• Love the License

    By the end of April, I seemed to be stymied in my quest for an affordable copy of MATLAB that I could run on my local laptop. The university maintains a license pool for the base software plus toolkits. I do have access to run a copy from the license server when I’m on campus. It actually worked off of campus too, when I’d been told it shouldn’t, but that turned out to be a mistake. When I reported it, the firewall was closed to the outside world for requests for the license server. That’s where honesty gets you: no MATLAB accessibility from anywhere with an Internet connection.
    I was hoping to snag one of the concurrent licenses for my permanent use and offered even to buy an additional one for that purpose as that would be cheaper. I was told that I couldn’t have one and I should investigate the student version of the software. Unfortunately, the student version is only available to students in taught courses, not Ph.D. research students, so that wasn’t any good. I mentioned to Thufir that I’d been turned down, reportedly by the head of software/hardware procurement within our department. Thufir promised to see what he could do. Then, last week, I received an e-mail last week from the lab manager, the person in charge of the procurement. He offered, if somebody would pay for it, to install an academic version of the software on my university-owned equipment for only £525 (~930 US/780 €). That was just for the base software and not also for the toolkit I need.

    As I haven’t met with Thufir since receiving the e-mail, I haven’t discussed it with him to see if he’s willing to cough up £525 (~930 US/780 €) plus £210 (~370 US/310 €) for the software for me. The lab manager stopped by my office today to see if somebody was going to pay for it and we entered into a discussion about the licensing arrangements. The academic license is only available for installation on university-owned equipment. I don’t have any university-owned equipment. He doesn’t want to be breaking the law by violating the terms of the licensing agreement which is fair enough. That does leave me in somewhat of a quandry: I don’t qualify for the student edition; I’d be in violation of the license for an academic version; and I can’t afford the £1625 (~2900 US/2400 €) commercial base software price plus an additional £600 (~1050 US/895 €) for the toolkit I need.
    Why do I need my own copy? Can I live without my own copy? I can possibly do without my own copy as I can run it on campus, but I’m not on campus all the time. I do return to Canada for extended periods of time and we are investigating an option of moving back to Canada and having me commute out every quarter or so for a month as that would be cheaper than actually living here. Just last year I spent 6 months in Canada. Even if I am here, it’s a problem if I just want to work from home. It would therefore be nice to have my own copy, but at what price?
    I’ve told the lab manager that I’ll get back to him. I’m meeting with Thufir on Friday. I also e-mailed MathWorks to ask about my situation and licensing arrangements for it. It does seem strange that their academic license is restricted by machine ownership rather than by reported use for the software. Their customer service auto-responder promises a response within 24 hours, but so far all I’ve received is the automatic response and a response from their database that my e-mail address has been updated in my profile. I have no idea what that’s about. Maybe tomorrow will be better.