Activation?

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Bubba4
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Sat Aug 29, 2009 9:08 pm Post

My Scrivener just updated itself and it connected to get "activation". This was seamless and no problem, but when I bought the program originally (this was a while ago...I think it was brand new) it did not require activation over the internet I don't think.

I only ask because I found Scrivener when I was pissed off at Final Draft. After doing some updates on my computer, Final Draft required not only my sn but "activation" which for some reason couldn't be processed online. So I had to call them. But it was late on a Saturday. So I literally couldn't access my own &%^#$( screenplays until somebody at Final Draft gave the ok.

Once I pay for it, it should never be able to lock itself requiring its maker come give me permission to use it. So I came to Scrivener...FOR GOD'S SAKE DONT MAKE THAT MISTAKE.

If you want to hack Final Draft or Scriverner...YOU CAN...if you know what your doing. So unscrupulous hackers can steal your intellectual property already...these remote license approval schemes are just obsticles for honest people who already bought and paid for and love your product.

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Sat Aug 29, 2009 10:54 pm Post

KB wrote about this earlier, and he's set it up so it would still work despite lack of activation.
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KB
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Sat Aug 29, 2009 11:45 pm Post

Hi Bubba,

Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I know it's easy to hack - it's really only a soft extra step to stop the serial numbers that are floating around. But it WON'T stop you working. Ever. So long as you enter your serial number exactly as it is in your e-mail, it will work. If eSellerate's servers aren't available, it won't ask you to activate. It won't limit you to any number activations. And if your internet isn't available - it won't ask you to activate (so hackers and pirates can easily get around it, but that's less important than ensuring that regular users can always use Scrivener).

So activation in Scrivener is really just a minor check. You'll never have to ask us permission to use the software you have paid for, and even if we somehow disappear off the face of the earth and so does eSellerate, Scrivener will carry on working.

Hope that makes sense. If users really object to this, though, I'll certainly rethink - the last thing I want to do is annoy Scrivener users.

Thanks and all the best,
Keith

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indro
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Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:00 am Post

I love the program and am very impressed with the developer, that is you, Keith. I have been thinking about this and debating whether I should jump into this one or not... Apparently, the debate was won by the give your 2 cents group.

The audience for Scrivener is a small niche. It might grow into a bigger niche, but it is still a few steps away from the everyone who uses a Mac should get it kind of audience. The people who are going to get the most use out of your program are people who are engaged in the process of producing written content. That crowd is your audience.

People who hack software or use pirated copies of software are a part of your broader target audience but there is only a small segment of those folks who are really producing written content. Let's say you lose revenue from those folks because they are pirating your software. Let's accept that. Is there anything you can do about that? You yourself point out that the schema with the esellerate engine that you are using is prone to being side-stepped, is prone to further hacking and is just a mild annoyance to the pirates/hackers. Then why bother doing it? What is the up-side?

A minority of your users who paid for the software are now complaining to you that this process seems to be not fool-proof. These are your users. They are not pirates. They paid you for the privilege of using your product. You are an engaging fellow, even at 1 o'clock in the morning (yes, I saw the interview), and you make a great product. But you are going to be successful by virtue of the community of users you are building. That community is going to be your front line sales force. They are going to be your evangelists, they are going to build your flock and make your success. They are going to do it, because you are adding incredible value to their lives and that is what you should be concentrating on.

A flawed, barely-working piracy prevention schema is a waste of your time.

I have seen some programs do a good job of establishing an anti-piracy schema which works and is not particularly intrusive. Talk to the folks at Ambrosia (the SnapzPro folks), talk to Mark Bernstein (Tinderbox), find out how they are pulling it off. Might help you rethink the process.

My 2 cents are up. I care about the program enough to get engaged in this discussion. Hope you take it in the spirit it was intended.

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KB
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Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:13 am Post

Hi Indro,

Many thanks for your feedback. And it's absolutely taken in the spirit it was given. :) I welcome opinions on this and was actually going to post a poll on it, to get other feedback. The current activation process is really just aimed at "casual" pirates; those who will grab a serial number from the internet, find it works and not think about it again. Not the full-on pirates, not even particularly dishonest people in everyday life; people who might just think twice and buy. You'd be surprised at the number of e-mails I get from users who have pirated Scrivener and used it for writing for months or longer. In the past, I have hard-coded any serial numbers I know that are pirated into Scrivener to blacklist them for each new version, and therefore have received nice, apologetic e-mails from users who have pirated and now find themselves "blacklisted" and so want to buy. I always help them through this process and am grateful for the sale; after all, I'd be a hypocrite were I to pretend that my younger self never used a pirated serial number. So this is who the activation process is aimed at. There's no point making the activation process more robust, as that would almost certainly prevent regular users from registering.

I am interested to hear how Tinderbox and SnapzPro's activation procedures work - as a user, could you shed some light on what you were confronted with?

Certainly, the most important thing here is not to trouble users of Scrivener. Although there have been some teething problems, I really thought the current activation system - which should never stop a legitimate user of Scrivener from using the program, internet connection or not etc - was a good solution for everyone. But as I say, if it turns out that users hate it, then I'll abandon it.

I would love to hear exactly what it is users object to about the process, though, so I will post that poll.

Many thanks again and all the best,
Keith

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indro
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Sun Aug 30, 2009 4:54 pm Post

Snapz Pro is from Ambrosia. They develop both utilities and games. One of their games, the one before Escape Velocity Nova was a very popular game amongst pirates and they came up with a scheme where, you have to launch a separate program and it activates the program. What is interesting is that you have to do that every year and you are assigned a new serial number and your program is activated. Remember they are selling games and the registered users are very aware of the high piracy rate in that category so they are probably a lot more accepting of the bother. It really works quite seamlessly and for a user like me who owns several of their utilities and games, it has never burped on me.

I have no idea how Tinderbox does it. I have been using their program for about six years now and they always seem to have a very good handle on their product activation process. It like your program has a very defined niche and seems to be pulling it off by some voodoo I don't understand.

My point is that for programs which are used to generate a livelihood, users are usually quite willing to pay up and gain good karma. The ones who are not, you might try to shame into paying up, but the trade-off is whether you are pissing off legitimate users in that process.

The activation process for me was a bother. The program tried connecting to the esellerate server. Said it couldn't activate and gave me no other option other than to quit the program. I deleted the new version. Re-installed the previous version to get back to work. To solve the problem, I went to the forum which led me to the wiki, got an inkling of the problem, went to the esellerate site, downloaded a new program, installed it, deleted the old version of Scrivener, re-installed the new version of Scrivener, launched the new version. It did its activation thing and I was back to work.

That is too much work. I am a persistent kind of bloke, I depend on Scrivener for too much of my work and I wanted to be compatible with Snow Leopard. So, I made the effort. But I shouldn't have to.

I am sure that in your poll you are going to get an overwhelming majority of your users saying: It is not a bother at all. That is not the right question. It is not a surprise that one would accept activation. I bought the program, you want to check that out, that is cool with me. I have nothing to hide. You check it out and I get to work. The problem is only significant if you check it out and come back with the assertion that I am not legit when I really am. That is when the problem starts. In my case, the activation failed and I was locked out of the program. It wasn't benign. It made it impossible to use the new version. I had to go back to the old version. That is the false negative which is going to cause you aggravation. :)

You are tackling an important issue and it will have an effect on your revenue. I am sure that you will work it out and my experience was an outlier in the process. If the esellerate engine works as advertised you shouldn't have a problem, but it is not fail-proof, and you need to be aware of that.

Much more than my 2 cents, I am afraid.

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Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:07 pm Post

Thanks again, indro. Yes, and there have been too many users suffering the same problem as you - returning with an "error in activation" of some sort. I'm in discussion with eSellerate about what is going on, because it isn't good enough, I agree. It may be this that leads me to drop it. The poll is really to get a feeling of whether it annoys users in principle. If support requests prove activation to cause problems in practice, that is another issue and will be enough for me to drop it entirely. One issue I know of is that the serial number acceptance is not case-senstive, whereas activation is - this means that users may have had their serial number accepted originally but now activation rejects it. That's not good, obviously. Also, when the update was first put up for download, it contained an older version of the eSellerate engine, and I think that may have been the problem. I changed that the next day, and since then there seems to have been a sharp drop-off in support requests with this issue, so I am hoping that this was the issue. I'm sorry you had problems, though, and am keeping an eye on this. As you say, the last thing I want to do is annoy paying customers.

Thanks again and all the best,
Keith

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cycladic
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Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:43 pm Post

I support the activation process.

(Of course, it worked for me. :D )

As an artist, I want to make sure that Keith is compensated for his work. This activation scheme is much less obtrusive than the Adobe ones, for example, and I think it's important for a "niche" application like Scrivener that users are actually licensed.

I'm glad Keith is trying to block software pirates.

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Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:34 pm Post

I actually like the activation, myself--it worked fine for me, true, but then I intentionally waited a few days before upgrading and watched the forums for the bugs I'd need to keep an eye out for.

I sometimes play with programs and settings and serials just to see what their safeguards are out of curiosity--I'm the what-does-this-button-do? type--and I can think of one case where I seriously forgot for awhile that I'd played with a program and not reinstalled or payed for it. I remembered after I did a system wipe and noticed the altered menus when it returned to "free" status. (I'd picked it to play with because I'd assumed a popular program would have good protections and provide some fun. Nope. So after it proved so easy, I think I went on to something else and forgot to go back and wipe it. I don't think I even opened the program between the memory lapse and the system wipe.)

Speaking of Ambrosia, EV Nova has some massive protections on it. I've been trying to figure out how they work that one for awhile. Somehow, it keeps track of how long you've had it, and after 30 days, if you don't buy it, Captain Hector (NPC) comes and blows you to smithereens with a little spaceship that fires every weapon in the game. It's hilarious. :mrgreen:
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Bubba4
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Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:06 am Post

The Activation process was no problem...I wasn't really complaining about it. I just wanted to make sure they took measures so what happened to me with Final Draft can't possibly happen with Scrivener and it seems like they have.

BTW since the creators are actually on the forum, let me say I really enjoy the program. I bought it in April of 2008 and I have written all my screenplays in it since. Final Draft always struck me as Word with macros and I much prefer having things more fluid and graphical. Features like full screen show that you care about the user experience, not just how it makes documents...and that says a lot.

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KB
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Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:49 am Post

Hi Bubba4, many thanks for the kind words! It's great to hear you've been using it for your screenplays for the past year. (Out of interest, do you have anything in production?) I tend to be on the forum every day and try to reply to as many posts as possible; in terms of "creators", there is actually just me, although we are now a two-man company with David handling non-techie stuff.
Thanks again and all the best,
Keith

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Pleinert
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Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:39 am Post

Hi
I have licenses for Win Scrivener but after updating a block comes up and says I need to insert licenses but where?

Yours sincerely

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Teriodin
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Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:47 am Post

-- Connor