[tz] (no subject)
tech at astrology-x-files.com
Fri Oct 7 10:12:07 UTC 2011
I suggest you let your opinion known here:
This lawsuit is in part a vendetta against me and my use of the Olson time zone database for the Terran Atlas and you will see why below.
In 2005, my software had breakthrough success because the implementations that I had suggested to Astrolabe, Esoteric Technologies, etc since 1995 went unheeded and I eventually decided to program it for myself. That is the same time (2005) the offers for hiring came from several of the top companies including Astrolabe.
Gary Christen (CEO of Astrolabe) tried to hire me on three separate occasions and I refused. When Astrolabe obtained the ACS Atlas (when ACS went bankrupt in July 2008), I was concerned that I wouldn't have an atlas for my software anymore. The last time that they tried to hire me, the ACS Atlas became leverage to coerce me into working for them because I had no guarantee that they would give me access to the ACS Atlas. When I refused the last time, I managed to obtain a verbal agreement that I would send my customers to them for a special discount on the ACS Atlas and was relieved for a while. But over the next several months, my customers started complaining about the run around they were getting on the special deal that Gary promised my customers. Eventually one of my customers said that he thought that Astrolabe was trying to make me look bad and disadvantage my business by making it difficult to obtain the stand alone version of the ACS Atlas which is required by my software (but not Solar Fire which has the ACS Atlas bound with it). He was so fed up with the run around Astrolabe gave him that he formatted a database of latitudes and longitudes for me and asked me to add it to my software. That got me back on the issue of researching time zones after which I found the Olson time zone database. I subsequently found from the Olson sources that the ACS data was extremely unreliable, much more than I previously thought.
A few days after I released the Terran Atlas I got the following email from Gary Christen (which has inaccuracies in it, but keep in mind this copy was forwarded to his lawyers):
Kirk Kahn just sent this link to me and it is very disturbing.
You, of all people know that we have invested serious $ into the ACS
Atlas and have given you and your customers very good pricing for its
purchase. We have also been doing serious investment into re-writing
this copyrighted code.
We have an obligation to the Michelsen-Simms Trust and to ourselves to
legally protect this data base. While another entity may have illegally
published some of this material into the public domain, that does make
subsidiary use of pirated material legal for any party.
We will be investigating the Olsen work, as it has just come to our
attention. There is no instance where any portion of the Atlas has been
given permission to be brought into the public domain. Such use is
theft, as we understand it.
The research into the past time zone changes and time usage by Neil
Michelsen, Thomas Shanks, the Pottenger brothers and countless hired
researchers was financially paid for by ACS at great expense and went on
for many years. Many of the sources used, we know, are no longer extent
and cannot be re-created by any means. The bankruptcy of ACS and the
years leading up to it have been a low point in the ACS Atlas research
and development. Since assuming ownership 2 years ago, we have been
involved in legal proceedings concerning the Atlas and have spent the
time since this spring doing major upgrades to the entire code base.
While we are correcting some errors in overseas tables, these areas are
being greatly expanded.
It is very easy to take what seems to be public information and cobble
together something new. One only has to copy and do the details.
However, the historical information underlying the time tables is still
owned by Astrolabe and the Michelsen-Simms Trust and re-creating it
without the aid of copying Thomas Shanks' life work would be very hard
indeed. And he, as well as the Pottenger brothers still get royalties
for all uses of the work, so this is stealing from them as well.
One can self justify for any activity and twist morals at will. You are
quite aware that this is an ethical violation as well as a legal one as
you made no attempt to consult with us as to rights and legalities. What
looks like a loophole is, in turn, a sleazy rat hole that reveals poorly
thought out intentions and damaging actions.
Astrolabe wants you to withdraw this product and publish a disclaimer.
We will be legally following up on this and the sources. The fact that
the authors you have utilized publish their sources and cite ACS will
not sit well and is not an excuse for usage. This area is not about
academic material where simple citing of other people's work allows
reference. The providence of ownership of this material is well documented.
Thank you for your attention,
Gary Christen, President, Astrolabe, Inc.
The reality is that when I visited Cape Cod, I was never told about any financial dealings involving the ACS Atlas. They wanted me to do tech support and possibly reformat the ACS database or have Ray White do it. But I was given no guarantees. They offered me 20% on sales of Delphic Oracle but saying not to expect much in the way of sales because it was a fringe market. Then they asked me to load my software onto one of their computers without an agreement in place in Oct 2008 and that is when I knew that I couldn't go through with it because I could have been fired or laid off without recourse 3 weeks later lacking access to even my own code.
I also have reason to believe that ACS was well aware of the existence of the Olson time zone database and they made no attempt to sue. It was one of their bragging rights saying that it was in use outside of the astrology industry as an indication of how accurate it was! I have not been able to locate this statement but it might still be on the waybackmachine for ACS (Astro Communications Services which should be astrocom.com).
Their goal is to keep myself and other astrology software developers from developing their own time zone databases in order to force us into their monopoly and maintain the supremacy of Solar Fire over other applications. The story is a long ugly one dating back to about 1995 with many attempts to steal my work, but the truth will come out and Arthur and myself will be vindicated.
Let me know if I can be of any help.
CEO / software engineer
Zoidiasoft Technologies, LLC
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