Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sorry, but AVG Secure Search is malware (Update: but maybe won't be in the next version)

Discovered AVG Secure Search today when I installed the trial version of WinZip on a laptop that I only intend to use temporarily. There seems to be some controversy over whether AVG Secure Search actually qualifies as "malware". I understand why some think it's not: AVG appears to be a legitimate company, the software does not seem to be harmful (and may even be beneficial for users who want it), and although I have not verified this myself, I am told that it's all there in the EULA/fine print/options of the software you are installing.

But here's why this little shit of a browser extension is malware anyway: It conceals itself deep in the fine print, piggy-backing on other software (and software that I, for one, generally consider to be trustworthy, to boot! Or did, at least, until today), and -- and this is the most important part -- it deliberately makes itself difficult to uninstall.

It installed itself on Chrome in no less than three ways, each of which in and of itself would have been sufficient for Secure Search's functionality: As my default search engine, as the default page that loads when you open a new tab, and as a browser extension. That's just absurd! And if you don't believe there's a problem, just do a little Googling (maybe even using AVG Secure Search, eh?) to see just how many links there are saying "I tried everything to uninstall AVG Secure Search and it's still there! Help!"

I would argue that if AVG were trying to conduct business in good faith, on the search page that loads there would be an option to uninstall, and it would do all the clean-up for you. Failing that, having it as just the default search engine, or just an extension, or whatever, would at least be reasonable. The fact that I tried two different ways of uninstalling it with no results... well, that kinda makes it malware.

Side note: For uninstalling this little leech from Chrome, there are excellent instructions here. Actually, those instructions would probably apply to cleaning out any sort of bullshit lying douchebags from Chrome.

Update: Please see the comment below from Jon Meyer with AVG Customer Care. The company does seem to be taking these complaints seriously, and to their credit they are resisting the temptation to simply take the "If you didn't read the EULA, then fuck you, it's user error" approach. They say the next version will include an uninstall button. While I'm still not crazy about the stealth bundling with WinZip, it was the combination stealth-install/tricky-uninstall that for me crossed the threshold of "malware". If they follow through with the simple uninstall button, I retract the accusation.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The big names behind Atheism+ need to publicly distance themselves from Richard Carrier's regrettable post

And that's about all I'm going to say. I'm not even going to bother to provide links, because if you are the type of person who is even vaguely interested in this sort of internal politics of atheism, you already know exactly what I am talking about.

I really, really like this Atheism+ idea. I think it's great. Yeah, it's a little like humanism, but it's also a bit different, and anyway, branding matters.

But Richard Carrier's post just left a terrible taste, and a lot of people who are on the fence about Atheism+ are mentioning it. I haven't heard a peep about Carrier's weird rant from Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, PZ, Stephanie, or any of the others.

They really should publicly acknowledge it and say something about it. I agree with what I think Richard was trying to say, but the way he said it was just nasty and unhelpful.

To me, part of the whole point of Atheism+ is to define the movement in such a way that the douchebags want no part of it. And then good riddance. So Richard's language suggesting some kind of explicit purge is as superfluous as it is unseemly. You don't have to kick anybody out (what would that even mean, anyway?), because if you make the movement about the right things, the people you don't want as allies will kick themselves out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Harris solution to the Wisconsin shooting

A few months ago, Sam Harris wrote a very convincing essay in defense of profiling at airports. He sure has me convinced!

This is why, in the wake of the Oak Creek shooting, I would like to propose a novel solution: From now on, all white male Army veterans will be subject to a secondary search upon entering the boarding area of any airport. I can't imagine anybody will oppose this plan!