Autodesk founder outraged by Amazon snatch of cloudy purchases

Autodesk co-founder John Walker (it’s not his fault, he relinquished control of the company many years ago) recently posted this on Twitter: In a move reminiscent of the infamous removal of Orwell’s 1984 from Kindle devices (which Amazon promised a court it would never repeat), John’s Audible.com (owned by Amazon) audio books, purchased in 2009-2010, simply went away. John’s reaction was to post a video of harmless inanimate objects being blown away by a powerful firearm, so I think it’s safe to say he was not overly pleased about this turn of events. Can’t say I blame him. This is …

Logitech demonstrates the power of the cloud and cops a bloody nose

I’ve been a pretty satisfied customer of Logitech products for some years. The mice, keyboards, webcams and 3D controllers (branded as 3DConnexion) I’ve used have generally been well designed, well built and long-term software support has usually been very good (with an exception or two). So it’s with some regret that I have to report them as an example of what not to do in customer service. Logitech recently sent this email to customers of its Harmony Link universal remote control: This is an important update regarding your Harmony Link. On March 16, 2018,   Logitech will discontinue service and …

Autodesk Senior Vice President tells it like it is

I didn’t expect to see any comment about the policy of denying bug fixes to some customers from any Autodesk high-ups, but I was mistaken.

Here’s a quote on just this subject from Autodesk Senior Vice President1, Buzz Kross:

It’s just bad business. Why would you not want to take care of your customers? I would never do that. Come on, we all make mistakes. All software has bugs and as a developer, I have an obligation to provide fixes to all my paying customers, whether they are on subscription or not. Customers on subscription have the advantage of getting access to new stuff. That’s fine. But denying them access to bug fixes is just not right.

Buzz Kross, Senior Vice President, Autodesk1
9 April 2010


Photo: Autodesk

It’s not often I so completely agree with an Autodesk executive1, but I can find no fault in his logic. Thank you, Buzz.


1. Although Buzz is still listed as a SVP in some Autodesk online materials, he’s no longer with the company.

Autodesk confirms its own unconscionable conduct

It took several attempts over a period of months and was like pulling teeth, but Autodesk has now confirmed that it is deliberately withholding bug fixes from some of its customers. Autodesk has taken customers’ money and in return has provided defective software (OK, that happens). It has fixed some of those defects (that happens too, sometimes). But it’s limiting distribution of those fixes to those prepared to pay Autodesk further (that has never happened before). Just let that sink in. Autodesk broke stuff you paid for, could easily fix it, but won’t do so unless you pay more. If …

You can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in Europe

Yes, you really can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in the European Union. You just can’t buy them from Autodesk. Where can you buy those licenses? From other customers who don’t need them any more. Unlike some jurisdictions, the EU respects the doctrine of first sale for computer software. This means sale of pre-owned software is allowed, and any EULA restrictions attempting to prevent that are invalid. This was established in 2012 by the EU’s highest court, The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. Autodesk and all other software vendors in EU countries …

AutoCAD’s ARRAYCLASSIC command is my fault

Ever wondered why most keep-the-old-version commands in AutoCAD are called CLASSICxxx but the old version of the ARRAY command is called ARRAYCLASSIC? Why can’t Autodesk be consistent for once? Sorry, that’s actually my fault. Here’s a little history. AutoCAD Version 1.4 (1983) introduced the ARRAY command with Rectangular and Circular options. AutoCAD Version 2.5 (1986) added the Polar option and hid the Circular option (but it’s still there). AutoCAD 2005 introduced a dialog box version of the ARRAY command. The command-line version remained available via the -ARRAY command (with a leading hyphen). AutoCAD 2012 introduced many new array features, including …

Cloud concerns – Security – Autodesk puts its arguments on line

I’ve made the point before that while Cloud proponents like Autodesk have been happy to talk big on the potential benefits, they have been conspicuously (suspiciously?) silent on the legitimate concerns their customers have raised. The best responses you have been likely to see regarding such concerns can best be characterised as “glossing over”. So it’s good to see that Autodesk has put together a white-paper-type-thing called Autodesk® 360: Work Wherever You Are – Safely. This 275 KB PDF, with 5 pages of actual content, puts Autodesk’s point of view about one of the aspects of Cloud that people commonly …

Cloud concerns – security again

It’s probably worth pointing out that if you you have no problem emailing your designs around the place without some form of protection or encryption, there’s little point in getting all worked up about Cloud security. Email isn’t remotely secure. FTP isn’t exactly watertight, either. If you’re still interested in Cloud security issues, this post includes some relevant links you might like to peruse. First, here’s what Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard had to say about Project Photofly (now 123D Catch Beta) security last month: Project Photofly FAQ: What about the security of my data? This covers some of the same kind …

Cloud concerns – terms and conditions

I just used Autodesk Cloud Documents for the first time, and was asked to confirm my acceptance of the Terms of Service. Fair enough. But just what is in those terms, and what do they mean to you if you are dubious about using the Cloud? Will you be reassured by what you find there? Maybe not. Here are a few clauses that might make you go hmmm… The terms applicable to a particular service may vary. Translation: Autodesk can move the goalposts. Autodesk has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor Your usage of the Service to verify …

Owning software – what you think

In February 2009, I ran some polls here that are relevant to the discussion regarding the US court system’s most recent backflip in the Vernor v. Autodesk legal saga. Here is a reminder of the results. In April 2009, I ran another set of polls that are also relevant, as they provide an indication of your attitude to license agreements. Here are those results. If you voted in these polls last year, have your opinions changed in the meantime?

Vernor v. Autodesk – right decision, wrong reason

As I have stated before, I believe Autodesk to be in the right (morally, not legally) in its battle to prevent Vernor’s resale of old, upgraded copies of Release 14. In the latest installment, Autodesk has won its appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. There will be be further legal moves yet, but Vernor’s chances of winning this case are now more slender. So the right side has won (at this stage). I should be happy, right? Wrong. Although I think the latest court to look at this has picked the right side, it has done so for …

Right of reply

From time to time, I have been known to be critical of companies, products, policies, publications, and even people (although I do try to “play the ball, not the man”). If somebody objects to what I write here, what can they do about it? They have several possible options. Post a comment in direct response to the allegedly objectionable post. Contact me by email to point out any inaccuracies or any other perceived unfairness in my post. If I consider the objections valid, I will amend the post and/or apologise as appropriate. If I disagree, I will explain my position. Such correspondence will …

Does Autodesk discuss future plans?

According to Shaan, Autodesk does not discuss its future plans. Or does it? In a comment, Ralph reckoned it does. Putting aside technology previews and various NDA-bound circumstances (e.g. Beta testing), can you think of cases where Autodesk has revealed what it intends to do in future? Here are a few off the top of my head: I’ve been to AU sessions dating back to 1995 that pretty much give away the contents of the next release of AutoCAD, using a vague cover-my-butt session title and a disclaimer at the start of the session. I understand that these days, attendees …

Not a topic to be debated publicly

Over on the oft-entertaining Deelip.com, there was an interesting comment made by Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard. After going back and forth a few times over Autodesk’s then-failure to allow Indian customers legal access to certain free Autodesk software downloads, Scott said this: I defer to Autodesk Legal on these matters which is where I get my guidance. This is not a topic to be debated publicly. As one of our most active Labs participants, I was just sharing some information with you and your readers. On the face of it, Scott’s “not a topic to be debated publicly” comment seems pretty silly. …

CAD International interview on drcauto and other subjects

This morning I spoke with CAD International‘s Nigel Varley. Here is a paraphrased summary of the interview. SJ: When did CAD International buy the drcauto intellectual property rights? NV: About two weeks ago. SJ: You are currently helping drcauto customers with authorisation codes, is that correct? NV: Yes, masses of them. It’s taking up a lot of our peoples’ time. SJ: Are you charging for this service? NV: Not at present. SJ: Do you intend to charge for this service in the future? NV: Maybe. We may need to, both to pay for our time and to recoup our investment. …

Ralph Lauren – genuinely dumb or trying to be clever?

One of the blogs I read regularly is Photoshop Disasters, which recently posted a picture of a Ralph Lauren ad. In common with many fashion photos, this showed a skinny model that appeared to have been further skinnified on somebody’s computer to the point that the poor waif was ridiculously deformed. Like this: Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Under normal circumstances it would have received a few dozen comments and scrolled off the front page in a week or so, because there is no shortage of bad image manipulation out there for the blog to snigger at. The …

Vernor wins (for now), customers don’t

Don’t get too excited, because I’m sure Autodesk will appeal, but as reported at Owen Wengerd’s CAD/Court, Vernor has won the right to resell his used copies of AutoCAD. While this is seen by some as a victory for customers, it isn’t. This doesn’t open up a brave new world in which we are allowed to sell the software we buy once we’re finished with it. If it had, I would be rejoicing as loud as anybody, because Autodesk’s ban on software transfers is an unconscionable restriction and deserves to die. But that’s not what this decision means. There are …

Should you read software license agreements?

Evan Yares has raised an interesting point about the insolvency clause in Autodesk’s End User License Agreement. Please read the whole thing, but the gist is that there’s a clause where if you get into financial difficulties, Autodesk will do its bit to help you out in times of trouble by taking away your software licenses. This clause extends as far as making an arrangement with your creditors, which is a common enough phrase but can mean several things and isn’t defined within the agreement. So, if your cash flow is a bit tight and you have to ask your phone …

More on ODA, Autodesk and click-through agreements

Evan Yares has provided more information on the incident I mentioned in my last post. Here it is: It was years ago. My guess was that the person who did it was just trying to spider the website pages, for marketing research, and didn’t realize he got all the libraries too. In any event, I said hey you did this, they said no we didn’t, I produced download logs, they said there was no agreement and even if there was we hereby cancel it, I said if you want to see our libraries I’ll send ’em to you no strings, …

Evan Yares, ODA, Autodesk and click-through agreements

I’ve always found it entertaining when the lawyers of CAD companies do their best to make their clients look like total jerks. The opening shots as presented by Evan Yares in his proposed ODA class-action lawsuit indicate that there is another rich source of recreational reading on its way. I’m sure it’s no fun for the lawyer-paying people involved, though. You would think that Autodesk would be rubbing its corporate hands together at the prospect of the ODA being distracted like this. Or maybe not, if the bunfight throws up more little gems like this: Autodesk had at least once …