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Creative Vista Driver Modder Speaks Out

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished dept.

Censorship 318

hol writes sends a followup on Creative Labs shutting down the modder who made their drivers work with Vista. Wired is running daniel_k's response to the contretemps."

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fp? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934390)

what is everybody busy reading the article or something?

Is this real? (4, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934420)

I never know whether to bother with /. on April 1. The fact that TFA is on Wired is no help. April fools is no longer funny.

Re:Is this real? (2, Informative)

Miltazar (1100457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934432)

Yes, I've seen this story on multiple web sites so far...its real.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (4, Funny)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934450)

The guy tried to fix the drivers for Creative products, that worked in XP, but didn't work in Fista.

Creative censored & censured him.

Shame on Creative.

Shame on Daniel for making Fista work :-)

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934504)

My understanding of the situation is that Creative had to license some IP for the ability to decode/output some types of data streams. They licensed this for their XP drivers, but have not yet licensed it for their Vista drivers. Until they do so, they can't enable their Vista drivers to offer the full range of support that their XP drivers had.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934554)

So the real moral of the story is stay away from Creative.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934588)

No, the real moral is to stay away from Vista.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934640)

Well, as much as I despise Vista and Microsoft in general, they can't be faulted for some greedy hardware manufacturer trying to scam more money out of people that have already bought their stuff. It's part of the good faith agreement between consumer and manufacturer that the hardware, for a reasonable amount of time, will work on modern common operating systems.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934878)

How are they trying to scam more money out of people? None of Creative's drivers can decode DTS in Vista, not even their newest cards.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934936)

I thought they must be under some sort of contract restrictions with Microsoft (who is under restrictions from the media companies) that has harsh legal fines for enabling things like that. That's the only sane reason I can think of that Creative would do something like sue a guy who was pretty much fixing their drivers for free. Likely part of the contract is that they're not allowed to speak publicly about the restrictions in it, nor are they allowed to let third parties bypass them.

Or they are just lawsuit happy jerks. That is a nonzero possibility as well. I thought it was funny that the Creative exec was basically saying "It's our right to release broken drivers if we want to". Clearly Creative knows a lot about broken drivers.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (5, Interesting)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935140)

I believe the situation is that Creative licensed certain technologies from Dolby for use in Windows XP, but they haven't ponied up for the licenses for use in Windows Vista. Since the guy is posting the drivers in Creative's forums, Dolby could go after Creative. Creative took the steps necessary to stop a possible lawsuit.

None of this would be an issue though if Creative would just pay for the licensing though. Jerks.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934676)

No, the real moral is to stay away from both Creative AND Vista.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934700)

No, the real moral of the story is that knowledge is power and thinking for yourself is freedom.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1)

wicka (985217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934886)

Oh yeah, let's stay away from Vista because Creative is an insanely greedy company and purposely crippled their drivers. That's definitely the fault of the OS.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (2, Informative)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935052)

Driver issues are one of the primary reasons why people stay away from Linux. Why, precisely, should Vista be any different?

When I purchased my first Vista computer I was amazed at the hardware that I had that didn't work with it. My printer had sub par drivers, and my scanner had no drivers at all. If you follow the email trail from Microsoft's current class action Vista lawsuit several executives at Microsoft had similar problems.

The fact of the matter is that Vista doesn't have nearly the level of hardware support that Windows XP does. This may change in the future, but it is certainly the case right now. Creative's drivers are merely one example of many of companies that have far better Windows XP drivers for its hardware than Windows Vista drivers.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935076)

Have you forgotten that it is Micro$oft's doing that Vista drivers are incompatible with XP drivers thanks to the whole signing of the drivers thing? At least in that way, they do carry some of the burden.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22935186)

You should already be doing that after they fucked over Carmack and stole / patented his 3D audio idea.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934724)

Well, why didn't they just say that? With the benefit of hindsight I say that it couldn't possibly be a worse PR fiasco, but they have people paid several times what I make in a year every month to think of these things for them.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935224)

They licensed this for their XP drivers, but have not yet licensed it for their Vista drivers. Until they do so, they can't enable their Vista drivers to offer the full range of support that their XP drivers had.
What an elegant example of why the intellectual property laws are ridiculous, outdated and do more damage than good.

I'm hoping that China, filesharers and hackers like Daniel violate our IP laws so thoroughly and ceaselessly as to make them useless. At that point, we can start thinking sensibly how to approach the issue.

And don't tell me that innovation will disappear if there were no IP laws. That is simply not true.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (4, Interesting)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934648)

It's way at the bottom of TFA but
"Alchemy: My last ALchemy release (1.00.08) was completely unlocked and could be used with any sound device from any vendor."

So the reason why they shut him down was he released a version of their software that would enable advanced creative only (software) features to say, work on an integrated sound driver. His bad, and he did that as a result of creative 'removing' all links on their support forms to his (working) vista drivers.

According to his words in TFA he's still modding but 'not the forbidden mods' that creative really was upset at him for doing.

He's lucky he's in Brazil, I guess.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934722)

Fista? You gotta be kidding me. That, and you, is really lame. Shame on you.

Re:Is this real? - Umm yes (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935226)

Shame on Daniel for making Fista work

"Fista"? Don't you mean "Fester", as in "Windows Fester". Sounds right to me.

Re:Is this real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934486)

April fools is no longer funny.
That's the joke. April Fools!

Re:Is this real? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934506)

It's not an April Fool's joke. Remember, Creative is the company that threatened to file a patent suit against iD Software if Doom 3 didn't ship with special (and completely-unrelated) support for Creative hardware.

Kill them. Kill them with fire.

Re:Is this real? (4, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934768)

Wasn't Creative the company that refused to give ID Software any developer support at the time when ID Software was a startup company. As a result they refused to support Creative in any way whatsoever?

Re:Is this real? (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934870)

as i recall, doom 3 and quake 4 do all the sound stuff in software, ignoring any special features of the hardware (EAX, etc.)

Re:Is this real? (2, Informative)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934924)

couldn't have been, Wolf3D, Doom and Quake all shipped with Soundblaster support

Re:Is this real? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934992)

DooM supported SB16, I don't know about Commander Keen. As I recall Id used a third party sound library for DooM anyway. That sound driver turned out to be a real pain in the rear later on when Carmack decided to release the source to DooM, and they clearly learned their lesson with Quake where they developed their own sound support instead.

Not supporting Soundblaster back in the DooM era would be like releasing a computer game today that refuses to run with an nVidia or ATI graphics card.

Re:Is this real? (4, Informative)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935150)

Creative won a patent on the algorithm known as Carmack's reverse, which the Doom 3 engine uses extensively. To avoid patent license fees, Id shipped the Doom 3 engine with Creative's EAX shit in it.

see: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20040728-4048.html [arstechnica.com]

Re:Is this real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934538)

April Fools has never been funny.

Re:Is this real? (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934608)

Don't worry, they decided it was "cool" (read "lazy") to pretend as if AF isn't even happening and just put "Disconnect from desire" at the bottom of every page instead. Real creative.

Re:Is this real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934658)

just put "Disconnect from desire" at the bottom of every page instead.

Congratulations, you have discovered the message of the day! New message tomorrow, just like every fucking day since the last site redesign years ago.

Gay sex! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934426)

http://www.goatse.cx/ [goatse.cx]

'Nuff said

Idiots. (1, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934430)

Shoot down the guy that's making your product work. That's a brilliant strategy.

Kawakami probably should have not solicited donations, but that's the only questionable thing he's done here. He should make out a cashier's check for the total amount of donations he's received, mail it to Creative Labs, and refuse any further donations. That should shut them up.

Re:Idiots. (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934442)

He should make out a cashier's check for the total amount of donations he's received, mail it to Creative Labs

must be the new 'american way'; to reward companies for bad behavior (multiple times over) with a CASHIER'S CHECK.


no, he should NOT send money to the company that caused the problem. good grief, man, what are you thinking?

Re:Idiots. (4, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934498)

I doubt $146 is really going to make Creative any richer. I think it's more of an insult than a profit.

Re:Idiots. (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934564)

It's not about rewarding the company. It's about avoiding any appearance of wrongdoing.

From TFA, the grand total of the donations was a whopping $146.00. That's not that much money to give away.

Re:Idiots. (1)

koh (124962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934568)

Indeed, if this is true, he basically found out that Creative messed up their own Vista drivers. Is this a not-so-subtle move by Creative to cripple Microsoft? Why would they want to cripple Microsoft? Is the modder a Microsoft shill? Why doesn't it make sense.

Re:Idiots. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934682)

I think the real solution here is to make illegal to block software installs by operating system or operating system version. Put up all the warnings you want about how it may not work and may kill your system, but I think intentionally crippling hardware that someone has purchased in good faith should lead to massive fines.

Re:Idiots. (2, Interesting)

Zen (8377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934576)

I don't really follow law too much, but isn't there a law about making money off of somebody else's product without their permission? I don't know what he did, but if he added to their code without modifying the original parts, then I would think he probably didn't violate any copyrights. But if he made money off providing a driver for a device he did not engineer, then I think Creative has a claim against him. Basically he 'deprived' them of the right to sell their own solution. Not that they had a solution, but you get the gist.

Here's a couple similar situations: Microsoft has generic drivers that you can get through windowsupdate for many hardware vendors. Some are written inhouse at M$ and some are given to them by the vendors themselves. But they don't make extra money off providing these drivers, it's just an added service.

If company X takes a GPL'd program and repackages it with a different name and a few changed buttons and sells it without offering modified source or recognition, everyone here would be up at arms over it. It wasn't their's to mess with. Same deal here.

This guy did a great service to the community, but he undoubtedly did it by using some things that weren't his to use (code, hardware spec's, etc) and he got greedy and charged for it.

Now, I don't think he should go to jail or anything, but giving back the money he 'deprived' Creative of in the first place should hopefully be the end of the complaint.

Re:Idiots. (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934652)

but isn't there a law about making money off of somebody else's product without their permission?

IANAL, but there are limits (even today) as to what a company can do to STOP someone from applying their mods to works that are for sale.

if he 'sells' only his time and effort via the patch, that should be fine. if he includes the whole binary (which isn't his) then that's not ok.

but in terms of him making money on the effort he applied, what's wrong with that? if he sells only a patch he should be fine. the 'dont look at our code' is not enforceable. I believe its fair use.

of course, the actual law isn't important; what IS important is that creative is a SCUMBAG COMPANY and will threaten people just to get them to stop, law or no law.

creative: I will never ever ever buy your gear again; and I will try to influence all my peers and companies not to buy your stuff either. I hope you reap lots of what you sowed from this stunt of yours.

Re:Idiots. (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934900)

I think you have it just right. I stopped buying creative products today!

Time for some more open-hardware projects I suspect

Re:Idiots. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934934)

no need for more open hardware; there are already lots of GOOD non-resampling (at 48k, sigh) cards.

cmi8438 (c-media brand) are good guys. they've had PROPER drivers in unix for over a decade now.

envy24 chipset, also very high end and well supported.

neither resample (forced) = which means they SOUND better than creative crap cards (that always always force a 44.1->48k resample).

do NOT buy creative; and certainly avoid it for any music applications (no one wants or needs 48k samplerate!)

Re:Idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934864)

isn't there a law about making money off of somebody else's product without their permission?
No, not really. If the law worked the way you seem to think, then it would be illegal to clean the windows on a house without the builder's permission, which is obviously a stupid idea.

Re:Idiots. (2, Informative)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935100)

If you RTFA he wasn't charging, he was just accepting donations. He also states in Brazil hardware is about 3x more expensive than the US and he was going to use the donations to buy Creative hardware to test on (you don't have to believe him though).

Re:Idiots. (5, Funny)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934480)

mailing it to a charity (for the deaf?) would be a better solution IMHO

Re:Idiots. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934492)

Well, since it's pretty obvious that what he was doing was un-crippling software that they had intentionally broken, I think it's understandable that they're pissed.

On the other hand, I wonder how this is going to affect their reputation? Creative has always been a bunch of jackasses, but this thing caused a lot of problems for Microsoft, and I imagine they don't have much of a sense of humor about that right now.

Re:Idiots. (4, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934548)

Well, since it's pretty obvious that what he was doing was un-crippling software that they had intentionally broken, I think it's understandable that they're pissed.

Normally I'd agree. But why should I lose features in Vista because Creative decided that the card I already bought shouldn't work in a new OS? I can only think it is to encourage people to buy new cards. That's slimey.

Except that it's their strategy (4, Informative)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934552)

Except for that the drivers appear to be broken on purpose. The installer checks to see if it is on Vista, and if so it turns off certain features or replaced working drivers with buggy ones. All he did was disable the checks and replace the Vista drivers with the XP ones. According to TFA, the company has said "that whether or not it cripples its Vista drivers is a 'business decision that only we have the right to make.'"

Looks to me like they are trying to cash in on the Wintel upgrade cycle for no good technical reason: "Oh, if you want to enable all of Vista's advanced features, you need to buy this card over here."

Bastards, but probably bastards who will make lots of money.

Re:Except that it's their strategy (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935216)

There are a lot of products which software or a jumper changes what the device is. The workstation graphics card is one such example, the drivers and software are optimized for other uses, but the silicon is often the same. But I don't really have a problem with that, both versions of the product do work as advertised, and generally, pretty reliably. Developing and certifying the workstation card software to work properly with certain software does cost money, and there's fewer users of those high end programs to spread around the development cost, and it's not of use to the typical consumer either.

I do have a problem with what Creative did though.

Re:Idiots. (3, Insightful)

dlst (1216432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934710)

Why should he return donations? If people want to pay him for his TIME, there's nothing wrong with that. It's akin to someone paying me for my time to fix their car, or to mod their car. I'm not taking credit for engineering the car, I'm just providing my time and expertise. I think if he wants to provide a service for free, and well wishers want to help support him completely voluntarily, there's nothing wrong with that.

Re:Idiots. (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934792)

Why should he return donations? If people want to pay him for his TIME, there's nothing wrong with that.

Actually, there is. He's profiting off their IP. If he keeps the money, Creative has a clear avenue to pursue action against him. If he gives it back, or gives it to Creative, their options for litigation get much diminished.

Of course, an interesting option (if he doesn't mind the hassle) would be to keep the money, and let Creative sue him over a profit of $146.00. If initially hammering him for fixing their intentionally broken drivers was Creative shooting themselves in the foot, suing him would be akin to pointing an AK-47 at their foot and holding down the trigger. ^_^

Re:Idiots. (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935058)

So if I charge someone to mod or fix their Mustang, I'm profiting off Ford's IP?

I realize that there are legal differences, but there are no logical ones.

Re:Idiots. (3, Insightful)

dwandy (907337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935094)

He's profiting off their IP.
Once upon a time the car manufacturers sued to stop 3rd party modders from making parts for their cars (aka: their IP). The car companies lost, and today we have a vibrant and profitable after-market for car parts that not only doesn't impede the car companies from making car sales, but often determines which car someone will purchase.

I'm not sure how we ended up down the path where just because a mod happens electronically it's suddenly possible for the manufacturer to win the same argument. It's important to note that he's in fact not "profiting off (Creative's) IP", he is actually profiting from his addition to their product, just like car modders of days gone by...

Re:Idiots. (2, Informative)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934800)

Creative didn't seem so miffed about the donations. Pretty much the last line of TFA says that Mr. Kawakami is still allowed to receive them.

Re:Idiots. (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935054)

Yeah, $146 in donations is a non-issue. The issue is more likely that Creative either has a business plan that involves making people buy new cards when they go to Vista (cards that don't exist yet mind you) or because they have some sort of contractual obligation to break features like that for DRM purposes on Vista. The court cases have been pretty clear that companies can be sued for third party modifications that are outside of their control (See: Hot Coffee mod). It's entirely possible that if Creative didn't take this route they could be sued indirectly by the MPAA for giving people a method that can theoretically bypass some DRM in Vista.

Re:Idiots. (0)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934962)

Shoot down the guy that's making your product work. That's a brilliant strategy.

Why do you think the product "works?" How do you know there isn't some terrible bug that could corrupt everything on your hard drive, for instance? Also, certain features of the Creative driver are disabled in Vista -- the "hacker" has re-enabled these features. Perhaps they were disabled for good reason? What if an end user installs this hacked driver, and then Creative eventually releases a driver which includes the disabled features, but with Vista-specific fixes? Now the end user is running a sub-standard driver.

We're talking about Windows here, and closed source. I really don't see how anyone can take issue with Creative's ire.

Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (5, Insightful)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934444)

Thats the solution. You have it from Creative's mouth. They purposefully are positioning themselves to cripple your hardware to make the actual cost of your card higher if you have Vista.

This is not a problem with Vista, it is a problem with Creative if they do that.

So, do not buy Creative sound cards and let them go out of business.

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (2, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934574)

I agree. Who do you recommend though? ProSpectrum cards from MediaVision I actually liked quite a bit back in the day. Wonder if they're still around.

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934694)

Depends if its for professional work or not I guess. If its for everyday usage and gaming? Just stick with whatever's on the motherboard. Sound cards have evolved to the point that integrated is probably as good as it gets for watching movies and gaming on anything 7.1 or lower. Now if you have special requirements, I have no clue whatsoever :)

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934842)

Only if its really improved in the last 2 years. On my 2 year old computer, I tried the integrated audio. About 2 hours later I ripped my old turtle beach out of the old comp and stuck it in. It may be 10 years old now, but it sounded an order of magnitude better. And I'm far, far from an audiophile- I never could see the big quality difference between cds and cassettes (convenience, but not quality). The integrated sound just absolutely sucked.

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934844)

Unfortunately integrated audio tends to be noisier and consume more CPU time to drive them.

ASUS has been releasing descrete audio cards for like a year or so and I've been wanting to take a dip in that pool and see how it goes. As long as I stay with XP though I'll probably stick with my original non-5.1 SB Live because it features selecting "What You Hear" as an input source for ripping audio from the unrippable without resorting to the analog hole or looping signal around with patch cables. ;)

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (4, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935082)

Ok, I just had to chime in here... I happen to do audio development for a gaming company. Make no mistake, most on-board audio is absolute crap. The drivers very often have glitches/bugs, missing features, or simply emulate "hardware" features (badly) in the driver. Creative's X-Fi lineup is one of the few decent audio cards still available, and that's a pretty small percentage of our consumer base anyhow. Generally speaking, about 75% of our customers have on-board audio, with the remaining 25% scattered among add-on cards. The X-Fi has perhaps one or two percent of the total.

That being said - the future is software processing anyhow. With multi-core machines being standard equipment on all new machines, it makes sense to simply devote part of a core to audio processing, and screw the hardware and the many, many troubles it causes audio programmers. Vista doesn't support audio hardware acceleration anymore (Creative wrote their own OpenAL pipeline to get around this). Our upcoming game will probably only support hardware acceleration on X-Fi class cards. Anything else, it's simply not worth it, and we'll switch to software mode.

I'm not condoning Creative's actions by any means. It seems pretty obvious that they're a bit panicked about the tanking sales of PC audio hardware, and so are making idiots of themselves by irritating their few remaining customers. Stupid...

Creative Alternatives (4, Insightful)

colinbrash (938368) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934950)

Terratec and M-Audio both make quality sound cards, and I much, much prefer those companies to Creative.

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (2, Interesting)

KikassAssassin (318149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935004)

If I were to buy a new sound card right now, I'd get an HT Omega Claro Plus+. I've heard a lot of good things about that card.

Re:Do NOT buy Creative Sound Cards (3, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934840)

If anyone wants another reason not to buy Creative anymore, two quick ones

  • When I bought my Muvo2 years ago, they advertised it as upgradeable to support new codecs -- never happened, can't even get the dumb remote which is required to use the advertised FM radio on the Muvo2
  • Creative has decided that having drivers that work for most of their cards in the vanilla Linux kernel is simply too good to be true, so they are moving a binary blob model like Nvidia. God forbid I shouldn't have to go through hoops to get hardware I paid for to work.

*faarrrrt* (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934460)


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It was the tribe of Heth that discussed these things one evening upon the plains below the peak of Mluna. Their native land was the track across the world of immemorial wanderers; and there was trouble among the elders of the nomads because there were no new songs; while, untouched by human trouble, untouched as yet by the night that was hiding the plains away, the peak of Mluna, calm in the afterglow, looked on the Dubious Land. And it was there on the plain upon the known side of Mluna, just as the evening star came mouse-like into view and the flames of the camp-fire lifted their lonely plumes uncheered by any song, that that rash scheme was hastily planned by the nomads which the world has named The Quest of the Golden Box.

No measure of wiser precaution could the elders of the nomads have taken than to choose for their thief that very Slith, that identical thief that (even as I write) in how many school-rooms governesses teach stole a march on the King of Westalia. Yet the weight of the box was such that others had to accompany him, and Sippy and Slorg were no more agile thieves than may be found today among vendors of the antique.

So over the shoulder of Mluna these three climbed next day and slept as well as they might among its snows rather than risk a night in the woods of the Dubious Land. And the morning came up radiant and the birds were full of song, but the forest underneath and the waste beyond it and the bare and ominous crags all wore the appearance of an unuttered threat.

Though Slith had an experience of twenty years of theft, yet he said little; only if one of the others made a stone roll with his foot, or, later on in the forest, if one of them stepped on a twig, he whispered sharply to them always the same words: "That is not business." He knew that he could not make them better thieves during a two-days' journey, and whatever doubts he had he interfered no further.

From the shoulder of Mluna they dropped into the clouds, and from the clouds to the forest, to whose native beasts, as well the three thieves knew, all flesh was meat, whether it were the flesh of fish or man. There the thieves drew idolatrously from their pockets each one a separate god and prayed for protection in the unfortunate wood, and hoped therefrom for a threefold chance of escape, since if anything should eat one of them it were certain to eat them all, and they confided that the corollary might be true and all should escape if one did. Whether one of these gods was propitious and awake, or whether all of the three, or whether it was chance that brought them through the forest unmouthed by detestable beasts, none knoweth; but certainly neither the emissaries of the god that most they feared, nor the wrath of the topical god of that ominous place, brought their doom to the three adventurers there or then. And so it was that they came to Rumbly Heath, in the heart of the Dubious Land, whose stormy hillocks were the ground-swell and the after-wash of the earthquake lulled for a while. Something so huge that it seemed unfair to man that it should move so softly stalked splendidly by them, and only so barely did they escape its notice that one word ran and echoed through their three imaginations--"If--if--if." And when this danger was at last gone by they moved cautiously on again and presently saw the little harmless mipt, half fairy and half gnome, giving shrill, contented squeaks on the edge of the world. And they edged away unseen, for they said that the inquisitiveness of the mipt had become fabulous, and that, harmless as he was, he had a bad way with secrets; yet they probably loathed the way that he nuzzles dead white bones, and would not admit their loathing, for it does not become adventurers to care who eats their bones. Be this as it may, they edged away from the mipt, and came almost at once to the wizened tree, the goal-post of their adventure, and knew that beside them was the crack in the world and the bridge from Bad to Worse, and that underneath them stood the rocky house of the Owner of the Box.

This was their simple plan: to slip into the corridor in the upper cliff; to run softly down it (of course with naked feet) under the warning to travellers that is graven upon stone, which interpreters take to be "It Is Better Not"; not to touch the berries that are there for a purpose, on the right side going down; and so to come to the guardian on his pedestal who had slept for a thousand years and should be sleeping still; and go in through the open window. One man was to wait outside by the crack in the World until the others came out with the golden box, and, should they cry for help, he was to threaten at once to unfasten the iron clamp that kept the crack together. When the box was secured they were to travel all night and all the following day, until the cloud-banks that wrapped the slopes of Mluna were well between them and the Owner of the Box.

The door in the cliff was open. They passed without a murmur down the cold steps, Slith leading them all the way. A glance of longing, no more, each gave to the beautiful berries. The guardian upon his pedestal was still asleep. Slorg climbed by a ladder, that Slith knew where to find, to the iron clamp across the crack in the World, and waited beside it with a chisel in his hand, listening closely for anything untoward, while his friends slipped into the house; and no sound came. And presently Slith and Sippy found the golden box: everything seemed happening as they had planned, it only remained to see if it was the right one and to escape with it from that dreadful place. Under the shelter of the pedestal, so near to the guardian that they could feel his warmth, which paradoxically had the effect of chilling the blood of the boldest of them, they smashed the emerald hasp and opened the golden box; and there they read by the light of ingenious sparks which Slith knew how to contrive, and even this poor light they hid with their bodies. What was their joy, even at that perilous moment, as they lurked between the guardian and the abyss, to find that the box contained fifteen peerless odes in the alcaic form, five sonnets that were by far the most beautiful in the world, nine ballads in the manner of Provence that had no equal in the treasuries of man, a poem addressed to a moth in twenty-eight perfect stanzas, a piece of blank verse of over a hundred lines on a level not yet known to have been attained by man, as well as fifteen lyrics on which no merchant would dare to set a price. They would have read them again, for they gave happy tears to a man and memories of dear things done in infancy, and brought sweet voices from far sepulchres; but Slith pointed imperiously to the way by which they had come, and extinguished the light; and Slorg and Sippy sighed, then took the box.

The guardian still slept the sleep that survived a thousand years.

As they came away they saw that indulgent chair close by the edge of the World in which the Owner of the Box had lately sat reading selfishly and alone the most beautiful songs and verses that poet ever dreamed.

They came in silence to the foot of the stairs; and then it befell that as they drew nearer safetly, in the night's most secret hour, some hand in an upper chamber lit a shocking light, lit it and made no sound.

For a moment it might have been an ordinary light, fatal as even that could very well be at such a moment as this; but when it began to follow them like an eye and to grow redder and redder as it watched them, then even optimism despaired.

And Sippy very unwisely attempted flight, and Slorg even as unwisely tried to hide; but Slith, knowing well why that light was lit in that secret chamber and who it was that lit it, leaped over the edge of the World and is falling from us still through the unreverberate blackness of the abyss.

Modding closed source can be troublesome (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934514)

Hardware makers, especially those that make drivers for their gear, don't understand a hacker's mentality, or even the rebuke they get from not listening to customers. I applaud the guy; did what he needed to get the Vista Not Ready gear working. They should hire him after they throw out their software contractor and their VP of whoever thought that killing the driver was a good idea.

Creative... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934522)

Creative are attempting to be the new Mcirosoft ; crippling stuff to extract more money from their users.

Naïveté (0, Troll)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934524)

The only thing that amazes me more than Creative's behavior in this sorry affair is daniel_k's naïveté. Why do work for free for a commercial entity with a known track record of psychopathic behavior, especially when it's a job they should have done themselves so he was stepping on their turf? Did he honestly expect not to get screwed over? What's more, did he not realize that he was simply enabling their bad behavior by fixing the consequences of it for them?

Re:Naïveté (2, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934668)

He wasn't working for the company, he was working for the victims of the company's shoddy behaviour.... as you can see, from the company's response.

Re:Naïveté (1, Troll)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934760)

He wasn't working for the company, he was working for the victims of the company's shoddy behaviour....

That's probably what he believes, but the effect of his work is that the victims of Creative's shoddy behavior can continue to use and buy Creative's shoddy products. So working for free to fix the problems of Creative's victims is in effect tantamount to working for Creative for free.

Re:Naïveté (2, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934688)

daniel_k's naïveté.

I wonder what his IP rights are to his mods? Could he turn around and sue Creative if the issue a Vista patch that fixes the drivers in the same way that Daniel-K's mods did? But from the sounds of his response, he would never try to pursue that line.

Re:Naïveté (1, Troll)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934794)

I wonder what his IP rights are to his mods?

If they are a derivative work of the original drivers, which they probably are, the answer to that question is that he probably doesn't have any because such derivative works are prohibited by the license "agreement". (IANAL. TINLA.)

Re:Naïveté (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934858)

According to the article, Creative has nothing to steal from him. His drivers didn't add much functionality if any: what he did is unlock them. They are -intentionaly- crippled. Thats why they got pissed off at him.

Re:Naïveté (1)

aarggh (806617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935184)

I'm guessing that maybe he is one of the talented bunch who actually takes pride in his abilities and instead of crying at broken drivers decides he'll have a crack at them himself, and share his results with the public for free? And as for donations, I really don't understand why people are saying he shouldn't have accepted them, why the hell shouldn't he accept small gifts in the form of money from people appreciative of his efforts and time? He certainly didn't demand fee's, now that would be wrong and give cause for complaint.

Fair usage and licensing? (4, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934540)

Can anyone elucidate the issues of fair usage and licensing as they apply to hardware? I'm assuming when you buy a piece of computer hardware you're not licensing it like you are with software, so you should be able to do with it whatever you please. But since it 'requires' software in order to run, then I can imagine how the issue gets a little murky. As an example, when I buy my car I expect to be able to use it however I please within the confines of the law - not how GM or Ford has licensed me to use it. And if I can find or write software that will control the car's hardware better and give me better performance, shouldn't I be able to use that software? Last I checked, there was no licensing/fair use law against overclocking, for example - even though overclocking is always done through software (bios).

So while I understand Creative's beef about messing with their software, the reason this is a firestorm issue is that since the software in question is a driver the hardware becomes an inseparable part of the equation.

And this leaves aside the whole other issue of crippling.

Re:Fair usage and licensing? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934580)

He appealed to the public for donations, and made statements to the effect that he would have new, uncrippled drivers available faster if there were more donations.

He shot himself in the foot when he did that.

Re:Fair usage and licensing? (2, Interesting)

Tanman (90298) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934986)

Try modding your car's ECU software. Then, when you manage to blow a hole through your engine block because your badass turbo was pumping 20psi into your cylinders instead of 8, try having it covered under warranty.

Now, if someone pays or otherwise gets these drivers and something goes wrong and they nuke their computer, is it somehow Creative's fault that they didn't give you the performance you wanted and you looked outside the box? It's pretty obvious that a hardware vendor would not, under any circumstances, want a 3rd party writing drivers for their system. They want total control there, and that's what Creative is doing here. The fact that the guy fixed something is irrelevant -- creative doesn't want you fudging up your sound card's ecu and blowing a hole in your computer, then calling them up and costing them more money.

Re:Fair usage and licensing? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935108)

Who cares what Creative wants? If I want to use modded drivers for a card that I own, that's entirely my right. Creative doesn't have to support me obviously, but they have no place trying to stop this.

Drivers in (5, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934614)

Windows are very difficult to write. If this guy modded someone else's, they should hire him.

Re:Drivers in (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934970)

Windows are very difficult to write.

No they aren't.

Re:Drivers in (1)

rholland356 (466635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935248)

I really don't know why Creative strapped on its Stoopid in this case. After reading about it, I'm left in a state of WTF.

Creative management (amateurs?) could have had this guy's improved drivers for a song, simply by sending him some hardware and code. Isn't this type of person an ideal recruit for beta testing?

The who thing is stupid (5, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934690)

The person "modding" the driver has a license to use that driver. The person receiving the driver must have a license because they have a creative labs card.

So, there is no "infringement" here.

Daniel should phrase what he does better, he isn't getting donations for the "driver," as this is a free download and already licensed by creative. He is getting donations for the "work" of modding. In other words, he is being paid for support not the driver.

Thus he is not running afoul of any IP laws. He is lawfully applying his expertise to private customers running third party hardware and and software, which they have the right to use.

Re:The who thing is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22935046)

1/ EULA he agreed to prohibit disassembling.

2/ He distributes binaries that contains IP that don't belong to him (I could download his drivers, and I have no creative hardware)

3/ Portions of the code belongs to a third party that did not license the code for anything but XP

So, he is running afoul IP laws.

Now, those IP laws are stupid, creative labs is a dumb company and 100% deserve what is coming to them. They should be more careful, because in hardware, customer lock is weaker than in software.

Braziliantech of A7V BIOS fame (4, Interesting)

klui (457783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934746)

I didn't recognize the name but "Braziliantech" did ring a bell. He did some pretty good mods for Asus's A7V BIOSes.

NVidia & Creative... conspiring against Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934766)

Could these recent discoveries about crippled or buggy drivers be due to a conspiracy against Microsoft?

Creative alternatives (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934816)

Seeing as how there won't be any Creative products in my future systems, which alternatives have people had success with? I'm not even aware of competitors in sound cards because I've always bought a Creative card since I started with my SB16, it was always a foregone conclusion that my next system would use the most advanced Creative card I wanted to pay for. Now that Creative is in the same do-not-consider bin as things like Sony and Belkin, what am I left with as alternatives?

Re:Creative alternatives (1)

Reapman (740286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934894)

I'd like to know a good alternative too... I know of Turtle.. Beach? I think.. something like that. High end, apparently better quality then Creative, but you pay for it too from what I remember. RIght now I'm using onboard after getting fed up with Creative and Vista support issues, but would'nt mind putting in a real sound card since I know the quality is sub par.

Makes you pine for the days of the Gravis Ultra Sound and it's ilk. Creative mopped the floor to the point they're only competitors is onboard now really.

Re:Creative alternatives (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935168)

Just out of curiosity, why do you not like Belkin? Sure, there a bargin shelf product, but regardless, I've had no trouble from the name.

Analogy (5, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934826)

Software crippling is standard practice. I am a professional embedded software engineer and I guarantee that the majority of model sperated features are all only a few bits of cleverly coded SW to tell them apart. Hell most of the jobs I have ever had in consumer electronics or industrial applications are implemented this way - ie. one standard set of HW and a configuration file and different stickers to tell the top of the range from the basic model.

This is really all Creative were doing, attempting to force enough of a difference between bottem end products and older products and the new top of the range technologies to ensure sales stay up. You cannot really blame them this this commercial decision.


what I take exception to is the fact that they have made none of this clear to the consumers. and worse, they have actively degraded the functionality of hardware people have already paid for by means of drivers for a new operation system.

In other words it is as though you purchased a car hifi and used it for a year in your Ford. Then you purchased an Mercedes and fitted the same car hifi and found the audio output was at half the resolution in your new car. If you have wanted to spend the money and pay for double the resolution then nobody would of batted an eyelid - but you would reasonably expect that the original performace would of been preserved. At the very least you would of expected some notification or warning.

And thats why Creative are in hot water - apart from their shockingly rude and arrogant behaviour that is.

Creative retracts forum post. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22934898)

Creative has replaced the original threatening post on the forum with a very defensive one http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?board.id=soundblaster&thread.id=116332 [creative.com] Chunks of the original post are still available on the Wired.com article. Here's a smart guy who archive the original post http://www.woyano.com/view/7839/Archive-of-Creative-Labs-Letter-To-Community-Modder [woyano.com] .

SB Live (2, Funny)

arazor (55656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22934932)

Were any of these drivers for the older SB Live pci card?
And if so where would one find them?

Re:SB Live (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935136)

According to the TFA yes, there is apparently Live! support in at least one version of his drivers--that may not be available from him anymore, but since this is the internet you can be sure they'll appear elsewhere.

Modder or Hacker? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935010)

Could someone please clarify me on what the terms mean in this context? I thought modders made cases out of plexiglass, typewriters, and and such things.

Re:Modder or Hacker? (3, Funny)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935176)

Modders modify things. Often cases, but sometimes drivers.

"Hacker" is often taken to mean someone who circumvents computer protections for nefarious purposes, but around here you're more likely to see it used in the original sense of "somebody who's a competent-to-excellent programmer with a knack and desire to solve problems."

In this case he's a modder because he was just making modifications to a driver set that he can't really claim to understand, while a hacker would've reverse-engineered the drivers and rewritten them in lisp, then included a module in them that runs the linux kernel on your sound card. Or something.

Gave up many years ago (4, Informative)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935040)

I went through SB live and incompatibilities with very popular VIA chip sets.

I bought a Audigy (1) and never got the firewire port working or any drivers to work since XP SP2.

For years I had been annoyed at the rubbish that installs with the drive CD's and how the GUI is totally at odds with Windows.

I switched to Diamond (with DDL optical output) and Via sound cards (24bit / 96kHz) for a fraction of the price. I haven't looked back, updates are available for vista and they work just fine.

Due to my bad experiences with Creative and driver support I actively steer clear of *any* product they make for over 5 years and advise family and friends to do the same.

Nixed Creative long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22935060)

I haven't used a Creative product since they long ago proved they couldn't write drivers. Anyone remember the bug that killed hard drives and had been documented and reported to them for years and it was still unfixed? Yeah, I had a HDD die to that.

An Open Letter to Creative (5, Funny)

Knight of Shadows (1163917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22935178)

Dear Phil O'Shaunessy, We, the public, have heard your comments and belief that 'whether or not it cripples its Vista drivers is a "business decision that only we have the right to make." ' and we would just like to say we fully agree with and support your belief: any company has the complete and total right to be an absolute asshat and fuck over it's customers. The public, on the other hand, has the complete right to do anything and everything to put your sorry ass out of business, and to tar and feather your sorry ass and run it out of town on a rail. Now that you and your company has shown its colors, it is up to us, the public, to cut off your balls and run with them. Therefore, we have decided to not buy your lousy products, ever. We will do everything in our power to spread the word to our customers, friends, family, strangers on the street, on what a sad, pathetic bunch of fucktards you really are, and anything else imaginable to steal your sales and lessen your profit margin. Oh, and Phil, be careful when you are crossing the street, because none of us will bother braking for your evil, moneygrubbing, worthless ass, and will claim a temporary overwhelming need to do the world a solid after running it over. We don't need you, Phil, or your bullshit products. What you need, dickless, is our money, and we're putting an end to your shit now. Fuck you, and have a great day. There you have it, folks. This should be copied by each and every computer owner in the country, put into practice, and copies mailed to our friend Phil at Creative Labs. All it takes is ONE SHOW OF STRENGTH BY THE BUYING PUBLIC. LET'S SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE OF 'FUCK YOU FOR TRYING, YOU PIECE OF SHIT' TO THESE BASTARDS! Or you can sit on your asses and get what you deserve. Your choice.
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