Fences for Windows

Stardock - Fences Screenshot

Fences is a Desktop-organizing tool for Windows whose main drawback is that is published by Stardock (yes, that Stardock).

But if you can get past that, Fences adds a couple of helpful additions to the Windows desktop for just $9.99.

Fences adds a multi-page Desktop setup to Windows. Grab the edge of the screen with your mouse and drag to the left or right, and you’re onto the next screen.

Lots of utilities do similar things, but Fences lets you define scrolling windows on top of the desktop that hold icons for programs and documents. So you can have a window called “Video Editing” and put shortcuts to all of your video editing software, or create a “Super Secret Project” window and put shortcuts to all the relevant documents in there.

All interesting and helpful stuff, but I never would have paid the $9.99 for Fences if it weren’t for the final feature which, after I used it, I couldn’t believe wasn’t already a feature in Windows.

With Fences running, and the option selected, you can double-click on any blank space on the Desktop and all the icons disappear. Double-click again and they reappear.

I know it’s a fairly minor feature, but I can’t help it–I absolutely love it. It just has that “this is how the Desktop should have always worked” ¬†feel to it.

Stardock’s Brad Wardell Brags About Creating Hostile Work Environments for Women

Kotaku has extensive coverage of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Stardock by its former marketing manager, and Stardock’s apparently vindictive countersuit blaming the woman filing the lawsuit for the failure of Elemental.

The most interesting part of the Kotaku story are the emails exchange between Wardell and the marketing manager, Alexandra Miseta. After an incident at dinner while Miseta and Wardell were promoting Elemental in San Francisco, Miseta was upset enough to write a letter outlining both specific things that upset her and outlining in extraordinarily clear terms how she expected that behavior to change,

1. Please never touch my hair or any of my body parts; not even jokingly.

2.Please do not talk about my private life or about my boyfriend/future husband in any terms especially negative terms.

3. Please be careful with your “jokes” which are at many times inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and very embarrassing not only to me, but everyone present.

4. Please keep your negative personal opinions of others (including family members and/or coworkers) not present at the time of your comments, to yourself. I feel, at times, it puts me in a very uncomfortable position.

With the above few behavioral changes, I’m hoping our previously friendly and professional relationship can be reestablished. My goal from day one (June 04, 2007) has been to work for this company 110% and to work together with my peers to build a high quality, successful company. I would like to continue to work with you in the future and keep striving towards that very goal.

This is an extremely professional email which speaks highly of Miseta. She is bending over backwards to try to amicably resolve apparently long-standing issues that have bothered her. If I received an email like this from a subordinate, I would go out of my way to acknowledge Ms. Miseta’s concerns and work through this in a professional manner.

Instead, Wardell responds by being an asshole (apparently he is as rude to people he work with as he is on the Stardock forums),

I don’t recall item #1 but will certainly endeavor to be extra careful.

I understand #2. I will be more conscious of this in the future.

#3, however is not acceptable to me. I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing person and I’m not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you will need to find another job.

#4, Again, I am not willing to adapt my behavior to suit others. IF you find my behavior problematic, I recommend finding another job.

I’m not some manager or coworker of yours. I own the company. It, and your job here, exist to suit my purposes, not vice versa. The company is not an end unto itself, it is a means to an end which is to further the objectives of its shareholders (in this case, me).

What an idiot. Miseta complains that she’s tired of a hostile work environment and Wardell essentially says “tough shit — find another job if you don’t like it here.”

If you read the content of the defendant’s motion to dismiss, Miseta alleges a number of disgusting and inappropriate actions by Wardell. At one point in the Stardock offices, Miseta alleges that Wardell told her in front of her marketing team that she was to accompany him on a publicity tour “because your nipples look better on TV than mine do.”

If true, Miseta deserves everything she gets out of Stardock and the company doesn’t deserve to get a single cent from gamers.

Todd Hollenshead’s Idiotic Rant about PC Manufacturers and Piracy

Id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead tells GameIndustry.Biz that PC manufacturers are happy that piracy is rampant on the PC,

Q: It’s the barrier-for-entry thing isn’t it? It’s really easy to pirate PC games whereas console games are much harder to pirate so the returns are better. What can PC hardware manufacturers do to make it harder for pirates?

Todd Hollenshead: There’s lots of things that they could do but typically just they just line up on the wrong side of the argument in my opinion. They have lots of reasons as to why they do that, but I think that there’s been this dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers, which is that the perception of free content – even if you’re supposed to pay for it on PCs – is some sort hidden benefit that you get when you buy a PC, like a right to download music for free or a right to download pirated movies and games.

Q: You think they’re secretly happy about it?

Todd Hollenshead: Yeah I think they are. I think that if you went in and could see what’s going on in their minds, though they may never say that stuff and I’m not saying there’s some conspiracy or something like that – but I think the thing is they realise that trading content, copyrighted or not, is an expected benefit of owning a computer.

And I think that just based on their actions…what they say is one thing, but what they do is another. When it comes into debates about whether peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that by-and-large have the vast majority, I’m talking 99 per cent of the content is illicitly trading copyrighted property, they’ll come out on the side of the 1 per cent of the user doing it for legitimate benefit. You can make philosophical arguments that are difficult to debate, but at the same time you’re just sort of ignoring the enormity of the problem.

Of course one of the reasons piracy continues to flourish is that the same cracks needed to pirate a game are also needed by legitimate users half the time to just get the damn game to run.

Stardock has shown that you can have enormous sales and make a lot of money in PC games without treating the customer like the enemy. Clueless hacks like Hollenshead will never get that and wonder why their games don’t sell.

Also, Hollenshead also mentions a bit about World of Warcraft sayin,g

It is a big problem – people even say it impacts the World of Warcraft stuff, but obviously not to a great extent, and I think that the subscription is one proven economic solution to the piracy situation on the PC. I think part of it is that, to me from a market standpoint, I think of WOW as eBay: the reason eBay wins as the auction site is that’s where everybody goes, so that’s where everybody want to list their items so that’s where all the buyers want to go to shop. WoW is where everybody plays, so that’s where everybody wants to play, so the cost of entry there is insignificant relative to what the whole experience is about – playing with all these people.

In Blizzard’s case, though, World of Warcraft is more like a Stardock product than an Id product.

First, World of Warcraft will play on an enormous number of computers — you don’t have to be running the latest graphics card in SLI mode to have a decent experience with WoW.

Second, Blizzard makes it easy for me to play WoW on whatever computer I am. Hell, I can log into my account and download the original game and the expansion and run it anywhere. Same thing with Stardock — I install Sins of a Solar Empire on my laptop and go.

Contrast that with the typical games where a) you have to constantly have the CD/DVD in the drive while playing, and b) you have to wonder what the hell problems the copy protection is going to cause to your system. WIth a game you’ve bought at a store, you’re better off buying it and waiting until someone’s releases a crack to remove the copy protection — and after doing that repeatedly with games you spent $60 or $70 on, you start to get the point of wondering why bother with buying it in the first place since you’re breaking the law removing the copy protection anyway.