Microsoft Update Quietly Installs Firefox Extension

Um, well, I’m glad once again that I don’t run Windows. Microsoft has done it again. The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 update silently installs a Firefox Extension. Yes, you read it right. Microsoft is now messing with software that they didn’t even write, if it’s installed on your computer.

And what’s even better, is it’s damned hard to remove.

Let’s listen to Brad Abrams of Microsoft:

A couple of years ago we heard clear feedback from folks that they wanted to enable a very clean experience with launching a ClickOnce app from FireFox. James Dobson published FFClickOnce and got very good reviews, but we had many customers that wanted ClickOnce support for Firefox built into the framework… so in .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 we added ClickOnce support for Firefox! This made ClickOnce apps much more accessible to a wide range of customers.

Why is this an issue? Annoyances.org says:

This update adds to Firefox one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities present in all versions of Internet Explorer: the ability for websites to easily and quietly install software on your PC. Since this design flaw is one of the reasons you may’ve originally choosen to abandon IE in favor of a safer browser like Firefox, you may wish to remove this extension with all due haste.

Hotdog you say! Now Firefox has one of Internet Exploder’s greatest disadvantages! And Microsoft doesn’t even bother to ask if you want it installed.

It gets better though. The Un-Install button in the Firefox Extension control window is greyed out. You can’t use it. To get rid of the damned thing, you have to edit the Windows registry. Now this is really not that hard. Yes, unlike Linux you will have to use the command line, but both Annoyances.org and Brad Abram’s blog post give detail instructions on how to do it. My guess is that it will take five minutes at most.

In that case, why did I write this post? Because it YOUR COMPUTER. And Microsoft doesn’t understand that.

Why the “Copycats?” Report has a Copycat Problem

Yes, more on the Conference Board. Glyn Moody has a new post Why the “Copycats?” Report has a Copycat Problem. To quote from his post:

Against that background, the appearance of the report “Copycats? Digital consumers in the online age”, produced by University College London’s CIBER for the UK governmnent’s Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (what a name) takes on an added significance. Among other questions, one issue is to what extent the report manages to look objectively at the facts, rather than blithely accepting the highly-partial views of the media industry itself.

Now I’m Canadian. I’m interested in Canadian issues. I’ve traded emails with Michael Geist several times (Michael Geist is the University of Ottawa professor who discovered problems with the Conference Board of Canada’s report, and is very active in Copyright issues), been in contact with a bunch of politicians on these issues, etc.

I never considered that other countries might have the same problems. Glyn thinks this happened in England. What if it happened in France (Hadopi anyone?), Germany, Sweden (the Piratebay trial), the United States (the DMCA), etc. Where the hell did ACTA come from? Why won’t either the Canadian or American governments tell us what’s in it?

This is looking really disturbing.

Update: ITBusiness managed to interview Ann Golden, CEO and head of the Conference Board. She does not mention that the reports were contracted by the copyright industries, though she does admit that they blew it.

The Conference Board of Canada – Opinions you CAN’T Trust

Another post on The Conference Board

I missed this part. Jeremy de Beer was commissioned to “conduct independent research on copyright legislation”. Apparently Jeremy handed in his report, and none of it was used in the Conference Board reports (which were later recalled). Jeremy has posted his report, Copyright and Innovation in the Networked Information Economy online at the Social Science Research Network website.

Now this isn’t a report written by some anonymous blogger. Jeremy De Beer is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, and he was hired by the Conference Board to write his report.

Possibly it didn’t say what they wanted it to say, considering that the report was funded by copyright lobby groups, like:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network
Copyright Collective of Canada (which represents U.S. film producers and distributors)

The Conference Board of Canada claims to be an independent group. “Insights You Can Count On” is their moto. Maybe it should be “Insights You Can Purchase”.

The Conference Board of Canada – Insights You Can't Count On

On May 25 Michael Geist pointed out that the Conference Board of Canada committed copyright infringement in their report Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy. In response the Conference Board denied plagiarism, and stated that they “Stood behind their findings”.

And then, the Conference Board issued a press release withdrawing three reports! What is going on here? That’s what the CBC, the Vancouver Sun, the Montreal Gazette, MacLeans Magazine, Mediacaster, Techdirt, and Georgia Straight all would like to know.

Is the Conference Board of Canada now a subsidiary of foreign corporations? If so, it should state so, not pretend to be a part of Canada.

Operating System of the Month Club

I love playing with new Operating Systems. My wife once joked that my computer was coming down with schizophrenia. There are times that it’s had three operating systems in one day.

Recently I ended up with a broken left click button on the track pad on my laptop. This was a massive problem, as I don’t work at a desk. Usually I’m working on the couch, or in an armchair, so I have nothing to use as a mouse pad. Thus began a search for an operating system that would:

A) Work on my hardware
B) Would allow me to tap the track pad for a left click
C) Would allow me to get away with out a mouse or working left track pad button

It was an interesting journey, that I will detail on the weekend, I found some really neat operating systems.

However I’m back with Moon OS, the one I started with. No, I didn’t get the track pad fixed (for some reason Acer doesn’t offer parts for it). Instead I found out that I can use a Beagle for a track pad!

Now I haven’t used a mouse a lot recently, and didn’t realise that optical mice will work on just about any surface. Sam makes a great track pad, since he loves to snuggle up against me while I’m sitting on the couch.

And he’s about the cutest track pad you’ll ever see!

Criminal Minds

No. I don’t mean the TV show. There are a bunch of jerks who think that they can use Blogs for advertising. Seriously. By paying bloggers. And we know this has already been done – think Microsoft giving out hot laptops.

Now I have nothing against making money. Money is damned useful. But there is no way I would blog for pay, without putting up a big banner letting everyone know I was being paid.

Today I read an article in Business Week about two organizations which were formed in part to address the issue. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association and the The Blog Council. I decided to take a look into them, after all I might want to join. Then I saw the memberships of the two organizations. Not one blogger is listed, all of the soi disant members are CORPORATIONS.

These two organizations, though they pretend to represent bloggers, instead represent a bunch of bottom feeders, who want to take advantage of us.

I’m not one of the big names, so they aren’t likely to approach me. But I do know a couple of bloggers who have been approached. I think that the companies who made the approaches are among the slimiest cretins on the face of the planet, and I guarantee that if someone approaches me, I’ll tell them to go to hell (and then out the bastards – as I said, these guys have Criminal Minds).

rtmpdump

I’ve just nominated rtmpdump for a community choice award on Source Forge. The reason I’ve done this, is Adobe Systems got Source Forge to remove the project by using a DMCA notice. I don’t agree with the DMCA, and when it was suggested that we all do this, well, I couldn’t resist. I recommend that everyone do this – maybe the message will get through.

Let’s see if we can get rtmpdump reinstated.

The Acer Debacle – Closing The Chapter

Helios says that Acer came through and the laptops now have Linux installed, and are going to needy kids.

I wasn’t surprised at the problems he had in getting someone at Acer to listen. All too often “Customer Service” is actually run as “Customer Avoidance”. And companies who operate like this, well, they aren’t companies I really want to do business with. The problem is that in the computer industry, it seems like all the companies operate like this.

Well, they don’t. There are a lot of local companies who know that happy customers are their bread and butter. One good example is Compuresource in Mississauga Ontario. We used to live just down the road from their store. We now live 40 miles from their store, but they get all of the repair jobs that I can’t handle. If you live in Ontario, and need a reliable computer store, I highly recommend them. Call up (or email them) and ask for Stefan.

It’s too bad that more companies didn’t follow the rules in Jeffrey Gitomer’s book Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. Jeffrey has his faults, but he’s dead on with this book (and yes, I own a lot of his books, and they were a great investment).