Message #827

From: David Vanderschel <>
Subject: Re: [MC4D] commercializing cubing
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 09:17:09 -0600

I think the prospects of making money from such software are very
limited. Part of the problem is that the number of potential
customers is so small. Furthermore, those potential customers
have plenty of free options for intellectually interesting
challenges on their computers. They can move on to something

IMO, the most relevant response so far was the short one from
John, who wrote, "… I have no qualms about a $5 donation … ".
The key here is "donation". This is the approach taken by many
sites that distribute good free software: "If you like my
programs, please feel free to make a donation." Such a site may
even offer a link to PayPal to facilitate making such a donation.
Here’s a good example: (See upper right
hand corner.) I think some folks who have made sufficiently good
free software contributions (and NoScript is certainly a good
example of that) are making out pretty well with the donations.
(But you have to have something with _very_ broad appeal.) The
donation approach may even be effective at getting compensation
from someone who would not have paid to download it. If they do
download it and find that they use it a lot, then they might feel
they can justify a donation. Even better than "try before you

All that said, I must admit that I recently paid money for a
Rubik’s Cube simulator program. It was for my iPod Touch. It
cost a whopping $0.99. I must say that it was well worth it.
(It does up to order 6, and I did not even possess a
still-working order 4.) Here is a video review of it: The touch screen
interface is very natural. (Many of the Java applets for the
puzzle on the Web use the same sort of dragging concept with the
mouse, but it is much more natural with a touch screen.) This is
probably a better illustration of the touch concept in this
regard than that rather clumsy "Touch Cube". (Roice had pointed
us to a video illustrating that one.) The solver that is built
into LCUBE is remarkably efficient, but it fails to correctly
orient face-center cubies when in a mode in which the orientation
of those cubies is apparent. (Regarding the feature about which
the reviewer admitted failed comprehension: The feature is
something I had not seen before. When the cubie size is small
(so you can see between them), you can enable stickers on ALL
facelets of the cubies. In such case, all 26 visible cubies are
‘decorated’ in precisely the same manner. This gives you another
way to tell which sticker is on a facelet that is facing away
from you. The "small cubies" option strikes me as useless
without also enabling this option. However, it presents more
than you really want to see. IMO, it is not as effective as
making the cubies transparent; and I have no idea why the Cool
Moon folks failed to offer that option.)

David V.

—– Original Message —–
From: Roice Nelson
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 7:18 PM
Subject: [MC4D] commercializing cubing

Hi all,

Here’s a non-technical question I’d be curious for any and all to
weigh in on. I’m on the cusp of releasing another (beta) Rubik
analogue program I’ve worked on a bit over the past half year,
and was planning to post it free as I’ve done with other hobby
projects. Then this blog post shows up in my reader today
describing "the radical idea that you should sell what you make."
I’m curious what others think of this. Is it unrealistic to
expect people to pay, say $5, for a Rubik like program? Would
doing something like that injure the commercial-free spirit of
communities like this? Is the Rubik software market simply
supersaturated with freeware, such that it’d be hopeless to try
to charge anything for yet another Rubik program? (I tend to
suspect the answer to the last is yes.)

These projects are an incredible amount of fun, but an equally
incredible amount of work. I happily pay for physical puzzles on
a regular basis, but have always downplayed the monetary value of
the software versions. How come? I don’t think I’ve had any
fundamental reversal in my plans or anything, but the blog entry
at least made me want to post this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts,