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Surfulater cracked, oh this is fun.

I was just checking my Web logs and there was a big and strange spike of activity which started yesterday. It turns out that the this is because the new version of Surfulater I put out last week has a crack available, so there is a stack of people downloading it to apply the patch.

This also happened around mid-year and at that time it was fairly easy to crack. I did a bit more work and made it quite a bit harder to crack, which maybe why its taken a while for a new version to be cracked.

Anyway the fun part is that they think they've cracked it, but they haven't. After a period of time a message comes up telling them they need to re-install, then when they press OK it crashes and my crash handler askes them for details of the error and then lets them e-mail the crash report to me. I wonder whether I'll get any of these e-mails. :) Certainly none so far. Oh this is fun.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Can you tell us how much your downloads have increased (in % maybe)? If it's a lot, it might actually be a good promotion for your software. Maybe it actually makes sense for you to upload the the next semi-working crack yourself.
Matthias Winkelmann
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Have you checked that the patch actually makes the error pop up?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Congratulation ! Your software becoming popular amongs users in the world!
Oleg
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
>Can you tell us how much your downloads have increased (in % maybe)?

Its about 2-3 times higher than a normal day. The thing that really stands out is that they are only going to the download page, whereas normal visitors traverse most of the site.

We've had a lot of traffic this week for other (good) reasons, so this could possibly have gone unnoticed if it hadn't been for the weird stats and the log showing the warez web site.

This happened about 4 months back and there was no increase in sales that I could see. This is a bigger spike, most likely because the product is better known now and it also has improved quite a bit since the last crack.

I don't think the people that are into warez and cracks are the type of people that open their wallets very often.

>Congratulation ! Your software becoming popular amongs users in the world!

Yes this is undeniably true. :)
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
>>I don't think the people that are into warez and cracks are the type of people that open their wallets very often.

I find some customers will try a crack and then pay when it fails but I have never been able to identify a crack site as the source of a customer.

For me a bigger problem which I am only just realising is the number of customers who purchase a single licence then install multiple copies.
Tony
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
I thought this might help you ou [ worth a look even though you may not know Delphi]

http://www.inner-smile.com/nocrack.phtml
Vineet Reynolds Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
abode....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
So, a user finds a link to some "kewl stuff" on a forum (alone with a crack) and decides to give it a try. He starts to use it, and founds out that he actually likes it, and do not mind to pay for it, and now boom! the app crashes. Possibly, a few times in a row.

The prospect puts his credit card back into his wallet...
Vladimir Dyuzhev
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
kewl software.  Heh.  Freeware editions usually cover this type of user.  Best anti-crack I have seen.  Mathematica 5.  Without the manuals, useless.  You can't even figure out how to add numbers. 1800 dollars worth of software, safe.
Gareth Lewis
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Because Mathematic 5 is so complex to use or is this something else?
James 'Smiler' Farrer Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
>So, a user finds a link to some "kewl stuff" on a forum (alone with a crack) and decides to give it a try. He starts to use it, and founds out that he actually likes it, and do not mind to pay for it, and now boom! the app crashes. Possibly, a few times in a row.

The prospect puts his credit card back into his wallet...

Two things. First when Surfulater detects it is cracked it displays a polite message box requesting the user re-install the software. If they do this and don't apply the crack it won't crash, so they can clearly see that the program works properly.

If they want to try some "kewl stuff" then just use the free trial software we all offer.

Second. What makes you think any of these people buy software? Do you have any proof.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
>For me a bigger problem which I am only just realising is the number of customers who purchase a single licence then install multiple copies.

I had that problem for many years, especially with corporates who would put on new staff and give them copies of my product, without buying additional licenses. I tightened up the software protection and sales went up. Way to go.

Unfortunately software protection is always a trade off. The honest folks suffer because of the dishonest users.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Tony,

It's possible that you can do something to tie a user's registration to a particular location.  It obviously doesn't work for some applications, but it could be just the thing for yours.

I personally really liked the way Six Apart handled this in earlier versions of the software.  It was free to use, but if you bought a registration key your articles would show up on their blog aggregator.
Clay Dowling Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
>I thought this might help you ou [ worth a look even though you may not know Delphi]

http://www.inner-smile.com/nocrack.phtml

Yes all good stuff. I read this and everything else I could find on the subject some years back.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"Mathematica 5.  Without the manuals, useless.  You can't even figure out how to add numbers. 1800 dollars worth of software, safe.
"

Actually, Mathematica is quite easy to use and comes with electronic help files.
Roman Werpachowski Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"What makes you think any of these people buy software? Do you have any proof. "

In my experience they absolutely do not buy anything. My first shareware app was cracked and from my logs I had 15,000 downloads in Asia over a year, with ZERO sales to that region. Zero out of 15,000. ZERO.
John
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"In my experience they absolutely do not buy anything. My first shareware app was cracked and from my logs I had 15,000 downloads in Asia over a year, with ZERO sales to that region. Zero out of 15,000. ZERO."

They may not buy anything but they may show their friends or coworkers and some of those may buy a copy?

Your exprience with the download from Asia is a bit scary though.

I guess this could be an argument for release often.
Orick of Toronto Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"In my experience they absolutely do not buy anything. My first shareware app was cracked and from my logs I had 15,000 downloads in Asia over a year, with ZERO sales to that region. Zero out of 15,000. ZERO."

Thanks, this precisely backs up my thoughts. Surfulater downloads are at around 2,500 for the past 24 hours.

"They may not buy anything but they may show their friends or coworkers and some of those may buy a copy?"

I think you are seriously kidding yourself if you think this will happen. Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is hard enough to get from your most fervent customers.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Would not the person providing the word of mouth advertising to their freinds not also provide the info for the crack?
Douglas
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"I think you are seriously kidding yourself if you think this will happen. Word of mouth (WOM) marketing is hard enough to get from your most fervent customers."

I don't know about seriously kidding myself but I have often been called overly optimistic. :)

I have bought quite a few movie DVD because the dvdrips my friend passed to me. I have also bought a copy of Agent a few years back for similar reasons. In my opinion, the ones who pirate and copy stuff are also the same people who like to show up their new stuff to friends. Free marketing.

Like I said, maybe release often is the solution.
Orick of Toronto Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"My first shareware app was cracked and from my logs I had 15,000 downloads in Asia over a year, with ZERO sales to that region. Zero out of 15,000. ZERO."

Food for thought when we hear the BSA claiming that companies lost x billion dollars to software piracy last year.
Kyralessa Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Neville, I hope your topic title doesn't lead crackers to this thread. You could be in for more anti-piracy bother because now they know your secret ploy... or do they? ;)
Kim
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
"Neville, I hope your topic title doesn't lead crackers to this thread. You could be in for more anti-piracy bother because now they know your secret ploy... or do they? ;)"

They only know they've done part of the job, which they should have already known if they were really good at it. I say bring it on. :)

I'm really not fussed by it, more annoyed at the overall practice, than anything else. I hope these kids grow up to have their own software companies and see the tables turned on them. Now that would be sweet.
Neville Franks Send private email
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
 
 
Neville, were you using a software protection tool (Armadillo, ASProtect, etc) when you got cracked?
Nick Hebb Send private email
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
"Neville, were you using a software protection tool (Armadillo, ASProtect, etc) when you got cracked?"

No. With Surfulater I use eSellerate to handle purchasing via. both fully integrated buy now and a web shop. In addition I use their software activation service. This enables the customer to buy from within the product and have their license activated in one quick and painless step.

Beyond that I've written my own code to check if the eSellerate code has been tampered with. I've written fairly comprehensive software protection code for my other product, so I have quite a bit of knowledge and experience in this area.
Neville Franks Send private email
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
Frank, I like the way your mind works.

But, I want to comment slightly on your response versus the warez users. I would try to have them click through to a error explanation page on your site. And explain the error right there as being that the program was cracked, and that they can buy your program by pushing the neon "buy now" button on the right.

You need to sell! :)
Dave
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
My first posting and a little bit off topic, but just to mention.
I until recently was using firefox for browsing, but switch other day to Opera, newest version (also free). And I noticed that the menus on your site are popping beyond the scrolling text on the right site. Of course, this just with opera. So, I assume this is a problem with the browser. Just, I think it is also quite popular these days (probably not in the states, but in Europe).
eden
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
>Dave,
"I would try to have them click through to a error explanation page on your site. And explain the error right there as being that the program was cracked, and that they can buy your program by pushing the neon "buy now" button on the right."

Yes I probably should do that. Or take them to a page that says "We know who you are. We know you are using pirated software. We know where you live. Expect a knock on the door soon." Evil I know. :)


>eden
"And I noticed that the menus on your site are popping beyond the scrolling text on the right site."

Thanks, I'm aware of that. Opera has problems with a range of sites. They have a "feature" where the user can write JS code (or some such), so sites are displayed properly. :(

I also spent a good chunk of time seeing if I could get Opera to play with Surfulater, but Opera is too closed to do this. Overall I was disappointed with Opera.
Neville Franks Send private email
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
> Or take them to a page that says "We know who you are. We
> know you are using pirated software. We know where you
> live. Expect a knock on the door soon." Evil I know. :)

Or like the recent Sober worm that got one pedophile to turn himself in, say, "Kiddie porn has been detected on your computer. The authorities have been notified. Please wait for them to arrive.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
 
 
Most of the pirated software don't bring any benefits, but there are some cases where the pirating has caused for a sale. At least for my case.
I liked pirated version 1.0 I bought version 2.0 .
Never at time of 1.0 I didn't have any money to buy it, nor it wasn't available at local stores, but it was available through pirated channels.
Most of the software I used when I was a kid, was pirated.
I did spend most of my money on software also. Never bought anything I got from pirated channels, only later versions if I liked the pirated one.
If I hadn't resort to piracy I wouldn't have bought more software since I wouldn't afforded it.

Anyway based on the trends I'd say that in 10 years some of the most pirated software in asia will have good sales in its newer versions.

A) The piracy track down in asia seems to be increasing by the news.
B) Those people who used pirated copies will have more money to spend than these days.
C) They could move some of their buying online.
D) Lack of sales might be partially because lack of credit cards in the area where they download it, over time they will have an option of making a purcase online.

The surfulater should be improved to new full version number with usability improvements/new features. And little more crack resistance.
But that shouldn't happen immediately but after quite a time is passed so that people are gotten used of using surfulater.
If million people uses cracked 1.0 version and you release version 2.0. There are million people knowing your product, some of them might even pay to get newer version of it.

I think getting money out of piracy or pirated software is just plain wrong. We as kids copied the software/games from each other, so no mass piracy in my history, except mass usage of what others have pirated.

And yes, tables have turned these days. I'm in the business. Because of my past I cannot be harsh on the kids who pirate. But still I'll try to minimize the effect of piracy on my business. And make it harder for the professionals to pirate or use pirated version of my product.
Anonymous for obvious reasons
Thursday, December 22, 2005
 
 

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