| 5:34 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Oh wow, I didn't even see this making the front page and the use of the word "scumware" until just now.
I think it's far too strong and nasty of word to use towards this Google toolbar issue.
I would reserve that word for programs that do nasty things for the purposes of greed. Google isn't making a dime off their toolbar (though its the only way to fetch their pagerank). This is more of a over-eagar mistake on Google's part.
I hope everyone realizes I never used that word and I didn't create that front page entry!
Can't the mods (Brett?) find a slightly less offensive word? :(
It's hard to find a common definition for "scumware" but I would only use it for programs that "hijack" or modify other programs to route information or revenue to themselves (like modifying links on your web pages to go to their own services, etc)
| 5:56 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
>>Google isn't making a dime off their toolbar
| 6:13 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I'm run IE 5.5 when I run IE at all. I always have active scripting disabled, ActiveX disabled, and downloads prohibited. I've been moving the old 1.1.70-deleon version (two files) into and out of my c:\windows\downlo~1 directory with a script hooked into two "kill" and "load" desktop icons, because most of the time when I have to use IE, I don't use the toolbar and I don't even want it taking up screen space.
I knew I'd be getting an update any day now, so I put a read-only attribute on these files, to see if I could stop the update.
No deal. Google jumped my "no downloads" security setting, my "no ActiveX" security setting, and updated me and changed the registry so that the old files were superfluous and my little icons useless.
I know it changed the registry because I disconnected my cable modem and imported my backup version of the registry, and got the old toolbar back. But I knew that the cycle would start again as soon as I plugged in the cable modem. So I uninstalled the old toolbar. Then I made a new backup of the pre-update registry. I'm done and finished with the Google toolbar, unless there are some secret files I should know about. As I uninstalled it, I was informed by Google's blurb that I'm one of the first people to ever uninstall the toolbar, and they are so surprised that they'd like to know why, via their feedback form. Fortunately my cable modem was unplugged, because they almost got an earful!
I think Google Watch is correct when they say, "Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you phone home. Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google."
Is there anything Google theoretically cannot do on your hard disk at the moment in time that they have a connection to you via the back door in their toolbar? I don't know enough about Windows to say for certain. I'll bet they could run FDISK if they wanted to.
No more toolbar for me. It scares me that GoogleGuy is interested in mind control. Computer control isn't enough, apparently.
| 6:21 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Kackle it was able to update because it doesn't need activex once its installed.
It simply does a version check to a url and receives a cab file to unpack and install.
Get a firewall if you don't have one. Then setup a simple rule,
for the domain "toolbar.google.com" block the word "/version". That stops it cold.
| 6:48 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Surely this is exactly the same as the Related Links firestorm:-
1. Google gets a bit "over-enthusiastic" in the geek department and releases something that sounds like a good thing at the time
2. The webmaster community pillories Google for its lack of restraint/understanding of current market conditions
3. [we're not quite here yet] Google takes a step back, and apologises, and everybody goes back to the "Google is great" starting line
| 7:01 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|No more toolbar for me. It scares me that GoogleGuy is interested in mind control. Computer control isn't enough, apparently. |
The mind control talk was just GoogleGuy having a little fun at the expense of the whacko who runs Google-Watch.
Personally, I found it funny. (Almost as funny as the Borg/Google parody posted by another poster.)
Auto-updates suck, but I can definately see why Google would go that route(Not that I totally agree with them). This is certainly worth discussing, but it's not a big enough thing to get all riled up about.
Just uninstall the toolbar as a few people have already claimed to have done.
| 7:40 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I like the toolbar a lot and for now not planning to uninstall it. On the other hand, just like many others in this forum, I wish to be notified when software is being installed on my personal computer, even when it is just an update and supposedly for my own good.
Norton AV lets the users select whether they want the program to apply updates automatically or if they want to be notified when updates are available. The software allows its users to choose this option on installation. It also lets the users change their selection at any time later.
I hope that Google would take an example from companies like Symantec instead of follow the example of scumware. G, don't just cover your ass behind TOS and FAQs, stay good.
| 7:49 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
The "new world".....there will be those that you implicitly trust and those that you don't. If you trust them to make changes (as I do with Norton Anti-Virus and MS) then you shouldn't complain. If you think they are a little on the dodgy side then delete all possible occurrences that may make this happen.
Personally I think Google is more incompetent than un-trustworthy.....so for now I will live with their auto updates on my non-critical machines;)
| 9:51 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I don't know the exact definition of "scumware" but it does seem a little harsh to me. OTOH it is spyware when you use the advanced version and by all means we all know this and Google do really tell about this fact, so that nobody should be in doubt that advanced settings implies data transfer.
Some members have even used this fact to get new pages discovered by Gbot sooner than they would otherwise be. There's absolutely nothing new in this. If the auto-update feature marks the difference between spyware and scumware, then i'd say that this was perhaps a little too little to justify such a rude term.
Sofar there's no evidence whatsoever that Google has modified anything but the Tbar software itself and the corresponding registry settings. To the best of my knowledge, it even sticks to one browser, so that you can have your full privacy when using other browsers, but i don't really know if i'm right here although i suppose/hope so.
I do agree that the AU feature should be mentioned clearly during the install process. I'd also like to see facts/statements about what happens with privacy when using browsers the Tbar is not on. And also about what happens in the Tbar browser when the Tbar is not displayed - is it still actively transferring data in the background? And, does it interfere with any other (applications running) internet protocols than (those used by) the Tbar browser when this is active?
Some information seems to be missing. I don't think the software damages my system or violates my privacy more than i can control (and more than i am aware of) but i'd really like to know this and especially know exactly when and where my system is "safe". Things are really so much easier to handle when you know about them. Even if some of the answers to the questions above would be going against what i supposed, i would then know about it in stead of worrying about it and that's a great difference. It's basically the difference between a concerned advanced user and a satisfied one.
I think it's a communications issue. Documentation is needed. If things (software) are not documented in some level of detail some users (including myself) tend to become suspicious. One minor flaw will quickly develop into other concerns. And perhaps for no reason whatsoever.
There might be some G-internal "culture clashes" here (for lack of better words), albeit ones that can be solved. One post mentioned the difference between server-side and client-side, that's the thing.
There's these different kinds of software; internet software, say an internet application like Google, does not need to meet the same documentation requirements than client-based software. There's wide room for secrecy in internet applications, as they do run on external servers and thus are more likely to harm those than client machines. Plus, the platform and usage patterns are both predictable.
Client-based software, otoh, is unpredictable and far more individual than server-based. More things can go wrong, so more documentation is needed - or more support and more warranties. Microsoft follows the latter path, closing the source code but providing tons of support, while most open source projects do the opposite; very little support if any, but tons of documentation.
I guess this is the choice Google is facing; going from internet applications to client-side software does require some changes in the way things are done. I don't think Google will want to follow the support-intensive path, so there's a bit of catching up to do on the documentation really.
[edited by: claus at 10:25 am (utc) on Aug. 24, 2003]
| 10:07 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I have only one thing to say on this and that G a while back introduced our computers to helping science etc I disagree with this entirely as at the time was an American science proj. (nothing against that but was given no choice) and we had to manually goto G and disable it.
In the new version it tells you how to disable this but says it will say X is disabled which for me it dos not.
I may well be selfish but I only want my comp used for uses I decide upon.
| 10:49 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I know everyone will scream that this is totally different, but if you think about it the line isn't quite that clear. In both cases you are changing the code running on the user's computer. The user used to have the old version of foo.js in their browser cache, and without even asking you have replaced it with something else. The new version may behave different, look different, have new bugs, or even crash the browser!
The big difference to me is that the toolbar has "super-powers"; it can do things like fetch the PR of every page you visit. For this reason, I would say that they must ask permission before enabling any new "super powers" (pop-up blocker is a super-power because it alters other sites, the blogger button is not because it's just a button on the toolbar). It sounds as though the new "super-powers" are not on by default in the auto-update, though I don't have the the toolbar so I'm unsure.
| 12:18 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I don't know about the consent issue with the auto update. That doesn't bother me too much.
What bothers me more is the privacy issue which 99% of amateur web surfers don't even understand. If Google want to put it in plain English for all there should be warnings like:
"We can read whatever we want of your hard disk. Hell, we could even tell what taxes you should be paying if we felt like it."
Doesn't it worry anyone that Google's funders are directly connected to Washington?
| 12:25 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Auto Form Filler?
I thought we were talking about a reptilian :o)
I have used the toolbar since it first become available, but I like to decide when and if I update any piece of software, my computer is NOT a toy, it is a tool and needs to be treated as such.
Sorry Google but your toolbar is out of here.
| 12:40 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
<<Spyware with TOC isnt really spyware.
And if people agree blindly to TOC when downloading programs then why complain when it does something which is in the TOC that you agreed to. >>
err...ok. Then you have no problem with any scumware at all, because in the fine print they all say what they are trying to do.
Of course the toolbar is spyware. The TOC has little to do with it. Google won't even say WHAT they do with the data they collect. We all know they follow your activites on the web and use the info for their commercial benefit.
<<Google isn't making a dime off their toolbar>>
the moon is made of cheese too :)
I don't really object to what Google is doing, however, simply saying that what they are doing is in the FAQ/TOS doesn't make it right.
I can publish an app in which the tos says "downloading this toolbar will destroy your computer". I guess it's just the fault of the user who blindly installs the app...
| 12:46 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I liked my toolbar the way it was.
I couldnt believe it was updated like that!
I understand it is my choice to have the toolbar, and could uninstall it.
They at least should ask if you would like to update like AOL does for IM!
| 12:47 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
ABRC, a bunch of rambling comments.
Anyone remember MOTD?(message of the day)
If Google has the programming resources to create autoupdate functionality, then it's plausible that they could just as easily create a startup check for new messages pending from "homebase". If a "critical" update is needed, then a great sales pitch *fully explaining* the need for it could be put up with a link to the update.
Any serious enterprise network admin who ran into this type of autoupdate on his network would put a LOT of effort into ensuring that the autoupdate never made it into the network.
One argument that has been made is the correction of security holes. Well, what if in the process of autoflushing millions of systems, it was discovered that the new version was even more broken, AND, one of the things that was broken was autoupdate? What do you do then?
Finally, any justification that depends on reference to the TOS and FAQ is not worth listening to. TOS are written by lawyers for lawyers. They are from the same school of thought as shrink wrap licenses. They exist as barriers to litigation. It's the old dot.com/mba mentality.
Remember, "the law is the refuge of rogues and thieves".
| 12:50 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Any serious enterprise network admin who ran into this type of autoupdate on his network would put a LOT of effort into ensuring that the autoupdate never made it into the network.
And a BOFH(*** operator from hell) would have banned
it from the get go. *AND* had it approved as policy.
[edited by: eelixduppy at 10:04 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2009]
| 12:56 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I did an informal poll of 12 programmer friends and asked them this question above.
All 12 said no freakin way.
They all said just give me a pop up to click to update my self.
The main reason they said they dont want an autoupdate is because of all the different programs people run, their could be conflicts with an update and you would not even know what happened.
| 4:05 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
>The mind control talk was just GoogleGuy having a little fun at the expense of the whacko who runs Google-Watch. <
The statement from Googleguy was used not to indicate an interest or dis-interest in mind control. Whether Google as a company, or Googleguy as an individual, has an interst in the topic was not the point and purpose of the post. The purpose of the post was the same as most other GG posts. To promote Google.
The point was to discredit the author of the article as a whacko, (it obviously worked), so that someone else would come in and call him that. Whether he is a whacko or not does not alter what Google or Googleguy is really doing.
For anyone interested in mind control, that Googleguy post could be the basis for a case study. At the very least, it does a better job of forming a perception that discredits a detractor and promotes the idea that Google is somehow above all other billion dollar American corporations much better than anything the Google-watch guy ever did.
This entire affair is just one more step toward the whole world waking up and realizing Google is not just a bunch of good natured, geeky kids trying to build a bettter world. While I highly doubt it, maybe that was the intention of a few college kids back in 1997, but today it is big business and if any of you think a billion dollar a year corp. is somehow above installing scumware on our box if that puts them in a position of power over their competitors, you are not a victim, you are an accomplice. Google is here and they are here to stay, just like any other American corporate intstitution. How do you think they get to be institutions? Ya think maybe good public relations and marketing hype come into play?
Furthermore, for those few ridiculous posts inferring that Google just made a mistake or that they are more incompetent than devious, you are naive in the extreme. Google has the revenue, the education, the experience and the talent that few other corporations have had in American history. NOTHING is happening by accident. There is no incompetence. There may be some "experiments" such as installing a search for related terms on Adsense without allowing any silly opt-out stuff, basically screwing over every content provider they had signed up, just to see how bad the PR backlash might be, but that is not the same thing as incompetence. THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
| 6:10 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|The point was to discredit the author of the article as a whacko, (it obviously worked), so that someone else would come in and call him that. Whether he is a whacko or not does not alter what Google or Googleguy is really doing. |
Having just read this article [namebase.org], and knowing that GoogleGuy read it because the terms he mentioned are buried in the article, I believe GoogleGuy really found the article interesting. For one thing, it's not a "whacko" article by any stretch of the imagination. It's an objective historical review of the interest in mind control on the part of U.S. intelligence agencies, a history which began during the Korean War. The occasion was a recent news report that the CIA for years had a budget to study remote viewing. The author states in the article that he doesn't agree with anyone he's come across that feels they are being "controlled" by some of the spooky technology mentioned, but feels we should stay informed and keep an open mind.
The mind-controlling aspects of this whole thread are interesting in another light. I agree with shurlee that GoogleGuy didn't casually drop that reference just to be chatty. He chose it because the title "Mind Control and the Secret State" acts as a trigger in any thread on WebmasterWorld that mentions Google Watch. There are so many Google cultists on WebmasterWorld (fewer now than a year ago, but still too many), that a trigger phrase from GG is sure to bring out some automatic denunciations of that "whacko" at Google Watch.
This is not the first time, but I hope it's the last time, that GoogleGuy uses WebmasterWorld to promote Google, Inc. this way. He should respond to Google Watch by explaining exactly how extensive Google's access to your hard disk is at the time of the update. Now that would be useful to know. And apparently, it's also useful to Google, Inc. that we don't know.
| 7:24 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|Maybe, I'm just naive but my understanding of the 'other features' automatic updates is just like PageRank where the updates takes place at Google side, server side as oppose to client side. But nowhere it says that it would automatically update the toolbar in my computer(client side) for every new version that would come up. Nowhere! |
This is how I interpreted it as well. Very disturbing that updates happen without my knowledge and consent. Google, there is absolutely no need for this. This is really not the time for you to start losing trust and credibility. Bad form.
| 12:21 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Hey, I hope folks don't mind if I repeat a few things from a discussion about auto-update that we had here on WebmasterWorld about a year ago.
"I'll mention a few things that most readers already know, but makes sense to repeat:
- The toolbar does auto-update when we have new versions. This is documented in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the toolbar help:
(dbowers also noted that we mention the auto-update in our privacy section.)
Google still works fine if you disable cookies (we won't be able to remember your search settings like languages though.)
Also, if you use the toolbar without the advanced features enabled, the toolbar is completely inert--it doesn't send any information to Google whatsoever as you surf.
If you are still worried about your privacy, you always have the option of not installing the toolbar. It's an advanced tool that we provide to users, and the opt-in for advanced features keeps most people happy. But if for some reason the toolbar makes you uncomfortable, then by all means don't run it."
We do our best to make a good tool that makes searching easier, but we want people to be comfortable and informed as they use it too. Thanks for the feedback from folks that thought putting it in the FAQ and privacy info wasn't conspicuous enough; I'll pass it on.
| 12:42 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I think the thing to take from this thread is the action by Google.
It was an obvious, conscious, technically informed, and more-than-likely a hotly debated policy within Google mgt to automatically update the toolbar. This is not something that happens by accident or because it was a good idea at 3am when it was programmed - this was decision full of malice. Add it to your red flag list.
| 12:49 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
Greetings and Gidday from downunder folks
As a person who chooses not to use IE and only has it installed to check that my code renders OK, I haven't been exposed to this insidious attempt by G to take over the browsing desktop world of IE users, so to all you unfortunate IE slaves out there ... you pays your money, you takes your lumps ....
| 2:27 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
>>and I'm not aware of any features that went away
For some reason I can't find the back links button in my toolbar. Am I missing something as I didn't see this in the options either?
| 2:34 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|this was decision clearly full of malice |
Brett... forgive me for being a bit dense, but were you being tongue-in-cheek here, or were you being downright serious?
If the former, then I think it's pretty clearly time for me to bow out of this thread, because, well, I am not comfortable with the accusations flying around here and I don't think COMPANIES can be malicious anyway. People, of course, can be malicious, but I have friends who work at Google; I like them, I respect them, and it makes me unhappy to see them being indirectly called "malicious" (though I'll note for the record that none of my friends have done any coding for the Google Toolbar).
If you were being silly, then either you should have added some smilies or I just need to adjust my sense of humor (or both).
| 2:46 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|GG: ...I'm not aware of any features that went away... |
unless I am really missing something, one BIG thing (for me) that went away in v2 was the ability to turn off the button for "search web", which is taking too much toolbar "real estate" for me when you add it to "search site" (which I use all the time - ultra handy) I prefer to just hit enter when i am ready to search
v1 could turn this off, v2 cannot - so there you go
| 4:40 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
I do not like Google automagically updating my toolbar.
I will seek alternatives.
Does it feel like scumware? Yes.
Does Google care about what I think? No.
Please, somebody out in the real world write about this issue so it doesn't just look like some angry WebmasterWorld folks going on about it...
Yahoo/Overture owns Gator/SearchScout.
Although it is not the same, Google must be held to a higher standard.
| 5:20 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|- The toolbar does auto-update when we have new versions. This is documented in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the toolbar help: [toolbar.google.com...] |
Which is after the fact that everybody have downloaded the Toolbar already!
|(dbowers also noted that we mention the auto-update in our privacy section.) |
You quoted somebody...You, as Google PR person, show me, where in the process of downloading the Toolbar did it mention of Google automatically updating OUR Computers without our knowledge and consent?
You also seem to miss(or ignore) a few very important points!
1. I reinstalled the Toolbar and documented the step by step process as posted in msg #63. Never did it mentioned ANYWHERE that by downloading and installing the Toolbar that 'I agree for Google to automatically ugrade the Toolbar for every new version'. I challenge you to show it to me! New version is not and will never be considered as a feature or dismissed as 'other feature'.
2. Because of point 1, what is Google safeguards against possible conflicts on users computers? Sorry, we crash your computer? But, who is really to know that Google auto-update is the cause of the crash because Google silently, without notice changes the configuration. Nice way to wash your hand, huh?
3. In the event of a crash, would Google assume full responsibility of data loss? Of course not, because the Terms as usual is covered by the usual yada yada. If so, who the hell you are and your company to play God with my computer?
4. Where is/are the full disclosure of how Google update the Toolbar, what is/are being changed in the users computers, what else is/are being access in the users computers?? Can we trust you and your Google that you are only upgrading the toolbar and NOTHING ELSE?
What would you feel if you find your best friend inside your bedroom...with your wife...without your notice and consent...although they are 'just talking'? That's exactly what you guys are doing...invasion of privacy, possibly; thieving, spying, payload, download, etc...
Even the Law requires a warrant to search anybody's private property. In your case, your company took the liberty of going through the back door.
And Brett is right...this is a wanton disregard of a persons's rights and safety...there is malice in its intent whether you like it or not.
| 5:26 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
|Furthermore, for those few ridiculous posts inferring that Google just made a mistake or that they are more incompetent than devious, you are naive in the extreme. Google has the revenue, the education, the experience and the talent that few other corporations have had in American history. NOTHING is happening by accident. There is no incompetence. There may be some "experiments" such as installing a search for related terms on Adsense without allowing any silly opt-out stuff, basically screwing over every content provider they had signed up, just to see how bad the PR backlash might be, but that is not the same thing as incompetence. THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. |
Google is less organized than you give them credit for. Like every company they are not a monolithic decision-making entity. They are a collection of people, some of whom are good and talented, others less so. All of them have the capacity to make moral and technical errors that influence the services we use. As their headcount and ambitions have grown, the rate at which these errors occur has increased too. There are just too many critical decisions being made nowadays for all of them to go through one good mind like Sergey Brin's.
Of course there is incompetence -- everywhere, not just at Google. And there are definitely accidents! I don't think the related-searches-on-Adsense thing was some kind of premeditated plot to test the PR waters. I'm sure they had some idea that it would be controversial (and this toolbar thing too, et al) -- but some person or people at Google really thought they could get away with it; they underestimated how much website publishers value their space. And someone at Google is still underestimating how wrong it is not to give people a choice about auto-updating binaries. I'm glad we have this forum (and GoogleGuy's attention!) to show them our perspective so that they can go back and revise their wrongheaded estimates! :)
| 5:34 am on Aug 25, 2003 (gmt 0)|
"Does Google care about what I think? No."
chewy, I don't know what else to say other than referring back to what I said in message #89.
Net_Wizard, if you go to [toolbar.google.com...] then the very first link is to the toolbar help page. The first link on that page is to our Frequently Asked Questions page. I'm not sure why you think someone has to install the toolbar before reading the Frequently Asked Questions page?
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