Part of my career history was spent creating consumer software products. So, I am well aware of the problem of software piracy. With that experience in mind, what I have to say might seem odd.
I hate DONGLES!
OK. It's not all THAT inconvenient. So, that's not my problem with it. And, they seem to be relatively reliable. So, that is not the reason for my ire.
I hate dongles for what they reveal about the software developer's view of their customers. Let's face it. They wouldn't rely on a dongle if they didn't think we are crooks! If our relationship with the company begins with that premise, then what hope is there for real customer service.
"Hi! I want to sell to you. But, I think you are going to steal from me. So, I am going to write my software so that you can't steal from me. Now, let's be friends."
As I mentioned earlier, I had purchased a Gazelle for my daughter some years ago. And, for some reason, it went unused. So, I decided to find out why. After all, if I can get this thing to work for my purposes, I can avoid having to buy something else. So, I picked it up and began to install the Funtime Scrapbooking software that I'd purchased along with the machine.
Uh-Oh! A dongle. They think I'm a crook. Not a good beginning.
It didn't get a whole lot better when I went up to www.funtimescrapbooking.com looking to see if a newer version was available. There was an upgrade and it, too, required a dongle, politely called a 'key'. But, when I clicked on the "compatible cutters" link, the Gazelle was not listed. Hmmmm... that's not good news.
Maybe there is something to my intuition regarding customer service and dongles!
Fortunately, Gazelle's web site has the upgrade for the "special" version of Funtime 2010 along with directions for reprogramming my dongle, which also disables it for the current version. I'm still pondering whether I want to bother. I expect I will go ahead and upgrade if the current software shows any promise at all.
By the way, I immediately contacted Craftwell to see if they, too, required a dongle with their eCraft software and was please to hear that they do NOT think their potential customers need a dongle to keep them honest. There will be NO dongle required to run the eCraft software. I like that.
It may seem like a small thing. But, a corporation's view of their customers is the foundation of customer focused service. I'm betting that if they show us respect in this one area, they are likely to show us respect in others. To me, the dongle vs. no dongle decision by Craftwell could be a very important indicator of their relationship to those of us that become users of their products.
In the meantime, I'll stick the dongle in the 2nd USB port and push on the next level of checking out the Funtime Scrapbooking software and the Gazelle II.