The Sad iambic Saga
June 2002 updated developments here!
Anyone is free to link to this page so that others will learn about or remember the underlying character (or lack thereof) of iambic's corporate management . Over time, some links in this article may break as news sites change over their data. I've posted both of iambic's press releases here so you can still see those, and several other interesting public postings. All posts are direct cut-and-paste, not altered in any way, not even to clean up grammar. I have personally verified all information presented on this page. Additionally, iambic is apparently engaged in a revenge campaign against companies that expressed disappointment in their domain-name incident conduct, no matter how courteously. They are also having a problem telling the truth about that as well.
Pimlico Software released their Datebk5 update on 7 May 2002. Mr. Dewar
had been using the name 'Datebk3/4/5" for at least the almost three years the I've been using the program,
and obviously for some time before that. That has literally been the name of the program, as Handspring users especially
know full well. For those who are unfamiliar, Handspring licensed Datebk3 as Datebk+ as a ROM substitute for Palm's
basic Datebook program. Interestingly, on 2 May 2002, iambic bought the domain names datebk4, datebk5, and datebook5.com
and pointed them to iambic's own site. This, in my opinion, constitutes a deceptive business practice. Interesting
that iambic transitioned to their version 5 long before May 2, 2002 and no longer distributed version 4, so why
did they need a datebk4 domain name anyway? Also interesting, iambic did not register 'datebk' itself, only datebk4,
datebk5, and datebook5.com. Some concerned Datebk5 users registered datebk.com and several others (6, 7, etc.)
to prevent iambic from repeating the performance. iambic also clearly implied in their first statement (inserted
below) that they can steal Datebk5's name because it isn't copyrighted. I'm not aware that a lack of copyright
ever justifies stealing. Their addition of "datebook" to their name a couple of months ago (from 'Action
Names' to 'Actions Name Datebook') was a deception to start with, since they are primarily a contact manager. You
can't even in-place edit their day view--the primary calendar display. Some datebook--even the native Palm OS datebook
has in-place editing. And so it goes...Worse than that, the proceeds from Pimlico's sales go to a non-profit
wildlife preservation effort. iambic was literally stealing food from a baby gorilla's mouth. I'm a capitalist
to the core, but I am greatly saddened that a company would stoop so low for a couple of bucks.
Thought you heard it all? But wait, there's more...iambic had someone sitting at their server full time deleting any posts on their forum even mentioning this issue. After a couple of days, iambic changed their forum to a moderated one, where only posts that meet the management's approval are actually posted on the boards. They are also banning registered customers from the site who post on this topic. This behavior extended to the support forums on Yahoo, but Yahoo removed iambic personnel as moderators after users complained. In late May, iambic claimed copyright over the Yahoo forum name and it was deleted at their demand. Interestingly, this is the only case of which I'm aware of a company objecting to a public forum whose purpose is to provide community-based technical support for their product. Free speech apparently has no place with iambic, even if it is only a couple of threads.
iambic's first response, besides censoring every forum they moderate, was to make www.datebk4.com, www.datebk5.com, and www.datebook5.com point to a blank page. They even indicated this in their formal PR response below. However, they pointed datebk4.com and datebk5.com (without the leading www) to their own site. It seems that iambic didn't think anyone would notice that they lied in their press release. We did. Those pages were changed to blanks as well after further uproar from the community. Interesting behavior for a business that says that "Ethics and strong customer support have always been the cornerstone of iambic's success."
On 8 May, iambic released a public relations response:
On May 2, 2002, iambic purchased and registered datebk4.com and datebk5.com which were available. As a vendor of datebook software, iambic's maintains that it has the right to purchase domains containing the generic key word "datebook" (and the abbreviation "datebk") which are not trademarked.
As there was never any previous interest in, use or promotion of these domains, they did not generate any significant additional traffic or sales for us.
On May 5, 2002 we began to receive some concerns and notice postings questioning these domain registrations within the Palm user community. We became concerned when this trend continued and began to shift the discussion away from who makes the best datebook product to issues surrounding the registrations, sales practices, and other non-product issues.
As a member of the Palm developer community, and order to move the discussion back on track, on May 8, 2002 we redirected these pages to a blank page.
Ethics and strong customer support have always been the cornerstone of iambic's success.
They denied any wrong-doing, and claimed that datebk was a standard abbreviation for 'datebook'? In response to a freelance journalist's inquiries, iambic claimed that only a few miscreants even cared about the issue. Here's an excerpt of that article written by Robert Cortopassi for TechTV:
When asked how the "datebk" name was relevant to the Iambic
ActionNames Datebook product, an Iambic representative stated that
"bk" was an accepted abbreviation for words such as "bank" "brook"
"break" and "book." This usage is documented in the Merriam Webster
Collegiate Dictionary. In an attempt to confirm the common usage of
"datebk" as an abbreviation for "datebook," I searched the Internet
using the search engine at www.google.com. Despite Google returning
tens of thousands of hits, it was nearly impossible to find an
occurrence of "datebk" that did not refer to Pimlico Software's
DateBk3, DateBk4 or DateBk5 product.
I questioned Iambic about the overwhelming response by the Palm
community in condemning their behavior. Iambic's representative
stated that the majority of responses were from a "very, very small
vocal group of people," and that those who did post messages on public
discussion forums did so anonymously. Iambic further commented that
they felt the silent majority was afraid to defend them publically for
fear of being "flamed." Flaming is a term commonly used to refer to
aggressive and sometimes violent personal attacks through email or
public discussion groups.
A common sentiment expressed on Palm community websites was that
Iambic should surrender the domain names they registerd to Pimlico
Software as a token of goodwill, and as reparation for their actions.
When this prospect was posed to Iambic, their representative stated
that they had no intention of surrendering the datebk4.com and
In other words, iambic's management was totally unrepentant and felt that those who objected to their behavior were few and irrelevant. Havivah Schwartz created a petition on the web for folks to express their displeasure at iambic's behavior, and it took off like a rocket. There are great news articles at PDABuzz (now lost), PalmInfoCenter, ClieWorld, Brighthand, and CNet on the subject. So...no public apology, no redirection of their rogue domain names to Pimlico Software, no acknowledgement that the issue was even a concern from iambic, but at least one verifiable, blatant lie in their press release--datebk5.com and datebk4.com still pointed at iambic's website. Anybody think all this was an honest mistake? Whatever reputation iambic had when all this originally started, they showed themselves to be dishonest at their core. OTOH, CESD (the author/father/sole proprietor of Datebk3/4/5) has been a total gentleman about the entire ordeal. Mr. Dewar is a class act, in addition to being a selfless philanthrope and master software developer. Here was his response to the whole thing on Pimlico's beta test forum:
From: "C. E. Steuart Dewar"
Date: Thu May 9, 2002 1:12 am
Subject: Domains and the Web of Intrigue
Ok, as you can imagine, I have been following all the uproar with quite some
interest. I realize that there are many people expecting me to flood this
forum with frequent and expansive expressions of invective, dismay etc.,
which I have not done.
First, I don't think it was necessary - there is not much that I could have
added to the overwhelming expression of support for my efforts, and
certainly not to the uhhhh... other opinions expressed ;)
Perhaps it is because of my formal British upbringing and the notion that
people in business should act like gentlemen that leaves me with an aversion
to getting involved with this much further.
Sometimes people think they are clever. Sometimes they learn that they are
not so clever. I suspect Iambic is learning the latter today.
I also suspect that this may not go away quite as fast as they would hope. I
didn't get the impression that this was just an outcry by an anonymous and
"very insignificant percentage of the population"
Thanks again to all of you for your support - THAT has been the enjoyable
part of this all for me ;)
CESD, Pimlico Software, Inc.
On 9 May 2002, iambic president Vidal Graupera finally published an apology in his support forum for registering the above mentioned domains and indicated that he asked the registry company to deregister them. I should note that Mr. Graupera also approved the original 8 May statement defending his actions, as well as ordering the deletion of posts from both his support site and the Yahoo site mentioning the overall situation and the banning of registered customers who published their concerns on those sites. The outcry from the Palm community, including 722 signatures on the petition as of this writing on 11 May (880 by 25 May when the petition was removed), obviously convinced him of the error of his ways. It remains to be seen how iambic apologizes to their registered users who were banned from their support forums for posting polite questions or comments about the issue. Here's iambic's last press release as iambic posted it on Pimlico's beta testing forum on the 10th:
Date: Fri May 10, 2002 1:15 pm
Subject: Off Topic, Statement Regarding Domains
I would like to offer an apology for offending people by registering
datebk4.com and datebk5.com. This practice was not in keeping with our
standards, and we are currently reviewing our marketing methods. We can not
estimate how long it will take for the register.com to unregister the domains
but we started the process of relinquishing ownership of the two domains on May
9, 2002. iambic is looking forward to getting back to the business of making
excellent software and regaining the customer satisfaction we've enjoyed for
nearly a decade.
End game? I personally accepted Mr. Graupera's apology for his and his company's conduct in this incident, and posted so on the major forums. I was no longer explicitly recommending against iambic products. However, I did feel obligated to point out to potential customers how registered users were treated by the company. It would be good to have peace again in the Palm OS community. BTW, the success of the petition drive showed me that a great many in the Palm OS community have a strong sense of what is right. As a fitting close, here are Mr. Dewar's closeout comments:
From: "C. E. Steuart Dewar"
Date: Mon May 13, 2002 1:24 pm
Subject: Iambic - some final thoughts before moving on
First of all, I want to express again my appreciation at the support that I
have received from the Palm Community over the events of this past week.
The Palm community spoke, and at this point Iambic has responded. Regardless
of how this response may have been received or perceived, it is important
that we all be in a frame of mind where apologies can be accepted. If we
don't accept an apology, then there is no incentive for the other party to
Obviously, it is not my place to try and control the nature of the responses
to the original actions taken, but I would like to emphasize that from my
own personal view, I do not condone any actions that go beyond the
professional expression of dissatisfaction at the events. In particular, I
do not like to see any personal attacks, nor any kind of "dirty tricks"
retaliations. There have been some rumblings about that, and I want everyone
to clearly know that both publicly and privately, this would dismay me to
see anything like that become a reality.
So, unless there is some specific new information regarding all of this, I
think we should consider that reason and ethics prevailed and that the final
resolution (assuming that promises that have been made are followed through
on) is satisfactory enough for us to move on and get back to the issues at
We have a new release of DateBk with all the attendant issues that a new
release typically brings. I need to get to work on the translation tables so
the translators can start work on the German and French versions of DateBk5.
We have some new and interesting devices, and with OS 5.0 just around the
corner, I think I have more than enough things to keep me busy! I don't
think that deciding to move on in any way diminishes the efforts made - I
suspect the events of the past week are not going to be forgotten that
CESD, Pimlico Software, Inc.
I'm sorry the day came when I had to write an article like this. I personally hoped that it is over. But not so fast...
On 1 June 2002, iambic was discovered to have removed DesignsbyBert's ActionNames IconSet Deluxe from their 3rd party software page. The exact removal date is not known outside iambic. Bert's icon set is the best selling such set for the Palm OS platform, and he did nothing of which we can think to warrant such an exclusion from an important advertising platform for his product. A 3 June response from iambic said that they cannot link to a site that has bad things written about them. Digging deep into designsbybert's site, we found the bottom message on the forum page is this post by Bert from 8 May 2002:
Iambic, the makers of the ActionNames IconSet Deluxe disappointed not only us at designsbybert.com but read for yourself:
we posted the following message yesterday (05/08/2002) on the message board of IAMBIC but it has been removed from Iambic as soon as they saw the post.
we are the makers of the famous and world wide awarded ActionNames IconSet Deluxe ....
Color Icons to use with ActionNames ...
We today red about the link of www.datebk4.com and www.datebk5.com ....
We think this was not the right thing to do especially for a comany like iambic with a bunch of great products ....
this leaves a bad taste in our mouth.
We think this might more likely end up in a loss of business instead of increasing your business.
We got a lot of emails from our customers beeing deeply dissappointed about this whole thing and a lot of them even said they do not buy any Iambic Products in the future. We at designsbybert can understand that.
we believe this thing can have a dramatic turn and might get to the point where the person that initiated all this registration thing regret to ever have done it.
our recommendation is to show strength and confidence in your products because you can they are great products and donate the links you registered to the makers of DateBK .. which would be a GREAT gesture.
Especially since the maker of DateBK donates the complete profit to wildlife conservation projects like Gorilla Haven. I think this fact alone should be supported wherever possible and not attacked with akts like that.
The whole team at
As I said, this message is buried in their forum, and is not negative at all. It doesn't accuse iambic of anything, and actually compliments their products several times. So, although iambic is entitled to link to whomever they desire on their own web site, this link removal seems like a petty attempt to get even with a company that merely expressed disappointment in a very courteous manner. Designsbybert challenged this on 5 June 2002:
thank you for your reply ....
here our answer:
ok then let us fill you in and build your own opinion...
this is the text we have on our homepage and this is the only text
we ever posted about the case: Iambic registered DateBK4.com and
as you can see youself now this text is not negative at all. It
doesn't accuse iambic of anything, and actually compliments your
products several times !!!
what company would we be talking bad about a product that we produce
icons for ??? that would be unprofessional. we are not unprofessional. and
we will not post any negative things about anybody in this business it just
doesn't make any sense ... we are not a critics or review company !
we did these icons for fun ... we are primary a webdesign company
and work/worked with names like Braun, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Sprint ,
Deutsche Telekom and several other big companies.
you also wrote:" some of our customers who were considering buying
Action Names Datebook and your set, clicked on the link and found out
something negative about our program/or company and reported this to
don't get me wrong but we have a hard time believing that, especially
reviewing our web server statistics that indicate we never got a
single hit from your site since the link has been put on your page (if needed
we can give you complete access to our Web server statistics) [ed.: my emphasis]
i think something is not right in this picture and something has
been made up to remove our set. I don't know where the palm comunity gets
their information from so quick but we found already a couple
websites writing about this case ...
http://home.cfl.rr.com/rmattes/iambic.htm (at the bottom)
we were very sorry to read your words: "I really liked your set" ...
does that means you don't like our set no more?
hope you now have a better overview about this case.
reality is also that 80% of the customer problems we had to supply
technical support for were ActionNames Datebook related problems and not
ActionNames IconSet Deluxe Problems. But we didn't care we took care of every
single customer instead of forwarding them to you. we also posted to
your message board and asked for technical support of your
side and never got an answer through your support message board. but
we still troubleshoot your customer as good as we can and this is
how professional we are ...
we are considering taking our product ACTIONNAMES ICONSER DELUXE off the
we know our iconset is the best iconset on the market for
actionnames datebook and the best selling iconset so this decision
we have to make will not be an easy one but the politics and actions
at iambic seem not very professional.
if we decide to keep our product available for purchase then it will
not be for iambic it will be for the palm community !
just to clarify we do not attack anybody here we are just
disappointed and this whole thing could have been avoided if your
"REPORTING PEOPLE" would have paid a little bit more attention to the
text we posted on our site and not just made up lies.
have a great day and I just hope this case will not cause another
bad effect towards iambic.
iambic seemed intent that any expressed concern, no matter how courteous, over their behavior was not acceptable. From 14 June 2002:
Unfortunately, there won't be any way to partner with us at the
When iambic links out to a third party developer website, it is with
the understanding that the website will portray iambic in a positive
We had the expectation that you would have the courtesy to notify us of
any negative content regarding iambic so that we could determine
whether it was in our best interest to continue to link out. You failed to notify
us of this. It's quite understandable that we don't want to send iambic
customers to your website.
It's bad enough that iambic lied about their customers finding designsbybert's forum link through iambic's website, but is any of their reasoning even really true? Others in the community asked iambic about their action as well, but received a completely different answer. Designsbybert challenged iambic on this and received this completely different and totally unrelated reason on 14 June:
Bert has teamed up with our competitor Pimlico w/out notifying us
The decision not to link to his site was made by the company. If he
wants to explain the situation, he might write another letter (the
one he sent me earlier is simply unacceptable) and I can re-submit it
for him, though the company's position is very clear. The person who
makes the decision is not in the office today, so the only help I can
give you is resubmit the letter next week. While I understand how Bert
felt about the issue at the time, it was not a smart biz decision on his
part to team up with our compet. while we linked to him, and w/out
notifying us about it...resubmitting the letter is the only way I
can help you.
So, was it a courteous note of concern posted in a forum on designsbybert's web site, or that designsbybert decided to donate all proceeds from their Datebk4/5 icon sets to Gorilla Haven? Here's designsbybert's announcement concerning the donations as posted on 18 May 2002:
Profits from the sale of our DateBK4/5 IconSet Deluxe go to the Dewar Wildlife Trust, Inc. a 501(c)(3) and Georgia non-profit corporation which the Dewars established to fund various wildlife conservation projects including the Dewar's own Gorilla Haven project which is building a sanctuary for Western Lowland Gorillas on 324 acres in the North Georgia Mountains -- the first phase of which is currently scheduled for completion in 2002.
Yes it is right PimlicoSoftware and designsbybert are teaming up to support wildlife conservation.
So, how is donating to a wildlife refuge teaming up with a competitor in business against someone? Designsbybert didn't say they were teaming up on software development or sales. Designsbybert still produces and sells a separate icon set for ActionNames, which enhances iambic's own product. What is clear is that there is no straight answer forthcoming from iambic on this issue. As a result, on 14 June after several fruitless email exchanges, designsbybert severed their business relationship with iambic, which was never profitable anyway:
Thank you for responding so quickly. I want to say that I don't understand
why we needed to notify you that we were teaming up with Pimlico to support
wildlife conservation? It's not as if your company was supporting wildlife
conservation and we chose his organization over yours. Our message
board statement says nothing negative about Iambic,
for yourself. As for the letter Bert wrote earlier, I can honestly
say that I don't think that I would take too kindly to being accused
of things that were not true either.
As we mentioned before, we have not gained any business as a result of being
mentioned on your 3rd party page, so your company's decision to
terminate relations with us is it's right, but it hasn't hurt us and
we won't come begging for reinstatement.
I think that whoever made the decision to register the datebk domains
is regretting it now because as a result of this whole fiasco,
Pimlico's business has more than doubled. So if IAMBIC needs to push
the blame onto everyone else so you all can sleep at night, that's
fine. But as of right now, I will gladly say that I am happy to be
supporting Pimlico's cause of wildlife preservation, and I don't think
that it would hurt IAMBIC to consider supporting the environment
Thank you for taking the time to read this, but upon your receipt of
this email I would like to officially consider our business
I wish you all the best.
Well, there you have the whole story as best I can discern it. Another sad story for the Palm OS community.
Consider for yourself the character of iambic and its management carefully before spending a penny on their software. There are many good alternatives out there from reputable companies who treat their customers and corporate supporters with real respect. Caveat emptor!
Last updated 22 June 2002