William Blum's website

Crowdsourcing Cracklock 64-bit

Websites analytics are sometimes revealing. Among people who come to visit my website there is the LaTeX user category coming to learn about my past work on SumatraPDF. Once in a blue moon somebody may come and peek at my research page if I'm lucky. Some folks get here by accident hoping to find information about my American homonym. But the vast majority visits this site for another reason: downloading Cracklock!

According to the site analytics there are between 3,000 and 10,000 downloads of Cracklock on a given month. Version 3.9.44 alone was downloaded nearly 800,000 times as of November 1st, 2015. (This includes downloads from my website alone, I do not have analytics from other software cataloging sites mirroring Cracklock.)

Cracklock 64-bit support

When I started programming, back in the 1990s, 16-bit programming was prevalent. (As a side note you can still download 16-bit DOS and Windows programs I developed at the time from the software section of this site.) This changed in 1995 when Microsoft released Windows 95, the first consumer version of the Windows operating system allowing you to run 32-bit programs while remaining compatible with 16-bit programs. The world responsed quickly and migrated from 16-bit to 32-bit. Two years later in 1997 I released the first version of Cracklock, a tool that "cures" programs affected by the notorious "30th day virus". The original version ran on both Windows 95 and Windows NT and supported 32-bit applications.

Almost nobody runs 16-bit programs anymore and it's interesting to look back and observe that 32-bit computing dominated the consumer worlds for almost two decades. Microsoft has since then released a 64-bit flavour of its operating system. But even in 2010 when Windows 7 was released, the majority of consumers was still running 32-bit versions of Windows. This started to change recently and statistics from the Steam gaming platform show for instance that close to 83% of gamers now run a 64-bit version of Windows.

Following this trend an increasing number of people are asking me for 64-bit support in Cracklock. It turns out I actually started working on this back in 2005. But truth is when you have a full time job you've got very little spare time left for side projects so I never got the chance to complete this work. As I was reflecting on this recently I wondered: what if Cracklock could (eventually) be put to some good use and help support a cause that is close to my heart? If so I would surely be willing to spare extra time in my evenings and weekends to port that old piece of code to 64-bit.

The "Cracklock Beats Leukemia" program

There is a disease I would love to see annihilated before my time ends in this world. It is a form of blood cancer called Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). As we all know curing cancer is an infinitely more complex endeavor than "curing" software from computer viruses or fiddling around with system API hooking...

Nevertheless there are some very smart people out there who did close to that for a certain type of Leukemia and those very same people are now trying to repeat the process for AML in a new program called Beat AML 2.0. (The link points to the first iteration of the program, version 2.0 should be announced soon by LLS.)

So here is the idea: you, user of Cracklock, contribute to the fundraising program described below. If the fundraising goal is reached by the end of year 2016 I promise to develop and release a new version of Cracklock supporting 64-bit applications!

How to contribute?

The crowdsourcing program starts right now! Donation can be made directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my fundraising page. This guarantees that your money goes directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


Under 'Personal note' specify Cracklock Beats Leukemia

The fundraising goal for Cracklock 64-bit is $30,409. To spice things up I'm also throwing in a stretch goal: You help me reach $100,003 and I'll release Cracklock to the open source community on GitHub! That's right, this means the entire code goes open-source (exact license to be determined). Any developer in the world can then add his or her own contributions and enhancements to Cracklock, possibly even a port to other platforms! To give you an idea this amount of money could fund maybe one or two academic grants for post-doctoral cancer research.

Fineprint: donations made as part of this fundraising do not bind me, you, nor LLS by any legal contract. This fundraising is purely based on trust. If the goal is not reached on time or if for any reason I am unable to complete the port to 64-bit your donation will not be refunded. Also please note that this initiative is solely my own and that LLS takes no part nor has any responsibility in it. That said I do intend to keep my promise; and regardless be reassured your donation will be put to great use.

You may think I'm being too ambitious, that I'm asking for a lot of money. I'm also aware of a possible correlation between "being cheap" and using a free tool like Cracklock. But amongst hundreds of thousands people who have downloaded Cracklock over the past 17 years most of them must now be working full time jobs like me. I just need to find 10,000 good souls amongst them willing to give as little as $10. Finally there is no deadline set for the stretch goal, if it takes me a lifetime raising that much money, then so be it.

In order to collect funds for this crowdsourcing program I am piggy-backing on another fundraising event from LLS that I'm participating to. This means that your donation not only contributes towards Cracklock Beats Leukemia but also helps me achieve my goal for another fundraising! One small caveat is that this donation method will stop working after March 20th 2016 when the BigClimb event takes place in Seattle. But not to worry: if the Cracklock Beats Leukemia goal is not reached by that time I will create a fundraising project elsewhere as a substitute and carry over the amounts already donated.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment box below.


Specify Cracklock Beats Leukemia as personal notes on the donation page.