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Being stiffed by suppliers and pop-up windows

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Stiffing is a term which has special resonance in the ITworld. It means software suppliers abusing the small print in their licences to rip off extra dosh from licencees, which is you and me, but more particularly medium and large offices which buy licences rather than multiple copies of the software.

According to Computer Weekly, there are four big software stiffs. One is the version release stiff, whereby the software house designates what is really a maintenance release as a version and makes you fork out for it. Another is the upgrade stiff, which involves charging all licence users the same high price regardless of usage. Then there is the change of platform stiff. Here you have to fork out for a completely new set of applications when you change the platform they run on, even though they are doing exactly what they did on the old platform. Finally, there is the change of anything else stiff. This is where the supplier decides you have done something not specifically allowed for in the contract, such as merging with another company, changing your company name or moving premises.

The campaigning weekly is on the case. If you've been a stiffing victim, contact the parliamentary/industry lobby Eurim Fair Dealing Group on 01494 674 605 or e-mail group secretary emma. fryer@geo2.poptel.org.uk Or talk to Computer Weekly's managing editor, Dr John Riley, in confidence on 020 8652 3099.

Following Nick Crowe's art experiment with websites reported a couple of weeks ago, someone suggested I look at www.artatwalsall.org.uk/, the site for the NewArt Gallery at Walsall. Maybe I'm getting crusty, but it is an intensely irritating site with little windows popping up and filling with images or textures. I am reminded of a golden rule expounded in one of the computer magazines last month. It is one that also applies to home movie makers who have just discovered the power zoom button: just because you can doesn't mean you have to.

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