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Moral or legal dilemma

By GuruOfDos ·
I am working from home whenever I can. That's the beauty of what I do. So long as I have internet access at home (I do) and access to a computer at home (I have four) I don't NEED to be at the office all the time. Perhaps 40% of my time MUST be based at the company for all my R&D, repair work and production. The other 60% is writing manuals, writing software and dealing with email and suchlike. Now GuruJr has arrived (five weeks old and doing well!), the more I can get done at home working flexible patterns, the less time I spend at the office means I can give more assistance to my wife during the early months.

Here's the dilemma. I have Office, email and most of my utilities and apps on my computer at home, all legitimate and all licenced to me personally. The one package I DON'T have is VB6 which I use to write apps for our product range (computer based simulators for military and police firearms training).

I have ONE copy installed at work. I want to use VB6 at home. I cannot find another copy anywhere and Microsoft assure me it is obsolete and I need VB .Net - which I don't! I don't need any .Net functionality (all our systems are stand-alone) and I'm au fait with VB6 and see no reason to change (and then have to port all my old code).

I can't remove VB from my works machine and install it on a laptop which I then cart to and from home, because much of what I do needs specialised hardware cards installed and this just ain't 'do-able' on a laptop. The EULA states that the software is licenced to ONE user (me) and for installation on ONE PC. I could uninstall it from the machine at work when I leave, and then re-install it on one of the home PCs to work from home, and then reverse the process when I go into the office, but this is a royal pain in the keester as I'm sure is obvious.

My second thought was to fit caddies to the work and home computers, and use one hard disk and install VB onto that and then swap the drive between work and home as necessary, but as VB needs to install a whole pile of stuff in the windows\system folder and the machines have different hardware and apps installed, that causes problems. Besides, swapping ONE hard drive means one dead machine at the other end. The home setup is no problem...there are three other PC's. The problem is at work is others have to use apps on my machine from time to time. There is also the issue of using different OS's and the EULA issue for the OS if I transfer a drive between locations. At work I (reluctantly) use XP pro, and at home I prefer 98 as it is more stable and the same CPU and memory spec (2GHz, 384Mb) runs 98 about twice as fast as it does XP.

I then thought of fitting caddies and putting VB and all my working files on a second drive (D drive) and just swapping the 'VB' drive, leaving the apps, OS and data intact on both machines. Technically there is only ONE user (me) and it is only installed and used on ONE machine. Not always the same machine, but only ever one machine.

The problem is, the files that get copied to the system folder! Even installing to a 'D drive', the main system drive needa a lot copied to it. Then there are registry entries. Some of these are just OCX controls or the run-time libraries, but several hundred files are necessary system files. So, to use the 'D drive' on both machines, I still need to install VB completely from the CD on each machine so that the registry and system files are there.

So how do I get round this? My arguement is this: Even with VB correctly installed on the two machines, if the D drive is removed, the installation is not complete and VB will not work. VB can only ever be used un the machine that the drive is fitted to.

But, and here's the BUT...the registry on BOTH machines AND the windows\system folder contains stuff necessary to make VB work. Any audit of software or communication of the registry to and from Microsoft will reveal that I (aparrently!) have the same software on BOTH machines.

I contacted M$ and asked them if I could purchase another licence for VB6, figuring that if I had TWO licences, then I could do a full install on TWO PCs simultaneously. They said no, sorry, we do NOT sell VB6 licences any more. I was told I COULD purchase a full (Enterprise) copy of Visual Studio.Net and then 'downgrade' the licence to VB6 but that would cost me a LOT of money and I don't like paying M$ prices for something I don't want!

One last point. Even if the software is fully installed on two machines, one at work and the other at home, I can only EVER be in front of one machine (using one copy) at a time. Technically I COULD be using VB at home while someone used it at work, but as the only person in the company who uses VB, that can't happen!

Suggestions? Ideas? Comments? Thoughts? All constructive input gratefully welcomed, but all 'solutions' must have no financial cost...them bastards in Seattle are NOT getting another penny from me for this 'obsolete' product!!!!

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One Suggestion

by JackOfAllTech In reply to Moral or legal dilemma

While I'm thinking about the legal aspects, I have a suggestion. Look around for a Mom&Pop computer store in your area. I recently bought a copy of Borland C++ Builder v4, the FULL package still shrink-wrapped, for US$50.00.


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by GuruOfDos In reply to One Suggestion

We simply don't HAVE that kind of thing here in the UK! There are a lot of 'one man bands' but they are either spares,repairs or servicing - none of them are authorised to sell MS software and nobody has VB6!! I've tried 'computer graveyards', companies that sell older software cheap and all sorts! The nearest I can find to that 'Mom&Pop' sort of thing is MY OWN part time business! I also did a search on e-Bay and Amazon, AND trawled round all the on-line software vendors. No-one has VB6, except one copy of the 'Learning' edition - and I need 'Professional' or 'Developer'.

Nice idea Ralph. In every aspect of my life from grocery shopping to buying furniture or car parts, I prefer to support the 'independent' trader or small family run business, rather than contribute to the profits of big business!

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by JackOfAllTech In reply to Mom&Pop

I'll look around here and see if I can find a copy for you.


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Thanks Ralph

by GuruOfDos In reply to

You're a pal!!

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Another computer?

by aronya1 In reply to Moral or legal dilemma

What's the possibility of geting your employer to foot the cost of a second computer, exactly like the one you have at work, which you could keep at home? Go with your d: drive caddie scenario, and you don't have all of the system folder & registry issues you mentioned.

Re: the software audit. "Gee, Mr. Gates... I guess I just deleted my copy of VB on this computer, instead of uninstalling it properly. I'm so sorry. I promise it won't happen again..." But seriously, how realistic is that possibility?

I like the idea posted earlier about looking around locally for another copy of the program. Are you sure you won't spend any money? Try eBay. Local computer stores. Any locally-oriented computer magazines in your area? Users' groups?

Good luck

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See my reply to Ralph re:e-Bay!

by GuruOfDos In reply to Another computer?

A second, identical computer isn't a technical problem, but at ?3500 ($5500) for the one I use at work (industrial PC with 10 ISA slots and 8 PCI slots in a 10u 19" rack, 1kWatt power supply and seven 8" cooling fans for all the expansion cards) the boss may be a little reticent to shell out for it! Not only that, but it's NOT the quietest PC in the world and the sound of all the fans running is enough to keep the baby awake! There is also the issue of space! I only have a small apartment and I have enough problems fitting in my existing computers!

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Caddie idea or 2nd hand shop

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Moral or legal dilemma

Find a second hand software shop and ask them to find you a copy of VB6. Should be heaps around, ex govt and ex educational.

I have a friend who has a similar problem that involved 3 applications, he solved it by installing them to a removable hard rive in a caddie and takes them between his offices in Adelaide and Darwin. He was auditted at one point and the auditors agreed that the licence allows him to have one FULLY working copy on one PC that he can use. Since the registry data does NOT constitute a working copy they regarded the PC with the caddie in it at the time of audit as the only working version. Now that is OK here in Aust, not sure how the USA would see it, the laws and legislators over there make Machiavella seem straight as a die.

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If that's the case

by GuruOfDos In reply to Caddie idea or 2nd hand s ...

I can get away with it then! I'm not in the USA and Microsoft UK have NEVER EVER had ANY success in British courts against an individual on copyright or piracy issues! Corporations are another issue! Microsoft, the RIAA and oil companies may think they run America, but it's a VERY different story here in the UK! We have a pan-European organisation called F.A.S.T. (Federation Against Software Theft) who only seem to be interested in stopping 'pirates', i.e. those who copy software and then sell it for a profit. I approached them and they really don't care about users installing multiple copies on several machines for their own personal use. Their view is that MS are not selling the product any more, so by using a second copy of licenced software, I'm not depriving MS of the price of a second licence ( I have offered to buy one from MS....they declined to accept my money - they simply offered to sell me a different (newer) product) and so long as the second copy is unusable when I'm not present (as it's licenced to me), for example by removing the drive it is (mainly) installed on, they have no interest in pursuing me!

So I guess that is my 'out'. However I want to do the right thing, and be 'seen' to be doing the right thing. I have made every possible approach to MS and have bent over backwards to comply with the licence. They just don't seem to want to meet me half way!

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Not an issue in US either

by Oldefar In reply to If that's the case

Since the app cannot operate on the work machine while you have the drive for the home machine, you are still just using it 1:1. The license restrains having it available at one time on more than one PC.

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