Thursday, December 25, 2008

Diskeeper's Dianetics Difficulties

It seems that Diskeeper is having legal hassles once again. According to the Wikipedia article, the German government kicked up a fuss in 2000 about the inclusion of Diskeeper's defrag program in Windows 2000, because of their concerns about the company's close connections with the Scientology organisation.
"Executive Software [now Diskeeper] CEO Craig Jensen is a member of the Church of Scientology and has claimed his employees are schooled in the principles of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
"Our staff is trained on these procedures," Jensen said in 1992. (Wired article)
Now a former CIO is suing Diskeeper because he claims he was fired for not participating in Scientology training. The legal papers are long, and Diskeeper has responded to them, so the case will be heard at some point. Scott Pilutik writes:
Alexander Godelman and Marc Le Shay, two Diskeeper employees (Godelman was CIO and Le Shay hired as the Automation Planning Officer) have filed a complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Scientology training was a condition of employment and that their refusal to participate led to their dismissal. According to the complaint, "[T]he working conditions and work environment at Diskeeper were inextricably intertwined with the Scientology religion such that a non-Scientologist cannot escape constant impositions of said religion."
When Godelman complained that these programs ran counter to his own religious belief (Judaism), former Diskeeper CEO and current Chairman Craig Jensen told Godelman that his attendance at the "training courses" was "not negotiable," adding that Godelman would become more intelligent and his personal life would "improve drastically." Jensen also warned Godelman to not "complain about the process" in emails, which Jensen feared would be "misconstrued" and/or "taken out of context." Le Shay was eventually fired after he refused to attend and participate in a course series entitled "Basic Study Manual" and after Godelman interceded on Le Shay's behalf, Godelman was also terminated.
The Daily Tech article states:
Diskeeper’s response seeks to black out Godelman and Le Shay’s request that the company “forever refrain from … requiring any employee, as a condition of employment, to study, adopt and/or apply the [Scientology-authored] ‘Hubbard Management Technology’ and/or the related ‘Hubbard Study Technology’ in the workplace.” The unusual request is justified by the company’s First Amendment rights, of which it argues that injunctions prohibiting religious practice in the workplace are unconstitutional.

Coincidentally, (or is it synchronistically?) I was doing research on Wikipedia about "vexatious litigation" (in connection with my own case), and discovered that one of the most notable vexatious litigants is the Church of Scientology:
"Plaintiffs (Scientologists) have abused the federal court system by using it, inter alia, to destroy their opponents, rather than to resolve an actual dispute over trademark law or any other legal matter. This constitutes 'extraordinary, malicious, wanton and oppressive conduct.' As such, this case qualifies as an 'exceptional case' and fees should be awarded pursuant to the Lanham Act ... It is abundantly clear that plaintiffs sought to harass the individual defendants and destroy the church defendants through massive over-litigation and other highly questionable litigation tactics. The Special Master has never seen a more glaring example of bad faith litigation than this."
I just hope that Diskeeper has the good business sense not to employ the same lawyers and tactics that Scientologists have used in the past. They are not getting much good publicity from this case, and some of the reactions on Twitter have been somewhat hostile, with people saying that they are uninstalling the software because of this case. Personally, I can think of better reasons for uninstalling the software, including the company's over-reliance on HYPE to sell its products, and the misleading impressions created by their marketing.
I plan to do a proper review of Diskeeper 2009, along with its competitors. This is partly inspired by a June article in MaximumPC called "The Disk Defrag Difference", in which they cite "negligible performance gains" for 3 defrag products, based on the PCMark Vantage benchmarks. I think their choice of benchmark determined their conclusions, so I plan on using several benchmarks and tests on my new test PC, FRAGG.

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