Sunday, December 18, 2011

Less Cash Makes More Money

I went on two spending sprees this season - one hosted by Google's Android Marketplace, the other hosted by The Humble Indie Bundle. The two shopping sprees combined cost me less than twenty bucks, but out of them I acquired no less than 48 (yes, forty-eight) commercial applications. Four of them not only included source code, but previously undisclosed version control access to said code and remastered soundtracks. That's a pretty freakin' good deal.

One might think that my mad app grab put these software studios at a loss... but that appears to be far from the case. Introversion Software (a personal favorite of mine) noted that the opposite effect occurred:
As we pass 180,000 sales of the Humble Introversion Bundle, I can’t help but feel astonished. This is the biggest single sale Introversion has ever done on any platform, even beating the epic Steam promotions we run from time to time. It roughly equates to one sale every six seconds. And the best part of all - the part that makes me most happy, is that this promotion has doubled the number of people who have played our games. 180,000 is more copies than our best selling game Darwinia ever sold, and the Humble Bundle includes all four of our games, so that means twice as many people have now played each of our games than before the bundle. That’s pretty cool. As the principle game creator here at Introversion, that’s the biggest thing for me.

And let’s not mess around, the revenue is pretty good too. When it’s all divided up we’ll see about one quarter of the total revenue you see on the Humble site - and I’m sure Humble won’t mind us revealing that, because it’s obvious if you’ve look at the default sliders. That’s one quarter of a pretty big number, and that revenue will keep us going for a long while. And we’ve done it while raising over $200k for some very worthy charities.

As for those publishers who participated in Google's 10 Apps / 10 Cents / 10 Days promotion? I haven't heard of any testimony from that front, however watching the Android Market itself has been very interesting. During the 3 weeks spanning the promotion and the week immediately following I've seen more activity and application updates pushed than I've seen in the past 3 months - including apps that were not part of the promotion. It seems the promo not only featured some titles whose volume might have otherwise tapered off but it also increased interest in adjacent titles as well, enough so that publishers wanted to have updates waiting in the wings for them.

I've noticed that this kind of title distribution is gaining steam, enough so that Rock, Paper Shotgun has almost been driven insane by the sheer number of bundle announcements. This has the leading indications of being a potentially disruptive market force... as much as I might loath the cliche. This method of catering to all price points has somewhat been used by recording artists and game studios years before, but the emphasis was selling at cost and then giving premium content to the upper 10% of the fanbase who would pay for it. For some artists lowering the cost barrier wholesale can pay amazing dividends and grow a loyal user base in short order.

Monday, November 28, 2011

openSUSE 12.1 - Good Enough to Blog About

I've been away from the blogging scene for over eight months now. My language skills have languished likewise. It seems only fitting that my return to posting is launched on the same topic I departed with.

For too long it seems like openSUSE has been stuck within an odd, "uncanny valley" of user experience and desktop usability. It did so much well that the stuff that worked poorly really stuck out like a sore thumb. I've never really had the problems with YaST that others of my kin seem to decry ("Omigosh, you use SuSE? Ugh, is YaST any better?"), but other issues like poor integration points (e.g. Eclipse) and the banishment of SCPM and SaX2 were frustrating.

openSUSE 11.4 ended up looking okay however had issues with wireless, the noveau driver wasn't ready for prime time and LibreOffice ended up being crashtastic. Luckily (I guess?) I had a hard drive crash right before openSUSE 12.1 launch and was able to start clean when the mirrors sync'd on November 16th. As soon as openSUSE 12.1 launched I grabbed an ISO and began installing on my ThinkPad W510.

Man, what a difference.

First off, the noveau driver is still a bit buggy but has nearly reached parity with the proprietary NVIDIA driver on desktop compositing and UI effects like wobbly windows. I can't tell you how jazzed I was about this lil' facet. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore NVIDIA and the work they've done to bring driver support to the Linux desktop. Still, an OSS solution that has native integration into XOrg provides a seamless experience - especially with xrandr and KDE 4. Now KDE (and to a lesser extent, the bootloader) can natively manage resolution, orientation and multiple desktops. I was a bit apprehensive given I frequently switch between projectors, dual-screen setups with larger monitors and road-warrior setups with just the laptop display however noveau and KDE 4 are able to switch between these environments without so much as a mouse click. Plug in a VGA cable and boom - I'm broadcasting a second desktop over the monitor. Sweet.

LibreOffice is much more stable. No huge features I've been able to discern, but then again I'd likely not even notice them given my superficial use of any office suite. Evolution seems a bit smoother and more responsive - hopefully someday soon my office can switch to Exchange 2008 so I can leverage its new SOAP API via Evolution. That should make a big difference over the webdav connectors currently being used.

I've been trying out new features such as brtfs on alternate workstations, since encrypted brtfs partitions are not supported yet. So far it has been quite nice having snapshot capability and b-tree balancing to a file system, especially given how many crazy files I generate or move around.

Still very happy with Digikam; it has become my mainstay for post-production of RAW photos. It somewhat softens the harsh reality that my wife's iPhone 4S take better photos than my Canon DSLR.

All in all, a major tip o' the hat to the openSUSE team on all fronts. Very happy with the usability of the latest release.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Amazing openSUSE 11.4

First of all, I'll admit that I've waxed gloom-and-doom when talking about openSUSE lately. I'm now saying not only that my worries turned out completely wrong, but openSUSE 11.4 is probably the most amazing OS I've run so far.

I'm not claiming this assertion lightly, either. For the first time in the history of any OS I've ever installed hardware was detected and installed correctly the first time right away. 3D acceleration worked out of the box. My Intel/Broadcomm chipsets functioned immediately without me even having to edit a config file. I dual-boot with ease. All in all, an effortless installation.

Performance increases were immediately evident as well. Apps loaded swiftly, content panes refreshed immediately and window compositing worked fantastically. And in this sprint of performance I found that I didn't need a single drop of proprietary software. The open nouveau driver for NVIDIA GPUs now has sufficient 3D support to provide desktop effects such as transparency, and Broadcomm wireless chipsets are now supported within the latest kernel. No joke! Package management is many, MANY times faster now due to more simple and more concurrent HTTP operations. Updates and package installation is in a whole new league now, and wins hands-down over any other distro (including Windows).

But wait! There's more! openSUSE 11.4 also is the first distro with Firefox 4.0 and LibreOffice, giving me the freshest builds of two suites I use frequently. Evolution has been updated so that IMAP operations are non-blocking (oh thank the heavens) which makes it appear much faster as well.

Reading down the list of openSUSE 11.4 product highlights is like looking at my own personal want list for a Linux desktop. If the coming work week goes as smoothly as the past couple of days have, this will be the distro to beat all distros. I even find myself wanting to use openSUSE 11.4 over Windows 7 for random tasks at home, simply because the user interface is much more elegant and flexible.

I owe openSUSE 11.4 so much that I've finally given up on typing the distro as "OpenSuSE" in homage to the original distribution. SuSE has now grown up and is now truly a fantastic product of the open distro's team - and is now truly openSUSE in its own right.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unbridled IDE Anger

It's midnight as I type this. I have spent the past four hours attempting edit a single freaking Grails project within an IDE. Any IDE.

I switched to NetBeans almost nine months ago and I've been a very happy NetBean'er. Everything worked out of the box with minimum futz and complied quite nicely with accepted standards. Maven 2, Subversion, minimalist Java runtimes and Spring hummed along without complaint. Looking to accelerate development of simple maintenance web applications I turned to Grails... and then things started to fall apart.

Grails actually has some great tooling within NetBeans, but one bug has been a huge thorn in my side. An acknowledged bug causes Grails projects to not notice any external libraries, even if they are your own and open within NetBeans. This is beyond annoying because features like syntax highlighting, error detection and auto-completion go completely awry. The bug is reportedly resolved in the upcoming version 7 of NetBeans, however I installed Beta 7 and the problem continues to occur.

Not being beyond switching back to Eclipse, I decided to try Spring's own IDE. Spring's IDE is a slightly customized version of Eclipse, with a bit nicer front-end dashboard for plugins and Spring product support built-in. Since Grails is a Spring project I figured it would work well.... and indeed it did. My other projects... well...

SpringSource Tool Suite uses the latest beta of Maven 3 for dependency resolution... and you cannot change that. Yes, you can specify alternate Maven installations, but STS completely ignores those settings for dependency resolution. Maven 3 will also refuse to load transient dependencies if it doesn't like your POM as well - which means that you simply cannot load your application with all required libraries if your Maven 2 pom.xml is rejected by Maven 3.

I could go back to my old Eclipse installation... and then I need to find a way to load the Grails plugins into the old Eclipse install. That sounds like loads of fun.

So now I have three choices:
  1. Use NetBeans and have absolutely no auto-complete or strongly typed variables
  2. Use SpringSource Tool Suite and re-do all my Maven 2 POMs
  3. Use my old Eclipse installation and try to install the necessary Spring plugins
Now, bear in mind I've burned four hours trying to STS to work. Another four to get NetBeans to work. How interested do you think I am at trying to get MORE plugins shoved into my old Eclipse installation?

I'm cheezed because NetBeans Grails support is rendered nearly useless by a fairly blatant bug. And I'm cheezed because Eclipse continues to be an albatross to every normal project I have. IntelliJ IDEA - you might just be next.

Until then, I've got a Grails app to blindly maintain while NetBeans continues to yell about imports not being found.