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Archive for November, 2008

More SmartInspect license WTF

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Still reading the SmartInspect license agreement.

Now, it’s normal for a license agreement to, in effect, say “We don’t promise the software actually works”. It’s frightening when you think about it, but it’s become standard operating procedure.

Once again, the overachievers in Gurock’s legal department have taken this concept to dizzying new heights. Either that, or their site has been hacked by an angry mob with torches and pitchforks. Is it seriously possible that a company would publicly hate on their own product this badly?

6.1 When using the licensed programs, in order to avoid damage that may be caused to other programs or stored data being used simultaneously, the Customers shall in good time before using/utilising the licensed programs back up the programs and data involved, and not use programs of this kind in actual operation before he has verified the flawless quality of these programs by a test routine.

(emphasis mine)

That’s copied straight out of the actual SmartInspect license agreement on their actual Web site.

So let me see if I understand this. I am contractually obligated to assume their software is horribly broken, until and unless I am able to form and execute a test plan to prove otherwise. In other words, their entire Quality Assurance department consists of their paying customers.

(I have a hard time believing that that’s actually the case, but that’s certainly the message they’re going to great pains to send.)

Does anyone happen to use CodeSite, and have a copy of their license agreement that they could send me? If so, please get in touch. If Raize actually shows some confidence in their own product, I’d be sorely tempted to return SmartInspect and go with the slightly more expensive, but presumably tested before shipping, competitor.

SmartInspect and the End Usufructuary License Agreement

Friday, November 21st, 2008

We just purchased a couple of licenses for Gurock Software’s SmartInspect. I’ve gotten as far as the license agreement.

Their license agreement aspires to dizzying new heights in legalese. Take this sentence, from the third paragraph of Section 1 (Subject-matter of the conditions):

The downloading or delivery of the licensed programs and the granting of usufructuary rights to them shall be explicitly tied to compliance with these General Business and Licensing Conditions.

(emphasis mine)

Usufructuary?!

Turns out it’s an actual word. According to Google’s snippet for the World Wide Words site (but not, oddly enough, according to the World Wide Words site itself):

‘Usufructuary’ is a technical term in law for a person who has the right to enjoy the products of property he does not own.

So, you don’t own the software, but you can still use it and gain the benefit of it. Familiar concept, grotesque word.

As Kyle, one of my co-workers, pointed out, there’s a slightly less obtuse word for that: a user. Perhaps someone should suggest that to Gurock’s lawyers…

Grace

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Reverend Stephen’s sermon this morning was, among other things, about grace.

I’ve heard the song “Amazing Grace” many times, and still don’t really understand what it’s talking about. So “grace” has always seemed like this big, mysterious, complicated thing to me. But Stephen presented it at its most basic, where it’s actually quite simple: grace is when you get something that you didn’t deserve.

(He compared it to mercy, which is when you don’t get something that you did deserve. I kind of like that comparison.)

The traditional Christian example of grace would be salvation: you can’t ever earn it; it can only be given as a gift. I lean with the Universalists here — if salvation exists, I think it’s given to everyone, not just to those who are in the club — so I really don’t know how I feel about the “salvation through grace alone” thing.

Stephen’s point was that, as Unitarians, we find grace — in particular, the gift of strength to get us through the hard times — through community. I’m with him on that one. That’s why I’m in covenant groups (and why I’m facilitating a group this year).

But I was still intrigued by this idea of grace, so I started looking around for it today. And I found it. I went outside and saw it in the sunlit trees against the cloudy sky. It was stunning today. I didn’t earn that kind of beauty, but it was there for me nonetheless. It was there for everybody, and it was there for nobody at all, just for its own sake, but it’s inspiring to think that, yes, it was also there for me. Not earned. Freely given.

Later, when I was at my part-time cashiering job (still working on paying down those credit cards!), I was talking to another cashier, a 20-year-old, about what it was like to have been married for 11 years. And I realized (not for the first time) that one of the real gifts I have is a wife who doesn’t expect me to be perfect. She accepts me even with my weaknesses and faults. That’s a tremendous gift. I try to do the same for her — and, of course, neither of us is perfect about it. But this is not something that I ever could have deserved. Love is not earned. It’s freely given. Love is grace.

(I didn’t try to explain all of that to the other cashier. It would have taken far too long to explain the context.)

Later, when I left the store at closing time, I reached into my pocket for my car keys. And they weren’t there. They weren’t in my coat pocket either. I thought, “Okay, I’ll make sure they’re not in the car before I panic.”

I found them sitting on the passenger seat of my car. The car had been sitting there, unlocked, for six hours, with the keys in plain view. And nothing had happened. My car keys, my house keys, not to mention my car, all still there.

I didn’t deserve that. Some days, I might have thought of it as luck. Today? I’m still wondering.

If Nebraska banned affirmative action

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

One of the issues on Nebraska ballots will be a constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action.

Before I found out more about it, I would’ve been tempted to vote yes on the amendment. After all, affirmative action is all about quotas, and quotas are all about discrimination. Reverse discrimination, after all, is still discrimination.

But after an informational meeting at church recently, I’m set against the amendment. Here are three things whose state funding could be cut off, or at least could be subjected to long, expensive court battles, if the amendment passed:

  • Breast-cancer screenings. Why? Because they’re offered primarily to women, since women get breast cancer 100 times more often than men. And since screenings are offered to women and not to men, that would be considered sex discrimination under the amendment.
  • Domestic violence programs. More women than men are targeted by domestic violence, which is why things like women’s shelters exist. But again, the amendment would consider that discrimination, and the state could no longer provide funding.
  • Outreach programs to encourage minorities to attend college. I’m not even talking about discriminatory scholarships — just outreach programs to get minorities to even think about college as an option.

In each of those, there’s a case to be made that they’re “discriminatory”. And you know what? I don’t care. Any theoretical “bad karma” resulting from their “discrimination” is far outweighed by the real-world good in these programs.

Vote No on Initiative 424.

More information, including the text of the proposed amendment (PDF) and a list of groups opposing Initiative 424, is available at the Nebraskans United Web site.


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