The ramblings of a giant squid…
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Things I don’t want

Friends-Romans-Countrymen, Security, Technology

Today, I noticed I had some Skype message notifications in my Windows Notification area.  This mildly pisses me off because I don’t run Skype all the time and thus feel there is no valid reason to be receiving Skype messages.  Microsoft, apparently, feels otherwise.

Since they’d been there for a while, I figured it was time to spark up Skype and have a look.  I start the program and it tells me there’s an update… no surprise there really.  When the update starts to install, it asks if I want to change my search engine to Bing and set some other thing (Browser to Edge, I believe).

Now, if I was installing Edge, I could see it asking if I wanted to change my default.  I fail to see why installing a Skype update would, in any way, indicate an interest in reconfiguring my computer to use Bing and Edge.  When I start my car, a message doesn’t come up on the dash asking if I want to cancel my Presto! transit pass and change my TV from RCA to Samsung.  So, since it’s been a while since I last wrote about this, I figured it was time to re-prime the search engines with a new rant.

For the benefit of software companies, people who put together installation packages, and marketing fuckwits who think it’s a good idea to bundle bullshit with otherwise good software, here is a crucial list that should be studied and committed to memory.  I’m taking a risk here by speaking for all consumers, but I think I’m on solid ground:

Things I, the consumer, DO NOT WANT:

  1. I never want to change my default browser as a result of installing any software other than a browser.  If you’re not a web browser, do not even think about asking to change my browser.  Every time you ask this, I close my eyes and wish cancer upon you.
  2. I never want a toolbar installed in my browser.  Nobody has ever wanted a toolbar installed in their browser since the mid-1990’s.  If you are pushing toolbars, you are a sad dinosaur relic of a past age.  I laugh at your sad, existence, a living fossil trapped in a looping history from which you cannot escape.
  3. I never want offers from third-parties.  Whenever I see this one, it tells me immediately that you cannot be trusted with my personal information or sensitive data.  When I want offers from third parties, I’ll go to them myself… which means they won’t be third parties any more.  I know this will be difficult for marketers and sales people to understand, but nobody deliberately signs up for sales pitches outside the office, and the only reason they do it at work is the opportunity for some freebies.
  4. I never want you to use the bandwidth I pay for to save you distribution costs.  The clearest way this can be stated is also the most base: YOU WILL NOT PUT A FUCKING TORRENT SERVER ON MY MACHINE TO FLOG YOUR SOFTWARE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS AT MY EXPENSE.  It’s not a matter of whether I can turn it off, it’s a matter of “it shouldn’t be there in the first place.”  Your business, your distribution costs.  This one makes me wish you get cancer while dying in a fire.
  5. Your cloud is never, ever the first choice of where I want to store my data.  In fact, if the data is going anywhere subject to Department of Homeland Security-style oversight and access, your cloud won’t be on the list of choices at all.  If my data is on your cloud, you can hold it hostage or otherwise deny me access to it, and you can let people see it that I may not wish to allow.  Or you may simply go out of business and leave me stranded.  Or maybe the internet will be down at your end, or mine, and I lose access to my data.  Where I’m from that’s called “bullshit” and I won’t allow it to happen.  We may be able to come to a cloud storage agreement that meets both our needs, but that will be determined later.  On installation, I want default storage to be my local disks, always.
  6. I never, ever want to install Adobe Flash, or some half-baked codec.  Use HTML5 you pathetic trilobites.
  7. With very few exceptions, I don’t want your software to start automatically at boot time and run in the background, consuming CPU cycles like a digital black hole.  I want your software to start when I open it, and come to a complete end when I close it (Skype people, this is about you).  When it has ended, I don’t want it leaving shitware running in the background sending me messages, I want it to exit.  This is another one that elicits the cancer+fire wish.
  8. I do not want your software to tell me to disable my firewall or anti-virus.  You, the makers of software, should be aware that it is presently 2016, and both anti-virus and firewalls have been a thing for more than a quarter century – longer than many of your programming staff have been alive.  Make your damn software work properly, and reasonably.  It is not appropriate to have to open a firewall completely to do updates (Microsoft Updates), or to make the software work (Microsoft Skype).  Games are notorious for this one.  Hire competent programmers, people.
  9. If I have paid for your software, I don’t want to see a single advertisement while I use it.  You have my money, you don’t get to push ads on me.  Cancer+fire again.
  10. By and large, I do not want to give you access to my email, my contacts, my calendar, my Facebook profile, my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter profile or anything else that is not immediately and directly related to the precise purpose of the software I am installing.
  11. I never want to sign in using Facebook or Twitter, except to Facebook and Twitter respectively.  Never.  If you force me, I’ll delete your software and pester you for a refund until you comply.
  12. I do not want to be forced to give your program elevated privileges (Run as Administrator, in Windows parlance) unless your program is of a system administrative nature.  User-level stuff should not require admin rights to work.  If it does, you’re almost certainly wrong.  Hire competent programmers.
  13. I do not want to install Norton, McAfee, AVG, Avast!, Bit Defender, or any other anti-malware product unless I have gone directly to the vendor site explicitly for the purpose of getting the lastest version.  Nor do I want my system tuned, disk polished or whatever other crapware utilities you’ve bundled.  When you hire a guy to paint your house, do you want him to poke at the engine on your car too?

Well, that’s the list off the top of my head.  Software developers and companies, I hope you find this and take it to heart.

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