Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Free Lunch is a Stolen Lunch

I notice a trend lately of folks taking advantage of free trial offers of model railroad CAD software to plan their layouts. And I use the phrase "taking advantage" literally.

These folks are using a number of workarounds to avoid paying for the software. I'm not talking about open source or manufacturer-sponsored software such as XtrkCAD or Atlas' RTS, this is software from entrepreneur developers trying to make a go of it.

And I'm also not talking about a try-before-buy situation: these forum posters make it clear that they never plan to purchase the product (thanks to their "clever" workaround).

I recognize that there is a prevailing view, from music to movies to software, that it's just plain old-fashioned to pay for someone's creative output. Just download, man, otherwise you’re a sucker.

But these are small companies or individuals creating and marketing CAD programs. All the folks who so proudly trumpet their workaround techniques are stealing intellectual property from those hard-working developers (and encouraging others to do the same).

So just a thought, if you "love" the software so much and "use it all the time", please pay for it and support the people who've done the work for you. Or these products will disappear from being loved (and starved of funds) to death.

Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy WatersI've been in a bit of a blues/rock mood lately and discovered a great album on Pandora that I had completely missed when it was released in 1993. Paul Rodgers is one of rock's great voices, probably best-known for his work with Free and Bad Company. But his solo album Muddy Water Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters is an amazing listening experience.

It's a collection of Muddy Waters tunes with an all-star cast of guitarists, from Buddy Guy to David Gilmour to a mesmerizing Jeff Beck. Blues purists beware, these are not "authentic" covers of the original tunes, but completely new approaches that are more modern and rock-influenced in style.

Rodgers is in fine voice throughout and the guitarists are certainly inspired by the material and opportunity. Apparently the original record company folded around the time this album was released and it never received much attention, but it's certainly worth a purchase now that it is back in print -- please don't steal it!

(By the way, a gentleman named Philip Snyder has done an excellent track-by-track review of the recording on Amazon.com. Be sure to check it out if you visit the Amazon page.)