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Vantage relieved of copy protection system

By Ian Chamberlain and Chris Williams. Published: 12th May 2004, 17:41:30 | Permalink | Printable

Light at the end of the tunnel

Publishing and graphics software developer Cerilica has vowed to find a third party to sell its previously beleaguered flagship art package Vantage, on Cerilica's behalf.

Speaking earlier in the week to Drobe's Ian Chamberlain, Simon commented: "A new version, with the copy protection removed, will be released. I will email the Cerilica mailing-list with information about the new version and how to upgrade."

Earlier today, Simon informed Vantage users that a new version of the software was available - version 1.11 which includes bug fixes, a couple of new features and no more registration key requirements.

"Can I start by saying a sincere 'sorry' to those of you unlucky enough to get stuffed by the combination of Vantage's registration system and my recent absence," Simon told his user base.

"The simple fact is that I was offered a dream job and I'd have been a fool to say no. I have been careful to ring-fence the Cerilica products and technologies to protect future development. This means I am going to be quiet for the next couple of months, but once settled in I will publish a new PO Box address, and I'll also be able to announce at least one new Cerilica product - I've been busy."

Cerilica introduced the Vantage copy protection system in March last year, which basically locks each copy of Vantage down to a particular user's hardware and requires a key (issued by Cerilica) to unlock it. If a user's hardware changes, then a new key will be required or the software refuses to run after 14 days. Unfortunately, some Vantage users found that the protection system would suddenly demand a new key, as Simon designed the system to require new keys every nine to twelve months, leaving them 14 days to get a new key to allow Vantage to keep running. Recently, requests for new keys to Cerilica were ignored and gradually more and more users found themselves locked out of their software, leaving graphics and designs stranded in the Vantage file format.

"I'm one of the people who bought Vantage last year who are now finding that the software protection system is about to time out, rendering this expensive application useless," one user commented at the end of last month to Drobe, echoing comments made by other users who had vented their frustrations and talk of legal action to the Vantage mailing list.

Another user told us last month: "As threatened by Vantage itself, my copy's software protection finally decided to stop running. I can no longer use a piece of software I paid for, and the company which I bought it from is not answering emails."

"The current situation really is a shame," said one other user in April, "and I guess this is one application that Martin Wuerthner won't ride in to rescue. The protection system has always been problematic, which I'd have thought could have been a marketing opportunity, regarding the much vaunted Truism."

"Back in March of 2003 I didn't realise how busy I would be and the new protection, though excellent, relies on someone being available to support it," Simon Birtwistle, who is in the process of moving house, explained this week. Simon also expects his work levels to return to normal in time for the end of summer this year. "For the last two months I've been completely been occupied by my businesses. I intend to find a 3rd party to sell Vantage. I will continue to provide bug-fixes and may introduce new features, but there are no guarantees."

Brief history of Vantage
In 1994, Simon developed Vantage solely for his Liverpool based graphic design company. In 1996, Nick van de Walle discovered Vantage and in 1997, Simon and Nick discussed turning Vantage into a full, marketable product. Then over 1999 and 2000, Vantage was first released to the public. The much awaited Vantage 1.10 was released in 2003, which hoped to address stability issues encountered by end users.


Cerilica website

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Well, this sounds as if it's good news. Good luck to Simon in hopefully bringing some stability to the product. I remember Nick demonstrating Vantage at my school back in 1999 - it blew me away.

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 12/5/04 8:02PM
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Vantage was the ultimate Phoebe application.

When Acorn died Vantage was one of my first thoughts - 'What's that great app going to run on now?'

Well, I never got a Phoebe and never got Vantage. If the third party Simon speaks of is MWSoftware, there may be some future for it.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 12/5/04 10:12PM
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Why would the third party be MW Software?

a) On many levels ArtWorks and Vantage are competing products. b) Simon has already made it clear the /he/ will be supporting the product and providing bug fixes. c) Martin W. only has so much time you know!

A more suitable third party would be one of the more well-known and reliable RISC OS dealers.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 12/5/04 10:25PM
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fylfot: CJE perhaps? (I'm sure Chris already has it in stock anyhow!)

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 12/5/04 10:39PM
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CJE or APDL perhaps?

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 12/5/04 10:56PM
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The upgrade sent out to users via email currently has a filesize of zero. I'm not sure if anyone has actually received a working copy yet.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 12/5/04 11:15PM
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The copy protection used before by Vantage doesn't sound inviting to me to buy this software. But a simple system as used by Sibelius music software - the floppy disk being the key - poses no problems that I'm aware of. Even when it's tricky with 12 copies of Sibelius on 12 computers (the disks won't allow you to de-install a copy back to the wrong disk).

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 13/5/04 1:06AM
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In reply to Sawadee:

The only problem with floppy disc protection is the increasing likelihood with age, of the disc becoming corrupted.

I always thought dongles were the best - yes, they are more expensive to make, but harder to copy, and doesnt rely on whether the company that produced it exists or not. I never minded my Artworks and Impression Publisher dongles at the back of my RPC.

Bring back the dongle! ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 13/5/04 2:35AM
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Sawadee: with 12 computers, it would be cheaper and easier to buy a licence for all of them with a single key disc. Sascott: Sibelius are really good about reactivating/replacing discs that fail, with no quibble.

The worst and most stupid thing about Sibelius' protection system was its dependence on the name of the scrap directory. Fit a LAN card, or change your IP address and the damn thing stops working.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 13/5/04 7:46AM
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Simon Birtwistle is looking for a 3rd party to sell vantage? I recommend the german company a4com and its guys. They are really honest and reliable.

 is a RISC OS UserGollum on 13/5/04 8:00AM
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Wow, the copy protection needed re-registering every nine to twelve months! Personally I think removing this *crap* was over due. I do accept copy protection in order to reduce the number of illegal copies but Aemulor shows how to do it: Locked to hardware address (in this case the Ethernet MAC address, for older systems the internal serial no should do) - *but* in addition to that the chance for downloading a full version which will work for some 24 days and the chance to download that version another time (AFAIR) giving me quite some time for registering. Furthermore when buying online I get access to a fully registered version *immediately*!

So copy protection is fine but Vantage did and VirtualPRC does overdo this. Vantage: Just 14 days for registration does require a fast response to requests and to de-register automatically would be reason enough for me to not use that product. VirtualPRC: You install the first part, have to register then before you can finish installation - poor buddy getting it for X-mas.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 13/5/04 8:04AM
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In reply to fylfot: "Martin W. only has so much time you know!"

What makes you write this? Martin seems to be the supplier who announces when he will deliver some feature and does deliver then; I do remember quite a few other announcements stating dates of release but the dates were not met - sometimes by far. Furthermore you can't deny that he is indeed very busy and does produce quite a bit for RISC OS and if you look at what he does in a bit more detail you can see that he thinks about what he does to make sure the end product is good. Or are your worries are that he's just one person - just think of David Pilling (and there are others too).

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 13/5/04 8:10AM
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In reply to sascott: No, no dongle! Older machines have an internal number (don't remember the name) and the newer ones have Ethernet on-board so that the MAC address can be used.

In reply to mikeg: Copy protection should use the MAC address which doesn't change - certainly not the IP address.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 13/5/04 8:13AM
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hzn: I did not really undersand your comment. fylfot was spot on - I only have so much time and I have three major projects (ArtWorks 2, Gimp-Print and EasiWriter/TechWriter) already.

Besides, this is about selling someone else's software - the very last thing I want to do (no matter whether it is Vantage or any other piece of software). I am good at developing and supporting software. I would rather give the distribution hassle of all my own software away than take on some other software to sell.


 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 13/5/04 8:35AM
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So what adVantage does Vantage have over Artworks 2? -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/5/04 9:20AM
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Any copy protection system that relies on the company who provided the software still being around should be removed, otherwise you probably will get locked out for good sooner or later. Fixing it to a specific machine is almost as bad, since if you change machines you're stuffed if the supplier vanishes. Dongles seem the least risky method, although new machines won't always have the same sockets as old ones, of course. Better still would be no need for copy protection in the first place.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 13/5/04 9:46AM
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Any chance of seeing a demo version of Vantage? 30 day trial, watermarking or whatever. I'd buy a lot more software for RISCOS if I could have a go of it, and see if it met my needs, but there is so much software with no demo version, Artworks (although I took the risk and bought that.), Vantage, PhotoDesk, Compo (there doesn't appear to be a 32bit demo.) and loads more. I'd love to do more design work on my Iyonix but I can't keep on buying software on the off-chance it does what I need. Most of the packages I've mentioned are pretty pricey as well. I think for the market to grow, developers need to wise up a bit, we need demo versions of all software (especially the expensive stuff), and online ordering (Typing in credit card details and waiting for postal delivery isn't good enough, people want instant gratification.)


 is a RISC OS Usermugent on 13/5/04 11:16AM
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In reply to mikeg. Yes I have 12 copies on 12 computers but from 3 disks (sorry I should have clarified the number of disks). 1 disk has my own (teacher computer) copy. 2nd disk has 5 copies for the first 5 computers bought in 2000. The 3rd disk has 6 copies for the second lot of computers in the second music suite room in 2001. I have found that the copy from one disk will not de-install onto one of the others. Registration number won't match. Thanks for the point from sascott, I have not thought of the disk possibly ever becoming corrupt. However, one copy of the second installations in 2001 did become corrupt when installing Sibelius. With the disk sent back to UK with a letter from the RISC OS agent (who installed it) we found that Sibelius copy could be replaced without any problems. Thanks, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 13/5/04 11:25AM
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"Martin seems to be the supplier who announces when he will deliver some feature and does deliver then;"

I agree. I don't see how this contradicts what I have said.

"I do remember quite a few other announcements stating dates of release but the dates were not met - sometimes by far."

Are you contradicting yourself or are you talking about someone other than Martin?

"Furthermore you can't deny that he is indeed very busy and does produce quite a bit for RISC OS and if you look at what he does in a bit more detail you can see that he thinks about what he does to make sure the end product is good."

Why would I deny it when it is true and I have already said that "Martin W. only has so much time"?

"Or are your worries are that he's just one person - just think of David Pilling (and there are others too)."

I don't have any worries. I'm just pointing out that Martin W. is a developer, not a dealer, and, as he has now pointed out, is already working on three major products and is not interested in selling other people's products.

What about David Pilling? As far as I know he's not developing for RISC OS anymore, but that's a completely different issue.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 13/5/04 1:34PM
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I think hzn misunderstood your original remark. For some reason he must have thought you were criticizing me and therefore (needlessly) tried to defend me. He must have thought that you were saying I was not up to the job and he guessed that one of your reasons for this was the fact that I am just a single person (rather than a big company). Hence his remark about David Pilling who is also a single person but still has produced an incredible portfolio of programs.

OK, enough guesswork, see some of you on Saturday/Sunday... Martin

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 13/5/04 2:15PM
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In reply to Martin:

I'm not convinced you're single person. I think you've got at least 5 people there judging by how much you get done ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 13/5/04 3:41PM
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Sorry flyfot and thanks Martin! I did mis-understand flyfot's original remark as Martin pointed out correctly. Martins reply from 2:15 PM today says better than I could what went wrong with my previous posting from 8:10 AM today - pity I can't amend it.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 13/5/04 6:59PM
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Quite all right. :o)

/me hugs

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 14/5/04 3:44PM
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For what it's worth, riscos.org is running a Vantage poll at the moment - [link]

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 14/5/04 3:46PM
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