"You heard me! Don't you dare touch my settings!" This used to be a common phrase around my office, and home. Generally I would be yelling at someone for changing any one of a number of user defined settings for Windows, or another piece of software...
Since I installed Windows XP Pro, I have been blissfully unaware of any changes that have been made, as they do not affect my desktop, and as the system administrator, only I can add, change, or remove programs, aaaaaahhhhhh! Sweet control.
"The beginning of the story..."
I happened upon a listing the other day while perusing the listings at Google.com. I won't name the site for fear that the scumbag whom owns it will try to sue me for slander if I do. As I have nothing good to say about the site, I think that's best.
I clicked the link to the site, and found myself looking at 37 Pop-up windows within 3 minutes. "Pop-Up Hell" as Webmasters so lovingly call it (as if it was a revered old friend), had found my screen. I hate pop-ups; I think they are a waste of time and energy, but that was not the reason for my rage this day.
After spending my time waiting for "Hell" to manifest itself, and run its course, I began to calmly close all of the windows one by one. Honestly I was bored, and I decided that I would look at each window and see what products or services they were advertising. The first 3 were fairly straight forward "Hot Sex", "come see our site", and so on. As I got to the 7th one, I noticed that the ad was for a dialer alternative to credit cards. Nothing new I thought, but fate was waiting for me to close that window.
"The Chaos Begins:"
I moved my pointer in the direction of the "Close" symbol in the upper right corner, and clicked it to be rid of this pop-up, and move on to the next. No sooner than I attempted to do so, I found that not only did the window not close, but the site was now auto-downloading a dialer to my hard drive. I attempted to stop it, but with 31 windows open, as well as software running in the background, my computer was slow on the uptake. The dialer successfully downloaded.
The next 27 windows were the same ad. I right clicked on the task bar item for Internet Explorer, and clicked "close group" (For those of you who use XP, you know what this function does.) My computer was slammed with a massive amount of dialer downloads. I was angry to say the least, and I walked away from my computer to let the downloads run their course.
"The Damage is done:"
I returned to my computer to find that all of the downloads had completed, and began the tedious task of removing every single one of them. I spent the better part of 1 hour just seeking out all of the files that it had placed on my computer and deleting them. The problem was that not only did they put an icon on my desktop, but they also started in my systray, and created icons on my programs list. I found well over 100 files and icons for 28 dialers that had been downloaded. This was enough to send me over the edge.
After seeking out and eliminating every file associated with the dialer, I decided that I would go online and check my stats. Upon opening my browser I found myself face to face with the very site that had caused me all of this trouble in the first place. My homepage had been changed to go directly there. I was fuming. I found an email link to the Webmaster, and sent an email that contained more curse words than any document the history of the written word. Simply put it would be trespassing. Why should it be any different on the Internet?
I proceeded to open my settings and change my homepage back to my usual one. I opened my favorites menu just to see if anything had been changed, and had it ever. There again, this site was listed 28 times in EVERY category, and folder. I wanted to destroy the site, and hang the Webmaster that did this to me.
My opinion on this matter is simple. It should be "ILLEGAL." No person, persons, or companies should be allowed to change anything, insert anything, or add anything to your computer without your consent. This would include changing your homepage, auto-downloads of any type, and any other means of manipulation.
Homepages are sacred, and to change them is to trespass; it would be like an interior decorating company coming to your house, and changing the color of your walls, and adding their logo to it; without your permission, or request. It would be a crime. Simply put it would be trespassing. Why should it be any different on the Internet?
Auto-downloaded dialers often auto-dial when a dial tone is detected by the script, and have cost people millions of dollars in unwanted fees on their phone bills. As far as I am concerned, this is theft. They should make it against the law to manipulate a computer in any way without the owners consent.
In the words of the wise and all knowing Dennis Miller - "Then again, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."