B (they benefit a lot of people) and you pointed out some Bs (companies benefiting everyone) that aren't As (companies making a billion dollars in revenue), which is irrelevant.

This is basic logic, I learned it in fifth grade. A => B is not a commutative operation.

Because that money are spread around to people?

Old companies needed 1000s of workers to make that money, so money were indeed somewhat distributed.

Automation and computing means a company can make that with 50-100 people even, and huge profit margins on that billion dollars.

And then with the right schemes, you can also avoid paying taxes.

> Making a billion dollars a year revenue is pretty much the definition of "benefiting everyone"

Is this satire?


>that's who I was referring to - they get criticized

Well, it's not like breaking laws is enough to make you both disruptive AND a good guy.

One, like Uber, can break laws and be a petty, exploiting, company.

your statement is very powerful, but I think the sentiment that you describe - "projects that disregard the rules" and "push the boundaries on bad laws" could apply to Uber and AirBnB?

Also, projects like Plex, Kodi, Radarr, CouchPotato, - these projects still exist. They're not companies, like Nullsoft was, but they are definitely projects!

The late 90's was a wild time in MP3-land. Does anyone else remember:

1) Sonique vs. Winamp vs NAD debates? 2) The vqf audio format? 3) One of the big "hubs" was DimensionMusic (DMusic). Whatever happened to them?

It's easy to identify the successful companies 20 years hence, but the graveyard is littered with bodies.

holy shit i remember NAD. i didn't remember that it was something other than a hifi audio electronics manufacturer until you just mentioned it in the same breath as winamp/sonique. talk about memories...

Glad to see Sonique being remembered by someone other than myself!

> Today, startups that push the boundaries on bad laws and regulations are more likely to be roundly criticized than praised.

Perhaps those companies should move to countries with less strict rules then, perhaps in Asia. For example, I know that many biotech companies are looking for Singapore because of less strict ethical rules. In the field of stem-cell research, see e.g. [1].

Another option is Mexico.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2744936/

Was it ever like thag though? Considering the origins of SV are with military and intelligence requirements, you'd expect a bit of an 'oversight'.

Thankfully we now have a vibrant open source community to take the burden of pioneering, no startups necessary

To be fair, there are plenty of companies that are still irreverent of rules and laws. Zenefits and Theranos are the obvious bad boys. Arguably AirBNB and Uber in their early days were just as bad too. It does seem like society, and the law, comes down much harder on startups these days, ever since the tech industry went from being the underdog to the 800 pound gorilla.

For what it's worth, Justin Frankel continues to produce great software. He founded Cockos Incorporated, which produces REAPER; I think it's pretty widely accepted in the audio recording community that REAPER is the best value in the multitrack recording DAW market, and among the best overall tools for the purpose.

He's obviously wealthy enough to never need to work again. It's clear Frankel just loves music, and wants to make meaningful contributions in the field. So, I think that's pretty cool. (I've also been a very happy REAPER user/customer for many years.)

Also, don't forget Licecap, one of the easiest to use and most consistent cross-platform gif-screen-capture tools:


I said a very audible "holy shit, this is that guy?" when the link to jesussonic took me to Cockos.

Wow I didn't know he made licecap as well. As far as gif recordings go, it really whips the llamas ass!

Licecap definitely changed how I worked. If you want the rest of your frontend development team to think you're a god, include licecap or other gifs of features/bugfixes on code reviews. It's a thing most developers don't even think of doing (at least most didn't in my experience). Makes it easy for stake holders (if they're allowed near your code reviews/tickets/whatever), devs, qa, to easily see how functionality has changed.

I first learned of it from a young QA at a company I previously worked at, and I am so grateful I met him and was able to learn from him.

I'd like to give an honorable mention to Debugmode Wink [0] which for a long time was my go-to freeware application for recording and presenting screen-activity on Windows.

[0] http://www.debugmode.com/wink/

If you want the rest of your frontend development team to think you're a god, include licecap or other gifs of features/bugfixes on code reviews

But if you do, for the love of God make it as short as possible. When I'm browsing through the tickets using some stock web browser, and the anigif runs for five minutes before reaching the point, it is such a pain to have to grab the gif and either dig out a tool than can track through an anigif, or have to cast it into some other format and then track through that. Then, I'm stuck either doing that every time, or attaching another file to the ticket; the same animation, but in a format that we can track through so I don't have to watch the entire five minutes.

At one point licecap stopped working for me (MPB, using an external screen). The Giphy capture tool is also a good one. I wholeheartedly agree that including screenshots are a great way to show things :)

Yeah, I had a periodic issue with new installs (or would see colleagues have this problem): you'd record something but the gif would be all black. I think there was a fix but I've long forgotten :)

Is there a Licecap equivalent for Android mobile?

cinst licecap

I agree, REAPER is very highly regarded in music production circles.

Anecdotically, I have been producing electronic music as a hobby for many years now, and while I own much more expensive programs (e.g. Ableton Live Suite which cost a staggering AU $999) I find REAPER to be an extremely enjoyable piece of software and I have found myself using it often.

I wouldn't really consider it a competitor to Ableton Live, though there's some overlap. But, as a competitor to Pro Tools, it's hard for me to think of anything even in the same ball park as REAPER (and REAPER costs a fraction of what Pro Tools costs, as well). I use FL Studio or Renoise for the stuff that people use Ableton for; but, REAPER blows them all away for recording live musicians and then mixing the resulting tracks.

The term "DAW" has too many uses, and it can be confusing. REAPER is a Pro Tools competitor (and a good one). Ableton can be used for multitrack recording of live musicians, but I don't know of any studios that use it for that, unless their focus is on electronic production with some live music added on top. And, REAPER can be used for electronic productions and loop-based composition and live performance (and there's even a UI for REAPER that makes it act more like Ableton), but it's not its raison d'être.

If you're composing and performing predominantly electronic music in-the-box, then Ableton or others might be a better choice. But, if you're recording live musicians, REAPER is amazing. There can be some useful interoperation between them, as well. Live can plug into REAPER, so you can sync up your Live performance with your REAPER tracks, and produce a hybrid work. REAPER may be stronger for mastering, as well, depending on how you like to work.

Traditional recording engineers, who learned in a studio with tape and hardware mixers and patch bays, will be quickly comfortable with REAPER. The same can not be said of Ableton Live (or FL Studio, etc.). But, musicians who grew up on synths, sequencers and beat machines with sequencers (like 303, 808, etc.), may find the Ableton approach more intuitive. Both are high quality tools doing a very good job in their niche. REAPER just happens to be so good at such a low price that it stands out as exceptional and worth praise, IMHO.

I'd argue that REAPER is the Vim or Emacs of DAWs. There's a steep learning curve, getting the best out of it requires a lot of memorisation and customisation, but nothing matches its speed and power in the hands of an expert.

I disagree with that assessment, as well. It's extremely easy to use, if you've worked in a physical recording studio, or if you've used Pro Tools (or any other traditional multitrack recording DAWs). You don't need to know the hotkeys, but if you do, you'll work faster. You don't need to customize it, but it's very customizable.

But, it isn't obscure. The GUI is clear and simple and well-documented. And, I didn't find the learning curve steep at all; it was almost instant. I mean, I literally don't remember a period of "learning to use REAPER", I only remember starting to use it, and having it Just Work. I went to school for audio recording, and have worked off and on professionally as an engineer, so I suppose that may have shortened the learning process. Which is why I say it's a tool for engineers who want to work with a traditional recording studio environment. REAPER is exactly that. If REAPER has a learning curve, it is merely the process of learning how to record in a multitrack studio workflow.

The REAPER user guide runs to 468 pages and barely scratches the surface. REAPER shines because it's massively customisable through ReaScript, JSFX and custom actions. A lot of essential functionality isn't developed by Cockos, but is part of external extensions - you'll need SWS installed for bread-and-butter stuff like r128 normalization, track notes and groove quantize.

REAPER is much more limited than Pro Tools or Nuendo out of the box, but it's vastly more powerful overall. You can use REAPER without learning it, but you'll miss out on most of what it has to offer.

That may speak more to what you're doing with it. I've never needed extensive customization or extensions to do what I needed to do in REAPER, and I've been using it for many years (maybe since the beginning...I bought it very early on, and while I kept alternatives around for a few years, it rapidly rose to the top).

But, again, I use other tools for my MIDI sequencing and composition tasks. The MIDI and sequencing and loop-based composition side of REAPER is weak. But, the multitrack recording capability is quite strong, IMHO, and very easy to use. Maybe with extensions and going deep on scripting and such you can make it work well for those other tasks, and perhaps that's where our communication is breaking down. For me, REAPER is a super reliable, super fast and efficient, multitrack recording DAW that works exactly the way I expect a multitrack to work. I rarely need docs, I rarely need to fumble around looking for what I want to do.

I did note, in the distant past, that REAPER wasn't really competitive with Pro Tools for broadcast and film production work. While it had SMPTE sync, it was missing some other stuff...that I can't remember now. I guess R128 fits into that category of film/broadcast stuff that REAPER doesn't do well. It's cool that there's a set of extensions that covers some of that. But, by the time you're doing advanced stuff like that, it's always gonna require scaling a learning curve, right? I mean, Pro Tools isn't easy to use for advanced stuff (or for any stuff, really...I find Pro Tools somewhat unintuitive, when I haven't used it in a few years and sit down to poke at it again).

But, the comparison to vim or emacs only seems apt once you're doing hard things with it. I stand by my assertion that for the simple stuff, REAPER is very easy to use.

Thanks for bringing SMS to my attention! Looks cool.

I agree with this assessment as well. REAPER totally has the power of vim or emacs, but when I started out and knew almost nothing about multitrack recording, I stuck with REAPER because its defaults were so easy and I didn't feel handicapped. The UI is so logically laid out and it really helped me understand routing and signal path in a way I didn't before, when I was trying to use other DAW's with less success.

Yes, I agree that REAPER and Ableton are very different types of DAWs. In fact, that's the very reason why I use REAPER (it complements Live) while at the same time I don't use, for example, Bitwig (although I would like to give it a shot in the future).

I was just stating that REAPER's software quality, as I perceive it, is as high as much more expensive DAWs; I mentioned Live Suite as a comparison, purely because is the most expensive piece of music software that I own.

He was a regular in #c on IRC back in the 90s. Pleasant, fun guy. I kind of miss those days.

Me too, back then, programming was more about having fun and less about striking it rich building walled garden commercial software that tricks more people into clicking on ads.

He used to come on #winprog - I think Winamp was his first windows app, he was always asking about GUI elements how he was planning on making it skinnable. Everyone was trading mp3's and I couldn't figure out why you would want to spend 15 minutes downloading a song...

I don't know if this is how Winamp was meant to be used (I suspect it wasn't) but its default behaviour from its launch - with all of your music in a big giant list which you could muddle around, and a randomize play-order button - almost invited me to explore music in a way that I haven't seen since. It seems like ever since then the UIs try their best to force you to dig down into a specific album. If a track's id3 tags are incorrect then they're effectively lost in that UI because you don't know where to look for them.

Yeah you can randomize play in iTunes or Zune, but you have to make arbitrary playlists explicitly. You can drag tracks around in VLC but the UI isn't helpful.

I would say I knew 90% of the songs in my music collection then and probably know 10% now despite it being about the same size, purely because of a few 'helpful' UI constraints.

People sort of suggest that music changed when MP3s and Napster bloomed, but the 'end of an era' in my mind, the time when my experience of music definitely changed, is when I was obligated to stop using Winamp and start using iTunes etc in the mid 2000s.

A master playlist of all songs in your library exists in iTunes (and as far as I know, always has).

I used WinAmp the same way you did, one big list of everything I had. I use iTunes the same way. I only create playlists to transfer music to my phone because it can't hold the whole library.

What a glorious time it was with that master playlist and the excellent keyboard shortcuts. I used to put it on shuffle and play a game where I'd press Next and then Pause immediately and try to impress friends by knowing what song it was within the first half-second.

You could also just conjure up any song with the "J" keyboard shortcut that would search the entire path as well as the ID3 tags. It was so good that one weekend night in high-school, my friend and I decided to put an old desktop in the back of my Jeep on foam and power it with an inverter. We ran aux wires to the stereo and I literally just had a full-on keyboard that I could pull up while driving and get any song in my library with a few slaps of one hand without looking down even once (I knew one-handed typing skills would be useful someday). (I even tried voice command with Dragon Naturally Speaking but it only worked when the engine was off.) To this day, I haven't had such an agile interface to my music. I just use a phone now but it has a fraction of my old library and searching for things while driving is dangerous, illegal, slow, and miserable.

Ha wow, now that's dedication.

At least now your car can have bluetooth and Siri integration...which lets you play music from Spotify...when you have reception...or tracks from your $500 16gb iPhone which can store a few albums...ugh.

You could probably re-make that project pretty handy these days, with Raspberry Pi's and hard-drives being cheap and so on

If you reencode to lower bitrates you can likely store just as much on the iPhone as you did in the winamp days; when I was using winamp, I bought the largest drive I could afford for video encoding; it was 6GB.

Good point. 128kbps was more than enough for me in those days. 160 was hedonistic.

Half my original MP3 collection was 96kbps 128kbps was "high quality".

I actually use Foobar2000 mostly in "All Music" mode, too -- and now that you mention it, I think I got the habit from Winamp. :)

iTunes has had a list view of all tracks for as long as I have used it, and it is still they main way I play music: https://files.nytsoi.net/l5cR.png

If I'm not mistaken, you can't drag tracks around though. Whereas in Winamp I often found myself creating 'mini playlists' within the master list, which morphed as my tastes changed.

Zune? What year is this?

I went through a whole heap of players on Windows 10 trying to get consistent playback from my Onedrive collection, and only Zune worked consistently for some reason. I don't know why.

NSIS (created also by Nullsoft) was particularly awesome, made it a breeze to build a Windows installer. There was also a photo gallery script Justin created which I thought was ahead of its time back then.

It's still alive — latest release December 11, 2016!

Two years ago I worked on an Electron-based app for Windows. I tested* it right on my dev machine in Electron for Linux _and_ the whole build process, including the NSIS-based installed also ran on Linux via makensis utility, so I didn't even have to touch Windows until the final QA phase. This was very nice.

NSIS is more than alive for Electron apps -- it's about to become the default windows installer in electron-builder! Squirrel.windows will be deprecated soon.

That was good. I remember using it over Visual Studio a few times. One of those things that shows you that your main vendor is making things way more complicated than they need to be.

NSIS aka Nullsoft Superpimp Install System was a great program, and the fact you could run the installer creator on Linux was a boon.

I seem to remember the scripting language was a bit... eccentric, but it got the job done for us in the mid 2000s distributing a cross platform C++ app which was cross compiled on Linux.

Oh I had forgotten about that

I used this in a couple of projects, and it was one of the easiest to use (still, it had good scripting possibilities)

  What kind of snot-nosed brat takes millions from AOL and
  then publishes software perfect for ripping off Time 
  Warner's entire catalog? Frankel, a grunge-dressing slacker
  from Sedona, Ariz., was a teenage college dropout in 1997
  when he wrote Winamp, the first program that made playing
  MP3s on a PC point-and-click simple.
How times have changed. There's now so many snot-nosed grungy slackers who could buy the author's house in cash, just to make a point :-)

While it's certainly true that there are many more 20-somethings/30-somethings with lots of money in tech these days, I think the attitude he had is pretty rare.

Most people wouldn't dare to release software that might get them fired because they just wanted to make it, and thought it should exist. Of course, it's well within the rights of a company to fire an employee for doing so, but pretty sure most tech workers these days just stay in line, relegate open source work to when they're told they can do it (nights and weekends), and gnash teeth but ultimately submit when a company shoves something they don't like down their throat.

Then again, he did have "fuck you" money after the acquisition so...

There's a really excellent long piece in Ars from 2012 about Nullsoft/Winamp that has the advantage of nearly a decade more perspective: https://arstechnica.com/business/2012/06/winamp-how-greatest...

The following year, AOL officially killed the Winamp product.

WinAmp is back. http://www.winamp.com/

It's been 'back' since... around 2013?

It's "back" as much as a zombie is "back". Yeah it works on the latest OS, but several features are broken.

Shoutcast still working is a little miracle. Though I am quite pleased with the Podcast Downloading feature w/ RSS. ( for example you can pull stuff from soundcloud )

Small guide on How to use WASTE -> http://www.cs.montana.edu/~huff/waste/howto/Waste.html

I was just thinking about WASTE recently in the last 2 weeks since Trump took office.

WASTE was written in Java and was sort of tricky to setup / understand. At one point about 10 years ago, I had a small 8 person "dark net" running with WASTE, shit was so 1337 for its time.

Bit torrent was just making waves around this time and made downloading WAY faster, but was more risky then sharing directly over WASTE.

WASTE was written on entire C++, you can find sources here http://slackerbitch.free.fr/waste/download.html or somewhere here https://sourceforge.net/projects/waste/

Hmmm, maybe I found an "open source" client that was written in Java then. I remember having to mess with JAR files.

What's today's equivalent to WASTE? Especially on a Mac. How do people securely (encrypted) share files between themselves?

Edit: Can't find a mac client/server of WASTE. And some of those download links seem to be down.

I still use winamp as my mp3 player, one of the first things I install when I reinstall my Windows. It's everything that I need without the BS.

I'm also a fan of Foobar2000: not as pretty, but surpremely small and functional :)

There's no accounting for taste. I found Winamp gaudy, and actually preferred Foobar. The black theme was quite nice once the font colour was changed to off-white.

I cannot recommend Foobar enough, the tools for fixing up dodgy mp3s are very useful. It isn't so hot with mp4 tags though.

It isn't so hot with mp4 tags though.

What do you mean exactly? mp4 tags in all variations, including various iTunes oddities, are fully supported.

Way back in 2009/2010, I remember there being some issues. But that's coincidentally when I switched to a Mac, and started doing all my tagging in iTunes instead. Come to think of it, it's likely they've fixed it by now. I have used foobar since, but mainly for playback.

So far to my knowledge only Winamp is able to open a dir with a lot of mp3's and subdirs in a blink of an eye and have all the functionality, including search/jump available. Others (foobar, XMMS) fail badly. I killed the foobar2000 task after waiting for several minutes.

I killed the foobar2000 task after waiting for several minutes.

You should've gotten a progress dialog, very briefly, because the process is quite fast. Did that step just take a while due to a slow disk, or did it hang? foobar2000 does scan the metadata and tags for all files on adding, so "search" and "jump" will work correctly when it's done on metadata that is not reflected in the file name or path. Winamp does not do this - it scans metadata and tags only on playback.

There's a few more differences like foobar2000 being able to scan inside archives. Winamp can't do this.

So the difference you saw is likely exactly because "search" and "jump" functionality is not actually guaranteed to work correctly in Winamp if you do what you say.

I've also been a happy user of WinAmp for 16+ years now. Milkdrop visualizations are awesome, I have a rated collection of 50k of them.

For me I stopped using Winamp when I went full OSX and iPod. There was no reason to use anything else. Now, I hate iTunes but it is not easy to change. Right now I only use it for managing the library as a source of truth. The files are on a network share and played in Kodi on the compute stick plugged into the TV thought an external DAC to a tube amp. ;)

Man I would kill for an ultra-simple, ultra-lightweight, robust music player for macOS that was just like Winamp 2.81, the last good version. No, not foobar.

"Ultra-lightweight" can mean two very different (and nearly opposite) things: some people want a player that has no external dependencies (and thus must do everything itself, like VLC); while others want a player with minimal binary size (which thus will then rely on the OS's AV frameworks as much as possible for media support.)

Personally, I prefer the second definition, but it's the harder of the two to satisfy. I don't really understand why the approach Perian undertook was abandoned when Perian itself was. It'd be very nice to just have macOS "natively" support every media format+codec under the sun, and then just play media files in Quicktime or iTunes or any other player GUI you prefer.

Here's another definition of "ultra-lightweight" that has nothing to do with dependencies or binary size: I want a music player that just plays any mp3/aac/ogg/flac/wav file I throw at it, and nothing more.

It should not try to categorize my music library by genre/artist/album/whatever. It should not try to "visualize" the audio with crappy abstract art that look like a screensaver. It should not connect to a remote service to download metadata about a song. It need not even support ID3 tags. No, I don't need yet another equalizer. Playlist support would be nice, but not terribly important. Just pipe the damn song to the speaker, period.

I'm pretty sure that if you do this and nothing more, you will end up with a small binary with minimal dependencies that starts playing before you can even lift your finger off the button. Modern music players spend most of their CPU cycles doing something completely unrelated to parsing the actual audio file.

There are plenty of those. They're all CLI utilities (because that's even "lighter", in a sense), but you could wrap one of those in an "Application" using Automator if you wanted something that you associate with audio files and launch/quit using WIMP-metaphor actions.

VLC is great, but UI sux tbh. Also, SMplayer is great, but UI sux even more for audio.

The level of 'it just works' for those 2 products is just not comparable to anything else. Plus they are cross platform, works on pretty much anything in existence.

That is the reason I tollerate UI and use them every day. Also, while it lacks audio management, SMPlayer is the best video player, period.

VLC's UI sucks so terribly, it's like they went WAY out of their way to make it sucks on purpose, and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that there are any problems or ever consider fixing them.

One example of many [1]:

Type CMD-E (on Mac, or whatever the equivalent is on Windows) to get the video effects window.

Select "Geometry". Now check "Magnification/Zoom".

Notice how you get a picture-in-picture in the upper left corner, with a white rectangle showing the zoomed area, that you can move around by clicking. But if you press and hold, it also drags the entire windows (on a Mac -- I haven't tried on Windows -- VLC's UI and behavior on Mac and Windows diverges widely so I won't try to predict what happens).

Now look underneath the picture-in-picture and notices some ugly upper case pixelated text that says "VLC ZOOM HIDE". See how it's jaggy and rendered at the resolution of the movie you're playing itself, not at screen in a full resolution overlay with readable text?

Now look at the triangle with a jaggy curved hypotenuse below the jaggy words. That is the zoom "slider" (which also drags the window when you drag the mouse, so it's more like a clicker than a slider). See how it gets narrower and narrower in a succession of jaggy stair-step chunks, until it's merely one jaggy pixel wide? Well guess what: the TARGET AREA also gets narrow to match the width of the slider, so it's almost impossible to click on the bottom of the slider, to select the larger zoom sizes! Since the zoom slider is not very tall and its pixels fat and jaggy, you don't have fine grained access to very many zoom sizes at all, either. The zoom pixel steps are much bigger than screen pixels, depending on the video resolution!

What possible purpose could that serve? Why would any user guess that the lower narrow part of the slider represents a wider zoom showing a bigger rectangle over the picture-in-picture, while the top wider part of the slider represents a tighter zoom showing a smaller rectangle over the picture-in-picture? And what slider have you ever used that gets narrower from top to bottom, with a jaggy curve, and an impossibly narrow hard to click target area at the bottom?

This single facet of VLC's terrible UI deserves to be front and center in the User Interface Hall of Shame [2] -- it's even worse than Apple's infamous schizophrenically skeuomorphic QuickTime 4.0 player [3], from 1999! The latest version of VLC in 2017 is still much worse than the shameful QuickTime player was 18 years ago!

Who could have possibly gone so far out of their way to design and implement such a terrible user interface on purpose, then smugly brushed off and ignored 16 years of bug reports and cries for help on the VLC message boards, without harboring a malicious contempt for their users?

That's not even the worst of it. Now check "Transform" and pick one of the transforms like "Rotate by 90 degrees". Guess what? The magnification interface itself is rotated 90 degrees, because it's drawn on the video before it's rotated, so now it appears at the top right of the screen, rotated 90 degrees itself.

And guess what else? The mouse clicks are not even transformed properly, so clicking on the magnification interfaces does NOTHING, rendering it completely useless! Depending on the aspect ratio of the video, you can't even click in the upper left corner where it USED to be and SHOULD still be to operate it, because it is clipped off the right edge of the window.

Are those ugly cosmetic and impossible usability problems not bad enough for you? Then make a playlist with one item. Select "Repeat" mode. Play the movie. Now go to the finder and remove, rename or move the movie you're playing, or just unplug the USB stick containing the video. Not an uncommon occurrence, right? Now VLC will hang up, consuming 100% of the CPU time, often times seizing up the entire Mac, turning on the fan, locking out all user input, and forcing you to reboot! This happens to me all the time.

These bugs have been around for years. The more you fiddle around with it, testing out the edge cases and trying to combine various poorly designed and implemented features, the more bugs you find.

File a bug report, they say. People report these problems again and again. The developers just ignore them and brush them off. I've tried reporting these and other bugs, describing them in meticulous detail, which is frustrating because once I start writing step-by-step instructions to reproduce one problem, I keep finding more and more problems, each worse than the last, and then they just brush me off and ignore my bug reports too.

VLC's user interface is maliciously terrible in so many ways, the developers are careless and arrogant towards their users, and there's no hope of the developers ever changing their ways, acknowledging the problems, and improving it. Instead of improving usability for everyone, they're more interested in adding yet another obscure anime decoder feature so they can watch their AMV cartoon porn [4] [5].

[1] http://imgur.com/gallery/g0acV

[2] http://hallofshame.gp.co.at/index.php

[3] http://hallofshame.gp.co.at/qtime.htm

[4] https://www.videolan.org/vlc/releases/2.1.5.html


New 6.1 downmixer to 5.1 and Stereo from MKV/Flac 6.1. Correct YUV->RGB color matrix in the OpenGL shaders. Improved MKV support for seeking, and resiliancy. Editions support in MKV. Better subtitles and metadata support from MKV. Various ASS subtitles improvements.

[5] https://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=208770

Now, if you are an AMV (Anime Music Video) creator and want to edit the video directly, the MKV is your best friend since it's a lossless video-content container due to the fact that you will find yourself adding effects to the video frames/audio. In this case you will want to lose as little as possible in your video, so MKV compression best suits.

TOPIC ANSWER: The reason why MKV is popular for anime is because of it's noted lossless compression. Anime show creators most likely notice this fact and use it to contain their video frames and audio tracks for maximum quality. - it has nothing to do with HD.

> Instead of improving usability for everyone, they're more interested in adding yet another obscure anime decoder feature so they can watch their AMV cartoon porn

Mind you, FOSS is contributed to by people scratching their own itch. It's not so much that VLC has a lot of otaku developers; it's that a lot of people who watch (or subtitle) "AMV cartoon porn" see a problem with, or missing feature in, VLC, and think "I'm a programmer; I can fix that", and dash off one-off patches.

It just puzzles me that out of eight bullet points summarizing the new features in VLC 2.1.5, one of them was "FOR ANIME FANS" and none of them were "FOR USABILITY". It's the contempt and dismissal that the developers show to usability bug reports when they brush them off and ignore them, which bewilders and frustrates me. Go read some of the discussion group postings and bug reports over the many years, and you will see what I mean. It's a deeply entrenched pattern of behavior.

Its very hard to contribute patch to foss tool in general. There is no substitution for agile development team.

Oh I certainly wanted to contribute to the VLC project and integrate it into my own projects, but after having my concerns that I wrote up in great detail flippantly dismissed with such contempt, and seeing how the exact same thing happened to other users reporting legitimate longstanding bugs who were brushed off and ignored over so many years, I had no interest in contributing after that. It's fortunate that not every open source project suffers from such arrogant developers as VLC.

VLC supports skins now, so you can trick-out your VLC installation to almost look like Winamp if you put the effort in.

> I don't really understand why the approach Perian undertook was abandoned when Perian itself was.

Perian's approach was to implement additional codec/container support as a QuickTime component. QuickTime has been deprecated for several years, and AVFoundation doesn't provide any component or plugin interface for 3rd parties to add codecs.

Are there license fees or patents for some of the audio format decoding? Relying on the OS for decoding audio would be one way to get around that problem.

I would suggest checking out Swinsian http://swinsian.com and Audirvana https://audirvana.com for alternative mac audio players.

me too! thus i started to write a cross platform winamp clone (well, a simple one, mainly for its wonderful library management). also banging in a few audiophile goodies (better eqing, visualization)

i think the kids these days just stream everything...

its not on github yet but if anyone is interested in helping out shoot me a line! (stack is js/web audio/electron) -- perhaps not super "lightweight", but its not bad, and its what i know ;$

I found Winamp way too busy, and went with Billy. Faster, lighter and less wasted pixels.

These days I'm using Clementine though...

Check out Cog: http://mamburu.net/cog/

While development has slowed to a couple of commits a year, it's a lovely, lightweight, open source MP3 player that has much of the simplicity that I miss from Winamp. Drag files in to the main playlist window, reorder them, click on them, easy.

is the music player "Vox" still around? if so, try it out :)

Tried VOX, but it attempts to do way too much and kept crashing on my machine. The UI is nice enough, but all I want is a media player which lets me add a bunch of folders to watch, which monitors those folders for any files that are added to them and updates the global playlist, lets me queue tracks as easily as Winamp did (just hit 'j', it queues the file and shows the queue position next to the file name), and doesn't try and jam streaming, cloud storage, internet radio, and a billion other useless things down my throat.

Not to mention stuff like VOX Agent, and their system preferences panel - why do I want or need either of those things taking up space and resources on my machine? Why is my MP3 player connecting to the internet at all?

Why do so many developers insist on bloating up their software with so much crud that it becomes necessary to use much older versions? Hell, Nullsoft itself was guilty of that exact issue once AOL squeezed out the massive turd that was Winamp 5 - the last sane version was 2.81.

Sounds like we have similar requisites. I settled on XMPlay (with an AIMP-like skin, way easier on the eyes), maybe it'll do?



Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out!

The Nullsoft brand was sold to Radionomy in 2014. nullsoft.com now redirects to winamp.com, which astonishingly still exists.

I remember reading a few posts on the Winamp forums around a year ago that they were revitalizing development on Winamp, not sure if that went anywhere though.

I have a feeling it isn't.

I used to have winamp on my android phone and when I got a new phone a few months ago I discovered that they had removed winamp from the store. Which is unfortunate because winamp was surprisingly great on android too.

Their site[0] says that they're revitalizing it, and the last dev tweet I could find was from October 2016 [1]. So I'd bet it's going along at a reasonable pace.



It looks like he actually replied to somebody else very recently to say they're waiting on the legal department:


I would be surprised if it has. For most people playing compressed music is a solved problem.

It's not about the problem being solved, Winamp was fast, minimal and beautiful. I miss it.

Why not just use a fast, minimal, and beautiful old version of Winamp? It still exists. I've been running v2.95 since 2003.

Looking through the posts on their site it looks like it is still being worked on: http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?t=374929 From what I have read they had to rewrite a lot of code. I can't imagine that there are that many people working on it given how long it has been.

I recently encountered an episode of the Internet History Podcast that featured a long interview with Frankel. It touches on many of the points in the Slate article (working relationship at AOL, end of Nullsoft, etc.), and was recorded in 2015. Might be a nice companion to the article for those looking for a little more insight: http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2015/07/justin-frankel...

Easter egg at http://www.winamp.com

Click the llama's ass.

Winamp was a great, music player back in my day that combined features with great, skinnable appearance and visualizations that could leave you in a trance. Plus it had a funnier opening than the competition at the time:


Well NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) is one thing that came out of Nullsoft which continues to be very widely used even today. Makes it child's play to write simple installers which are in mere KBs.

> Conventional wisdom says Frankel is more likely to join the millionaire has-beens who dot the hills in my San Francisco neighborhood or become a trophy hire at a tech startup, like contemporaries Fanning, Marc Andreessen, and Linus Torvalds.


Waste was released before my time...

Can anyone comment on what the scene was like when it was new?

This is from 2004. What's new?

A whole generation of a potentially interested audience who was not yet aware of Nullsoft in 2004.

A generation who can't imagine the novelty of performing a first search on Napster or Direct Connect. Magic!

Downloads on the campus direct connect network in '02 are still the fastest I've achieved real world then or since, with a selection probably at least comparable to any torrent site. They've just never seen real file sharing.

Or is file sharing just now obsolete now? A bit out of the loop :/

One of the campuses I was on had fiber to every dorm room. I remember the banners on DC++ servers exhorting users not to play movies directly across the network. The idea of streaming a movie off someone else's hard drive certainly seemed like witchcraft.

Whippersnapper. Back in my day, we searched for MP3s on anonymous FTP sites via oth.net!

Audiogalaxy. Was always impressed how easy it was to find 320kbit versions or even some extremely rare songs...

Audiogalaxy was insanely effective at finding related music, due to, basically, human curation. I will always be grateful of having discovered lamb and goldfrapp through it.

Up-voted for dragging Lamb into an HN thread. ;)

Somehow appropriate for a decade old article about 90's vintage desktop MP3 software.

Now go and try to locate rips of episodes of AMP from MTV and complete your electronica collection.

(OT) I discovered goldfrapp by watching Hard Candy. Awesome movie.

I remember audiogalaxy being the first web interface I saw that made use of ajax--clicking on the download buttons next to songs, not having the page refresh, and immediately viewing source to try to discover what wizardry this was.

Will we ever see something as good as it again? It would be tricky, but surely not impossible.


I still use slsk and it's great :)

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