Monday, 28 March 2011

Credit where it is Due?

As many will be aware Dassault Systèmes Draftsight running under Linux is now available for users to download and use. I have always been interested in looking closely at Draftsight and have told many (students) to do so; however, I have also told them to be very careful using software from a software vendor who states, within their EULA, it “automatically collects certain system data and transmits the data to Dassault Systèmes for support purposes.”

There is good reason to be wary of software developers. Significant software developers, you would think, should know better, but as we have seen, given these companies are manned by people, they are also subject to the vagaries and failings of people. One of those failings is knowing what is right and wrong and or reasonable business behaviour. In my opinion taking data off customers computers without their knowledge, and or giving the customers complete control over the process, is neither correct or reasonable, to do, nor justifiable in any sense.

That said, when Draftsight first became available, what I saw as a great opportunity was derailed by Dassault’s wording in the EULA; compounded by Draftsight’s management who chose to ignore, three (3), email requests to discuss the conditions found in the Draftsight EULA. The EULA and the managements silence meant there existed little reason to trust the company and or make further recommendations. To this day my requests have been ignored but, maybe not the reason for them?

Hearing of the release of the Linux version and knowing the value of this release for some and students I decided to have another look, the EULA being my first stop. Had it have been the same I would have gone no further, but it was not; so I read further and, what I found was that the clause - relating to the removal of data - was missing? Good!

So, Credit where it is Due. Whether a conscious decision or an oversight the important fact is there is no indication, at least in the EULA, Dassault has, within the Draftsight software, intrusive Trojans or functionality similar to Autodesk’s Trojans and CIP: something we are about to check as thoroughly as we can. My stubbornness and skepticism remains though; the capability may still exist within the software?

If there is one thing my ‘stoush’ with Autodesk has taught me is software EULA, similar to Draftsight’s, are NOT legally binding/enforceable contracts; despite developers attempts to use wording, within the documents, stating this as fact. I treat all digitally “Accept”ed, non- negotiable EULA equally: they must be read even though and, as is the case with me, I do NOT accept their terms nor their claimed legal enforceability, Dassault’s EULA are no exception.

So in moving forward: I want to test, to get to know and probably promote Draftsight (particularly for students) for the obvious reasons of access, cost and for the important flow-on effects available to industry. The software will, quite possibly, be used in connection with nuclear and chemical systems, missile propulsion systems and in other industry sensitive areas. Therefore when there existed the capability and an open statement - within the EULA - defining what is totally unacceptable business behaviour and, considering Dassault's managements reticence to discus their EULA, I was not, previously, prepared to proceed

Whether the capability to remove business data still exists or not (it may?), with the current EULA and Dassault’s previous reaction I am now prepared to take the next step; but before I do, I am publicly declaring, I do NOT accept Dassault’s Draftsight EULA terms and conditions and I do intend to test and use their product. The ball, now, is entirely in Dassault’s court. If they believe the Draftsight EULA is legally enforceable, and I must accept that as fact (without discussion or negotiation), Dassault must notify me not to proceed or now decide whether to prevent me from downloading, authorizing, testing or using their Draftsight software. Dassault Systèmes must prevent me proceeding further or accept, allowing me to download and use Draftsight will be Dassault Systèmes acceptance of my terms and conditions of use.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Opportunity Knocks and then Knocks Differently.

“Those who ignore the lessons of the past are destined to repeat the mistakes.”

Recently, whilst working on a problem the irony of the solution found immediately made me smile. My solution lay in the use of software to be found in Sycode’s stable of utilities.

For those who know my business, it would have never been a surprise to find, one day, me using Sycode’s tools. Typically most of my work is Autodesk product based, training and support with a particular interest in problem shapes or geometry hassles; things that go wrong for users.

What made the situation I found myself in ironic is embodied in Sycode’s published terms and conditions. Sycode’s terms and conditions contain some very invasive and unreasonable clauses; clauses very similar too, if not ‘lifted’ directly from Autodesk Inc. Given I have not accepted Autodesk’s T&Cs it is highly unlikely I would accept Sycode’s.

;-) I think I’ve been here before!

So, a quick letter to Sycode’s CEO Deelip Menezes about the clauses in question drew the response detailed in a previous blog posting. The questions remain un-answered. Interestingly, in the tweeting that followed (that we saw), Deelip made no mention of the reason for the letter, but did ask the question; ‘it was in letter form….should I be worried?’. Well no, though maybe a bit of sensible thought (and an answer) would not have been (professionally) out of place!

With no answer from Deelip, I still had a job in hand and no time to muck around, so I fired off a purchase order (a commitment) to Deelip. I requested he consider removing, from his T&C’s, for ‘this single instance’, the Insolvency and Audit clauses. I stated if he accepted my request, added no additional conditions and, responded in writing the transaction would proceed. A simple enough request for a competent business owner to handle, process and answer; and a contract in the literal sense!

Had Deelip’s answer been yes, $245.00 US. would have immediately found its way into Sycode’s account and Deelip’s software would have been pressed into service. But it was not to be, and Deelip is the person who knows why. I suspect petulance played a part. “Sycode - software made simple” – but not universally available: unless of course Sycode’s T&Cs are accepted unconditionally, without question or negotiation and payment is made in full before delivery – or your not this Waddington?

Where have we seen this ‘attitude’ before!

Now this situation is different, to that which divides Autodesk and I, for a number of reasons. A primary one being I (currently) use no Sycode software; it was not a discussion about a change in the T&Cs of existing software. So, no negotiation simply meant no purchase. To Deelip, maybe, $245.00 is no great loss compared to being able to now gloat he ‘poked me in the eye’.

Some marketeers would have their views on the handling of this situation and the ‘value of a disgruntled customer’. For me, it was neither a loss nor even a momentary inconvenience - it provided another type of opportunity. It became fodder for Caveat emptor. Was sending me a childish message and, getting ‘your own way’, worth having this record (and that which will follow) attached to the name of Sycode, Deelip?

A few points to make; Deelip has not denied me (as far as I know) access to his product and, he does have his ‘rights’. He can define his T&Cs and he can, in theory, choose with whom he negotiates. Interestingly though, ignoring my request Deelip has, now, compromised Sycode’s T&C’s and maybe more besides. But let’s look on the bright side Deelip, at least now you can say you have a lot more in common with Autodesk and CEO Bass than just the clauses in your respective T&Cs ;-)

In a previous posting, CIP - The Bomb; fragments ‘CAD in the Cloud’, I argued CIP, and similar systems or software are windows into the management of a software vendor; and challenge the Integrity of all involved. I also said that one way to judge the management of a company was in the way the individuals involved interacted with existing and ‘new’ customers. Caveat Venditor: consumers deserve better!*

I argue an expanded use of the internet and the ‘cloud’ requires customer to place enormous (and maybe too much) Trust in their software vendors. Because of this fact, vendors’ management MUST be able to and respond (quickly and Truthfully) with answers to ALL the questions asked, regardless of content or reason. The internet is a communication ‘interface’ between retailers and customers (Sycode and Draftsight are similar but differing examples) so it stands to reason this is the same system vendors’ management are going to need to use to interact with their customers. Get it right and it will be successful; use it in the manner I have highlighted and it will haunt.

Vendors want, and are quick, to use the internet to ‘force’ their business arrangements - eg. T&C’s and payment before delivery, etc. - and to use it as a moat between themselves and their customers. However, they have refused to learn to effectively use the same communication tools, as a bridge, for situations which may be problematic; and yet this is an ideal place and an ideal set of tools with which to respond. Just imagine the positive flow on effect had Autodesk answered my questions (as requested) about licencing and CIP. Instead they churlishly chose to stall, ignore and worse and, as a result are seen to be hiding something. Deelip has chosen to ‘ignore with comment’; Mr. Aaron Kelly simply chose to ignore my requests - Three times.

Management attitudes on display and prime examples of just how backward* software vendor management is in using ‘modern’ communication tools, in a ‘modern’ manner. More than keen to use it for their own benefit and to the deliberate disadvantage of their customers and individuals; and they have the hide to tell us we are not embracing technology fast enough (ie 2D to 3D etc.) and intimate we should place still more Trust in their abilities, services and products.

It’s a new form of slapstick – we (software vendor management) whack you (the customer and fall guy) around on the stage of business and expect you to keep standing up to take the custard pies in the face as well!

In the case of CAD; the changes customers have had to grasp, cope with, apply and fund, in the last 30+ years, far exceeds the growth and effort in vendor management’s capability to be Truthful and Transparent with their customers. Petty personal attitudes, deceit and selective disconnection practiced by vendors’ management is at the heart of my posts.

Caveat Emptor is a warning to consumers and, the internet and this blog are tools for consumers. That these tools can be used this way will sooner or later sink through skulls and, penetrate the conscience of software vendor CEO’s, management and staff.

When, in the late 1890s’, Lawrence Hargraves said the following he could just as well have been talking about the internet;

In my mind, the flying machine will tend to bring peace and goodwill to all; it will throw light on the few unexplored corners of the earth and it will herald the downfall of all restrictions to the free intercourse of nations”.

As aircraft were, and still are, capable of reducing the barriers of distance, communication and function for peace or as a weapon. So too the internet reduces distance and time barriers and it is an equalizing agent; it is also a tool of scrutiny and a (potential) weapon. Software vendors’ management can either embrace it ‘all’ or continue to use it selfishly (and as a weapon) only to find it slowly fretting away their credibility.

Face to face, over the counter trading ‘has gone’ guys, eg. Sycode/Draftsight. The question(s) a customer may have asked ‘sales assistants’, across a counter, are now asked via e-mail and in ‘open forums’. Ignoring ‘tough’ questions and trying to ‘hide’ is exposing the real practices and personalities of vendor CEOs and management. It is also revealing their very real shortcomings in knowing how to deal directly with (‘the public’ and) customers concerns and enquiries*. More importantly, the internet is leaving a trail, which cannot be easily covered. When the ‘crap hits the fan’ and the time arrives for a vendor’s management to be asked to justify their actions, past records will count. Evan Yares makes a similar point when he stated “the internet does not forget”.

That is the warning carried by and, is a core reason for my blog, Caveat emptor!

There is considerable consumer discontent in software vendors – the sole cause being vendor management. It could be argued, one solution, vendor management see (to contain the discontent) is by gaining more control of customers’ business data (‘CAD in the Cloud’); thereby constraining customer resistance using control over choice and the fear and cost of change etc. This will work, up to a point, but it is business built on bubbles, and bubbles burst!

Licencing, EULA and Customer Involvement Programs (CIP) etc. are, for me, a bit of a side issue now: they were once a reason but now are catalysts maintaining the ‘heat’. Deelip simply added to the heat. What has had my attention for some time is how those documents, CIP type software and managements reactions provide a window into the management of software vendors and, within the management, they expose individuals (lack of) Integrity.

I despise with a passion, those who ‘push’ people around, those who (deliberately) take advantage of the less fortunate and, persons/organizations who take advantage of those in ‘weaker’ bargaining positions. Whether it is in business or in life in general, they are Bullies! That I am not frightened to personally (or to use the internet to) speak out must be obvious by now. Thus far I have achieved some of what I have set out to do – and, there is more to come.

CAD vendor management; is there a business statesman amongst them? Who is to be the first to step up to the plate and demonstrate they are made of the stuff which recognizes they know and care about their customers needs and the success of their customers businesses. From my perspective will it be CEO Bass, Owner Menezes, Manager Kelly or somebody else?


Just prior to publishing this post I checked Sycode’s T&C’s for change and read Deelip’s ‘conversation with Ron Fritz’. The following excerpt could not be more appropriate to include in this post. Knowing and Caring about customers, is a point many (suppliers/vendors) in the CAD industry should spend the time doing and put into to practice;

Ron: Yes. For about seven years I managed hotels and restaurants. It’s not as different as one might think. If you take the time to understand your customer’s needs and what they are really buying from you, then all business is somewhat similar. It all centers around knowing your customer and caring about them. I like to believe that my high service orientation was helpful to us, since I don’t think that is particularly prevalent in the technology industry in general.”

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Disclosure is Everything – but difficult for Management to Grasp and Execute.

In my posting, CIP - The Bomb; fragments ‘CAD in the Cloud’, I suggested one of the ways in which users could judge the Trustworthiness and Integrity of CAD vendors’ management and staff was in the way they interacted with you/their customers and how Transparent they were prepared to be in dealing with customer concerns and questions.

I used Autodesk’s ‘response’ to my questions (relating to their terms and conditions) and the application of the Customer Involvement Program (CIP) as an example of how these business practices are a window into the management and staff of a software vendor; now we have another example.

I recently wrote a letter - (sent via email) to Deelip Menezes in his role as CEO of Sycode asking several questions in relations to his published software terms and conditions.

Deelip’s response was to tell me I have “lost the right to have a private correspondence with me the day you posted the contents of my private emails to you on your blog without my permission”. He is of course referring to a series of emails initiated by me contacting Deelip and then referenced in, Rabid_Dog puts CIP_Data Up For_Sale.

He also made the point; “I find it odd that you make all this noise about why users should not trust the CAD vendors with their data when you cannot be trusted to even maintain the confidentiality of a private conversation”.

Three points quickly here, I initiated the original conversation and at no time did Deelip ask for his comments to be kept confidential. I am not a CAD software vendor offering or likely to be offering ‘cloud’ solutions and therefore do not need to ask for the trust ‘cloud software vendors’ need to prove they are capable of supporting; and to which my post refers.

To paraphrase Deelip (Vektorrum): For whatever its worth, I’d like to publicly apologize to Deelip for any inconvenience this incident may have caused him. It was not my intention to deceive him, whilst passing myself off as myself, getting him to say things that I could use against him.

Yes, I did use parts of a conversation I initiated with Deelip and no (his comments) were not collected for later use. Mea culpa. My mistake for not realizing only Deelip has the right to reference me and his comments to me.

That part of the spat though is a side issue, what is of significant importance, is the questions Deelip sidestepped with his admonishment. They follow;

“The first of which is, are you prepared to negotiate your licence terms and conditions? If Yes, are there limitations you would place on negotiations and what would those limitations be?

Would you be prepared to remove your audit and insolvency clauses if asked to do so? If Yes, would it be conditional and if so what would those conditions be?”

Yes, Sycode has in its terms and conditions some interesting clauses; the Audit being one and, one of particular interest to me given it is a ‘clone’ of Autodesk’s.

In a recent stoush on another blog we witnessed a tussle in which both Deelip and Michael Gibson contributed substantially. Both these fellows, as CEO’s., of their respective companies had an ideal opportunity to get their important points about - ‘software ownership/licencing etc.’ – across to the readers, and they failed to do so. The reason they failed is, in part, because, neither choose to embrace this issue from any alternative point(s) of view.

Licencing and business/software terms and conditions are neither difficult to understand nor implement. But they do require commonsense and in the light of our current level, and future use of the ‘cloud’ they do need everybody involved to understand what is reasonable/acceptable and what is not.

Software ‘ownership’ discussions have ‘raged’ in various forms and for various reasons for some time now and, they have really shown just how deficient the management of major and minor software companies are in using the ’power’ of the internet to educate and take their customers with them. CEO’s talk big about the advantages of the WEB and the ‘Cloud’ but cannot use, effectively, the tools they have had for ‘ages’ to engage their customers. The dismal performance of Autodesk’s managements in addressing my published concerns is all the evidence you need of these failings. You may well be about to witness another!

The internet is about breaking down time and access/barriers and being able to share and engage like no other time in history; and it requires some real re-thinking about how we interact. I don’t see any evidence the current crop of software CEO’s, in our sphere, are equipped to engage their customers as is necessary and I personally would say those I have tried to communicate with do not even have the courage to engage their customers as is needed; with one possible exception – Deelip Menezes. Let’s see if Deelip is really any different and, can show the ‘big guys’ how it should be done.

Firstly, understand, I believe and accept software developers have a ‘right’ to determine the contents of their T&C’s but as I have demonstrated, to Autodesk’s discomfort and loss; the application of them in the ‘newer mediums’ cannot (always) be exactly the same as in the ‘old days’ and, customers ‘rights’ and an ability to challenge MUST be taken into consideration and be part of future computing ‘orientated’ transactions.

As an example Deelip announced to the world Raytheon had become a customer. Evan Yares made the point, Deelip may have breached Raytheon’s terms of purchase. Now I don’t know (the complete or) what the order of events was but my take is easy; if an order was placed on Deelip and he did not re-negotiate the clause preventing him using Raytheon’s name, he possibly was in breach. However if Deelip’s product was purchased on-line with no correspondence to ‘enforce’ the purchasers T&C’s then Deelip was not in breach as such; he may just be guilty of not thinking very carefully. Wisdom comes with age and by way of lessons learned from ones mistakes.

The reason I raise the Raytheon issue is because it highlights one problem ‘unique’ to online business trading. I still issue purchase orders for my software and that has become a problem for dealers because my terms and conditions have equal standing to their own; and this goes for/against Autodesk as well. The one thing business software users cannot afford to loose is their ability to apply purchasing terms and conditions or to loose the ability to negotiate. The latter is already a casualty in need of serious surgery.

In considering why I am interested in Deelip’s response to his ‘Audit’ clause; it would be wise to remember Deelip once made this very public (and for me, a very useful) comment.

“I develop CAD software. If I want I can make my software send me all kinds of data belonging to my customers. The moment someone runs my EXE on their computer and tells their firewall that its OK for that EXE to connect to the internet, I can do just about what I want on that computer, just like a virus. But I don’t because that is not my freaking business. And that is why people buy my software.” But…..?

Deelip has the capability and he appears to believe he needs to ensure his customers have provided him a pathway to use the capability, why? What is worse though, he has sown a seed of distrust, and defined a security issue! I wonder how Raytheon would view finding out ‘they have accepted’ a condition requiring them to (potentially) allow an audit of their facilities by Deelip or his representative?

Using the WEB more widely and in particular using ‘CAD in the Cloud’ requires those in CAD vendor management being very closely ‘linked’ to their customers and, it requires their ABSUOLUTE Integrity and Transparency and that of their staff and affiliates as well.

Now, I ask Deelip the questions again: hoping to see Deelip is the CEO of the future. One who can convince the wider skeptical public CAD CEO’s can be trusted, by engaging in a full and frank discussion about his T&Cs, why they are important to him and will stay and, his reasons for (enforcing) them; starting with the following questions;

“The first of which is, are you prepared to negotiate your licence terms and conditions? If Yes, are there limitations you would place on negotiations and what would those limitations be?

Would you be prepared to remove your audit and insolvency clauses if asked to do so? If Yes, would it be conditional and if so what would those conditions be?”

Over ;-)

Monday, 13 September 2010

CIP - The Bomb; fragments ‘CAD in the Cloud’.

A Summary:

This initial page is for those who don’t want to read the following looong post about why I do not, and would not, Trust my existing CAD vendor (specifically, the management and staff) to be my ‘CAD in the Cloud’ vendor of choice.

In my opinion, for ‘CAD in the Cloud’ to be a successful business tool it requires a customer to grant a level of Trust in their vendor few are prepared for, or fully understand. Importantly, using ‘CAD in the Cloud’, as it is being ‘offered’, requires customers to understand it is the management and staff of their CAD vendor who is going to be the custodians of, not only their business data and IP but, also their businesses continuing growth, fortune, profitability and reputation. You need to be able to Trust ALL of the vendors’ management, staff and affiliated businesses!

In short, switching to ‘CAD in the Cloud’ is giving a whole raft of other individuals’ considerable control of your business. If their Honesty and Integrity is not known, cannot be checked, tested and maintained, and their business activities and decisions are not completely Transparent; you have cause to be concerned and the only reason necessary, not to get involved, or use their ‘Cloud’ solutions.

If when checked or questioned, the vendors’ stated responsibility extends to being the equivalent of ‘all care and no responsibility’, with no provision for recourse or compensation; you have another good business reason, not to get in involved with their ‘Cloud’ solution.

Trust, and the enormous, unprecedented, level of Trust you must place in the hands of your CAD vendors’ management and staff is the single most important consideration in choosing a ‘CAD in the Cloud’ vendor. If you cannot convince yourself, every employee in your vendor has a 100% interest/commitment in protecting your business, has the same business values, and the same aspiration you have for your business then you have several very good reasons not to commit or make use of their ‘CAD in the Cloud’ solution.

Other than a mention, there is nothing to do with cost, access, security, technical issues or anything similar in the following post. Trumping all other issues, for me, ‘CAD in the Cloud’ is about TRUST; and I really don’t believe there is any evidence (from any existing CAD vendors management) to show they (the individuals who make a vendor a business entity) have what it takes to be Trusted ‘Cloud’ business partners. If you do, great. Caveat emptor.


Warning, Warning, Warning

For those who want to see some of the details behind my mistrust of software vendors’ management and staff you are welcome to read further; but don’t complain, to me (or any body else), about what you read or how long it takes.

I will take on any arguments or criticism the post will attract, with the hope they will be of substance and ignore the fact I am a lunatic, have two heads both with pointy hats and live on another planet etc. etc. etc; comments which have absolutely no bearing on the topic.

I have not set out to offend any particular company or individual but this post goes to the very heart of the ‘conflict’ between one CAD vendor and me. It draws on much of what is already known publicly. However, on this occasion I reveal how what has happened will influence me and others in our future dealing(s) with ALL software vendors. The lessons learned, particularly over the past five years, will be widely applied and used by me and others.

Understand, to read further, you do so at your own risk and you do accept complete responsibility for any offense which may occur. If there is a possibility you, or those you represent, may be offended, in any way or form, DO NOT read further. If you do and/they are then you must accept you were not forced to do so and were suitable warned!


Having read and accepted the Warning, I repeat, reading further is your responsibility.


As I detail deeper in this post, who would have thought Autodesk’s CIP (Customer Involvement Program) could be the subject of a post like this one. But CIP has provided us all a unique view into Autodesk’s management. CIP has also given us a real gauge, against which to measure, the amount of Trust a customer can place in a CAD vendor, its management, staff and those of affiliated companies.

Innocuous as CIP appears to be to some, to me, it always had other faces and for some time I have kept to myself what I really saw when I looked closely into and at CIP.

CIP, and similar systems or software are windows into the management of a software vendor; and challenge the Integrity of all involved.

The Mother Load:

With the following lengthy post I am going to bring together several apparently unrelated ‘things’; Autodesk’s software and subscription terms and conditions of use, Autodesk’s CIP, ‘CAD in the Cloud’ and Trust.

Some may struggle to understand how my issues with Autodesk, ‘CAD in the Cloud’ and Trust are connected; but it should come as no surprise. In reality, for me, it is a logical combination of issues. For ‘Cloud’ computing, specifically ‘CAD in the Cloud’, to truly succeed, business users of these system are going to need to place (and have) an enormous amount of Trust in the hands of their CAD vendors. More specifically, the customers Trust is in the Honesty, Integrity and Transparency of the vendors’ management, their staff and affiliated companies.

Business customers are going to need to assess and decide; do their CAD vendors’ management and staff qualify as people a customer is prepared to entrust with their businesses data and, by extension, their businesses continued success and prosperity? Is Trusting your vendors’ personnel important? Yes it is, it’s paramount. When I watch (and listen to) the arguments, and comments, on the WEB (etc.) about software bugs, performance, the ‘Cloud’ and software usability; there is much customer dissatisfaction. Software ‘companies’ are not responsible for that dissatisfaction; it is entirely the fault of the management and staff within those business entities. We have our businesses to run and grow and it is about time CAD vendors’ management understood, how untrustworthy they are perceived and, how difficult they are making business for many, many small businesses.

Is Trusting your vendors’ management important?

Well, for me, Autodesk is a business entity and like most businesses, no management and staff, no business. In many consumable/business sales organizations Trust (in the staff) is important, but it need not be the most important attribute. For ‘CAD in the Cloud’, Trust in the vendors’ management and staff is THE most important attribute. If using software was likened to jumping using a parachute packed by somebody else; using ‘CAD in the Cloud’ is the base jumping equivalent. Few engaged in base jumping use canopies packed by others.

‘CAD in the Cloud’, as it is being ‘offered’, as inevitable by CAD vendors, by definition requires companies to entrust their business data and intellectual property to the individuals within the vendor/providers. Whilst this is a repeat of what has been done in the past, on this pass the commitment is going to be far more significant and thwart with dangers many (who will be sucked up into the ‘Cloud’ by vendors) simply do not fully understand. Before we explore some of the problems and, the issue I believe to be the most important, let’s ask why ‘Cloud’ solutions at all and, for whom is ‘CAD in Cloud’ of the most benefit?

To the question, why ‘Cloud’ solutions. There are books full of ‘good’ reasons and vendors will have no trouble using those reasons by the shovel full to woo customers. Plenty of superlatives to do with productivity, saving money and resources etc, etc, etc. will be found, packaged and delivered to customers’ eyes and ears. Much of which will be close to rubbish!

The answer to the question; for who is ‘CAD in Cloud’ of most benefit. Answer: the software vendors. Clearly the benefits of the ‘CAD in the Cloud’ are almost exclusively the vendors; short term convenience may be the only benefit SOME users may experience occasionally, not much else!

There are, of course, technical issues to be addressed. These will vary greatly and have software and hardware components and, issues relating to your location on the Globe etc. However, as is always the case, technical issues are engineering problems awaiting solutions. Those solutions will vary on a case by case basis and will, for some, define the usefulness and or the profitability of ‘CAD in the Cloud’.

An extension of the technical issues are those of access (software and data); continued and continuing availability of data and, security etc. These issues are more ‘business’ critical than straight technical issues to do with hardware, software and internet speed. In part, answers to some of those issues are embodied in the engineering solutions. But data access and security issues are going to draw more heavily on ethics. The ethical intentions, behavior and discipline of vendors’ management, staff and affiliated companies are crucial and inseparable to the success of ‘CAD in the Cloud’. In essence, as a business user, you are going to need to ask, can you Trust ALL parts of your ‘CAD in the Cloud’ vendor? It’s a big ask and an even bigger task!

There are many parts to the last questions but no matter which part you want to consider it is ALL going to come down just how much Trust and Confidence you (as a business person) can muster, and place, in the management and personnel of your software vendor. The only gauge you are going to have to determine your level of Trust (in a vendor’s management and staff etc.) is going to be how well you can assess them based on how they present their case for your business and how Transparently they respond to your specific questions, individual concerns and business requirements. You may, as I do, have some (or all) of this information already – many do!

It is into this area I am now going to venture and, I am using the experience I have gained in dealing with Autodesk (and others), to explore how the opacity of those within that company are critical to a customer’s assessment of a vendors Trustworthiness, as a business partner. That is why I say, some may already have the information they need; your past and current dealings with your CAD vendor is an indication of what the future may hold.

Trust, as I have said in earlier posts, is a grant. It can be earned, should never be expected and cannot be bought. If granted the party in which the Trust has been bestowed must maintain and service it rigorously. For the customers part, Trust in a vendor, is something which can be measured and in business must be checked and validated on a regular basis, to ensure it is being maintained and not abused as time passes and, as situations and personnel change; as they inevitably do, in business.

So let’s look at my experience in dealing with Autodesk’s management and staff, in relation to the issues surrounding their terms and conditions of use and their implementation of CIP. I am not going to dredge and re-write all I have written in the past. In preference I’ll summarize and you can draw your own conclusions on just how transparent Autodesk have been and whether or not what they have done, would cause you concern if you were to be considering entrusting your business data and IP to the care of their management and staff; or to an organization (other personnel) of their choosing and ‘control’.

Can Autodesk’s management, staff and affiliate companies be my Trustworthy ‘CAD in the Cloud’ business partners? Can I Trust these individuals with my critical business data and, by extension my entire business?

I can ask, and answer, these very pointed questions simply because I have, as an individual, probably, done more than any other individual customer in taking my issues through and directly to the top of Autodesk. Indeed, to two CEOs of Autodesk. Additionally, I have dealt directly with Autodesk at many levels, since very early 1984, dealing, supporting and using their products. However ‘real problems with Autodesk’ started when I asked a very simple question of a local Autodesk staffer (about a new clause in their T&Cs) and, has grown (over five years) to give me an insight into Autodesk’s staff I would rather have not have gained. With ‘CAD in the Cloud on the horizon’ what I have found has now become more critical. Not just to me and other potential users of ‘CAD in the Cloud’ but, more importantly, to Autodesk (and other similarly behaving vendors); it is a pointer to their inner workings, a broken business mechanism they must fix!

What is seen by some as a saga not worth considering, a whinging lunatic customer who would ‘not accept the obvious’; turns out to be of importance. What I outline also holds important warnings and lessons, applicable to ALL vendors and ALL (potential/existing) users of ‘CAD in the Cloud’ and the ‘Cloud’ for any business application. Caveat emptor could not be a more appropriately applied expression when considering your future and your ‘Business in the Cloud’.

Personally, I have always initially Trusted those I deal with, Autodesk, its management and staff were no exception. However, (in business) it’s important to check and ensure your Trust is not misplaced or compromised. It was that understanding that kicked in, big time, when Autodesk reacted as they did prior too, on and after Tuesday, May 24 2005.

Checking needed to be done, and it was!

My initial concerns and the original (licencing) questions, to Autodesk, were in relation to the inclusion of an Audit clause in their Software and Subscription terms and conditions of use. The reaction to those questions was surprising, to say the least, and they remain, to this day, unanswered. As I worked forward and upward through Autodesk’s management, continuing to try and get reasonable answers; the situation I was dealing with slowly morphed and became more serious. Additionally, CIP appeared and the concerns associated with the reasons for my questions intensified and expanded. Finally, and despite, having taken my questions right to the top (of Autodesk), including the unprecedented step of requesting (from the CEO of Autodesk) affidavits and or statutory declarations, in support of their terms and conditions of use and CIP. I still have not received the requested documents and necessary answers to my questions.

Unbelievably so!

This is the type of background information I alluded too earlier. Many will have similar experiences in dealing with all type of vendors. Having trouble with your grocer, lawn mowing man or bank is bad enough, but this is (potentially) your ‘CAD in the Cloud’ vendor. Is this the level Transparency (Opacity) which would give you confidence in your CAD vendors’ management’s ability to be custodians of your businesses data and IP; your businesses profitability and your reputation as a supplier of goods and or services?

Let’s look, separately, at two (of a few) components from which my concerns arise;

The first is Autodesk’s software and subscription terms and conditions of use. It has been said (and is stated in the documents) subscription/software T&Cs define a contract between Autodesk and its customers. I have demonstrated this is not true; Autodesk’s T&Cs are conditions of use, they are not legally enforceable. However, Autodesk’s T&cS are penned by Autodesk and therefore they can add, subtract and or modify these as and when it suits. What prevents them being contractual in nature, and important to this post, is they are non-negotiable. Autodesk’s management are not prepared to discuss their T&Cs, they have and do change them without consultation or notification and they are not prepared to support (or back) their claims with either an affidavit or a statutory declaration.

Importantly though, if it is not possible to discuss or negotiate your existing CAD vendors’ subscription and software terms and conditions of use; what is the likelihood your are going to be able to negotiate the terms of conditions of use, with the same CAD vendor, when and if the CAD vendor decides it’s time (for them) to move YOUR business into THEIR ‘Cloud’?

In deciding on your CAD vendor’s management’s ability to be custodians of your business data, IP and your businesses fortune and reputation; does my experience with Autodesk provide you with the confidence you would be making the right decision?

Second, now the ‘terms and conditions of use’ have set the scene. Revealing and certainly relevant, let’s now look at Autodesk’s Customer Involvement Program (CIP).

The first thing to take onboard here is that CIP data is data collected on a customers business computers by the customers CAD vendor (in my case Autodesk). Point two: CIP data is generated by a piece of Trojan software Autodesk have engineered onto another’s businesses system(s) in a surreptitious manner without authorization or permission. A third point: when your business data is suitably compiled it is transmitted to the vendors (Autodesk) business computers, again without your permission and, (point 4) without the customer (YOU) knowing what data (of YOURS) is within those files. The fifth, a VERY IMPORTANT point: CIP data is YOUR data; and as I have proven, Autodesk are not going to allow YOU to see that data! Booooom! I repeat, CIP data is YOUR data and Autodesk are NOT letting you see what CIP files truly contain! What makes control of YOUR CIP data any different to your other business data? Can anybody else see something not quite right here?

CIP was – was initially - of less concern to me than the issues embodied in Autodesk’s T&Cs , and yet, as it turns out, CIP has and does provide us all a unique window into Autodesk’s management. It has also provided considerable insight into what lengths Autodesk’s management is prepared to go in abusing the privileged access and Trust customers have put in Autodesk’s hands and, how they already do and, intend to block yours and my access to our own data!

Isn’t it interesting how something as seemly innocuous as CIP could be such a clear indication of just why we need to think very carefully about WHO will be in control our business data in the ‘CAD Cloud’. What is Autodesk’s management hiding?

A number of issues could be considered as a result of what I am saying, but let’s test just one point. If you as an Autodesk customer think you have ‘nothing to hide or of value’ and would be willing to allow any person any level of access to your business computer(s) with absolutely no control; ‘Cloud’ computing and ‘CAD in the Cloud’ may well be in your future. However if you are a customer that is somewhat more cautious about the access to your business data and business systems; a different set of principals and procedures need to be followed.

If we take those two customers, both using Autodesk’s products for their design work. The first guy will install, and with no concern, allow ‘Autodesk’s staff and others’ full access to his system; CIP (and anything else) makes its entrance and all is fine with his ‘world’ – but maybe not his customers.

The second guy, though, is much more concerned and in loading software is aware of the important and privileged access he has just provided his vendor; but what has the vendor just done to this guy in return. The vendor has loaded their own business software on their customer’s business machine. They didn’t give him the choice (not to load CIP) as they do for other parts of their software. The vendor did not warn or ask if they could use the customer’s business computers for their own business purposes but, their intentions are obvious. Importantly, the vendors’ Integrity has now been compromised and the customers Trust usurped.

The vendor’s defense: if CIP is turned OFF what’s the concern. Well firstly CIP can be ‘remotely’ activated, it does not need the operators (of a particular computer) to set it to work. Secondly, even if those loading the software (know of CIPs existence), it is very obvious they will not necessarily know the different ways CIP could be activated; a warning in itself. If activation does occur, by other means, the operator will NOT be warned and Autodesk’s CIP could go about transmitting data for quite a long period before detection, if it was detected at all!

Putting aside for the moment, my (founded) concerns about the data contained in a CIP file. What cannot be ignored here is one business entity (the software vendor) has inserted a piece of Trojan business software, which they intend to use for their own business purposes, onto their customers business computer(s). The vendor’s intention is to use its customer’s business tools (data, computers and communication tools) for its own purposes? Spot a problem, two or more here anyone? Hey’ free rent, plus some?

Importantly it is the management in Autodesk and their staff who have decided to use (abuse) their customers’ business system(s) in this way; and when asked to reveal the data, it is Autodesk’s management and staff who have chosen not too! Ask: what is Autodesk’s management hiding? CIP = Booooom. Go figure, who in their right mind thought a breach of Trust, of this magnitude, was a good idea? Answer – Autodesk’s management and staff!

So, yet again, in deciding on a company’s management’s ability to be custodians of your business data and IP and your businesses fortune and reputations; does the management of CIP give you a clear enough warning of what can happen to your business systems and your data? Is this the type of management you want in charge of your companies’ business data, IP and your businesses fortune, profitability and reputation?

Now, hopefully people will see why I consider Trust as being so important to the success of ‘Cloud’ computing, ‘CAD in the Cloud’ in particular. Software bugs, hardware problems, communication speed, cost and to some degree security all disappear into un-importance if, the Integrity, Honestly and Transparency of your chosen vendors’ management and staff, is not of the highest levels; completely Transparent and out in the open at all times and available for testing and validation on a micro-minute time scale. It is a significant ask and an onerous responsibly to place onto another’s shoulders but, if a ‘vendor’ is not prepared to be completely Transparent in their dealings and manage their staff to previously un-heard of levels (in business) of Integrity, then ‘CAD in the CLOUD’ is, for a business user, at best, a huge gamble.

None of what I have outlined (above) about Autodesk reactions to my questions are new* revelations to my customers (Autodesk product users) or those who have followed my activities personally and or through Caveat emptor. Though this is the first time I have chosen to, in writing, link the issues of how and why we should measure the Integrity of vendor’s management; at least those who want us to move their customers to an expanded use of ‘CAD in the Cloud’.

Caveat emptor could not be a more appropriately used phrase. But there is more to consider, and some of this will be new* and a surprise to a few!

* I quote, “Autodesk’s licensing policies are open to all to read. These are also readily available on the web at www.autodesk,” In fact (at the time) Autodesk’s terms and conditions of use were not to be found at the quoted web address. Indeed only an FAQ document with a statement within which referred to a non-existent card detailing licencing conditions to be found in the software packaging, was to be seen.

Autodesk continued; “There is no legal requirement and it is not a practice of any software company to mandate that its channel partners go through the T&Cs with each and every customer”; Booooom! There, you have it! That one comment was, for me, the additional catalyst which accelerated my reaction to, Autodesk’s response to my original licence questions and, precipitated my ongoing scrutiny of the issues and ultimately the obvious link to the decisions of Autodesk’s management.

Those statements are copied from a document prepared by ‘Autodesk Australia’, and sent to Autodesk dealers prior to the publication of an article written by me in a Sydney daily newspaper. Autodesk knew what was to be published and whilst refusing to discuss the situation with me; they did go to the trouble of preparing a document and distribute it through the dealer channel to counter the article. Do you put fires out with petrol?

When Autodesk found out I was about to ‘spill the beans’ publicly, that was their response; pour fuel on the fire! Had Autodesk chosen to discuss and resolve my issues no article would have been written and none of the last five years of management scrutiny would have followed! Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Autodesk has always held the key to addressing my issues through discussion, they chose not too; instead they decided to spend effort, aimed in other directions, to counter what they could have stopped with a phone call/e-mail. Why? Were they just shortsighted or were individuals within, on a mission – I believe I know the answer(s) - you can draw your own conclusions. But never forget these were all management decisions made within a company who already holds significant control of your data and, may one day be in total control of your business data and IP. The management within this company, potentially, if you move to ‘CAD in the Cloud’ with Autodesk, will then be the people with enormous control of your business data, your businesses fortune, profitability and reputation. Does this experience of mine give you the confidence using their ‘CAD in the Cloud’ would be a good idea and a responsibly safe business decision?

Getting the best out of ‘CAD in the Cloud’, this time around, requires customers to bestow an entirely new level of Trust in software vendors. For their part vendors are going to need to be far more Transparent in all their business and ‘Cloud’ activities and are going to have to ensure, maintain, and expect to get from their management and staff absolute levels of Honesty and Integrity. How “CAD in the Cloud’ vendors’ management interact with customers is now far more critical than before. Their initial key of choice has to be Transparency but as my five years of experiences shows this is not something individuals, within the software vendors, are very good at! These guys want us to use their ‘Cloud’ (to improve their lot) and to Trust them; but they have failed to show us why and how they can be relied on to manage that which is important to our businesses future, not just theirs.

What has happened is all I need to decide whether I would give a ‘CAD in the Cloud’ software companies’ management my business data, IP, reputation and profitability. If you think your business can work within, grow and profit, with a business partner, with the lack of Transparency and Integrity I have highlighted – good luck, Caveat emptor.

My personal views, [lack of ;-)] knowledge and experiences are one thing. More important to me is for others to apply the same level of scrutiny of their vendors I have; probe and question your vendors without mercy to ensure you truly know just how Transparent they are, or are prepared to be, in relation to the promotion of their general business activities, their use of the ‘Cloud’ and the Reliability and Integrity of their management and staff. If you don’t do this properly you are taking a very large gamble with your IP and on your companies’ future.

There is much to be gained using a flexible ‘Cloud’ but ONLY if it is going to work effectively for ALL participants. As we expand our ability to throw data around (the globe) with gay abandon the ONLY tools that will keep it all in check is individuals Honesty, Integrity and Transparency. Most would believe those traits are the traits we all apply, now, in business, but the truth is considerably different and my experience of the last five years should be a salient warning to all.

I am not known for my holding back in this area, and in this posting I have not, but to be fair (or equitable) it is a requirement I point out, whilst (my blog) Caveat emptor has a particular focus; it is correct to highlight Autodesk is not alone in participating in the business activity I have exposed and challenge. When I first embarked on this quest with Autodesk forcing me to take a closer look at their activity; I was only able to find one other company’s terms and conditions that gave me any cause to look at it twice. As it turned out it was no where near as invasive as Autodesk’s. Even Microsoft’s T&Cs proved to be of little concern despite what many said they ‘thought’ they would be.

I foretold this situation would change, and more problems would appear, if people did not react quickly and succinctly and sadly that has all come true and customers have only themselves to blame. That is the problem of having the misapprehension ‘market forces’ will ‘control’ the behavior of individuals within vendors and or of sitting on a fence and your hands when you should have taken notice and action.

As another example; a company, whose product we were testing (some time ago, for use by our customers) was found to be taking data off our system. Within the data were details we would never have willingly given a third party. The discovery resulted in a conversation with the vendor who admitted they were taking the data and actually said (despite the data found) they did not think users would be concerned (extreme naivety). They also believed they had a ‘right’ to do what they had done (extreme stupidity)! Their software was immediately removed and none of our customers have looked at it further.

That experience is only one example that shows I have looked at the issues from a wider perspective and is also a reinforcement of my warnings. I have a particular focus for reasons of business association and clarity; but I am not as ‘one eyed’ as it may appear. My comments and warnings are applicable and equally leveled at all software vendors and their customers.

Staring us all in the face is a great opportunity to share and distribute information. However at the moment - ‘CAD in the Cloud’ - as it is being promoted by the current vendors is being seen as (and is more about) a vendor’s right to control and profit. There has been absolutely NO substantial information coming from vendors demonstrating an equal opportunity to benefit and profit for customers. Couple that failing with the software industries combined, and proven, reticence to be Transparent in their business dealings with customers and one must conclude ‘CAD in the Cloud’ computing should be avoided at any cost!

I have all too often said, I would be more than happy to have proven wrong my concerns about Autodesk’s software and subscription terms and conditions and CIP. The same applies to my total lack of Trust in (and Respect for) Autodesk’s management and staff. Who can prove my concerns wrong; who, within fortress Autodesk has the facts, the guts and or the Integrity to do so?

Despite all that has happened and the incredible business pressure and abusive comments which have been directed toward me by individuals and Autodesk, I remain an optimist; and I still remain willing to discuss my issues too a sensible conclusion and, to the advantage of all parties. In relation to Autodesk and I, the solution, from day one, has always been and remains in Autodesk’s managements hands. I think it is well past time, CEO Bass, a way was found to talk my issues through – how about it, you and me (are you ‘up to it’, are you a true CEO and leader?) or a local representative?

As for the wider issue: as it stands, being old enough to remember an earlier form of ‘CAD in the Cloud’ and seen and used the alternatives. Whilst CAD vendors choose to radiate the attitude (toward customers) they currently do there is no way I would be comfortable using (or recommending) ‘Cloud’ CAD/Business applications where the software and data is not under the total control of the client so as to ensure the responsibility for data and management of that same data is also the clients. Optionally, a self hosted ‘Cloud’

What do you think? Do you have a level of Confidence in your current CAD vendor that allows you to Trust 100% of your businesses success, profitability and reputation etc. to the vendors existing and future management, staff and or affiliated companies and their management and staff?

A test of vendor’s Trust every customer can apply to any vendor wanting your ‘CAD in the Cloud’ business. Ask for written details (and commitments) on what the vendor and its management sees as their responsibility to you and your company if ‘something’ goes wrong with their ‘Cloud’ solution and or your files in their ‘care/control’. What assurances, backup, support, and or restitution (for your business loses) would they be prepared to shoulder and compensate.

If the answer is incomplete or, is all care and no responsibility (or similar), ‘CAD in the Cloud’ for you, with the ‘vendor/business partner’ asked the question, is probably a non event.

I close with the following quote (from a Fair Trading regulators published document) and questions;

It is unlawful for a business to make false claims about a product or service or operate in a misleading or deceptive way. They are required to tell the truth to their customers and not hide any relevant information.”

Does this paragraph say, a business should not make false claims, operate in a misleading or deceptive way? Yes or No. Does it also say, a business MUST tell the Truth and NOT hide relevant information? Yes or No.

How well does your CAD vendors’ management measure up to the standard set by the business regulator? More on this to come.


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Autodesk’s CIP – The Truth Slowly Being Revealed?

Disclosure: The name of one individual mentioned in this post has been encoded to unjustifiably protect the person’s identity**. The identity of the second individual has been altered similarly in the interest of equality only.

(Paul) “I pity your shortsightedness. It must kill you to know I hold the answer you are seeking.”

There are several people who have, over time, taken the opportunity to ridicule me as an individual and what I have said in relation to Autodesk’s intrusive licensing and Customer Involvement Program (CIP): but one of the most curious is 78 174 and in common with 86 of Autodesk, 174 claimed CIP data is “easily readable”

In fact these two individuals have several things in common when it comes to tackling my comments about CIP. One is they have both openly claimed CIP data is human readable. A second point, users have nothing to fear and the third – and most importantly – neither individual have, when asked to do so, provided details or evidence in support of their assertions.

This makes 78 174’s statement, “It must kill you to know I hold the answer you are seeking.” quite poignant and worthy of challenge.

Let’s look at what led up to 174 making the statement and why it may be the harbinger of the demise of this person’s credibility.

Following my blog entry titled ‘Rabid Dog puts CIP Data Up For Sale’, 78 (and others) and I exchanged e-mails and within one of those communications 78 made the statement, CIP files were "not encrypted. It's an XML derivative (easily readable)". It would be of no surprise, to those following what I am doing, to see me leap on this comment and follow up with 78, and I did with the following question;

“This is what we have been asking for 78. All the data we have found, generated by CIP, is encrypted and not 'human readable'. If what you 'indicate' is correct please tell me where it is to be found.”

For a critic this was an obvious course of action; an opportunity to demonstrate to all just how wrong I was and (maybe) have always been. 78 responded with, “If you know you can turn it off then what is the issue?” To which I responded, “Simple, we have a recorded instance where CIP having been turned off at installation was found to have been activated by something other than operator intervention! It caused and remains a problem. So returning to point 2; where is the XML file 78. Provided I can validate, having that data could shut this one aspect of my concerns about Autodesk down. I would be only too happy to publish the findings and, openly state I was either wrong in the first place or the situation has changed for the better.”

78’s reply, “Considering your propensity to use private emails in a public post I think this is the end of our conversation.” A curious answer considering I have always maintained I was prepared to publish and admit that I was “wrong in the first place or the situation has changed for the better.” Secondly, and I repeat, it was 78’s opportunity to ‘cover my face in egg’; an ideal opportunity for a very vocal critic. Interestingly though 78 chose to follow through with “I pity your shortsightedness. It must kill you to know I hold the answer you are seeking.”

Now which ever way you look at 78’s statement you have to wonder about why this person chose to criticize (me) in the first place. Has 78 a grudge to vent? It doesn’t worry me in the slightest that s/he may have information that I have been looking for; but it does worry me 78 seems to think it is appropriate to deny important information to others who have the same concerns as I do. 78’s statement will be remembered by me not only for the meanness of character it portrays but for its childishness in the face of opportunity.

As for my ‘shortsightedness’; what shortsightedness I would ask. Is it shortsighted of a business person to read terms and conditions and or seek to understand how customers’ business computers are being used by software developers without authorization – for the developers own business purposes? Is it 78 who is being shortsighted in not releasing the information s/he has; or is there another reason for 78’s reticence?

So let’s look at what is actually know about CIP data. The first point to make is Autodesk state the data collected is encrypted (and therefore not ‘human readable’). This differs of course from what both 86 of Autodesk and 78 174 have stated – why? The second thing we know is that even though Autodesk were unwilling to tell me where the data was to be found, a portion was found. I say a ‘portion’ only because I cannot be sure all of it has been found. What has been found, has been validated as being Autodesk generated CIP data and, it would appear, ‘the crucial’ files are encrypted and not - ‘read easily’ – as claimed by 174 - without translation. One to Autodesk and zero to 86 and 78.

Following are two portions of CIP data. The first a segment of the data forming part of a customer’s data, set ready for the un-authorized transmission to Autodesk.

__6ss_,5'9Z#KyeDESK_mc_mask_ ___
S_Jpa_}uqu_`.7+%120z?6V__mw_ ___
Mf$mc_mask_}Z ____U#Gc_mask_aI ____KG)~_squ>KUTODESK_mc_m}2?G3__O
_NI_}t_s}r_p_4 .?U.6_qlR95!"Qx~ODESK_mc_b2'*G$KyeDESK_b4R41<"]5KyeDESK_:"J=.:%Ga__RFTGI_9*^(|qz_xDL_WSCZ_uw_sLYk_aUTODEO_Z,7Vm(7v_sDVQioSK_mc_mask_aI_____ _$'_opc~_IU4'!2?o_rn_odR5____[~a_mc_mask_aUTS__ _G/cZ)|qz_wWJSE>0/o__h___

The second portion provides the proof it is Autodesk behind the unconscionably intrusive, unauthorized data collection and transmission.

info Mon Oct x 200x 10:54:32.156000 pid:2xx8 tid:1x4 Transcripts C:\Documents and Settings\xxxx\Application Data\Autodesk\xxx...\{6BF97520-15F8-4437-B98C-533F8695DE9A}.zip of 116210 bytes is being sent to

No points to be won here but neither does it do much for 86 and 78; unless, of course they now choose to come clean. 86 is going to be constrained by Autodesk but 78 now has a little problem - credibility. As an industry participant 78 now needs to reveal what s/he truly knows and come to realize, I have (had for some time) Autodesk CIP data and understand how damaging it could be if the full details were revealed.

As I have done in the past I will allow others to draw their own conclusions about what these two individuals actually know, about CIP, if anything? I am not saying the two are completely wrong, they may just be ‘mushrooms’ spreading the spores they have been engineered to do; but as it stands, both these persons made statements for which neither were prepared to provide supporting evidence and, in the process, they have, contributed to the deception and customers concern and confusion in relation to the efficacy of Autodesk’s CIP.

Or did they simply lie? If so why?

Now let’s briefly return and again look at who may have been the most shortsighted: me for identifying potential business problems and bringing them into the open? Autodesk for thinking they could initiate and continue to do what they are doing (unnoticed)? 86 of Autodesk and or 78 174 for tromping out a different story - seemingly thinking they were defending Autodesk? Or industry (commentators and customers) who just sit on their hands thinking, and saying, there is nothing they can do to influence Autodesk or change the situation?

Autodesk’s activity, in relation to software licensing, subscription terms and conditions and CIP, is unconscionable and conduct customers should neither accept nor allow to continue. Those who choose to say, without having the full facts, or supporting evidence, Autodesk’s customers have nothing to fear from Autodesk’s terms and conditions and or CIP are standing on insecure ground.

It is easy, for the gutless, to throw stones at me but now having shown a small portion of the CIP data to hand, it is also easy to see why I never believed 86 and 78’s claims CIP data was ‘human readable’ and, knowing the data is not what customers would like to see leaving their computers it now, more than ever, allows others to see why I have asked the questions, I have, of Autodesk.

For me, getting answers to my questions remains something I will pursue until all are addressed properly and I am satisfied!

If my concerns were or are misplaced or wrong Autodesk, prove me wrong. As a customer it is not necessary for me to justify my position. As the vendor it is your obligation to justify, to your customers, your position and a socially responsible company would do so!

If my concerns were or are misplaced or wrong 86, prove me wrong. As a customer it is not necessary for me to justify my position to you. However, as a spokesperson for the vendor it is your obligation to be truthful when dealing with customers and a socially responsible individual would do so!

If my concerns were or are misplaced or wrong 78 174, prove me wrong. I have set out only to improve the knowledge available in our industry. I have done what my customers expect of me as their supplier and consultant; that alone justifies my position. Yours, 78 174 as an outspoken defender of another’s actions, with apparent ‘inside’ information, is the obligation to reveal what you ‘know’; a socially responsible individual** would do so!

I look forward to be proven wrong and have always said so – but which one of you three can do it now?

Which one of you three are going to tell Autodesk customers the truth about CIP and Autodesk’s terms and conditions and, who is going to be able to do it in a manner that would ensure, what ever the truth is, you can be believed?

For CIP; Autodesk’s actions to date, compromised by the apologists, has made the withdrawal of CIP or total transparency the only options available to Autodesk; are they a socially responsible company and up to the task or not?

For Autodesk’s software and subscription terms and conditions – well; truth supported by transparency are the only tools left for Autodesk to use. But? Given ‘the water that has passed under the bridge’, would any Autodesk staff member or legal representative ever be able to convince, Autodesk’s customers, or me, Autodesk’s answers and actions can be trusted?

In closing, I must repeat 78’s comment;

(Paul) “I pity your shortsightedness. It must kill you to know I hold the answer you are seeking.”

**You just gotter love this person; when serious business stuff is being debated this was 174’s best shot, a real professional! Add, s/he has not the guts to have a name attached to the comments you may conclude what the individual, now known as 78 174, says (about CIP) is just a load of bovine mushroom food!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Callan responds to Caveat emptor.

Steve Johnson (blog nauseam) harks from the other side of the Australian continent and sometimes those from ‘over there’ think we Easterners don’t listen, think or care about them; causing them to talk of secession – not too seriously I hope because they are great people and have a great state – to visit


There are areas Steve and I agree on and it would appear having customer questions answered is one such area.

A number of questions were asked of Callan Carpenter (Autodesk) and his appreciated response didn’t seem to really answer any of the questions and a subsequent prompt has done little to redress the situation. So this episode is another example of what I have experienced when dealing with Autodesk staff. Ask them what day it is or what products they sell and you will probably get an answer. Ask them a really important question, one about licencing, one about the ‘independence’ of a report or simply one about the numbers they quote and your chances of getting an answer is probably nil.

Steve asked his readers, “Readers, am I being too harsh here?” One responded suggesting there was no point in publicly beating up on Callan. Steve replied politely and his politeness has not been reciprocated; from Autodesk employees though we should never expect anything better than to be ignored when we pose questions of substance and importance, and Callan, it would appear, is no different. These are well paid people quite prepared to demonstrate their absolute contempt for their customers, with no regard to the effect their actions have on our daily lives.

Deelip said – “Try asking yourself what answers you would offer if you were in his position.”. Yes it is always a good idea to think about what a person may answer before asking the question but what is Deelip actually suggesting here? Steve didn’t want to substitute his answers – sensible so – but I thought I might ask my mate, Callan the Carpenter, to tell me what he would chisel into a timber slate as answers to the same questions.

Questions to Callan Carpenter – hereafter to be written ‘?CC’.

Answers will be shown thus ‘AbCtC’ = Answers by Callan the Carpenter.

?CC - Please clarify in as much detail as possible exactly how you arrive at your figures.

AbCtC - Guess work would be the greatest amount of detail I can provide. There exists no need to look for or use any real data because you and your readers would not be able to check and validate, anything I say – so why bother.

?CC - A percentage is derived by dividing one number by another; what exactly are you dividing by what to come up with 1.5%?

AbCtC - Yes, dividing one number by another and then multiplying the decimal by 100 is a common way to calculate a percentage. Though the number I chose – 1.5% - was selected using the proven method outlined in the first question.

?CC - Please explain why your statements appear to contradict Autodesk’s own published figures.

AbCtC - Contradictions are a standard tool used by most VPs to ensure they are noticed (the VP that is, not the comment. The later should be ignored; that is the comment should be ignored not the VP – I think). Not to contradict could have the effect of making my job appear redundant; after all why would the CEO and Board pay a VP that simply regurgitated a company line like our bloggers do?

?CC - How large is Autodesk’s total installed base?

AbCtC - Well I didn’t answer this question originally because in the passed really big numbers have been used to describe just how many customers we have hammered. You know 4 to 6 mil. has been bandied around and I have a lot of trouble getting my head around numbers of that size. What do you think I should use the same 4/6 mil. or should I use a larger number, say, around 10 mil. Even if I could get my head around big numbers, it is a very difficult answer to determine with the current level of technology I have available. I am sure you know our data base is a mess, using it to determine numbers of customers is pretty much the same process as for question one. One final point, on customer numbers, if I may. A problem with releasing customers numbers (if we had them, and I’m not saying we have), if you think about it, it would be the equivalent of giving our competitors very sensitive company confidential data. Importantly it would also give them an opportunity to publicly dispute my numbers and ridicule Autodesk and me in the market place. I don’t think I could handle criticism of me using big numbers.

Points of dispute

?CC - Because Autodesk made Subscription cheaper than upgrading, it is no surprise that upgrading became less popular. This doesn’t indicate that customers prefer doing business in that way, merely that Autodesk made it the cheapest alternative.

AbCtC - I know what I said originally about customers leveraging the Subscription program but it is also important to say, repeating the question asked as an answer is a stalling tactic. The how to, why and when to (stall that is) is outlined in the publication ‘VP Interview Responses for Dummies’ – a MUST read for all VPs.

The truthful answer is, of course, Subscription appears cheaper only because we chose to make it look cheaper, we could have made it look more expensive. Customer preference is not important enough to consider when you realize subscription has the advantage (to Autodesk) of being a customer trap so we thought it was more important to make it look cheaper to foil the customer. We know our customers are not too bright so it also seemed logical (to us) that if we used a smaller number for the Subscription then the customer would gravitate towards it just as I do. Big numbers are difficult to work with; I think I covered why in an earlier question.

?CC - If the idea of Subscription is such an attractive proposition, why do you need to sweeten the deal with tools that you don’t allow upgraders to have?

AbCtC - Again I needed to stall in my original reply: but now I can answer the question truthfully. Subscription is an attractive proposition because it looks cheaper. But just looking cheaper I did not think was enough to trap (all) customers. So, to increase the number of customers tricked it was decided we should use a method of deception similar to that which is employed in nature – sugar. I really like pitcher plants and the deception they use and, I also see a similarity between customers and the insects the plants catch. Customers are like ants crawling all over us (at Autodesk) with hard to answer questions and high expectations so we decided to sugar coat the thresh hold of the (Subscription) trap and as the customer follows the sugar they soon find there is no way back. I really don’t think our customer are smart enough to see in advance what is going to happen to them; just like flies and other pesky insects don’t realize what the pitcher plant is doing. Don’t want to let the ‘cat out of the bag’ but this is also important for our cumulus future.

?CC - Your assertion that the 12-month cycle is driven by the product teams is incorrect. It was chosen for business reasons and the product cycle was forced to fit the Subscription model.

AbCtC - Yes you are is correct; it was purely a business decision. We did it to make sure our staff feel like they are doing something for the customers and it gives our paid cheer squad (evangelists and bloggers) something to spruik about. It also keeps many sensible customers off balance trying to keep up with those stupidly loyally customers who have to have our latest software whether it makes commercial sense or not. It is also important to catch customers off guard; our (Autodesk’s) cumulus future relies on customers accepting software changes just happen, constantly, and for no reason, just like cell division. To be part of our success customers should see it as a privilege to write cheques (to Autodesk) each year, for those changes, whether or not anything useful is supplied. When, we believe, they have become use to this process it is going to be much easier to ‘shift’ them to pay by the month/minute. I cannot say why we are going to, er, might be going to do this – cause we might not – but probably will – well maybe. I think it is also important customers understand my job is to ensure customers keep spending (sending us) money, whether they are making money (using our products) or not, is not my problem. Details of that role, of mine, are also outlined in the Dummies manual for VPs.

In closing, Callan (Autodesk) pretty much wasted the time he did spend replying to Steve and there will be those who say Callan the Carpenter has done the same. But Aussie tradies love to poke fun at politicians and business people they see as being a 'waste of space'. In the case of Autodesk, a company that appears to be run like a government/public service and so full of people who have simply lost the plot (also like our government and its public service) it is surprising to some that they keep running at all (and they can't be voted out). But my mate Callan the Carpenter has an answer for this too. He says, "the problem is Autodesk’s customers are just too lazy and gutless for their own good"; he continues, "they should stop taking the crap being dished out by Autodesk management and stand up for themselves". He recons we are jerks if we don’t and he wants to know, and will be watching to see if the bloke he has just taken the mickey out of is game enough to do what he should have done properly in the first place. I think I agree with him – do you?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Rabid Dog puts CIP Data Up For Sale.

? Unusual title – not really. The title draws (part of) its name from a comment, made by a critic of mine – Sean Dotson, used in reference to me in a ‘tweet’. Sean’s comment was in response to another’s – Deelip Menezes – who was quoting an earlier statement of mine where I referred to myself as ‘dog with a bone’. A reference to the fact I will not give up my pursuit of bringing Autodesk’s unconscionable business activity before Autodesk and the public, in Caveat emptor, and anywhere else, where and when the opportunity arises – until it is ‘fixed’. Autodesk’s EULA, its use of Trojan software and its unreasonable/unconscionable treatment of me – a customer – are all contributing components of my pursuit.

Comments in Ralph Grabowski’s blog – titled ‘Earth to Autodesk: this is the Internet era’; a subsequent discussion with Sean Dotson and an interesting recent discussion with Deelip, have also been instrumental in inspiring this post.

In the following spleen clearing splurge I consider animals, abstracts like Trust and Truth and facts; ‘testing’ and whether or not, we need lawyers to solve simple commercial issues. Amongst other things ;-) I make the offer to sell CIP data and ask several important questions; can I do such a thing and, of Autodesk, do they have any objections to the sale of my CIP data. Reading further is at your risk and is your responsibility.

On television, as I commence the first paragraph of this post, there is a show featuring dogs in art - appropriate I thought! If we run several of Dotson’s comments - about me together - it could be concluded I’m a ‘tin foil hat wearing rabid dog’. Quite the subject for a piece of art, don’t you think – tho’ incomplete, needs a background?

Dogs also became part of the discussion Deelip and I had on ‘Cloud’ computing. Deelip made the following comment, “But remember that kind of logic only works between equals. This is as ridiculous as your pet dog complaining that you will not let him chain you to the porch just like how you chain him to the porch. “. I smiled when I read the comment. I am sure Deelip understood what he said, but maybe not how it could be viewed. Deelip was likening me to a chained dog: a dog owned and chained by CEO Bass and crew? Indeed, if you are an (unhappy) Autodesk customer, when you look at the context of Deelip’s comments you would be forgiven for thinking he was also referring to you ;-) That’s the background we needed.

Put CEO Bass’s ‘lunatic’ comment, Sean Dotson’s and Deelip’s descriptions together and we get; a ‘lunatic (rabid) tin foil’ hat wearing dog chained to CEO Bass’s porch: now that may be a more complete outline for a piece of art (or cartoon).

Dogs have always played a part in my life, mostly working dogs. Dogs to work sheep, cattle and a guard dog; my last though, was a ‘pajama’ dog. A great little mate, who was rarely out of sight or reach and, after 18 years, is sorely missed. Having survived a severe mauling by two large dogs, when twelve, an important thing to remember or learn, if you already did not know, is dogs are pack animals. Good ‘control’ of dogs is never achieved at the end of a tether: it is achieved by understanding the social arrangement dogs adhere too; they are ‘group’ animals with a leader and mates. *However, when they have their portion of the kill their group structure and ‘mateship’ is often tested. In this respect many users of the internet and management behave the same. Not all are wise independent thinkers; and, on occasions, using the disconnect of the internet and the support of the apologists in the pack, say things they would never be game enough to say to their prey’s face.

Well, that accounts for the first part of the posts title now for the second part….but not straight away :)

My comments about Autodesk’s EULA requirements, Autodesk’s use of Trojan software and their objections to my requests for them to allow customers to scrutinize their activity; is what draws the many arrogant and un-informed remarks. More interesting still, those who criticize, and some who support me, believe the issues I raise can only be solved by some level of legal action. Some would like to see me start ‘it’, others wonder why Autodesk has not!

What’s important is that they are all completely wrong! Legal action is NOT required to solve the issues I raise. There is not a single component of my so called ‘complaints’ that does not have a ‘common sense’/commercial base and a ‘common sense’/commercial (negotiable) solution. NOT ONE: and Autodesk know this only too well! Those who believe the legal system is the only way are simply lazy dependants looking for somebody else to do their work. In the case of some software corporations (at the instigation of individuals), the legal system is (an over used) tool/weapon used as much for mischief as for settling genuine disputes for the society it is there to ‘protect and serve’.

Now this raises a question (or many). If a negotiated solution is possible why (after over five years) has it not happened? We came close several times; but on each occasion ‘somebody’ seemed to step in and it would all fall apart. I am not blameless: my tact could improve, I’m sure. However as Autodesk have never entered into real negotiations and have never fully answered a number of the specific questions I have asked, the fault is, almost entirely theirs – but why? Customers ask ‘pointed’ questions all the time, about products and contracts; what made, or makes, my questions so difficult to address.

The answer, most assuredly rests in telling the ‘Truth’. Answering my questions truthfully, Autodesk people may well think, is more dangerous than ignoring them? Some other reasons may be embodied in an exchange between Deelip and me.

It went like this, I made a statement and then,

Deelip said; "You stand is that just because Autodesk takes the liberty of snooping into your computer; you should have the equal right to snoop around their set up as well."

This is what I actually said; "Autodesk (and others) are attempting to FORCE its customers into legally accepting it is appropriate for them to gain electronic access to customers’ machines whilst at the same time REFUSING to allow any scrutiny of their actions" and continued in reply,


This has always been, from day one Deelip, my position. Autodesk have known this from day ONE also and their failure to accept this, and indeed fight against it, is almost the SOLE reason CEO Bass and crew (Autodesk) CANNOT be trusted. If you think likewise then I would have absolutely no hesitation to say you should NOT be trusted either.

It's simple, it’s black and white, and there can be no argument that the stance I have taken is the correct one. I am NOT interested in 'rooting' around in Autodesk systems but I AM INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO AND ARE DOING IN MY SYSTEMS! I have EVERY RIGHT too and there can be NO reason for Autodesk, you or anybody else to object to that position. But that is a major part of the problem between the individual(s) at Autodesk and why I say they have KGB attitudes; because, as people, they do!”

Deelip initially dodged replying directly to my statement but then responded;

“Yes, you have every right to do that in your ideal world. Also in that ideal world, my dog (who I chain to my porch) will also have the right to chain me.

I am not disagreeing with you on your right to do something. Just that I don’t see you getting anywhere close to it in the real world.

The main difference between you and me is that when you find something wrong you feel the urge to fix it. I do too. But if I see that it cannot be fixed (for whatever reason), I learn to live with it and adjust my life accordingly. Basically, I don’t beat dead horses** like you do.”

So, Deelip chains his dog and I am seen to be ‘flogging a dead horse’**. Deelip’s sentiment is, of course, the sentiment of many others. Society’s problems are always ‘somebody else’s responsibility’; and the easy way to ‘duck shove’ the responsibility is to say it ‘needs a court to decide’ or it’s a ‘dead horse’. Both are excuses for the abdication of responsibly. I once likened this attitude/laziness to a person who stands watching, and does nothing, when a person near them, in the street, is “mugged”. Kevin E said there was no comparison but he is wrong!

Question: where does the ‘ideal world’ fit into this argument? Autodesk are making available a ‘tool to tradesmen’; it is their obligation to ensure their tool does what they say and it is also their obligation to ensure their ‘tool’ is not misrepresented or used in a manner that contravenes their privileged position as a supplier. In refusing to answer my questions and negotiate a solution, with me, that is exactly what Autodesk’s staff are doing – misusing and misrepresenting their products and abusing their privileged position!

Another component of Deelip’s (and others’) argument is, that size matters (Autodesk is often referred to as a 600lb. Gorilla – geez another animal). Autodesk is bigger than me therefore I should just ‘lie down, or adjust my principals’ and accept whatever they choose to dish out! What a load of rubbish. Autodesk does not make a single decision, not one. It is individuals, hiding behind the corporate shield that is the entity Autodesk, who are making decisions and acting on those decisions and impulses. It is individuals who are deciding what Autodesk will do in respect to products and customers and, it is individuals who are choosing to ignore my requests and are pushing me around. None of those individuals are that different from me, as people, (they are probably taller, more brash, smarter, maybe more influential, spine less and definitely paid more) but other than that – not much different. Indeed some are also prepared to use ‘third parties’ to convey comments that criticize and or ‘slag’ a customer seen (in their eyes) to be ‘opposing’ them. None of those individuals would accept or tolerate what they are doing if the ‘shoe was on the other foot’.

The hypocrisy is there for all to see, and yet individuals within ‘Autodesk’ can count on a vast array of paid and un-paid apologists ready to argue and defend their ‘un-defendable’ position; and the tacit support of still more who are simply prepared to sit on the side lines, knowing what is happening is wrong but just too darn lazy to get involved in shaping their future. Not happy customers; but to paraphrase Deelip, content to re-shape their lives to fit the abuse! Not a position this bloke will readily accept, I can assure you.

Side step #1. To be fair, Deelip detailed some very ‘noble’ reasons for why he takes the stand he does; but the problem his reasoning poses is, in not standing up for what is ‘right’ now, will/may have – in the future – serious ramifications for others and those he is trying to protect.

Side step #2. before you guys pour out your ‘verbals’ on how I can walk away and regurgitate Autodesk’s spiel on their rights, piracy/IP, CIP and privacy: don’t bother, much has been said before and in the main none carry much weight when you focus on the core of the issue(s).

So, returning to the question of whether or not the problems I outline can be solved by negotiation without resorting to the ‘legal system’. Well, as I have said on many occasions, of course they can. I am willing (still); are the individuals in Autodesk and, why might they not?

At its core, the problem between Autodesk and me is Oversight. It is not whether Autodesk has a ‘right’ to access my computers - that’s a no brainer. Though, Autodesk believes it does and, they misuse their privileged access, to force additional access without any agreement or authorization! Oversight is about Truth; and that is a ‘problem’ for the individuals ‘hiding behind the shield Autodesk’. My solution can be found in telling the ‘Truth’. Autodesk ‘wants’ our Trust but don’t provide the supporting ‘Truth’.

Deelip talked about ‘Trust’: he made the statement, software users who say they ‘did not trust’ CAD vendors were being stupid because ‘they already did’. I liked the generalization and interesting assumption, shown here. It is true the act of using a product indicates a level of Trust; does it mean the customer truly Trusts the vendor – I doubt it. Deelip cites CIP as an example; we know some surveys indicate more than 60% of users have it turned off – as all should. If taken as a representative figure, I would see this as a significant amount of Distrust in Autodesk!

For me ‘Trust’ cannot be separated from ‘Truth’ in these issues. If Autodesk wants to be seen as ‘Trustworthy’ they are going to need to be seen as Truthful. To achieve that they are going to have to accept their ‘unconscionably invasive’ actions need to be addressed; very publicly be PROVEN to have ceased or (preferably) made Transparent, opened up to independent customer veto and or Validation.

What will Autodesk loose by being open and Honest with its customers – nothing; or is that the REAL problem. Is the Truth not what Autodesk wants YOU and me to see?

Testing, in one form or another, is what design and engineering is often about. Testing determines the ‘Truth’ of a structure, an idea and or persons/companies Trustworthiness and a position in the pack. What’s interesting about my interaction with the personnel at Autodesk is that many of the comments they have made, over time, at conversational level, they will not put in writing. Now this is a fundamental test in business. If a promise is made, it is made and can be legally enforceable – but if it exists only as sound energy that can be difficult. So it needs to be captured another way to be ‘usable’. Often the method used here is a document (maybe signed and or witnessed); written conformation detailing what was discussed, claimed or agreed.

So if I ask the question, as I have, to an Autodesk employee, ‘is Autodesk’s EULA legally enforceable?’, and I get the answer yes, then it is only right I should be able to get that ‘yes’ in writing with supporting documentation; in the absence of a simple signed letter, an affidavit or a statutory declaration.

So this brings me to repeat. Some time ago I gave Autodesk, through CEO Bass, the opportunity to confirm the legal enforceability of their entire EULA (and Subscription Terms and Conditions) by simply providing me with an affidavit or a statutory declaration. Given the legal resources at hand, to and within Autodesk, this task was an extremely simple, and easy, one for Autodesk to accomplish. But they failed too, even when prompted. (It’s still a response I would be happy to see.)

Now ‘The Dotsons’, will argue I am not important enough to warrant this level of effort. These same critters also argue Autodesk don’t prosecute me, only because they have a ‘right’ to choose who they fight and, equally, I am seen as unworthy of the effort. Additionally they see the failure of Autodesk to fulfill my request, for the affidavit or statutory declaration, as just another example of me expecting more than is reasonable; of me thinking I am more important than I am – but they are not even close. I know my relative (lack of) importance but that does not mean what I asked for is unreasonable. Furthermore, executing that simple act would have come very close to burying most of my arguments in one ‘swoop’.

No need to ‘negotiate’ or argue the point; no need to use the courts to sink me in a ‘suit’. No need to wade through this post and, the legal system would only have been, very inexpensively, used to validate their claims with the affidavit or statutory declaration.

What could be simpler: job done, Waddo’ disarmed and off our backs – maybe. So why not? The answer again would be in telling the Truth; and without Truth, Trust does not exist.

‘Truth’s’ has a companion - one as applicable in business as it is anywhere else - ‘Trust’. Intrinsically important to one another though fundamentally different; Truth is a fact, Trust a gift.

Trust is granted; it cannot be sold and should never be assumed or expected. Trust needs to be serviced and does not exist without Truth as its underlying foundation! In Autodesk’s case, unfortunately – as a result of their previous actions - that now also means providing a level of support to Truth and that is Transparency (a test); something Autodesk people may (and probably already do) find uncomfortable. Transparency can provide the Truth, which in turn enables Trust.

So let’s take testing a little further; let’s look at the selling of CIP data. Can it be done, should it be done, who would want it anyway etc? Is it possible for a ‘foil hat’ wearing rabid dog to sell electronic data, generated by a gorilla, whilst at the same time be seen flogging a dead horse?

Let start by looking at what CIP is: for Autodesk’s account go read their web site. From my perspective it is data compiled on one (or more) of my business computers. The creation of the data is done with software I did not request and do not want; that Autodesk did not ask if they could supply and make mandatory to load. Equally Autodesk did not ask if they could use it, for their own purposes, on my property and business computers!

I ‘bought’, from Autodesk, the ‘ability’ to design and draught using Autodesk software. I did not pay to access Autodesk software to do Autodesk’s bidding or assist them in their collection of data for the development of their products, or any other purpose. This does not mean I would not assist in these areas, or that I do not understand the value. It simply means I (and every body else) should be asked (by Autodesk) to assist; with ‘control’ left entirely in the hands of the customer. If CIP has a value to Autodesk it has and equal, or greater, importance and value to the customer and therefore has a price. Autodesk are not a benevolent society and neither are most of their customers. Not many would argue against these points of view.

But a more important issue is embodied in how the data is ‘collated’. By this I am referring to the fact CIP data is encrypted? So, Autodesk has collected data on my business computer(s), encrypted it so I cannot see what is within the file(s) they will take off my machine? Better still, when asked to be given the opportunity to peer into these files, to control their contents and or transmission – I am told it’s ‘none of your business’. Eh! None of my business? ‘Trust us’ we’re Autodesk is what is being said here and, from the apologists – ‘they are only collecting what is theirs anyway’. Oh! Is that true?

So here is where Trust and Truth come rushing toward a customer with each requiring the support of their mates. Trust relies on Truth, but in the initial stages of any situation - dependant on Trust - at least one ‘other third party’ is needed to supply support. Transparency is the obvious one, but is wounded and trailing badly at the moment so the supporting, members of the pack, need to be Control and Validation. Trust and Truth took a battering right at the start (in Autodesk’s T&Cs and) because Autodesk chose to impose CIP; continue to make it a mandatory load and hides its contents (they broke Transparency’s leg). Control and Validation are not close enough to assist Truth and therefore Trust suffered. Trust suffered further when Autodesk changed their attack by making it possible for CIP to be ‘remotely’ activated and reduced the ‘infected’ prey’s ability to control it via an original switch. Transparency and Control are out of the running now: therefore Validation cannot be used to support Truth and as a result Trust is trampled.

Autodesk will continue to be seen as a 600lb Gorilla unable to use, and abusing Trust, unless…... At the ‘end of the day’ Trust, in Autodesk, is in the hands of its customers (and gifted). However, who in their right mind, or with any business nous, is going to Trust a person (or a collective of people = business = Autodesk and others) who are not making it possible for us to believe (Truth) them because there exists no Transparency and, who will not allow us to use the Control and or Validation that is perfectly reasonable to expect!

So I return to; ‘they are only collecting what is theirs anyway’. Oh! Is that so? Flaw: the data is created, collected and collated on a customers’ business computer. So putting aside, for the moment, the efficacy of the act; CIP is not data Autodesk put on our machines and then took off again. It has components fitting that description – if Autodesk’s explanations are to be believed (Trusted) – but in the main the data is created as a result of our use of Autodesk’s software***! End of story CIP data is our data, our IP! Therefore it’s ours to do with as we wish; which would also mean we can sell CIP data!

Now there will be those that disagree with my premise - CIP is my IP therefore it can be traded and put up for sale, by me. Autodesk could be one who says I cannot, and this has certainly been inferred. But why not – what could be the reason? Could it be if CIP’s (full) file contents were disclosed Truth may take the biggest battering of them all and Trust (in Autodesk) would completely crumble without its mate? Maybe!

However, before we get too carried away - accepting cheques, that is ;-) – I will ask the individual(s) (who make Autodesk a living breathing business entity) to tell us what they know about the data ‘inside’ CIP files, and whether they have any objections to CIP data being offered for sale or given away.

Don’t forget, it is a reflectively decorated rabid dog making this offer so it is correct to think the whole proposition is lunacy. Laughing Out Loud am I. Who would actually want to know what was in my CIP data; or any CIP data for that matter. Who would want to pay for and then spend the time trying to decipher an encrypted file just to find out what was within? One part of the answer would be found in the response from an ‘Autodesk’ individual or their legal council; others in the data.

If Autodesk say CIP data is their IP and or cannot be retailed: well then, then we will know it has a ‘value’, to Autodesk, exceeding what is outlined in Autodesk’s public documentation. That would make it more interesting (and valuable) – to some others – than if Autodesk says, with no reservations, it’s ok to, give away or sell CIP data.

However, if ‘Autodesk’ do say ‘No Sale/give away etc.’, they are saying several things: firstly, Autodesk has collected data it does not want customers to see; and or they may be confirming, their view, CIP is their property and IP. The first scenario is bad enough but the second will mean, Autodesk, will be admitting to using Trojan software to infect other business entities computers with software that was intended solely for Autodesk’s use! Truth would bury its mate Trust!

The loading of ‘CIP software’ is not an option: so Autodesk will be admitting they misused and took advantage of their customers Trust. Trust is buried still deeper because Truth is really not what the customer will want to see! Control and Validation could still save the day, but now they must work in unison and be accompanied by the daddy of them all, (a healed) Transparency. For many individuals (in or out of business), and also Autodesk people, their greatest fear is (of the dog) Transparency.

If you buy my CIP data what do you get? The answer is contained within the CIP data on offer? It’s not the latest form (though that can be arranged) of CIP, it’s an earlier version. Why? Simply because it may be the most revealing: you see I know what I was doing prior to ‘capturing’ the data. Yes, ‘capturing’ was done deliberately and for very good reasons; not the least being, in an attempt to discredit me, a person said it was in a ‘readable’ form, so I set out to check (test) – and he was wrong! Now I am not saying ‘the person’ was lying but hey, guys, it was misleading; after all Autodesk’s published documents said it was encrypted so why was a paid apologist saying it was not?

What do you get? The answer is contained within the CIP data on offer? Clue: It’s the ‘volume of data’ that makes it initially interesting. Even accounting for Autodesk’s statement, CIP is encrypted to make it less intrusive?????; it was still much, much larger than one would have expected considering what I was actually doing with the software. There can be a number of reasons for ‘bloat’ but hey if you saw a guy in a store who had suddenly gained bulging pockets prior to paying for the Snicker in his hand; would you – the cashier – be curious? I think so.

I guess, by now you will understand I am happy to make CIP data available (not to all, nor Autodesk), in the form it was first found and shown to number of politicians, government departments and agencies. Deciphering CIP data, if supplied, is the recipient’s task. No additional clues will be provided but I will be happy to let you know if what you believe you reveal is representative of what I was doing when it was created, what I would ‘normally’ be prepared to reveal to a third party (Autodesk included), when the attempt to transmit occurred.

Will Transparency and its trusty side kick, Validation, in tights, mask and cape, swoop in from the west astride condors to free Truth and Trust and bury my concerns once and for all? Will the Gorilla gang fight off the heroes, leaving Trust and Truth to be mauled by an approaching growling pride; drowning out their pleas for help by screaming NO SALE? Let’s ask eh! Let’s see if the Gorilla turns out to be the good guy after all.

The question to Autodesk through CEO Bass is very simple and does require a response. If Autodesk objects to my proposal (me selling or giving away CIP data) they can either ignore my request, or respond in writing with their reason(s) why. Alternatively, if Autodesk have absolutely NO objections then they will need to clearly indicate that in a written response****.

The question is; does Autodesk have any objections to me offering for sale and or supplying copies of (in part or in full) - the file(s), and data, created as part of Autodesk’s Customer Involvement Program (CIP) - on my business computing systems?

So there is the question, now we wait. If an individual (employed by Autodesk, rightfully CEO Bass), an agent acting on their behalf or Autodesk’s legal representatives do not contact me within the next twenty one (21) days informing me, in writing, they have absolutely no objections to me supplying or retailing CIP data, Autodesk will have to accept they have indicated they do have objections and therefore are using CIP to collect data they don’t want you or I to see. Whatever their reply/response, you lot will be the first to know just what they say or do not do; that’s a promise.

A response is required: three choices exist; only one provides an opportunity for Truth to support a small portion of Trust. The two others ensure Truth destroys Trust.

Going on past comments, ‘The Dotson pack’ won’t agree this is a true test; but if ‘no substantive action’ is ok for the acceptance of unjustifiably unconscionable software terms and conditions, and the use of Trojan software, then ‘what’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander’.

Trust, Truth, Control, Validation and Transparency play marvelous pack roles, in this folly. As do Dogs, Horses, Gorillas, Condor, Geese and others; with Honesty, Scrutiny, Fairness, Justice and Integrity yet to join the pack. At the end of the day, joking aside, business is serious stuff. Blindly misplaced Trust, the deception, hypocrisy and unconscionable behavior, I have highlighted, should never be a standard part of business. None should be allowed or tolerated by any person or company, else they are also complicit.

If CEO Bass, ‘The Dotsons’, KevinEs, Deelip or others want to call me names, a lunatic, to say I’m living on another planet, that what I am saying was tried by communists and failed, that I wear ‘foil’ hats, or that I am flogging a dead horse; is a very little concern, to me! The fact is, some things are right and some are wrong. What Autodesk (and others) have done and still doing is wrong for its customers’, society, Autodesk and our industry, and that needs to be said. I really care very little about any person, group or pack who thinks Honesty, Scrutiny and Integrity (and other members of that pack) have no place in our highly connected future or, that these traits should be left in the hands of the few and or software developers to ignore and or redefine at will.

To reap the rewards of the connectivity confronting us it is ever so more important to make available and ensure that connectivity is as Transparent as possible. If any of you, out there, think you can sit on the fence, close yours eyes or just simply ignore – individuals or companies – unjustifiably unconscionable behavior on the ‘internet’, and think it will not come back and bite you, or your heirs, you are simple ignoring the obvious. I may be a lunatic but you would be an idiot.

Deelip’s partly correct about Trust, but Trust alone is a fool’s folly. Deelip said we ‘who say we don’t Trust…etc.’ are stupid. Well let me say; any business person who Trusts without some level of Validation is probably lying. At the very best s/he is being foolish (and or stupid), at worst s/he should never be relied on to protect yours or another’s interests.

In Autodesk’s case, as is the case for other software developers/vendors who have gone down the same road, they may think they have done ‘no wrong’; they have taken steps, in their view, to protect their interests and IP – maybe. They have also taken their customers Trust for granted and as a ‘right’ and in the process have, and are, trampling on Trust, what is best for others, society as a whole and, their industry.

A discussion on the ‘cloud’ linked to a misapplication of the word ‘Trust’, started my conversation with Deelip. This epistle is an over-growth of that conversation and my belief that the success of the ‘cloud’, in whatever form, is dependant on Trust but; Trust can only be granted by users and can only exist and or be ‘expected’ by the vendors if they are prepared to respect their customers enough to and make their own activities Transparent and open to independent veto, Scrutiny and Validation.

Autodesk’s (or any other software vendors for that matter) protection is absolutely no more important than that of its ‘most insignificant’ customer. CEO Bass would never tolerate, without considerable reservations, the business or personal intrusion he oversees of others; and I challenge him to ring, email and or better still, to my face, tell me otherwise.

The internet extends our ability to quickly share and disseminate information and data; it is a wonderful set of tools, as is a gun. But a gun in the hands of a careless person, a fool, a despotic government or company becomes a tool to destroy wantonly in preference to it being used wisely, for good.

The internet is no different and it is the Integrity of those who use it who will ensure it’s used mostly for the benefit of others. That does mean individuals and those heading companies, who have much to gain using the internet and the ‘cloud’, need to have not only the knowledge and intellect to get the best out of their staff, they also need the to have a very high degree of Integrity: to ensure they and the people they lead never step outside what is ‘morally right’.

Integrity is another mate of Trust and Truth: it could be said, if a person has Integrity then Truth, Fairness and Justice are cornerstones of their decisions and actions and Trust, in that individual, is almost guaranteed.

So for a ‘dig’, and with absolutely no regard for tact; bearing in mind the previous paragraph, take a look at what some software people have been only to willing to do to you and me, and you decide, do you believe they have Integrity? Do they believe in Fairness and Justice? Are they Truthful? Do they deserve your Trust?

I have said many times before there is nothing I have raised or commented on in relation to Autodesk’s EULA, its Subscription Terms and Conditions and or its unconscionable behavior that I would not be prepared to discuss given the opportunity. But it’s Autodesk’s people that are going to have to make this possible; I have done my best and been constantly rejected or ignored. I would be absolutely delighted to have a result that allowed me to say I was either wrong or that what I have said has been addressed and or corrected, but it is up to Autodesk’s people to make that possible. Lawyers are not, and never were required, but, does CEO Bass have the statesmanship to make it possible? I wonder.

I did not do what I have done (that is, speak out) because there was a personal reward. I knew at the outset there was none: my speaking out always had the potential to cause me trouble and damage my small business. It has and that was in my hands: I have few regrets because it needed to be done and I was not about to abandon my principals or accept the standards of others, including those within a ‘gorilla’ like Autodesk.

In closing, if you are a reader that has made it to this point I must congratulate you. You will be amongst an elite group – as, probably only Autodesk’s legal people (may) have gone this far ;-) You must have had a very good reason to have persevered and I would not mind knowing why. I have never actively asked others to stand with me, people in the main don’t like radicals, change or disturbance and that I understand. Over time some have given verbal support from the side lines – though no commitment - if you are similar or of a different caliber I would be happy to know and or discuss particular points. If your only wish is to complain about what I have written, I will ‘listen’, but please don’t waste your time.


**One) Autodesk’s EULA, their Subscription Terms and Conditions, their failure to allow customers to prevent the forced loading of Trojan software - embedded within legitimately purchased products and, their refusal to allow the scrutiny of the data collected, ensures what I raise is far from being a ‘dead horse’. It’s a ‘stable of horses’: all very much alive and working, for Autodesk, on customers (your) computer(s)!

***Two) “but in the main the data is created as a result of our use of Autodesk’s software!” and that of any third party software we are using in conjunction within Autodesk products; including their competitors.

****Three) Clearly this does not mean referring to previously unverifiable published promotional/FAQ/propaganda documents stating only what Autodesk wants users to believe they are doing!

Four) Oh! I do like the word, Filibuster.

24th May 2007

Buyer Beware…’, was the title of a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 24th May 2005. It detailed a fundamental shift in the use of a particular EULA away from being a tool that defined the rules of use for software – reasonable - to a legally enforceable contract containing a number of questionable conditions including one granting the licensor, "the right to conduct an audit on your premises or by electronic means"; unreasonable!

The EULA moved from being a contract defining what you can and cannot do with software to a contract, if accepted unchallenged, that specifically gives the licensor access to your premises, business, design and computing systems!

Caveat emptor, the Blog, is an extension of that original letter and highlights my original, unanswered, requests relating to the addition of Audit clauses in my existing Subscription and Licence contracts. Requests for information and detail that I, as an established licence holder and customers, have every right to; and information the licensor should be compelled and obligated to provide!

If my goal is considered offensive, unjustified or unreasonable it will only be by those who believe protecting their IP is more important than that of others. To them I make no apology; if the issues raised previously had been broached correctly, and in the first instance, they would have long ago passed by.

Caveat venditor: ‘Like a dog with a bone’, I have absolutely no intention of letting go of these issues until they all are sensibly discussed and answered as I believe they should be!