© 1998 Jamie Zawinski <>

I needed to get a license for a piece of software I use.

Actually I already had a license for it, but I had recently upgraded my machine, and the licenses are tied to the machine, so I needed to get a new one, even though I would never be using the old one again. Convenient.

After about two and a half months, I had finally managed to get the purchase order to make its way over the tortuous path from my manager, through Netscape's bureaucracy, over to SGI's bureaucracy, and back again.

Finally, the license arrived.

What this kind of software license is, really, is sixteen digits, that make sense only when used with my particular machine. You know, the sort of thing that could easily and safely have been emailed to me.

Instead, they used snail-mail.

What arrived was a 14-inch by 9-inch by 4-inch cardboard box (Federal Express, of course.) Inside this box was half a gallon of styrofoam peanuts. Underneath the peanuts was an 8-1/2 by 11-inch envelope. On the outside of the envelope were a number of stickers.

On one of the stickers was printed the 16 digit number I needed.

Over the lip of the envelope was another sticker, imploring me to not open the envelope unless I had ``read the Software License Agreement on the back.'' Of course, there was no Software License Agreement on the back.

Inside the envelope was a single sheet of paper (printed on both sides) telling me, verbosely, that the 16 digits I needed were printed on the sticker on the outside of the envelope.

And people wonder why SGI is tanking.

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