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10 March 2005 @ 08:05 pm
Software stalking  
Okay, so, at what point did software begin to emulate the stalker model?

Seriously, I've installed 3 applications in the last week. All three from (fairly) reputable companies...Two messenger apps (we'll call 'em BOL Instant Messenger and Woohoo! Messenger), and a music program (call it uTunes). Variably, among the three of them, they requested permission to do the following:

  • Add a desktop shortcut

  • Add a quick-launch shortcut

  • Reside resident in the system tray

  • Run at computer start-up

  • Install various add-ons and 3rd-party riders

  • Become the default application of their type on the system

In all cases, I went for the minimal install possible. See, I just wanted the Messengers, so I could shuffle and maintain my buddy-lists easily; I actually connect through my mobile device. I just wanted uTunes so I could occasionally buy music online. So I allowed the desktop shortcuts, but disabled all other options.

So, first thing that came to notice was, the installers invariably tried to trick me into re-selecting the un-checked options (or tried to slip them under my radar). Fine, I kept de-selecting them until I was satisfied. But the second part is what really blows my mind.

About 2/3 of the options went ahead and did their thing anyways

Isn't this the kind of crap that got RealPlayer such a lousy reputation? Don't these companies worry that offering buttons to disable the annoyware, but not making the buttons connect to anything, is gonna piss people off more than if they just didn't ask at all?

And my final question...what is supposed to be accomplished by this? Back to the earlier stalker-parallel...Do they think that if they pester you and popup to the foreground often enough, they'll eventually win you over? Do they think that no means yes? I'm sorry, but the application that does what I need it to, and then gets the hell out of the way is the one that gets return business from me.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: Mark Knopfler - Sands of Nevada
The noble and untamable wildaltonwings on March 11th, 2005 02:36 am (UTC)
I tend to manually alter some of the programs in question (particularly BOL) so that selections I never chose don't occur for me. 'Wahoo!' is probably the least offensive for me, once you clean up various additions once, it doesn't tend to reinstall.
Brendan: Chug!roho on March 11th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think I managed to clean up all three post-install; if they ignored changes you made in the actual 'Preferences' menu, I think there'd be war ;)
doomseydoomsey on March 11th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC)
You might be better off installing Killian - it'll talk to BOL and Wahoo, and is slightly less annoying than either.
Jenniferburan on March 11th, 2005 03:35 am (UTC)
I prefer not to install beer in my house. :P
Brendan: DRINK!roho on March 11th, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC)
Whyever not? I have a whole keg of beer out in the garage, and have been quite happy with the installation ;)
Aurethaureth on March 12th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
I should schedule a sampling of this keg.

For quality control purposes, you understand...
Brendan: DRINK!roho on March 12th, 2005 04:33 am (UTC)
Nah. It's quite drinkable, but after careful consideration of the taste, I believe it's a bit oxidized. Wait for the next batch ;)
Aureth: Beeraureth on March 12th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
Ahh, I see. You just want it all for yourself. ;)
Brendan: DRINK!roho on March 12th, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC)
Well...yeah, that too ;)
Brendan: DRINK!roho on March 16th, 2005 07:21 pm (UTC)
Actually, I have to take back my earlier statement. After aging an extra week in the keg, it's become very tasty indeed! I'll try to save some ;)
Aureth: Beeraureth on March 17th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)
Aging beer is good!
Brendan: Brazil Phone Madnessroho on March 11th, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
I considered it, but I wasn't sure if it had full options for setting buddy groups and general settings that're saved on the server. Since I don't plan to ever run them aside from when I need to modify my lists/groups, I figured I could deal with the annoying default clients :)
Lanakila: Awksquawk!  (Silly Lanakila by Saoirse)lanakila on March 11th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC)
Frightening Fennec Fox
As much as I enjoy reading your Live Journal, this comment has nothing to do with your posting.

It has everything to do with your Live Journal icon you selected.

It scares me! :P An angry fennecy with a cue stick! RUN!

Urocyon abiectiusurocyon on March 11th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
Well, that's what you get for running TinyFlaccid Panes instead of something like FreeBDSM, you wind up with all sorts of sleazy stuff like FakePlaya. You could always try getting music from somewhere like EhMusic instead, and for instant messaging there's nothing like a DAIM. Lotsa other options out there by Open Sores developers who agree with Goggle's philosophy of "Don't Be A Weevel."
Brendan: Brazil Phone Madnessroho on March 11th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
Butbut...I run OpenBDSM! That counts, right? ;)
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on March 11th, 2005 05:46 am (UTC)
How about HP software that always insists on putting a HP All-In-One Manager icon in my Dock every time I install it... then launches a program every time I log in to see if it's still there and replace it if it isn't. To break this 'feature' one has to scout around in some of the systemwide configuration files and pull up the plist editor. There is a checkbox in the HP preferences that says, basically, "Put an icon in your Dock". It has no effect one way or the other. Go, HP, go.
Jenniferburan on March 11th, 2005 06:19 am (UTC)
Fancy meeting YOU here. And I didn't know you were a Mac user!
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on March 11th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC)
I'm everywhere, and nowhere... };>

Also, yup, I am one of those indeed. }:>
Brendan: Brazil Phone Madnessroho on March 11th, 2005 03:35 pm (UTC)
Gawd, we spent a good long while trying to exorcise the HP demon from enveri's parents' computer. They had The Works...not just the icon, but some resident application launch bar that stuck itself at the top of the screen, and ate all the resources on the system :P What a horrible thing to do to a customer's computer!
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on March 11th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
That's the thing. It's my computer, not HP's, and I'll decide what's in the Dock, thank you very much. I've written HP on this matter. No reply.

Speaking of, every once in a while HP's printer communication daemon goes off on a runaway tight loop when I unplug the printer (I primarily use a laptop, and the printer thusly isn't always plugged in... In fact, usually it isn't...) and hogs the CPU. Thus every time I get done printing or scanning (the device is one of those all-in-one jobs) I have to run 'top' and see if I need to go 'kill -9' something.

Of course, it could be worse. Lexmark's printer driver used to do the same thing, and was a lot more consistent about it... And it had a memory leak that could spiral out of control very quickly when it got into tight-loop mode. One had to catch it within about a minute or one might not have the resources left to execute 'kill'. Lexmark's software, however, didn't decide that it 0wn3d my Dock...
Wesha the Leopardwesha on March 11th, 2005 06:02 am (UTC)
Miranda wants you, Luke...

Small, free, opensource, supports every single protocol out there, and then some. Doesn't need installation altogether (unzip and use).
nyuni on March 11th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
I really am ashamed of the tactics Upple are using with uTunes. They don't use these sorts of tatics on the install for Mac, and they shouldn't bundle their Media framework (which shall remain anonymous) with "uTunes". It's embarassing to those of us who use uh.... alternative computing platforms who don't have to put up with that, only to see that they're doing the same thing that every other scum sucking company is doing to our Windows bretheren. Trust me, we feel your pain.
Brendan: Gordon Freeman Annoyedroho on March 11th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
You know, what shocked me was that uTunes was actually the worst of the bunch. It asked to be the default media player on startup; I declined. Guess what it did anyways?

Then, after I'd restored my file associations, the next time I ran uTunes, it popped up a message, "I'm not the default media player. Should I fix this?" I declined, and told it not to ask me again.

Guess what it did anyways? :P

And yeah, the bitch of it is, I've used Macs. I like Macs. I know that actually using one is nothing like the uTunes experience for Windows. But anyone who hasn't already had the Mac experience isn't gonna know that, so I'm not sure why they think having the un-housebroken puppy that is uTunes as an ambassador is a good plan :P
Elfasielfasi on March 11th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC)
BOL I've found to get more and more evil over the years, it bothers me just how many options you have to set afterwards as well, just to sanitise it. The latest thing is removing the entire option to switch off the facile 'BOL Today' window that pops up whenever you launch it, you have to resort to modifying the relevant flag in the registry to turn it off. The harder they make it to sanitise a program, the greater the lengths I go to modify it to my ends, so they just lose out in the end.