Well folks, I tried!

  • From: "Jerry Neufeld" <jerry.neufeld@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 10:59:12 -0400

Hello everyone.

Some weeks ago, several persons posted messages to this list in which they 
complained, rather vocally, about the need for a new authorization, 
validation, call it what you like, each time they changed a bit of hardware 
in their computers. From the standpoint of general principles, this issue 
troubled me, especially since I, among many others on this list, like to 
experiment with different devices, always looking for the optimal machine. 
While I was entirely sympathetic with Freedom Scientific's desire to 
safeguard their software, I was not very excited, shall we say, by the 
possibility that, as had been claimed, each time I changed a floppy drive, a 
sound card or added memory, I would have to first check that I had a 
validation left to cover me, should the locking code extractor detect the 
change and force an update. As I suspected, neither people in sales nor 
technicians could shed any light at all on what Freedom was going to allow 
us to do and not to do. So, calling upon a couple of old friends, I 
contacted Sharon Spensor and Eric Damery to find out the real story, I 
having promised members of this list to convey what I learned once I had the 
information. Frankly, I suspected that the situation was much less dramatic 
than had been represented on this list and that I would be able to return 
here with substantive details that would place our minds at rest. Well 
folks, for reasons about which I can only speculate, it didn't happen, it 
simply didn't happen.

Before I proceed further, even though Eric Damery has sent me nothing, 
contrary to his promise, I should forward a message from him to people on 
this list, something, it seems to me, he could easily have done himself. I 
am to say that anyone encountering difficulties with hardware changes and 
validation counts should get in contact with him.

Friendly as both Sharon and Eric were, the latter claimed that revealing 
what could and could not be changed in terms of hardware peripherals would 
defeat the entire scheme, allowing hackers, as he put it, to devise means to 
acquire unauthorized versions of the software. I pointed out that, within 
months, enough of us who had tried different hardware configurations would 
have compiled a list of devices that could be substituted without new 
validations. Rather than forcing us to generate such a list, I said, why not 
create some good will and let users know what to expect. Although I did not 
say so, the specter of hackers seemed just a little paranoid and 
self-serving to me.

What troubles me most about this issue is that, indirectly, Freedom 
Scientific is forcing us to seek a license before we make minor changes to 
our hardware, something that, in my view, is outrageously invasive and 
intolerable. Unlike several other listers, I have changed one sound card for 
another without the slightest problem. This may be true for numerous other 
internal devices as well, in which case we have a veritable tempest in a 
teapot. Eric tells me of his advice to FS customers that, prior to making 
any changes to their computers, they check to see if they have any 
validations left, in my language, any licenses by FS to make the change.

I must confess to much disappointment in FS's official attitude on this 
topic, yet one more indication of the company's growing disregard for 
consumer opinion. If I discover that a change in minor devices or components 
like cd/dvd readers, floppy disk adaptors, memory and the like force me to 
go to FS for another validation, with much, much regret, I will give up my 
ability to program with the Jaws screen reader and go to Window Eyes. Prior 
to doing this, however, I am going to forward some of the messages on this 
list along with a strongly-worded letter to each member of FS's Board with 
the hope that someone there will show more wisdom than that now displayed by 

With much regret


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