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Gator Will Replace Ads On Sites 323

Bill Dimm writes "This CNet article says that a new version of Gator, a browser plug-in for managing passwords that also can display pop-up ads for competing products when you visit web sites, is being developed that will launch its own ads over top of the banner ads on the sites you visit. The software achieves wide distribution by bundling (much like TopText) with file-sharing utilities, with over 18 million installations of the current version claimed on their web site."
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Gator Will Replace Ads On Sites

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  • Baing a linux user I wont have to view ad's anymore? as I believe there is no verson of gator that exists for linux. (See there are advantages to not having an app ported to your platform yet!)
    • by quartz ( 64169 ) <shadowman@mylaptop.com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @06:57PM (#2173488) Homepage
      Being a linux user, you don't have to vew ads NOW. There are a myriad ways, from junkbusters to /etc/hosts manipulation to block ads in Linux. I don't use any of them, since I don't find banner ads that intrusive, but I may have to if everyone starts following the lead of Cnet with those huge, distractive ads in the middle of the story. But for now, I only disable Javascript popups, which annoy the hell out of me.

      Gator? Heh. In this respect, you do have a valid point. If all the advertisers decide Unix users are too few to be worth the effort, and start designing ad technologies that only work in Windows/MacOS, maybe we will get ad-free web surfing by default. I already get it to some extent, i.e. I don't see Flash ads since I haven't bothered to install the plugin. Now if only some advertiser organization would do us a favor and declare Flash the standard for web ads...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, being a Linux user you won't have Gator, but you'll still have the rest of the banner ads.

      Seriously, why does every single story on Slashdot have to turn into a Linux and Microsoft discussion? Right now there are less than 10 comments and already both Linux and Microsoft have been mentioned.
    • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @09:20PM (#2173823) Homepage
      I dislike ads very much, and I use Linux and Win2K boxes all the time. Rare an ad slips through my filters. So here is how it works.

      Firstly, I use Mozilla on both OSes. I configure it to ask permission before loading images, and remember the choice. This quickly populates the database of junk image sites. Same is done with cookies, of course. Animated GIFs are set to never loop.

      Secondly, I use Squid + Junkbuster chain on another computer. It acts as a caching/filtering proxy to block ads and cookies that slipped through Mozilla.

      Thirdly, the firewall is configured to direct all traffic to/from known Evil Sites (tm) to where it belongs. Input packets are denied, outgoing are rejected. Doubleclick and friends are all there, as well as some "legitimate" Web sites that have questionable privacy policies (like Real). This blocks a spyware traffic from apps like RealPlayer - which require 15 minutes to properly set up, otherwise they send everything they can to an unknown 3rd party.

      Fourthly, though I haven't done that yet, you can disable outgoing traffic through your firewall, except the proxy server. This makes the whole Web accessible only through your proxy.

      If you want to "sponsor" some Web site and give it an ad image request without actually seeing the ad, you can use Mozilla's CSS hacks. Then the image will be downloaded but not displayed. This is also necessary in SSL mode because the proxy becomes transparent and can't block images for you; then only Mozilla itself can help.

      • Just out of curiosity, wouldn't it be easier to simply not visit sites that have ads? Since you are breaking the implicit contract of getting the content in exchange for viewing ads, you are basically stealing content from the site.

        I have to admit I find it really offensive when people look for a free ride.

        If you really dislike ads that much, and if you have any ethics at all, then don't visit sites with ads rather than block them.

  • I just recently installed WinMX and it tried to install Gator with it. I simply pressed the decline button and all seems well, but for other banner progs - a simple firewall will block any programs wanting to access the net.
  • Gator (Score:2, Funny)

    Now does this mean we'll get ads for Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] when we log on to Slashdot?
  • the ad for Micro$oft I saw when I logged into Slashdot...
  • by luugi ( 150586 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @06:50PM (#2173467)
    As long as the user knows what he's installing on his system, there's nothing illegal about it. If I downloaded a program that disabled banner adds when I visited a web site, would that be illegal?

    As long a the user knows what's happening when he's intalling the software, the competitors have nothing to say.
    • by meldroc ( 21783 ) <meldroc&frii,com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:45PM (#2173632) Homepage Journal

      The problem is that the users don't know what's being installed. Gator is a program that silently piggybacks itself on other popular programs like Gozilla. It doesn't bring up its own screen saying "Now installing Gator." The only indications that Gator is installed is a blurb buried deep in the fine print of the twenty page click-thru license agreement, and Gator showing up in the Add/Remove Programs dialog. Worse, when you try uninstalling Gator, a piece of it still remains that continues to perform stealth advertisement hijacking until you uninstall it as well. Most non-computer-geeks won't have the time or inclination to figure this out.

      Gator is almost virus-like in its attempts to conceal itself from the user, do things without their consent, and spread itself to more machines. It includes only the bare minimum required to make a paper-thin claim of ethical behavior. With Junkbuster, the user knows exactly what's going on. Gator does its best to make sure the user doesn't know it's working.

      • by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @08:52PM (#2173770)

        Gator does its best to make sure the user doesn't know it's working

        There's an obvious reason for this type of behaviour. Consider: if users were informed of exactly what they are installing and exactly what it does, and then given a choice about whether to install it or not, how many users would willingly install it? My guess, none, whatsoever. Thats why they have to try hide their behaviour. If this alone doesn't make it glaringly obvious that such software should not exist (i.e. exactly 0% of users would ever willingly choose to use it), then nothing will.

        Its sad how much the computer industry relies specifically on the lack of user education amongst its client base. Software companies and hardware companies thrive on it. The success of Microsofts business is built on it. "Keep the users in the dark ..". All you see in the computer industry these days is companies attempting to trick their customers, lying to their customers, fooling their customers, suckering their customers, all relying on lack of user education. Its all around. I saw a banner ad today "if this ad is flickering, you've won! click here to claim your prize". Its an animated GIF, if its not flickering it means your browser doesn't support animated gifs .. but its just another case of relying on the cluelessness of your own client base. If a company NEEDS its users to be clueless in order to survive, it shouldn't be allowed to survive, period.

        • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Sunday August 19, 2001 @04:43AM (#2174606)
          What's sad is that everyone is marketing to this 'passive consumer' who is a clueless victim of his software. Everyone is buying and selling 'desktop real estate' and 'eyeballs'. The assumption is that the consumer can be led around by the nose to any destination we see fit.

          I think that in real life very few consumers fit this mold. The majority are angry and scared at the way their computers and the web seem to be fighting them. I think that the ideal of the 'passive consumer' does not come from experience, but from sick fantasy.

          This is acted out constantly in meetings. We have a piece of Windows software that is installed with "InstallSheild Wizard". The marketing guy was complaining that it's too intimidating - we should just quietly install the software with hardly any notification to the user. Of course the programmers say "If that happened to me, I'd be mad." And the marketing guy says, "You're not normal. Normal people don't want to see a blue screen and bunch of steps of installation."
      • While it often piggybacks itself on other popular programs, and doesn't bring up a "now installing Gator" screen, it does, in all cases that I've seen, give the user an option to not install it. There'll be a screen with an "install Gator" checkbox, which is checked by default. The user can leave it checked and click "OK," thus installing Gator, or the user may uncheck it, thus preventing Gator from being installed. The option is sometimes (but not always) even accompanied with an explanation of what Gator is, and how it's this wonderful program that is free and saves your passwords for you and blah blah blah.
        • Install snood (www.snood.org) and you get gator, period. No check box exists to prevent gator from being installed. If you don't want gator you have to go in and manually remove it from your system. Apparently gator is so annoying that the folks behind it no longer wish to give the user a choice.
    • Since I can't think of any reason a customer who actually understood what Gator was doing would consent to having it installed on his/her computer, I have to assume that what they are doing is at least slightly deceptive.

      If they had a disclamer which read in bold letters "Gator will attempt to drive out of business the free websites you most frequently visit by damaging their revenue stream from adversing, yet making you still look at other ads, do you want to do this?" just about everyone would say no.

      There is no question here. This is Just Plain Wrong, and must be stopped. Same thing with smart links. It shouldn't even be an option.

      Unfortunately, it seems like this is going to come up again and again. The best solution I can think of is a HTML meta tag or HTTP header like "HTTP-Dont-Fuck-With: yes". Adding or replacing content on such a page would be prohibited, and doing so would be considered fraudulent.

      Now, I have no problem with something that doesn't affect the display of the page being viewed. If MS wants to add a button to the toolbar that serves the same function as smart links, or if Gator wants to add something to the system tray, or whatever, that is fine. But altering the content of a web page for comercial gain should be considered, as mentioned in the article, the same as cliping and replacing ads in a print magazine before you reveive it in the mail.

      • Unfortunately, it seems like this is going to come up again and again. The best solution I can think of is a HTML meta tag or HTTP header like "HTTP-Dont-Fuck-With: yes". Adding or replacing content on such a page would be prohibited, and doing so would be considered fraudulent.

        What if I build a device for TV sets that, when activated by remote, mutes the TV and blanks out the screen for exactly 30 seconds? Perfect for commercial breaks, and if they are longer than 30 seconds they likely come in 30-second increments so just push the button a couple times. It could even replace the image with a countdown of time remaining.

        Is this ilegal? I'm modifying the content of TV programming! I think that since the end user is aware and wants it modified, its still ok.

        If an ISP blocked major ad servers, that would probably be lawsuit material (since neither the content provider or content comsumer agreed to it). But with a properly worded member agreement, I bet an ISP could even get away with it.
        • by norton_I ( 64015 ) <hobbes@utrek.dhs.org> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @08:30PM (#2173728)
          No, but if my Tivo replaced ads put in by the broadcasters, they would be sued, and it wouldn't really matter whether I had agreed to it or not.

          I would say there is a difference between removing something (ie, adding a 30 second skip or allowing me to fast forward through ads) and replacing it with different content that is represented as the original.

          Like I said, I wouldn't have a problem if the popped up ads were clearly seperate from the original content, such as in the task bar, or the toolbar of your browser, nor would I object to software that allowed the user to block out some or all ads. That is merely allowing the consumer to choose what parts of a webpage they view. Replacing content is fraudulent. End of story.
      • Unfortunately, it seems like this is going to come up again and again. The best solution I can think of is a HTML meta tag or HTTP header like "HTTP-Dont-Fuck-With: yes".
        Microsoft [microsoft.com] already has something similar for its smart tags:

        <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

        I have this in the template for my website [dyndns.org], so it appears on all my pages. I also just added in this little blurb to go along with the copyright notice at the bottom:

        This is an ad-free website. If advertising material appears on any page in this website, it indicates that you have software installed on your computer (probably without your knowledge) that is inserting the ads. Such defacement is a violation of copyright, and I'd appreciate it if you'd contact me [there's an email link here] so that we can figure out what software is interfering with your browsing experience and so that I can go after the company that's responsible for this defacement.
        You might consider something similar for your own websites, especially if yours is ad-free by design (one of the joys of hosting your site on your own server on a cable-modem connection :-) ).
        • I knew about the SmartTags meta tag, but I think there should be something more general. Just like robots.txt would be useless if every spider looked for a different file in a different format, this is only really useful if there is a more-or-less standard way to do it.

          Best of all would be an opt-in system instead of an opt-out system, but I think it will be easier to get all parties to agree on an opt-out system.

          I don't personally have any websites. I just am upset by this because I regularly visit a large number of ad-supported sites, many of which are in financial trouble right now. It really pisses me off when companies try to steal what little revenue these sites generate.
        • Such defacement is a violation of copyright,

          Absolutely false. I can deface your site all day long, as long as it's for my own personal use. That is exactly what fair use is all about. That I choose to use an outside service is irrelevent -- just like I could hire people to come over and modify web pages before I see them, I can use any software any time I want to do anything to your site, including accusing you of being a child molester. The only control you have is redistrubution. I can change anything, but I can't redistribute it without your permission.

          To be honest, I really wish people would clue into this simple concept. What I do within my own browser as absolutely, positively none of your business.

          If you believe in fair use, then you'll delete that tag. If you don't, and you believe in fair use, then you are a hypocrite.

          • Are you saying, then, that you have no problem with "hijackware" that is surreptitiously (read that as "without your knowledge or consent") installed on your computer and works behind the scenes to alter the appearance (and possibly the functionality) of a website? I set up Squid to block ads [taz.net.au] from most third-party sources (if a site serves up its own ads, I usually don't bother adding it to the list unless it's really annoying). I know it's doing that because I set it up to do that.
            That is exactly what fair use is all about.
            What a load of bull. From what part of the fair-use doctrine do you get the idea that hijackware is in any way legitimate? The last time I checked, the fair-use doctrine allows you to excerpt copyrighted materials for educational or critical purposes, and to make full copies for backup purposes (as with software) or to enable usage of copyrighted material in a different device (as in copying a CD to tape or ripping it to MP3 for playback in your car's tape deck or your MP3 player). Parody is also generally protected, and editing for personal use (as in doing your own remix) is accepted...but these are actions that you undertake of your own free will. Please explain, for the edification of all /.ers, how hijackware fits into fair use.

            As for your sig WRT ad-blocking...if I didn't have to worry about third parties following my every click, maybe I'd consider shutting down Squid. When I go to fubar.com, I've consented for fubar.com to send content (including potentially harmful scripts) to my computer. That consent doesn't extend to DoubleClick, Aureate, or other third parties (note the previous remark about usually not blocking ads served up by a website's server...if fubar.com has its own banner, it'll usually get through). Also, what about the people who use Lynx...do you consider them to be without scruples because their browser will never display that inane "punch the monkey" banner?

            • From what part of the fair-use doctrine do you get the idea that hijackware is in any way legitimate? [...] and editing for personal use (as in doing your own remix) is accepted.

              Exactly. I choose whether to install this software into my browser. If you want to argue that this software is not being consented to, then that's a totally separate issue from my right to run software of this nature that modifies your web site.

              Even if 99% of everyone did not consent to this software, that still gives the absolute unfettered right for someone who willingly wants to run it modify your web site in any way they choose. The issue is that it's none of your business how I choose to view pages in MY browser.

              • If you want to argue that this software is not being consented to...
                That's a big part of what this discussion is about (that, and replacing one ad with another, which is what Madison Avenue ought to get hot and bothered about).

                Oh, and one more thing:

                It's unethical to block ads. Don't like them? Don't visit sites that use them. Else, you are stealing.
                Let me guess...you never hit fast-forward or mute when an ad comes up on TV. If you do, then please explain how running an ad filter is any different.
                • Let me guess...you never hit fast-forward or mute when an ad comes up on TV. If you do, then please explain how running an ad filter is any different.

                  There's a huge difference between sometimes fast-forwarding ads with my TiVo and having a device which automatically removes every advertisement. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize this.

                  That being said, I don't have anything at all against ad-blocking software. Nor do I have anything against ad-modifying software as a concept. You can't be for one and against the other.

                  The issue at hand isn't whether it's legal to modify ads in the browser. Sure it is, and I hope to hell it stays that way. The issue at hand is one company's unethical manner of getting users to install their product.

          • Absolutely false. I can deface your site all day long, as long as it's for my own personal use

            Actually, I think it is indeed copyright violation (or some other illegal act), unless the software makes it completely clear what content was put there by the author, and what content came from a different source.

            This is especially true when the "alteration" is an advertisment, or could be construed as endorsment of a product or service by the original author, or is in anyway for commercial gain on the part of the software author.

            If MS wants to do something that provides links to additional content, they should do something like the netscape "What's related" or the mozilla sidebar (neither of which I use), or even put an item on the context menu for a link, rather than editing the page.

            There is no real evidence to support the claim that users are made aware of what they are installing. Certainly if SmartTags are ever enabled by default, and installed on new computers, the user cannot be reasonable expected to know they have software editing the webpages they view. I can't imagine anyone who understood what Gator does actually wanting it, so I conclude that most users did not knowingly install it.

            But the relevent point here is actually your tagline:

            It's unethical to block ads. Don't like them? Don't visit sites that use them. Else, you are stealing.

            Bottom line is, what Gator does is stealing. They are stealing the ad revenue from web authors.

            I am not completely convinced that personal ad filters are stealing, though I don't use them because I think it is unethical. HTML makes no explicit guarantees on if or how something will be displayed. It is certainly not stealing to browse with Lynx, or disable automatic image loading, so I don't know that using junkbuster or another ad proxy is really theft. I could probably be convinced either way.

            In any case, I stand by my claim that adding or altering content and representing it as the work of the site's author is a much more serious offence than removing content the user wishes not to see.

            If you believe in fair use, then you'll delete that tag. If you don't, and you believe in fair use, then you are a hypocrite.

            Not really. I don't think it is at all a violation of fair use to request that a web site not be automatically altered. It isn't like he encrypted his webpage and requires a signed executable to decrypt it.
            • Actually, I think it is indeed copyright violation (or some other illegal act), unless the software makes it completely clear what content was put there by the author, and what content came from a different source.

              Nope. Just as I can hire people to come over to my house and modify web pages before I view them, they don't have to mark what is changed and what isn't. The only relevent issue is whether the user makes an active choice as to whether they want to run the software or not.

              I don't think it is at all a violation of fair use to request that a web site not be automatically altered.

              If you are interfering with my right to use software within my own browser to view a site, then you are interfering with my fair use rights. I can do ANYTHING I want to your web site, as long as I don't redistribute the work.

              • Nope. Just as I can hire people to come over to my house and modify web pages before I view them

                Actually, I am not sure you can do this, either. The fair use doctrine only applies to the "owner" of copyrighted material. In this case, that would be the person viewing the webpage. Nobody else can modify that page without the consent of the copyright owner.

                This has been repeatedly validated in courts. The ruling against myMP3.com's internet jukebox said that the service was illegal because only the owner of a CD can make a copy. MP3.com could not make a copy, even if specifically requested by the user.

                Similarly, it would be illegal for a digial cable company to implement TiVo-like PVR functionality into the cable subscription, unless they got permission from the copyright holders.

                There are two issues remaining here. First, I won't say it is entirely clear that this interpretation of fair use is what it should be, but it is the way the legal system is now.

                Second, it isn't clear who is making changes to a webpage when you view it with these plugins installed. If the software were entirely standalone, I would say that the end user was doing it: he had installed a tool that made modifications to web pages. This is analogous to me downloading cdparanoia and ripping a CD. It was me, not the authors of cdparanoia who made the copy. On the other hand, if I have software that uses information from an outside server to decide what changes to make, it is a little more ambigious. In the case of smartlinks (not to pick on MS, but it is an example most people are familiar with), it certainly sounds like MS is the one doing the altering.

                Finally, I still say that if the changes made by said software misrepresent the original author, while it may not be copyright violation, it could certainly be fraud or libel (depending on what was changed, and to what end). If smartlinks, for instance, puts a link on the FSF homepage that says "Use Windows, we love it", and the web user viewing that believed it represented the FSF, that would definately be libelous--the FSF's credibility would have suffered measureably from a seeming endorement of Windows.

                This is an extreme example, but much more subtle things are possible. Howabout something that detects "Now" buttons (Linux NOW!/Apache NOW!/Netscape NOW!...) and adds one that says W2K NOW!

                If you would get upset at a newspaper misquoting you (or making something up entirely), you should be upset if people alter your webpage in a way that looks like you said something you didn't.
  • It's times like this I am glad I use a txt browser.
    I never have to deal with any of the following:
    200k flash pages
    java madness
    half page ad boxes
    And none of that distracting pr0n.
    It has its down sides but over all its faster and more efficiant than putting up with all of those things.
  • ...and it's call theft. If Slashdot is using banner ads as a revenue stream and Gator's ads pre-epmt these then the person paying for the original banner ad loses. That's theft or fraud or something far more concrete than what happened here [slashdot.org].

    • Banner ads are voluntary.

      Have you ever signed/agreed to view banner ads to view a site or even slashdot? Ever change the channel when that annoying yeast-infection product comes on the screen? Ever just flip the switch off and read a book??!?

      You thief! You bastard! You have defrauded the Internet!?!

      Ohh wait, thats stupid, because nearly all ads are voluntary. Just like banner, pop/up/under, etc. They are all voluntary. If a site doesnt want voluntary ads, they can do a subscription site. And dont tell me it doesn't work - I've been a member of digitalblashpemy for almost two years, and the webmaster makes enough to fully support himself off of it.

      Summary: banner ads are voluntary. Most all of ads are voluntary. If you dont want them, then don't view them. Thats the principle they've been operating under since day one.
    • It's not fraud if the end-user accepts what it's going to do. Remember, the site (slashdot) is only what it appears to be when rendered by a common browser; if I use lynx, I don't see ads; does that mean lynx is violating some law?
    • After all, a company is entitled to its profits,
      and anything that stands in the way of that
      is theft!
  • a simple addition to my little proxy filter program and I won't see those ads either. heh.

    thought it kinda strikes me funny: the staunch hatred for spam out there, yet there doesn't seem to be as much disgust for the banner ads that consume (x)k in download. and with gator you'll now be getting 2*(x)k in bandwidth wasted* in the ads you both do and don't see.


    * for wasted == "shit I could care less about and simply clutters up my browser viewing space."
    • Well, yes, but that's because I *get* something for my ads: content. With ads I have the option of not viewing them: Simply don't go to sites that use them. I don't have that option with spam, because it comes to me.

      Ads are a necessary evil under the current content-creation paradigm. Spam has no positive side effects.

    • When I visit a site, I implicitly give them my permission to show me ads. I understand that ads are what support their site, and I'm not going to go and sue Yahoo! for putting an ad on my screen, just as I won't sue NBC for showing that gross Enleve commercial where they're wiping hair off some dude's back.. eww.. they have a right to show that.
      Spammers, on the other hand, deserve no such protection. When I pay my $46/mo for my internet connection, nowhere on my check do I write "Please send me offers for pr0n, MMF, and degrees at prestigious non-accredited universities!" Spammers are wasting bandwidth I paid for, without my permission. If and when Mass. passes a spam law, I'll take 'em to court myself.
  • It seems to me, with all these very intrusive, "my ad can can conter advertise your ad" programs...eventualy, people will give up. I mean, if i know any ad i put will have a gator ad ontop of it, then a top text ad over that, then the next spyware-fileshareing-p2p-advertisement-dealie will put something oner that, and so forth...what's the point in putting the ad in the first place? ads are just getting LESS effective as time goes on (due in part to things like this?)
    The only way i see to make money is subscription based services. However, we've had years of the web giving us free things (news, p0rn, warez, linux, whatever) I dont think most people will take too well to paying for content

    IMHO, the only effectave ad's would be those that took over a users computer for a period of time (like an ad on tv) But, I for one would not stand for that...When i use a computer, i do more than one thing at once, and i dont like ads telling me where to look....
    Banners, I can stand...popups/popunders I'll get used...The only reason I dont block them is to send a message to the people who buy the ads "I'll look, but I wont click"

  • Gator wars? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai&gmail,com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @06:57PM (#2173492) Homepage

    Web sited that make their money through banner advertising have got to be unhappy about this development. Which leads me to wonder: what are they going to do to ensure to their customers (read: advertisers) that their banner ads will not be gator-substituted?

    Blocking web browsers that are Gator-enabled? Probably not the best idea, but if enough important sites band together, this could put Gator out of business.

    Lawsuits against Gator? This might not be a bad idea, although I have no idea how it would go through.

    Hacking Gator to get around banner-ad substitution?

    Offering text-and-hyperlink-only ads, Google style?

    What I'm really hoping to see is Gator offer a "subscription service" to web sites..."pay up or we'll substitute your ads." That would lead to a most interesting fight indeed. And to a lot of lawyers making a lot of money.

  • Well, sites are going to want to fight this kind of thing, but I don't know if they have any legal grounds to stop Gator. Nobody is obligated to view ads on the internet - there's nothing in the TOS of most sites that says you can block the ads.

    Of course, this may change. I could see sites requiring you to run a small plug-in, or analyzing your traffic to make sure you actually downloaded their banner ads.. When you agree to the terms of service, you'd be agreeing to view all the ads, and only the ads, that the site indended for you to view.

    Companies like Yahoo will probably make a stink about this software, but I don't think there's any law supporting them. Even if Gator released software that redirected you (say if you went to Amazon.com, bn.com would come up instead) I doubt it would be illegal.

    Overall, what Gator's doing is irresponsible. There is plenty of crap advertising, but as little as it may pay, sites depend on it. With software like Gator out there, ad rates will only drop even lower.
  • Selling Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @06:59PM (#2173498) Homepage
    It's amazing to me what people will sell their privacy for. Password management? Seems like the user is getting the short end of the deal with this plugin.

    Also, with IE and Mozilla/Netscape now offering password management, is Gator relevant anymore?

    • Actually, this installed on my parents' box without them knowing about it. Sure, there was probably a checkbox somewhere during the install process, that vaguely explained something about a fabulous product that would do something. I'm pretty sure most users don't intentionally install this-- rather, it sneaks on board and tries to remain inconspicuous while it does its dirty work, much like Kazaa. The people who develop these programs are disgusting.
  • And.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Heph_Smith ( 513724 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:01PM (#2173508)
    15 million uninstalled it twice, the other 3 million just reformated.
    • Re:And.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:31PM (#2173595) Homepage
      the joke is, it dosen't uninstall even when you press uninstall, it still leaves its dlls active in the system, commet cursor does the same damn thing. The only way to get the damn thing out of your system is to use ad-aware or hunt the dlls down yourself (can be difficult sometimes)
      • the joke is, it dosen't uninstall even when you press uninstall, it still leaves its dlls active in the system

        Gee, that joke isn't funny at all...

  • 1) It's windows-only. Yawn. I won't even see the replacement ads.

    2) I run Junkbuster with the transparent GIF patches. I don't see ANY ads.

    Will people really care that the banner ads they normally see are replaced by other banner ads?

    - A.P.
    • Is this the right thing to do? The way I look at it is that the sites I frequent, such as /. and many other smaller, more needier sites, depend on me viewing their ads each time I load a page. This is how they generate money. This is how they stay alive so I can enjoy them.

      If I don't allow an image to load, they don't get credit for me loading that page.

      Sure, I know all the tricks to stop ad banners, and I do for some really annoying ones (ie., x10) but it just doesn't feel right to me. Who cares if there is an ad banner at the top of the page? I waste more bandwidth downloading a crappy mp3 that I immediately delete than I waste on banner ads in a week.

      I even make sure I click-thru every now and then if I see something interesting. Ad impressions aren't what they used to be.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm totally opposed to programs like this that change the intended content of a page without the owners permission. But I think I'll bear with the legitimate ads.
  • by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:04PM (#2173516) Homepage
    Ads that catch our attention, even if through somewhat annoying means, are one thing.

    But everyday another marketing gimmick pops into creation that pushes the line a bit far, going from mearly attention-getting, and into outright annoying and alienating potential customers.

    What's it going to take until these marketing people get the fact that annoying customers is not the way to make a successful company? Will it be the first marketeer killed by a slightly unhinged web surfer who gets pushed too far by these constant advertising attacks on our lives?

    • I know that I will never again purchase anything from X10. It's a shame too, because I have almost my entire house fit with X10 devices.

      I've emailed them to voice my opion on their intrusive pop up windows, but got no reply. I know you can go to their site and they will set a cookie to disable the ads for a month, but that's just ridiculous.

      I guess you kind of expect this behaviour from porn sites or other disreputable vendors, but X10 is (was) cool.

      • I got a response from them. They told me to go to this URI to disable the ads. I told them they didn't answer my questions (something along the lines of what they're going to tell their "partners" when I don't visit their sites any more). Another person emailed me and told me to go to this URI to disable the ads. I added their IPs to my firewall at that point.
  • by Gumber ( 17306 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:12PM (#2173533) Homepage
    We all hate ads, but remember, the ads you see help pay for the pages you see.

    Gator, on the other hand is a complete and total leach. They are selling advertising on other peoples content without compensation.
    • My homepage is a link to an ad blocking hosts file. There's no obligation for anyone to view ads on websites. I and a whole lot of others essentially turn them off by default and if you really want to support a site, remove the adserver address that site uses.

      You know the old economic vote.

      I won't get into how sites dependant on only ad revenue are doomed anyways. But look at fark.com, they cant get any ads so they just asked for money. Next thing you know theres more than a few grand to buy the new server they wanted. I'm not jumping on the "micropayment is the future" non-sense but when used correctly a donation or pay-for service blows banner ads away. Especially the pop under/top variety.
    • It's worse than that. Gator's not actually going to replace the ads like a proxy would -- they're still being loaded, but Gator will superimpose new ones over the old ones. The real problem here is that sites like Yahoo! that make money by selling ad impressions are going to have more problems finding sponsors -- thanks to Gator, advertisers will be paying for ad impressions that nobody sees. At least when I use WebWasher [webwasher.com] or the like nobody's paying for the ads I'm not seeing. (Plus, I had to personally decided to install WebWasher, which limits its impact to the number of tech savvy people that know about ad filters -- how many people voluntarily installed Gator, as compared to how many got it by installing Crap Puzzle Bobble Clone or the like?)

      Personally, this whole thing stinks of extortion to me -- you have to pay Gator an additional fee to get your ad in their circulation, or your ad gets covered up.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Click on "Advertise with Us" [gator.com] at the bottom of Gator's home page [gator.com], and then click on the two-minute tour, to see Gator's plan to sell itself.

      Recent customers include Dell, Enterprise Rental Cars, ESPN, Priceline.com, FTD.com, People magazine, Intuit, Sears, Foot Locker, H&R Block, Eddie Bauer and Earthlink. Just in case you want to know who's behind these shenanigans.

    • Ok, you load a page, see an XYZ-ad, and XYZ paid for the content. And guess who pays XYZ for the advertising? Their customers, one of which might very well be you! Let's say on the average enough readers of aforementioned page prefer the advertised products over competing products, so the costs for advertising is paid by the slightly higher price (if not, why advertise at all?). So at the end of the day the readers of the page not only pay for the content, but also the advertising company by paying more for the products. And all that for obnoxious ads?
  • This is the ultimate insult to legitimate businesses trying to make a honest buck on the internet. When people download Gator, do you think they're trying to download a password manager, or a banner ad replacement program? And why does Gator have to HIDE this program deep within it's TOS? And when the user un-installs its software why do they have to do it TWICE? Once for Gator and once for the adware program?

    And as a legitimate website owner, how would you like to have to spend time, money, bandwidth, hardware, just so gator can STEAL all of your ad spaces? This is trespassing of the worst kind. You don't even know about it!

    It's guys like Gator that give business and capitalism a bad name. What they're doing might be legally ok, but it's MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE.
  • SpyWare is Evil (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daath ( 225404 )
    This is one of the worst things I know, SpyWare - I simply hate freeware/shareware/ad-ware programs that use SpyWare - I recently installed KaZaa (p2p filesharing) - but 5 minutes after, not having run it, I uninstalled it, because it had installed Cydoor software on my computer (when I explicitly told it not to install it). I removed Cydoor - but then KaZaa wouldn't run.

    Worried if you have SpyWare? Get ad-aware from LavaSoft [lavasoftusa.com] - it's free and reliable.
    Or you can just check your programs here [spychecker.com] - just enter the name of the software...
    Or Steve Gibson's (grc.com) OptOut [grc.com]

    Don't use SpyWare!

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:22PM (#2173568) Journal

    In my opinion, Gator is a virus. It is attached to the software installations for other products, and it usually installs itself on user's systems without their permission. When you try to remove it, it creates a copy of itself so it is not deleted.

    It also interferes with the running of your computer. When I go to a website, I want to see that website, and view the ads that paid for that website. Gator changes that, and thus in effect is altering content without my permission. It uses up my computer's cycles and bandwidth to alter the contents of my computer's memory.

    So is Gator only legal because it is a company, and has corporates paying them? Gator does appear to be a protection racket as well - pay us money, or we will take away your business (by showing competitor's ads on your page).

    Christ, someone set the FBI onto this company. IMHO, of course.

    • It's clearly not a virus - it would have to propogate itself to be a virus, which it does not (which is also why it cannot be considered a worm). To call it a virus is simply ludicrous, and belies a complete ignorance of the subject being discussed.

      A trojan horse is the most it could possibly be - a program that masquerades or hides inside of something else to take action without your knowledge. Gator could be considered a trojan horse if it does indeed get installed without permission (as you claim), but all instances of Gator bundling I've seen do not fall into this category. Invariably there is an option to "install Gator," which while checked by default can easily be unchecked. When someone clearly sees an "install Gator" checkbox, and clicks OK while leaving that box checked, I'd hardly call that "without permission."
    • I agree with you 100%. Any program that either doesn't announce itself, or doesn't give you a chance to say "no, thanks, don't install this, just give me the thing I downloaded only" is a virus. It's installing without your control, you can't get rid of it, and it does stuff you don't want. I had a helluva time getting my system to work after Gator got added with a game (snood). Bastards.

      So, how do we convince the virus scanners to put signatures for Webhancer, Gator, etc., into their products? I imagine if *that* were to happen, and these comapnes get FLOODED with corporate MIS departments demanding to know how their virus got on their systems, and how to remove it...well, that would end the problem pretty darned quick.

      There truly needs to be better protection laws against software companies, and this is a good place to start fighting back. Go to McAffee, look at their definitions of a Virus, and if this fits, harras them to include it.

      Hell, it might even work. :)
  • by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:29PM (#2173585)
    With Mozilla nearing 1.0 and Konqueror looking more awesome by the second, everyone should expect this type of 'ad warfare' to come to Linux/UNIX soon.

    The truth is that I am *amazed* it has taken this long to happen. About 2.5 years ago I was working for a company that implemented this. It would have been a great ad revenue stream. Unfortunately the company was fucked and nothing ever happened.

    The only way for companies to combat this is to deploy an 'electronic warfare' counter-attack against gator.

    The sites would deploy a plugin which would detect gator modifications an remove them.

    Of course this means that gator would detect it's detectors and remove them too.

    The result would be an 'ad cold war' which would only leave users as victims.

    This is similar to the toner wars from Diamond Age. If you don't abide by the rules expect to get into a fight...

    • I don't think this stuff can survive in open source software. If it comes in an open source package, guess how fast a fork would exist without this "feature"? And if the software it comes with isn't open source, then people would just go for OS-alternative, or even program one themselves.

      Another thing is, that the typical Linux/UNIX user is less inclined to have the control over his box wrested away by the OS or some stupid application as most windows users who are used to giving up control over their computer when installing the OS.

  • Intrusive and irritating banners (in particular, but not limited to, popups and pop-unders) are the main reason I've been using using Mozilla almost exclusively instead of IE lately. Yes, even on Windows (2000). It's just better. It takes a bit of memory, but since that's cheap nowadays, I could care less about that...

    Adding this line to your prefs.js:

    user_pref("capability.policy.default.Window.open ", "noAccess");

    will get rid of those popups forever! However, clicking a link that opens a new window still works (taget=_BLANK still works fine).

    Most banners are fine and I sometimes click on them to show my apprecitation for certain websites. But when there are REALLY annoying ones, just hit right-mouse->Block Images From Server, and you'll never see a single image from that specific server again.

    If I could do that in IE, I might start to use it again, since I don't really care about the differences otherwise. Both IE and Mozilla are great browsers, but IE just doesn't have all the functionality I want at this moment....
  • Customer Profiling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @08:02PM (#2173677) Homepage

    I'll be going off on a tangent here, but it's relavent in regards to advertising in general. Here's what I want to see as a consumer and I think the increased benefits for both the consumer and advertiser make it worth the while.

    I'd like a way to fill out a universal advertisement interest topic list. It would consist of thing such as the following:

    • Ads I don't ever want to see. My list would include the following:
      • Feminin protection products - It's not my decision, and when I go to buy more for my Wife, I bring a cut-out from the box with the label/level I need so I don't screw it up.
      • Birth control and/or pregnancy tests - I've had a vasectomy
      • Credit cards - I have too many (just use them for work/online/pay-it-off-in-a-month purchases), I don't need more. BTW: I love my Linuxfund Penguin card, which is my "work expenses" card. The Chase Toys 'R' Us card is great for 1% in gift certificates.
      • Car commercials - I've got a Caravan for the family and kids, and a nice little '91 Toyota Tercel to serve commute car when I have to go on site (I mostly work remote).
      • Golf - I hate golf. Although oddly enough I enjoyed the Legend of Beggar Vance, but I like good movie making.
      • Constipation / Depends / Hemeroids / Atheletes foot, etc. - I don't have any such problems.
      • Bail bond commercials - one local UPN channel which has Voyager and M*A*S*H on each night seems to have a ton of these

    • Items I want to see
      • Movie trailers / New video releases
      • Anything technical related, even if I hate the product/company (MS, SBC, etc.), I still want to know what's getting promoted and new
      • Home/garden stuff
      • Intelligent kid toys relavent to my children's ages (1 & 3), no pokemon-type crap
      • Books - Just about anything that doesn't have the subject on my "I don't want to see" list is welcome.
      • Travel - I love seeing tourist commercials

    • All the items that I don't put on my "Don't want to see" or "Would like to see" lists are fair game (but I want an easy way to know what they fall under to block them)

    Ok, so that's my list . I'm sure we all would have our own, and they'd change from time to time. In addition to this sort of thing, I wouldn't mind having the sites I visit / shows I watch known. Of course, you'd better have a clue as to what that means. I may visit a site and see it's crap and close it, and if anything, that should count as a *negative* viewing, not a "hit". Same with TV. I'd love it if real 99% accurate ratings were known.

    My point with this isn't that I want ads. However, at this point, they appear to be a necessary evil for both TV and websites. If I have to see them, I'd prefer seeing things that interest me. I wouldn't even mind having my interest/info shared with my mailing address (although, without my name), as that costs the advertiser money and I usually sort through it on my way driving so it's lost time anyway.

    • Quoting the parent:

      ... I don't ever want to see...

      ... Feminin protection products... Birth control and/or pregnancy tests... vasectomy... Credit cards... I love my Linuxfund Penguin card... The Chase Toys 'R' Us card is great... Caravan... Toyota Tercel... The Legend of Beggar Vance... Constipation / Depends / Hemeroids / Atheletes foot... Bail bond... UPN... Voyager... M*A*S*H... I hate... MS, SBC... Home/garden stuff... pokemon...

      It seems that the advertising world has got you in its deadly embrace, my friend. You can rattle off trademark after trademark, they're ingrained into your brain. You misspelled the generic terms but spelled the trademarks with high accuracy. You form your opinions around brands jsut as much as around generic types of products. Not that I'm any different, but it just goes to show how powerful advertising is, in our lives.

  • to stand upon.

    Think about it. This is fair use. Yes, the Gator people are using it rather mischeviously. But you did (either knowingly or unknowingly) install Gator. It was in a click through, somewhere or other. But do we want it to be illegal to modify content once it has been downloaded. Gator does not go around an hack IIS/Apache to provide modifiyed pages. Rather, it modifies pages that the end user has already recieved. Much like Smart Tages. Much like Junk Buster.

    Sure, get rid of these things, on your own system. But I want my right to use these things.

    Everyone seems to posit this as some conflict 'over the internet'. That is simply not the case. Its a conflict over the software you have upon your computer. You download Netzero, you have to use their stupid banner thing. You download Gator?* All your ads are belong to them. You download JunkBuster? All your ads are belong to you. Simply enough, I think.

    *I Realize that not everyone installs Gator knowingly. So it goes with ad-ware. Blame the companies who package their software with Gator. Don't decry software that modifies end-user content illegal/unethical.

  • Windows users read on if you want to permanently kill banners. Instead of getting the banners when you surf the net, you will get a 'page not found', and you will not give the greedy webmaster any money from banner revenue!

    How I get rid of them is by creating a Windows HOSTS file in the windows directory. That is just a file called HOSTS (no extension). There is a hosts.sam file that you can open in notepad, to get an idea of what to do but remember, this is just a sample file (*.sam, get it?).

    Most of these banner sites run using a special server for their ads that serves the ads to the public, which is what this HOSTS file will be set up to ban. And you want to kill the image host and the link host so remember they are sometimes the same but sometimes different.

    First get the DNS of the host you want to ban by reading the page source which can be done if you save the page (for all those lame javascript page source blockers) or by right clicking --> view source.

    Then add the host to the HOSTS file in your windows directory and set the IP to be that of (which is your localhost IP, thus causing banners to not work), like so:

    # blah banner banning stuff goes here
    # ie:
    # www.flowgo.com
    # here are some samples from my HOSTS file localhost www.flowgo.com 207-87-18-203.wsmg.digex.net Garden.ngadcenter.net Ogilvy.ngadcenter.net ResponseMedia-ad.flycast.com Suissa-ad.flycast.com UGO.eu-adcenter.net VNU.eu-adcenter.net a32.g.a.yimg.com ad-adex3.flycast.com ad.adsmart.net ad.ca.doubleclick.net ad.de.doubleclick.net ad.doubleclick.net ad.fr.doubleclick.net ad.jp.doubleclick.net ad.linkexchange.com ad.linksynergy.com ad.nl.doubleclick.net ad.no.doubleclick.net ad.preferences.com ad.sma.punto.net ad.uk.doubleclick.net ad.webprovider.com ad08.focalink.com adcontroller.unicast.com adcreatives.imaginemedia.com adex3.flycast.com adforce.ads.imgis.com adforce.imgis.com adfu.blockstackers.com adimage.blm.net adimages.earthweb.com adimg.egroups.com admedia.xoom.com adpick.switchboard.com adremote.pathfinder.com ads.admaximize.com ads.bfast.com ads.clickhouse.com ads.enliven.com ads.fairfax.com.au ads.fool.com ads.freshmeat.net ads.hollywood.com ads.i33.com ads.infi.net ads.jwtt3.com ads.link4ads.com ads.lycos.com ads.madison.com ads.mediaodyssey.com ads.msn.com ads.ninemsn.com.au ads.seattletimes.com ads.smartclicks.com ads.smartclicks.net ads.sptimes.com ads.tripod.com ads.web.aol.com ads.x10.com ads.xtra.co.nz ads.zdnet.com ads01.focalink.com ads02.focalink.com ads03.focalink.com ads04.focalink.com ads05.focalink.com ads06.focalink.com ads08.focalink.com ads09.focalink.com ads1.activeagent.at ads10.focalink.com ads11.focalink.com ads12.focalink.com ads14.focalink.com ads16.focalink.com ads17.focalink.com ads18.focalink.com ads19.focalink.com ads2.zdnet.com ads20.focalink.com ads21.focalink.com ads22.focalink.com ads23.focalink.com ads24.focalink.com ads25.focalink.com ads3.zdnet.com ads.admonitor.net ads3.zdnet.com adserver.ugo.com ads5.gamecity.net adserv.iafrica.com adserv.quality-channel.de adserver.dbusiness.com adserver.garden.com adserver.janes.com adserver.merc.com adserver.monster.com adserver.track-star.com adserver1.ogilvy-interactive.de adtegrity.spinbox.net antfarm-ad.flycast.com au.ads.link4ads.com banner.media-system.de banner.orb.net banner.relcom.ru banners.easydns.com banners.looksmart.com banners.wunderground.com barnesandnoble.bfast.com beseenad.looksmart.com bizad.nikkeibp.co.jp bn.bfast.com c3.xxxcounter.com califia.imaginemedia.com cds.mediaplex.com click.avenuea.com click.go2net.com click.linksynergy.com cookies.cmpnet.com cornflakes.pathfinder.com counter.hitbox.com crux.songline.com erie.smartage.com etad.telegraph.co.uk fp.valueclick.com gadgeteer.pdamart.com gm.preferences.com gp.dejanews.com hg1.hitbox.com image.click2net.com image.eimg.com images2.nytimes.com jobkeys.ngadcenter.net kansas.valueclick.com leader.linkexchange.com liquidad.narrowcastmedia.com ln.doubleclick.net m.doubleclick.net macaddictads.snv.futurenet.com maximumpcads.imaginemedia.com media.preferences.com mercury.rmuk.co.uk mojofarm.sjc.mediaplex.com nbc.adbureau.net newads.cmpnet.com ng3.ads.warnerbros.com ngads.smartage.com nsads.hotwired.com ntbanner.digitalriver.com ph-ad05.focalink.com ph-ad07.focalink.com ph-ad16.focalink.com ph-ad17.focalink.com ph-ad18.focalink.com rd.yahoo.com realads.realmedia.com redherring.ngadcenter.net redirect.click2net.com regio.adlink.de retaildirect.realmedia.com s2.focalink.com sh4sure-images.adbureau.net spin.spinbox.net static.admaximize.com stats.superstats.com sview.avenuea.com thinknyc.eu-adcenter.net tracker.clicktrade.com tsms-ad.tsms.com v0.extreme-dm.com v1.extreme-dm.com van.ads.link4ads.com view.accendo.com view.avenuea.com w113.hitbox.com w25.hitbox.com web2.deja.com webads.bizservers.com www.PostMasterBannerNet.com www.ad-up.com www.admex.com www.alladvantage.com www.burstnet.com www.commission-junction.com www.eads.com www.freestats.com www.imaginemedia.com www.netdirect.nl www.oneandonlynetwork.com www.targetshop.com www.teknosurf2.com www.teknosurf3.com www.valueclick.com www.websitefinancing.com www2.burstnet.com www4.trix.net www80.valueclick.com z.extreme-dm.com z0.extreme-dm.com z1.extreme-dm.com www.popuptraffic.com www.popuptraffic.org www.popuptraffic.net www.qksrv.net usads.futurenet.com www.weatherbug.com ww2.weatherbug.com www.commission-junction.com servedby.advertising.com ads.fortunecity.com www.avenuea.com www.admonitor.net ads.link4ads.com www.focalink.com www.fastclick.net gm.preferences.com hg1.hitbox.com www.linksynergy.com adserver.ign.com www.karasxxx.com www.mcdonalds.com adclick.gamespy.com www.adultpop.de www.xxxteenclub.de www.hardcorepornos.org www.xxxexchange.de www.megatipp.de dialercenter.com www.erotic-ad.com www.allsexmovies.tv connect.247media.ads.link4ads.com www.qualitywarez.com www.easywarez.com www.found404.com www.sexybase.com popup.found404.com www.teenframe.com www.edirectdownload.com www.warezframe.net courier.karelia.ru www.yellowonline.com www.warezheat.com www.cumxxxdaily.com www.warezfounder.com www.penilesecrets.com www1.cp1.campoints.net www.clickxchange.com www.gaming-shop.com www.clickheretofind.com www.actionsplash.com www.geocities.com www.excite.com www.aol.com www.cangetit.com ads.popupsponsor.com ads.mircx.com www.freeonline.com a97.g.akamaitech.net www.getmusic.com www.netbroadcaster.com adcontent.gamespy.com ads.gamespy.com ads.xoasis.com affiliate.aol.com www4.cp1.campoints.net www3.cp1.campoints.net www2.cp1.campoints.net www.cp1.campoints.net www.charge.com adfarm.mediaplex.com www.erotik-portal.com ads.tucows.com banner.linkexchange.com ad.linksynergy.com banners.nextcard.com adserver.arttoday.com www.onResponse.com www.gozing.com www.dotmusic.com
  • Let the lawsuits commence!
  • by Ngeran ( 31568 )
    I would have to guess that this is quite legal.

    As proof, CBS and other major networks have been doing this for some time on live network broadcasts?

    Did anyone see the obviously fake sign around turn 4 of the Indy this year and last? What about the broadcasts from Times Square on New Years? Did you notice the suspicious CBS logo where some background advertising on billboards and stuff was? I've even seen it in use on network broadcasts of baseball games. Ads appearing, disappearing and changing on the base of the backstop behind the batter. Real enough looking that Joe Average probably doesn't even notice.

    Slashdot even had a story on this technology somewhere, though I'm too lazy too look for it at the moment. Add a reply if you find it.

    If this kind of real-time replacement of ads on TV is kosher, I can't imagine how the same would not be extended to websites.

    Not that I -like- this or anything. I think it's downright scummy, but then again, so are most Marketing folks.
  • "The promise of the Internet was always one-to-one marketing, but nothing has ever proven it out. We're proving it out," Eagle said.

    Uh ... who promised that? The only thing I knew of the internet to promise was easier access to more information, not some ability for assholes to get in my face. This is the kind of stuff that makes me so glad I use Linux (same would go if I used BSD).

  • by tentac1e ( 62936 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @10:12PM (#2173952) Journal
    It's a rather interesting coincidence that Gator was mentioned today. For the last two hours, I've been trying to clean up the aftermath on my computer was the was direct result of another virus^H^H^H^H^H "marketing tool."

    For those who on Win32 systems haven't had the joy to discover it, Audiogalaxy bundles (without sufficiently warning you) "WebHancer." This program binds itself to the Winsock DLL like a leech, and reports back to headquarters your browsing habits. Among other times, it includes how long you visit sites, what sites, etc.

    The fact this program latches onto my system [imdb.com] isn't the worst part. This program latches on like a cancer. [cexx.org]

    I first discovered the program in my "add/remove programs" control panel. Me, being oh so naive, thought that choosing to uninstall it through this dialogue box would uninstall it without damaging my system. I was sure wrong.

    Immediately after it was uninstalled, I couldn't browse the web. At first, I thought it was because of some other application I had installed (since I was installing and uninstalling several other system level applications). I spent about an hour tinkering with my system, uninstalling the different applications I had installed.

    Luckily, I had a seperate computer to browse the Internet on. Between reboots, I used it to search the web. You have no idea how common "windows 2000" and "can't connect to network" appears in a google search. Out of pure luck, I found a page explaining that webhancer screws up your winsock file when you uninstall it.

    What the solution that the makers of webhancer provide? Reinstall the application.

    I downloaded the application and reinstalled it. Supposedly, my problem when uninstalling it was that it wasn't properly set up before or some such BS. My winsock worked again. I uninstalled it again from the add/remove applications control panel. Again, my winsock failed to work.

    It wasn't until I downloaded Ad-Aware [lavasoftusa.com] that I could undergo a cyber-chemotherapy. My system is finally working again, sans spyware.

    I'm contemplating tomorrow calling up the people behind spyware, and requesting re-imbursement for the system damage and loss of productivity that their product did to my system. I don't care really about getting the money, but I am interested in what they have to say in almost the same way a person is interested in looking at a car accident.

    Gator sucks, but at least the bastard [imdb.com] dies.

    • I'm contemplating tomorrow calling up the people behind spyware, and requesting re-imbursement for the system damage and loss of productivity that their product did to my system.

      Go for it in small claims court. They'll have to send somebody, and just hearing them explain it to the judge would be worth it.

    • why not complain to microsoft, as a customer, and see if you can't get the beast to go after them for causing problems with their product. =] wouldn't it be funny to see one huge company take out another one we don't like. kind of like in doom when the imps kill each other.....
  • I had a program install gator "for me".

    Thats what "add/remove" programs in the contro panel is for.
  • After running WebWasher for a few months, I've almost forgotten that the Internet has ads.
  • I have some idea of what Gator is for, and what (little) benefit it offers to the user but I don't really understand -why- it's being covertly bundled with so many other programs? I can only assume that software authors are getting some kind of kickbacks for packaging Gator with their programs.

    Which brings it down to two separate issues; One of the issues deals with the software itself, it's ad manipulation & pop-upping. The other issues deals with the untrustworthy software that installs Gator for you. The second issue can't entirely be blamed on Gator, even though they've provided the incentives, they're not directly responsible.

    But, until deceptive software like this starts getting the kind of mainstream media attention that other virii get, I don't see anything changing much. I hate to say it, but, perhaps somebody should come up with a simple, detailed "Evils of Gator, and how to remove the scourge" type message and spam it to a few million ppl, start a chain-letter, or whatnot.
  • Can't I sue these fscker's asses for messing
    with my copyrighted web content? My graphical
    designers sometimes recommend guidlines for
    me to pass on to advertisors for what will/won't
    look good on the site. If gator messes with that
    don't I have some say in the matter? It's my
    freaking page, after all.

  • What if one put a click-through license on one's
    website: "Each page of this site is to be viewed
    in its entirely, without filtering." If a website
    user can opt in to a device that filters
    and modifies content of the
    site, then a website owner should be able to opt
    out of that. Symmetry. It takes two to tango.
  • I don't want any of the ads, so I use Bugnosis [bugnosis.com] to detect the web bugs and the free WebWasher [webwasher.com] proxy with IE to scrub out the cruft, which is somehow available for free on Linux, though I'm told that Squid [squid-cache.org] and Junkbusters [junkbusters.com] can do the same. AdSubtract [adsubtract.com] is another alternative that comes packages with the ZoneAlarm [zonealarm.com] firewall these days, but I found it to not be as flexible as WebWasher. Unfortunately there are a few sites that do not work with WebWasher, most notably EBay [ebay.com] and no matter how I tell it not to touch EBay's cookies and content, it still blocks something that keeps that site from working.

    What is needed is some sort of plugin that works directly with the browser, sets all pages and cookies to be filtered out by default, and which lets you just right click on a page to tell it this site is OK to not filter and remember to let these cookies through. All browsers have the cookie feature, but management is usually a pain with what they provide and often left up to third party tools like all of the above. Sounds like Mozilla [mozilla.org] has some of this built it, so I'll give it a try...it may be time to make a switch. IE6 is supposed to have some of this cookie control, though I'm not sure if it's to that level of convenience.

    I haven't seen an ad or a web bug on pages since I've made that change. I look forward to being popup/under and ad free in the future.

  • My room mate screwed her computer up again the other day and I was sitting there trying to get the damn thing working again. Some goddamn RealAudio thing she installed installed its own download manager a while back and that is probably the most irritating thing I've ever seen on a computer, ever.

    There need to be laws wrt. what's being installed on your system. For instance, the "default install" should have to say something along the lines of "Click this to install our product plus several pieces of annoying shit that will make your computing experience much less enjoyable and suck up so much extra bandwidth that your already pathetically slow dial-up connection will become unbearable."

    Actually, I'd like to see laws demanding that truth be told in a lot more situations. Like, my boss the other day feeding me this line of crap about how the economy sucks and so there won't be raises or bonusses this year. How about "We don't have to worry about our programmers defecting to another company anymore so fuck you!" Or those adverts on TV, "For only 4 easy payments of $49.99, you can get this bizarrely shaped metal whatzit that you will use once and never touch again."

    But I digress...

    Anyway, it should be absolutely required of software like this that it at the very least modify the HTML headers so that site operators know it's running. That way we can pop up a page saying "Sorry, your browser is running extensions that we don't like. Disable them or PISS OFF!"

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva