OSdata.com: holistic issues 


amateur mistakes

    I was asked if I could write software to make emails that could only read read once. Turns out that wasn’t the real job. The real job was even more stupid than that.

    Why do businesspersons so often want to repeat the mistakes of the past without even bothering to look at history?

    Kung Fu Tze pointed out that the stupid man repeats his mistakes, a smart man learns from his mistakes, and a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.


amateur mistakes

    A businessman (who I will leave unnamed to prevent public embarrassment) asked me if it was possible to make an email that can only be read once.

    He explained that he was considering investing in a company that emails a newsletter and it bothered him that paying customers might be able to forward the nesletter to others.

    So, it turns out that we aren’t actually concerned about the email. He wanted to protect the attachment, the newsletter, not the email.

    I pointed out that copy protection schemes are very annoying to legitimate customers and very easy for anyone serious to break. You hassle your customers, but don’t actually stop illegal copying of your materials.

    Copy protection is such a hassle that people will try to avoid products with copy proteciton, only using them if they have to and there are no other alternatives.

    I pointed out that Sony secretly inserted copy protection software onto millions of computers, leading to crashes and other serious problems because of software errors. The United States Department of Homeland Security ordered a recall. The Texas Attonrey General sued. Class action lawsuits were filed in California and New York. Sony was eventually forced to pay $150 for repairs to everyone who had their computer damaged. See the Wikipedia article.

    Copy protection does not stop thieves, it does cause hassles for your customers (or potential customers), and it exposes you to the potential of huge lawsuits if there are any bugs in your copy protection software.

    Then there is the expense of building the copy protection software. For a consumer newsltter, that means that you must have someone come up with your copy protection scheme and additional people implement versions for Windows (several different incompatible versions of Windows in common use), Macintosh, Linux, iOS (for iPad and iPhone), Android, and Blackberry.

    That’s a completely non-trivial programming project. And, no, you are not going to get this software written by the local web services company that advertises they can make phone apps for small businesses because those are static websites converted into an app, not actual working software.

    And then you have the problem of convincing people to install your newsletter reader onto their devices. Many people (especially Windows users) are reluctant to install more software on their computers. Many others face corporate, school, or government limits on what software can be loaded onto their devices.

    Do we really need to completely ignore the lessons of the past?

    On the other hand, if anyone is thinking “I can build that copy proteciton scheme”, I can put you in touch with the fool.

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    Last Updated: August 19, 2013

    Created: August 19, 2013

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