Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #77 - April 7, 2005
Revised November 12, 2005 and May 27, 2006
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Thundercloud and Eightball Are Stoopid

This past week, we were offered a lot of money by one adware/spyware maker (a multi-million dollar company) to include their software in a bundle with ours. Based on our current download levels, going into our busy season, we could have made over $15,000.00 just in the past few days. Ah, yes, we could have been in Tahiti sipping those drinks with umbrellas in them; eating a whole pig at a luau -watching dancing girls in grass skirts, while our "staff" shined up our private jet which stands at the ready to whisk us off to some exotic land or to watch a solar eclipse in Lower Slobovia.  But, alas, here we sit in Dullsville, Michigan and Boringtown, Ohio - far away from Papeete and drinks with umbrellas sticking out of them. Fools that we are, we turned that company down -even though they said they'd "reformed". We didn't think their reputation would be good for ours. We still care about what you think of us. And, we are still as stoopid as ever!

We were talking on the phone today and we ended up discussing some of the stupid decisions we've made. After talking about our own stupidity for twenty minutes, we reached the inevitable conclusion that we, Thundercloud and Eightball, are stupid. But, wait, there's more. We want you to know why we are so certain about our own stoopidity and what we've given up and what we will never have because of our stoopidity.

We're fairly well-educated - I think. But the best education we have comes from the school of Observation and Hard Knocks. As we cast our eyes across the Internet today we see a vast sea roiling on a strange new planet. The god of this strange new planet is named Cash (not Johnny). It's a free-for-all on this planet - the fittest survive - and the smartest (and sometimes most devious) thrive. When we crawled slowly onto the scene in 1998 the Web was a virtual utopia compared with today. There was a spirit of oneness and sharing, where 'freeware" was free (no questions asked) and no one had a clue what "spyware" or "adware" meant - because the "smartest and the brightest" were still scoffing at all of us who spent our days and nights enjoying the wonders of the Web. That was then; this is now.

This should give you an idea of just how "stoopid" we really are. Between our main sites, we average over 10,000 downloads each day (and many more than that during our busy season). All of these downloads are free. Only three: Email Backup Guardian, Zappit, CalendarPal and Smileycons are shareware. In other words, people download and try them free and if they like them, hopefully they'll buy them. All three offer free, fully-functional, limited-time trials. Every other one of our 5500+ Cloudeight downloads are free. And, we mean free - as in no cost at all. No, spyware, no adware, no shareware, no nagware, no time limits, they are just plain free. Anyway, let me digress.

Recently we were approached by yet another dubious software company who wanted to pay us money to bundle their software with our software. This is nothing new, though. We have been approached (many times) by spyware and/or adware companies who tried to entice us to bundle their 'software' with ours. They have offered us from ten cents per download to fifty cents per download. The most recent offers have been averaging twenty-five to fifty cents per download. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to take the average price we've been offered (around thirty cents) and multiply that by the number of downloads per day. So, if we bundled a spyware and/or adware "toolbar" or "search feature" with our downloads, we could easily make $3000.00 a day or roughly $1,000,000.00 a year. And, that's if we only bundled one. Now, if we were really greedy, we could easily bundle two spyware/adware programs and double our money! Eightball and Thundercloud could be multi-millionaires (can you imagine?) - and right now been writing you from St.Croix, our Mediterranean villa or some other exotic place, drinking Margaritas and watching the sunset while the money rolls in. But NO, we're too stoopid to take the the money and run. We're actually stoopid enough to care. We care about harming people's computers. We care about what people think of us. We really do care and that makes us really stoopid in today's cut-throat Internet world.

Just imagine the kind of money the spyware and adware companies have to throw around. If they can afford to offer us that much per download, you better believe there's a mountain of cash (not Johnny) to be made if you're an spyware/adware developer. They want their software on your computer VERY badly. The more of you they can harvest (yes, harvest like green beans), the more MONEY they can make. They'd like to pay us to trick you into installing their software when you install our software, so they can harvest you with our combine (no pun intended). They're not stoopid! They're rich! And, they're sneaky too. They'd use our good name to trick you into downloading their stuff when you download ours. And, they've offered us a bunch of money to make that happen. The only thing that has protected our visitors and subscribers is our stoopidity. We're stoopid enough to care.

Between late 2003 and early 2004 we methodically went through each page of our site (approximately 8000 pages) and removed all popup advertising. Why? Because we didn't want to annoy our visitors. We don't like popups and they probably don't like them either. By doing this we lost thousands of dollars a month in additional revenue. Is that stoopid or what? Hardly a week passes when some other advertising company doesn't contact us wanting to pay us good money to put interstitials (the big full page ads that appear between pages) or popups on our site. We turn them all down. Yep, we're stoopid for sure. It looks like we're going to have to start putting the pop-unders back on our site. Financial support for our free sites has been poor. We still have bills to pay and the only alternative to pop-unders and more advertising, is to sell out to spyware/adware companies or close the whole thing down. And, we would rather close up shop than sell out to scumbags. But, that's what we get for being stoopid, right?

We've managed to keep going only because a very small percentage of our visitors and newsletter subscribers care enough to try to help us by buying our programs (like Smileycons, Zappit, and Email Backup Guardian), making a small donation (not tax deductible, sorry), buying our e-book, subscribing to our InfoAve Premium Newsletter, or our new Smileycons Gold Membership Program or just telling a friend about us (which doesn't cost a single red cent). We hope you, too, will consider supporting our Web sites. But, regardless if you choose to support us or not, we will never give in to the temptations presented by huge gobs of money which are dangled in front of us frequently by numerous purveyors of spyware and adware just itching to get their vile little hands on your computer through us. Nope. We're too stoopid to give in to these slimeballs. We'd rather just close down our sites than to sell our good name to sleazy adware and spyware companies.

When once-trusted companies like Ask Jeeves foist junk like "FunWebProduct$" ("$mileyCentral") on trusting consumers, we understand why it's so hard for you to know who to trust. We want you to know this about Cloudeight; because in the end, it matters to us what you think of us. It matters to us that you are educated about the unconscionable  amount of money spyware/adware makers are making just by weaseling their software onto your computer in any possible way they can. Once they have their scumware firmly entrenched in the humming innards of your computer, they can use you and your computer's resources to ensconce you in their myriad money-making schemes and turn your computer into a virtual billboard for brand-name advertisers who finance the whole mess. You'll be making slimeballs rich - rich beyond the wildest dreams of most folks . And, they'll return the favor by making your computer run like a three-legged tree sloth.

Spyware and adware are not going away anytime soon: Laws or no laws. They'll just get to be more accomplished liars (read "bigger slimeballs"). They'll find new ways to deceive you; to convince you they are honorable; anything to make a buck. Their goal is unilateral - get their software installed on your computer and keep it there for as long as they can. At any cost.

When dollar signs become more important than integrity; when our readers and visitors become merely fruit to harvest; then it will be time for us to shut down our site and go away forever. We want you to know - and this is the most important thing- We will never change - not for a million dollars;  not for a billion dollars, not for a trillion dollars. Yes, we might well be stoopid, but at least we can sleep at night.

Tell us what you think! Please

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