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Paul wrote:
I can't be bothered reading EULAs anymore. I just use
the software because I want/need it. I don't have much
option after I've made the basic choice of function
and price.

While on the subject of EULAs, here is a tip that I
came across recently.
I have no use for it.
I don't read EULAs anyway.
Those of you who do may find this of interest.


While downloading one seldom reads completely the End
License Agreement page. Feed the text of an EULA you
curious about and the utility analyzes the text for
potentially noteworthy words and phrases.

The 1.72 MB EULAlyzer v.1.0 can be downloaded at

Scott wrote:
And don't get me started on "dongles".  I have serious
problems with 
being treated like a criminal when I honestly pay for
something.  I understand that companies must protect
their software from piracy, but some of the policies
that accompany the use of "dongles" are objectionable
at best (i.e. companies that make you buy the program
AGAIN if you lose your "dongle",...
That rings an ancient bell.
Once upon a  time,
In 1989.
In my previous job, we had purchased an expensive
application package.
Those were the DOS years. 
This application  package needed a so called "Master
Diskette" to be inserted in drive A:
If the diskette was absent, the software would not
This diskette was supposedly copy proof.
Our systems guys tried to explain it to me by saying
it had some "laser hole".
After a few months of use, something happened to this
It was no longer effective.
The software stopped working and displayed a message
that the master diskette was not to be found even
though it was perched safe and snug in Drive A.
We wrote to the vendor and offered to return the
master diskette they had supplied and asked for
another one.
They refused and asked us for the full price of a new
Those responsible for the purchase finally read the
fine print in the EULA 
I can picture them wringing their hands in despair
while the marketing guys at the vendor's office
smirked and grinned in glee.
This incident had infuriated us those days.
Our ire was directed only at the vendors. 
The software was popular with us.

Out of helplessness, we paid up grudgingly and got a
duplicate diskette issued to us.

The next version came out in a year or so.
We had got used to this package and reluctantly
ordered the next version and paid the cost of the
upgrade. It was stiff but still not as bad as having
to pay for a fresh license.

Like last time, this too came with a master diskette.
This time, believe it or not, the software company
GOOFED UP badly.
The software was okay. It was the copy protection
scheme that they messed up royally.
If the Master diskette was inserted, it would display
the message "Master diskette not found" and it would
go back to the Dos prompt.
If any other floppy diskette was inserted, the
software opened its gates to us.

The programmer had obviously goofed. His "If ...then
GoTo .." statements were probably crossed!
A crooked genius in our midst with serendipity as one
of his qualities, also stumbled on the fact that for
both this and the previous version, disabling the
Drive A while booting was equivalent to an Open Sesame
for the users of this application. It simply dismissed
the "sentry" and rolled out the red carpet welcome for
the user.

Understandably, no one was eager to report this glitch
to the vendors.

The going was too good to last. In less than a week
the company's local  sales executive, looking smarter
with a new tie and briefcase turned up apparently for
"after sales service" and to supply us "free" a last
minute version with some updates and improvements"
which he claimed was a gesture to loyal users.

We made him do a merry go round,  around our huge
office, with 300 employees, spread on three floors,
and asked him to locate who was having it at the
The poor fellow did not protest. He dared not.
He finally got back his diskettes but not before some
vengeful colleagues of mine made a copy of the
previous diskettes.
The previous experience with this company had made
them immune to the pricks of conscience.
They were busy using and sharing with gay abandon this
bugged copy.
Soon this bugged version was doing its rounds all over
the city and perhaps the country too.
Alas, all this is now history.
No one uses this package any more.


Dave Lowen wrote:
How it looks to me.
The big 3 stop selling cars. They now sell licenses to
drive their 
And now a gag order included with your license???

Your post reminds me of the stormy debate on the
steel-detail discussion list we had about three years
ago on this subject.

I had fulminated against these practices by software
My views (controversial and unpopular then) remain
I had opined that the effort that goes into developing
a software package is not too different from that
which goes into authoring a good book.
Authors don't behave like software companies.
You can freely sell your copy of the book. Having paid
for it, it was yours to do as you please. Imagine the
absurdity of the situation if an author told you he
had merely given you a license to read it.
Your car analogy may not be apt as the car cannot be
replicated as easily as the software. 
But books can. So what is good enough for the book
business should be good enough with a few
modifications, for the software business.
Software developers use the theories and formulas
developed by scientists, academicians and others and
exploit them commercially without sharing the revenue
with those unsung heroes.
They put disclaimers and duck when it comes to taking
responsibility for the accuracy and reliability of the
This new rule (gagging the user) is simply ridiculous.

It is gratifying to note that there is, within the
software community, a realization of the absurdity of
the business practices indulged in. They have rebelled
and Open Source is their answer to the exploitative
practices of orthodox software firms.

Nowadays, for nearly every expensive software package
that is popular and comes with these unreasonable
conditions, there is an equivalent or near equivalent
"free" software package available for most common

I use freebies a lot. 
There is a bonanza on the web awaiting those willing
to search and hunt them them down.
If none are available for special problems or
applications, I develop my own software.
I haven't used MS Word in years and I don't miss it at

Ever since free pdf writers made their appearance, I
have not felt the need to use Adobe software.

I am typing this using a cute and compact word
processor utility that an unsung genius developed.
It's feature rich and has wisely chosen only those
features on which it should be rich. It has facilities
that I use which even MS Word does not boast of.

It is my deep regret that I am unable to send the
obscure author the paltry $10 he politely  requested
from users to encourage him in his efforts. His e mail
address bounced, when I wrote to him expressing my
appreciation and telling him my difficulties in
sending such a small amount from overseas. 

If I ever meet him, I would give him a warm hug in
addition to the $10 he is content with.

(G Vishwanath, Bangalore, India)

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005

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