This is just a general rant, triggered by the message I just received from the Adobe Reader ActiveX control that is the subject of this post (no it's not a typo). This post could be described as confused and rushed at best, perhaps like a dogs-breakfast:
I had an argument with a mate in the car on the way home from Lord of the Rings yesterday about the 'cost' of smoking. I can't concisely state my points regarding matters of smoking etc. nor related topics such as alcohol, gambling, illegal drugs, taxation and 'society', so I'm not even going to try. I know I'd be here writing an essay for 3 hours, and still be frustrated that I hadn't adequately expressed myself. Not to mention that I am frustrated even in myself that I can't arrive at my own definitive position (much like the rest of society it would seem) on all such topics. However, in regards to smoking in particular I have some fairly strongly held views, and while being a smoker I hold concern that my perspective might be skewed, I would say that having been both a smoker, and a non-smoker, I am an in greater position to comment from experience than someone who has not.
All that aside, I'm sitting here, thinking about some of the things that came up, and I started doing some research on smoking, particularly the 'cost of smoking'. It wasn't long before I found a PDF file - and this is what has triggered my rant, which despite the introduction is not about smoking at all..
Let me be clear: I hate finding PDF documents when looking for information on the Internet. I understand that they are very handy for being able to produce consistent looking documents cross-platform, and that they have good support for transmission to 'hard-copy', and often I do value being able to save them very simply as a discrete document often containing a whole heap of useful information on a topic (something that can be altogether more challenging when wanting to do the same thing with HTML). But when I'm researching something I'm a content kind of a guy, and I don't care much for printing, so what I really want is my content, on my screen, fast. When I see a PDF document, I often skip it and look elsewhere, only if I'm really hard pressed to find information would I actually open it.
I also really hate installing software on my computer. If I didn't write it, I don't want to know about it, unless I think that it's good. Generally I have to install it to find out if it's good or not, often leaving me with catch-22. Frankly, most software that I see is buggy, crap (e.g. poorly integrated with the shell/OS and provides a shoddy non-standard UI), and probably does something that could be (or is) done better by other technologies, or best left 'not done'.
Every-time I install or run some new software, I risk degrading my system, and there is really no way of 'going back'. Installation can be bad, un-installation hardly works effectively, there is always something left behind, often there is no un-install, or un-install fails, or half works and half fails leaving my system in a mess until I do a re-build where I loose all my settings and many days, and generally just get pissed off. Simply running software, regardless of whether it deploys with an installation package or as a stand-alone 'just run this exe' application, often causes junk data and configuration to be written away to various locations, never to be seen or heard from again, often to areas that the system uses, e.g. the registry. Not to mention the hangs, crashes, memory leaks, bizarre user interface or focus stealing dialogue boxes. Over the years my OS has come a long way, but in many regards the software that runs on it hasn't.
Basically, for a software developer, I really don't like software. But I do empathise with developers, because I know that designing software, for a broad audience can be challenging and that keeping up with UI standards, design patterns, OS or platform features can be difficult to say the least. At the same time I despise them for not bothering to learn to program for windows properly since there are so many things they could be doing to alleviate my concerns. That said, I often find myself excusing myself from addressing these concerns, since most of the stuff I do is 'custom', I just ship the framework (e.g. the .NET runtime, VB6 runtime, etc) and my app (e.g. the executable and config/data files) and a batch file to register COM components (if I'm feeling generous) - I know that application deployment, versioning, etc are a big job, and I know what it's like to not have the time or resources to do a good job. Nevertheless, if you don't do it, and you make your software publicly available, you deserve to have sticks and stones thrown at you and your software referred to as crap - in my view. Heh, you know, do as I say, not as I do.
While I'm on a roll with this rant, let me be a little tangential and mention that I also really hate auto-update features and other spy-ware. About the only way that I'd like auto-update features to work would be as an auto-update prompt. I.e. don't go to the network first, and figure out if there is a new version, and then tell me (or worse, don't tell me but just go ahead and install, as Acrobat has just done, as per its almost English message box). Rather ask me if I want to check for a new version, and if I don't, ask me how long I want to leave it until I get prompted to check for a new version again. Allow me to subscribe my e-mail to a 'new version' announcement list, and allow me to trigger the auto-update manually if I think it is time, and do all this by default - no spying or self-modifying executables thank-you. I like software that regards me as the 'customer', not the 'luser' or 'consumer' or 'bitch' - respect my system and my network damn it, and don't you dare make me a statistic.
Anyway, back to the case in point. This rant is about Adobe Acrobat Reader after all. I know, that PDF is a god-send in regards to having 'portable documents'. But I hate Adobes software for windows. Integration into Internet Explorer, even of the latest version of Acrobat Reader (v6.0) is the sux. I vaguely recall being able to 'pre-load' Reader via some sys-tray utility that effectively just starts the process, then sits around waiting, but I refuse to do that. I'm not going to run a system that has Acrobat preloaded, just in case I want to view a PDF document.
Particularly I'm not going to run such a system, since I have zero-faith in the software being well implemented to start with. If I open Reader, my CPU rails at 100% for 30 seconds while it tries to load, particularly while loading as an ActiveX control. I understand that IE is probably going to great lengths to try and make sure that AR is sand-boxed, or allowed to execute, or signed or whatever it's doing, but 30 seconds of CPU railing is a no-no, and has bloatware written all over it. Further, page-at-a-time loading of documents blows too. The number of times that I've seen AR just sit there railing the CPU while attempting to render a page that it hasn't yet retrieved from the web server is about 1000 times to many, not to mention that half the time it then just crashes or hits an infinite loop - it's not uncommon to watch the CPU rail while the network lies dormant and nothing renders.
Anyway, basically my quest to find out about the cost of smoking to society and individuals was hampered with too many PDF documents, and I'm pretty close to considering a boycott on Acrobat for my system - I've already boycotted Real Audio as they treat me like their bitch. I've given up on WinAmp after trying v3 for a month or two before rolling back to v2 and then just giving up on it in favour of Media Player (which also makes me feel like the bitch). I have Quick Time installed at the moment, but there must have been something provided in only that format the I really wanted to see or I wouldn't have a bar of that either.
These days it seems that the only people I can rely upon to ship decent software for windows is Microsoft, and I can't trust them as far as I can throw them. There are of course a few notable exceptions to my general disgruntlement in software. For example: EditPlus totally wins, I love this software. Also TClockEx (even though it is basically just a hack) has been my friend for many, many years and is probably the single most utilised piece of software on my system.
But like I said, for a software developer, I'm really not a software guy - probably because I can spot the hacks and bugs a mile off and I just don't have the time to let your virus^Wspyware^Wprogram mess with my system.
Boy can I crap on..
Rant on brother... you didn't even touch on the ridiculousness of having to 'restart' after a minor application update!
Heh, and what Mike said too!
Acrobat blows! :)
heh and what both John and Mike said!
I'm a developer too, for many years, and everything John said is 100% true. 100%
I got the same odd message from AR that John did and got the distinct feeling I'd been hit by a virus rather than a genuine AR update...
This is how it happened: as soon as I clicked on a pdf link, ZoneAlarm asked me if I would allow Adobe Bobie to access the internet... silly me I thought this was in order to read the pdf file. Nope! it was to do an auto-update which gave me no choice in the matter!!! Did I agree to their terms and conditions for the new software? nope! Did i agree to let somebody download and install some unknown software which i have no idea what it does? nope... was i given any choice? nope!!!
I hate AR anyway, i can't believe they've made it EVEN slower. I always read the html version if at all possible rather than wait for AR to load and grind my CPU at 100%
I got onto Adobe's UK distributor to ask them if this "update" was in fact a virus. The sheer unprofessional way in which the update takes place, and the garbled English smacks 100% of virus... so i asked them if it was a virus. They couldn't be @rsed to reply.
Well my pc started to behave a bit oddly, in particular ZoneAlarm was playing up a bit after this "update", so i ghosted back to an image of my system partition i took a couple of weeks earlier, just prior to Adobie Bobie's odd update... and lo! my PC runs fine again.
So is it a virus???? Does anyone from Adobe wish to comment about their heap of garbage spyware and let us know if it really was a software update or a virus written by somebody piggy-backing Adobe's auto-update feature???
I might play around with this myself and see what i can find out...
In the meantime, my advice is to install a firewall and never allow AR to auto-update when it asks to.
Also!!! John is correct about Real. Real player is just one big heap of spyware too.... just don't even have it on your PC....
The ONLY way to protect your Pc from badly-behaved and generally crap software, is to GHOST regularly using something like Norton Ghost. Take an image every couple of weeks. Then if some dodgy low-life Real or Adobe software mucks up your PC just revert to the last good image you saved.
Microsoft aint no saints either... don't trust the Windows Update feature either!!! Ghost just before running Windows Update.. in case the system it leaves you with doesn't actually run any more...
There... i feel better now
Homage to John....
Damn, damn, damn! This discussion is four months old now, and this Acrobat thing just happened to me (in Mozilla Firefox, btw), but there's still no answer from Adobe to what the fuck this suspicious "update" was about, or any discussion of this anywhere else as far as I've been able to determine. Time to get serious about this...
I won't be able to help you with that dude. "Getting serious" that is. Too much like hard work.
I wouldn't worry too much though.. what's the worst that could happen?
I think it's more likely an example of dodgy software rushed out the door by overworked programmers than an overt conspiracy to repress you.. but you know, I wouldn't want to rule anything out at this point..
YEAH. I get this damn message all the time. I actually have to use Adobe Acrobat all the time for work and can confirm that the "full" version has this same annoying message popping up all the time. I've tried reinstalling and using a feature called "Detect and Repair" that's in the Help dropdown menu of acrobat -- no luck making this message stop appearing. SUCKS.
Argh! I was trolling the web, hoping to find a way to stop that stupid message from appearing... and I now realise that there is probably no way! It drives me nuts...
The worse of it is: if you click ok, shut down AR and then re-start it... it does it again!!!!
I was trying to get rid off that popup for good: I downloaded the update for 6.0.1 (16 Megs btw) and then 6.0.2 (another 4 Megs), only to find out that now AR does the download in the background without asking you for it! (and that's as soon as you start the 6.0.2 versions as the 6.0.3 is now available).
However it looks like you can actually disable the whole lot in the edit/preferences menu this time: and it looks like it works...
Still: had to download over 20 Megs, just to get rid of one stupid window...
But hey, guess what: Version 7 will be available soon! I'm sure that it will be much better by then... NOT!
I really wish I didn't have to use it...
This happens all the time on my Abobe
photo Elements, no choice,
it jumps to internet and screws my PC every other day, I am fcked.
Even the menu item is meant to screw you,
you try to look at the update menu item
and whoops, it will begin downloading
The elements came free with the scanner,
I wish there was a way to turn it off.
I am sure in 2 years time, it will become so
slow, that I will be forced to buy their
bigger spyware from Abobe and screw my PC
I hate PDF also, can't cut and paste. It
is a $#$# format. Every other day I have
to install the reader on a PC for some reason
or other. Why not stick to HTML or text
and make things work? But then who will buy
their stuff forever?