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Author Topic: What the hell is OpenCandy?  (Read 123147 times)
wraith808
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« Reply #400 on: April 05, 2011, 03:13:15 PM »

Umm, how does OpenCandy work, again?

Do they provide their own entire installation framework, or is it "merely" a plugin DLL available for use with 3rd party installers like NSIS, InnoSetup, InstallShield et cetera?

If it's a plugin, then Wraith isn't entirely correct - the DLL won't be part of the installer.exe import table, and it will be loaded dynamically. Now, it's several years since I've played with installers, so it could very well be that the major installers load all contained 3rd party DLLs as soon as possible... but that sounds a bit stupid.


I've had to incorporate 3p dlls with NSIS, InstallShield, and WISE, and in each case, the DLL was copied to the computer, which is installed, and then it was dynamically linked (of course), but it had to be loaded at the beginning of the installer.  I sort of mixed my metaphors so to speak with the dynamic links... but it's not load on demand which is what I meant.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #401 on: April 05, 2011, 03:13:35 PM »

I'm with 40hz: I think the OC logo and text, referring to the EULA, addresses the problem as best you can given current limitations. It also avoids the "problem" of increased attrition from an opt-in. Wink

Edit: I for one don't have a problem with the DLL being put on my computer (e.g. in temp) for it to be loaded in the installer. If upon immediately being loaded it's already *doing* stuff then I do take issue with that, but I would guess it won't *do* anything until actually asked to. In that case I personally am ok with it as long as I am asked if I want OC to *do* anything *before* it does it. Obviously this requires a bit of trust already, but that's fine by me. Ideally both the website/download location *and* installer would specify OC is used, that way if I'm concerned about even the DLL being loaded, I know I shouldn't bother with even downloading it.

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 03:15:54 PM by JavaJones » Logged

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40hz
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« Reply #402 on: April 05, 2011, 04:09:52 PM »

the effort that's involved would be pretty substantial for little benefit

I think that's only true if you're looking at it from a purely technical perspective.

What makes OC a bellweather is its asking us to accept that a piece of software - provided by a third party and totally unrelated to the main app's function - should be allowed to scan and transmit data back to that third party without announcing itself or getting the user's permission before doing so.

Regardless of whether or not it's been happening in other places, this has not generally been considered acceptable behavior for a legitimate software product. Truth is, stealth and operating without permission has always been considered more in keeping with malware and quasi-maleware behaviors.

And with venture capital backing and several prominent software developers signing onto OC, I think we really need to see this as a company attempting to change the definition of what is considered acceptable. If it wasn't trying to do this, it wouldn't be causing some anti-malware products to flag its behaviors as suspicious.

Whether or not it's malicious, by the way it operates, OC shares cultural and technical similarities with software that is potentially dangerous.

And while so-called false positives may damage a product's reputation unfairly, we also need to consider that most anti-malware detection is based of behavioral analysis. And to have a legitimate product display such behaviors by design - and then insist the anti-malware detection methodology needs to be changed to accommodate it - creates an even bigger problem when it comes to continuing to be able detect truly malicious code that operates in a similar manner except for the payload.

I'll risk a clumsy analogy to illustrate my point:

***

Suppose in a certain city, several of the most notorious and violent street gangs were easily identified by the fact they wore green fedora hats and drove a certain model van. The police were aware of this behavior, so it was relatively easy for them to spot the gangs and intervene whenever they were seen racing around in their vehicles or entering buildings at a a run.

Now suppose that the EMTs in this same city decided to also adopt green fedoras and begin driving similar looking vehicles.

Now the police have a much harder time identifying potential trouble and preventing it.

Are those two green fedora wearing guys who just ran into that building going in to put a hit on somebody or rob the place? Or are they just EMTs responding to an emergency call? And is that van that just flew down the road fleeing a crime scene - or is it attempting to get a stroke victim to an Emergency Room in time to save someone's life?

When the EMTs are asked to stop wearing green hats and get different vehicles, they refuse, claiming it's not they who are doing anything wrong.

And when an EMT unit is inevitably pulled over in error, the EMTs all demand that the police stop profiling them as if they were criminals - because again, it's not they who are doing anything wrong despite the fact their appearance and behavior demonstrates strong similarities to those who are.

In the wake of this, the police now have a much harder job zeroing in on potential trouble.

And as a result, they are not as effective as they used to be when dealing with a certain criminal element.

***

So while it may be a large effort for small gain, in the larger cultural and technical arena, having something work like OC introduces issues that could easily be avoided if it was implemented differently.

And that is something they are apparently refusing to do even though it shouldn't present much in the way of a technical challenge for them change their software.

Just my 2¢
 smiley
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wraith808
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« Reply #403 on: April 05, 2011, 04:27:07 PM »

the effort that's involved would be pretty substantial for little benefit

I think that's only true if you're looking at it from a purely technical perspective.

What makes OC a bellweather is its asking us to accept that a piece of software - provided by a third party and totally unrelated to the main app's function - should be allowed to scan and transmit data back to that third party without announcing itself or getting the user's permission before doing so.

Regardless of whether or not it's been happening in other places, this has not generally been considered acceptable behavior for a legitimate software product. Truth is, stealth and operating without permission has always been considered more in keeping with malware and quasi-maleware behaviors.

And with venture capital backing and several prominent software developers signing onto OC, I think we really need to see this as a company attempting to change the definition of what is considered acceptable. If it wasn't trying to do this, it wouldn't be causing some anti-malware products to flag its behaviors as suspicious.

Whether or not it's malicious, by the way it operates, OC shares cultural and technical similarities with software that is potentially dangerous.

And while so-called false positives may damage a product's reputation unfairly, we also need to consider that most anti-malware detection is based of behavioral analysis. And to have a legitimate product display such behaviors by design - and then insist the anti-malware detection methodology needs to be changed to accommodate it - creates an even bigger problem when it comes to continuing to be able detect truly malicious code that operates in a similar manner except for the payload.

I'll risk a clumsy analogy to illustrate my point:

<snip />

So while it may be a large effort for small gain, in the larger cultural and technical arena, having something work like OC introduces issues that could easily be avoided if it was implemented differently.

And that is something they are apparently refusing to do even though it shouldn't present much in the way of a technical challenge for them change their software.

Just my 2¢
 smiley

I snipped out your example- I do get what you mean, so as my reply doesn't really speak to that...

1) As far as acceptable behavior, I think that though it might be through a different avenue, and through a different type of organization, this has been around for a while.  And while people might grumble and complain, there's never been a huge outcry against it. (see yahoo toolbar, et al).  I think the difference is that they are openly courting developers, while at the same time touting that they are not more of the same.  So people are trying to prove that they are.  I have to consciously every time I install iTunes, or when I used to use yahoo messenger, or several other apps remember to uncheck the installs for other items.  And this is considered worse?  And in each case, there was a bit of discussion (or sometimes not) and then it blows over.  There's been no censure of Apple by the masses for their actions, nor of yahoo, or google, or any of the others that do the exact same thing.  So to say that this is not acceptable behavior is just not true.

2) The fact that this shouldn't present much of a technical challenge is *also* not true.  Especially when you're courting developers that already have an installer, and creating an installer is a *lot* of work.  I've done it from scratch before, and there's a lot of things you take for granted that InstallShield or Wise give you for free.  When I say a lot of work for little gain, I don't mean in terms of mindshare or other intangibles- those are hard to sell to VCs.  I mean in justifiable ROI.  I'm not defending the position; I'm just seeing things how they are.

So I don't think it's a refusal as much as it is a feasibility thing versus how much of an investment that the changes that you're mentioning would really cost versus their perceived gain.
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Renegade
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« Reply #404 on: April 05, 2011, 09:24:16 PM »

P.S. Nice splash screen design BTW. Really like that camera graphic. Thmbsup

Thanks! I tried to make the software friendly and attractive from the get-go.
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« Reply #405 on: April 06, 2011, 06:34:37 PM »

A little update- I was installing Applian FLV player on my new computer.  It uses Open Candy.  Or at least I *think* it does.  Looking in the EULA, it has something about OpenCandy.  But I wasn't presented with any option other than installing their own premium version... so I'm not sure *what* that was about...

Do you have the Freecorder toolbar?

I don't even know what that is.  I don't have any toolbars in my browsers, though.  And nothing was installed other than the FLV player.
Applian Flv Player is bundled with FreeCorder Toolbar. No OC recommendations, just the EULA though.
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wraith808
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« Reply #406 on: April 06, 2011, 10:51:07 PM »

A little update- I was installing Applian FLV player on my new computer.  It uses Open Candy.  Or at least I *think* it does.  Looking in the EULA, it has something about OpenCandy.  But I wasn't presented with any option other than installing their own premium version... so I'm not sure *what* that was about...

Do you have the Freecorder toolbar?

I don't even know what that is.  I don't have any toolbars in my browsers, though.  And nothing was installed other than the FLV player.
Applian Flv Player is bundled with FreeCorder Toolbar. No OC recommendations, just the EULA though.


Apparently it's not bundled as far as being installed; I don't have it installed on my machine.
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Renegade
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« Reply #407 on: April 06, 2011, 11:05:10 PM »

Applian Flv Player is bundled with FreeCorder Toolbar. No OC recommendations, just the EULA though.

Not quite, but close. There are 2 downloads for it. One includes Freecorder, the other doesn't.



Freecorder is one of their own applications, and isn't a 3rd party toolbar. So basically, it's just getting a bundle with their own software.
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #408 on: April 09, 2011, 01:27:59 AM »

I was searching for the Pay per install market recently and the rates of download made me chuckle. Check the rates on 21media.biz (sorry not going to give them link).

1000 downloads - 100$ (US downloads), just curious what's the rate of OC in comparison to them ?  cheesy
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 01:30:00 AM by mahesh2k » Logged
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« Reply #409 on: April 09, 2011, 04:15:16 AM »

I was searching for the Pay per install market recently and the rates of download made me chuckle. Check the rates on 21media.biz (sorry not going to give them link).

1000 downloads - 100$ (US downloads), just curious what's the rate of OC in comparison to them ?  cheesy

Holy Murphy! From 21media:

Quote
What do you pay for?

We pay for a unique installation of our EXE-file on a user's computer. By registering in our affiliate program, you receive an EXE-file associated with your ID in our system. We can track the unique installations of this EXE-file on user's computers. The payment for each installation is made according to the rates of the chosen program. The installed EXE-file is safe for users, its activity does not harm users and their computers and it does not violate any law of any country.

How do I start working with your affiliate program?

You need to register and then you'll get a unique EXE-file that you can install by any means except SPAM.

That's the kind of program that's perfect for bundling with warez and cracks.



With OC, so far it looks like an auction system, but I'm not sure. Different offers have greater/lesser earnings. You can see that in a control panel screenshot above.

Post:
http://www.donationcoder....18297.msg244126#msg244126
Image:
http://www.donationcoder....8297.0;attach=57048;image

Now, whether that's due to better offer acceptance rates or not, I am not sure.

I've posted some information about revenue here:

http://cynic.me/2011/04/0...ook-at-opencandy-revenue/

That breaks things down by country. The US is worth about $0.50 per accepted offer, but acceptance is only about 21%. Keep in mind that it is a very small data set and not really very reliable. We're talking about the first 10 days of a product on a site that is brand new with no previous exposure. Ground zero.

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Renegade
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« Reply #410 on: April 09, 2011, 05:44:52 AM »

Here's some good information from DrApps:

http://www.techsupportale...oftware.htm#comment-69790

Quote
OpenCandy does indeed want to make sure that we don't recommend something that someone already has installed. However, OpenCandy does *NOT* scan your computer and catalog all the programs you have installed (a very common misconception for some reason). What the OpenCandy installer plug-in does do is use what we call "validation code" to determine whether a recommendation a developer has chosen is valid for a given computer. As an example, someone without Outlook installed wouldn't benefit from an Outlook plugin. So if a developer has chosen to recommend an Outlook plugin, an XML-based file of "validation code" is sent to the user's computer. The OpenCandy plug-in (running locally) checks the "validation code" to see if Outlook is installed and if so, the OpenCandy plug-in sends our server a binary "yes" in order for the graphics and messaging for the recommendation screen to be sent to the user's computer to be displayed during the publisher's installation process.

That's some of the internal processes of the OpenCandy DLL.

It should clear up some concerns for some people.
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« Reply #411 on: April 09, 2011, 05:48:34 AM »

I Just tried to dig more into their offers. They're basically secondary tier like OC installing the same CPI/CPA offers and luring publishers on lower rate. If publisher approaches directly using their product to a better network then i'm sure the rate of downloads will be much better. Only thing is that it's hard to get accepted into such big networks because - 1) they're so hyped and their affiliate managers treat small publishers like beggars or useless fly 2) they want bigger fish. So getting a secondary tier network(like OC) is the only option for small publishers me thinks.

I'm sure owners of utorrent, k-lite media codec, sharkcodec earn more from such downloads than REAL donations(if they exist).
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f0dder
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« Reply #412 on: April 09, 2011, 08:29:30 AM »

Holy Murphy! From 21media:

Quote
What do you pay for?

We pay for a unique installation of our EXE-file on a user's computer. By registering in our affiliate program, you receive an EXE-file associated with your ID in our system. We can track the unique installations of this EXE-file on user's computers. The payment for each installation is made according to the rates of the chosen program. The installed EXE-file is safe for users, its activity does not harm users and their computers and it does not violate any law of any country.

How do I start working with your affiliate program?

You need to register and then you'll get a unique EXE-file that you can install by any means except SPAM.

That's the kind of program that's perfect for bundling with warez and cracks.
I doubt you'd ever see that kind of thing included with warez, though. "Hi feds, here's a money trail to follow back to us" - sounds smart to you? smiley

Here's some good information from DrApps:

*SNIP*
Quote
*SNIP* However, OpenCandy does *NOT* scan your computer and catalog all the programs you have installed (a very common misconception for some reason). *SNIP* The OpenCandy plug-in (running locally) checks the "validation code" to see if Outlook is installed and if so, the OpenCandy plug-in sends our server a binary "yes" in order for the graphics and messaging for the recommendation screen to be sent to the user's computer to be displayed during the publisher's installation process.
Snipped the quote down a bit, and added italic emphasis. So, while OC doesn't a full list of software installed on your computer (good - let's hope that lasts), they do in effect get to know whether any of the software in their programme is installed. Better, but still not perfect.

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« Reply #413 on: April 09, 2011, 10:29:11 AM »

My only concern is Dr. Apps. Back when this thread first started I searched for "OpenCandy" trying to find out more about it. The 4 or 5 search results I visited all were postsd by Dr. Apps seemingly smoothing over people's concerns, as he did here when he first showed up on DC. So I searched for Dr. Apps + OpenCandy and found a whole lot of the same. Harmless I guess, but it looks, smells, and feels a lot like the astroturfing that I see with certain other products, like MagicJack. As soon as a thread or blog discussion starts somewhere and mentions their product suddenly someone shows up to sing its praises.

Oddly I have never found this to be the case with normal apps that aren't doing anything that people deem suspicious; only with suspect apps.

(Plus that creepy smile on his avatar bugs me!!  Grin  )

Thanks!

Jim
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f0dder
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« Reply #414 on: April 09, 2011, 10:39:48 AM »

J-Mac: he's definitely their propagandist, but at least he's not trying to hide it - and that's something to give credit for.

Oddly I have never found this to be the case with normal apps that aren't doing anything that people deem suspicious; only with suspect apps.

(Plus that creepy smile on his avatar bugs me!!  Grin  )
You and me both, man.
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« Reply #415 on: April 09, 2011, 10:43:37 AM »

I've never installed anything OC has promoted.
Does it do an auto install if you choose one?
Or does it do it another way?

I expect it just installs if you choose to.
I would prefer a new tab with the proposal and more info.
So I could see more about the program.
The link could still be credited to the developer.
More to deal with for the end-user, but more transparent, imo.
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wraith808
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« Reply #416 on: April 09, 2011, 11:13:54 AM »

I've never installed anything OC has promoted.
Does it do an auto install if you choose one?
Or does it do it another way?

OC isn't installed on your machine.  It runs in the installer temp directory, loaded into memory by the installer so that functions can be called from the installer.  Once the installer cleanup runs, it is removed from your machine.  Renegade did a test to see if everything is removed, and apparently it is, other than one empty folder.
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« Reply #417 on: April 09, 2011, 11:36:07 AM »

What I mean is, for example, IE9, the opt-in/opt-out check boxes are not checked-correct?
So if I check, opt-in, 'install IE9', will it connect, to somewhere, and install without any more info about IE9?
Instead of opening a web page for installing IE9, which is what I'd like.

So I'm not talking about OC's .dll, but how the opt-in for any program actually works.

Is that more clear.
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« Reply #418 on: April 09, 2011, 12:26:56 PM »

I've never installed anything OC has promoted.
Does it do an auto install if you choose one?
Or does it do it another way?

OC isn't installed on your machine.  It runs in the installer temp directory, loaded into memory by the installer so that functions can be called from the installer.  Once the installer cleanup runs, it is removed from your machine.  Renegade did a test to see if everything is removed, and apparently it is, other than one empty folder.

To be clear, IIRC, that was where I declined an offer. I should do the same where I accept an offer.
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40hz
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« Reply #419 on: April 09, 2011, 12:48:44 PM »

J-Mac: he's definitely their propagandist, but at least he's not trying to hide it - and that's something to give credit for.

Strongly agree w/f0dder on that point. As long as the business affiliation is announced up front, I have no problem with somebody being a paid supporter as long as there's no agenda to deceive. Most of us need to work for a living. And getting paid to 'evangelize' a piece of tech is a common and accepted practice anyway. No point singling out any one company or individual for doing that.



Oddly I have never found this to be the case with normal apps that aren't doing anything that people deem suspicious; only with suspect apps.

(Plus that creepy smile on his avatar bugs me!!  Grin  )
Quote
You and me both, man.

I personally think they should hire Renegade in some capacity. He's done more to build a convincing case for OC (despite the fact I personally don't like how OC implements itself) than some of the official communiqués ever did. He also speaks to the concerns of developers and software geeks. And, being a developer himself, on their level.

Hey DrApps! Maybe you folks should consider hiring this guy in some capacity?

Seriously.
 Cool
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 12:56:57 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #420 on: April 09, 2011, 01:04:09 PM »

J-Mac: he's definitely their propagandist, but at least he's not trying to hide it - and that's something to give credit for.

Strongly agree w/f0dder on that point. As long as the business affiliation is announced up front, I have no problem with somebody being a paid supporter as long as there's no agenda to deceive. Most of us need to work for a living. And getting paid to 'evangelize' a piece of tech is a common and accepted practice anyway. No point singling out any one company or individual for doing that.


I'm not singling him out; he's done that for himself! I'm just saying that I have not seen this kind of paid supporter appearing all over the web in any other program that I use. I personally only see this in what I would call "controversial" apps or devices. Maybe you or others have seen differently.

Thanks!

Jim
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wraith808
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« Reply #421 on: April 09, 2011, 01:17:42 PM »

J-Mac: he's definitely their propagandist, but at least he's not trying to hide it - and that's something to give credit for.

Strongly agree w/f0dder on that point. As long as the business affiliation is announced up front, I have no problem with somebody being a paid supporter as long as there's no agenda to deceive. Most of us need to work for a living. And getting paid to 'evangelize' a piece of tech is a common and accepted practice anyway. No point singling out any one company or individual for doing that.


I'm not singling him out; he's done that for himself! I'm just saying that I have not seen this kind of paid supporter appearing all over the web in any other program that I use. I personally only see this in what I would call "controversial" apps or devices. Maybe you or others have seen differently.

For better or worse... PhraseExpress is an example of a company that does aggressive marketing through a rep and proxies.
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« Reply #422 on: April 09, 2011, 01:25:39 PM »

@J-Mac

I wasn't criticizing you for being suspicious. I certainly was suspicious when I first noticed that as well. I was just agreeing with f0dder that in this particular instance, DrApps was forthcoming about the fact he was an employee of OC - which goes a long way to reducing the worry someone's trying to 'turf the forum.

In the case of OC, I think we're seeing more of them on forums brcause they have made a commitment in money and people to be seen there.

Amazing what startup capital can do to get the word out and tell your side of the story.
 smiley
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 01:32:25 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #423 on: April 09, 2011, 01:36:23 PM »

I personally think they should hire Renegade in some capacity. He's done more to build a convincing case for OC (despite the fact I personally don't like how OC implements itself) than some of the official communiqués ever did. He also speaks to the concerns of developers and software geeks. And, being a developer himself, on their level.

Hey DrApps! Maybe you folks should consider hiring this guy in some capacity?

Seriously.
 Cool


Agreed +1.  Thmbsup
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« Reply #424 on: April 09, 2011, 01:37:11 PM »

This is ever so simple...

Does it install ANYTHING (part of itself or whatever it is "offering" or anything else) without user choice to deny?

Does it send ANY info "home to mama" without a user choice to deny same.

Is user option to NOT do either of the above presented clearly and obviously BEFORE it is done?

If the answers to those are other than NO, NO, YES, then OpenCandy is undeniably evil.

http://www.techsupportale...mbedded-more-software.htm
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 11:47:56 AM by movrshakr » Logged
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