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A Dotcom in a Basement?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the oh-how-the-mighty-have-fallen dept.

Businesses 60

garyebickford asks: "I recently learned that a company I co-founded a long time ago has degenerated to the point where the present principals have sold off most of the equipment and have moved 'operations' into their houses. Though the founding concept is almost two decades old, they still believe that they'll be able to pull something out of a hat. I'm pretty sure the two remaining true believers haven't been paid for several years, and have been working outside to support themselves. The company hasn't sold anything for years as far as I know, but they have kept it running through an amazing series of trials and tribulations including some of the most amazing legal shenanigans I've ever heard of. The stock was delisted a long time ago and is now valued at about $0.001. Of course, who knows? Maybe it will recover. It's happened before. I'm sure we all know of many others, like snakebit projects that have migrated from company to company, and 'entrepreneurs' who could raise money over and over but never quite get a company going, and of course, really cool technology that just never seemed to come out of development, or was almost done when the money ran out?So Slashdot, fess up - do you have a 'company in a box' downstairs? What kind of earth-shaking, irrelevant or worthless technology is sitting under your stairs? More interestingly, why are you, or they, still committed to the business?"

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Well? (4, Funny)

JCMay (158033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669526)

Who was it? You didn't even post a link for us to ignore!

I'm typing this a second time because the first time the 20-second rule bit me!

Slashdot usage tip (2, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669652)

> I'm typing this a second time because the first time the 20-second rule bit me!

Okay, important safety tip...when you get hit by the 20-second rule, do NOT hit the back button. Simply wait as long as you should have, hit reload, and tell it to resend the data - no retyping those long and brilliant posts! Yay.

Please, please, no applause ... just throw money. :)

Re:Slashdot usage tip (0, Offtopic)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669736)

Or if you preview first then hit submit when you hit the 20 second rule you can hit back and your content is still in the textbox.

Re:Slashdot usage tip (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669839)

> Or if you preview first

Hahahahahaha! Preview first. That's a good one. You crack me up. *snort* Preview first. Next you'll be talking about reading the linked articles before posting.

Re:Slashdot usage tip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6671033)

:p

Re:Slashdot usage tip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6678414)

OMFG ROTFLMFAO!

(waits 20 seconds)

(submit)

Re:Slashdot usage tip (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669789)

Or just use a decent browser.

In all honesty, I've never come across this bug before. I can hit the Back button in Mozilla, Phoenix (or dBase II or whatever they call themselves today), Chimera, Safari, and others, and always get back to a text box containing what I typed.

Is this some wierd IEism or something?

Re:Slashdot usage tip (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669883)

> Is this some wierd IEism or something?

I have it happen to me in Mozilla. It might have to do with some settings regarding form field data, though I'm not sure.

Re:Slashdot usage tip (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670095)

Tumbleweed's comment notwithstanding, yes, this is a weird IEism. It happens all the time. Click back, and your form is unfilled out. I've lost a big essay in a take-home exam due to this before. It blows.

Re:Slashdot usage tip (2, Informative)

Krellan (107440) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671697)

That stinks. I too have been burned by that before. For whatever reason, a site would refuse my input, or the site would be down entirely. When I go to try again, the entire page is erased!

I've gotten into the habit of hitting ^A^C before submitting any form with a large text field. This copies the entire contents of the text field into your clipboard. If the browser messes up and deletes the form, then I'm saved by the clipboard. I can then just type ^V to paste it back in.

For really long posts, in which there's a danger of the browser crashing during the middle of my typing, I open up Notepad and paste the entire text into that! Every so often, I save what I have written, and then just paste the final product into the text field when I'm ready to submit.

Very recommended....

Re:Slashdot usage tip (1)

shfted! (600189) | more than 10 years ago | (#6672853)

Or just type in any sane browser that stores what you typed in its history -- like Konqueror, Galeon, Opera, etc.

Re:Well? (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669735)

Sound economic policy [gmu.edu] ? (in sig for those who don't read them) From a man who thinks the industry with the highest profits for the last several years is imminently going to go bankrupt because we the people are sick of being price gouged? Please!

OT: reply to my .sig (0, Offtopic)

JCMay (158033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671607)

I suppose you're referring to this one [gmu.edu] , where he writes about the House passing a bill to allow the re-importation of drugs from overseas (Canada). What has current profitability to do with what he projects would happen if the House bill is signed into law?

Nothing.

What Williams is saying is quite simple: remove the ability to profit from production of drugs, which includes not only manufacture and R&D but navigating the FDA approval process, then the drugs will not be produced. I quote:

If Congress enacts laws preventing price discrimination, both foreigners and Americans will lose because it will reduce the profitability of drug manufacture and hence drug development incentives. I ask you which is preferable: a life-saving drug at a high cost or no life saving drug at all? Americans would be much better served by trying to do something about FDA's costly approval process.


Whether they are not produced because there's no money to be made, or they're not produced because the companies have gone under, the result is that the drugs we will need won't be there.

Re:OT: reply to my .sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6672710)

A law preventing drug price discrimination does not guarentee that live saving drugs won't be there. It just guarentees that they won't be paid for disproportionately by Americans. Given the choice of averaging out prices between Canada and America, or going out of business, which do you think multi-bilion dollar drug companies will choose?

Drug companies aren't going to be forced out of business by laws preventing discriminatory pricing. Perhaps their research bugjets might have to be scaled back a bit, but I suspect that with good ole American ingenuity and advertising, the major drug companies will use this as an excuse to raise prices all over the world, rather than lower them in the US. And if the law passes, you can bet your bottom dollar the drug companies think so too.

Re:OT: reply to my .sig (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#6674778)

I think that the fact that the drug companies have made record profits in a time of economic downturn makes it clear that it is extremely unlikely that they will no longer make any profits after this bill has been passed.

Kinda like how you can bet that Microsoft will continue to be profitable even if they're forced to stop their anti-competetive monopoly pricing practices. The whole drug patent thing gives drug companies a guaranteed monopoly for a period of time; I don't argue that that's necessarily a bad thing, but they've been abusing it. Rather than take away their patents, forcing more reasonable pricing by allowing reimportation seems like a good solution.

Re:OT: reply to my .sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6675046)

I ask you which is preferable: a life-saving drug at a high cost or no life saving drug at all?

Do you really think that the drug companies are losing money by selling their drugs in Canada?

The simple fact is that they make money in Canada, or they wouldn't sell them there. If they are able to make money selling in Canada, for much less than what they're selling them for in the USA, then they are gouging the USA.

eXtr@ct (2, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 10 years ago | (#6690174)

They're here. [extractinc.com]

I've periodically lobbied them to open source their software (which is very cool, actually) and develop a business model like MySQL AB. So far no interest.

In the late 1980's the company was on the American Stock Exchange and valued at over $200 million (this was before the dotcom bubble and after I left.)

They acquired the name eXtr@ct fairly recently, when they came out of bankruptcy. Before that they were named AUDRE, Inc. (short for AUtomated Digitizing and REcognition - we wanted something personal, instead of compudatagraphitronics.) IMHO, if a name/logo is an indicator of a business or a predictor of success then eXtr@ct is disaster. Ever wonder about Enron's teetering E? Hmm.

Oh! I got one! (2, Interesting)

dJCL (183345) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669538)

Ok, I run a site, have plans for it that could make me some money in the future, but the site was started after the bust and my main reasons for creating it were to learn something new and to replace a site that had decided to charge subscription fees for basic usage... rather annoyingly too...

It costs me $30/month to run it, I think I can deal with that... One of these days I'll call it reasonably complete and actually go looking for customers too... Ah well... I got other sites to write...

I'm developing... (2, Funny)

root 66 (72128) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669606)

soylent green... but psst... don't tell the cops. ...Gotta do s.th. about the smell, too.

Succeed in life (4, Funny)

Amit J. Patel (14049) | more than 10 years ago | (#6669719)

There are a lot of good ideas that just don't work out. Maybe the right time will come; maybe not. In the meantime, go do something else. Don't get so attached to something that didn't work out that you miss out on new opportunities.

As for your question, I had a design and partial implementation of a multiplayer game ... for BBSes. I started that project in 1993, and by 1996 I realized that there's little point in writing for BBSes anymore. So I moved on to a 3d simulation game ... for OS/2. By 1997 I realized that there's little point in writing for OS/2 anymore. So I moved on to grad school, working on theoretically sound statically typed programming languages. By 1999 I realized that there's little point in implementing theoretically sound statically typed programming languages. So I moved on. I now work at a "dot com". We'll see how that goes. :-)

Re:Succeed in life (2, Funny)

quinkin (601839) | more than 10 years ago | (#6672101)

Excuse me while I do the exact opposite of whatever you do... "dot com" you say?

Q.

Re:Succeed in life (2, Informative)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 10 years ago | (#6672826)

Just so you know, the dot-com in question is Google...

I do have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6669884)

But I can't tell, it's my pot of gold, buwhahwhauwhuahw.

No, really. My company will provide services that everyone will pay millions of dollars, but I will donate everything to Free Software projects.

I do (2, Funny)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670004)

I have this great method and apparatus for electronic information dispersal based on distributed best effort store and forward. I am going to make a mint on this.

You're thinking of BitKeeper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6694072)

Sorry to burst your bubble like that, but I felt I should point it out before things get too far.

my idea (0, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670052)

I have been working on a concept I call the "basement company idea exchange forum" forum wherein people who have been working on concepts can get together and discuss their ideas for what they call "basement company idea exchange forum" forums wherein people who have been working on concepts can get together and discuss their ideas for what they call "basement company idea exchange forum" forums wherein people who have been working on concepts can get together and discuss their ideas for what they call "basement company idea exchange forum" forums ...

Re:my idea (3, Funny)

forsetti (158019) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670088)

Gee -- shouldn't somebody moderate this guy *redundant*?

I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6670167)

I keep *my* dot com in the crapper with all of the other dot.boms, thank you very much.

I knew a guy... (4, Interesting)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670217)

I knew a dude (his daughter was in my high school) who had a little start up with some kind of database software. I have no idea what the innovation was, but they were convinced that they would take the enterprise DB world by storm. (This is where I should note that I can't recall the name of the company.) He had several coders on staff, but when Oracle finished stringing him along and his tech didn't sell to any of the big players, he fired everyone and kept it on the back burner, working on it himself.

Eventually, Oracle bought him & his code (According to his daughter's non-technical understanding, they *needed* his code.) and he signed on as an Oracle VP. Another girl at my highschool had a dad who was a VP at Oracle, and I remembered him & many other VPs getting axed, so I knew that there was some serious churn in the upper ranks. Thus, I was unshocked when Oracle stiffed him for his code (dunno if they got away with it or he sued) and fired him.

Last I heard was before the bubble burst, and he was doing coding for some dot com, and enjoying it.

All this is filtered through several different types of bias (My own included. Had a crush on his daughter.) but I think it's close to the truth. He had some really lean years after he shrank his company, because despite saving up, he went a lot longer without selling his code than he ever expected.

yeah right.... (1)

kinema (630983) | more than 10 years ago | (#6749724)

I have a hard time believing that any slashdot reader knows two real live girls.

Dude! (0)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670260)

Dotcoms are, like, so 90's!

ISP in a basement (4, Interesting)

humblecoder (472099) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670357)

My wife and I purchased a townhouse from the founder of a local ISP. When he first started the ISP, he started it literally out of the basement of the townhouse. At one time, he had no less than FIFTY phone lines coming into the house to support the ISP. In the basement of the townhouse, there was an enormous switchbox to support all those lines. I believe the guy had his own T-1 line to handle the bandwidth, but I couldn't say for sure.

The real estate agent used this as a selling point, saying that if we ever had the need for 50 phone lines, the townhouse could handle it! We ended up buying the townhouse, but mainly because of the cathedral ceilings. The extra phone hardware was a nice little bonus.

We have since sold the townhouse, so if you are a dot-com wannabee, don't ask me ask me if it's for sale!

No basements in CA (1)

shodson (179450) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670615)

Dude, for eqarthquake regulation purposes, there are no basements in California (unless the home is really old).

Re:No basements in CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6670933)

Excuse me? Many of my neighbors have basements. Hell, my neighbor to the left has a basement bigger than my house...

Re:No basements in CA (1)

jon doh! (463271) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671652)

and because its too freakin' hot here in texas, no one spends time digging basements before throwing up a house here.

actually, i think its the "soil", which most people call rock.

Re:No basements in CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6672243)

which is too bad because basements are nice and cool.

Re:No basements in CA (1)

bsrokc73013 (632614) | more than 10 years ago | (#6672354)

Actually, there aren't any (or very few at the most) basements in Texas because the soil contains too much clay in most parts of the state. This makes it too difficult to construct the basement and then to keep it dry, etc. As the word implies, TEXSUCKs, in more ways than one!

Re:No basements in CA (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 10 years ago | (#6672851)

That's ridiculous. Please cite the building code section that says this.

Re:No basements in CA (1)

Anml4ixoye (264762) | more than 10 years ago | (#6685703)

Don't feel bad. Here in Florida the only thing you could put in your basement would be an aquarium because, for a majority of the state, digging down just puts you into water.

Re:No basements in CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6687051)

houses dont even have true foundations down here in florida...just built ona concrete slab.

I do ... (3, Funny)

McCarrum (446375) | more than 10 years ago | (#6670864)

... I'm working on hover skateboards ... shhh!

Re:I do ... (2, Funny)

docbrown42 (535974) | more than 10 years ago | (#6674618)

Better hurry up. You only have 13 years [imdb.com] left.

Re:I do ... (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 10 years ago | (#6676617)

...12 years (back to the future II takes place in 2015)

Slashdotted? (5, Funny)

shfted! (600189) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671266)

Can someone post the text? I can't get to the site! Looks like we slashdotted nothing!

Please point yer browsers to /dev/null (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6671484)

The link seems to be working for me...

It's the 99 percent. (3, Insightful)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671632)

I have one of these ideas every week! And so I work on it, get disillusioned, and put it on the back burner (which isn't turned on). Sometimes it's actually someone else's idea, and they're the one that gets disillusioned. Just last week I had a random guy contact me about prototyping something, and we discussed specs for a few days, but apparently he got cold feet.

Oh well. A lot of us have the ability to do practically anything. The real key is being able to stick to it once you start. Thomas Edision has that famous quote, which I won't bother quoting because you all know it already.

Re:It's the 99 percent. (1)

svnt (697929) | more than 10 years ago | (#6688649)

Thomas Edison was by and large merely a thief. He is hardly worthy of quotation. If you want to learn about someone who embodied the pure pursuit of ideas - not profit, try Nikola Tesla.

I have one (serious post) (4, Interesting)

jtheory (626492) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671822)

Well, "serious post" as much as any endeavor of this type can be considered serious...

I've worked completely solo to build this website [emusictheory.com] -- basically, it offers online interactive music exercises with a lot of support for teachers.

I brought it online just a week ago... now I'm waiting to work out a few more kinks before I open the doors to floods of subscribers.

Well, I think I'm guaranteed 2 or 3 subscribers... we'll have to see about the "floods". Anyway, I'm hosting it for $30/month, which I mostly paid for by reselling a bit of my bandwidth to an uncle for his website (he sells batteries and UPS systems).

So... thus far the only real cost are my time (and I built it all outside of my normal working hours).

In some ways, this nicest payoff from this sort of project is the emails from appreciative users... but yeah, I'm hoping it'll become a minor revenue stream. Ego boosts only go so far, in the end (as the work gets less fun).

Re:I have one (serious post) (1)

ReadParse (38517) | more than 10 years ago | (#6674957)

OK, maybe this is offtopic, but not much more than your shameless plug :)

Speaking of shameless (now to the point of my post), it took me just a minute to figure out where you were going with it, but I finally realized that the reason behind your backwards treble clef symbol is a desperate attempt at making an "e". Good God, man. I highly recommend you ditch that idea. This site is partially for students of music, who might thing that backwards treble clefs actually exist.

Just a little feedback. Best of luck to you and your site.

Thanks,
RP

Back on topic (1)

jtheory (626492) | more than 10 years ago | (#6675347)

I finally realized that the reason behind your backwards treble clef symbol is a desperate attempt at making an "e". Good God, man. I highly recommend you ditch that idea.

Not so terribly OT -- this may provide a clue as to why basement dotcoms don't tend to launch their creators instantly to fame and fortune. When the creator does it all, "all" tends to include some tasks s/he knows nothing about...

I'm a software developer, not a graphic designer (damnit Jim). Hey, I can make sweeping changes to the entire mediocre GUI with a few keystrokes!

If I had a budget of any kind, or if I expected to make enough money to share, I could get someone to help w/ the graphics... but I don't, so I make due for now. At least I know enough to avoid blinking things and clashing colors. :)

Back in 1994... (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671949)

There was MidNet. They provided Internet service (or NFSnet service, pardon my commerialism) to the central US. Then, one day, there was some flooding somewhere in Nebraska. The Central US was without Internet access while someone was pumping water out of their basement.

Of course, back then, running an operation like that was almost acceptable!

Re:Back in 1994... (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 10 years ago | (#6671983)

Typo: Not NFSnet. NSFnet.

Here. Read their AUP (acceptable use policy) [creighton.edu] for a giggle or two.

Let it die (2, Funny)

Ratbert42 (452340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6673805)

What kind of earth-shaking, irrelevant or worthless technology is sitting under your stairs?

I have my Tetris clone I wrote in Turbo Pascal, all packaged and ready for shareware release.

I have an idea, but I will not implement it... (1)

DukeyToo (681226) | more than 10 years ago | (#6675020)

...because probably someone already patented it and will sue me if I achieve any measure of success.

So my current business plan is to patent it myself, and then sue someone else when they actually put in the time to develop a decent implementation.

Three cheers for software patents :-/

Tunnel IM from your work (1)

phildog (650210) | more than 10 years ago | (#6679066)

I set up a socks server on a dedicated linux box I pay $65/mo for (I'm hosting some websites there). I connect to this box via SSH and tunnel port 1080 so I can use all the IMs--AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ. All without The Man being the wiser. (I'm a rogue, re-imaged my work desktop with my own copy of Win2k--I'm one of the few in my office who didn't get the virus today b/c I keep up to date)

Well my wife's co. blocked her AIM and she was mad, so I hooked her up with the same setup. I thought there might be a business here, so I poked around but the people I asked were too afraid of getting fired to try me out even on a free basis. A crappy economy will sure make people jumpy.

I typically get an idea like this, purchase a domain name for $8 from godaddy.com, then move on to something else.

There are some great ideas out there (kozmo.com?) that don't require $100MM of venture capital to get started. Quite the opposite in fact, b/c the business often doesn't support all that damn infrastructure.

Re:Tunnel IM from your work (1)

sirket (60694) | more than 10 years ago | (#6688465)

I set up a socks server on a dedicated linux box I pay $65/mo for (I'm hosting some websites there). I connect to this box via SSH and tunnel port 1080 so I can use all the IMs--AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ. All without The Man being the wiser.

As a firewall and IDS admin, I can tell you first hand that if your company has decent admins, they probably know what you are doing. There are a number of people in the companies I do work for that do exactly this sort of thing.

As an admin, I ignore it because if they were able to set it up, they probably know what they are doing. If it became wide spread, however, you can be pretty sure I would clamp down on it immediately.

It is getting to the point that a company is now forced to block _all_ outbound traffic, and to restrict what is accessible via the HTTP proxy.

-sirket

Don't forget about decorating. (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 10 years ago | (#6679353)

Hey, I found some helpful tips on creating an evil lair on a budget on this site. [trygve.com]

Great tips for making it look like you've taken over the world before you actually get your big break.

In all seriousness.... (1)

ethank (443757) | more than 10 years ago | (#6679823)

I run my website (murmurs.com) out of the closet in my condo. There are four servers in there (picture here [ethankaplan.com] ), right next to the kitty litter.

Its not a dot-com in the traditional sense of the word (except the domain) as the site is a research project/art project/fun thing that I do. It is profitable however, because of nice grants and donations I've recieved, which is more than most dot-coms can say :) I even draw salary to work on it.

So, as for the technology "under the stairs"

1. Dual PIII 733 mhz, 1 gig of RAM, Red Hat 9 - runs the main website and database. Slowly dying. Being replaced by a dual 1.25 ghz G4 (currently my desktop machine).
2. Dual PIII 1ghz, running Windows XP - runs my mail server, streaming media, etc.
3. PIII 733, 256 of RAM, running Windows 2k server, running direct connect hub.
4. PIII 733, 512 of RAM, development server (being phased out)

I have a 1.1 megabit SDSL line running in, with a Netscreen 5XP acting as a router/firewall/VPN endpoint. I use a Vonage as my voice service.

Currently I'm seeking out capital grants to get a G5 for my desktop, to cascade the G4 down as a server, as well as replacing all my battery backup systems and getting a remote power-on system, as well as doing gigabit ethernet upgrades throughout the condo. Of course we have wireless as well.

Re:In all seriousness.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6688911)

Your website doesn't even work in this copy of Firebird I built last night for some reason.

You get grants for that kind of work? Wow. People give you money for that project? *amazed*

*looks for point*... can't see one.

very last post (1)

Ruby+last+post (699442) | more than 10 years ago | (#6730919)

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