I’ve removed/hidden the stuff I used to have up related to Aimster, Madster, John Deep, Bill Duker, etc. That stuff happened over 10 years ago now, and I think it’s time to let the past rest.
I’ve removed/hidden the stuff I used to have up related to Aimster, Madster, John Deep, Bill Duker, etc. That stuff happened over 10 years ago now, and I think it’s time to let the past rest.
Well, One of Aimster/Madster’s parent corporations has filed Chapter 11. I still have not received my BuddyUSA W-2s. And they offered me 37% or what they owe me, so I sent them back an offer for 66% of what they owe me, and they ignored it. Note that Pi 2, the corporation that signed my paychecks for 2 months, has not filed for bankruptcy.
The NYS department of labor is completely useless. I fund them with my tax dollars and they apparently go out of their way to not help me. They first found a way to screw me out of my unemployment, then told me they wouldn’t help me get the money Aimster owes me because I grossed over $600/week.
Anyhow, things seem to be going better in the rest of my life. Christmas is just around the corner and I basically haven’t paid any of my bills and instead bought christmas presents. Yeah, totally irresponsible of me, but my credit is already complete shit due to Aimster, so I really don’t care at this point.
The animosity I feel towards John, Bill Duker, and the rest of the Aimster execs hasn’t decreased much over the past few months. But after the department of labor refused to help me I was sort of at a loss. I don’t have the money to spend on a lawyer so it seems that at this point in time I’m just going to have to deal with this. Which of course sucks big time. But like I said, there’s not much I can do. I’ll look into contacting the NYS attorney general someday, but this time of year sucks.
Additionally, this company is comprised of the worst gaggle of idiots and crooks you’ll ever encounter. They take your money, do half a job, then when you ask them for help so that you can finish the other half yourself (remember, you paid them to do the whole thing!) they refuse and say it’s a technical support issue. Trust me on this. They are completely incompetent. Their website is filled with lies, such as their claim to have created some “ImageServer” technology. Their “ImageServer technology” is just ImageMagick.
On the brighter side, my girlfriend appears to have gotten a job which will apparently start in January, so hooray! Maybe now we can afford to live above ground! We’ve been living in a basement for quite some time, and it’s really getting to us both.
And also, Castle Wolfenstein is the best game in years. I command you to get it!
Merry Christmas, Chappy Chanukah, and… well, fuck Kwanzaa, it’s fake anyway. Chanukah too. Ok, Christmas too. Happy presnt-giving-day(s)! And Happy New Year!
Here’s what the American people should get for Christmas, since it’s been taken away recently. Adios!
I got this emailed to me today:
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 10:06:38 -0500
From: Ed Kear <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: PI2 Options Agreement For me
The accompanying Word 2000 document is the forebearance agreement Bill Duker mentioned at the end of August. I received some of these back electronically back then, but not from everyone. To make this legal, you must return a hard copy version of it signed by you (I will sign it when returned) and mail it to me at Ideal Ventures. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to call me at 518-434-6543 (Ideal Ventures Phone #).
80 State St, 6th Floor
Albany, NY 12207
The following was attached:
Pi2 EMPLOYEE LETTER
Dear my name:
This letter acknowledges your agreement to accept an option to acquire 10 shares of Pi2, Inc. (the "Company") common stock, at an exercise price of $0.01, per share ("Salary Deferral Option") in full consideration for your agreement to defer receipt of salary owed to you for services you rendered to the Company prior to August 27, 2001, until the Company obtains financing in a minimum amount of $250,000.00. The Salary Deferral Option is immediately vested and may be exercised by you at any time during your employment, or within one year after you terminate your employment with the Company.
You have been advised that the Company is currently attempting to raise additional financing. You have also been advised that the Company may be unable to raise this additional financing.
You further agree to accept options to acquire shares of the Company's common stock ("Shares") at an exercise price of $0.01 per share, in addition to cash compensation for services rendered to the Company subsequent to August 27, 2001 (the "Salary Award Option"). The number of shares subject to your Salary Award Option shall be equal to your current salary rate for the period you perform services for the Company subsequent to August 27, 2001 divided by a per share price of $60.43 per Share. The Salary Option Award is also fully vested and may be exercised by you at any time during your employment, or within one year after you terminate employment with the Company.
If the terms of this agreement are acceptable to you, please sign both copies of this letter and return one signed copy to me.
Edward Kear, CTO
Agreed and Accepted
this First day of September, 2001.
This is quite funny. Yes, I’ll give up my rights to the $7,500 you owe me in exchange for TEN SHARES OF STOCK! And their current value is ZERO! Sure, I’ll do that, right after MONKEYS FLY OUT OF MY ASS!
My dilemma now is, do I simply not reply, or do I reply and tell them to go to hell? God damn, what a fucking bunch of retards. I’m starting to think I should go after John Deep’s personal assets. Let that fucker rot in the street. That’s what he’s willing to let me do. He can whore his daughter to pay his goddamned $1500/month cell phone bill.
Well, it seems I somehow managed to get a job! Hooray! I went to the interview and after talking to the president for 2 hours, he offered me the job on the spot! Now I get to do PHP, Oracle, and sysadmin stuff, which is all stuff I wanted to do! The pay is not the best, but that can change. The boss seems like a really cool guy also which is a big bonus after the whole Aimster ordeal. I still really have nowhere to live. The place I’m staying at in Queens, and had been paying for the entire time I was in Albany, well some heartless person reported them to the housing department for having an illegal basement apartment. The complaint was apparently closed since the people who own the house wouldn’t let the inspectors in, but they still want us to move out. I do not know where I am going to live now, and since I now work in Manhattan, my options are a lot more limited with regard to location. My girlfriend is unable to get a job even though she has a Masters degree and is attending Columbia Teacher’s College. Even TC won’t give her a job, even as work study.
So basically everything still sucks, but maybe a little less, in new and exciting ways. All of these events will make for a very interesting autobiography when I am an old man. I mean, on the one hand I am lucky to be alive, but what good does being alive do me if I have nowhere to live and hence no way to get to work? Oh, also I got completely screwed out of my unemployment for the 3 months I was out of work because of incompetence at the Unemployment Office. But like the title says, life goes on, sort of.
As a special bonus to you, here is a transcript of the chat I had with John Deep, Aimster’s CEO. This is from Friday, October 12th, 2001. He’s johnnyaimster (on AIM) and I’m the other one. I changed my screen name and email address to prevent spam. Note how any time I mention selling Aimster he completely ignores it. This chat left me feeling a bit sorry for him, as I think he was more delusional than actually evil, but he still owes me a lot of money and he still had me continue working when there wasn’t enough money to pay me (and regardless of what he says here, he knew that) so that’s still intent to defraud, so I’m still going to have to sue him or something, somehow. Enjoy!
Me (1:41:48 PM): Sheila said you wanted to talk to me
johnnyaimster (1:42:58 PM): oh hi...i understand you've gotten very unhappy with the way you were treated?
Me (1:43:03 PM): Yes.
Me (1:43:27 PM): And I think that is understandable.
johnnyaimster (1:43:27 PM): well the company had to treat everyone equally
Me (1:43:33 PM): I know that
Me (1:43:51 PM): But nobody warned me, or anybody, that there were money problems
johnnyaimster (1:43:53 PM): if it were up to me i would have tried to give you special consideration for you circumstances
johnnyaimster (1:44:13 PM): but that just isn't possible
Me (1:44:25 PM): I understand that I can't get special treatment
Me (1:44:31 PM): that's not what I was looking for
Me (1:45:12 PM): If you knew there were money problems why didn't you warn anybody before hand so they could have made other arrangements?
Me (1:45:51 PM): As it was I was $2000 in debt and was preparing to pay it off with that paycheck that never happened
johnnyaimster (1:45:52 PM): there were no secrets from anyone
Me (1:45:57 PM): ???
Me (1:46:01 PM): How can you say that?
johnnyaimster (1:46:09 PM): you knew what everyone else knew as soon as anyone knew it
Me (1:46:29 PM): So the company ran out of money and nobody knew it, not even the CFO or CEO?
Me (1:46:37 PM): I really find that incredibly difficult to believe.
Me (1:47:15 PM): Why did 60 new computers appear the same week that there wasn't enough money to pay payroll?
johnnyaimster (1:47:36 PM): there are two separate companies you know that
johnnyaimster (1:47:46 PM): pi2 is the software company that you worked for
johnnyaimster (1:48:24 PM): all fo their funds went to payroll right to the last 14k
johnnyaimster (1:48:49 PM): they explaind the whole thing in the meeting...and that was the whole truth
Me (1:49:05 PM): That reeks of fraud
johnnyaimster (1:49:23 PM): evan that's not fair of you to say
Me (1:49:29 PM): John, really it is.
Me (1:49:36 PM): I risked so much to join Aimster
Me (1:49:51 PM): I thought I had planned for every contingency
Me (1:49:59 PM): even if Aimster died I would still be okay
Me (1:50:07 PM): it never occurred to me that you would do what you have done
Me (1:50:39 PM): There's not enough money to pay anybody, so you just pretend there is no problem?
johnnyaimster (1:50:41 PM): now why do you bring me into it...i don't run the software company ...you know that
johnnyaimster (1:51:18 PM): it has its own board and officers and shareholders
Me (1:51:28 PM): And who exactly are those people?
Me (1:51:48 PM): I would really like their names and addresses.
Me (1:52:02 PM): I can get them from the department of state though
johnnyaimster (1:52:28 PM): well i'm sorry you feel that way...and that your financial situation worsened
Me (1:52:45 PM): And really John, regardless of all the corporation mumbo-jumbo, you were always "the boss" regardless of what you may say
johnnyaimster (1:52:48 PM): i really am sorry...but there's nothing i could do at that moment
Me (1:52:58 PM): John, you could have at least WARNED ME!!!!!
Me (1:53:04 PM): Is that so hard to do?
johnnyaimster (1:53:24 PM): well we talked about the situation constantly with everyone
Me (1:53:34 PM): That is incorrect.
johnnyaimster (1:53:48 PM): how there was going to be cash that would come from the buddysharing application if it could be finished
Me (1:53:50 PM): because neither you nor ed told me there were financial woes
Me (1:54:10 PM): And just 2 days before August 10th, Sheila told me there was plenty of money
Me (1:54:21 PM): I'm sure sheila wasn't trying to deceive me
johnnyaimster (1:54:38 PM): no she wasn't
Me (1:55:04 PM): But if she was under the impression that there was a lot of money, I find it hard to believe that "you spoke with everyone"
johnnyaimster (1:55:42 PM): it wasn't me that spoke with them...everyone knew the situation and what we were trying to do to bring in revenue
Me (1:55:58 PM): You cannot say "everyone knew" because I did not know.
johnnyaimster (1:55:59 PM): true it had nothing to do with the mac side of things..the revenue
Me (1:56:34 PM): devising ways to bring in revenue has nothing to do with the current financial state
Me (1:56:41 PM): companies are always looking for new revenue streams
Me (1:56:51 PM): just because we are looking for a revenue stream doesn't mean we have $0
Me (1:57:22 PM): Can you give me the names of the board and officers of BuddyUSA, Pi2, and AbovePeer please.
Me (1:57:52 PM): I know Bill Duker, Paul Goetz, You, John Cavalier
johnnyaimster (1:58:09 PM): evan you shouldn't be like that...it's not fair
Me (1:58:14 PM): Be like what?
Me (1:58:32 PM): I guess you cannot imagine the pile of feces that my life has become John.
johnnyaimster (1:58:35 PM): everyone was trying very hard to keep the guys altogether...including you
Me (1:58:53 PM): I would have rather been laid off than treated the way I was john
Me (1:59:00 PM): As it was I could not even collect unemployment.
johnnyaimster (1:59:11 PM): now why didn't you tell me that before?
johnnyaimster (1:59:17 PM): when you left we had a plan i thought
johnnyaimster (1:59:24 PM): you seemed happy with it at the time
Me (1:59:35 PM): I cannot believe you did not even have the common courtesy to tell me that I wouldn't get paid
johnnyaimster (1:59:46 PM): you were moving to queens, collecting unemployment, taking the computer and working from down there
johnnyaimster (2:00:09 PM): you never let me know you had a more serious problem
Me (2:00:18 PM): I found it hard to believe that you really expected me to work for free; you must have mistaken my shock for happiness
Me (2:00:41 PM): John, I was getting evicted from my apartment!
johnnyaimster (2:00:42 PM): i always liked you a lot and thought of you as a someone i trusted
Me (2:01:01 PM): How could you not have known I was in dire straits when I told you that?
Me (2:01:08 PM): I was already -$300 in my checking account
Me (2:01:11 PM): and I you, john
Me (2:01:26 PM): You cannot imagine the bridges I burned with my family to join Aimster
johnnyaimster (2:01:26 PM): right that's why i feel so bad about this
johnnyaimster (2:01:39 PM): i had no idea i'm sorry
johnnyaimster (2:02:12 PM): i just remember it was like..."i'd like to take time off and try programming..."
Me (2:02:27 PM): I don't really remember what I said
Me (2:02:43 PM): Really I was taking the Mac as sort of collateral
Me (2:02:48 PM): I don't have any use for it
Me (2:02:55 PM): I will gladly return it
johnnyaimster (2:03:33 PM): well what about working from down there when we recover
johnnyaimster (2:03:38 PM): you don't want to do that
Me (2:03:55 PM): If I have time and you can pay me the money you already owe me, then fine
johnnyaimster (2:04:11 PM): evan you are absolutely going to be paid the money you're owed
johnnyaimster (2:04:24 PM): that's not even a question about that
Me (2:04:35 PM): John, after this whole fiasco I really can't give your words much credibility.
johnnyaimster (2:04:36 PM): that's all everyone is trying to do
Me (2:04:48 PM): You owe so much more to all the other employees
johnnyaimster (2:05:13 PM): everyone understands the situation and that they will be paid asap
Me (2:05:29 PM): but when is ASAP?
johnnyaimster (2:05:31 PM): you got the letter with the option offer from ed right...where it was explained?
Me (2:05:43 PM): What happens in the event that Aimster folds completely?
Me (2:05:52 PM): That seems like a very real possibility to me
Me (2:05:56 PM): No, I got nothing from Ed.
johnnyaimster (2:05:57 PM): doesn't matter the payroll still gets paid
Me (2:06:11 PM): How, if the corporation has no assets?
Me (2:06:26 PM): NYS law is that payroll is every 2 weeks
johnnyaimster (2:06:48 PM): payroll gets paid first...the letter that ed sent to everyone explains that
Me (2:06:48 PM): I am not inflexible, but "asap" is not really good enough
Me (2:07:03 PM): He didn't send it to me.
johnnyaimster (2:07:03 PM): it just reiterates what bill said in the meeting
Me (2:07:35 PM): Employees must be paid FIRST.
johnnyaimster (2:07:51 PM): that's correct that's what bill said in the meeting
Me (2:08:00 PM): so who is paying WorldCom and Abovenet?
johnnyaimster (2:08:09 PM): but they also have to be treated equitably
johnnyaimster (2:08:22 PM): meaning you can't pay some employees and not others
Me (2:08:29 PM): I understand that.
Me (2:08:37 PM): I am not asking for special treatment.
Me (2:09:01 PM): But you must owe at least $120,000 in payroll
johnnyaimster (2:09:01 PM): that includes officers, other account payables etc.
Me (2:09:24 PM): on top of the money you owe the 4 windows developers from their contract
Me (2:09:40 PM): so really I doubt I will ever see any of the money I'm owed
johnnyaimster (2:10:10 PM): how much are you owed by the way
Me (2:10:21 PM): how are other account payables on the same footing as payroll?
johnnyaimster (2:10:22 PM): if you happen to know off the top of your head
Me (2:10:26 PM): at least $7500
johnnyaimster (2:10:30 PM): no they're not that's what i'm saying
Me (2:10:33 PM): maybe more if I am still on the payroll
Me (2:10:38 PM): but $7500 for sure
johnnyaimster (2:11:54 PM): howmany weeks is that
Me (2:11:58 PM): 3
johnnyaimster (2:12:19 PM): ok what is that gross or...
Me (2:12:23 PM): Gross
johnnyaimster (2:12:44 PM): ok so is that 2500/week?
Me (2:12:47 PM): Yes
johnnyaimster (2:13:04 PM): you made 2500/week?
Me (2:13:09 PM): Yes.
Me (2:13:14 PM): $65,000 / year
Me (2:13:21 PM): oh no
Me (2:13:26 PM): $2500/ 2 weeks
Me (2:13:30 PM): sorry
johnnyaimster (2:13:49 PM): right ok...so 3750 gross?
Me (2:14:00 PM): No, 7500 gross
Me (2:14:04 PM): 3 payroll periods
Me (2:14:10 PM): that's what I thought you meant
johnnyaimster (2:14:11 PM): oh then you mean 3 payperiods
Me (2:14:14 PM): right.
johnnyaimster (2:15:07 PM): checks due on aug10, aug 24 and...?
Me (2:15:52 PM): I worked several days in the week of Aug 20th
Me (2:16:03 PM): the week of Aug 13th I was begging for money from my mother
johnnyaimster (2:16:17 PM): oh man i'm sorry
Me (2:16:24 PM): I know
johnnyaimster (2:16:42 PM): right the first missed check was aug 12th or something
johnnyaimster (2:16:53 PM): then two weeks after that
Me (2:16:55 PM): August 10th
johnnyaimster (2:16:59 PM): right yes
johnnyaimster (2:17:03 PM): then the 24th
Me (2:17:11 PM): but the payroll was 2 weeks in arrears
johnnyaimster (2:17:28 PM): ah ok
johnnyaimster (2:17:53 PM): so then with that there should have been a check sept 6
Me (2:17:53 PM): So August 10th paid for the period 4 weeks ago to 2 weeks ago
Me (2:18:00 PM): I guess
Me (2:18:21 PM): whatever 4 weeks from August 10th was
johnnyaimster (2:18:53 PM): right ok...
johnnyaimster (2:21:01 PM): well ed will send the letter again just so you'll have it
Me (2:21:19 PM): Ok, I guess.
johnnyaimster (2:21:21 PM): sorry you didn't get it...he thought he sent it to everyone
johnnyaimster (2:21:31 PM): what e-mail address should he use
Me (2:21:32 PM): I don't know if my aimster email address still works
Me (2:21:37 PM): email@example.com
johnnyaimster (2:21:41 PM): ok cool
johnnyaimster (2:22:31 PM): sorry about your situation
johnnyaimster (2:22:58 PM): are you going to be ok
Me (2:23:20 PM): Maybe, I have a couple of prospects.
Me (2:23:34 PM): but soon I will have really nowhere to live
Me (2:23:46 PM): the place we had in queens, they no longer want us to live there
johnnyaimster (2:23:55 PM): well i still hold you in high regard
Me (2:24:01 PM): Well that's nice.
johnnyaimster (2:24:01 PM): if you ever need a reference obviously
Me (2:24:11 PM): And that's it?
johnnyaimster (2:24:14 PM): sorry the feeling isn't mutual anymore
Me (2:24:39 PM): Well how are Aimster's prospects
johnnyaimster (2:24:40 PM): no i mean if we get back on our feet i'd still like to work with you
johnnyaimster (2:24:57 PM): well it's all i do everyday is try to make it work
Me (2:24:59 PM): Oh, yes I would still like to work with you but not like it was before
johnnyaimster (2:25:12 PM): right no i understand
Me (2:25:22 PM): at what point will you throw in the towel?
Me (2:25:36 PM): I mean, if you can't afford to pay developers it doesn't seem you can make much progress
johnnyaimster (2:25:50 PM): we're stuck with the software in its current state
Me (2:25:59 PM): Do you make any money off that store stuff you're doing?
Me (2:26:05 PM): or the donations?
johnnyaimster (2:26:14 PM): not yet...i'm still working on that
johnnyaimster (2:26:30 PM): we're going to put out a club aimster hopefully soon
Me (2:26:31 PM): How can you even afford to pay the rent? It must be extremely expensive there
johnnyaimster (2:26:39 PM): a premium service
johnnyaimster (2:26:46 PM): the rent is in equity
Me (2:26:48 PM): Well, I hope that works out
Me (2:26:55 PM): oh, that's good
Me (2:27:03 PM): And what about Abovenet?
johnnyaimster (2:27:08 PM): yes the ISP bills are accumulating
johnnyaimster (2:27:13 PM): that's the main problem
Me (2:27:22 PM): Abovenet's going to go bankrupt soon I think
johnnyaimster (2:27:32 PM): well we moved out of there
Me (2:27:34 PM): exodus already filed chapter 11
Me (2:27:37 PM): Oh
Me (2:27:59 PM): So everything is running of the computers in the office?
johnnyaimster (2:28:04 PM): yes
Me (2:28:13 PM): all the computers from abovenet are there now too?
johnnyaimster (2:28:24 PM): no we couldn't move them yet
Me (2:28:48 PM): Will they accept those machines as payment?
johnnyaimster (2:29:01 PM): i don't know but i hope it doesn't come to that
Me (2:29:28 PM): Don't you have your own money invested in Aimster?
johnnyaimster (2:29:28 PM): the aimster service is valuable we just haven't monetized it yet
johnnyaimster (2:29:41 PM): yes every last penny
johnnyaimster (2:29:43 PM): stupidly
Me (2:29:49 PM): yes but what kind of a demographic are you getting... people too cheap to even buy a CD?
Me (2:29:56 PM): well I am sorry to hear that
johnnyaimster (2:29:59 PM): that's why i couldn't even float you a loan when i knew you needed it
Me (2:30:30 PM): Well I don't really want to go after your personal assets
johnnyaimster (2:30:34 PM): i don't know the demographic...some of the promotions for products have gone pretty well
johnnyaimster (2:30:49 PM): well thanks...my assets are only debts
Me (2:31:04 PM): Have you thought about selling the service to another one, like kazaa or whatever?
Me (2:31:10 PM): I know that feeling 😥
Me (2:31:20 PM): I haven't paid my student loans since july
johnnyaimster (2:31:34 PM): oh god
johnnyaimster (2:32:02 PM): how's your girlfriend taking it all
Me (2:32:07 PM): horribly
johnnyaimster (2:32:07 PM): if i can ask
Me (2:32:17 PM): she was suicidal for a while
Me (2:32:22 PM): extremely depressed
Me (2:32:25 PM): she is better now
Me (2:32:31 PM): but still depressed
johnnyaimster (2:32:41 PM): wow you have been through hell and back my friend
Me (2:32:51 PM): we were just about to get back on our feet when everything happened
Me (2:33:00 PM): well I don't think I am back yet
johnnyaimster (2:33:17 PM): true you have definitely had it the hardest of anyone here
johnnyaimster (2:33:37 PM): unfortunately while i keep in touch with everyone to see how they're doing
johnnyaimster (2:33:44 PM): i really have lost touch with you
johnnyaimster (2:33:59 PM): i never see you online for example
johnnyaimster (2:34:16 PM): you're on my buddylist as Me are you still that name?
Me (2:34:25 PM): Yes, sometimes
johnnyaimster (2:34:45 PM): well sorry i lost touch with you...it's not because i didn't care
Me (2:35:03 PM): Well I have been avoiding you
Me (2:35:19 PM): to be completely honest
Me (2:35:34 PM): I was terrified and very angry
johnnyaimster (2:35:43 PM): yes and i assumed there wasn't a problem...
johnnyaimster (2:36:00 PM): that you had the place in queens and would be ok for a little while
Me (2:36:06 PM): yes, I guess I should have been more forthright when I left
Me (2:36:25 PM): well moving alone cost $500 that I didn't have
johnnyaimster (2:36:34 PM): damn i didn't think of that
Me (2:36:35 PM): we had to have lisa's mom wire us the money from florida
Me (2:36:59 PM): at least they let us out of the lease there
johnnyaimster (2:37:15 PM): oh that was one good break
Me (2:37:18 PM): yes
johnnyaimster (2:37:35 PM): i've had to borrow money from friends and family to make it through too
Me (2:37:39 PM): the management are nice people, just incompetent I guess
Me (2:37:46 PM): I also had to borrow $1100 from coworker
Me (2:38:02 PM): somehow I'll pay it back
johnnyaimster (2:38:04 PM): oh wow
johnnyaimster (2:38:11 PM): a friend in need is a friend indeed
Me (2:38:29 PM): lisa recently got some student loan money and we're paying the rent in queens with that right now
johnnyaimster (2:38:55 PM): plus it's such a tough time right now with the wtc tragedy
Me (2:39:04 PM): but I have the niagara mohawk and verizon and RR bills following me all over
Me (2:39:09 PM): yes, that was awful
johnnyaimster (2:39:44 PM): well we'll all get through it somehow
Me (2:39:53 PM): yes if we don't catch anthrax
Me (2:40:02 PM): that's just what I need
johnnyaimster (2:40:13 PM): we raised about almost 1000 for redcross through aimster
Me (2:40:15 PM): I'm in Manhattan right now
johnnyaimster (2:40:22 PM): oh cool
Me (2:40:23 PM): that's good
Me (2:40:39 PM): I just started working at a place last week
johnnyaimster (2:40:50 PM): there was an anthrax case in nyc today someone said?
johnnyaimster (2:41:00 PM): congratulations!
Me (2:41:13 PM): well they are just reporting it today but it happened sept 25th they said
Me (2:41:14 PM): thanks
johnnyaimster (2:41:26 PM): computer stuff?
Me (2:41:45 PM): Yes, PHP, HTML, Oracle, and all sorts of admin stuff
johnnyaimster (2:41:52 PM): neato
Me (2:41:59 PM): I was lucky to find it
johnnyaimster (2:42:09 PM): well and they were lucky to find you
Me (2:42:24 PM): well, we'll see how it goes
Me (2:42:36 PM): the pay is a lot less but hopefully there is room for advancement
johnnyaimster (2:43:18 PM): the pay scale here was not too shabby
Me (2:43:20 PM): But really, have you thought of selling Aimster to one of the other file sharing companies?
johnnyaimster (2:43:28 PM): and the work environment was great
Me (2:43:29 PM): no, the pay at aimster was excellent
johnnyaimster (2:43:38 PM): lots of freedom
Me (2:43:45 PM): yes, once we got the liquor.com desks it was a nice place
johnnyaimster (2:43:54 PM): haha
Me (2:44:01 PM): those foldup tables sucked
johnnyaimster (2:44:13 PM): and it was creative and everyone was doing something
Me (2:44:15 PM): yes
johnnyaimster (2:44:19 PM): that could potentially make a difference
Me (2:44:29 PM): if all the stuff hadn't happened I would have loved to stay there
johnnyaimster (2:44:33 PM): look back on it and say that was an accomplishment
Me (2:44:41 PM): Yes, I am proud of Mac Aimster
Me (2:44:50 PM): too bad the last version we released was really buggy
johnnyaimster (2:44:54 PM): it's awesome
Me (2:44:56 PM): but oh well
johnnyaimster (2:45:26 PM): we're not dead though...we'll be back in it
johnnyaimster (2:45:39 PM): the other file-sharing services just got sued you know
johnnyaimster (2:45:42 PM): kazaa etc.
Me (2:45:42 PM): yeah
Me (2:46:05 PM): I read a thing that said aimster is #4
johnnyaimster (2:46:07 PM): they're going to shut down in a hurry i would guess
Me (2:46:23 PM): well not if RIAA does what they did with Aimster
Me (2:46:30 PM): put it off for years
johnnyaimster (2:46:37 PM): riaa already sued them in LA
Me (2:46:55 PM): well they already sued us too, didn't they?
johnnyaimster (2:46:57 PM): so the they'll move at lightning speed to get an injunction
johnnyaimster (2:47:03 PM): no w sued them in albany
Me (2:47:07 PM): oh right
johnnyaimster (2:47:15 PM): so our case is here...in fact we just had great news on that
Me (2:47:23 PM): I wonder why those other people didn't do the same
Me (2:47:29 PM): oh really
johnnyaimster (2:47:32 PM): yesterday the 2nd circuit court of appeals upheld judge kahn's decision
johnnyaimster (2:47:38 PM): and said the case should be in albany
Me (2:47:40 PM): ahh, thats good
johnnyaimster (2:47:47 PM): yes that's huge for us
Me (2:47:57 PM): well, let them keep fighting over where to hold it
johnnyaimster (2:48:12 PM): it was even a summary affirmation...so no written decision
johnnyaimster (2:48:18 PM): total slam dunk
Me (2:48:26 PM): what happened to your deal with citibank and boies schiller?
johnnyaimster (2:48:40 PM): well i dont' want to sound like a whiner
johnnyaimster (2:48:50 PM): but the wtc tragedy totally postponed it
johnnyaimster (2:49:04 PM): citigroup was turned into an emergency rescue center for a month
Me (2:49:10 PM): oh wow
johnnyaimster (2:49:17 PM): and they're just getting back now
johnnyaimster (2:49:37 PM): same with the law firm which was in manhattan...postponed everything
johnnyaimster (2:49:58 PM): the consequences of that disaster were really widespread
Me (2:50:01 PM): well that sucks for you
Me (2:50:07 PM): yeah the whole economy tanked
johnnyaimster (2:50:07 PM): yes for us
Me (2:50:22 PM): well it sucks for everybody I mean
johnnyaimster (2:50:25 PM): and so the capital call was postponed when the stock market tanked
johnnyaimster (2:50:46 PM): but we were fortunate compared to the real victims of the wtc
Me (2:50:46 PM): yeah I guess they don't want to go investing millions right now
Me (2:50:49 PM): yes
Me (2:51:07 PM): I go through penn station every day on my way to work
johnnyaimster (2:51:08 PM): although you were pretty hard hit too
johnnyaimster (2:51:18 PM): oh really?
Me (2:51:23 PM): well my problems had nothing to do with wtc
Me (2:51:40 PM): yeah, there is a huge wall with the victims' pictures
Me (2:51:51 PM): and national guard and police everywhere
johnnyaimster (2:52:04 PM): yes everything is different now isn't it
Me (2:52:12 PM): Yes
Me (2:52:26 PM): I think America will emerge stronger
Me (2:52:35 PM): it sounds like a cliche but I think it will be true
johnnyaimster (2:52:50 PM): yes although i'm a little worried about big brother becoming stronger
Me (2:52:53 PM): at least we have a purpose this time unlike vietnam
johnnyaimster (2:52:58 PM): all these searches now are becoming routine
Me (2:52:59 PM): yes, that is stupid
Me (2:53:11 PM): outlawing encryption
Me (2:53:18 PM): I'm sure the terrorists will obey the law
Me (2:53:23 PM): stupid politicians
Me (2:53:41 PM): anyway, I have to get back to work
johnnyaimster (2:53:51 PM): oh ok great to talk to you
Me (2:54:04 PM): let me know if aimster gets back on its feet
johnnyaimster (2:54:19 PM): i'll keep you up to date on everything from now on
Me (2:54:22 PM): Ok
Me (2:54:26 PM): Just cc: me in emails
johnnyaimster (2:54:28 PM): sorry for losing touch
johnnyaimster (2:54:30 PM): ok
Me (2:54:42 PM): ok, bye bye
johnnyaimster (2:54:48 PM): bye
Well, I’m out of Albany completely now. All that’s left to do there is break my lease, cancel gas, electric, phone, cable. I got fucked by the jackass at U-Haul who said I could return the truck to any U-Haul in Queens any time until they close. It turned out that I had to have the truck back by 1 PM so I got charged $40 for an extra day for returning the truck at 6:30. Soo $175 for the truck, plus $39.11 in gas (assholes gave it with 3/8 tank) plus $22.40 in tolls plus $40 late fee == I FUCKING HATE AIMSTER. The article on Slashdot and CNET and ZDNN about people stealing from the former employers who gave them the shaft really hit home. I would love to steal from Aimster. Anything I can to get some form of money back from them.
I am still in Queens. I am in the process of moving all my crap from Albany to Queens. Albany, where my life fell apart. I have 2 computers there, a futon, a recliner, a TV, a queen size mattress and box spring, a dresser, and the other various accoutrements of life. The recent Slashdot article entitled Dot Commers back to the Dorm really hit home. A fellow former Aimster employee even replied. Hopefully I’ll be going back to Dartmouth sometime soon. It’s odd to say that because I really hate(d) my time at Dartmouth. But I guess I’ll be glad to have that chapter of my life completed. Ivy League graduate will hopefully look better on my resume than Ivy League dropout.
I am trying to get unemployment insurance which will hopefully tide me over and get at least some of my bills paid off.
Right now life is a world of shit, but I’m sure it could be much worse. I’m alive and in decent health, so that’s good. And I have a great girlfriend/fiancee who is also alive and in decent health, and if she’d stop smoking it would be great. So things are bad, but not awful, and could definitely be worse.
The following was written by me in my Slashdot journal on September 02, 2001. I have not edited it since then except for formatting.
This is long and rambling and will likely have parts that make no sense. I just finished writing it at 5:33 am right now Sunday morning, so that is my excuse. What’s yours?
In September 2000 I was gearing up to return to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to begin my senior year. To say I wasn’t looking forward to it would be an understatement. I had two courses left in my Computer Science major: Theory of Computation and the “culminating experience,” a course that I guess takes the place of a senior thesis. The most theoretical aspects of Computer Science have never interested me, and since I know that I will never have a use for the vast majority of them. To graduate I still needed to take 8 more classes and none of the offerings were terribly appealing. For the fall term I enrolled in Theory of computation, an econ class, and a government class (the standard courseload is 3 classes). I wasn’t terribly thrilled with any of my classes.
At the beginning of October, a friend of mine who was attending RPI told me that there was an opening at Aimster for a Mac developer. The first version of Aimster’s client had recently been released and was met with tons of press. My friend talked to his boss, John Deep, and John was interested in meeting with me. So one day I drove to Albany and met with John and the rest of the Aimster crew. Aimster seemed like a great idea to me. Share files just like Napster, but only with the people on your AIM buddy list. Combine two of the day’s hottest applications and be useful at the same time. Seemed like a brilliant idea to me. I spent the night in my friend’s basement and the next day met with John who offered me the job. He told me what was offering, which included salary, a new Powerbook, health insurance, and stock options. The salary was generous, but less than six figures. I had recently read that the average salary for computer science graduates was about $46,000, and the offer was enough that I decided to give it a go.
I’ll leave out the battle that ensued with my mother. Suffice it to say that she wasn’t thrilled with my decision to drop out of an Ivy League school for no apparent reason.
I asked John for some kind of a contract. After all, I was taking a huge step by quitting school and it seemed that my mother would never speak to me again. I needed some kind of assurance that he wasn’t just making this all up. He was reluctant to do this. He said “That’s not the way I operate, you’re going to have to trust me.” I explained that I needed something, I couldn’t risk my whole future on his word alone. He said I should write up a contract and forward it to his secretary. I did, including the points John and I had agreed on. She wrote back saying that he said that looked fine. He would sign it when I arrived in Albany.
I did all the paperwork at school and withdrew from the college. I can go back at pretty much any time by filling out a 1 page form explaining why I was gone and what I did. I spent several weeks living in my friend’s basement until I got an apartment that would take me, my girlfriend, and our two dogs.
I get to Aimster and wanted to get my Powerbook as soon as possible. I should mention that I did not own a Macintosh, having sold my powerbook 4 months before in favor of an Athlon system. John said we’d go to CompUSA and get one. The day we were supposed to go, he never showed up. He put it off for several days and then one day said “Why don’t you just use the G4 in the office for now?” At this point I suspected something was up. Pretty much everybody else at Aimster had gotten brand new Sony VAIO laptops. At least 8 of them at ~$2600 each.
At the time, there were two other Mac developers. One (call him Mr. A) had been an RPI student who had taken time off to work for Aimster, and the other (call him Mr. B) was… well, I never really knew anything about his background. Let’s just say he wanted to write Aimster in AppleScript.
My own background in programming was pretty limited. Pretty much all my C++ experience was from class. I had experience with CodeWarrior but not with developing GUI apps. I had 2 or 3 classes that used codewarrior for development, and the rest were using gcc on Linux. I knew data structures, algorithms, STL, all that stuff, but only really in a class setting. And as I said, I’d never developed a GUI app before.
When I started going to the Aimster office, the first topic we discussed was what programming environment to use. Mr B wanted to use RealBasic, which was pretty simple to use and was basically Visual Basic for Mac, and Mr A said that real basic was too weak and we should use CodeWarrior. I played around with Real Basic and it was incredibly easy to use. I had a whole gui laid out in less than a day. However, Real Basic’s limitations showed themselves pretty quickly, mostly with regard to networking and threading.
Things were not going well. Around Christmas 2000 the “Mac team” and John had a meeting where we told him we had decided not to use Real Basic. It was simply too weak for our purposes. And since the Windows client was written in C++, developing in Real Basic would have made portability extremely difficult. There are ways to incorporate C code into Real Basic apps, but it’s a real pain. Anyway, John freaked out at this and said that if we couldn’t do it in Real Basic then we had to cancel the Mac version. This was something he had hinted at a few times so it wasn’t entirely a surprise. Every time I had asked him about my supposed Powerbook, he’d said “well, we don’t know if there’s going to be a mac version or not, so let’s hold off,” which I didn’t find especially reassuring. Anyway, we managed to convince him that we could do it in Codewarrior, though I’m sure he still didn’t believe us. And I can’t really say that I blame him, since things were really not going well. However, the computer I was working on was a piece of garbage. It would give random linker errors, wouldn’t even compile Metrowerks’s own sample code (nor Apple’s), crashed randomly, and when code did compile, the debugger didn’t work at all, so I couldn’t step through anything, making debugging a complete crapshoot. At least on Linux/windows you can write output to cerr so you know what the hell is going on. I resorted to putting ::SysBeep(30); calls throughout the program. If it beeped once, I knew it got to point X in the app. If it beeped twice, I knew it got to point Y, etc. It was absolutely awful. I wanted to format the hard drive but they did not have the CD. I borrowed Mr A’s powerbook CD and did a clean install (which for non-Mac users replaces all of the System files and leaves mostly everything else intact) and reinstalled codewarrior. This helped quite a bit, as I could now use the debugger, but the computer still crashed randomly and frequently. One day it crashed 37 times in 6 hours. I counted. I tried formatting the computer with mr A’s powerbook CD but it didn’t work for one reason or another. So I was somewhat better off than I had started.
Then Aimster’s office moved. I took this opportunity to take the G4 home with me since I was getting very little work done at the office. This was a bad move as I got even less done at home. One problem I had with this project was that there is very little, very poor documentation for CodeWarrior. The documentation that comes with codewarrior is not helpful at all and little else exists. The only printed material I found on the topic was from circa 1992.
For about a month I was held up on the problem of creating tables. If you’ve ever used a Mac, I wanted to create tables like the Finder’s list view, in which the search results would be displayed. This seemed to be something nobody ever wanted to do. Macster, the Mac Napster client (which has since been purchased by Napster and been renamed “Napster for Mac”), had beautiful tables for search results, and I wanted something very similar to that. However, I didn’t know whom to ask or even what exactly to ask. I posted several questions to the codewarrior.mac.* newsgroups begging for help with tables. A very few kind souls lent me a hand and I began to understand how tables worked, but things were not going the way I had planned. The problem was abruptly solved when Mr. A (who I only spoke to every 2-3 weeks or so) informed me he had a table working. (It turned out that I should have been using CodeWarrior’s LOutlineTable class all along instead of trying to use their LTableView class… ARGH).
At some point I decided to move the operation back to the office. The new office was absolutely awful. The carpet was nasty, we had only old broken up folding tables to work on. Not a single non-broken chair. Even the reporter who profiled Aimster for the Washington Post (article here) agreed. Mr. A was still MIA and Mr. B was still in AppleScript land. At some point around March, Mr. B was officially no longer working on Mac Aimster and became the webmaster. So it was Mr A with his Powerbook and me with 50% of a G4 desktop. We were getting a lot of pressure from the bosses to show something, since it had been about 6 months. However, we were told by the Windows team that it had taken them longer than that and they were significantly better equipped than we were… they actually got some support from management whereas we got nothing whatsoever.
Anyway, once the table fiasco was behind us, development proceeded at a much more appropriate pace. We were hampered somewhat by the myriad changes in Aimster’s encryption schemes and all the new features constantly being added to the service, which added countless days to our development time. A moving target and all that, blah blah blah.
To make this long story shorter, we released Aimster for Mac 1.001 on June 26 2001, well behind schedule. We quickly released a new version the next day due to a pretty big bug. We were getting about 3,000 downloads of the Mac client per day, which we thought was great. The reviews were in and most people thought it was great, if a bit unstable. Well, “a bit” is a bit of an understatement. However, we had only our two development machines to test on and the program ran pretty well on them. When I mentioned to John that we needed more machines so that we could test, he basically said to forget about that idea. If people have an incompatible computer (such as, for example, an iMac) then too bad for them. How can we be expected to support every idiosyncracy of every computer system? This was his attitude. I saw no logic in it whatsoever.
Aimster moved its office again to Albany’s business district. We got a T3 into the office and it was really quite nice. No birds living in the vents like at the previous office, they actually had toilet paper in the bathrooms, whereas at the old office we had to bring our own, nobody was selling crack on the corner outside the office, etc.
When the summer came, several RPI students were hired to do various tasks. One guy did sysadmin stuff, one did development, one took over the webmaster position (Mr B had been laid off), one was working on the Spanish version of the program), and there were (I believe) a few others. I didn’t understand why these guys were here, but they were good guys and I didn’t have any problem with them personally, so I didn’t really give it much thought. I was just wondering how much money we were spending on these guys. Back in November-december there were a couple of times we didn’t get paid on time. We always got paid sometime the next week so I never thought much of it, but I later learned that those were times the company was out of money and we were awaiting more money from investors. So every 2 weeks I wondered whether or not I would get paid. And every 2 weeks I was relieved when I checked my bank account and saw that my check had been directly deposited.
Until August 10, 2001, a day that will live in infamy as far as I’m concerned. Friday August 10th was a pay day. I checked my account online and saw that the money hadn’t been deposited. I panicked. I called the office manager, who told me to talk to the project manager. He said that the payroll “wasn’t going to happen” and when I asked him why he said “he didn’t know” and when I asked him if it was going to happen next week, he said “I can only hope.”
At that point I fled Albany. I drove down to Queens to be with my girlfriend and to figure out what to do. Everybody told me that I would probably get paid next week, which I was hoping, but deep down I knew it was the end. I still had not paid August’s rent in Albany and had several other debts that I was planning to pay with Aug 10’s paycheck. I stayed in queens for about 2 weeks, as I saw no reason to return to Aimster if they were not going to pay me. I should note that the pay cycle was lagged by 2 weeks, so that when you get paid, you’re not getting paid for the 2 week period ending that day, you’re getting paid for the 2-week period that ended 2 weeks ago. So when I didn’t get paid on August 10, Aimster owed me 2 paychecks. This is not a trivial sum of money.
I begged and borrowed money from family and friends. When I returned to Albany, there was an eviction notice from my landlord since I had still not paid my rent. I borrowed $1100 from the friend who had first told me about the Aimster job back in October 2000 and used that to pay my rent and some other bills.
It is now September 2, 2001, and Aimster is officially out of money. With the remaining funds, everybody was given a pro-rated paycheck (which was really a loan against future payroll so they could avoid deducting taxes for now) and we got a speech about all of Aimster’s great prospects for the future. Big corporation X wants to license Aimster, company Y does too and will tell all its friends to do the same, blah blah blah ad nauseum. The management is continuing on as if nothing has changed. Except all of the programmers have returned to school. Nobody is working there anymore save some sysadmins and John himself. A couple of people were laid off, but basically everybody else is still considered an employee even though they’re not being paid. I am going to have to somehow get out of my Albany lease as I cannot afford this place on $0 income. I have applied for unemployment as that’s the only option I can think of. As far as I’m concerned, I was laid off. I can’t quit because then I can’t collect unemployment. I have been applying for jobs since August 10th but nobody really seems interested. Part of the reason I took this job was to gain programming experience. But one year of programming experience isn’t really that helpful.
The thing that really infuriates me the most about this whole ordeal was the fact that we were given no warning whatsoever. Nobody even had the common courtesy to tell us, “The payroll will be late this week.” Then when nobody got paid, nobody would even tell us what was going on. No word from management, not even an apology. We had to infer that there was no more money (which was later confirmed by the execs). Not only that, but 2 days before we were supposed to get paid, 60 computers were delivered to the Aimster office. 60 1ghz, 1GB ram AMD Athlons. So that’s where our payroll went? Isn’t that illegal? I’m sure I read somewhere that payroll must be priority #1.
So now I can only imagine what’s going on in the Aimster office. There are no programmers, so maybe John Deep just sits there staring at his computer looking at all the people online and wondering what went wrong. His blunders alone are enough to fill a textbook for a business managent course. But that’s another story.
So in conclusion, I have to say that my experience with Aimster has been one of the worst episodes of my entire life. I will leave Albany with nearly $10,000 more debt than when I arrived, not including the student loans which have come due. I wish I had just stayed in school. It is too late for me to even go for the 2001-2002 year, so I guess a year from now I’ll go back, since it seems nobody wants to hire me. I have so little faith in humanity at this point that I am considering teaching, just so I can have the opportunity to help some kid avoid making mistakes like this one.
Finally, I would like John Deep to know that I deeply hate him and wish I had never met him.
Well, Aimster seems to be dying a slow and pained death. We were given what will likely amount to our final paychecks, even though I got only 20% of what I was owed. At least it was enough to pay August’s rent and stave off the eviction proceedings. Now I must move out of this shithole (FYI, Albany is one of the shittiest locations in New York state. I fucking hate it to death.) and acquire new employment and other fun items. THE SAGA CONTINUES.
I am still contemplating suing Aimster (and John Deep personally) for the rest of my money. But I don’t know if it is even worth my time. I’d really like to put him out of house and home. Since that’s basically what he’s done to me. But I guess his wife hasn’t done anything to me, so maybe I won’t. But I would like to. Really.