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Ruh-roh! Rick Ruhl rolled out of Ham Radio Deluxe in software kill-switch aftermath

Cofounder ejects over blacklist for bad reviews

The developer of Ham Radio Deluxe – a popular app used by thousands of hams – has restructured its management following claims it punished users who wrote critical reviews.

HRD Software said in a statement on Friday that co-founder Rick Ruhl will step down to pursue other interests. Ruhl, along with co-owners Mike Carper and Randy Gawtry, ran the radio software company after buying the rights to the code in 2011.

The reshuffle comes after HRD found itself under scrutiny after it remotely disabled copies of the software belonging to users who spoke out against the company on various amateur radio websites and forums.

"Ham Radio Deluxe software would have been abandoned in 2011 without Rick's partnership," said HRD co-owner Dr Michael Carper.

"Rick's day-to-day leadership in running the business has contributed to the vitality and functionality of Ham Radio Deluxe."

Ruhl was, essentially, blamed by customers for his organization's poor handling of complaints and bad reviews. After one user went public about how his copy was blackballed in revenge for posting a negative review, it was followed by further claims that HRD had similarly retaliated against others – and had maintained a "blacklist" of radio handles that had been blocked from using the software.

Though HRD at first pinned the balls-up on a rogue "contracted support employee," Ruhl eventually accepted responsibility for the blackballing and said HRD Software would remove the blacklisting of the call signs.

"No one is going to be sued. I made a serious mistake and error of judgement in this and many cases and I am truly sorry," said Ruhl. He had earlier left an angry message on one blacklisted person's voicemail, threatening legal action for speaking out against his company.

"I apologize publicly ... I do have diabetes and sometimes this affects my judgement and it did in that voicemail. I truly regret it. I'm talking to my doctor about changing my medications so I won't have any more low sugar.

"[HRD's cofounder] Randy, Mike and I are discussing my future with HRD."

In addition to shifting Ruhl out of the company, HRD said it will be updating its end-user license agreement to "modernize and renew" its customer support policies. ®

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