20050511

Cyber Piracy

I'm obviously not posting this stuff to be popular :-) I was once a great cyber pirate. I played hundreds of Shareware games every day. I used shareware programs for ZIP archives and graphics. I had these two Trial Version programs. One of them helped me make awesome interactive movies for my web site. I used the other one to build a totally immersive 3D virtual reality world for my web site. I was building up to run my own big e-business. Here's the catch. The shareware and trial version programs were copyrighted, and I was using them in violation of the law. Each of the license agreements said something like that if I liked them, and continued to have them installed on my computer and use them after a certain period of time, I had to pay certain fees to the authors of the programs. I never paid any of the fees. One morning, as is my habit, I went to meet together with the Lord's people to worship Jesus. Brother Roger got up to share a Word from the Lord. I don't remember exactly what he said, but while he was speaking, he said something kind of like this. It's wrong to copy and use shareware and copyrighted computer files and programs without paying. I knew when I heard it, that what he was saying was right. The Lord convicted my heart of my sin. I didn't stop using the programs, or pay the fees. I had this one trick for the trial versions. One program would tell me when I started it, for how many days I had been using it, and how many days I had left in the 30-day trial period before I had to pay. When it got to the end of the trial period, it would have stopped running so I couldn't use it without paying. To avoid that, I went in my computer's configuration, and set the computer calendar back. As long as I kept setting the computer calendar back, the program never knew I was using it longer than the trial period, and it kept running. So I kept building my movies and worlds, and playing my games. Something rather shocking happened. I don't remember everything perfectly, so I'll just do my best.... In my virtual reality world, I had a mail box, a bill board, and I was just starting to build a video arcade, and some other buildings like a store. The greatest though, was the library. I made the door rotate to open and close, moving just like it was a real door on hinges. I had a little ceiling fan inside, and a light switch. There was a table in the middle of the room with comfortable chairs around it. There was a clock on the wall, and there was a potted plant in a corner for atmosphere. There was a shelf or two of books. I applied different wood textures to the objects. I was just painting the inside of the library a color like vermilion, and trying to figure out how to cut a window out of the wall. In between house-sitting, babysitting, playing on the computer, body building, and doing my school, I did a fair amount of Bible reading. I had been reading through the same part of Jeremiah that I'm reading through today. The first time or two I read the verses, I didn't grasp their significance at all. You'll see what I mean- read on. I came and tried to start up "Titanic", which is the name I gave my good old AMD 486DX33 with 24MB of RAM and a 100Mhz Overdrive processor. I called it that because it was "The fancy, expensive, wreck." It wasn't a huge deal to me at first when Titanic wouldn't start. I was pretty aquainted with switching master/slave drive jumpers, entering the CHS in the BIOS, using a bootloader from a secondary boot device to mount the root filesyetem, and stuff like that. But this time it was different. The hard drive was unrecoverably scrambled, that I couldn't mount any of the partitions, even the Linux partition, from a recovery console- if you get the picture :-) I was pretty upset. I'm not to bashful to admit that I probably even cried about it. Hey- I was a little kid, and my computer stuff was a way bigger deal to me than anything else in the world, and I worked day and night on it for hours in vain, and I'm sure you understand. I prayed from my heart- "Why is my hard disk scrambled? Why did you let this happen to me?" I opened my Bible and started reading it to see.Jeremiah 22:13,14
Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; [that] useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and [it is] cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
Needless to say I about fell out off my chair when the Word of God jumped off the page out me, out of my Bible. Built a wide house and large chambers? I had just been doing that in virtual reality. I was just trying to cut out a window, apply wood textures to the VR models, and using vermilion-like colors. I was sinning by using the programs without paying for them, and I knew it, and I did it anyway. Then I repented. So, if you're ever trying to give me a CD or MP3 that you've copied, or get me to download shareware that I'm not going to pay for, now maybe you'll understand, why for me, it's not quite such a "gray area." If believe my example, and take my advice, don't expect to be popular. Thank you all for listening, and goodbye fair weather friends. (I even had somebody who saw this article tell me, just a few minutes ago, that if I put "this kind of trash" on my web site, he would hack in and knock my web site down. Oh, but he was only joking, he assured me.) Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; [that] useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;
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