Cerilica spam headache keeps Vantage users waitingBy Chris Williams. Published: 22nd Dec 2003, 14:43:32 | Permalink | Printable
Patience is a necessity, not a virtueIf you're a Cerilica Vantage user and you're still waiting for your copy of Vantage to be registered and activated, then maybe we can help shed some light.
Currently, under a recently introduced copy-protection scheme, once a copy of Cerilica's flagship graphics package Vantage is installed, the user must request an activation key from Cerilica. Without a satisfactory key, the software will refuse to run after about 14 days. If the user upgrades to a new computer, Vantage will require re-activation. Users are therefore reliant on a quick response from Cerilica when an activation key is requested, and also reliant on Cerilica's continued existance.
Last week, drobe.co.uk heard from Arthur Quinn, a Cerilica customer who purchased Vantage in November 2002 while at the Guildford show. He's still awaiting an activation key from Cerilica. He's also considering court action in order to get a refund.
"The licensing system at that time involved only the so-called 'Cerilikey', which I considered sufficiently unrestrictive to make the purchase viable", Arthur commented to us.
"The [Vantage] purchase was made on the clear understanding that the program was to be upgraded; indeed, once I came to use it, it became clear that upgrading was necessary even to make the program behave as described in the manual."
In November this year, Arthur received an update to the Vantage software, which also included the new more restrictive anti-piracy scheme. Arthur decided he was "essentially powerless" in the face of the new protection system and installed the upgrade. He then emailed Cerilica on November 4th to request an activation key.
"I received no reply, nor have I received a reply to 10 subsequent emails, the last on 13 December. The upgraded !Vantage now refuses to work", Arthur continued. Earlier in the year, Arthur had also repeatedly tried to notify Cerilica of a change in email address, but according to Arthur, this "had not been acted upon".
"!Vantage can no longer be considered as a serious piece of software. Any work produced using it will be lost if !Vantage is no longer available and the new copy protection is designed to prevent the software from being moved to another machine, unless Cerilica are involved.
"Given the observed behaviour of Cerilica, this means that any work produced with !Vantage could end up being tied to a single computer. If that computer should fail, it would be impossible to move the work to another or at least could involve a delay of many weeks while trying to get a reply from Cerilica."
We caught up with Cerilica's Simon Birtwistle over the weekend to find out what the problem was.
"We're having terrible problems with the Cerilica email account. We have been getting over 1MB of spam a day for the last two months, much of which are bounced spams as cerilica.com has been used as a spoof return-to address", Simon explained in response.
"Though a set of draconian filters has reduced this to manageable proportions it seems that they have been eating legitimate emails too, which is not good."
Cerilica have set up a new email account that isn't under attack from spam and over zealous filters and have asked users who are having difficulties contacting Cerilica to try the new address. The new contact address is presented below as an image to defeat spam bots:
Simon also stated that he will be announcing details of a new PO box, which "will alleviate the communication difficulties until the spam attack subsides".
It's certainly a shame when RISC OS developers are seriously threatended by piracy, especially when legitimite users are penalised by such fierce anti-copying protections. It illustrates perfectly how piracy harms developers and users alike, as well as highlighting the fragile nature of Cerilica's key request system.
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