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Put your dick on the line
October 5th 2005, 04:44 CEST by m0nty

A lot of people whine and complain about how terrible things are in the industries they follow, on this site as well as many others. Greg Costikyan is one such whiner in the games industry, having long railed at the inequities of the publisher/developer system as perfected by such corporate monoliths as EA, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. However, unlike most of his blogging colleagues, he has decided to abandon his cushy job and start up a company called Manifesto Games to make good on his whining by changing the industry via his own hairy fist.

From reading about all this Web 2.0 hype, apparently there is a second Internet boom just about to happen, with venture capital available for those who have a good enough idea and are prepared to back it with their blood, sweat and tears. The question begs: if you have the energy to rant continually about the supposed faults of the current system (whichever system that is), why don't you have the energy to start up your own company and try to do it the "right way"?

I am doing something along those lines, although my vision is not as obviously disruptive as Costikyan's. Capitalising on ideas I gathered from the launch this year of FanFooty, I (and my co-founder Tai) will build a search engine for which the prototype is FanFooty's Media Street page, to be called Tinfinger. I won't go into the nitty gritty of it since I don't want to give away the shop just yet, but as a big clue the site name comes from the Vietnamese word for news - tin - and the old Unix finger command based on RFC1288 for listing information on a person. There's a whole punch of puns and cultural references in the name that I like as well.

The underlying reason I want to launch this site, the reason that gets me out of bed in the morning, is that I think many current dot com companies are far too focused on the machine and not enough on the person. Quite apart from the market niche this represents, I believe in humanism, specifically in this context that machine algorithms should not be the arbiters of our experiences or the apotheosis of our work, but that people should be the focus of, and gatekeepers of, our information flows.

Now, you may pooh-pooh that concept, but that's not the point of this topic. You must have something you believe in, that you could conceivably turn into a reason to start a company to make your own distinctive imprint on society in your chosen field. What is your passionate belief, what positive effort could that belief be turned towards, and why shouldn't you go ahead and take the risk?

(NB: "dick on the line" is a reference to an old TV series called Frontline, and is non-gender-specific.)
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#1 by Jibble
2005-10-05 04:45:01
What the fuck is this shit?

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#2 by Hieronymus
2005-10-05 04:47:02
I dare say it's a new topic (same as the old topic).
#3 by bago
2005-10-05 04:49:49
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Jibble's kinks?

The need for an ever-fresh selection of euphemisms about dirty subjects has long served as an impressive engine of linguistic invention.
#4 by m0nty
2005-10-05 04:51:19
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Yay!
#5 by m0nty
2005-10-05 04:57:45
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Alright, to restate #0 in more earthy terms for all you hatahs out there:

You're in a Brewster's Millions scenario: some old codger you didn't know was related to you has left you $1 million with $30 million to come on the proviso that you must start a business which becomes reasonably profitable during the first year, but it has to be something you really enjoy doing. What sort of business do you start?
#6 by Shadarr
2005-10-05 05:12:08
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Profitable?  Then I guess it would have to be porn.

Without me, Internet would never have had sex with the DS. -m0nty
#7 by m0nty
2005-10-05 05:26:13
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Okay, let's say porn is out. What then?
#8 by VeeSPIKE
2005-10-05 05:34:46
#7 m0nty
Okay, let's say porn is out. What then?


I'm not going to play your game, you keep changing the rules.

The media doesn't educate, it sensationalizes. That's why there's no learning curve, just repeated bouts of gross stupidity. Bailey
#9 by CheesyPoof
2005-10-05 05:36:04
What sort of business do you start?

I have no idea.  Every day I try to think of something though.
#10 by m0nty
2005-10-05 05:38:25
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Well Cheesy, what do you enjoy doing (which doesn't involve porn or gambling)?
#11 by Squeaky
2005-10-05 05:40:52
So this topic gets in while mine rots in the bin for over a week.
#12 by yotsuya
2005-10-05 05:55:29
I'm going to open a pet cemetary.
#13 by Leslie Nassar
2005-10-05 06:03:28
http://departmentofinternets.com
semetary

hi. i like you. do you like me?
#14 by schnee
2005-10-05 06:08:41
david@snowdesign.com
I'll open an AJAX Web 2.0 User Experience Consultancy firm.

My business title will say:

'Experience'

and it'll take all our money to outfit the shop with 17" Powerbooks, iPod Nanos and 30" Cinema Displays.

I used to be 'with it', but then they changed what 'it' was. Now, what I'm with isn't 'it', and what's 'it' seems weird and scary to me.
#15 by m0nty
2005-10-05 06:14:53
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Don't forget those Aeron chairs!
#16 by Shadarr
2005-10-05 06:17:15
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I honestly don't think I would start a business if I had a million dollars.  I have no interest in shmoozing investors and customers or all the self-pimping it would require.

Without me, Internet would never have had sex with the DS. -m0nty
#17 by Squeaky
2005-10-05 06:19:04
[OfficeSpace]If I had a million dollars... I would do nothing. Absolutely nothing.[/OfficeSpace]
#18 by CheesyPoof
2005-10-05 06:27:23
Well Cheesy, what do you enjoy doing (which doesn't involve porn or gambling)?

Hrm. I think cars are cool. Games are nice. Books are fun. I like sci-fi. I'd like to do something different, I do know that.
#19 by Leslie Nassar
2005-10-05 06:30:54
http://departmentofinternets.com
you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man.

hi. i like you. do you like me?
#20 by eggbert
2005-10-05 06:33:41
http://www.stuffresearch.com
Hell my cousin's broke, don't do shit!
#21 by Chunkstyle
2005-10-05 06:38:28
So we're supposed to give m0nty our business ideas and assume he won't steal them?

Game Developers: Don't forget the zombie monkeys.
#22 by m0nty
2005-10-05 06:39:27
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
I don't have the capital to capitalise on them.
#23 by G-Man
2005-10-05 06:44:29
A million doesn't take you as far as it used to. However, I would start a cellphone software/hardware accessory company, for which I have many potentially revolutionary ideas. If I couldn't do that, I would develop a slick web interface for spawning VMWare ESX sessions on demand, so you can rent servers of any stripe with much lower customer service and related overhead costs. Or go after the consumer/business consumer market - imagine having your desktop being completely virtualized for the price of an ordinary web hosting account. Access your files etc. anywhere at any time.
#24 by CheesyPoof
2005-10-05 06:46:43
I'm watching Sin City right now, and I feel likt it's pretty boring.
#25 by m0nty
2005-10-05 06:52:14
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
G-Man (#23):
Or go after the consumer/business consumer market - imagine having your desktop being completely virtualized for the price of an ordinary web hosting account. Access your files etc. anywhere at any time.

You'd be interested in this then.
#26 by Dumdeedum
2005-10-05 07:09:03
http://www.dumdeedum.com
I'd deal drugs; buying a baggie or a block in plastic wrap from a hippie friend just doesn't cut it, so I see a market in properly packaged, top quality product being sold by courteous and professional employees.  The extra (and arguably false) sense of security and increased customer confidence provided by this would not only increase your userbase but also allow you to charge the slightly higher prices needed to cover your operating costs.

#27 by G-Man
2005-10-05 07:16:47
We have drug delivery services in Manhattan. I don't think there is really all that much money in it to be honest.

Re: monty, I have seen it, and I think the market has enough low barriers to entry right now to make competing worthwhile. The whole issue is a marketing problem rather than a technology problem anyway.
#28 by m0nty
2005-10-05 07:17:40
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
G-Man (#27):
Re: monty, I have seen it, and I think the market has enough low barriers to entry right now to make competing worthwhile. The whole issue is a marketing problem rather than a technology problem anyway.

Agreed and agreed.
#29 by G-Man
2005-10-05 07:21:17
Anyway, a related idea is to have your OS stuff like files and what apps you have purchased etc. be stored on your cellphone either locally on flash memory (why current cellphones don't sport flash memory readers or even an interface for a pen drive - is beyond me - using a cable for data access to your phone is crap) to be beamed to nearby computing devices via bluetooth, or stored server side by your network provider. Either way, as long as you have your cellphone with you, you will be able to access all your files and so forth on any machine or device anywhere that supports the standard. Only problem with the local storage idea is cost for real storage, plus security issues - but the tradeoff is much better speed and mobility. The ideal solution would allow both options.
#30 by G-Man
2005-10-05 07:23:18
Also, the idea is to do a dodgeball anyway. So I just need to get enough user interest to get bought out by Google or whatever. I don't actually have to spend a bajillion dollars like Amazon to get enough users to be profitable in ten years.
#31 by Leslie Nassar
2005-10-05 07:30:15
http://departmentofinternets.com
G-Man: two of the new XDA handsets have USB interfaces.  i've given up the pen drive in favor of storing everything to the cellphone thanks to Bluetooth EDR.

hi. i like you. do you like me?
#32 by Neale
2005-10-05 07:33:24
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
My Sharp GX30i uses SD cards for storage - with 1Gb, it makes for great file storage, especially via Bluetooth as Leslie alluded to.

I have a hard time accepting that anyone could achieve this miraculously high level of stupidity. - Caryn
#33 by Leslie Nassar
2005-10-05 09:14:03
http://departmentofinternets.com
this one's for you, m0nty...

hi. i like you. do you like me?
#34 by Marsh Davies
2005-10-05 12:57:35
www.verbalchilli.com
We have drug delivery services in Manhattan. I don't think there is really all that much money in it to be honest.

My local drug dealer just retired to Ibiza at the age of 22. I'd say there's some cash left in it.

#35 by Gunp01nt
2005-10-05 13:39:38
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Too bad you have to spend most of it on personal security.

"My mom was kind of fat. Well, kind of... we used to call her heavyweight champion."
#36 by LPMiller
2005-10-05 13:52:46
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
I'd open up a bowling alley/lan center.

"Testiculos habet et bene pendentes" "He has testicles, and they dangle nicely."
#37 by m0nty
2005-10-05 14:00:45
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Leslie Nassar (#33):
this one's for you, m0nty...

I'd be happy selling out to Yahoo too. My co-founder is a little worried about my flat refusal to do any deals at all with Telstra, but a man's got to have some scruples.
#38 by Leslie Nassar
2005-10-05 14:12:34
http://departmentofinternets.com
i heartily endorse your lack of telstra shenanigans

hi. i like you. do you like me?
#39 by Jibble
2005-10-05 14:37:23
Liquor store on the county line. Easy money.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#40 by m0nty
2005-10-05 14:58:43
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Look, this is Brewster's Millions we're talking about here. It's a PG-rated movie. No porn, no gambling, no booze, no drugs, no violence, no crime.

If you had the opportunity to start the business you always wanted to work at for life, what would you do?
#41 by Ashiran
2005-10-05 15:04:17
I don't want to work the rest of my life so I can't anwser that one.

But if I had to start something it would be something like Lionhead (trying for innovation, usage of smart  AI) only without the suck.

Nihil nequit.
#42 by Penguinx
2005-10-05 15:04:59
My kneejerk reaction would be to start something up like this. Nothing would be as gratifying.

Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
#43 by Gunp01nt
2005-10-05 15:12:40
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Duke Nukem Forever strikes again!

Oh well, at least people are still talking about it. Hahahahahah!

"My mom was kind of fat. Well, kind of... we used to call her heavyweight champion."
#44 by Jibble
2005-10-05 15:13:05
Brewster spent tons of his money on booze, all that champagne at the party! This game is stupid.

I guess I would probably just take the million and put it in the bank to earn interest. The odds there are much better than you'd get when trying to start a new business.

Now, if you want to re-pose the question and not make it a Brewster's Millions scenario where you just have free money and there's no concern about profitability, I'd probably open up a vinyl sign and lettering business. Make your own hours, easy work, good money.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#45 by Penguinx
2005-10-05 15:16:00
I'd probably open up a vinyl sign and lettering business. Make your own hours, easy work, good money.


Fucker.

Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
#46 by Jibble
2005-10-05 15:23:16
Penguin, you're running a print shop in addition to being in the sign business. If money weren't a problem, I'm betting you could get by with doing vinyl lettering stuff. Hell, you could make a good bit on pinstriping alone.  To me, it's just a question of how many people need this kind of stuff. Vinyl lettering is damn near everywhere.

Blog. SANTAK, BANKOROK, TOMATO!
220 lbs.  40 to go.
#47 by Penguinx
2005-10-05 15:40:46
I have to say, if you stick only to vinyl lettering/simple banners/yard signs there is almost no overhead besides rent. You COULD run the shop yourself or, at most, with one other employee. I'd recommend at least one decent screen printing station too.

I've got a bunch of wide-format/vinyl equipment and the costs of that shit adds up right quick like. Soljets, Gerber Edges, etc.

In addition to that, a nice four color press on the printing side of things can run you half a million dollars. Luckily, there's a record amount of print shops going belly up and a lot of the equipment can be scavenged from auctions and the like.

Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
#48 by E-ph0nk
2005-10-05 15:57:05
http://www.electrophonk.be
re #43, DNF doesn't run on the doom3 engine - prey does.

#49 by m0nty
2005-10-05 16:07:20
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Penguinx (#47):
In addition to that, a nice four color press on the printing side of things can run you half a million dollars. Luckily, there's a record amount of print shops going belly up and a lot of the equipment can be scavenged from auctions and the like.

Mmm-hmm, I wonder why they're going belly up?
#50 by Penguinx
2005-10-05 16:14:30
So many of the things that a print shop does can be done by the average small business owner these days. It's all a matter of positioning. If you sell yourself as a kinkos type of quick print dept for small business owners, you're fucked. And that's what most of the print shops around here do.

I try to put an emphasis on the design side of things and offer the printing as a convenience.

Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.
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