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June 22, 2005

Life on the Hinterweb

We have a Windows machine in the study, largely for playing games that do not run on the Macintosh. Yesterday it caught a virus: it kept launching large video advertisements for the Kinsey movie. After beating it with a rubber hose for about twenty minutes, the ad virus succumbed and joined the choir invisible.

I then thought that I should perhaps upgrade the McAfee virus-protection program on the machine. That turned out to be a nasty and nearly impossible process: McAfee kept throwing pop-up windows up on the screen trying to "improve" my order from $35 to $95 or $125, warning me of all the horrible things that would happen to me if I did not "upgrade" my order. Only by clever parsing of sentences and clicking the correct buttons was I able to repulse this social engineering attack. Then I noticed that the black-inkjet cartridge in the Epson printer attached to the machine was low. I replaced it--and my printer driver promptly threw a warning box up on the screen: I had installed a non-Epson print cartridge, Epson "could not guarantee print quality," and would I like to order genuine Epson print cartridges off of the Epson website? No.

I don't like it when strange movies take over my computer and use it to display adware. I don't like it when Epson lies to me about the quality of Epson-compatible inkjet cartridges. I don't like it when McAfee makes it hard to avoid spending more on virus protection than I need to.

It's a jungle out there in the Windows world. Have Microsoft and Epson and McAfee considered the long-run consequences of the reputations that they are so eagerly creating?

Posted by DeLong at June 22, 2005 04:12 PM