Monday, January 8, 2007

Discussion: Consumer Software Activation and Try&Buy

Consumer Software Activation and Try&Buy over the web are the two most powerful and pervasive usage models of machine locked copy control as demonstrated by the models almost exclusive use by the worlds top software publishing companies including Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe and Intuit. Other forms of digital distribution and online license management are very popular and in common use, however these two simpler forms of machine locked copy control have proven to be the only realistic options when large numbers of consumer customers are involved are large scale site or OEM licensing of software.

Summary of common types of digital copy control for software publishing.
Criteria for evaluation of Activation and Try&Buy technologies
3. Table comparing popular Activation and Try and Buy Technologies.

Summary of common types of digital copy control for software publishing

Software Activation: A simple system of copy control that requires that the software phone-home to a copy control server and verify that the limit of the count of devices that can be used for each software licesne has not been exceeded.

Consumer Try& Buy:

Criteria for evaluation of Activation and Try&Buy technologies

Transparency to end customer experience.


Impact on customer services: Quality of customer hardware change detection

Flexibility across distribution channels.

Ability to contain overinstallation

Impact on publishers code integrity and impact on code fix count/ management

Ability to withstand concentrated hacking attacks.

Ability to contain instances of successful hacking.

Friday, January 5, 2007


Listing of some of the research articles and stories relating to Dirt Bike riding, surfing and playing music:

  • Listing of riding spots I've researched around Southern California
  • Listing of Helmet Camera's for use in dirt bike riding
  • A compilation of clips from the web regarding old riding buddy Geoff Eldridge, the former Publisher and Editor of Australian Dirt Bike Magazine. He was one of Australia's best Enduro riders and a good friend to all that got to know him and ride with him.

Monday, January 1, 2007



  • Interactive teaching method for teaching musical instruments - this system used a combination of cassette recording and quick lesson notes to speed the development of customized learning for people learning musical instruments.

1986 - 1992

  • PC Online - a pre internet community of connected modems enabling the exchange of artwork for advertisements in local newspapers.
  • Interactive CD multimedia - Using Apples Hypercard software Ric developed a system of interactive CD presentations that synced with commercial Audio CD's. One example product was an interactive version of the B-52's Love Shack album that would display relavent technical, trivia and liner notes as the CD was played in an Apple Macs CD player. The floppy disk with the software was sold with the Audio CD.
  • Hypercard controller for Fairlight music computer - Ric developed a Mac based control system for the popular $100,000 music computer called the Fairlight which used a complicated user un-friendly control system called os9. Ric's work was highlighted in an article in the world recognized music technology magazine "Electronic Musician" and was invited to appear as a guest speaker in a number of US locations as a result.
  • Rics was alos a co-developer of Turetime MIDI sequencer software one of the first software products to use the now ubiquitous pianoscroll display used in all usic software programs.

1992 - 1997

  • The Uniloc patent - system for locking software licenses to specific PCs using hardware fingerprinting.
  • The Uniloc Demorizer - a method for adding activation software to other products by injecting hooks into the code to run the Activation code.
  • Machine locking for secure transactions - working with banking experts in Australia Ric devised a system for secure encrypted bank transactions using device fingerprints to compete with Visa SET standard.


  • System for adding secure software to an existing install image - Ric developed a system that took an existing software product and added Uniloc protected components to that product during the install of the product. The system was secure and very popular with software publishers who tested the technology fully in every case of its use and found it secure stable and production ready.
  • System for numberless credit card transactions - Ric developed a system of onetime passwords that enabled cardholders and merchants to make transactions together without sharing their credit card numbers or merchant details.
  • Open system for sharing of retail information over the Internet - Rics designed the prototype of a database that linked barcodes for specific products to images available on the web to enable retailers to use images on their suppliers sites to build an interactive inventory and consumer sourcing system.
  • Logarex - A patented compression system that uses logarithms to find the maximum compressed expression of data in any form. For example 1,000,000,000,000,000 is a 16 digit expression but 10^15 is a 5 charcter expression delivering a 16:5 or 320% compression ratio. This project is Rics next big focus after Uniloc.

2002 - 2007

  • System for fingerprinting Optical Fiber for secure communications.
  • Anti hacking detection for machine fingerprinting systems.
  • Using performance characteristics or damage in computing devices to product unique device fingerprints.
  • Terremail - a simple system for linking email addresses to physical postal addresses. Send emails to a postbox!
  • Another 6 coming soon....

Inventor of Activation

Is Ric Richardson the inventor of Activation? Well judge for yourself. Ric's patent US patent 5,490,216 was written and claimed in November 1992 and granted in 1996 at least 3-4 years before copies of Activation protected products from Microsoft started to turn up.

At the time many people thopught it was some kind of magic. "People use to think we has a secret video watching them put unlock codes in" said one of Rics early coworkers Steve Cox.

Have a look for yourself... especially interesting is the patents reference to machine locking of licenses to sepcific devices using the machines hardware configuration.

And just to think that most of todays popular software products use this same principle to protect themselves from uncontorlled copying... to date it has been 15 years and counting.
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