Rolling in the Money

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  • Ozz 2009-03-04 11:11
    I'll leave a comment... after the game is released...
  • Anonymous 2009-03-04 11:12
    POW!

    Just like that, and this comment is already worth BILLIONS!
    That's what you get when you advertise in the right places!
  • Roy T. 2009-03-04 11:14
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)

  • axus 2009-03-04 11:15
    This is truly a WTF. It does make me want to try "venturethevoid.com" though ;p
  • Rob 2009-03-04 11:20
    I had exactly the same experience with some loony who wanted to start a hedge-fund based on his ideas for algorithmic trading and my programming. I did some proof of concept and not a single one of his ideas could be shown to turn a profit, yet he was convinced that once he had a programmer on the team he would magically start earning millions.
  • Craig Greenhouse 2009-03-04 11:22
    First!
    Game Over :-)
  • dkf 2009-03-04 11:25
    Rob:
    he was convinced that once he had a programmer on the team he would magically start earning millions.
    Japanese millions? Zimbabwean millions? This sort of thing matters.
  • Forte 2009-03-04 11:29
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.

  • greg 2009-03-04 11:41
    Wow. I had a job interview just like that before. "Idea Guys". These guys, however, were in the 'legitimate' 900 number 'service' industry. The disgusting thing is they are the ones who get venture capital.
  • Ren 2009-03-04 11:44
    First I build this thing that sends a well-formatted query to IP resolved from address 'thedailywtf.com', then this another thing takes the text that I got from the first thing and builds a visual map for a third thing to display on my computer screen.

    Then I write a comment in the third thing through a fourth thing that does all the IO handling that looks like a text box (the thing, not the thing) and click on the thing in the thing that looks like a button and POW, instant comment.
  • Drew 2009-03-04 11:47
    Venture of the Void sounds like an interesting game. I'll have to go check it out. :)
  • ping floyd 2009-03-04 11:49
    Roy T.:
    We are just tools!

    Hey, you said it, not me... :-)
  • Eric 2009-03-04 11:50
    Rob:
    I had exactly the same experience with some loony who wanted to start a hedge-fund based on his ideas for algorithmic trading and my programming. I did some proof of concept and not a single one of his ideas could be shown to turn a profit, yet he was convinced that once he had a programmer on the team he would magically start earning millions.

    Step 1: Code algorithms.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT!
  • EatenByAGrue 2009-03-04 11:53
    greg:
    Wow. I had a job interview just like that before. "Idea Guys". These guys, however, were in the 'legitimate' 900 number 'service' industry. The disgusting thing is they are the ones who get venture capital.


    Better than being in a really dirty business like banking.
  • idfk 2009-03-04 12:02
    Popular MMOs don't advertise in-game.
    Google advertising themselves?? That would be like an Apple computer coming with a free "Switch to Mac" ad inside.
  • St Mary's Hospital for the Broken Ideas 2009-03-04 12:05
    And Venture the Void ONLY has 25 players?

    Holy mother of God.



    I thought hundreds of pubescent would fall for that game. Especially before getting to know WoW.
  • Yup 2009-03-04 12:05
    Maybe that's why he never made it to his final destination.
  • St Mary's Hospital for the Broken Ideas 2009-03-04 12:07
    St Mary's Hospital for the Broken Ideas:
    And Venture the Void ONLY has 25 players?


    Err:

    In total there are
    3159 space cadets
    playing in
    110 games.

    But the server is down :-D
  • strictnein 2009-03-04 12:13
    If you look at craiglist there are always "idea" guys looking for programmers. And no, I'm not talking about the casual encounters section.
  • danixdefcon5 2009-03-04 12:13
    St Mary's Hospital for the Broken Ideas:
    And Venture the Void ONLY has 25 players?

    Holy mother of God.

    I thought hundreds of pubescent would fall for that game. Especially before getting to know WoW.
    That would be 25 paying players. Pubescents have lots of time to play games, but no money or credit cards. This is the same reason I decided not to start a Ragnarok MMO server, as the only assurance I was given about income was through "donations".

    My sister and I have played on other Ragnarok servers. None of the players I've known have donated, including ourselves. I doubt donations would keep something like that up.
  • mamelouk 2009-03-04 12:17
    I couldn't summarize it better
  • cod3_complete 2009-03-04 12:17
    WTF...just WTF...is this real? Somebody tell me this isn't real...
  • mamelouk 2009-03-04 12:19
    Eric:

    Step 1: Code algorithms.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT!


    I couldn't summarize it better
  • Steerpike 2009-03-04 12:20
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?
  • ContraCorners 2009-03-04 12:20
    Anonymous:
    POW!

    Just like that, and this comment is already worth BILLIONS!
    That's what you get when you advertise in the right places!


    POW!

    Just like that, my 401(k) is alreay worth NOTHING! Oh, wait, that's not because of *this* game.

    Never mind.
  • JamesQMurphy 2009-03-04 12:33
    Jeff seems like the kind of character I'd expect to see on an episode of "Law and Order: SVU".
  • Dave A 2009-03-04 12:33
    So thats how WOW started off? I bet Keith's kicking himself now...
  • Jay 2009-03-04 12:39
    EatenByAGrue:
    greg:
    Wow. I had a job interview just like that before. "Idea Guys". These guys, however, were in the 'legitimate' 900 number 'service' industry. The disgusting thing is they are the ones who get venture capital.


    Better than being in a really dirty business like banking.


    Or government.
  • brillant 2009-03-04 12:50
    axus:
    This is truly a WTF. It does make me want to try "venturethevoid.com" though ;p


    So advertising HERE will make them BILLONS! BRILLANT!
  • Pim 2009-03-04 12:59
    mamelouk:
    Eric:

    Step 1: Code algorithms.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT!
    I couldn't summarize it better
    :: slaps forehead ::

    Now I know what I'm doing wrong! I have been following the wrong scheme all this time, never getting to the "Profit" phase!

    Step 1: Code algorithms
    Step 2: Test
    Step 3: Go back to step 1.
  • edgeCase 2009-03-04 13:02
    Hmm, maybe Kevin should have asked for 2% of the proceeds Venture the Void is getting from thedailywtf.
  • CaRL 2009-03-04 13:02
    My cousin's friend wanted me to make him a quick web site "just like ebay, only for used cars". His expectation was that we would slap it together in a few evenings by email -- him providing the design ("make it just like ebay") and me turning that into code by clicking the secret "create website" button or whatever it is we developers do.

    We would make millions. Well actually, he would, being his idea you know.
  • Mike 2009-03-04 13:11
    OMG.. I think I might have worked for this guy. Though I got a (pithy) salary. Sounds like the same hare-brained thinking, though.
  • Zapp Brannigan 2009-03-04 13:13
    Steerpike:
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?
    Let me see with a show of hands... Nope, just you.
  • ContraCorners 2009-03-04 13:16
    Zapp Brannigan:
    Steerpike:
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?
    Let me see with a show of hands... Nope, just you.


    Holds hand up. Not just you.
  • RobFreundlich 2009-03-04 13:37
    Eric:

    Step 1: Code algorithms.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT!


    Given the number of people here who are now checking out venturethevoid.com, perhaps this should be:

    Step 1: Get friend to interview somewhere WTFy
    Step 2: Get mentioned in passing on The Daily WTF
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Profit!
  • Mark Draughn 2009-03-04 13:37
    Steerpike:
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?

    Little bit.

    You can't always tell, though. Sometimes it's a fine line between genius and madness. I've run into a couple of guys who sounded only slightly less crazy than Jeff but had real money because a few of their thousands of ideas had hit it big. One of them even had a combination laboratory/machine shop/electrical shop in his basement, making him the closest thing to a mad scientist I've ever met.

    Then there are the marketing types, because sometimes it's a fine line between marketing and madness. They say the same kinds of things as Jeff, but they also tell you they have a digital artist, a Google senior researcher, the Department of Defense, and someone at Pixar interested in the project...
  • WhiskeyJack 2009-03-04 13:37
    If it were me, the interview would have ended before it began, once I found myself looking up at a residential apartment building.
  • Zaratustra 2009-03-04 13:38
    Thinking you can make a MMO in six months and rake the money in seems to be a prevalent disease in the industry.
  • Adam K 2009-03-04 13:38
    This is exactly like my last job. My boss couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why his "stores" (which were just Amazon affiliates) weren't pulling in high page ranks for "shoes" and "baby products." After the second or third week I gave up trying to explain it to him and I blindly obeyed everything he wanted coded. Thankfully he paid well.
  • Huhwut 2009-03-04 13:42
    Call me a cynic, but this story (however good it may be) just feels like a good bait for free publicity to Venture the Void.
  • Someone That's Not You 2009-03-04 13:45
    Ok look, he's not mentally ill, just stupid. It's a disease that 80% of humanity suffers from. We just happen to have social niches that don't put us into TOO much contact with them. Sounds like this guy just happen to find someone who's in the bottom of the barrel.
  • BruceA 2009-03-04 13:46
    Adam K:
    This is exactly like my last job. My boss couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why his "stores" (which were just Amazon affiliates) weren't pulling in high page ranks for "shoes" and "baby products." After the second or third week I gave up trying to explain it to him and I blindly obeyed everything he wanted coded. Thankfully he paid well.


    If it paid well, your last job was probably NOT exactly like this.
  • Schnapple 2009-03-04 13:49
    Steerpike:
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?


    I don't think he was mentally ill. He was introverted, not terribly bright, and a bit of a social retard, but I don't think he was literally mentally ill.
  • Schnapple 2009-03-04 13:57
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    OK, so honest discussion question:

    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea. And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google.

    But you don't have a lick of programming chops. And you know for a fact that you can't learn how to either (and again, just for fun, let's say that this is actually true - you're the kind of person who just doesn't have the mental capacity to learn programming).

    And you don't know anyone at all in real life who can program.

    And you have no money whatsoever or hope of being able to pull down venture capital.

    But you have this idea that is going to make Google look like a cakewalk.

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?
  • anon 2009-03-04 14:12
    I especially like that my virus scanner classified the VtV client as malware (based on heuristics).
  • jscott 2009-03-04 14:15
    CaRL:

    We would make millions. Well actually, he would, being his idea you know.


    I actually like his idea: http://www.motors.ebay.com
  • Calli Arcale 2009-03-04 14:16
    Okay, so there's a great WTF story in this, but am I the only one who thinks it's just totally cool that this guy was trying to canoe from Calgary to New Orleans?

    That takes GUTS. Very cool indeed.

    And I was impressed by the kids, fresh out of college, who paddled from St Paul to Hudson Bay last summer. Wow. Very cool. Now I want to go look at maps and try to figure out what route he took. From Winnepeg to the Twin Cities is fairly straightforward (Red River to Minnesota River to Mississippi River), but I'm not sure how you get from Calgary to Winnepeg by canoe. I have little doubt that its doable, though, provided one has enough time and doesn't mind a few blisters.
  • A.T. 2009-03-04 14:18
    This venture the void game looks cool, but I don't want to pay 25$ for it. Can't you just tell Calvin to provide a free online account that will be financed with ads?
  • JamesQMurphy 2009-03-04 14:22
    Schnapple:

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Yes it is a stretch. Go to one of your favorite video games that actually lists credits. Something like Guitar Hero or Portal -- anything with credits. Now read them.

    Seriously, read them. I'll wait.

    You're back? Notice how many people are involved? Granted, that's for a polished video game, but the point is, it takes more than a single programmer with good chops, spare time, and a retirement fund. At some point you'll need more resources. What about customer support? QA? Accounting? This is why business plans exist.

  • Crabs 2009-03-04 14:23
    Schnapple:
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    OK, so honest discussion question:

    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea. And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google.

    But you don't have a lick of programming chops. And you know for a fact that you can't learn how to either (and again, just for fun, let's say that this is actually true - you're the kind of person who just doesn't have the mental capacity to learn programming).

    And you don't know anyone at all in real life who can program.

    And you have no money whatsoever or hope of being able to pull down venture capital.

    But you have this idea that is going to make Google look like a cakewalk.

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Okay, so you have this awesome idea, can't program, and know 0 programmers, and have no money.

    I'm not sure what's to stop me, as the programmer, from just taking your idea and running with it. You have a lawyer friend to write you up a rock solid NDA?

    At this point, you might as well apply for a patent. You can get a small bank loan to do that. Once you have the patent (at least pending), you can get the VC's to throw money at it. From there you get the programmers. From there you make your millions.
  • Calli Arcale 2009-03-04 14:23
    Calli Arcale:
    Now I want to go look at maps and try to figure out what route he took.


    That was easy. All hail Google Maps! Looks like you'd take the Bow River down stream to the South Saskatchewan River, which would get you to the Saskatchewan River, which in turn would take you to the swampy areas around Lake Winnepeg and then into the giant lake itself. Navigating that large and sometimes treacherous lake would get you to the Red River of the North. A couple months of exhausting upriver paddling would get you to Lake Traverse. A short hop across the divide in Browns Valley and into Big Stone Lake, and then you're downriver the rest of the way. The Minnesota River takes you to the Twin Cities, where you pick up the Mississippi River and ride that right on down to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Very cool. He might've gotten stuck in the Twin Cities, but he'd already finished the worst part of his journey.
  • GrandmasterB 2009-03-04 14:27
    Since my company works in the 3D graphics realm, we used to get asked quite frequently by people if we would help them create the 'next big awesome game' based on their idea. Often they'd have with them pages upon pages of handwritten notes describing the game. All work would be done for the usual percentage after release, of course. I'd always tell them that ideas are cheap, and if you have a great idea for a game, the best way to make it a reality is to learn to code.

  • Someone You Know 2009-03-04 14:35
    Calli Arcale:
    Okay, so there's a great WTF story in this, but am I the only one who thinks it's just totally cool that this guy was trying to canoe from Calgary to New Orleans?

    That takes GUTS. Very cool indeed.


    Actually, the way Alex & Co. usually "anonymize" these stories, Kevin Saff has probably lived in rural Texas his whole life, saw a picture of a canoe in a book once, and thinks both Calgary and Minnesota are Inuit villages above the Arctic Circle.
  • ben 2009-03-04 14:40
    Jonathan Raban wrote an account -- "Old Glory: An American Voyage" of taking a small boat down the Mississippi. Anyone who thinks that any part of it is easy or that there is a point at which "the hard part is over" is seriously mistaken.
  • AuMatar 2009-03-04 14:49
    Schnapple:
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    OK, so honest discussion question:

    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea. And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google.

    But you don't have a lick of programming chops. And you know for a fact that you can't learn how to either (and again, just for fun, let's say that this is actually true - you're the kind of person who just doesn't have the mental capacity to learn programming).

    And you don't know anyone at all in real life who can program.

    And you have no money whatsoever or hope of being able to pull down venture capital.

    But you have this idea that is going to make Google look like a cakewalk.

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Ideas are a dime a dozen. There's not a programmer out there who doesn't have a half dozen ideas, some of which are even good. Most of them aren't. Having ideas isn't enough- you need to be able to implement them. Or if you're really sure about the idea, pay someone to implement them. But you aren't going to find anyone willing to do all the real work, take on all the real risk, do so for free, for an idea that has about .000001% chance of actually being anything. Oh, and give up most of the money if the odds do hit. Where's the advantage for him in that?

    Open source is something else. Its the programmer codes something he needs, then releases it in case it helps someone else, and its the high tech equivalent to charity work. Its not a programmer taking all the risks of the business on for no rewards.
  • AndyL 2009-03-04 14:51
    Steerpike:
    No one else got uncomfortable reading a story that was making fun of someone that seemed pretty clearly mentally ill?

    It does not seem that clear at all.
    I see no indication that this person is mentally ill. What he lacks is an understanding of how business is done. This sort of ignorance is pretty common. The main difference is that most of these stupid people aren't this ambitious.

    If not understanding the industry you're trying to extract money from is a mental illness then most of the resumes I read are from the mentally ill.
  • k1 2009-03-04 15:14
    Eric:

    Step 1: Code algorithms.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT!


    Step 2: Advertise it on the 3rd or 4th result from google

    CYA
  • Buck B. 2009-03-04 15:24
    Schnapple:
    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?
    Yes. Lots of people have ideas for websites; the hard part is identifying projects that make sense given the time and effort required to develop them.

    I see "idea posts" like these on Craiglist every day too, and many seem to have only the barest conception of the technology required. If they had any clue, they wouldn't be looking for "a few weeks work, great for students and portfolio building."

    Most people need a dose of reality from someone like Kevin, after which they'll hopefully give up the idea. (Yeah, sure.) But it's not fair to the guy who wasted an afternoon essentially giving free advice. Maybe developers should set up a low-rent venture capital firm where regular people come in with ideas for websites, then get a percentage if the firm decides to develop it. This would also act as a public service to the developer community by more efficiently telling people their ideas are stupid.
  • Forte 2009-03-04 15:25
    "And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google. "

    Google wasn't a brilliant idea. It's just a search engine. They got lucky more than anything to end up on top.

    This dude's idea for a MMO was similar to google: take something that everyone else is doing and do it better.
  • Uber 2009-03-04 15:26
    “Now, look. He just runs right through the tree. Right through it! You see that?” He harrumphed and turned toward Kevin with a look like someone died.


    I pictured Santa Claus looking at me with profound horror in his eyes when I read this.
  • Chris 2009-03-04 15:29
    AuMatar:
    Schnapple:
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    OK, so honest discussion question:

    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea. And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google.

    But you don't have a lick of programming chops. And you know for a fact that you can't learn how to either (and again, just for fun, let's say that this is actually true - you're the kind of person who just doesn't have the mental capacity to learn programming).

    And you don't know anyone at all in real life who can program.

    And you have no money whatsoever or hope of being able to pull down venture capital.

    But you have this idea that is going to make Google look like a cakewalk.

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Ideas are a dime a dozen. There's not a programmer out there who doesn't have a half dozen ideas, some of which are even good. Most of them aren't. Having ideas isn't enough- you need to be able to implement them. Or if you're really sure about the idea, pay someone to implement them. But you aren't going to find anyone willing to do all the real work, take on all the real risk, do so for free, for an idea that has about .000001% chance of actually being anything. Oh, and give up most of the money if the odds do hit. Where's the advantage for him in that?

    Open source is something else. Its the programmer codes something he needs, then releases it in case it helps someone else, and its the high tech equivalent to charity work. Its not a programmer taking all the risks of the business on for no rewards.
    Exactly.

    Spending 5-6 hours a week working on an open-source project in your free time is substantially different from working full-time on a project without being paid. In OSS, you are contributing to the common good and (generally) scratching a personal itch. In the mad businessman model, you are working on a losing project that will probably never work and will never benefit ANYONE. It's a futile endeavor with no hope of compensation.

    Besides, a lot of open-source developers are full-time employees of companies (or non-profits) that benefit from their contributions (IBM, Novell, OSF, FSF, etc).
  • Brian 2009-03-04 15:45
    When I was little, I was the same as this guy - all sorts of ideas of games I'd like to play... I actually went so far as to look up computer companies in the phone book, and write them paper letters explaining my ideas and asking them to implement them.

    Of course, I was 8, so I had an excuse...
  • Roboteer 2009-03-04 16:01
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.



    ooo.... kinky...
  • Forte 2009-03-04 16:05
    Is there no way to reach the Missouri River from Calgary? Even if there were a lengthy portage, it would shave off hundreds of km compared to looping around way up north like that.
  • ultraswank 2009-03-04 16:09
    No, Google was a brilliant idea. They introduced new search algorithms that massively improved the quality of internet searches. Their idea of ranking pages based on the number of pages that link to it was brilliant at the time, and they have only improved on their methods since. When Google launched they almost immediately killed competitors like Alta Vista and HotBot because they were so vastly superior. You sir sound like a youngun who doesn't know what a crap shoot internet searches were before Google came around.
  • MArtin 2009-03-04 16:11
    JamesQMurphy:

    You're back? Notice how many people are involved? Granted, that's for a polished video game, but the point is, it takes more than a single programmer with good chops, spare time, and a retirement fund. At some point you'll need more resources. What about customer support? QA? Accounting? This is why business plans exist.


    You know Chris Sawyer? He made it. All in assembler programming language! But he is a real genius!
  • Jeff has a point! 2009-03-04 16:19
    Jeff definitely has a point... a Chariot should never be able to defeat a howitzer. I mean that's just ridiculous.
  • Sme 2009-03-04 16:30
    Dave A:
    So thats how WOW started off? I bet Keith's kicking himself now...


    I'll bet Kevin is, too....
  • AlpineR 2009-03-04 16:35
    Jeff has a point!:
    Jeff definitely has a point... a Chariot should never be able to defeat a howitzer. I mean that's just ridiculous.

    Civilization IV actually fixes that problem. Unit strengths are exponential rather than linear. So a strength of 5 is twice as much as 4. And 6 is twice as much as 5. Then when a howitzer (18) meets a chariot (3), the odds of winning are 32768:1 (2^15:1) rather than 18:3.

    As for Jeff, it's one thing to see a problem with what somebody else has done. It's another thing to see a solution and implement it. And yet another to win fame and fortune doing it.
  • timbo 2009-03-04 16:39
    the first thing i'd be thinking when i saw the blue tarp is "am I getting out of here alive?"
  • timbo 2009-03-04 16:43
    i'm not so sure... did you read the part where he admited the game only had 25 players?
  • Wyrdone 2009-03-04 16:52
    Dave A:
    So thats how WOW started off? I bet Keith's kicking himself now...


    No. That's how the myriad of miniscule and crappy "web mmo" games get created and die every month.
  • housecaldwell 2009-03-04 16:53
    I see no indication that this person is mentally ill.
    "I never leave the apartment."
    I think those of us who are a bit uncomfortable took this literally.



    "Not one game chit had been popped from its original cardboard."

    Which game? Some of those games from the 70s are worth good money to collectors. Seems to me the best get-rich quick idea for Jeff is to put his old wargames up on ebay.
  • cconroy 2009-03-04 16:54
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.


    Also, I've heard that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.
  • joelkatz 2009-03-04 16:55
    strictnein:
    If you look at craiglist there are always "idea" guys looking for programmers. And no, I'm not talking about the casual encounters section.


    And the "idea" is always something like "make a great game and advertise it in all the right places". The rough idea is about .0001% of the problem.
  • anon 2009-03-04 16:57
    cconroy:
    Also, I've heard that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.

    Of course you can tunafish. Usually in a canning factory.
  • Sanity 2009-03-04 17:01
    Schnapple:

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?

    I think both counts are a bit of a stretch.

    Oh, it's not insane to try, but you have to realize that most startups fail. This includes well-organized, well-funded startups, with proper management, QA, customer support, accounting, even something resembling a solid business plan.

    So if you've got no money, and you're just looking for programmers, what makes you think you have a chance?

    And why won't programmers do this for fun? Because if they're at all intelligent, they'll put their money to better use and buy a lottery ticket.

    If you pay me up front, I have no problem working on your hairbrained idea. If you want me to give you my free time, well, for free, I'd much rather work on FOSS, where at least if one project fails, the source is open for me to borrow on my next project.

    JamesQMurphy:
    Notice how many people are involved? Granted, that's for a polished video game, but the point is, it takes more than a single programmer with good chops, spare time, and a retirement fund. At some point you'll need more resources. What about customer support? QA? Accounting? This is why business plans exist.

    I wouldn't expect this to be a huge problem.

    For example: World of Goo is an indie game built by two guys out of their own pocket. It is possible that it's made enough by now for them to hire customer support, QA, etc. I wouldn't imagine accounting would be a huge problem; after all, freelancers exist.

    The biggest problem is getting there.

    It's like the scaling problem. People talk about how slow Ruby is, but a decent Rails app, on modest hardware, can serve 50 or 100 requests per second, and it's possible to go bare-metal Rack or a Merb router for thousands of requests per second.

    Once you're getting more than a thousand requests per second -- or once your game is so popular that you need a separate customer support department -- you have what we like to call "A nice problem to have."

    Because at that point, you've either turned all that popularity into money, or you can take those numbers to an investor and get money. Then, you can afford to hire those departments you need, or throw hardware (or performance experts) at the scaling problem.
  • Ted 2009-03-04 17:03
    Yeah too bad the first step of his business model was "Make WoW". That's not how real innovation works. And if you think Google was/is "just a search engine" you should read up on pagerank, its pretty interesting. If Google's first step was just "Make AltaVista" they would be nowhere near the top today.
  • asdf 2009-03-04 17:19
    AlpineR:

    As for Jeff, it's one thing to see a problem with what somebody else has done. It's another thing to see a solution and implement it. And yet another to win fame and fortune doing it.

    It's also one thing to see an app and find 90 things you'd like different and another thing to solve all the design problems needed to build the app in the first place.

    The problem with these "idea guys" is that they don't add anything useful to a field because they don't understand it.

    John Carmack wasn't a game genius for just coming up with games like Doom. It was because he knew that there were algorithms (like BSP trees) that made them possible.
  • chariots of firepower 2009-03-04 17:29
    @ben: Yes, an excellent book. To be sure, the paddling would be all downstream, but a frequently hazardous trip.
  • Progeek 2009-03-04 17:41
    And there's a subtle point in your rebuttal...

    You cannot come up with an idea as "cool" as google without thoroughly understanding your subject. So the original principle is flawed from the outset.

    I believe that it is impossible to come up with a "new google" type of idea without having the technical foundation to at least plan its execution. It would be similar to coming up with new ways to cure genetic diseases without any background in genetics, biochemistry, medicine, etc..

    The coolest "light bulb" type ideas tend to come from people with deep knowledge in more than one area that happen to draw a novel connection between them.
  • Eyrieowl 2009-03-04 17:41
    Schnapple:

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Not inherently insane. It is Very Foolish to not realistically assess your chances of success, however. Starting with: as someone with no idea how to do what really needs to be done, how are you going to qualify whether the guy you're talking to knows how to do what you need? I think many potentially decent (maybe not genius, but decent) projects founder on that HUGE obstacle. And I could go on about the other reasons why you need to recognize the real risk of failure, but...in the end, it might be worth the risk, but you shouldn't be self-deluded about it being "just so easy". If you lack any realistic assessment of the problem, it's highly unlikely you're going to make the pragmatic decisions you need to actually succeed in the end.
  • Progeek 2009-03-04 17:42
    ultraswank:
    No, Google was a brilliant idea. They introduced new search algorithms that massively improved the quality of internet searches. Their idea of ranking pages based on the number of pages that link to it was brilliant at the time, and they have only improved on their methods since. When Google launched they almost immediately killed competitors like Alta Vista and HotBot because they were so vastly superior. You sir sound like a youngun who doesn't know what a crap shoot internet searches were before Google came around.


    Cannot _believe_ that I forgot to quote the message to which I was replying. Stupid stupid stupid.
  • Eyrieowl 2009-03-04 17:50
    ultraswank:
    No, Google was a brilliant idea. They introduced new search algorithms that massively improved the quality of internet searches.


    You, sir, sound like someone who didn't actually know that there was a better search engine available for YEARS called alltheweb. It had a far superior engine and a much larger index. The company that ran it, Fast, from Norway, put it up as a *demo* of their search tech. They didn't view it as the business model, but as a site to showcase the search technology that they wanted to license to companies. The brilliant ideas Google had were a) a catchy, oddball name and, more importantly, b) viewing their web search as the _foundation_ of the business model. Yes, Google *eventually* developed better search technology, but it took several years. Don't EVER confuse a good business model with a good technology.
  • Machtyn 2009-03-04 17:54
    WhiskeyJack:
    If it were me, the interview would have ended before it began, once I found myself looking up at a residential apartment building.


    That's exactly what I thought when I read the line about a covering for the window. But... you can never be too sure. Apple started in a garage with 3 or 4 guys. There have been a few (stressing a few) companies that make it big from very humble beginnings.

    Then again, the magical formula usually includes those few guys knowing each other well before-hand and not one guy trying to put a group together.
  • al 2009-03-04 18:03
    Everyone knows the game itself never has a profit. Merchandising is where the real money is made.
  • Davo 2009-03-04 18:25
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    LOL, in Australia tool is slang for idiot :)
  • Charles400 2009-03-04 18:30
    "Venture of the Void" describes my last date...
  • Huai 2009-03-04 18:31
    Eyrieowl:
    ultraswank:
    No, Google was a brilliant idea. They introduced new search algorithms that massively improved the quality of internet searches.


    You, sir, sound like someone who didn't actually know that there was a better search engine available for YEARS called alltheweb. It had a far superior engine and a much larger index. The company that ran it, Fast, from Norway, put it up as a *demo* of their search tech. They didn't view it as the business model, but as a site to showcase the search technology that they wanted to license to companies. The brilliant ideas Google had were a) a catchy, oddball name and, more importantly, b) viewing their web search as the _foundation_ of the business model. Yes, Google *eventually* developed better search technology, but it took several years. Don't EVER confuse a good business model with a good technology.


    Google started out as a technology research project for founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin at Stanford as a PHD dissertation. They had technology developed long before a business model arose.

  • Jaffa McNeill 2009-03-04 18:34
    Aye, that's the giveaway right there.

    People, I know it's the internet and all that, but it is acutely apparent from the story that we're making fun of someone with a real problem. Let's weed this sort of stuff out - there's plenty of fun to be had without picking on the defenceless.
  • Bill Waite 2009-03-04 18:42
    Davo:
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    LOL, in Australia tool is slang for idiot :)


    Yeah, it's the same here in America, and another guy already made a joke about it.
  • Chris 2009-03-04 19:04
    Having just looked at Venture the Void (which is indeed run by a bloke called Calvin) I'd say his main problem was a rotten Web site. No wonder he only has 25 users.
  • Steve Taylor 2009-03-04 19:55
    back when I was doing multimedia I talked to this guy's cousin I think. I pitched an extremely lowball bid for an educational simulation game, drastically undercharging because I really wanted to do some game work.

    He turned me down - which was probably my lucky break. I later heard he'd hired some schoolkids to write it, complaining about some guy who'd wanted "literally thousands of dollars to write a game".

    Well, yes.
  • Capt. Obvious 2009-03-04 19:57
    AuMatar:
    Ideas are a dime a dozen. There's not a programmer out there who doesn't have a half dozen ideas, some of which are even good. Most of them aren't. Having ideas isn't enough- you need to be able to implement them. Or if you're really sure about the idea, pay someone to implement them. But you aren't going to find anyone willing to do all the real work, take on all the real risk, do so for free, for an idea that has about .000001% chance of actually being anything. Oh, and give up most of the money if the odds do hit. Where's the advantage for him in that
    Hear hear. I've known people to learn to program because of their ideas. I've known people to hire experts (actually, statisticans) to help them persue their ideas. Some made money; some didn't. But they all invested time and money far beyond the idea stage to get a break.
  • Kevin Saff 2009-03-04 20:29
    To reply to comments:

    I did expect Alex to anonymize this much more than he did, but of course I have to be pleased that this has given my friend's game some extra visibility. I in fact did ask Calvin for 2% of the proceeds, so I expect to be rolling in money any time now.

    If I'd known Alex was going to leave so much intact I might have mentioned my canoeing blog as well:

    http://kevinfloat.blogspot.com/

    Someone speculated about the route I took from Calgary to Minneapolis. I did not take the long route through Lake Winnipeg, instead there is a tiny river called the Qu'Appelle, sometimes little more than a creek, that winds from Lake Diefenbaker to the Assiniboine River.

    I paddled up the Red River for a week but I was running out of daylight hours and the water was starting to get too cold for dragging the boat over obstructions. So in Morris, Manitoba I assembled a bike trailer I had brought, and pulled the canoe behind my folding bicycle to Lake Itasca, which is the headwaters of the Mississippi.
  • dsh 2009-03-04 20:31
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.



    Thank you! As a paddler and rower I wish more people knew their vocabulary when it comes to paddles, paddling, oars, and rowing.
  • PsySal 2009-03-04 21:20
    Oh dear, this is my game and this AM I had to unplug the server because I was worried my landlord was going to steal it. True story, but I was probably just paranoid.

    Anyhow I plugged it back in, I think it's up now. BUY MY GAME! Or at least play it, hemmm...
  • Keybounce 2009-03-04 22:20
    Chris:
    Having just looked at Venture the Void (which is indeed run by a bloke called Calvin) I'd say his main problem was a rotten Web site. No wonder he only has 25 users.

    QFT.

    Going to that web site tells you nothing about the game, and that youtube video doesn't do anything to make me want to play it.

    Fortunately, I hit "Signin", and there it gave me a page where I could click links and actually find out something about the game.

    It might be interesting. Can't play it (no Microsoft Windows system here). But I do wonder whether slashdotting or WTF'ing will be the bigger site slammer.
  • Sparr 2009-03-04 22:22
    dsh:
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.
    Thank you! As a paddler and rower I wish more people knew their vocabulary when it comes to paddles, paddling, oars, and rowing.
    Does whether you row or paddle dictate the name of the vessel in which you are doing it? I am familiar with the difference in rowing and paddling, and I would typically say that paddling occurs in a canoe, but I cannot think of an appropriate term for the type of boat that you row (which may be the exact same shape and size as the canoe being rowed)
  • Xenobiologista 2009-03-04 22:52
    Sparr:
    dsh:
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.
    Thank you! As a paddler and rower I wish more people knew their vocabulary when it comes to paddles, paddling, oars, and rowing.
    Does whether you row or paddle dictate the name of the vessel in which you are doing it? I am familiar with the difference in rowing and paddling, and I would typically say that paddling occurs in a canoe, but I cannot think of an appropriate term for the type of boat that you row (which may be the exact same shape and size as the canoe being rowed)


    How about a "rowboat"?

    I think most manually-powered boats are rowed rather than paddled - it's just more efficient because the oarlock is the pivot of a lever (load = the water, force = your hand). Competitive rowing uses these long, pointy, carbon-fiber things called racing shells, but I can't think of a generic name for ALL rowed watercraft.
  • Brett 2009-03-04 22:57
    strictnein:
    If you look at craiglist there are always "idea" guys looking for programmers. And no, I'm not talking about the casual encounters section.


    So I checked Craigslist for Oklahoma City just for fun and found this in Computer Gigs...

    My sister and I are starting up a new business that we are certain will be a HUGE success. We need someone who is a computer genius to build the business site. It will be an internet business so web design skills are a must. We will be splitting all profits equally among us. We want to get this started asap, so please contact us for more details as soon as possible.
  • eyrieowl 2009-03-04 23:42
    Huai:

    Google started out as a technology research project for founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin at Stanford as a PHD dissertation. They had technology developed long before a business model arose.


    That doesn't detract from what I said at all. Yes, they had to have *some* technology. But they didn't succeed because they had the best technology. They succeeded because they had a business model to make money off of the technology. That's the story, that's almost ALWAYS the story. Or did you think, say...Microsoft is rich because their products have always been better than everyone else's...?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Google sucked, but it wasn't the best at the start. It's somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, the way people lionize Google as though they invented computing on the internet. The truth is that they (historically) have *rarely* been the first to the market with any major product, and when they get there, they are rarely the "best" out of the gate. BUT, they know how to capitalize on what they have, and they do a FANTASTIC job of iterating new features and complete versions of their products until the *do* have the best on the market. Without the business model to make money while they're working towards perfection, however, they'd never get the opportunity.

    I'll also admit that it's frustrating to me that their product competitors who often have a better product to start off with are so complacent and don't drive new improvements into their products the way Google does (yes, Yahoo, I'm looking at you). It's a shame, b/c if Google is going to win, I want people to give them a good fight so they have to do even better, not for them to win b/c their competition stands still until they've fallen behind.
  • Dave 2009-03-05 01:15
    CaRL:
    My cousin's friend wanted me to make him a quick web site "just like ebay, only for used cars". His expectation was that we would slap it together in a few evenings by email -- him providing the design ("make it just like ebay") and me turning that into code by clicking the secret "create website" button or whatever it is we developers do.


    I've experienced the same thing with security software. There's all these viruses and things out there, all we need to do to get rich quick is create a security program, one-click, point-and-shoot (he used that phrase several times) and everyone could use it and be secure. No idea why no-one's done this before, it's so simple.
  • k1 2009-03-05 02:29
    eyrieowl:
    Huai:

    Google started out as a technology research project for founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin at Stanford as a PHD dissertation. They had technology developed long before a business model arose.


    That doesn't detract from what I said at all. Yes, they had to have *some* technology. But they didn't succeed because they had the best technology. They succeeded because they had a business model to make money off of the technology. That's the story, that's almost ALWAYS the story. Or did you think, say...Microsoft is rich
    [snip]

    I remember that I preferred google, when it came out, because the other "search sites" were too much portal-like: flashy; banners, menus, sections, logins, all that things. Annoying.
    Google, instead, presented a simple logo with a simple textbox and a button. Neat. I just loved it.

    CYA

    P.S.: sorry for my poor english
  • Progeek 2009-03-05 02:36

    That doesn't detract from what I said at all. Yes, they had to have *some* technology. But they didn't succeed because they had the best technology. They succeeded because they had a business model to make money off of the technology. That's the story, that's almost ALWAYS the story. Or did you think, say...Microsoft is rich because their products have always been better than everyone else's...?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Google sucked, but it wasn't the best at the start. It's somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, the way people lionize Google as though they invented computing on the internet. The truth is that they (historically) have *rarely* been the first to the market with any major product, and when they get there, they are rarely the "best" out of the gate. BUT, they know how to capitalize on what they have, and they do a FANTASTIC job of iterating new features and complete versions of their products until the *do* have the best on the market. Without the business model to make money while they're working towards perfection, however, they'd never get the opportunity.

    I'll also admit that it's frustrating to me that their product competitors who often have a better product to start off with are so complacent and don't drive new improvements into their products the way Google does (yes, Yahoo, I'm looking at you). It's a shame, b/c if Google is going to win, I want people to give them a good fight so they have to do even better, not for them to win b/c their competition stands still until they've fallen behind.


    Always gets my hackles up just a bit when Google is compared to Microsoft. There may come a day... but we aren't there yet. Microsoft got where they are today because of predatory practices... from their very first deal with IBM.

    Google got where they are because they were the best darn search engine that people had actually heard of. I went the traditional route:
    1) started with Yahoo
    2) found out about alta-vista that actually crawled the web!!
    3) spent years learning the best way to find stuff.
    4) heard about google, entered a simple search the first time, clicked "I'm feeling lucky"... and never... looked... back...

    Business model or not, I never heard about another search engine that worked as well. Google had the entire web indexed and before people started cheating page-ranking, searching was truly trivial. Technology met opportunity met groundswell marketing. I honestly don't even remember how I heard about google the first time... 99% sure it was from fellow geeks.

    Contrast to Microsoft, people have always known better stuff existed... but, you know, it wasn't Microsoft. ;)
  • Bob 2009-03-05 06:55
    Depends on the boat: rowing boat, dingy (although that can also refer to a small sailing boat) and scull are all valid names for vehicles that are rowed.
  • rast 2009-03-05 07:33
    Buck B.:
    Maybe developers should set up a low-rent venture capital firm where regular people come in with ideas for websites, then get a percentage if the firm decides to develop it. This would also act as a public service to the developer community by more efficiently telling people their ideas are stupid.


    That's a brillant idea! All you need now is some guy to code it for 2% of the profits.
  • Fnord 2009-03-05 08:20
    The article is actually a sneaky advertisement for Venture the Void. They're advertising in the right places now!
  • me 2009-03-05 09:41
    anon:
    cconroy:
    Also, I've heard that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.

    Of course you can tunafish. Usually in a canning factory.

    You can also tunefs
  • Code Slave 2009-03-05 10:45
    Sparr:
    dsh:
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.
    Thank you! As a paddler and rower I wish more people knew their vocabulary when it comes to paddles, paddling, oars, and rowing.
    Does whether you row or paddle dictate the name of the vessel in which you are doing it? I am familiar with the difference in rowing and paddling, and I would typically say that paddling occurs in a canoe, but I cannot think of an appropriate term for the type of boat that you row (which may be the exact same shape and size as the canoe being rowed)


    You might be thinking of a "shell" which is a competitive racing row boat. You might also be thinking of a "York Boat", which is sort of canoe like, but much bigger and almost always rowed.

    Does the propulsion method dictate the name... not necessarily you can paddle a dingy or you can row one.

  • Calli Arcale 2009-03-05 12:32
    Kevin Saff:
    If I'd known Alex was going to leave so much intact I might have mentioned my canoeing blog as well:

    http://kevinfloat.blogspot.com/

    Someone speculated about the route I took from Calgary to Minneapolis. I did not take the long route through Lake Winnipeg, instead there is a tiny river called the Qu'Appelle, sometimes little more than a creek, that winds from Lake Diefenbaker to the Assiniboine River.

    I paddled up the Red River for a week but I was running out of daylight hours and the water was starting to get too cold for dragging the boat over obstructions. So in Morris, Manitoba I assembled a bike trailer I had brought, and pulled the canoe behind my folding bicycle to Lake Itasca, which is the headwaters of the Mississippi.


    *bows in the face of your awesomeness*

    Thank you for sharing that link to your blog! I'm going to share it with some canoeing friends of mine. I have nowhere near the gumption (nor physical stamina) to attempt an adventure like that, so I really appreciate those who allow couch-potatoes like me to live it vicariously. ;-) Thank you so much!

    Shouldn't be too much longer before the Mississippi opens up again and you can resume your quest. In the meantime, enjoy the Twin Cities!
  • Calli Arcale 2009-03-05 12:42
    Forte:
    Is there no way to reach the Missouri River from Calgary? Even if there were a lengthy portage, it would shave off hundreds of km compared to looping around way up north like that.


    The portage would probably be several hundred miles. ;-) The area around Calgary drains towards Hudson Bay. The Missouri is part of the Mississippi watershed and drains towards the Gulf of Mexico. So to get from Calgary to New Orleans by canoe, you need to cross a continental divide at some point. This is why the Red River of the North is so handy -- although you have to get to Winnipeg first, the river will get you to Brown's Valley, and you can't beat that for divide-crossing convenience. It's so low that during spring flooding, it's not unusual for water to actually flow over the divide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traverse_Gap
  • Dan 2009-03-05 12:44
    Machtyn:
    WhiskeyJack:
    If it were me, the interview would have ended before it began, once I found myself looking up at a residential apartment building.


    That's exactly what I thought when I read the line about a covering for the window. But... you can never be too sure. Apple started in a garage with 3 or 4 guys. There have been a few (stressing a few) companies that make it big from very humble beginnings.

    Then again, the magical formula usually includes those few guys knowing each other well before-hand and not one guy trying to put a group together.


    I responded to a job posting on a local mailing list for a lead position (the first tech hire for the company) where the guy wanted to meet in a coffee shop because he didn't have offices. The second interview was in his home.

    Of course he showed up with a couple of binders full of data models, sample outputs and flow charts.

    And he had a nice house, not an apartment.

    The third interview/job offer was in a lawyers office with the investor.

    Sometimes it all works out (giving my notice next week when the boss gets back).

    </gloat>
    <happydance>

  • BruceA 2009-03-05 14:02
    k1:
    I remember that I preferred google, when it came out, because the other "search sites" were too much portal-like: flashy; banners, menus, sections, logins, all that things. Annoying.
    Google, instead, presented a simple logo with a simple textbox and a button. Neat. I just loved it.

    CYA



    Exactly. At the time, Yahoo! was trying to cram as much junk on the front page as possible, making for a very slow load on a dialup connection. And the search results didn't make a clear distinction between results and ads. Google solved both problems: It provided a simple, clean front page with just a search box, and it separated ads from search results.
  • DaveK 2009-03-05 14:40
    Bill Waite:
    Davo:
    Roy T.:
    The funny thing is, someone asked me todo the exact same thing for him. Why do people keep expecting that programmers can make you millionairs! We are just tools! (like any employee is to a business)


    LOL, in Australia tool is slang for idiot :)


    Yeah, it's the same here in America, and another guy already made a joke about it.
    Where I grew up in North London, there used to be a local tool-and-plant-hire firm which had been founded by a Mr. Bent. They had a bunch of minivans that you used to see round the local streets, with their slogan on the side:
    Bent & sons Tool Hire:
    Get your hands round a Bent tool!
    I LOL'd.
  • DaveK 2009-03-05 14:46
    anon:
    cconroy:
    Also, I've heard that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.

    Of course you can tunafish. Usually in a canning factory.
    My parents used to get me to tune a piano that my sister gave them. Then I thought "I really must do something nice for Doc", and got a job in a sardine cannery in Monterey, and now I smell of fish.

    Long live John Steinbeck!
  • pink_fairy 2009-03-05 15:14
    DaveK:
    anon:
    cconroy:
    Also, I've heard that you can tune a piano, but you can't tune a fish.

    Of course you can tunafish. Usually in a canning factory.
    My parents used to get me to tune a piano that my sister gave them. Then I thought "I really must do something nice for Doc", and got a job in a sardine cannery in Monterey, and now I smell of fish.

    Long live John Steinbeck!
    Are you saying that, to tune a piano, you need a Beckstein, but to tune a fish, you need a Steinbeck?

    My girlfriend asked me once "Kiss me where it smells of fish."

    So I took her out for the day to Grimsby.
  • pink_fairy 2009-03-05 15:18
    Calli Arcale:
    Forte:
    Is there no way to reach the Missouri River from Calgary? Even if there were a lengthy portage, it would shave off hundreds of km compared to looping around way up north like that.


    The portage would probably be several hundred miles. ;-) The area around Calgary drains towards Hudson Bay. The Missouri is part of the Mississippi watershed and drains towards the Gulf of Mexico. So to get from Calgary to New Orleans by canoe, you need to cross a continental divide at some point. This is why the Red River of the North is so handy -- although you have to get to Winnipeg first, the river will get you to Brown's Valley, and you can't beat that for divide-crossing convenience. It's so low that during spring flooding, it's not unusual for water to actually flow over the divide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traverse_Gap
    OK,, that's insane, but I'll store it in my memory bank.

    Does it work for punting?
  • pink_fairy 2009-03-05 15:25
    Progeek:
    Microsoft got where they are today because of predatory practices... from their very first deal with IBM.<snip reason=everything else makes sense/>
    This would have to be the first time that the egyptian plover ate the crocodile, then, wouldn't it?

    Ignoring the actual history of the original deal ... which, as usual on the Web, is shrouded in ignorance here.
  • chrismcb 2009-03-05 16:12
    Progeek:


    Always gets my hackles up just a bit when Google is compared to Microsoft. There may come a day... but we aren't there yet. Microsoft got where they are today because of predatory practices... from their very first deal with IBM.


    Ok, I'll bite. Care to explain how a company of a handful of people used predatory practices on one of the largest corporations of the time?
  • chrismcb 2009-03-05 16:16
    Eyrieowl:


    You, sir, sound like someone who didn't actually know that there was a better search engine available for YEARS called alltheweb.


    You seem to be implying that alltheweb.com existed years before google came around. If you mean that alltheweb started one year after google did, then yeah it has been around for a while.

    One of the BIGGEST reasons Google won, it was SIMPLE. A Text box and two buttons. The rest of the website was a name, "search the web using google" "google launches" and a copyright notice.
    Altavista, yahoo, and yes even alltheweb (when it started) had way to much text.
  • Progeek 2009-03-05 16:56
    chrismcb:
    Progeek:


    Always gets my hackles up just a bit when Google is compared to Microsoft. There may come a day... but we aren't there yet. Microsoft got where they are today because of predatory practices... from their very first deal with IBM.


    Ok, I'll bite. Care to explain how a company of a handful of people used predatory practices on one of the largest corporations of the time?


    Yes, to you and the other poster, I glossed over a lot.

    The point is, Microsoft got their original foothold as the only OS shipped on all IBM PCs. (Which I think you'd have to admit was a business strategy they continued taking into the realm of predatory practices once PC clones exploded onto the scene.) They weren't the best. They were the one that marketed best to IBM. They continued to not be the best. They were the ones that gave clone makers too good of a licensing deal to pass up... if only they were the exclusive OS for that maker.

    Really not trying to cast all of that as evil... I wish I could get away with some sweet business deals like that. Today we view their business savvy through monopoly-begrudging eyes and some call it "evil". I don't necessarily begrudge them their early successes. In fact, in the DOS/pre-windows days, I really liked a lot of their software. MS Word was much more intuitive to me than WordPerfect, etc..

    The bottom line on the MS to Google comparison, Google got where they are not because they pre-installed on all PCs, and not because they were the default home page on browsers (they weren't) and not because of some huge marketing blitz or other sweet bundling deal. Google became popular because it was simple and it really really worked.

    About the only business savvy involved was figuring out how to keep money flowing in without a huge portal site. But it was the simple basic interface that made it useful as a tool... the business side was related to long-term viability as a company.
  • pink_fairy 2009-03-05 17:38
    Progeek:
    chrismcb:
    Progeek:


    Always gets my hackles up just a bit when Google is compared to Microsoft. There may come a day... but we aren't there yet. Microsoft got where they are today because of predatory practices... from their very first deal with IBM.


    Ok, I'll bite. Care to explain how a company of a handful of people used predatory practices on one of the largest corporations of the time?


    Yes, to you and the other poster, I glossed over a lot.

    The point is, Microsoft got their original foothold as the only OS shipped on all IBM PCs. (Which I think you'd have to admit was a business strategy they continued taking into the realm of predatory practices once PC clones exploded onto the scene.) They weren't the best. They were the one that marketed best to IBM. They continued to not be the best. They were the ones that gave clone makers too good of a licensing deal to pass up... if only they were the exclusive OS for that maker.

    Really not trying to cast all of that as evil... I wish I could get away with some sweet business deals like that. Today we view their business savvy through monopoly-begrudging eyes and some call it "evil". I don't necessarily begrudge them their early successes. In fact, in the DOS/pre-windows days, I really liked a lot of their software. MS Word was much more intuitive to me than WordPerfect, etc..

    The bottom line on the MS to Google comparison, Google got where they are not because they pre-installed on all PCs, and not because they were the default home page on browsers (they weren't) and not because of some huge marketing blitz or other sweet bundling deal. Google became popular because it was simple and it really really worked.

    About the only business savvy involved was figuring out how to keep money flowing in without a huge portal site. But it was the simple basic interface that made it useful as a tool... the business side was related to long-term viability as a company.
    Ummm ... no, they didn't. They were not the only OS shipped with IBM PCs. As I imagine you are aware, they weren't even the original choice. They certainly weren't seen by IBM as even a medium-term OS provider.

    This might fit your definition of "predatory." It doesn't fit mine, unless you count vultures ... and frankly the 1980s IBM was crying out for vultures.

    Sometimes, kid, "predatory" is just another word for "successful."

    And so what? I take your main point: Google is successful.

    So what?
  • Mr Repetitious 2009-03-05 18:27
    chrismcb:
    Eyrieowl:


    You, sir, sound like someone who didn't actually know that there was a better search engine available for YEARS called alltheweb.


    You seem to be implying that alltheweb.com existed years before google came around. If you mean that alltheweb started one year after google did, then yeah it has been around for a while.

    One of the BIGGEST reasons Google won, it was SIMPLE. A Text box and two buttons. The rest of the website was a name, "search the web using google" "google launches" and a copyright notice.
    Altavista, yahoo, and yes even alltheweb (when it started) had way to much text.


    Hotbot was good - it was simpler than the others at the time, and gave half decent results.

    Google took it a big step further - to a really slimmed down front page, and good results.

    To those of us (most of us) who were very lucky to be getting 2KBytes/s from our expensive dialup connections, having the front page load in seconds was incredible. Altavista with all it's crap took a minute or two.

  • Fnord Prefect 2009-03-05 19:54
    ultraswank:
    When Google launched they almost immediately killed competitors like Alta Vista and HotBot because they were so vastly superior.


    I switched to Google initially because their front page didn't suck. No ads, no unnecessary crap - just search.

    Having a better search engine helped, too, but the main reason was presentation.
  • Duke of New York 2009-03-05 20:07
    Progeek:
    They were the one that marketed best to IBM.

    What you call "marketing" I call "developing a product that lots of people will actually want to buy," as opposed to something that impresses engineers, but not really anyone else.
  • Hmm 2009-03-06 00:28
    IBM was looking to get into the PC market because it was way behind. Apple was making a ton of cash. They created a computer based on third party components, except the CMOS. They didn't have an OS. MS was a software tools company at the time. IBM approached them through Gates' mother. Gates actually told IBM to talk to the creator of CP/M which was a very popular OS at the time (see Kaypro). The CP/M guy snuffed them because of IBM's NDA. IBM came to Gates and he said he would provide an OS. A car drive and 50k later, MS gave them an OS which IBM labeled PC-DOS.

    The predatory practices didn't really come in until Windows. The most notable was charging vendors per computer sold rather than computer sold per OS.

    PS: Compaq came into being by reverse engineering the CMOS making the first PC Clone. They needed an OS and thus MS-DOS (the unlabeled OS was born).

    If you want a good show on the history of the PC (microcomputer), check out "Triumph of the Nerds." It's pretty good but makes no mention of Commodore, Atari, Trash 80's, etc.
  • Duke of New York 2009-03-06 01:02
    Actually, if you want to know the history, you'd do well to read Wikipedia's article on Gary Kildall. Talks with DRI did move beyond the NDA problem, delivering DOS wasn't as simple as a "handshake and a drive", the role of Gates's mother is exaggerated/fabricated. And Bob Cringley likes to make things up.
  • Melnorme 2009-03-06 01:53
    So nobody caught the subtle "Limbo of the Lost" reference?
  • Uhh 2009-03-06 02:29
    Schnapple:

    OK, so honest discussion question:

    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea. And just for fun let's say it really is a brilliant idea. Like, it's the next Google.

    But you don't have a lick of programming chops. And you know for a fact that you can't learn how to either (and again, just for fun, let's say that this is actually true - you're the kind of person who just doesn't have the mental capacity to learn programming).

    And you don't know anyone at all in real life who can program.

    And you have no money whatsoever or hope of being able to pull down venture capital.

    But you have this idea that is going to make Google look like a cakewalk.

    Is it really that insane of an idea to try and see if you can find a programmer willing to turn your idea into gold with the premise that you won't be able to pay them until you can make money, but once the idea is making money they'll be paid very well?

    And is it really that much of a stretch to think that you couldn't find someone willing to do this? Someone who's got programming chops but is financially secure? Someone willing to do this in their spare time (see: FOSS)?


    Yes, it is ridiculous and much of a stretch.

    If your idea is gold, then you go ahead and bet money on it. Get funding for it - standard sources are 3F - Family, Friends and Fools; then hire whatever employees you need to implement the idea, pay them a standard salary, and become a millionaire. That's how it works, that's how it worked for google, facebook, apple, walmart, and everyone else.

    Finding good employees for a startup is difficult, and finding good investors is difficult - but both these things are achievable. However, hoping to accidentally get both these things in one person (i.e., a good programmer that also is willing to invest a significant chunk of money=time for some stake in the potential enterprise) is simply naive.
  • Wongo 2009-03-06 06:42
    Schnapple:
    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea.


    That in itself is a stretch already...

    Here's my Top Ten:

    - You don't write symphonies when you're not a musician.
    - You don't find cures when you don't know medicine.
    - You don't unify quantum physics with physics when you can't read an equation.
    - You can't invent the switch if you never heard about electricity.
    - You can't win a tennis tournament if you've never played before.
    - You can't do a Top Ten if you've only got six items.

    (two weeks ago, a customer asked if I could quickly code a competitor to Google, "only better". Feeling humorous, I said "yeah, but it will cost $2,290". Believe it or not, she balked at the price, and argued that we could just "use open source software"...)
  • Hmm 2009-03-06 12:25
    Duke of New York:
    Actually, if you want to know the history, you'd do well to read Wikipedia's article on Gary Kildall. Talks with DRI did move beyond the NDA problem, delivering DOS wasn't as simple as a "handshake and a drive", the role of Gates's mother is exaggerated/fabricated. And Bob Cringley likes to make things up.


    NO LIKE READ, LIKE TV!

    jk. I'll def check it out. Also on Gates' mother, she set up the meeting. That's the opportunity everyone is looking for. Without that, it never would have happened. You can't really exaggerate that. Also whoever cares, Kildall was the creator of the CP/M OS I was talking about. I couldn't remember his name.

    Captcha of the day: damnum - that's what I say when I get a defect in production. Damn .. umm...
  • Jay 2009-03-06 14:06
    Wongo:
    Schnapple:
    You're someone who is not a programmer, but you have a brilliant idea.


    That in itself is a stretch already...

    ...

    - You don't find cures when you don't know medicine.

    ...


    True, but only a partial answer.

    Suppose you were a brilliant medical researcher. One day an "idea man" comes to you and says, "Hey, I've got this great idea on how to make a fortune: Let's find a cure for cancer, and then sell it to cancer victims! I don't know anything about medicene, but if you'll do all the work of developing the cure, at your own expense, I'll let you keep 10% of the profits, while I'll keep the other 90% for coming up with the idea." I'm sure you'd thank him for his brilliant (or brillant) suggestion and show him to the door.

    But suppose instead the idea man said, "Hey, I've noticed that there's all this money being poured into cancer and AIDS and heart disease research, but I find that nobody is working on a cure for Foobar's Syndrome, and there are 5 million people with this disease in the U.S. alone. I don't know anything about medicene, but I did some research and I find that a Dr Plugh did some very promising work on this back in 1920 and a Dr Zork who claimed to have positive results from treatments he developed in the 1930s that nobody ever followed up on after they died and I've gotten hold of all their notes, and I'm building a database of patients who would be our potential market and I've identified over fifty doctors who have worked with these patients, and I've had conversations with two medical schools who are willing to let us use their research facilities, and ..." Now even if he doesn't have the technical knowledge to help find the cure, he's bringing something real to the table.

    As a software geek, if someone wanted to hire me to develop some new product and he knew nothing about software development but knew the application area inside out or was skilled in marketing or had some other valuable skill, I'd cetainly be interested in trading my programming skills for his knowledge or skills in other areas. Whether it would go from "interested" to "yes I'll do it" would, of course, depend on all the details.
  • Franz Kafka 2009-03-06 15:52
    Duke of New York:
    Progeek:
    They were the one that marketed best to IBM.

    What you call "marketing" I call "developing a product that lots of people will actually want to buy," as opposed to something that impresses engineers, but not really anyone else.


    As I recall, MS didn't develop DOS 1.0, they bought it from a guy for $60k after the fact. BillG promised the moon, then scrambled to make it work because it was really that big of a deal.
  • Duke of New York 2009-03-06 16:23
    Franz Kafka:
    As I recall, MS didn't develop DOS 1.0, they bought it from a guy for $60k after the fact.

    You recall wrong. Although Microsoft did buy 86-DOS from another company, it also hired the developer of 86-DOS to adapt it to the PC hardware and make other changes.
  • Kelly 2009-03-06 21:51
    “I'm outsourcing most of the work to the Philippines. They’re willing to work on a royalty basis. You can transmit the technical requirements to them, change my words into code they can understand.”

    Isn't this the business model of most IT shops these days? And as far as "change my words into code" that sounds like management material.

    I've been reading "The Psychology of Computer Programming" from 1970 and am surprised how little has changed.
    "The Psychology of Computer Programming - Chapter 3
  • richard bankert 2009-03-08 05:19
    Jeff seems to be a good candidate for the circle of friends Kevin has up here in Calgary and abroad. But, at least calvin's game does have some exposure.
  • Kevin Campbell 2009-03-09 04:03
    This isn't 'wtf', this is just a sad story.
  • BeenThere 2009-03-09 22:21
    I had one of these interviews. The only difference was that they didn't actually tell me I would be working for commission until my first day on the job.

    We had negotiated an hourly rate for some freelance work that I was going to do for them. They were a real (albeit small) consulting company that wanted to branch out into games.

    The interview was brutal. Three of them sat in a semi-circle around me and barraged me with logic puzzles for 45 minutes. It was stressful, but I'm good at that kind of thing and it went fairly well.

    They told me what the project is, I quoted them a rate, they agreed and asked me to start showing up evenings.

    On the first night one of the guys said, "Yeah, about that hourly rate. We're not going to be able to pay you until we actually release the game."

    Wow. I got my ass out of there.
  • JohnB 2009-03-10 14:11
    dsh:
    Forte:
    you don't row a canoe. you paddle it.



    Thank you! As a paddler and rower I wish more people knew their vocabulary when it comes to paddles, paddling, oars, and rowing.
    And poles and poling (with punts).
  • Lazy 2009-03-10 20:50
    Jeff has a point!:
    Jeff definitely has a point... a Chariot should never be able to defeat a howitzer. I mean that's just ridiculous.


    Not if you're Italy.
  • Annekat 2009-03-14 19:14
    That game looks awesome. The music is kinda bad. But seriously, seriously, he should have a better quality video up. Is the game really that blocky and blurry and dull looking? I doubt it, I think it probably is great. But the video is horrible! I would never sign up, just based on that video. And perhaps he should link to the review itself, as it seems positive.
  • sammyF 2009-03-15 12:21
    You only get uncomfortable about it as long as the same exact thing doesn't happen to you. After that all you can do is warn other people and wrap yourself up in deep cynicism.
  • mjmt 2009-03-18 16:57
    And time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.
  • Leeroy Jenkinz 2009-04-03 15:40
    CaRL:
    My cousin's friend wanted me to make him a quick web site "just like ebay, only for used cars".
    <SNIP>


    I had a similar experience. Some tard who wrote a business plan for a company that was to be "just like EBay, but with barter" as his MBA capstone project, and wanted me to invest in / build / lauch this fiasco.

    Somehow he must have slept through the lecture on why the concept of money evolved in the first place.

    On second thought, it sounds like great fun assembling a collection of 97 different frick'n beanie babies to trade for that Willie Mays rookie card some granny found in her attic. Damn! missed opportunity!

  • Mike 2009-05-06 14:07
    Ideas are a dime a dozen. There's not a programmer out there who doesn't have a half dozen ideas, some of which are even good. Most of them aren't. Having ideas isn't enough- you need to be able to implement them. Or if you're really sure about the idea, pay someone to implement them. But you aren't going to find anyone willing to do all the real work, take on all the real risk, do so for free, for an idea that has about .000001% chance of actually being anything. Oh, and give up most of the money if the odds do hit. Where's the advantage for him in that?


    Well stated. These offers come often, and in the beginning when I was just a wet-behind-the-ears code monkey, I took one or two, just to learn the lesson you stated above.
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