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Annoying Software : A Rogue's Gallery.
May 20, 2008 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Annoying Software : A Rogue's Gallery. (single-page version). Software that makes us hate the internet and wish it had never been invented. High on their list : Adobe Reader, Java, RealPlayer, and Flash.

#1 - Adobe Reader
#2 - Apple
#3 - Windows Update
#4 - RealPlayer
#5 - Java
#6 - Yahoo
#7 - Norton Antivirus
#8 - Preinstalled software bundles
#9 - Outlook/Exchange
#10 - Flash
posted by Afroblanco (111 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
How about "Annoying Articles: A Douchebag's Gallery", where at the top you have "top ten" lists with one lame, snarky paragraph per entry, and the entries are spread across ten pages for maximum ad revenue and minimum reader enjoyment?
posted by Mikey-San at 7:26 PM on May 20, 2008 [38 favorites]


I was wondering how "Apple" was a software package, but apparently they mean their windows software, which makes sense.

Apple's software for windows has always been really annoying. Quicktime still insists on hijacking all memetypes and when it crashes it takes down your whole browser. Which is extra annoying when all you wanted to do was view a file that didn't even need quicktime in the first place.

One of the things that makes Adobe Reader so irritating is that it locks up your browser while loading PDFs, so if you're on a slow connection your browser just sits there frozen while you download whatever. It's just unbelievable that this is such a problem. Writing multithreaded programs isn't that hard.

One of the reasons flash is so popular is that it can do what Adobe Reader and Quicktime are supposed to do but it's stable and multithreaded and doesn't crash your browser. Amazing how a simple feature like 'don't crash the browser' eludes some programmers.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


via Slashdot?

Here's the single page version so you can avoid annoyance #11: multiple page web articles designed to drive ad views.

The list is right on, though.
posted by intermod at 7:27 PM on May 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is great, about all I agree with.
posted by stbalbach at 7:30 PM on May 20, 2008


Also, why is Exchange on here? Is he really comparing free web-based e-mail to fucking Exchange? "Yes, Mr CEO, all of our corporate e-mail should live on Google's servers, where we can't back it up easily, have no administrative control, cannot integrate with our directory environment, and cannot comply easily or at all with Sarbanes-Oxley." Give me a break. Looks like he just wanted to pound on Outlook and stupidly added Exchange in with it.

Apple screwed up originally and now clearly lists Safari under "New Software". They listened.

Java takes its fair share of hits, but it still doesn't belong on this list, either.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:31 PM on May 20, 2008


In fairness, I will give him Norton AV right out of the box. When was the last time NAV didn't piss off every user under the Sun? Ever? Ditto RealPlayer.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:33 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Flash? Really? You can surely abuse it, but it's also responsible for some of the best content on the internet.
posted by empath at 7:39 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


No bad software list is complete without Lotus Notes.
posted by rfs at 7:43 PM on May 20, 2008


How about just "Windows"?
posted by aheckler at 7:45 PM on May 20, 2008


Lame past their prime tech web sites, rife with Microsoft apologists, who should just call it a day already:

11. zdnet
posted by porn in the woods at 7:49 PM on May 20, 2008


Flash? Really? You can surely abuse it, but it's also responsible for some of the best content on the internet.
And most of the wasted time on the Internet. Don't you hate waiting five minutes for flash intros to load so that some web designer person can justify his pay?
posted by peacheater at 7:50 PM on May 20, 2008


Oh, and good grief - 11 pages with a single paragraph apiece? This kind of money-grubbing crap is every bit as bad as the lamer apps mentioned in this lazy-arsed article. Weak sauce, watered down with ketchup soup.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:51 PM on May 20, 2008


Flash? Really? You can surely abuse it, but it's also responsible for some of the best content on the internet.

Yep, and it's vector goodness with a lightweight implementation the kicks the sh** out java for most graphical uses on the web. Flash is definitely a boon to web developers.
posted by snookums at 7:52 PM on May 20, 2008


I never allow Apple to update... I never allow Java to update. Am I bad?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:54 PM on May 20, 2008


At least truly terrible programs like Adobe Reader (slow,slow,slow and bloated) and RealPlayer (criminally invasive and purposely misleading) pissed off enough right-thinking people that great alternatives were developed.

To show the truly ridiculous and sublime, live with Adobe Reader for a week and then switch to Foxit Reader. Some programmers get it.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:54 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Apple keeps insisting on updating iTunes and Quicktime on my work computer, which doesn't have either program and our IT dept blocks software downloads anyway.
posted by desjardins at 7:57 PM on May 20, 2008


From Wikipedia:
Foxit Reader displays an advertising icon on the upper right side of its main toolbar. There are several different advertisements, these may be easily disabled from the menus but the process must be repeated separately for each advertisement (a different advertisement is displayed each time the reader is opened).

Yeah, I'd say some programmers get it, all right.
posted by blenderfish at 7:58 PM on May 20, 2008


If I had to come up with a list like this, this would basically be that list.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:59 PM on May 20, 2008


SP1, SP2, SP3...did I leave anything out. Oh yeah, I agree with aheckler up above, WINDOWS.
posted by Fizz at 8:03 PM on May 20, 2008


OMG, #8. Those preinstalled shitpiles. So, so useless; so, so painful. Why do they even bother? Why do they spend the money? It just doesn't make any sense.

Seriously: have you looked at some of those Sony media management packages he talks about? Why???!!!

My #1 complaint is with some Adobe thing that I often find on Windows systems; can't remember what it's called. When you insert a USB drive it starts grinding on the hard drive and throws up a useless "media management" package that gets in the way of just getting my fucking file off of the fucking computer. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
posted by mr_roboto at 8:08 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


mr_roboto, that's calle dthe Adobe Photo Album or some such. It tries to get all the pictures you have on your jumpdrive (?) and display them in their idiotic media manager thing.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:13 PM on May 20, 2008


I would like to add to this discussion on Realplayer by saying [buffering 20%...] ...
posted by Deep Dish at 8:14 PM on May 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


To read this article you will need to update to the latest version of Flash.
posted by milkrate at 8:19 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


blenderfish: Yeah, I'd say some programmers get it, all right.

As slightly annoying as Foxit's text ads are (that advertise Foxit, the program displaying the ads), they just can't compete with Adobe Reader for hair-pulling frustration. On my computer at work, Adobe crashes anytime I try to open a pdf in my browser if I have a pdf open already in the standalone. When I click the little 'X' in the upper-right corner of the standalone app, it closes all instances of the program, not just the one (each instance is displayed separately in the task bar). It takes ages longer than Foxit to open even moderately sized documents. Adobe simply doesn't work.

And nth-ing the frustration with a ten page, ten paragraph, content-thin article.
posted by dilettanti at 8:19 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


One more point on the preinstalled software: the clunky, ugly experiences that these things add to the average Windows laptop was a not insignificant factor in getting me to switch to an Apple laptop, which in turn led to me switching entirely. I suppose this is a natural advantage for Apple: laptops call for a tight integration of hardware and OS; they just don't have the modularity of desktop machines. It's this integration that laptop manufacturers try (and fail!) to accomplish with their preinstalled software packages. No one can beat Apple at integrating hardware and software, though. It's their whole fucking business model.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:20 PM on May 20, 2008


KokuRyu writes "I never allow Apple to update... I never allow Java to update. Am I bad?"

I can understand why, but a lot of the time those are security updates. So, no you're not bad, and I tend to prefer certain ideal versions of software which never seem to happen again to the same product, but I update all the software on clients' infected machines I'm cleaning so they will have the latest security updates. A lot of the time that's sort of a drag, because most of this type of software tends to get shinier and more bloated with time, along with the security updates, whether you like it or not. And I hate a lot of the auto-updater parasite apps. But it's better than cleaning the same machine over and over.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:20 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


WINDOWS LOL AMIRITE?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:21 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Current Google ad when viewing this thread while logged out:

Norton AntiVirus 2008
Premier antivirus protection. Official website. Download Now!
www.Norton.com

The ad placement algorithm either fails at context, or wins at irony.
posted by CKmtl at 8:22 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, god, one more annoyance, since we're talking about updating. What the fuck is the deal with the updater for Adobe CS? Hey, guys. When I open Illustrator, it's because I want to get some work done. I don't want to quit every other program I'm running (including my browser?!) and spend five minutes installing your update. Figure out a better way.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:23 PM on May 20, 2008


Deep Dish writes "I would like to add to this discussion on Realplayer by saying [buffering 20%...] ..."

Yeah, but I was making websites back in the mid-90s, and those guys were a godsend for making streaming possible at all over the slow-ass dialup connections we all had. I had streaming and mp3 clips, and while Real Player was always proprietary, at least at one time it was tremendously useful. Too bad it became another bloated, ad-ridden annoyance when it was no longer the only game in town.

Adobe Reader is another example of an extremely useful application, with a lot of development going into inventing new features it doesn't really need, because there's nothing left to be done with it, but who can argue with release cycles?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:26 PM on May 20, 2008


I suppose this is a natural advantage for Apple: laptops call for a tight integration of hardware and OS

Not really, you just need a handful of drivers for the special buttons (like brightness, etc) and that's it. But manufacturers insist on larding them up with garbage. I think they think it makes it more appealing to consumers. But I have no idea, really.

I don't want to quit every other program I'm running (including my browser?!) and spend five minutes installing your update.

No kidding, and it's totally unessisary because windows includes a feature to let you specify a file to overwrite when the machine is rebooted.

It's so obnoxious, developers spend all this time working on smooth interfaces, lots of features, etc, but can't be arsed to spend a little bit of time so that their programs don't crash, or cause annoyances.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 PM on May 20, 2008


Apparently nobody remembers jrun errors.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:33 PM on May 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


I suppose this is a natural advantage for Apple: laptops call for a tight integration of hardware and OS; they just don't have the modularity of desktop machines. It's this integration that laptop manufacturers try (and fail!) to accomplish with their preinstalled software packages.

Huh? What do Microsoft Office demos and 50,000 Free Hours with Earthlink! icons on my desktop have to do with hardware/software integration? It has nothing to do with creating a tightly integrated environment and everything to do with money: software publishers pay the laptop manufacturers to preload crapware on all their machines. Not every PC laptop manufacturer sticks them on their laptop—my LG laptop, for example, came blissfully free of crapware, and I'm pretty sure Asus laptops are relatively clean as well.
posted by chrominance at 8:34 PM on May 20, 2008


Does anybody use realplayer besides the bbc?
posted by empath at 8:38 PM on May 20, 2008


I expect hell to use Flash heavily.
posted by aerotive at 8:43 PM on May 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


Flash-based web sites are quite possibly one of the most useful pieces of network technology around. Like heroin or microlights, they ensure that those who think it's a good idea aren't around to annoy us for too long.

You'd think ZDNet could have made their point without going Road Warrior on us.
posted by lukemeister at 8:52 PM on May 20, 2008


Quicktime still insists on hijacking all memetypes

Damn that Apple! Why must they steal our LOLCATS?!
posted by spiderskull at 8:52 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Suck Factortm is proportional to popularity.

Hence the reason why I do not suck.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:53 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Delmoi: unessisary

Dude. Dude

My list (on a Mac):

Adobe Reader (we have Preview.app, and a PDF reader built into Safari, you morons)
Adobe Updater (just fuck off)
Google Updater (just fuck off)
RealPlayer (mostly because of all the shitty legacy .rm files still hanging around)
Spotlight (incredibly useful technology, incredibly lame implementation, incredibly annoying HD churn when a drive gets indexed)
Any app (Speed Download, I'm looking at YOU) which requires you to run an uninstaller rather than simply dragging to the trash, and which breaks when you drag the app to the trash.
posted by unSane at 8:54 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can I add anything that sticks an icon in my system tray for no reason? Java, Nvidia, Winamp, Quicktime (really, you're just a media player, what the hell?), most Adobe apps, etc. Ugh.

Also, Java, I really don't care about every incremental update, and I really don't need you sitting down there in my system tray hassling me constantly. I just want you as a browser plugin for a couple godawful websites, stay in my browser and leave everything else alone.

Also, I don't need icons for programs in my system tray, the quicklaunch, my desktop AND the start menu. The start menu will do nicely, leave everything else alone unless I put you there.

*Hugs his MacBook*

*Kicks his desktop*
posted by mikesch at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Lotus Notes should be items one through ten on that list.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Apparently nobody remembers jrun errors."

It's a repressed memory; probably for the best if we don't go that route.
posted by mystyk at 9:02 PM on May 20, 2008


Also, why is Exchange on here? Is he really comparing free web-based e-mail to fucking Exchange? "Yes, Mr CEO, all of our corporate e-mail should live on Google's servers, where we can't back it up easily, have no administrative control, cannot integrate with our directory environment, and cannot comply easily or at all with Sarbanes-Oxley."

Reliable third-party backup solutions for Google Apps exist. You can have administrative control with Google Apps using Postini (now owned by Google and free with GAFYD Premier) and numerous third-party apps. You can integrate it with AD or other LDAP interfaces. SOX is still a problem, though.

And, as a fucking Exchange admin, I can safely say that it's a fairly expensive solution. As a user of GAFYD in a corporate environment, I would recommend it in almost all cases over Exchange.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:05 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Adobe Reader is another example of an extremely useful application, with a lot of development going into inventing new features it doesn't really need, because there's nothing left to be done with it, but who can argue with release cycles?

From Adobe's perspective, Reader is now only secondarily a PDF viewer. It's primary purpose is as a client for this. That's the main driver for new features, believe it or not.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:10 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


These are ALL right on. So many software reviewers try to look at the bright side of software that makes our lives more difficult when it doesn't have to. I like the scathing and clever descriptions of each. If developers would quit rushing software to market that isn't ready yet, perhaps we wouldn't need 18 different auto-update services in the background.

"Programming Languages are like sewage plants: if the average user knows about them, something's gone wrong"

This deserves a pun-y "NO SHIT" from a software developer who aggressively, yet somehow unsuccessfully, tries to keep jusched.exe from starting on boot. (me)
posted by hellslinger at 9:16 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


me & my monkey,

Can you explain what Livecycle is? I don't want to make my business hum.
posted by lukemeister at 9:17 PM on May 20, 2008


True to form for Adobe, me & my monkey's last link almost totally hijacked my goddamn browser until the video was done playing.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:23 PM on May 20, 2008


IMHO:

switch to Foxit Reader
A singular improvement, right there. Best change I've ever made software-wize.

I expect hell to use Flash heavily.
A personal pet-peve of massive proportions, that is, when a site is completly flash driven. I imagine that hell forces a soul to do everything through a slow, sputtering, impossibly enoying flash interface. Much like navagating the Dreamweaver site.

And RealPlayer and Norton . . . pure evil. When I was in tech support for a software company, we would routeenly recommend getting rid of Norton. As for RealPlayer, fuck that shit! The damn thing just takes over everything and has become arcane.

It's funny though, I used LotusNotes for a few years and never had any issues with it.From what I've heard, I must have lucked-out big-time on that one.
posted by johnj at 9:32 PM on May 20, 2008


Can you explain what Livecycle is?

I wish I could. It's not the sort of thing that's easily described. And I actually work with it.

It's a suite of different server products, that together let you do all sorts of things:
- develop complex workflow applications with minimal programming,
- present PDF interfaces to users and accept data entered through those interfaces,
- provide security and additional functionality for PDF documents,
- provide an interface for Flash applications (built using Flex) to communicate with server-side applications via HTTP or RTMP (which allows server push),
- make API calls to render XML forms as PDF, HTML or Flash,
- do your laundry.

It's a very complex bunch of stuff, which is why all the marketing materials just show happy people with no explanation of what the product actually does.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:36 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


lukemeister, Livecycle is essentially a terrible form design and data collection system, something like HTML forms from Hell. They're bloated, unreliable, and prone to freezing the respondent's computer. The form design software also freezes and crashes routinely. Somehow, some institutions think this is superior to writing a secure online form and using a script or cgi program to interpret the data. Somehow, some institutions think paying a few hundred bucks per user automatically makes a "solution" superior.

God, I could wring the neck of everybody who ever bought software which is advertised as a solution.

...

uh, I mean, it's a great product 4 doin forms wit
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:37 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Livecycle is essentially a terrible form design and data collection system, something like HTML forms from Hell. They're bloated, unreliable, and prone to freezing the respondent's computer. The form design software also freezes and crashes routinely.

Actually, the latest version isn't so bad. But yeah, if you've worked with LiveCycle 7, you'd be surprised anyone bought it at all.

The advantage of using LiveCycle forms over HTML forms, though, is that the forms can be created by people with no knowledge of, well, practically anything. And if you're trying to replace paper-based processes, that's who's building the forms. And you can turn out quick and dirty solutions using just LiveCycle Designer with no server-side functionality. LiveCycle Designer is the forms design software, and it's bundled with Acrobat Professional. I know someone at a federal agency (with no infrastructure or IT resources to speak of) who's using this to collect data from field agents who have only intermittent connections. He build the form in Designer, and put in an email submit button. The field agents fill out the form, then click the button when they have a network connection. He gets the emails, and uses a feature in Acrobat Professional to aggregate the form data automatically into a CSV file. This would be easy for a competent programmer to crank out, but he's not a programmer, and he was able to put this together in half an hour.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:46 PM on May 20, 2008


True to form for Adobe, me & my monkey's last link almost totally hijacked my goddamn browser until the video was done playing.

Sometimes very little things add up to big annoyance. I was on the Adobe site this morning on my MacBook to order a Dreamweaver upgrade. As I was entering my info for the order, I noticed my two-finger scroll wouldn't work. Why? Because Adobe took over the whole browser, including the scroll bars. The Mac OS bars were gone, and some flat Adobe ones were there instead. The bog question: WHY? WHY WHY WHY? What is to be gained other than annoying people.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:47 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Flash can fuck off and die die die die die. Not a single site which is somehow "better" by using it actually is because it does not scale visually, even when it's doing its vector magic. It fails at accessibility in a horrendous way and using it makes you an accessory to hate crimes against the disabled.

Delmoi, I respectfully disagree that it doesn't bollocks up my browser - if Grand Central or YouTube is even open in a tab in the background Firefox begins responding to keystrokes and clicks only after a significant stutter and totally ignores my Firefox-standard hotkeys (like Ctrl-Tab), all so idiot GrandCentral can play voicemail.

Yes, it had a streaming solution that worked (ish) when everyone else was trying to tie your video viewing experience to their favorite media library management wedge and silly embedded object... but everything else about flash is everything wrong with the web from fixed resolution to inaccessibility.
posted by abulafa at 9:51 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now, what's this about an article to read?
posted by abulafa at 9:51 PM on May 20, 2008


intermod - thanks for linking to the single page version!
posted by Afroblanco at 9:58 PM on May 20, 2008


me & my monkey, the problem I ran into trying to teach people to do basic LiveCycle forms with no background programming was that they expected to send these to audiences without a consistent IT environment. That renders even the quick-and-dirty "submit via email" solution completely unworkable, because you can't rely on people having an email client configured.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:07 PM on May 20, 2008


Anti-virus companies have made their software so cumbersome and frustrating that people would rather get infected.

iPhoto is starting to get on my nerves, I shouldn't have to repeat the same operation every time I synch my phone. Amen to the taskbar, although my mac does not seem to be immune to it either (glares at the Sync .Mac and Time Machine icons that I never asked for). Oh, let's not forget update Tuesday forcing me to reboot just to update a keyboard driver!

Realplayer finally got the boot a month ago when I noticed dragging images from FFox to the desktop was making them into some weird file format.
posted by furtive at 10:07 PM on May 20, 2008


m&mm, smm,
Thanks for your explanations for me and other people with no knowledge of, well, practically anything.
posted by lukemeister at 10:09 PM on May 20, 2008


You know what's nice? Your own browser plugin. Quite handy.

If you use Safari on Mac OS, a minimal browser plugin is 200 lines of code, 80% of which is boilerplate (see WebKitMoviePlugIn sample code). The plugin appears in the DOM and in javascript—a nifty little wormhole to native Obj-C. It's just the thing for database-backed bookmarklets, filesystem browsing, and other browser hackery.

Even insecure, shitty little browser plugins have their moments.
posted by ryanrs at 10:12 PM on May 20, 2008


Not a single site which is somehow "better" by using it actually is because it does not scale visually, even when it's doing its vector magic. It fails at accessibility in a horrendous way and using it makes you an accessory to hate crimes against the disabled.

Flash is good for what Flash is good for. It's not a suitable replacement for HTML for content. However, could you do this easily in HTML? Or this?

the problem I ran into trying to teach people to do basic LiveCycle forms with no background programming was that they expected to send these to audiences without a consistent IT environment. That renders even the quick-and-dirty "submit via email" solution completely unworkable, because you can't rely on people having an email client configured.

Well, yeah, that isn't going to work. Unless you have some control over the environment, this wouldn't be a suitable solution - there are too many people still using Acrobat Reader 5, for one thing.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:16 PM on May 20, 2008


I can throw up a native color picker dialog...
posted by ryanrs at 10:21 PM on May 20, 2008


What's wrong with Norton antivirus? I've noticed there's a lot of complaints about Norton on Metafilter and since I've got Norton I'd like to know if there are disadvantages that I haven't been aware about. What antivirus software would you recommend?
posted by Termite at 10:47 PM on May 20, 2008


True to form for Adobe, me & my monkey's last link almost totally hijacked my goddamn browser until the video was done playing.

HaHa! Over here, I closed the browser window after watching some of the video (whilst thinking "like hell you'd expose all yr staff & customers to pdf-based workflows!") but my OS refuses to believe that it's actually closed...*checks*...yep, Task Manager tells me that it isn't responding, which means if I kill it, it'll bring down all my browser windows...yeh, fuck Adobe to the end of the earth & back!
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:48 PM on May 20, 2008


I guess it's not the question of whether I could do those things (the color picker yes, the stock graphs would take more SVG or CSS-line-drawing hacks than seems appropriate), but both of those are behaving in a way that makes sense.

Flash, in those examples, is an embedded component used to render some specialized content. That makes sense and is a clear exception to my accessibility issue - I don't necessarily expect you to close-caption a color-chooser. But flash is so infectious in the perception that it allows authors to differentiate their experiences that it gets used where unglamorous HTML can get the job done and not disenfranchise its users. Not only does it reduce accessibility but you can kiss any relationships or semantic-web-type information goodbye as well, so the only things that can consume Flash are humans. And humans don't all come with the same features.
posted by abulafa at 11:05 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Foxit is awesome. It's made my life better.

Flash is great as a video player. It's also good for neat little games and widgets. For all other purposes, I could do without it. I employ the flashblock plugin for Firefox, and I don't think that I could use the internet without it. It's almost a disability with me. I simply cannot read stuff when there's something moving on my screen.

Norton Antivirus screws up a lot of things. It's at its worst when running on a server, where it often causes unpredictable behavior and weird performance lags. Unfortunately, servers are one of those places where you most need to be safe from viruses. It's kinda no-win. Antivirus software represents bad security, anyway. A model that relies on constantly updating a definition file when new viruses are found is good for nobody except for the company that makes the antivirus software. Schneier has written on this at great length.

And the writer of this piece is dead-fucking-on about Java. To my mind, the worst three offenders when it comes to badly managed updates would have to be Java, Acrobat Reader, and Winamp. Firefox seems to handle updates just fine - why can't they all just do what Firefox does?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:18 PM on May 20, 2008


One of these days Adobe's going to regret rebranding "Acrobat Reader" as "Adobe Reader" — the majority of simpleminded Windows users in this thread now associate "Adobe" with "SHITFUCKASS".

What's funniest to me is that the most recent version of "Adobe Reader" on Windows can be modified to be pretty awesome and snappy — all of the crapware features are implemented as plugins, and the application works if you delete them!
posted by blasdelf at 11:25 PM on May 20, 2008


People. It isn't hard. If you want something to not start on boot:

1) Install the debugger to c:\debuggers.
2) Create HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\[process-name.exe]
3) Put a reg_sz value in your new key called "debugger" and set it to "c:\\debuggers\\ntsd -c "q"".
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:46 PM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


One problem with Flash (and SilverLight) -- it's hard for Google to index content inside of it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:48 PM on May 20, 2008


I can throw up a native color picker dialog...

Uh, yah. The color picking is not the point. The point is that this works well as an application. It's stateful, it transitions well from one view to another, etc. AJAX is a collection of hacks placed upon a stateless environment designed to let users look at documents. It's crap for applications. Flex (and by extension, Flash) is not.

I guess it's not the question of whether I could do those things (the color picker yes, the stock graphs would take more SVG or CSS-line-drawing hacks than seems appropriate), but both of those are behaving in a way that makes sense.

That's my point. Flash is good for applications, not good for content.

But flash is so infectious in the perception that it allows authors to differentiate their experiences that it gets used where unglamorous HTML can get the job done and not disenfranchise its users.

If you pick the wrong tool for a job, you don't blame the tool. And there's plenty of opportunity to disenfranchise users with AJAX apps.

whilst thinking "like hell you'd expose all yr staff & customers to pdf-based workflows!"

Well, when it works, it's actually pretty slick - we've worked with several clients who are happy with LiveCycle workflows. It's easy to build workflows, and doesn't require much programming expertise.

When it doesn't work - which used to be fairly often in the previous version - it REALLY DOESN'T WORK and is the cause of much pain and suffering. But I think all "enterprise" software is like that.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:53 PM on May 20, 2008


1) Install the debugger to c:\debuggers.
2) Create HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\[process-name.exe]
3) Put a reg_sz value in your new key called "debugger" and set it to "c:\\debuggers\\ntsd -c "q"".


put the whatsit in the doodad, wha? tell me that was a joke, please!

i want a big shiny red button that reads "stop this fucker from ever doing this fuckuppery again" - i press the button and it stops.

better yet, if it doesn't do the fuckuppery in the first place.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:54 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why the hatred for NAV? I mean ... I don't write sonnets about it, but it's never given me any trouble.
posted by RavinDave at 12:21 AM on May 21, 2008


(glares at the Sync .Mac and Time Machine icons that I never asked for)

Want rid of them? Simple - hold down command and drag them off the menu bar. Poof, they're gone.
posted by ninthart at 1:33 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Before they started charging for it, X-Setup was my favorite way of disabling things on startup. I still have version 6.6 on my computer, which works just find. Then I learned that, on Windows XP, you only have to do one of two things. Either:
  1. drag the shortcuts of the offending programs out of Start -> All Programs -> Startup to another folder, say Disabled Startup Items. If there is no shortcut there, then you must go the other route;
  2. go to Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services and set the services you don't want to launch on system startup to Manual instead of Automatic (double click on the service to get the control panel needed to do this).
Of course, most software gives you the ability to turn the automatic icon-in-the-taskbar feature off in their preferences too. Java's, for example, is in the Java Control Panel under the Update tab.
posted by moonbiter at 1:39 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why the hatred for NAV?

The whole resource-hogging *size* of the damn thing, combined with the fact that it never finds any of the newer viruses anyway, I suspect. NOD32 v.2.7 FTW.

it's never given me any trouble

Wait till you try uninstalling it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:00 AM on May 21, 2008


i want a big shiny red button that reads "stop this fucker from ever doing this fuckuppery again" - i press the button and it stops.

Winpatrol. The free version will do what you need.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:03 AM on May 21, 2008


Why the hatred for NAV? I mean ... I don't write sonnets about it, but it's never given me any trouble.

Try NOD32 for a week and see if you feel like switching back. I'm willing to bet you won't. It's very unobtrusive and doesn't suck up system resources like NAV and McAfee do. True story: My parents asked me to come home and fix their computer, which had become so sluggish as to be unusable even for basic e-mail duties. I promptly uninstalled NAV, replaced it with AVG Free and it became functional again.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:05 AM on May 21, 2008


Wait till you try uninstalling it.

Sit down children, let me tell you a story...

Just yesterday I was helping a friend setup her new laptop. She's previously been burned by Norton, (an update killed her aging desktop PC), so asked me to remove the 90 day trial version of Norton 360 and install AVG. It went...

Allow Norton to fully install, requiring an internet connection. (No option to say 'No thanks! Don't want you!')
Attempt removal via control panel. Aaaaaggghhh no, can't do, 'Error 21'.
Google error 21, discover a download is needed called 'RemoveNorton.exe' or similar.
Create account on Norton site, requiring e-mail address and another bloody password to access download.
Reply to email to activate said account.
Login to Norton account, d/l software.
Run removal tool.
Assure the poor, insecure software that yes, yes, I really want to uninstall you, why yes I surely do. Several times.

Total time, around 30 minutes. Not for the squeamish or a relative n00b like my friend.

Now, what's wrong with Norton, you ask?
posted by punilux at 3:14 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


As some people here have mentioned, Adobe Acrobat 8 is actually pretty snappy on load up, but it still locks up your browser, there's a firefox extension to stop that.
posted by bertrandom at 3:59 AM on May 21, 2008


> i want a big shiny red button that reads "stop this fucker from ever doing this fuckuppery > again" - i press the button and it stops.

autoruns from Sysinternals (who know so much more about the guts of Windows than MS does that MS had to acquire them, so maybe grab this while it's still sweet.) One pass shows you absolutely everything that autostarts at boot time. Unchecking the checkbox next to an entry keeps it around in a disabled state; deleting the entry removes it entirely from wherever it's lurking. Beer-free (very much so, there is no commercial version.)
posted by jfuller at 4:12 AM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's interesting that a lot of the complaints here and on the list seem to be about software that's FREE. That's like finding a donut on the street and complaining that it's moldy.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:35 AM on May 21, 2008


1) Install the debugger to c:\debuggers.
2) Create HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\[process-name.exe]
3) Put a reg_sz value in your new key called "debugger" and set it to "c:\\debuggers\\ntsd -c "q"".


Oh yeah, that's totally easy. Meanwhile, on Linux with GNOME, which is totally impossible to use and only even marginally understandable by total nerds oh yeah steve rub your big bald head on it, Control Center/Sessions/Autostart/uncheck the box. But then Linux applications have no reason to throat-rape the user and make themselves impossible to get rid of. Neither do Windows applications, but people who mostly choose fonts for a living decide otherwise and here we are.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:48 AM on May 21, 2008


Yeah, Norton has gone from being a semi-decent piece of antivirus software to being the most evil crapware I've ever seen. I used to use Norton, I used to recommend Norton to my friends, that was maybe 10 years ago. Today it is just plain awful. Its the Windows Vista of antivirus software. Bloated, slow, and ineffective.

It *WILL* fuck your internet connection and it does not have any convenient or worthwhile way to unfuck it.

It will not uninstall with the bundled uninstaller, at least not 90% of the time. I keep the Norton removal tool on my thumbdrive and I simply don't bother with trying to use the uninstaller.

Norton Go Back kills computers and fucks the HDD so bad that data recovery is out of the question unless you plan on paying a dedicated data recovery expert. If you have Go Back I cannot recommend strongly enough that you follow the removal instructions, very carefully, and get it off your system before it ruins your computer. The question is not if Go Back will kill your computer, but when. Get rid of it before it makes your life a living hell.

IMO Norton deserves the #1 spot, it is vastly worse than Adobe Acrobat, and I lothe Acrobat with every fibre of my being. But all Acrobat does is take forever to load, render PDF slowly and poorly, and take over file associations, it won't kill your computer while Norton kills computers regularly.

Norton is malware, plain and simple. It can't be removed regularly, it slows down systems, it prevents computers from properly functioning; it is malware.
posted by sotonohito at 4:59 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


They forgot the OSx Finder app, which sucks whale testicle.

Also, I agree with every single entry on their list.
posted by disclaimer at 5:02 AM on May 21, 2008


I want to like Flash. I really, really do. I love ECMAScript (ActionScript,) and the fact that the Flash plugin is installed on something like 98% of browsers, vs. maybe 50% for QuickTime or WMV, means that it is the most compelling platform for delivering video on the web. But Christ, the Flash-based ads on reddit and some other sites are horrible about excessive CPU usage and frequently causing Safari to crash. And the Flash development IDE is just slow and awful, and crashes as often as the plugin does.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 5:33 AM on May 21, 2008


Let me just say. FUCK Adobe Acrobat, and FUCK Norton Antivirus.
posted by autodidact at 5:44 AM on May 21, 2008


Oh, and FUCK QUICKTIME.
posted by autodidact at 5:45 AM on May 21, 2008


(glares at the Sync .Mac and Time Machine icons that I never asked for)

Want rid of them? Simple - hold down command and drag them off the menu bar. Poof, they're gone.


You're awesome!
posted by furtive at 5:54 AM on May 21, 2008


Is RealPlayer still a huge POS on Windows? I'm on a Mac and can certainly remember, back in the mists of intarwebs time, when RP was as equally craptastic on both platforms. But, honestly, RP on the Mac has been a stable, simple, reliable media player for about as long as OSX has been around.

As for who actually uses Real...my local NPR station streams exclusively in RealAudio format. Go figure.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:38 AM on May 21, 2008


I agree with most of the list, but there is one omission: the U3 fuckery that's being installed on every flash/thumb/jumpdive I buy these days. No, I don't want to install software which requires a reboot every time I plug the drive into a new computer. No, I don't want it to pop a floating window in the bottom corner of my screen. No, I don't want a proprietary interface to my storage on the flash drive. Why no, I don't want a proprietary file storage format either! And most certainly, I do not want a piece of software that cannot be removed easily and which, if uninstalled in the wrong way, will render my new flashdrive useless.

So, U3 is on my own personal hate list.
posted by bonehead at 6:41 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that a lot of the complaints here and on the list seem to be about software that's FREE. That's like finding a donut on the street and complaining that it's moldy.

Actually, it's more like putting your hand in your pocket and finding it full of moldy donuts. You try to get rid of the donuts, but when you remove them, your coat falls apart.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:23 AM on May 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


True to form for Adobe, me & my monkey's last link almost totally hijacked my goddamn browser until the video was done playing.

HaHa! Over here, I closed the browser window after watching some of the video (whilst thinking "like hell you'd expose all yr staff & customers to pdf-based workflows!") but my OS refuses to believe that it's actually closed...*checks*...yep, Task Manager tells me that it isn't responding, which means if I kill it, it'll bring down all my browser windows...yeh, fuck Adobe to the end of the earth & back!


Crashed my Firefox browser completely, I had to ctrl alt dl and restart it. Adobe blows monkeys and it's not even very good at that.

I keep RealPlayer around only because it easily downloads videos from YouTube and others without much fuss. I never ever use it for anything else.

Apple on a PC is always a nightmare. Quicktime is a pig, iTunes either locks up or totally fails while burning CDs, resulting in more beverage coasters than any other burning program I have ever seen.
posted by Ber at 7:25 AM on May 21, 2008


Actually, it's more like putting your hand in your pocket and finding it full of moldy donuts.

Aside from #8 (obv), all of these programs require you to initially install them, don't they?
posted by Dave Faris at 7:27 AM on May 21, 2008


As for autoruns, nobody's mentioned msconfig? Comes with XP and newer? Go to the run prompt (Start, Run) and type "msconfi", then hit enter.

Under the Startup tab you'll find checkboxes for anything set to auto run, uncheck to disable. You will have to reboot to apply and it think you want to have a dialog saying "you're in a special customized boot yada yada". Check "never show this again" and go back to being semi-productive.

(When/if an autorun shows up again, you know which software is written by absolute fucksticks.)

Sysinternals autoruns is, of course, newer and better but if you're on a Windows box and just want to turn off a bunch of autoruns off without downloading any tools at all, msconfig ftw.

m&mm: I think we agree, although given how a thing is marketed or what kind of standards-ignoring-in-favor-of-glitz behavior it encourages, I think blaming the tool is not entirely unreasonable. I do, in fact, blame the hammer for smashing my thumb if I am forced to steady the nail using my thumb because the hammer only lets me do it that way and you can always find a hammer but seldom find a nailgun when you need it.
posted by abulafa at 8:05 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's interesting that a lot of the complaints here and on the list seem to be about software that's FREE. That's like finding a donut on the street and complaining that it's moldy.

It's like complaining about free scoop day at the Ben and Jerry's, because the scoop is actually ebola fudge ripple.

And then you realize there's a farmer's market down the street where the ice cream is free, organic, and delicious.
posted by zippy at 8:26 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that a lot of the complaints here and on the list seem to be about software that's FREE. That's like finding a donut on the street and complaining that it's moldy.

No, it's like some smelly shithead throwing moldy donuts at you on the street. Motherfucking RealPlayer and supermotherfucking Flash don't make my mouth water when I spy them in the gutter.
posted by gum at 8:42 AM on May 21, 2008


Flash is good for what Flash is good for. It's not a suitable replacement for HTML for content. However, could you do this easily in HTML? Or this?

New to StockFetcher?

StockFetcher is a powerful, but easy-to-use stock screener. Based on StockFetcher"s text-based filtering you can use plain-english phrases to build your custom stock screens.

/* MACD Crossed above 0 */
MACD(12,26,9) Fast Line crossed above 0
and close is above 5.00
and average volume(30) is above 250000

[View another example]

Click Getting Started to learn more!

VERY IMPRESSIVE!

posted by gum at 8:47 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I pretty much agree with the article.

Adobe Reader: PDFs are great for certain purposes, and I don't think Adobe Reader is that bad as a standalone product. Its browser integration, however, is atrocious.

Apple (iTunes for Windows, etc.): Hideous bloatware, which seems to be asking "wouldn't you like to buy something?" at every turn. I never use it. Side note: why do developers insist on replacing the OS's native UI with their own hipster-glossy skins? It's always slow and clunky.

Windows Update: Yeah, it's fairly ridiculous, but for some reason it's never bothered me that much.

RealPlayer: Don't even get me started. RealPlayer is by far the worst application on this list. Real is one of those companies where the marketing people obviously have entirely too much power (and entirely too little clue, but that's a given with marketing).

Java: well, I don't mind the updates; I'd rather be bothered with the occasional update than be stuck with a buggy or insecure application. I've seen some pretty terrible applications of Java, but there are some really good ones, too. The Eclipse IDE, for example, is great (for PHP, anyway, which is what I use it for).

Yahoo!: Another example of marketing run amok. I could maybe live with the My Little Pony crap, if the damn thing didn't try to take over my fucking computer. Do these people actually use the products they create?

Preinstalled software bundles: On Dell's site, when customizing an order, you can check a box that says "don't put crapware on this computer". I don't remember whether that actually reduces the price of the machine, but it does save you from uninstalling crapware.

Outlook/Exchange: I don't think the article was suggesting that companies use Hotmail as their enterprise email. I think they were saying, "if free webmail services can provide fast searching, threaded discussions, &c, why can't a flagship, enterprise-level email platform?". That's a legitimate question.

Having written code to interface with the Exchange data store, and having done some Exchange administration: yeah, it's crap. Like so much Microsoft stuff, the data store is fiendishly, unnecessarily, and arbitrarily brittle and complicated.

Flash: It's a tool, and it can be used for good or evil. It's great for games and toys, and in some cases for visualization of complex data, but it's never a good idea to build an entire site in Flash. Splash pages, once de rigeur, are now (thankfully) a historical curiosity.
posted by greenie2600 at 9:20 AM on May 21, 2008


Yeah, it's not so much that they're free, but that they're ubiquitous. It goes something like this:

Free -> Popular -> Bloated -> More Popular -> Unusable -> Installed On Every Computer In The World
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on May 21, 2008


"some programmers get it"

"If developers would quit rushing software to market that isn't ready yet..."

Programmers/developers aren't to blame. The suits that force them to program stupid shit are to blame.
posted by greenie2600 at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2008


Programmers/developers aren't to blame.

There's enough blame here for everyone, in truth. What are the Outlook/Exchange problems you mention above, but a product of a bad programming culture? As many of the problems on the list are caused by over specification and management bureaucracy as by an overzealous marketing department.
posted by bonehead at 10:49 AM on May 21, 2008


Not a single mention of software firewalls? BlackIce, McAfee, Norton, EZ Armor, PC-cillin, Sygate, ZoneAlarm? These are the names of the enemy. Were they able, they would break into your house, sexually assault your dog, set your car on fire, and then steal your children.

Since they can't do those things, instead, they randomly shut off your internet connection, or limit traffic to specific sites, restrict your speeds, or my personal favorite, stop DNS from functioning properly.

Oh, and they make you pay an ongoing fee to keep working. Like a protection racket.
posted by quin at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't mind the Windows versions of iTunes and Safari (I'm mostly Mac-based), but I hate how they install the desktop icons every single time there's an update even though I delete them every time.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:31 AM on May 21, 2008


the Flash development IDE is just slow and awful, and crashes as often as the plugin does.

Check out Flex Builder. It's an Eclipse plugin. I can't find my ass with both hands in the Flash IDE, either, but Flex Builder lets you build apps that work like (or are) desktop applications.

the U3 fuckery

MAN I FUCKING HATE THAT SHIT. I DON'T WANT TO USE MY FLASH DRIVE AS A VIRTUAL DESKTOP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I WANT TO PUT FILES ON IT. THAT'S ALL.

Not a single mention of software firewalls?

Consumer-grade host-based security stuff - firewalls, antivirus, phishing filters - it's all CRAP. Just turn off admin rights, for Pete's sake, and you can do without all that crap just fine. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd think that viruses exist solely to get people to buy this shit.

One of my coworkers thought, well, if I have one of these things on my PC and it makes me safer, two will make it even safer! His computer was safe alright - it couldn't connect to anything and it was too slow to run an exploit if there was one.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:51 AM on May 21, 2008


I hate the U3 Launchpad so damn much. When the hell did it become standard on fucking flash drives anyway?

Here's where to get the uninstall program, which unfortunately erases it, but it's worth it to get that garbage off the thing:

http://www.u3.com/uninstall/final.aspx
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:07 PM on May 21, 2008


bonehead, I include "management bureaucracy" in my definition of the word "suits". There are certainly bad programmers out there, but in my ~13 years in the computer industry, most of the bad ideas come from the PHBs.
posted by greenie2600 at 12:31 PM on May 21, 2008


> It's interesting that a lot of the complaints here and on the list seem to be about software that's FREE.
> ...
> Aside from #8 (obv), all of these programs require you to initially install them, don't they?

Technically they do--at least in the sense that you do have to click Oh all right, I surrender, install the damn thing [ OK ] but if you aren't vigilant about your browsing (and never ever share your pc with anyone no matter how near and dear) you're likely to find they're free like herpes is free.
posted by jfuller at 2:21 PM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


you're likely to find they're free like herpes is free

This program is released under the Software Troll Development license.
posted by lukemeister at 2:33 PM on May 21, 2008


abulafa writes "Flash can fuck off and die die die die die. Not a single site which is somehow 'better' by using it actually is because it does not scale visually, even when it's doing its vector magic. It fails at accessibility in a horrendous way and using it makes you an accessory to hate crimes against the disabled."

And if you're really lucky it won't play music that you can't turn off. Hello all clueless web flash developers, I routinely have music and or movies playing on my machine on one of my secondary screens. I don't need your craptastic web site forcing sound on me, thanks.

RavinDave writes "Why the hatred for NAV? I mean ... I don't write sonnets about it, but it's never given me any trouble."

At least partly it's because it's a frick'en support nightmare. Semi impossible to remove, and screws up many interactive websites.

Dave Faris writes "Aside from #8 (obv), all of these programs require you to initially install them, don't they?"

Much of them come preinstalled.
posted by Mitheral at 6:07 PM on May 21, 2008


I switched to Foxit for a while, but now I use Adobe Reader 8. It works pretty well; better than Foxit in my opinion.

I don't use browser integration though. Still crappy.
posted by grouse at 3:39 AM on May 22, 2008


Much of them come preinstalled.

I guess that's the price you pay for buying a Dell or an HP or any other computer you don't build yourself. Ars Technica Guide for Building Your Own PC.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:54 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aside from #8 (obv), all of these programs require you to initially install them, don't they?

The donut is only moldy on the inside. You need to bite it to find out it's no good.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:38 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


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