May 2005


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Archive for May 5th, 2005

McAfee warning

Posted in Geekery on May 5th, 2005

McAfee Antivirus has been looking at Symantec’s Norton product for a while now, and they have gotten tired of being the No.2 AV product on the market. What did they do to solve this? The same thing Microsoft did with Windows: they went to the manufacturers.

New computers are mow shipping with McAfee from the factory. AOL’s AV product is from McAfee. Even Asus motherboards are coming with the software bundled into the driver disc.

All well and good, you might think, except for one small problem: in my humble opinion, it sucks. I recently ran across a new Compaq computer with the whole shebang of McAfee products installed, and they thought they were safe. I removed it and installed AVG. What did I find lurking on the hard drive of this supposedly well-protected machine? Five different Trojans.

Instead of pushing their developers to write a better product, McAfee spent heaps of cash to get the vendors to drop the venerable (and top-notch) Norton Antivirus in favor of Mcafee.

Consider yourself warned.

Ease of use

Posted in Geekery on May 5th, 2005

This post over at Greyduck’s got me thinking for a few minutes.

Scary, huh?

Anyway, my thoughts revolved around how annoying the current crop of “helper apps” is becoming. You know, all that shit that lives down in the Windows system tray, waiting in the background for you to do something with their product. HP printer utilities, MSN messenger, digital camera software, etc., etc., ad infinitem. It drives me batty to watch a modern computer chew on the ‘Welcome’ screen for a full 2 minutes waiting for it to load all that into memory when a clean XP install can boot in 45 seconds. Then it does some more chewing when you actually log in. Is it really too difficult to double-click a frelling icon?

Even worse, these programs no longer leave traces in the Startup folder of the Start list. The only way to prevent them running at startup is to dig through 5 pages of configuration options and uncheck the “run at boot” option.

Then it hit me: the software vendors are walking the same path as the TV execs – you know, the one where they pitch every show they have at the average 12-year-old. They’re pandering to the lowest common denominator…

The AOL users.

It makes sense if you look at it in a certain light – AOL has been the biggest ISP for internet eons, largely due to their marketting campaign. They have been flooding user’s screens with useless, unwanted crap for years now, and their subscribers have simply dealt with it, since they have never known there was another way. Obviously, software developers for the mass market have decided to follow AOL’s playbook, writing software that monitors your system all the time, lying in wait for you to plug in that camera or watch a streaming video. Those little things that you maybe do twice a month – but still it waits, like a circling shark…

This has led us to an unfortunate impasse, one where the average computer user, instead of getting smarter and more savvy as they continue to use this most able tool, is getting dumber and letting other people make their choices for them. This is giving us a country full of people who just basically click on everything that comes across their screen.

A world ripe for spyware pushers.

I have this to say to the software vendors of the world: Yea, though your user base may have sheepish traits, it is possible for them to learn. Write software that requires a decision to use, not something that sits there like a bandit, waiting to ambush me should I even think of hovering my mouse near the taskbar. Make them learn to use their computer, one tiny step at a time. They can do it. Really.