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Repenting from Android piracy December 8, 2012

Posted by NAyK in android, Piracy.

OK I admit it, and I’m sorry. (And I really hope there’s no liability here). I got an Android tablet (Sony Tablet S) half a year ago, and after the few free games, I found a bunch of pirated apps that were especially useful to stop ads from popping up especially when my daughter was using the tablet. I must admit that I don’t own a credit card and there was really no way to purchase an app (at that time). However, sadly, I didn’t really feel guilty about it either. It seemed like “open” meant that using some free apps would be ok.

However, honestly, this whole Apple-controlling-the-market really bothered me. And I saw in disgust how Apple made so much money, and was still trying to sue Android and any Android-associates. I also noted how Apple made so much more money than Android. And also saw how developers made so much less on the Android…. piracy being one of the main concerns for Android developers.

Enough was enough, I had to start again. And my wife and I committed to remove any pirated stuff on our tablet. In my case, this meant resetting the tablet—deleting everything, and reconfiguring.

Then, we got our friends to help us with making credit card purchases… and yes, they are close friends, and they trust us. And we bought about $20 worth of apps, books and games. I know that’s not much, but convert it to my local currency, and it is a big deal! We have also budget another $20 for the remainder of the holiday season, and then from then on… every few months… we’ll look to make a purchase or two.

It really felt good to be liberated from pirated material. But more importantly, I really felt I was putting my Android loyalty to the test. It was not enough to say that Android makes the world a better place, without supporting it, or even while I was undermining it. And I felt something needed to be done, which I’m glad I (we) did.

I have a few concerns though… firstly… how to prevent in-app purchases… especially accidental ones made by our daughter, or even by us. Secondly, the lack of payment options for my country.

The first problem I solved by adding a new account to the tablet, which does not have a google wallet account. So, everytime I would have to make a purchase, it would ask me to configure my account. It is a workaround, I know. And I would much prefer every purchase requiring a passcode. Nevertheless, it works for now.  by going to settings in Google Play, entering a PIN in the “Set or change PIN” and then choosing “Use PIN for purchases”. That’s exactly what I wanted (and thanks to a reader, for pointing this out).

The second problem is much bigger, and way out of my hands. My country is not famous for how much we spend on apps. So, I doubt there will be a rush towards making payment easy here, where there are other more urgent markets. Nevertheless, I do hope one day, we will be on par with other countries to access and purchase data. (clarification: While Credit cards and seemingly debit cards are accepted through Google Play, it seems Maestro Debit cards don’t work on Google Play… which most of us here use. So that’s what I mean by more payment options needed.)

So, that’s my little android story of the season. (I really hope no anti-piracy police will come knocking on my door for confessing like this, but I really feel this story needed to be told).

Getting Open Source help for schools (a comment as post) September 7, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Blogging, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, OpenOffice, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Recommendation, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.

The following post is not written by me, but was a comment on a previous post about the real-life problems facing Open Source implementation in the fact of Microsoft loaded schools. This unusually large comment has a host of links that are geared to help individuals/institutions to grow in their awareness of Linux and MS. I’m posting this comment here as a post because I believe it could be helpful to more than me. The author of the comment goes by the name “Jose”. So thanks Jose, here’s your ‘comment’ as post.

(disclaimer: I don’t know anything more of Jose than this comment. So his views are his own, not mine. Similarly, I’ve not had a chance to test all his links, so even though I think I trust Jose, please click with caution).


By Jose, 7 September, 2007

If the schools asks for help, I am sure there are some fairly cheap offerings. LTSP is both practical (saves headaches managing it once you understand Linux) and cheap.

Nice story btw. Scouting (bringing problems like this one into the open) is very important in order to figure out what problems exist and how they might be tackled (word of mouth market research).

I think I understand you not wanting to impose your views on the school nor risk losing credibility in the process. If you have a good track record and can accept rejection, you may want to approach your supervisors with a plan for a pilot. You (with help maybe) can work on possible solutions off-line in order to make a presentation. Maybe you will also find a way, in the interest of student education and well-roundedness, to encourage students that may like Linux/FLOSS (w/parents’ help perhaps) to put initiatives forward. Do you want it or do the students want it? Reports show that Linux is growing, including for example, job offerings on Dice.com as a recent survey revealed. It seems a bad move for educational institutions to ignore Linux just on account of this momentum statistic (I’m not even considering all the other benefits of FLOSS to anyone, much less to an educational institution).

This is an educational institution to serve the students. It seems short-sighted not to offer a Linux option especially being free and with students willing to do their own research (after school club if nothing else).


There are sites dedicated to schools and linux. There are commercial and free Linux distros that focus on schools. There is a modest amount of FLOSS that is useful specifically to teachers and administrators.

Here is a very recent story dealing with libraries and Linux: http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007090700526OSPB

There are many sites for newbies.

How can you go wrong with a LiveCD? Have they tried PCLOS? Do they know that you can customize many LiveCD distros and then burn another LiveCD so as to have that exact setup matching your needs and preferences wherever whenever?

Can something like this, http://olpc.tv/2007/05/19/preview-60-minutes-about-olpc/ , be all that bad and scary? [OLPC may be a great advocacy tool, browse around olpc.tv for neat videos.]

Would you be a fanatic? an advocate? or just someone finding it very difficult to ignore a good thing whose “business case” just keeps getting better and better?

Microsoft has a long tradition of illegal (court of law) and unethical behavior, assaults on OPEN and FREE software, and on extremely aggressive lock-in techniques (a part of “embrace, extend, and extinguish”). Expect Microsoft licenses to only keep getting more draconian and more expensive. Expect Microsoft products to keep getting more disrespectful of the end users’ privacy (I think this is a big concern for most people). Vista phones home with a lot of personal detail (it’s part of the license too.. you sign away many rights).

And with the lawsuits and bad news mounting, what will the school do if, heaven’s forbid, Microsoft should go out of business? What is the backup plan? Will the kids have continuity and an ability to go further with whatever they might be building.

Has the school done a cost analysis just of licensing costs for the next ten years (Linux downtime is much lower and management is easier in many ways.. again, look at LTSP offerings)? Do these take Microsoft’s steady price increases into account and the requirements for hardware buys? How about all the many and powerful Linux software that costs $0. What would that cost for Windows over 10 years for all computers? Ouch! [Note, students may want to put up their own websites and such]

There are many success stories (even of grandma’s) which should help inspire confidence, but I think the key is a presentation/pilot program to show before everyone’s eyes that it can work. [And don’t forget that the kids needs and wants will trump most other concerns.]

Linux commercial support is growing fast. The communities are in abundance. In fact, you can probably find rather easily 20 websites with volunteers pushing Linux. Why so many people willing to help out for free? [And yes, it can be fun.]

Would the school be doing its duty in not providing at least some support for the greatest educational tool of all time?

You own Linux, really. You help define Linux.. and there is so much that is new and free!

More links:

It may even work to seek out stories on Linus and others that would bring a human dimension to Linux. Tux is the penguin mascot. Top supercomputers (eg, from IBM) run Linux so Linux isn’t just cute. Shrek likes Linux, too: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/9653 . Even the US military trusts Linux when they don’t trust Microsoft.

It’s also too easy to beat up on Vista (stories of Bad Vista abound). There are also horror stories of XBox360 problems.. which comes back to the point of how trustworthy is Microsoft and will they be around in 5, ten, or fifteen years? And what will their prices be like (can’t repeat this enough times).


And wow them with some Beryl/Compiz. Yes, this is Linux, too. [This should open eyes, of the faculty, but also students’ eyes.]
http://youtube.com/watch?v=T67kricXYRE sabayon is popular, too.

Bad Microsoft.. long rap sheet
Recent MS abuse of power and unethical behavior with OOXML. Last minute gold partners joined up on MS’s “request.”
Despite all this, OOXML failed to get accepted.

As for the Gates Foundation, I wrote this little bit up recently. I joke around, but it’s no joke that Microsoft gives to biomed research and MS software, both areas where he has significant private interests. The Foundation has made many contributions of MS software, so the Foundation subsidizes Microsoft [Bill’s left pocket pays his right one]. I mention this just in case (if it comes up) people put up with Microsoft because they think Gates is a nice person and that they are doing the right thing even if it is expensive. http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-09-01-006-26-OP-CY-PB-0011

And if you get down, or if you simply want to show others that it’s not supposed to be a walk in the part to go through change, here is a review of Linux by someone. What is striking is how this person’s perceptions changed over just 5 months http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007080900326OPSW . He isn’t the only one, btw. If you give Linux a little bit of time, it really grows on you (it takes a while to undo the brainwashing of Windows and realize that there is such a thing as freedom and control and it can be easy and fun if you give it a little time). Many people that have not heard of Linux have no clue how extensive support is for Linux and for open source (we have a huge community).

A link to the GPL may also be useful (four freedoms etc).

Sorry, to put up so few links, but I still have to organize my files.

Finally, if you have doubts about whether or not you are doing a good thing presenting a FLOSS alternative, ask youself how much of a good thing it is for the kids for them to stay along the current path [I don’t mean to pressure you, only to help overcome doubts and guilt should you want to do something.]

How a Microsoft Piracy Threat almost led us to Open Source… Almost! September 5, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Linux Mint, News, Open Source, OpenOffice, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.

Once upon a time there was a ‘school’ that used predominantly Microsoft software. This ‘school’ used PCs with Windows Servers and Windows XPs. The fact that this was a poor ‘school’ meant that they couldn’t afford MS Office. They wanted to, but they couldn’t. So they installed the academic licenses of StarOffice 7. All was good in the world.

Around that time, a new technology entered the world; the wi-fi. And soon, students began to connect their laptops to the ‘school’ wi-fi connection. All was good in this world too.

Then, one day, there was a warning. The ‘school’ servers received a notice from Microsoft that they were using pirated software; using MS products beyond the slated licenses. The IT department was shocked… because according to their internal audit, they were not. Could, heaven forbid, Microsoft be wrong?

As it turned out, Microsoft was not entirely wrong. Many of the students using the wi-fi connections were using pirated software, either operating systems (Windows XP professional) or Office 2007. Since these pirated systems were connected to the ‘school’ network, evidently it looked like the ‘school’ had over-shot their license.

The ‘school’ freaked out and decided to enforce a no-piracy law on all wi-fi users. Every system would be audited and only if it was entirely piracy free would the system be allowed to connect on the wi-fi network. They even devised an audit form and everything. The students were told that they would have to buy their own copies of OS and Office, or install a “Free” Linux Operating system.

Much frustration/guilt/anger/shame from the students followed. But the ‘school’ stuck to its hardline policy.

Immediately, there was a huge demand for information about Linux systems; “what is it?” “is it as good as Windows?” “Is it too different?” “Will it allow me to load my (windows) programmes?” “is it really free?” etc etc.

But then something happened; some call it grace/providence. And some call it simply bad business. But the ‘school’ decided to be gracious and at its own cost procured licenses of Windows XP Professional (academic edition) and lease them very very cheaply to the students. There would be no hope for the ‘school’ to recover its cost, but the school justified this by arguing that their primary concern was for the students.

Before this decision was made, some students had decided to use Linux as a piracy free partition on their pirated machines. Ie. they would dual boot with Linux when on the ‘school’ network, but when at home they would revert to their pirated systems (Smart? They thought so).

But the ‘school’ felt that because there was no way to ensure that the students would ONLY use Linux on the wi-fi network (because students could/would revert back to Windows behind the ‘schools’ back), they decided that in case of Linux implementation, the user must either do a full install or dual boot with only an ORIGINAL Windows partition.

This final decision was a deathknell to Linux implementation. In conjunction with the almost-free Windows OS, it was not worth the trouble (most students felt) to fully install (or partly install) Linux as well.

Thus most/all students adopted Windows as their first-choice OS.

The score: Open Source zero. Microsoft one.

However, there was a minor twist in the tale. This provision by the ‘school’ was only for the Operating System and NOT the MSOffice 2007 suite, which many students had pirated. The college was not willing to subsidize Office and students had to either use free software or buy their own. Without college support MS Office did look really expensive.

As a result, most students in this ‘school’ decided to install OpenOffice or StarOffice 8 (Academic License) instead of MS Office.

The point tally here: OpenSource (and alternatives) one. And Microsoft zero.

So the long and short of this story is that Microsoft Piracy threat almost led people to Linux, but when the students didn’t have to shell out the HUGE amount of money for it, Linux was just too inaccessible. But when the had to shell out money (as in the case of Office), they opted for the cheaper (free) alternatives.

On a brighter note for Open Source advocates, many more students are now aware of Linux and a few are willing to experiment with it as long term alternatives. The distribution that they’ve been given is PCLinux 2007.

The end. Or only the beginning?

Piracy more serious than bank robbery? Not really! (Article Watch) June 17, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Piracy.

Among other things, the author of this article (linked below) argues that unlike the people who think Piracy is the worst crime of all, “chances are you would prefer that the cops spend their efforts protecting people from rampant home burglaries than chasing down kids with pirated music on their iPods.” Read this article also for the take on the differences between real and intellectual property. Full article here: http://arstechnica.com/

Why Piracy hurts Open Source January 18, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Piracy, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.
1 comment so far

I remember reading this article (it’s currently downloadable as a pdf for free from TUX magazine) early on when TUX *was* free… and I was really struck by the truth of the argument.

Basically the author says that while Piracy is *free* like open source (ie you don’t need to buy it)… it has it’s cost on the open source industry. In other words, if we had a pirated copy of Photoshop CS2 which has millions of dollars of investment poured into it… for free! then of course GIMP would not match up to it. But if you had to PAY for Photoshop CS2, then more people would be rushing to a commendable GIMP. Do read the article to understand this idea further.

If we had a pirated copy of Photoshop CS2 which has millions of dollars of investment poured into it… for free! then of course GIMP would not match up to it

I see another problem in addition. Of late I’ve been trying to work exclusively on Linux (openSUSE being my current favourite medium)… and while my Windows XP Home on my Lenovo is not pirated, it is *free* in that it came as the price of the laptop. I guess in that sense this *free* copy of Windows makes it difficult to trust exclusively on Linux. However, if I had to pay for Windows separately, people may have gone more aggressively for a Linux operating system. Currently, with this pricing, it is all the more difficult to abandon Windows and move entirely onto a growing medium like Linux.

Anyway… I tried this piracy-is- not-good-for-open-source argument on a few of my friends… and well, they thought it was interesting, but they were not sold to the idea of supporting open source software. They were more into free software.

But it surely this is a better argument than say… piracy is stealing (because even the companies cheat/steal!).

Anyway. It was a memorable article. And hope you find it too.