Monday, August 26, 2013

One More Reason I Hate

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     It's been awhile since I've had something infuriate me to the point I felt the need to blog about it. That changed today after I spent about an hour trying to remove some intrusive malware from my laptop.  Oh, I know. I have installed all the wonderful little goodies that are supposed to make the job easier and even prevent most malware from infecting my baby in the first place.  Nothing is perfect, though.  Something always seems to find its way through all the blocks, just to make life miserable until I can get it removed.

      That leads me to today's little gem.  Amazon Smart Search somehow snuck onto my laptop and proceeded to pester me every 2 - 3 minutes to make Amazon Smart Search my default browser.  I didn't even know Amazon has its own browser.  "What new malicious evil is this?" I asked no one in particular, since I'm home alone.  Assuming a new browser tool bar had installed itself, I ran a search of my hard drive for "Amazon" to see if I could find where it was nesting.
     While I'm not a complete idiot where computers are concerned, I consider myself one of those people who knows just enough to be dangerous. When all the Amazon files started filling the screen, I decided more information would be needed before I zapped something important.  Off to Ixquick, I go.  A quick Google scrape later (Ixquick doesn't save any info from search history, while it returns the same results you get when searching with Google, who DOES save ALL of your search history for purposes known only to them.), I find a nice little article on Amazon Smart Search removal. Moments later the pest has been removed safely.  15 minutes and still no pop-up saying I need to change my default browser, so I assume it was a successful uninstall.

     Amazon Smart Search?  Seriously? SMART Search?  What makes it so smart?  This is exactly why I hate GEC.  (That's Giant Evil Corporations, for those who may have wondered.)  What is with people these days?  Can no one think for themselves anymore? I have news for you, Amazon: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT!  Heck.  Half the time, even I don't know what I want, so how are you supposed to have figured it out?  I do know this.  I don't want Amazon, or any other computer program, telling me what I want. I will decide for myself.  Whose idea was it to call these annoying devices smart, anyway? Smart-car, smart-chip, smart-phone, smart-search...dumb idea!

     I have a theory that this is part of the problem causing society becoming more ignorant.  People are so caught up in letting computers think for them, that they have completely forgotten how to think for themselves.  I won't be surprised to learn that we soon have an app to tell us when we need to pee.  We've stopped teaching basic courses in our schools in order to make room for shoving technology down our kids' throats.  No wonder we are becoming dumber! (For more on this topic, try searching the Archives over at American Thinker.  Some very interesting stuff on the subject there.)
     Said technology is bent on reducing the amount of thought required to use it and making decisions easier by pointing us in its perceived right direction, based on our day to day actions.  Guess how technology gets all that daily information.  Yep. Those good ole tracking cookies.  Oh sure. They're harmless. They won't hurt your computer. They don't collect any Personally Identifiable Information about you.  Have you ever stopped to ask what they consider Personally Identifiable Information?  I personally think tracking what I search on the web and how I use my computer is rather identifiable information about me.  You may not have my address, but you have the address of my ISP, who does have it.  Hmmmmm...

     Try looking at it from a non-technological perspective for a moment.  If I followed you around for a few weeks and wrote down everything you did, but I didn't include your name or address or phone number on the pages that I tucked away in a file folder, do you think I couldn't find you later by using that information?  Would you shrug your shoulders and go on about business as usual when I showed up at your doorstep with a pile of catalogs pertaining to all the things you did over the past month?
     Give me just a moment of your time to show you these wonderful offers that I'm sure will interest you since I know you've been shopping at similar stores this week.  Oh and while we're at it, how about we expand on your knowledge base by checking out some similar items that you didn't show an interest in, but they are actually pretty close to stuff you do seem to like.  No?  Well, what about these other offers?  It's just a few seconds of your time.  It won't take long at all.

     While I'm busy trying to convince you of the benefits of the latest tanning cream, someone else steps up to show you what they discovered while following you around after you visited their store. Their stack of catalogs isn't quite as big as mine, but they also want to take just a moment of your time to show you some things you are sure to need.  Then a third salesman shows up, claiming he isn't there to sell anything, only show you some stuff you might like to try for free. Since you don't seem to mind these other guys standing at your door...  Next thing you know, you have a group of people all trying to crowd into your living room with a stack of pictures to tout their wares.

     This is exactly how malware works.  It isn't inherently evil or destructive.  There is no malicious intent to destroy the function of your computer.  It just wants to collect some information and use it to try to sell you stuff or get you to go to websites that want to sell you stuff.  The problem is that the stack of catalogs gets so big, your computer doesn't have time to do what you WANT it to do. It can't function around the pests that are busy trying to tell you what you want or need.

     No problem, you say.  I'll just hire a bodyguard.  In computer terms, that would be your anti-malware or anti-adware program.  You've already put a security system in your house when you moved in, and you carry homeowner's insurance (anti-virus software with a money-back guarantee).  So you aren't worried about the thugs that want to break in and steal your stuff or destroy your house (virus or trojan files).  You just need a small guard dog to add to that to keep the sales guys from pestering you.  Something to get rid of the trash that your main security guard isn't trained to catch.

     Makes sense, right?  Well, this works okay, except now your computer is really slow, because it is now bogged down with all the scanning and removing going on in the background.  You only have so many resources to use at one time.  You can't stand in your living room all day, listening to a bunch of salesmen tell you what you need to buy next, and your computer can't do the basic functions you WANT it to do, if it is bogged down with all the programs running at once to keep out the stupid malware.

Back to why I hate

     The worst thing about the GEC is that they have so many other little companies attached to them to do their dirty work.  They sit back and sing their own praises about how good they are to you, the customer, while their little side companies are busy clogging up your system with more junk and making your computer work overtime to keep up.  They are very good at keeping you distracted from their evil schemes to the point that they can simply SAY they didn't do it on purpose, and you'll believe them. 

     Sometimes, I KNOW what I want to do online.  If I don't, then I'll figure it out on my own.  I don't need someone else to think for me.  I don't need other programs to tell me what I want to do.  I hire the ones I want to provide specific services.  If I wanted all the other things that keep clinging to important files on my computer, I'd have asked for them.  I DON'T want them.  I don't want to support GEC like Amazon who hide most of the bad stuff they are doing behind other business names they call "affiliates."  Ultimately, there are only a few pockets at the top of the heap that are being lined from all the sheep who are too busy grazing to note the garbage they are spewing right alongside the supposed good stuff they do.

     I could rant on this subject for days, but my smart-phone just told me to go use the restroom, and my computer says my turtle wants to be brought back inside to his tank.  Meanwhile, dinner isn't going to cook itself.  I've yet to find a good deal on a smart-stove or smart-chicken!

Thanks for reading my heavily opinionated drivel!

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