Well, I did end up hearing back from Greg and he asked where I got the unit.
I decided that this was the point in time that the conversion went from email to voice. After several attempts to get him on the phone, I got has as I was about to get on the metro.
Back when I was first thinking of contacting Intel I decided that there were 3 possible outcomes:
1.) They tell me to get lost, can't help, sorry.
2.) They'd label me a hacker, and threaten to ruin me with a lawsuit unless I shipped them the unit back to be destroyed, since this was Spanish.
3.) They helped.
Well, hind-sight is about 20-20 on this one. I shouldn't have called. I should have shut the heck up!!!
Greg is a cool guy about it, but did start going into the how did I get it. Turns out that Intel, like many companies, made financial arrangements with an ISP (in Spain) to carry the units. The number of units was "rather substantial" or something like (About 250,000 from what I have read on the net). Greg said that the agreement with CompanyX (can't remember the name), that since the dot was a not a success, they would be re-flashed, and made into viable machines that could have any OS installed on them.
Greg explained that there's a USB dongle that would "allow" you to re-flash the bios. The jumpers may or may not need to be adjusted or removed. Not sure the details. Also, in the discussion, the issue of the modem never being tested by whatever standards organization, UL?, here in the US came up. "Intel", it seems, had some concerns about possible violation of US laws, as they were never intended to be sold here.
He mentioned shortly into the conversions that they had some concerns about the units, since they were never supposed to be in the US in the original form, (Spanish). Apparently, the TigerDirect setup IS acceptable, our, is a bit of a problem. They are worried about a possible influx of people contacting Intel, ("since its got their name all over it"), and asking for support, and help. I assured him I'm probably the exception to the rule, not the standard. But, bottom line, they were making calls to CompanyX, and beyond.
I immediately got VERY worried about bOB's safety. He's been swell, cool, and flexible. He's just a salesman, not a ringleader. I don't think he intended to EVER do anything wrong. He's probably just selling something that ended up in his hands. I have to admit I wonder how the heck they ended up in Maine. Maybe these units never even made it to Spain??
Greg assured me that he would be talking to CompanyX to see where the breakdown. Since the lock-down machines should have been re-flashed and repurposed. "We won't waste the companies resources to go after a small individual", but rather talk to CompanyX since that is in clear "violation of our agreement".
Other interesting points in the conversation was when he talked about the design of the machine. They were designed to be "hacker proof". The bios protection was the ultimate step to ensure this. The bootloader was designed to prevent anyone from pulling an i-opener. He even referred to THIS BBS, by talking about "a bunch of people who got a machine that was supposed to be ISP subsidized, for $200, and turned them into a working machine by adding a surplus harddrive." Intel wanted to avoid this marketing/financial disaster.
Morale of the story
I'm a pain in the ass, troublemaker. See, this is what happens to people who go too far. I went too far and now Intel is possibly out on the hunt. Greg seems straight to me, but who knows. I hope bOB doesn't get messed over, and that he can continue to sell the units to anyone.
Greg said that the engineers have the dongle, and they COULD send it to me, but at the same time they're surprised that original units are floating around. They need to make a decision, and the next, and most likely the last email will either be, either thanks for playing can't help, or what's your address, a dongle is in the mail.
I really, REALLY, hope that any possible harm never falls on bOB. I'd recommend that no-one else get overzealous and contact anyone that isn't a TRUSTED source. I doubt we could get sued, but with a big company, who knows??
I hope that IF anyone from Intel is reading this, that they see I'm just trying to use "blue"*. I'm NOT trying to cause financial peril to anyone, prevent a loss of revenue, abuse intellectual property, or anything devious.
*(My machine has been named "blue". Any other additions to the family will be named numerically to follow, eg.: blue2, blue3, maybe I'll do superblue, or something like that latter bOB willing. :)
hope that made sense. i'm a bit befuddled and stressed now.