Apology accepted @superboyac. And sorry about the signature everyone. There wasn't anything subversive or psychological about it. I'm kind of an old school/old fashioned guy and sometimes I'm perhaps a little too formal... My father was pretty strict which is probably the reason (I also tend to be overly polite). In this case I thought the right thing to do was put my info in the bottom of my posts, not knowing that some people like to hide (I didn't even know you could hide) signatures on DC. I should have spent time going through my profile and putting my signature in there. Side note: If anyone here every meets me in person, you'll notice I'm even worse at saying goodbyes. I'm the type of person that worries that every time I say goodbye to a person (even if I'm supposed to see them the next day) that it could be the last time I ever seen them.
And now for my shocking (and slightly embarrassing) revelation: Until now the only time I'd ever posted on a forum was about 10 years ago... on a Volkswagen forum.
When I started the Appsolute Tech Show (my defunct podcast about great Windows/Mac/Linux software) it was the first time I was using my tech knowledge to give back to the online community (I've been doing it offline for a long time). From there I discovered Twitter and thought it would be a good place to help people with hardware/software problems and post when updates to software that I loved were available. So, historically, I've pretty much kept to myself on the internet. Which explains why I'm still learning forums and good "netiquette".
To that end: I added my signature via the DonationCoder profile settings and I will no longer manually put it in the body of my posts.
No personal offence taken. When I interviewed for my position at OpenCandy I was skeptical as well. I'd been around long enough that MY intuition was telling me something could be fishy. But something in my head made me make the decision to get on a plane for the first time in 15 years and fly 3000 miles to meet with the OpenCandy team (the whole story is here: http://www.opencandy.com/blog/entry.php?id=7
). My intuition was wrong (which is rare)... I made the right choice to visit with the team because I found people that are passionate about solving a problem: regular people still have trouble discovering great software and developers still need new (or better) methods of distributing software and some developers (like freeware and open source) would like to make money (outside of donations or Cafepress t-shirts) from their existing software distribution but do it in a way not previously possible (user-friendly, opt-in recommendations for software they personally use and/or love).
We all have to find a way to make a living. To me the greatest thing you can do is to find a way to get paid doing something you love and are passionate about. I'm passionate about software and have personally (face to face) introduced hundreds of people to software they had no idea existed. Now I have the chance to reach even more people.
I think I understand what you are asking, but if I miss something, please let me know.
@cmpm "Is it a download that will install in the computer?"
You mean OpenCandy right? OpenCandy is a plugin that developers integrate into their software installer to make recommendations. The OpenCandy plugin has absolutely no functionality outside of the software installer it was integrated with. If you choose to accept a recommendation, then the OpenCandy download manager (which is part of the plugin) will open up and download the installer for the software you choose to install. That's it. The OpenCandy plugin/download manager has no persistent functionality.
@cmpm "Probably like one of those update checkers."
I think I covered that in the previous question. But no, OpenCandy is not like an update checker, it's only functionality is allowing a developer to recommend software during installation of their software and to download the recommended software if the user chooses to accept the recommendation.
@cmpm "Is it web based or a program to be installed?"
OpenCandy's technology includes both an installer plugin and our backend technology which instructs the installer which software it can recommend based on the pool of applications the developer chose.
@cmpm "Hope you get the thing in the open soon.
Then it can be tested."
It can be tested today. OpenCandy recommendations are in millions of downloads every month. To see it in action you can check out some of the programs I mentioned a few posts up.
"When you install an application are the recommended title installers included in the download or does the installer download the extra software as required by the user? If the latter is the case then this is a better alternative than every bit of software you download including extra crap - I am personally sick of wasting time and bandwidth downloading Yahoo toolbar every time I download a shareware trial or update an application (like CCleaner). If the installer merely contain the suggestion and a pointer that to me would be a step forward."
OpenCandy = No extra software bundling! That's one of the unique things about how the OpenCandy system works. The only thing included is the OpenCandy plugin that goes in the installer of the application that wishes to recommend other software (installer plugin is about 300k). Only WHEN/IF the user chooses to ACCEPT a recommendation does our download manager launch to download the accepted program's installer.
@Carol Haynes "How easy wold this system be to spoof and cause real mayhem across the internet - if there is no control over where you choose to download applications from I think there is a serious potential for major abuse of people's systems."
Good news: OpenCandy can't be spoofed like that!:) Each developer (who has been approved) that uses OpenCandy to recommend software receives a unique API keys specific to their installer. So the only software that can be recommended is the software that developer chose to recommend.
The installer for an ACCEPTED recommendation is downloaded via our download manager from a repository of installers on Amazon S3 that we maintain.
Those installers are the exact ones available from a developers website (that's were we get them from for open source software such as Audacity or Flock and for companies paying to have their software recommended they directly provide their installer directly to us for auditing and subsequent uploading into our download repository). Each time an application (recommended via OpenCandy) is updated, we check the new installer to ensure it's still "kosher" before we upload the updated installer into our repository. This is to ensure a previously reputable developer hasn't gone rogue and decided to throw their reputation out the windows all the sudden and decide "Hey, let's put a keylogger in our program).
@Carol Haynes "In the long post above a number of checks are listed. I have serious problems with some of those checks - McAfee SiteAdvisor is known to be broken because they don't update their system often enough. I have also found a number of legitimate sites blocked by some of the free HOSTS files you mentioned (and is one of the reasons I gave up using a downloadable HOSTS file for security - there is no way anyone can check 170000 entries manually so how do you know they are legitimately blocked)."
None of those checks are perfect in and of themself, they are all part of the puzzle of ensuring the software in our network is good. By having a multi-tiered approach to auditing software we can do the best job possible of keeping out the bad eggs.
When I go to a site I believe is legimate and is blocked by my hosts files, I do research to figure out why and then I make the decision to unblock or leave them blocked. I've definitely come across my fair share of legimate sites (Softpedia, Bink.nu, Creative.com, Promotions.newegg.com, Inc.com etc) that are blocked by those lists and I unblocked them. My hosts files is a good first line of defense.
Regarding SiteAdvisor, I've seen a decent amount of false positives there as well. Take FileMenuTools for example from LopeSoft (http://www.lopesoft.com/en/fmtools/info.html
and no he DOESN'T participate in OpenCandy and probably doesn't know about us at all, I just LOVE FileMenuTools). I trust his software and it's safe, but he has some links to other sites labeled RED by McAfee
) and so, his site is labeled RED.
Here's a great example of how combining those checks helped me prevent one such "baddie" from joining OpenCandy:
My second day on the job at OpenCandy we received an email from a developer who filled out our web form and said "I'd like to commit $15k to pay developers to recommend my software". That in itself was unusual; my teammates said that we don't get a lot of requests in that manner because we weren't very well known.
The software they wanted to recommend was a "system utility". Now, I'd never heard of this software before, which isn't necessarily a red flag, but certainly strange because I download and test a LOT of software (in April 2009 I downloaded over 1755 installers/zip files for shareware, freeware and open source software -- a total of 18.5GB). The first thing I did was go to their website, hmmm "Page not found". I fired up HostsMan to check to see if I blocked them via my hosts files. Sure enough I did. But that's not so weird, because yes, some legitimate sites get blocked by the hosts file block-lists I use. Then I went to SiteAdvisor and saw that they were labeled RED and there was a bunch of horror stories about this company's poor business practices. Next I went to download.com to see if their software was listed for download. Oddly, it was. The SiteAdvisor comments were bad enough to mean exclusion from our network. But I still decided to search for other independent reviews of this software -- I DID NOT find a SINGLE one! Long story short, I did more digging and discovered even more disturbing things about the "company" behind the software. Mind you, this is my SECOND day on the job. I'm in my "lab" pacing around in circles wondering what's going to happen when I tell my bosses/teammates what I found and if everything I believed about what we are trying to do at OpenCandy (help users discover great software) was going to hold true. So I called my bosses/teammates and said "It's great that someone wants to spend $15k to have their software recommended via OpenCandy, unfortunately we ABSOLUTELY CANNOT allow this company or it's products in our network!" I then explained my findings and held my breath... The next words out of everyone's mouth was "THANKS DOC, AWESOME JOB! That's why you're here, to make sure stuff like that ISN'T in our network!" You have no idea how much of a relief that was to me. It again confirmed that the whole team was committed to doing the right thing.. Even, in a case like this, when it means having to forgo revenue.
@Carol Haynes"prefer that you list your recommendations simply with a link tot he developers website and preferably a link to a trusted download website where apps are test for spyware and allow user feedback."
Since I've covered our mission/vision throughout this post (in short: to help users discover great software while helping developers expand their distribution or make money from their existing distribution). And I've explained the extraordinary measures we take to ensure only good software is in our network (heck as illustrated above, a piece of software that was good enough for download.com wasn't good enough to be in the network) and how we take into account a variety of measures to make that happen.
I'll briefly explain why we do it the way we do.
I'm working on getting some hard statistics (they really don't exist in the software world), but this is what I know: There is a dropoff from someone visiting a developers website, finding where the download is, downloading the application and then installing it. From what developers have told us and from other info around the net, the dropoff between someone downloading and installing a piece of software is at least 50%. That means that for every 100 people that download an application, less than 50% actually install it (for various reasons).
That's where OpenCandy comes in. If a developer acting as a publisher (those who recommend software) believes that another application can provide value or solve a problem for their users, then they want to do whatever they can do to EASILY make that happen. Yes, you can just put a link in the developer's website (and as discussed earlier we'll be incorporating informational links into the recommendation screens soon), but then the likelihood of the person actually visiting the site, downloading the app, and installing it gets lower and lower each and every step of the process. With an OpenCandy recommendation the user gets to see a few bulletpoints about the recommended application's main features and can decide right then if it's software they're interesting in using.
-Users already in the process of installing software provide a great engagement point to discover other software they may find useful.
-Being able to download the installer for an ACCEPTED recommendation instantly (after the install for the original software they were installing completes) translates into a higher likelihood the user will actually install the software. It also leads itself to a higher quality user for the developer of the recommended application since the user read the information about the recommended software and CONSCIOUSLY chose to install it.
I hope this info helps. It's the weekend and I want to spend some time with my daughter (http://twitpic.com/58dzv
). But I'll try to be around if anybody has questions/comments/concerns/ideas. Thanks for the lively discussion!
Dr. Apps (I'm still going to put that)
EDITED: I hope this answer this info helps to I hope this info helps.