Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | bane's comments login

Shareware as a business model is alive and well. It's likely that most commercial software a user uses these days started as a demo they were testing, maybe with a few features missing, or nag screens or a timer -- then they upgraded it to a full licensed copy. For whatever reason, we stopped calling it shareware, but that's basically the model in use for closed-source commercial consumer-level software.

In many ways, shareware has become the "default" method for distributing commercial software, and it's non-shareware software that's kind of weird. This even happens on the high end. I worked for a desktop software company years ago, and we gave away our software on a 30-day trial, if they liked it, a seat cost $30k. It was called the "30-till-30" model by our sales guys who didn't realize it was just shareware.

Looking at my own list of software I have installed right now:

Chrome - free with open source version

Firefox - open source + donationware

Thunderbird - open source + donationware

MS-Office - shareware

Foobar - open source + donationware

yed - free, but with commercial tools as part of the ecosystem, this makes it in my mind pseudo-shareware

Gimp - open source + donationware

Simcity 4 - fully commercial

Notepad++ - open source + donationware

Sublime Text 2 - shareware

FileZilla - open source + donationware

Mirc - shareware

Anki - similar model to yed, desktop version is free, mobile is paid

Bulk Rename Utility - donationware, closed source

Caustic - similar model to yed, desktop version if free, mobile is paid

Pycharm - shareware

renoise - shareware

bunch of steamgames - most started as a demo, so I'll go with shareware

skipping over python, perl and the usual open source suspects

and on my phone: most started as a "lite" version so many of the apps are all shareware


There's two major parts to learning a language: recognition and production. SRS can be quite good as a tool to aid in recognition, but I've found it to be lousy for production.

This is a classic problem in language pedagogy.

Some old comment of mine from almost a year ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8510165

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8251569

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8253351

I think "completing the circuit" is among the most important aspect of educational theory. Recognize and produce needs to happen in any subject, and a good student recognizes that SRS is but one tool for recognition, but others are needed to complete that, and production is an entirely different side of the coin.


> Where my bright students might have been used to high Bs and low As on tests, they were now breaking my scales. You could see it in the multiple choice, but it was most obvious in their writing: they were skillfully working in terminology at an unprecedented rate, and making way more attempts to use new vocabulary—attempts that were, for the most part, successful.

> Given the seemingly objective nature of Anki it might seem counterintuitive that the benefits would be more obvious in writing than in multiple choice, but it actually makes sense when I consider that even without SRS these students probably would have known the terms and the vocab well enough to get multiple choice questions right, but might have lacked the confidence to use them on their own initiative. Anki gave them that extra confidence.

Not that you're wrong, but the author also points out here that SRS can help production by reinforcing the student's knowledge and boosting their confidence in what they've learned when it comes to using it.


> Because they have a very compelling future and a really strong product.

Yes, the slightly more convenient, probably illegal, taxi at a higher price, product.


Part of the problem of course if the naive notion that you can fit words into a single grammatical category, like species in a taxonomy, while word usage ends up defying this simplification.

The real problem is that taxonomic classification is rarely correct in nature.


Reading this, I have no idea if you're saying it because you know how modern syntactic theories work and how they're developed or if you're just saying it because you thought it sounded good.

Don't leave us hanging!


I'll be perfectly honest, I'm half-serious, half-drunk-posting.

But on simple inspection, the idea that a word can fit into a single category is obviously wrong. So to generalize the idea, you have to assume that a word can fit into multiple categories.

Biology is undergoing a similar transformation from simple "this animal looks kinda like this one" to genomics classification, which is revolutionizing the tree of living things used by biologists to organize living things.

There's not really any reason why words, a biological artifact, have been correctly classified all along. Hell! A copy-editor neighbor and I have minor quarrels over the capitalization of college subject names.

Trees are a specialization of graphs, and they're usually wrong. Just assume graphs to start with and your data will organize much better, even if the properties of the organizational metaphor aren't quite as nice.


Well, I share some of the instinctive scepticism about tidy theories of syntax/semantics.

But I don't have any real reason to claim that they don't work. Syntactic theories aim to explain why particular sentences are grammatical or ungrammatical (in the judgments of native speakers). If you can accurately do that, then yes, you've put each word into one category (as far as making up grammatical sentences). So to say the kind of thing you're saying, you'd have to explain why the current research programs in syntax are misguided.


You may find http://www.amazon.com/Fuzzy-Grammar-Reader-Bas-Aarts/dp/0199... interesting

That's true.

Ask a simple group of 5 linguists and they all will give you different answers. This literally happened in a workshop we gave at a college months ago. Quite funny.

While working on grmmr (green-bridge.org) we recognized that so many of us are densely confused when it comes to these metalinguistics. So we just stopped using knives that dissected (metalinguistics) words into words and went for friendlier marker (symbols and colors).

We need to be reminded that a lot of it is just pretend and educated guesses, no absolutes. Markers seem to work better here than knives do when teaching and categorizing language grammar.


It tends to also be location based. I find wi-fi at hotels in big cities almost universally bad, while the same hotels outside the cities to be generally good.

Out of curiosity, there's a huge number of newspapers already archived on microfilm (unless it's been all thrown away). I'm sure digitizing from microfilm will be a reasonable alternative.

it's mentioned in the article that microfilm is digitised

I really liked his idea that the users teach you about what you've made. That's a really great philosophical point.

I think his comments about open source are interesting and how he's never seen anybody open source too much. I humbly disagree, I've definitely seen a few startups get nowhere because they ended up open sourcing their entire product, meaning nobody needed to pay them for anything.

There needs to be a strategy for open sourcing your code...for example if dropbox open sourced their client, they'd still own the relationship to their storage back-end and act as the broker for that data. Their client isn't really worth anything anyways...so it doesn't really matter.

But let's say Microsoft open sourced Office and Windows. Okay, now where do they make their money? They're pretty much just left with services work, and services and support often only exist if the software has problems. Anybody else can then come along and code away their services business by fixing bugs, making better interfaces etc.

Open sourcing needs to have a valid business strategy and it can't just be putting your company's investment up on github because that feels good.


Re Dropbox: AFAIK, most of the magic happens in the client. The way they seamlessly integrate with different OSes seemingly as an innocuous folder that blends in with rest of the other folders is genius.

See: https://www.quora.com/Many-articles-about-Drew-Houston-say-t... and http://allthingsd.com/20120815/inside-dropboxs-reverse-engin...


I'm not sure what to think of this. On one hand this hack into the OS to improve the UX seems genius. On the other hand, what if the next version of the OS is not so easy to hack? Users will be upgrading to a new OS, but suddenly not able to use dropbox.

Also, doesn't hacking into the OS void the warranty?


What startups have you seen opensource too much?

There was an enterprise cloud company I once worked with. They had built a layer on top of HDFS and some nice admin tools to go along with it.

Their customers hired them to build out systems that would provide in-house clouds and their tooling helped make HDFS deployment, management and integration a bit easier.

They decided to open source all of their software at some point which meant their model went from:

- Provide tools to make deploying HDFS better, this was their secret sauce

- Provide services to setup/manage all of this

to

- Provide services to setup/manage all of this

Since everything else in their stack was open-source also, their secret sauce consisted of just being a group of engineers, which isn't much of a secret sauce, except they thought it was because "our guys know the ecosystem and tooling we developed" and so charged more for those service engagements.

Their customers realized this, hired cheaper groups of engineers (some of who included previous employees) who then worked with the now free and open sourced tools that "somebody" else had now spent VC money building instead of them.

Inside of a year or so they turned from a successful and growing concern into a VC investment black-hole and closed up shop.

The tooling and many-man-years of effort that went into developing it all was what the business was about and they simply opened it all up to the world, who then just downloaded it and replaced them.


developing it all was what the business was about

It is interesting how some software is more amenable to being "business open source" than others.

If your software is touching online, realtime, and mission-critical data, that's a good fit for open source + support / add-ons. You can sell add-ons and ease of use and peace of mind. Some databases have been good open source companies, some have failed, and some are just chugging along not being successes or failures (definitely counts as a VC failure though if you're not a breakthrough success).

If your software is more off-line, or one-time use, or "nice to have" (e.g. a great text editor or a great file upload utility or... sysadmin HDFS deployment helpers) and you currently charge $100/seat for your magic sauce, that seems to be an awful fit for open source. Everybody would use it for free and never consider buying anything from you since it's not "real time mission critical."

Open source is preferred to maintain strong data portability, avoid vendor lock-in, avoid vendor future price increase/licensing shenanigans, and also to get a stronger pool of employees since many may likely have used common popular OSS platforms elsewhere too (less re-training needed in many cases for new hires).


Excellent point. Can you imagine Adobe open-sourcing their software to instead focus only on services?

Neither can I.


Interesting, thanks!

Office and Windows. Okay, now where do they make their money? They're pretty much just left with services work, and services and support often only exist if the software has problems.

Did you just casually imply Office and Windows don't have problems?

Fun fact: open source support isn't about fixing problems, it's about having someone to contractually blame in case of any problems, not because there are problems. It's more CYA and less TBD.

Also see the MonogDB model — release an open source platform full of bugs and data loss edge cases, target people who don't really know what they're doing so they build prototypes and platforms on top of it, then tell companies they have to pay you if they want any help (and they will need help since the platform is fundamentally flawed in the first place).

Anybody else can then come along

Technically, yes. But has that ever happened? If you open source your 5 million line code base, you still have the expertise, not some outsider.

There's also the reverse problem of open source platforms with no owner (e.g. the ecosystem of ever-growing, zero-authority hadoop vomit).

Open sourcing needs to have a valid business strategy

The valid business strategy is nobody will trust you if you aren't open source these days. The age of vendor-vanish = product-vanish is quickly going away. Companies (as buyers) prefer widely used and open source solutions in favor of closed source voodoo that works "just because we say so" with bad documentation and a tiny userbase.


>The valid business strategy is nobody will trust you if you aren't open source these days.

i disagree. there are many big saas businesses out there and few open source anything.


> Did you just casually imply Office and Windows don't have problems?

No, I think you misread or I wasn't clear. Microsoft (and other companies) support service contracts exist purely because of inadequacies in the software. Microsoft wins twice because they sell the software and sell/certify the service organizations.

> Technically, yes. But has that ever happened? If you open source your 5 million line code base, you still have the expertise, not some outsider.

Yes. Why do you think your employees will stay with your company forever?

All a competitor has to do is put out a job req "looking for expert in foo, will pay top $$$" and hire away your expert staff. This does happen and it often happens because purchasing organizations prefer to "separate interests" between vendors and service companies hoping that it forces vendors to build better software that require fewer services. This creates a market for service competitors, and if they're willing to make smaller margins, can pay your people, the people you have in your company doing service work more.

For example, how many people who don't work for Red Hat offer Red Hat support services?

> The valid business strategy is nobody will trust you if you aren't open source these days.

I don't really disagree. Which is why you need to have a strategy that lets you check the "is open source" box with a buyer, while still protecting your business advantage.


For example, how many people who don't work for Red Hat offer Red Hat support services?

Oh, I've no idea. I'd only go to RedHat for "official" RedHat support?

Another intersecting approach is something like Postgres or MySQL. The ownership of the code is irrelevant at this point and we just have independent consultancies (or integrators) providing expert-level services. But, that's almost a complete inversion of the original premise here of open sourcing your own product while retaining product control + revenue from control of said product. (which sounds like what you're afraid of most general "we open sourced our product" situations devolving into.)

In general, I've seen little interest from random Internet companies in providing support for private open sourced software. Nobody wants to spend months/years understanding your software to compete against your knowledge/expertise (unless you get really successful, but that's a whole other game).


> Oh, I've no idea. I'd only go to RedHat for "official" RedHat support?

Let's just say, it's pretty big.

Bonus, you don't need to hire an outside firm to administer your Red Hat servers if you just hire somebody with "can administer Red Hat" on a job req.

Here's a short list just to fill out your curiosity (the real one is likely much longer):

http://www.linuxit.com/linux-support-services/

http://www.dcvast.com/software_support_services/redhat_linux...

http://www.netdigix.com/

http://h17007.www1.hp.com/us/en/enterprise/servers/supportma...

and so on.

Red Hat as a company more or less exists these days on name brand. In fact, their EBITD margin is negative despite their stock price riding high.


PG always came across to me as unusually thoughtful and smart and friendly (let's be honest he's a great guy), but never enjoyed the kind of combative debate that goes on in web forums.

Or, he doesn't care? Or, he uses a pseudonym? I hope he doesn't care? I want to think he has enough political influence to get to the truth? Or, uses some of his money to right society's wrongs? But, I don't know the man, nor what he really values? I did get interested in Lisp, when I found this site?

> PG always came across to me as unusually thoughtful and smart and friendly (let's be honest he's a great guy)

He's also amazing and incredible and handsome and witty and strong and I love him oh so much.


if your point is that your parent commenter is sucking up, it misses the mark. there's no particular reason to say nice things about PG - other than that somebody feels that way.

Her optics at this point are terrible.

- CEO of a community-based site where the community doesn't like her (to put it nicely)

- Lost a very public lawsuit against a previous employer that revealed quite a bit about her personal and work habits -- and it wasn't exactly glowing, often downright damning.

- Tried to recoup legal costs for the lawsuit she started and lost

- Was ordered to pay legal costs to her former employer because of the wrongful lawsuit she brought against them

- spent most of the first parts of her Executiveship at reddit fooling around with the lawsuit

- It's strongly suspected that the damages she claimed in her lawsuit were to cover her husband's financial problems

- Her husband appears to be a real piece of work too

- Fired a community manager in the middle of a community event, regardless of the reason for firing her, it could have waited.

- and now fired a cancer patient

On top of these perceptual problems. She also doesn't appear to have any relevant leadership experience for running such a company. It's not like she worked her way up to the top position by starting in the mail room and through moxy and determination worked her way up through the management ranks.

She was a lawyer for 2 years, then spent about 3 years in BD/sales, then managed a BD team for a few years and then spent the rest of her time at Kleiner Perkins representing their VC investments before returning back to BD at reddit.

Basically she went from a very short career in law, to a career in BD. She has a total of 4 years of any kind of measurable management experience. A transition from BD to CEO is fairly unusual.

Somebody previously here on HN said it feels like reddit is being taken over by marketers, it's just as bad, it's being taken over by a Business Developer.

What's really going on here is that Ellen is trying to "clean up" reddit to make it more palatable as a strategic partner for other companies to work with. Reddit's wild-west reputation makes it difficult for many companies to work with them. This is what her focus is, probably with the ultimate goal of cleaning up the image for some kind of M&A. This is what BD people care about. Not about the ins and outs of running a company.

Reddit should be a much more valuable company, and I have a feeling the board is trying to pivot it into more of a sales channel for corporate partners to pump astroturfed advertisements to and to host special sales events or mod dedicated company/product subs for a fee. There's not much reason to continue to tolerate her at this point except that this is what they want.

It's kind of what Digg tried to do, and it may be inevitable for these kinds of narrow margin community-based sites that to start really capitalizing on the community, they go this way. But maybe they're hoping they can make the jump without screwing up as badly as Digg did. It's not looking that way however.

> The company is begging for a reddit clone to pop up and steal the users.

This has been true for a long time before Pao came on board. It's not really clear what the reddit devs seem to be doing, but empowering the mods to better manage their communities is not one of them. Something like Reddit is not terribly complicated software-wise, the large number of alternate communities (this one included) kind of goes to show it's an understood technology. It's basically a community-in-a-box at this point. The network effects will determine what happens next.

As far as these firings go, she can't reverse them. That kills any authority she may still have.


And now new Digg is capitalizing on the drama

http://digg.com/2015/talk-to-us


This is pretty pathetic. Also, if you look at Digg's front page, it looks nothing like Reddit. I wonder how they will steal any user from them.

When digg stole from reddit it was different, when reddit stole from slashdot it was different... People are more likely to move to something new and different, as strange as that sounds.

But... reddit stole from digg.

I'm not sure if Digg ever stole from Reddit since I think Digg came first in popularity for a long time.


...and they even fired the guy responsible for secret santa. You can't even make stuff like this up or be more grinch if you tried to

https://www.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/3bysny/rsec...


You forgot to include the fact that she doesn't know how Reddit works. She is not a reddit user, this is the worst kind of leader.

I'm reminded of a story I heard about some kind of VR experience at Disney or some theme park.

He thought it was cool and got in line to use it. The guy before him was very physical during his sim and sweated up a storm.

He put the goggles on, got immediately grossed out by the hot sweaty mess inside and took it off before it had even started.

Gross.


Oculus and the like have developed procedures for wiping down the headset between each use during demos. As long as there is a human operator (which is somewhat necessary for this generation of VR experiences), this shouldn't be too much of an issue.

I grew up in the smoke filled arcades of the 1980s and think it's probably likely that this procedure won't survive contact with lazy arcade operators outside of the VR vendor's quality experience control.
More

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: