Why?! #2: Toolbars (The Bane of Your Computer)

Hot damn, slashdot toolbar? I NEED that!

Hot damn, slashdot toolbar? I NEED that!

Can you remember the time when you were able to download freeware and just.. install it. That’s all. There wasn’t a game of “where’s the added crap I don’t need?” embedded in every install file. I remember those days. The days where you could meet someone who told you they were a programmer and you actually didn’t want to punch their teeth all the way out of their asshole. Those days don’t exist anymore. Somewhere along the way people realized that giving away a small piece of code that took ten minutes to write just for the sake of being popular and liked was not nearly as worth it as sneaking in other programs no one would ever intentionally download on their own and tricking people into installing things that are ultimately detrimental to their computers and a pain in the ass to get rid of. I don’t think there exists anymore a piece of freeware that is actually free. Sure, it’s not costing you money right off the bat, but you’re going to pay eventually, and your poor computer is going to keep paying right along with you.

The sad result of this behaviour is that you’re now better off just paying for a similar program (the ones you pay for are waaaaay less likely to fuck you around, but you still have to be careful because they might. Anything in pursuit of that almighty dollar, friends) or going to the efforts of stealing it. In fact, you’re far less likely to get a computer fucking virus from a pirated piece of software now than you are from a legit piece of freeware. What the fuck is going on with that? There was a time where downloading anything pirated was bad news bears and probably had a little something vile in it that would make your virus scanner shit its pants. This made it easier to just go out and pay for things or to look for a good piece of freeware. Hell, I’ve even bought some of those little five dollar programs that people write to do things the companies I’ve paid way more money to couldn’t be bothered supplying. For example, I bought a program for five dollars that can take my fully loaded ipod and copy all of the music and the data from my ipod and put it on my computer the way I had it originally installed in itunes. See, I’d lost my old itunes and the only option at the time was to wipe my ipod and start over, even though all the files were there and correctly marked. Even though the ipod is essentially a removable drive and it’s really as simple as copying the information from it and reminding itunes of what it means. It even kept my play counts. For five dollars, no added crap. I love programs like that and the people who write them. S/he deserved my five dollars.

Enter Toolbars. You can’t install anything anymore without having to remove the option of installing god only knows what idiotic toolbar. How did people surf the web before toolbars? Well, mostly they did it without big brother recording all of their information for later secretive use. There is not a toolbar in existence that doesn’t record every website you go to and all of the personal information you supply to it. Toolbars will happily keep track of how much money you have in the bank, what type of bank account you have, what kind of emails you write to your girlfriend/boyfriend, what type of underwear you like to eat, what type of porn you like to watch and even how many Barry Manilow tracks you’ve stolen in your online life. There is no piece of personal data too trivial for these asshole devices to steal from you. And in return it comes with a search option, for those of us who have a lot of problems going to a search engine. To be completely honest here, folks, if you’re too lazy or stupid to just go to google (most browsers will even fill in the ogle.com as soon as you type “go”) then you shouldn’t even be using a computer. You should be getting up early to feed the pigs or some equally non-technical shit. You should be using your computer for a paperweight.

My personal favourite, though, is when you download a program that’s marked as freeware (there’s no option to buy it) and then it tries to install a toolbar and then it tells you that the evaluation version only lasts a week, or would you just like to enter your registration code now. That’s really brilliant, see, because they try to fuck everyone with the toolbar and if that doesn’t work, well, at least some people might actually buy it. The evaluation always stops right there for me. I cancel the install and then write letters to the company who sent me the program, telling them about how great it is and how I’m going to suggest it to my friends and loved ones and then, wolfman-like, changing into a raging asshole halfway through when they’re not expecting it. If you rage from the start they put their armour on right away and you’re not going to draw blood, friends. You have to get them to not only walk away from their armour but also to expose their breast in pride (kinky, I know) so you can pierce it with some of the best expletives known to planet Earth.

The moral of today’s story is never install any of the other shit that a program tries to push on you. If it’s one of those rare ones that makes you install something else before you get to the good stuff you can usually uninstall whatever that crap is right away and the program you actually wanted will still work. Notice that some install programs will bring up an extra “I accept” option making it seem like you’re accepting the agreement for the program you wanted again, when in reality it’s a different program they’re asking about. Try to read them all and see what it’s actually saying. There’s never an install you need to do so fast you can’t be bothered reading what you’re doing. Computers are being designed better so that it’s harder for people to fuck you around. The only way they can anymore is if you just click all willy-nilly during install windows. The feeling of knowing you only installed what you wanted is the best. You outsmarted a someone who paid someone else to study programming for them. Good for you! Never do typical install, as that’s really “your computer’s typical turn in the barrel” install. They just shortened the name. Toolbars are for tools, and you don’t want to be a tool. I’m afraid to ask what comes next. “Please insert this calorie counter into your rectum and hit continue to install Brian’s lolcats screensaver!” The worst part is, people would.

Only Dogbert fully understands

Only Dogbert fully understands

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