Wednesday, May 24, 2006

GTX Global Communicator Uncovered

It's clear from the comments to my posts that everyone, and anyone, who was in the belly-of-the-beast, knew then.. and still knows that the development of the "flagship product" the "Communicator" was badly managed, badly directed, way over spent, over promised and under delivered.
Apparently, this blog, and posts around the net, are taking a toll. Share volume, after the dump of the shares after the restrictions lifted, have slid downward. Share price, as a result of not being able to pump this POS up, is stagnant. No technology or partnership announcements, good or bad. (Bad for GTXC would be Heelstrike, Govalin and Yadio PUBLICLY pulling out of any deal) And, the market (which Gatelinx could have, if they executed well, owned) has passed them by.
http://www.skype.com/download/skype/windows/
Game over.. skype wins. I've DL'd this Skype (with Video) product and used it the past few days.. it works, and works well. The interface, set-up and features set are easy to understand, set up automatically and.. this is the big thing.. have virtually no interface or device conflicts, unlike the Gatelinx.. um.. GTX Global product. Lets compare...
(NOTE: since we all know that the Gatelinx product has been simply been "renamed" the GTXC product, but none of the literature specs have changed, and there's been no development... I can quote from Gatelinx spec's for this comparison and analysis)
Skype: This is the entire list of systems requirements...PC running Windows 2000 or XP. (The new video feature requires Windows XP.) Internet connection (broadband is best, GPRS is not supported for voice calls, and results may vary on a satellite connection). Speakers and microphone — built-in or separate. A webcam, if you want to make video calls. We also recommend that you have at least 400 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM and 15 MB free disk space on your hard drive. Thats it.. nothing more.
Compare this to Gatelinx.. er.. GTXC. PC Running Windows 200 or XP.. check. Minimum CPU, we used to say 1Ghz, but in reality it was a 2.5Ghz min to get anything approaching usable video. We published a CPU tuning document (in October of 04) because of the disparity between chips, speeds and PC's performance. Limited video cards and interfaces...We had to test and "tune" or certify which video cards worked, and all the conflicts that different versions of those cards and drivers caused was legendary. Limited Webcam's.. I just bought a $49.95 Creative Labs laptop camera (very cool by the way) that in no way would work with the Gatelinx product. (I know this because if you ever had a Gatelinx user name and password you can still both get/DL the communicator and use it as well)
Diskspace, because Rick Stefanik couldnt figure out version control, the entire software package had to load and be reloaded every time a patch came out. About the same amount of disk space, but lots more RAM was required to get any of the app sharing or file transfers to work. 1Gb was about right.
The Skype product installed and configured itself in less than 10 minutes. Heck, the self test (which was only developed after sales screamed about the inconsistencies in implementations) from Gatelinx took 4 minutes to run, and that was after it DL'd and installed.
Skype uses the same GIPs codec as GTXC for audio, don't know what they (skype) use for video, but it's pretty darn good. I wonder if GTXC still uses the ON2 codec? Doug Macintyre has been booted out of there, so maybe they're not looking to collect on the licensing fees David Hagen stiffed them (On2) on. (Note, On2 tried to buy the Gatelinx product, but David passed on that as well. Of course, the deal was pretty slim and would have left Hagen with no way to hide the inadequacies of the product and his "vision" for the future, e.g. AI, kiosks, etc)
The Skype product worked wirelessly, traverssed my NAT and firewalls. It has a PSTN gateway for both domestic and international "calls." In short, this thing works.. it's free.. easy to DL.. and aparently doesn't have the same configuration issues as the Gatelinx/GTX Global product.
Net net folks, is that opportunity to develop a product was badly managed by Hagen and Stefanik. I remember sales had something like 15 partners ready to sell the darn thing, but Stefanik couldn't get it to install consistently, operate consistently, scale operationally, and be anything more than a pretty good beta/demo technology. Game over.. Skype wins.. but more importantly, Hagen loses.

6 Comments:

Blogger The Mad Duke said...

"Skype uses the same GIPs codec as GTXC for audio, don't know what they (skype) use for video, but it's pretty darn good."

Skype uses the On2 VP7 codec.

8:09 AM  
Blogger ex-GTX said...

The Gatelinx product had progressively limited performance. Here is the breakdown for various chip sets and the resultant video performance...Remember that the communicator "adapted" down it's quality as CPU speeds dropped, or bandwidth dropped.. or any number of other issues. "Optimum" performance, that which was touted, was rarely ever achieved.

GLX Communicator - 2 Way Video - Given that bandwidth and soundcard problems are not issues.
The tabs here are.. in order..

CPU, Speed, Sysmark 2002, Expected Frame Rates, Resolution. Notice how, as the CPU goes down, both resolution and frame rate become marginal and are (IMHO) unuseable at a CPU speed of 2Ghz or lower.

Pentium 4 3.06 206 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.8 206 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.66 203 18 - 20 320 x 240
Athlon XP 3000 181 18 - 20 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2800 189 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.53 189 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.4A 183 18 - 20 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2700 181 18 - 20 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2600 178 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.26 178 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.6 178 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.4 173 18 - 20 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2.2 168 18 - 20 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2200 162 16 - 18 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2400 158 16 - 18 320 x 240
Athlon XP 2100 158 16 - 18 320 x 240
Pentium 4 2 155 14-16 256 x 192
Athlon XP 2000 154 9-10 256 x 192
Athlon XP 1900 151 9-10 256 x 192
Athlon XP 1800 149 9-10 256 x 192
Pentium 4 1.8 143 9-10 256 x 192
Athlon XP 1700 142 9-10 256 x 192
Athlon XP 1600 141 9-10 256 x 192
Athlon XP 1500 137 9-10 192 x 144
Pentium III 1.4 127 9-10 192 x 144
Celeron 2 126 9-10 192 x 144
Pentium 4 1.5 121 8-9 192 x 144
Celeron 1.7 119 8-9 192 x 144
Athlon C 1400 116 7-8 192 x 144
Athlon C 1333 114 7-8 192 x 144
Pentium III 1.2 112 7-8 192 x 144
Pentium 4 1.3 110 7-8 192 x 144
Athlon C 1200 110 7-8 192 x 144
Celeron 1.3 104 6-7 160 x 120
Celeron 1.2 100 6-7 160 x 120
Athlon C 1000 99 6-7 160 x 120
Athlon B 1200 99 6-7 160 x 120
Pentium III 1 94 5-6 160 x 120
Athlon B 1000 92 5-6 160 x 120
Duron 1300 92 5-6 128 x 96
Pentium III 800 84 4-5 128 x 96
Celeron 1.1 84 4-5 128 x 96
Athlon B 800 82 4-5 96 x 72
Duron 900 79 3-4 96 x 72
Athlon B 650 73 3-4 96 x 72
Celeron 800 72 3-4 96 x 72
Pentium III 600 70 2-3 80 x 60
Pentium III 533 64 2-3 80 x 60
Celeron 766 63 2-3 80 x 60

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Carl said...

You raise some very good points, and absolutely if the project had been managed better Gatelinx would be dominating the VVoIP market. Just to illustrate some of them craziness, I'd like to give an bit of an inside developer's story here. Keep in mind that everything here is my opinion.

I worked in development at Gatelinx from sometime in 2002 through almost the end of 2004 when things fell apart. I don't want to go into too much detail about what, who and when I did specifically, but just give your readers an overview of what it was like.

Starting in 2002, there were four people that did most of the design work. Two developers and two Lead Analysts. These guys would sit in a room for 8-15 hours a day and discuss how things should work. When they decided a design was ready for work to be done, it was shown to Stefanik for final approval. Then the designs were documented by an analyst and handed out to the developers. Then there was back and forth between the developer and analyst about specifics in the design.

Up until this point, things were actually moderately logical, although the gang of four often complained about vague and/or changing requirements. And the fact that the people doing the the actual programming were brought into the picture very late in the game.

Also, a big detriment is that developers would get pulled of to do small projects for Hagen anytime he wanted to start a new business. Invariably, two of the developers involved would be the lead analysts, so if you had any questions outstanding or needed to review anything you basically sat around until the pet project was done. Or did what you thought was right and then needed to redo it for some inexplicable reason.

During this time, the developers were basically told that time and money were no object. Missed deadlines were ok, because "things happen." Of course, things would suddenly change and the design a developer was implementing might be suddenly changed on them, simply because new (and sometimes very bizarre) requirements were thrown at the us out of nowhere.

Sometime in there a former Microsoft employee joined the team. He had some really good ideas and seemed to understand a great deal about how to market something like this. Things started to disintegrate around the time he left, IMHO. He seemed to be a calming influence on the executive staff, although we didn't know it at the time. However he left, rumors were that there was a falling out with the Hagens. Although I was never sure what it was about.

That was just he first of many instances that I witnessed where a personal falling out with the Hagens resulted in the personal leaving/getting fired. In fact, I really can't think of any of the people that I worked with that just left like normal people leave a position. They either quit in anger or they were fired and everything they did or approved of was crap from there on in.

Anyway, as things got moving they started an in-house QA team. Initially three people were hired for the QA department, and some computers were purchased. These various configurations all seemed to come from one company, and there was very little real variety in them. All of the hardware was new, for one, and all of it vastly exceeded the minimum requirements that we were told to shoot for. (Although, by mid 2004, we were specifically aiming at the 2Ghz range.) In a few months, two of the QA people left, leaving just one guy. When it became clear that having a one-person QA team was just stupid, they
hired a second person.

And bugs were handled in the strangest way. There was a bug tracking system that they spent a lot of money installing and customizing. However, it wasn't used. Instead, emails would be sent from the QA department or Stefanik. Getting a bug report from Stefanik meant that you had to drop what you were doing and start on that or risk getting an earful. Any bugs found by the executive team were showstoppers even if it was completely cosmetic Anything from the QA department or outside the company was simply not that important.

That was it, two people to test and debug a vastly complex piece of software on equipment that wasn't even close to adequate. One of them worked his bones off, the other was a friend of the Hagens and didn't really seem to do much work. People who complained about the second person's work were basically told that he was a friend of the family and there was nothing that could be done.

Starting in 2003 and increasing through 2004, the pressure built to release something. The developers knew that it wasn't ready, but they tried their damndest.

As more and more requirements came in and new projects were opened up, assignments were shifted around. One of the analysts became a project manager for a different Hagen company while also working full time on Gatelinx. The other split his time between developing the SDK, updating documents, writing the installer, working on the user interface, the setup wizard and so forth. Developers kept getting assigned more and more work as well. One in particular was given all of the junk jobs, being in charge of filetransfer, textchat, the app share window buttons and so on.

Those developers that didn't get extra projects assigned got more and more crazy requirements and asked to re-design vast tracks of the software because someone in the executive level decided it wasn't good enough. For example, the AppShare (it was decided) had to be able to show a multimedia presentation over a dial-up connection according to the execs. The poor developer on that project. In the morning meetings (which were every morning for about an hour), he would describe what he was doing. The hoops he had to jump through to try to meet a requirement that was completely unrealistic were amazing.

People worked like dogs, as can be expected at a start-up. However, no matter how hard we worked it was made clear that the work was not appreciated. If we put in a 100 hr week (which most of us did on several occasions) and asked for a day off, the response typically was that "developers at company X average 100 hrs a week and couldn't you possibly work that day anyway?" It was a weird combination of guilt and not so subtle mental abuse that was resented very highly.

In late 2003 as the first internal development release was getting ready, the staff made it clear more people were needed. Specifically, more QA, a person devoted to doing the installer, person to work on the SDK and UI, as well as a few developers to work on the junk work and someone who actually managed the release schedule. "Oh, we'll get you people," was the response, "just hold on a little longer." The people never came, of course. Several of us tried to make the point that we couldn't go on like this for very long, but that was ignored. Instead we were asked to do more and more even though we were all increasing burnt out.

We also used your example of Skype which had at least twice as many developers just to do half-duplex audio. Here we were doing video/audio (full-duplex), appshare, and a slew of other tasks with something like 12 developers. That little song and dance lasted until almost the end when they stopped even pretending to be looking for people.

In the summer of 2004, DirecTV pulled the plug on PrimeTV's dealership for several reasons, some of which are still not clear to me. Since PrimeTV was the main source of income for the Hagen empire, this directly impacted the bottom line at Gatelinx. At that time, we were asked to take a temporary 25% reduction in pay which most of did. The money was to be paid back at the end of the year with interest, which of course never happened. This was our really our final sign that something was wrong, anyone who'd missed the earlier signs should have seen this one!

At the big meeting where this was announced, one of the developers asked about getting a loan or investors. Hagen said that getting a loan was not possible since banks wouldn't understand our value. (Of course the real reason he'd want to avoid banks should be clear to any regular reader.) He said investment was in the works...but he'd been saying that since 2002. Although, I do wonder how much his past had to do with his problems securing capital, or if it was his controlling personality that prevented him from turning over control.

Skype, by the way, was able to get an initial seeding of venture capital very early in its development cycle which allowed it to reach the state it is currently in. At the time that all of this was going on, they announced an additional $50 million in investments, and of course have since been sold to Ebay.

They also had a very public beta which drove interest and capital to the company. That initial beta was pretty buggy but people tried it because it was fun, cool and free. Who knows what would have happened if Gatelinx had outsourced its QA or had an actual public beta in mid-2004. But they didn't, instead they relied on their own underfunded QA department and giving the product to friends as a way of getting comprehensive bug reports.

Back onto the subject, that was the beginning of the end, really. At that point, most of the developers knew it was a just a matter of time. Over the summer there were rumors about vendors not getting paid, the Cary center was shut down unexpectedly, and articles about the Hagens which we were told were a pack of lies. It just kept coming. Most of us were looking for other positions, but only half-heartedly. We knew how much fun it had been and kept hoping that would return after we got a real 1.0 version out the door.

When one of the original lead analysts quit , I decided to seriously look for another job. Then shortly after that the Brady thing started (which you already talked about), and I decided to give him a shot. Couldn't be worse, I figured. Well, sadly I never got to find out. About a month after the Brady deal was announced, all the developers (most of whom worked from home at that point) were shut off from the Gatelinx VPN. Then the legal wrangling started, which dragged on for another couple of months. Both the Hagens and Brady claimed ownership of the intellectual property, and both claimed that we all "really worked for them." Even though we were getting checks from Brady and not the Hagens.

Other than keeping in touch with a few people, that basically ended my involvement. I found another position, and basically tried to put this all behind me, until I found this site.

I know you see Stefanik as a part of the problem here. We all worked closely with him, and he was not perfect I agree. But, I lay almost all of the blame at the feet of the Hagens directly. Stefanik is a bright guy, although lacking most social skills. Talking to him, one gets the unnerving feeling they are talking to a robot. However, he was young and very inexperienced. He'd run a few companies on his own prior to the getting involved with Hagen, but it was clear he'd never worked with the number or the caliber of developers on the Gatelinx team. Nor had he worked on a project with this complexity. From things he said, it sounded like he mostly had been involved with developing web pages, with perhaps some ActiveX or Flash animations. It was very clear from an early date that he was in over his head as a manager. When that became clear, the Hagens should have put him in charge of the gang of four core people and gotten an experienced project manager to handle the day to day operations. But of course, that didn't happen, although I know this was suggested to people who had the Hagen's ears at various points.

Oh well, that's my story and I'm sure there are people who will disagree with some of my points. But that is pretty much what I experienced while working there, and I hope that illustrates the kind of management that is running the show there.

@@@
Carl

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Carl said...

You raise some very good points, and absolutely if the project had been managed better Gatelinx would be dominating the VVoIP market. Just to illustrate some of them craziness, I'd like to give an bit of an inside developer's story here. Keep in mind that everything here is my opinion.

I worked in development at Gatelinx from sometime in 2002 through almost the end of 2004 when things fell apart. I don't want to go into too much detail about what, who and when I did specifically, but just give your readers an overview of what it was like.

Starting in 2002, there were four people that did most of the design work. Two developers and two Lead Analysts. These guys would sit in a room for 8-15 hours a day and discuss how things should work. When they decided a design was ready for work to be done, it was shown to Stefanik for final approval. Then the designs were documented by an analyst and handed out to the developers. Then there was back and forth between the developer and analyst about specifics in the design.

Up until this point, things were actually moderately logical, although the gang of four often complained about vague and/or changing requirements. And the fact that the people doing the the actual programming were brought into the picture very late in the game.

Also, a big detriment is that developers would get pulled of to do small projects for Hagen anytime he wanted to start a new business. Invariably, two of the developers involved would be the lead analysts, so if you had any questions outstanding or needed to review anything you basically sat around until the pet project was done. Or did what you thought was right and then needed to redo it for some inexplicable reason.

During this time, the developers were basically told that time and money were no object. Missed deadlines were ok, because "things happen." Of course, things would suddenly change and the design a developer was implementing might be suddenly changed on them, simply because new (and sometimes very bizarre) requirements were thrown at the us out of nowhere.

Sometime in there a former Microsoft employee joined the team. He had some really good ideas and seemed to understand a great deal about how to market something like this. Things started to disintegrate around the time he left, IMHO. He seemed to be a calming influence on the executive staff, although we didn't know it at the time. However he left, rumors were that there was a falling out with the Hagens. Although I was never sure what it was about.

That was just he first of many instances that I witnessed where a personal falling out with the Hagens resulted in the personal leaving/getting fired. In fact, I really can't think of any of the people that I worked with that just left like normal people leave a position. They either quit in anger or they were fired and everything they did or approved of was crap from there on in.

Anyway, as things got moving they started an in-house QA team. Initially three people were hired for the QA department, and some computers were purchased. These various configurations all seemed to come from one company, and there was very little real variety in them. All of the hardware was new, for one, and all of it vastly exceeded the minimum requirements that we were told to shoot for. (Although, by mid 2004, we were specifically aiming at the 2Ghz range.) In a few months, two of the QA people left, leaving just one guy. When it became clear that having a one-person QA team was just stupid, they
hired a second person.

And bugs were handled in the strangest way. There was a bug tracking system that they spent a lot of money installing and customizing. However, it wasn't used. Instead, emails would be sent from the QA department or Stefanik. Getting a bug report from Stefanik meant that you had to drop what you were doing and start on that or risk getting an earful. Any bugs found by the executive team were showstoppers even if it was completely cosmetic Anything from the QA department or outside the company was simply not that important.

That was it, two people to test and debug a vastly complex piece of software on equipment that wasn't even close to adequate. One of them worked his bones off, the other was a friend of the Hagens and didn't really seem to do much work. People who complained about the second person's work were basically told that he was a friend of the family and there was nothing that could be done.

Starting in 2003 and increasing through 2004, the pressure built to release something. The developers knew that it wasn't ready, but they tried their damndest.

As more and more requirements came in and new projects were opened up, assignments were shifted around. One of the analysts became a project manager for a different Hagen company while also working full time on Gatelinx. The other split his time between developing the SDK, updating documents, writing the installer, working on the user interface, the setup wizard and so forth. Developers kept getting assigned more and more work as well. One in particular was given all of the junk jobs, being in charge of filetransfer, textchat, the app share window buttons and so on.

Those developers that didn't get extra projects assigned got more and more crazy requirements and asked to re-design vast tracks of the software because someone in the executive level decided it wasn't good enough. For example, the AppShare (it was decided) had to be able to show a multimedia presentation over a dial-up connection according to the execs. The poor developer on that project. In the morning meetings (which were every morning for about an hour), he would describe what he was doing. The hoops he had to jump through to try to meet a requirement that was completely unrealistic were amazing.

People worked like dogs, as can be expected at a start-up. However, no matter how hard we worked it was made clear that the work was not appreciated. If we put in a 100 hr week (which most of us did on several occasions) and asked for a day off, the response typically was that "developers at company X average 100 hrs a week and couldn't you possibly work that day anyway?" It was a weird combination of guilt and not so subtle mental abuse that was resented very highly.

In late 2003 as the first internal development release was getting ready, the staff made it clear more people were needed. Specifically, more QA, a person devoted to doing the installer, person to work on the SDK and UI, as well as a few developers to work on the junk work and someone who actually managed the release schedule. "Oh, we'll get you people," was the response, "just hold on a little longer." The people never came, of course. Several of us tried to make the point that we couldn't go on like this for very long, but that was ignored. Instead we were asked to do more and more even though we were all increasing burnt out.

We also used your example of Skype which had at least twice as many developers just to do half-duplex audio. Here we were doing video/audio (full-duplex), appshare, and a slew of other tasks with something like 12 developers. That little song and dance lasted until almost the end when they stopped even pretending to be looking for people.

In the summer of 2004, DirecTV pulled the plug on PrimeTV's dealership for several reasons, some of which are still not clear to me. Since PrimeTV was the main source of income for the Hagen empire, this directly impacted the bottom line at Gatelinx. At that time, we were asked to take a temporary 25% reduction in pay which most of did. The money was to be paid back at the end of the year with interest, which of course never happened. This was our really our final sign that something was wrong, anyone who'd missed the earlier signs should have seen this one!

At the big meeting where this was announced, one of the developers asked about getting a loan or investors. Hagen said that getting a loan was not possible since banks wouldn't understand our value. (Of course the real reason he'd want to avoid banks should be clear to any regular reader.) He said investment was in the works...but he'd been saying that since 2002. Although, I do wonder how much his past had to do with his problems securing capital, or if it was his controlling personality that prevented him from turning over control.

Skype, by the way, was able to get an initial seeding of venture capital very early in its development cycle which allowed it to reach the state it is currently in. At the time that all of this was going on, they announced an additional $50 million in investments, and of course have since been sold to Ebay.

They also had a very public beta which drove interest and capital to the company. That initial beta was pretty buggy but people tried it because it was fun, cool and free. Who knows what would have happened if Gatelinx had outsourced its QA or had an actual public beta in mid-2004. But they didn't, instead they relied on their own underfunded QA department and giving the product to friends as a way of getting comprehensive bug reports.

Back onto the subject, that was the beginning of the end, really. At that point, most of the developers knew it was a just a matter of time. Over the summer there were rumors about vendors not getting paid, the Cary center was shut down unexpectedly, and articles about the Hagens which we were told were a pack of lies. It just kept coming. Most of us were looking for other positions, but only half-heartedly. We knew how much fun it had been and kept hoping that would return after we got a real 1.0 version out the door.

When one of the original lead analysts quit , I decided to seriously look for another job. Then shortly after that the Brady thing started (which you already talked about), and I decided to give him a shot. Couldn't be worse, I figured. Well, sadly I never got to find out. About a month after the Brady deal was announced, all the developers (most of whom worked from home at that point) were shut off from the Gatelinx VPN. Then the legal wrangling started, which dragged on for another couple of months. Both the Hagens and Brady claimed ownership of the intellectual property, and both claimed that we all "really worked for them." Even though we were getting checks from Brady and not the Hagens.

Other than keeping in touch with a few people, that basically ended my involvement. I found another position, and basically tried to put this all behind me, until I found this site.

I know you see Stefanik as a part of the problem here. We all worked closely with him, and he was not perfect I agree. But, I lay almost all of the blame at the feet of the Hagens directly. Stefanik is a bright guy, although lacking most social skills. Talking to him, one gets the unnerving feeling they are talking to a robot. However, he was young and very inexperienced. He'd run a few companies on his own prior to the getting involved with Hagen, but it was clear he'd never worked with the number or the caliber of developers on the Gatelinx team. Nor had he worked on a project with this complexity. From things he said, it sounded like he mostly had been involved with developing web pages, with perhaps some ActiveX or Flash animations. It was very clear from an early date that he was in over his head as a manager. When that became clear, the Hagens should have put him in charge of the gang of four core people and gotten an experienced project manager to handle the day to day operations. But of course, that didn't happen, although I know this was suggested to people who had the Hagen's ears at various points.

Oh well, that's my story and I'm sure there are people who will disagree with some of my points. But that is pretty much what I experienced while working there, and I hope that illustrates the kind of management that is running the show there.

@@@
Carl

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Kelly Sparks, anyway? As I heard it, this fellow came in somewhat late in the game and was charged with whipping virtually the whole operation back into shape, but then just faded from view at some point. Seemed like a pretty reasonable person though, should have been able to salvage something under normal circumstances.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous carl said...

ex-gtx, thought you might like this.

http://tinyurl.com/n2ydf

Looks like the next nintendo console may have VoIP capabilities. Several developers in 2002 were pushing going after getting the product pre-loaded on the next generation of consoles. Lots of users with lots of disposable income. The demographics also fit the early adopter profile that Gatelinx should have been going after at that point. Although, I don't know if it ever went from the developers to higher ups.

Concentrating on consoles for an initial release would have alleviated a lot of the issues you complained about. There is pre-set hardware, no installation and a built-in audience.

Would have been difficult to get it on a PS3 or Nintendo's console, but the XBOX 360 being based on a subset of Microsoft Windows should have been possible.

But it looks like this is an other area where GTXC looses out.

Oh, and a few points I forgot to make.

One of the big advantages for Skype was that from an early stage you could run it on PocketPC, Linux and Mac. At Gatelinx, in the early days, some good choices were made to make porting easier. As time went on, portability concerns got pushed to the side. I can't even imagine trying porting with the code that was in place when I left.

You mention the sales staff lining up customers. In my opinion and the opinion of most of the other developers, sales started far, far too early. As I said before Hagen was trying to sell this before development even started. From the state of the code it was in when I left. if someone were to manage to wrangle control from Hagen today, it would probably be at least a year before the system would be stable and optimized. That is assuming no new development just concentrating on stabilization. Also, they would need to re-hire the original development staff and add the extra staff we demanded in 2003. Replacing the original staff would add at least another year if not more to the cycle due to the complexity of the code.

Likely at least another year to get it caught up with Skype's current level of functionality (SkypeIn and SkypeOut, fully functional multi-caller).

THEN, probably another year or more to port the code to other operating systems and hardware platforms.

So, in all anywhere from 3 to 4 years for a mature product that is equivalent to Skype. This was explained to both Stefanik and Hagen at several points, however it is clear from their behavior that they either didn't understand or didn't believe what they were being told.

You mention the adapting down and it not really running well on less than 2Ghz machines. A large part of the reason for that is that we were given almost no time to optimize the code. There were compiler options that would have improved the code, which we were not allowed to use to minimize the download size. Also, most of the code was a first take at the problem and with time to re-evaluate it, more efficient solutions could have been found.

The sales staff did an impressive job selling a system that wasn't ready. Amazing, really. But at a time when we should have been concentrating on stabilization, most of the work we were being told was a priority was bizarre. It was the equivalent of installing cabinets in an un-roofed house, and then complaining that they are the wrong color and the rain made them warp.

@@@
Carl

3:06 AM  

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