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Hanging Up The Eyepatch

Howdy ho neighbor, I'm a retired pirate. YARRRRR!

Now wouldn't that be a heck of a way to introduce an essay? I'd be declaring right in front of Wha and everything that I'm a scofflaw, a cheat, a leech on the economic body of the nation (or at least the software industry) if I admitted that I actually used (((shudder!))) downloaded applications. Why, I might be laying myself open to legal action if I let it slip that I regularly deployed Digital Performer, an audio recording and mixing software package, for a good fifteen years without ever buying a copy. Egad! Zounds! Let the pearl clutching and beard tearing commence!

Okay, you can stop now. I bought one.

See, if I was telling that story, and if I was having an uncommon spurt of candor, I might describe my earlier life in the dawn of the Age Of Digital(is?), the smoking ruins of normality that were the late 90's rise of the Internet. In those halcyon days of yore, there were actually these things called stores that sold used software. I was a stalwart supporter. I bought Superpaint, Fontographer, FreeHand (still better than Illustrator), an early version of the music notation application Finale on 12 floppy discs, Sound Designer II (the origin of the .sd2 audio format that still pops up on popup menus) bundled with a quaint multitrack audio mixer called DECK which later evolved into a little thing called Pro Tools — a whole mess of weird and wonderful prehistoric graphic and audio toys and tools. All quite legit — the store did its best to maintain provenance on its wares (harhar) and make sure the serial numbers were legit. Also all quite spendy, for credit card-loading me anyway.

Oh yeah, I also got a used copy of something called Performer. Version 2 or so. A MIDI composition tool. By the time I had my hands on that, the publisher, the very preciously named Mark Of The Unicorn, had pushed on to put out a new version called Digital Performer (2.7? 3.7?) that could record and play back both MIDI and audio. I put some time into the oblique learning curve of the product and began creating some, um, very interesting stuff. I was also feeling my way around this other kooky new thing, the World Wide Web, and became Aware of the presence of Ways And Means to obtain all kinds of digital information for free. As in ";beer."; And free, as we all freely admit, is a very good price. A very very good price.

It was good ol' bad ol' Napster that finally took my downloading virginity. I had pretty well avoided the whole matter, partly out of a misplaced sense of chastity and partly because a 28 kbps modem is a mighty fine deterrent (kiddies, if you don't know what that means, ask your parents). And then I got cable, for my side-job as office manager for a band. And then the band asked me to download a song. Well, they're the boss... It took me 10 minutes to obtain and install the Napster client and 5 more to find and pillage the track. And I said to myself, ";Oh this is not going to last.";

The gateway drug of obscure mp3s (Open My Eyes! Too Much Saturn! The Great American Smokeoff!) lured me to the dark side of warez and kracks and all manner of illicit goodies that I'd only dreamed of screwing around with before, including DP 2.7, which forced me to upgrade my computer, and then 3, ditto. I developed Thaddeus's Law Of Ethical Software Appropriation: All software defaults to shareware upon release of a newer version. It's not to any developer's advantage to support previous releases any more than absolutely necessary or contractually obliged. And as a sub rosa user of geriatric applications, I neither deserved nor asked for customer support squat, and my use of past pull date software had pretty much zero effect on anybody's bottom line. And I had a disabled wife on SSI and couldn't get a job to afford all those lavish overpriced current releases anyways. Do I justify myself? Very well, I justify myself. Hey, at least I wasn't watching pr0n. Much.

Tech was moving fast in those days, and before I knew it Apple had announced OS X, then ended support for non-Intel processors, then moved to 64 bit architecture and Wha knows what all. Like Eliza leaping from ice floe to ice floe, I fled the baying hounds of inoperable obsolescence, shedding computers like snakeskin and downloading my way from DP 3 to 3.7 to 5 to a masterfully bent version 7, which worked like a rock in OS 10.6.8 and to which rock I clung for maybe five years, dislodged at last only by the malevolent black swan of an actual Mac virus. Legacy software doth have its price.

I took a deep breath and upgraded to 10.9. Miraculously, everything still worked. But I had a deuce of a time reauthorizing my Midnight Auto Parts DP. And from then on it just got worse. I checked forums. I adjusted permissions. I held my tongue just right. But finally, this last hardware upgrade, I just got stuck. I briefly considered another download, but the internet has become a dangerous place. So I heaved a deep home-from-the-sea sigh and purchased the brand spankin' shiny new DP 10, with cash thank you very much.

Does it work? Indeed. A little buggy, but being on the bleeding edge has its price too. It's not my old DP, but everything still opens and all my presets are preserved. I can get back to work on my magnum opus of the moment, service my clients, even investigate near-inscrutable new features. This kind of new-car-smell stuff is pretty novel for ol' Red Pappy Bones (ret.).

Didn't I say that'd make one heck of a story? If I was telling it that way...

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