Musing about software, servers, and the awful, awful mess that is technology.

install-ask-toolbar-300x256It’s getting awful crowded in my sky.

Speaking as someone who grew up on computers and the Internet I find myself more and more cringing at the state of tech these days. I don’t think it’s on a decline or anything, despite the jokes that go around the average user I think is getting more and more savvy every year. I mean yeah we still have the ones that think computers come with cupholders in the front, but what’cha gonna do.

Despite that, people are catching up on the idea that if you read it on the Internet it’s probably bullshit. Such as the case with the Food Babe who was trounced so hard in public the only reason she still has any followers is there is a certain segment of the population that will believe anything, like that we never actually landed on the moon and that JFK was killed by three shooters from neighboring cities.

But I digress.

I’m a big fan of free things, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I enjoy free content, I enjoy making free content, etc. Java historically has been extremely free. Java powers Android in the background, which is also free (discounting the cost of one Soul to Google). Recently though I went to install Java on a recently rebuilt Mac, and oh boy…

Like most enjoyers of free software I’m pretty used to the shady as fuck ways they get you to install what is essentially adware. And like that article points out, people are a bit untrusting of “free” software as a result. All it really takes though is a keen eye for those checkboxes that say “I agree to let you turn my computer into a billboard.” and tell them to politely sod off.

However this was the first time (at least for me) that installing it wasn’t an option, it was a requirement. This got tricky for awhile, if you hit Cancel it would continue the install (very counterintuitive, and that’s the point) without the adware, but now it’s part of the install process. In other words, if I want Java 8, I need to also install the Ask toolbar.

I won’t go into how to get around this (for those of you who bumped into this looking for that, head over here.)  But I would like to pull just a bit from that article; to install Java 8 on a mac without the toolbar, you need to use Terminal. Now for me, someone educated in Linux, that is literally no issue and I did it without difficulty. The average user on the other hand when exposed to Terminal can suffer from bouts of extreme panic and horror. Text interfaces are not for the light of heart, and no offense intended here, but Mac owners are about the most light of heart computer users out there.

This is a deliberate attempt by Oracle to make it as hard as possible to not install the toolbar. Obviously way too many people can figure out the checkbox and fake Cancel button shenanigans, so now we need to up the ante and make them figure out Terminal commands in order for them to bypass crapware. That’s cold, Oracle.

I’m not certain what Ask.com pays to get Oracle to do this. It’s probably a lot. I think though that if Oracle is really that hard up for money they ought to just start charging for Java and leave it at that. I realize paying for software is kind of defeating the point of the rest of this blog post, but as a user base we need to start deciding what’s more important; getting services and software for free just to have their publishers sell us to every company willing to pay up, or to start demanding privacy and security.

It’s bad enough that Java introduces tons of security holes by itself. Installing adware too? That’s just uncalled for.

And as to Ask.com, if any of their execs happen to be reading this: If you need to get your product in front of people historically by tricking them and now by forcing it to use other people’s software, potentially the problem with your business isn’t that enough people don’t know it’s there; potentially, your product is shit.

I was going to add something witty here, but that image really speaks for itself.

I was going to add something witty here, but that image really speaks for itself. Ask.com’s search engine is a bug.

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