Tracing One's Roots

My entanglement with pirated (or "friendly") software goes all the way back to the 1990s when I was in primary school. Back then my classmate Goh Hong Boon lent me a 3 1/2" diskette containing a game named "Gemfire" by Koei and I found the game fun. In order for me to continue playing the game while I return the "original" to Hong Boon, I duplicated the diskette to one of mine. This marked the first pirated computer software that I had in my possession.

In the year 1994 onwards, computer game shops begin popping out in my neighbourhood selling pirated software at prices of around $2 to $20. I still remember buying a game named "Championship Manager Italia" by Domark Software Ltd, and I paid afew bucks for it. To me, I was buying software with real money, so it did not occur to me that the software was pirated in nature. From that point onwards, I saved up my savings to purchase software games from these shops because they were affordable by my standards. Even though I did buy original games from the bookstore, I still recall my first original game titled "B17 Flying Fortress" by Microprose which cost me $40-$60, it was considered expensive by my standards.

I was just an impoverished school going pupil who could hardly pay for my living expenses, so paying a few dozen bucks for original software set me thinking, "Is it worth it?" It so happened that pirated software became an outlet for me to evaluate original software, such that I would only buy original software if I had used the pirated version and found it worth keeping.

By the time I reached youth-hood and started helping out at my extended family's business, I came into contact with a software named Autodesk AutoCAD. Back then the version we were using was Release 14, and because our family could not afford the original version, we obtained a pirated copy from our business associate and installed them onto our machine and used AutoCAD to draw construction drawings for commercial purposes.

From the year 1998 onwards, I continued to buy pirated software material all the way till the advent of the internet suddenly made pirated digital files available even more affordable with file sharing applications such as Kazaa, Napster, Audiogalaxy, and Bittorrent which is still around this day. These software were a dilemma to me, they are free software which allowed file sharing for free, for instance Microsoft Windows XP would cost me a few dozen or hundred dollars, but with file sharing software, I could obtain a compromised version of the same Windows XP without paying a dollar or two. I knew from education that software piracy was wrongful, but I could not afford original software, so it only made sense that I continued using "friendly" versions of them.

However, education did have a positive impact on me. As I graduated from tertiary school and entered the workforce as a software consultant, I discovered that I could no longer use pirated software and imagine that it was legal when I was selling original software myself. It just did not make sense for me to use pirated software when I was expecting others to pay for the enterprise software I was marketing. I hence made a concerted effort to abandon pirated software. 

In the year 2012, I decided to become a formal religious follower to pursue my Buddhist faith, and to do so I had to take up religious commitments which included non killing and non stealing. This meant that I had to forfeit my collection of pirated software so that I can have a clearer conscience and be a genuine religious follower. I hence threw away all my pirated softwares and games and went for my spiritual precepts. It was a difficult decision and a necessary one for me to go for my higher pursuit of inner bliss.

Between the years 2013 and 2023, I was completely free of any naggy entanglements with pirated software. However, as I quit my full time job to become a religious person who farms for a living, I discovered that my family business in the construction industry still needed to use a pirated version of AutoCAD to keep it in business. This was a matter of concern to me, because my family relied on me to help them crack (or compromise) the AutoCAD software each time the industry needs a newer edition, and they were unable to afford the commercial cost of the Autodesk software which hovered around the thousands of dollars.

Having said so much, this brings me to the concluding paragraph of this page. I did my best to reconcile the dilemmas, and eventually I found a software similar to AutoCAD named GstarCAD, and we downloaded the trial version and found it very similar to AutoCAD. My family decided that we would fork out the $950 necessary to buy an original version of GStarCAD, and this meant that I can go ahead to close this case temporarily and continue my pursuit of a life free from software thievery. This is good news for me, and this is also why I set up this website, to share with others how I managed to overcome software theft and embrace original or opensource software.


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