Subject:  ”iLok is a Detriment to Your Business”

Dear AudioEase,

I am in the process of re-installing Speakerphone after receiving an email from one of your support staff.  I am writing this email as a separate aside about your copy protection method.  I am a devout user of Speakerphone and intend to be a faithful customer.

That being said, I absolutely feel that your copy protection system, especially your reliance on iLok, is detrimental to your business.

I make software.  My father has been making software since the 60s.  Most of my friends obtain their livelihoods from selling software.  I consider the ownership of software to be integral to the economy of software companies and all those involved in the market.  Just as musicians must retain the copyright to their music, software producers must retain their ownership and ability to make money from their hard work.

We all know that pirates threaten all software developers.  This is an issue that haunts all developers at every level.  As a software development company, you are required to take the measures necessary to make sure that users purchase your product instead of stealing it.  This is not only understandable, but a requirement of your business model.

That being said, I am a paying customer.  As a customer, I provide you with money in exchange for your product.  I happen to own a laptop and a desktop.  I feel I should be able to run your software on either machine (one could argue about needing another license to do this, but it is my belief that I am a single user and won’t be stealing from you in order to run your software on both machines).  On top of this, I feel that upgrading my machine, for example, should not require me to jump through flaming hoops to retain your copy protection.

You implemented a “call & response” mechanism to allow me to authorize Speakerphone on my computer.  Fair enough.  What I don’t find to be fair, on the other hand, is that I can’t install it on any other machines.  I feel it would be reasonable to allow each user to install a minimum of two machines, if not 3-5.  This seems fair to me, as an end user.  I make a point to send you my hard earned money to support the development of your ground breaking and essential plugins.  I fully support your development and hard work.

Last time I recovered from a hard drive failure, my authorization did not transfer.  Of course, I only found this out when I was in the middle of a late night session – the worst time possible to have a failure, let alone a failure that should never have happened.  Since I had recovered from a dead hard drive, I had no copy of Speakerphone to “de-authorize”.

I have now run into at very least three separate and, in my opinion, completely avoidable cases like this.  Each time it eats away at my customer loyalty.

In addition, each time the response has always been the same refrain: Get an iLok.

I find this approach to be borderline offensive.  I am your customer.  I have paid you money for a product, but now you are telling me that I must jump through yet another flaming hoop?  To make matters worse, iLok is, essentially, a USB dongle which are inexpensive to produce these days with GIGS of storage, but is somehow limited to 100 licenses.  On top of that, empty USB slots on any of my machines are more than spoken for.  I have real peripherals that actually need to communicate over the USB bus.  The iLok, on the other hand, feels like an unnecessary velvet rope act that says, “It’s ok, he’s with me.”  This feel archaic at best.

It is my firm belief that your business would flurish if you abandoned the iLok system entirely.  I would highly recomend that you either issue 2 computers per license, or merely do what all of my other non-audio software does: If you purchase the software, enter a valid serial number, perhaps go online and verify that it isn’t one of the hacked serial numbers, then I can instal it on as many computers as I like.

My day job is as a graphic and user interaction designer.  My fully legitimate copy of Adobe’s Master Suite Collection requires no dongle (~$2600 software).  Final Cut Pro doesn’t need a dongle.  Even Digital Performer, who is ostensibly in the same arena as yourselves, does not require a dongle.  I have yet to be in an office setting where a plugin or any software has required a proprietary dongle.

I understand that you must fight the pirates and the “would be customers” who instead steal software such as this, but in your battle you have been shooting down legitimate customers in your crusade.

Yes, the iLok is a bit of a “standard” in the audio world, but that should never be something to hide behind.  It might strengthen PACE’s monopoly, but it emphatically does not strengthen your marketing position.

Speakerphone especially will suffer from this.  My brother is an editor at PIXAR.  The would likely be more than happy to purchase him a copy of Speakerphone for him to quickly simulate environments, but the minute they discover he would require a dongle to run the software on his laptop and his workhorse desktop, they would quickly turn around and dismiss the idea.

It saddens me that one of the few plugins that I absolutely respect, promote, adore and use in nearly all of my recordings uses a copy protection method that has driven me to such distress that I felt I needed to write this email.

I have taken some gilded time away from my project at hand to write this email to your company.  I am not attempting to insight or fan any flames; I want AudioEase to produce the best software that I feel is worth every penny.  Sadly, I feel that your copy protection greatly diminishes the overall experience and usefulness of your hard work.

I implore you to reconsider your copy protection management for the sake of customer satisfaction.

From a loyal, but disheartened customer,
Tobias

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I am working on a book of my Bioflash images. I am using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 point’n'shoot camera in a method it was not intended.

More details to come, but in the meantime check out a few previews:

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Picture accidentally taken while phone was in my shirt pocket. Their expression & the hand says it all.

Yesterday I was walking around the Rivertown Revival festival with my iPhone in my shirt pocket. I didnt realize that Hipstamatic was running and that my body was accidentally hitting the shutter button.

I think their expression and the hand reaching over to catch their jaw says it all.

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SRL Live at Riverton Revival, Petaluma, CA

SRL (Survival Research Laboratories) will be performing Saturday, July 24th, 2010 at the Rivertown Revival in Petaluma, CA. You can find details on the SRL event page and the full schedule on the Rivertown Revival schedule page.

This will be the first performance that SRL has done since the move from San Francisco to the new location in Petaluma.  Both the Running Machine and Big Arm will be making a grinding appearance along with some other surprises.

SRL have posted some pre-show images & some pre-show videos to wet our appetites.

For those who can not make it, Ustream will be streaming the event live here:

Ustream.com Livecast: SRL at the Petaluma Rivertown Revival

If you are looking for direction, Rivertown Revival has provided a nice hand drawn map and a page for directions.

Rivertown Revival Map

Continue below for a Google Map of the location.

Keep reading for more details…

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How to type an ellipsis (…) on the iPhone. Why didn't I know about this sooner?

If you aren’t familiar with the three little dots and the fact that they are a type character in their own rite, then I recommend checking out the very informative Wikipedia entry.



ἔλλειψις

Hold down the period button until the secondary keys appear.

You can even do this while the keyboard is in alphabet mode. Just hold down the numbers key, don’t let go, drag onto the period, wait until the alternates appear, drag onto the ellipsis and let go. Bingo! You are right back to the alpha keyboard.

(After testing, it seems the dragging to/from both keyboard sets works only in certain settings. It definitely works if you click into the number layout and then drag and release.)

I love ellipses…

“Three little points of suspension…”

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Another random find: First 5000 Fingers show at The Cat Club opening for @MegLeeChin.

Me (keys, guitar and live mixing), Steve Watkins (two drum sets), Mr. Where (noise guitar and yellow gloves), and Jason Mullins (AM radios).

I took the output from everyone, routed them into my rig and processed them in real time. I think I had Steve’s snare triggering Mr. Where’s noise guitar and then had it bounce around. Jason had three AM radios he kept spinning the dials on. I then would trigger some manually, had one triggered by steve’s kick, and another via his toms. We also played to backing tracks, but I wanted a live show. I know we opened with “Spoons, Forks & Knives”, played “White Light”, but I’m not 100% certain of the rest of the set.

Meg Lee Chin was headlining and she asked me two days in advance if I wanted to open. The lineup for 5000 Fingers until that phone call from Meg was just me.

I am so glad that my friends were able to join forces with no rehearsal and pull of one of the best shows 5000 Fingers ever did.

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Today is my little brother‘s birthday.  He would have been 30 today.  Since it is Micah’s birthday, I want to celebrate his life.

Micah's 3rd Birthday: A Zippy Cake!

Micah's 3rd birthday with a Zippy the Pinhead cake.

I am trying to collect as many good stories about my little brother as possible. If you or someone you know would like to share a story, either send an email or call this number to leave a message:

(415) 869-5322

(This number is an automatic voice mail box that will send me the recording you make. Call as many times as you like and tell any stories you want to share.)

Please feel free to pass along the number or my contact information to anyone you think can contribute.  I am hoping to put together at very least a blog entry of all the good memories each of us have of Micah.

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(Click to see my Flickr set of test images used to write this article.)

The much loved photo app for the iPhone, Hipstamatic, is one of the first apps I booted up when I got the new iPhone 4. Sadly, I ran into some problems right away. What should be black & white pictures come out with odd blue swaths (like in this extreme example) in the darker areas. The other problem seems more serious: The first few times I took pictures it froze just as the shutter went off.  I took some time to look into both of these problems.

Hipstamatic tests on the iPhone 4

The new camera on the new phone is impressive.  Most of us have read the tech specs, but in use the 5 megapixel camera really goes all out for a phone. Impressive low light response, nearly instantaneous click & shoot, the ability to click on the screen where you want to be focused, HD video, and a built in flash.

I would love to be able to choose, in the application itself, what resolution I want to take the next picture.  I have frequently wanted to just get a quick snap shot, but then wanted to take a picture that I could use as a high resolution piece of artwork.  The resolution and processing is there, I just think they have to take the opportunity to use it.

It turns out that this built in flash is what causes Hipstamatic to crash.

Here is what is going on…

[click to continue…]

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Automated iPhone Upgrade Call

Automated system in action.

AT&T has a nice system in place to instantly check to see how current iPhone users will be charged to upgrade to the new iPhone 4.

“Am I eligable?”

“Do I have to pay $600 to get the new iPhone 4?”

“How much will AT&T charge me to get the new iPhone 4?”

“I got an iPhone 3GS right when it came out. Is AT&T going to screw me?

Turns out you can quickly find out the answer to these questions by a simple phone call.

Here is how it works:

[click to continue…]

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I recently called 911 on my iPhone 3GS and was greeted with multiple busy signals. In the back of my mind I quietly rely on the knowledge that three little numbers can get me help in an emergency. I have sadly had to do this a few times; a busy signal is absolutely unacceptable.

I was driving South on 280 in San Francisco about to merge onto 101. I could see the blinking lights of a car pulled off to the small shoulder on the right. Traffic was moving at least at 50MPH getting ready to merge into a single lane going onto 101. Once I came upon the car, I realized they were dead center in the lane. I only had a moment to act and veered into my right hand lane nearly getting into an accident.

Thankfully, no one that I’m aware of was injured.

I knew right away that I had to report the car stalled in the middle of the lane. It was situated in a very precarious spot right at 2AM on a Friday night. The car was sitting there just waiting to cause an accident.

I got my hands free for my phone on, called 911 and looked for the nearest exit to pull off the road. I couldn’t believe what I heard in my ear:

A busy signal.

I tried again. Busy.
And again. Busy.
Must be a mistake. I tried again. Busy.


An old, but sadly undated, report by KRON Channel 4 about 911 issues.

I have heard of cell phone routing issues with 911 before, but that had been years ago. I had only assumed that this had magically been fixed since last time I had looked into it. Sadly that is not the case. Not only are the systems over run and the routing is out of date, there is no good front end solution to patch the problem for the user other than calling a different number (e.g., local police).

AT&T After Hours Customer Service Number: 1-866-801-3600

I finally got through on my fifth try.

Keep reading for more problems and some potential solutions…

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