Return of the Pesky ‘Craplets’

I hate the free offerings that software companies and OEMs foist on the unwitting public comprising of bloatware, craplets, sh*tware – call it what you will. Naturally, most at risk are the inexperienced computer users who, despite the publicity campaigns and security advances in software, still somehow mange get their computers extraordinarily infected with the STDs of the computer world. Instead of tottering off down to the Clap-clinic, though, a trip to the local PC World is usually on the cards.

I’m continually amazed by the amount of toolbars and other crapware that derive from various well-known search engine companies etc. that I see stubbornly installed in the browsers of people who should know better. My continual warnings, it seems, fall incessantly on deaf ears.

Let’s take a typical toolbar situation, which I ran into a couple of days ago with one of the PC’s I ‘manage’. An undisclosed computer ‘user’ unsuspectingly succeeded in getting a whole crapware suite downloaded and installed to their PC despite me having cranked up ZoneAlarm OS firewall to the highest level known to man, short of locking down the PC with a guest user-account. As well as the toolbar, there was an instant messaging and a download manager to boot. My hatred of such things is profound and the reasoning behind it, simple: they take up precious screen real-estate, system resources, and slow down boot time considerably.

Well, the said user wanted to access a certain site which required a map to open up in a new window. This necessitated turning the blocker off, or at least temporarily allowing pops-ups for that site. Having been previously able to view the map in this way without difficulty, the user was baffled as to why it could no longer be accessed; ostensibly the new window WAS being blocked, despite the pop up blocker being disabled in respect of that site. To cut a long story short, I eventually discovered that the user had unbeknownst to me installed the aforementioned suite of crapware including a toolbar incorporating its own pop-up blocker that was causing the problem. Seriously. Some people are just a law unto themselves.

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