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back to article Not cool, Adobe: Give the Ninite guys a job, not the middle finger

Adobe wants the ability to easily roll out Flash updates removed from Ninite, the sysadmin Swiss army knife. I'm going to explain why this is a terrible thing. First, though, I would like to discuss the real-world practical uses of products such as Ninite. Ninite is used by systems administrators and ordinary folk alike to …

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Happy

Fireworks Anyone

In pyrotechnics a flash is something that blows up with a visible and sometimes audible result. Is this what Adobe want with their idea of 'flash' .

I totally agree that their 'product life cycle management' is total rubbish and worthy of the Financial Service Industry. The bundling of cr*pw*re with updates should be outlawed by law.

(Thought, can we get apple to patent the stupid idea of sending out cr*pw*re with patches, so that it gets blocked that way. Then people would applaud not mock apple's patent activity.)

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Happy

Re: Fireworks Anyone

Adobe's products are a security nightmare. Reader, Flash and Air are - alongside Oracle's Java browser plugin - the screen door through which the raw unfiltered sewage of the internet oozes into the homes of netizens. These products are awful, the security is worse and the management of them over the years beggars belief.

This sums it up best.

In pyrotechnics a Flash is something that occurs after the damage has been done.

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Re: Fireworks Anyone

" The bundling of bundles of cr*pw*re with updating updates should be outlawed by law."

Fixed it for you.

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Holmes

Re: Fireworks Anyone

Not needed.

You only need to REMOVE THE PRIVILEGE of being able to tell others what to with one's product, in particular, throw it through a scrubber.

But then Andrew Orlowski will start miaowing in the dark. I suppose.

Anyway, Flash is not dead yet? Pity!

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Re: Fireworks Anyone

Let him. When greed + copyright clashes with privacy + information security, I vote that greed + copyright shouldn't be the one to win. Those who would blithely sacrifice the freedoms of others whilst diminishing the security of all in order to eek out a few fractions of a point of margin should be tarred, feathered and run into the oceans their brethren polluted beyond usefulness.

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Re: Fireworks Anyone

Well said, Trevor! I wish I could hand out upvotes by the kilo :-)

I do agree with Andrew on some things, but his increasingly shrill clickbait on IP protection for the benefit of big industry a the expense of everyone else has almost got too annoying to read.

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What *I* would like to see...

"Adobe wants the ability to easily roll out Flash updates removed from Ninite, the sysadmin Swiss army knife."

*I* would like to see Flash removed from the web. Completely.

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h3
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Re: What *I* would like to see...

If Adobe's updater worked properly then it might be ok. The fact is it doesn't.

(Ninite one simple command to run to update ie ie64 firefox Adobe never manage to update more than one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: *I* would like to see Flash removed from the web. Completely.

Shut up and get back in your box, Jobs, you're supposed to be dead!

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WTF?

Re: What *I* would like to see...

Who the hell downvoted this sentiment? Not even Eadon is that divorced from common sense.

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It's worse than you think.

As a totally blind Geek, Adobe's site is a nightmare to navigate via Screen Reader Environment (SRE) such as Jaws by Freedom Scientific or NVDA.

This issue is only compounded by Adobe's attempts to foist bundled crapware with the download, as I have to make Jaws read the page *twice* to make sure Adobe hasn't "helpfully included" anything.

Once I've finally managed to get Adobe to understand that all I want is the update, then hit the download link, it's a crapshoot if it ever actually initiates the download.

There's no audio "blip" to tell me I've got a Security Notification & need to Alt+N to the Notification Toolbar to accept the download, Control+J doesn't report any files being downloaded, and UAC hasn't screamed for attention, so I'm left scratching my head wondering if I've actually activated the damned link.

Hit it again, and this time, dispite still no audio cues to the contrary, it gives me the "File Complete" ding to say it's done?

WTF? Control+J, and lo & behold, it shows the Adobe installer as having finished downloading.

When did it get there, because IE didn't seem to think it important enough to announce...

*Sigh*

Anyway, after getting the file, then using the Properties to Unblock it, and acknowledging UAC whining about "Not trusting unknown sources on the internet" (If only it knew!), the updater finally starts...

Only to present a User Interface that, to put it quite bluntly, deserves to have everyone at Adobe nailed to a tree limb & used as a Public Pinata.

Unmarked & unlabeled buttons, Required Check Boxes that don't get read by the SRE, elements the SRE can't find much less tell me about, and absolutely *ZERO* assistance from Adobe on the matter.

IF I manage to get it to actually install the update, then it "helpfully" launches a website wanting to know how I feel about the experience.

Really? You do *NOT* want to know how I really feel, because it involves Industrial grade Nail Guns, trees, & electrified-barbed-wire-wrapped-baseball-bats applied repeatedly to your genitals.

Then Ninite steps up to the plate.

The site is a *joy* to navigate, everything is properly labeled & identified, there's no wondering "WTF does this bit do?", the check boxes for the files I want are concise, and when I click that download link, It Just Works.

The file is small, I don't have to Unblock it (UAC doesn't think it's malware? BAH HAhahahaha) and it does what it fekkin says it'll do.

"Install the latest Adobe? Ok, hold on... downloading... done. Applying... done. Anything else with that today, or can I remove myself from memory, Sir?"

I've already uninstalled Java because of all the exploits it has.

I've uninstalled Adobe Reader for the same reason.

If HTML5 were more prevelant, Adobe Flash Player would get ripped out "With Extreme Prejudice", and Adobe would get a "STFU, GTFO, FOAD, & HAND" letter from me.

As it is, I'm stuck using Adobe's Flash Player, and it's about as Blind Accessable as a rabbid badger is friendly & cuddly.

At least you can *SEE* the crap it pulls.

The Blind/VisuallyImpaired have to rely on Adobe having the brains to properly design a UI that's Accessable such that a SRE stands a chance in hell of reading it to us.

Want to take a wild arsed guess as to how well Adobe's done that?

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Re: It's worse than you think.

Have an upvote just for this:

"Really? You do *NOT* want to know how I really feel, because it involves Industrial grade Nail Guns, trees, & electrified-barbed-wire-wrapped-baseball-bats applied repeatedly to your genitals."

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Thumb Up

Re: It's worse than you think.

Insightful and entertaining. Reg should give you a column.

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Alien

Re: It's worse than you think.

" As a totally blind Geek, Adobe's site is a nightmare to navigate via Screen Reader Environment (SRE) such as Jaws by Freedom Scientific or NVDA. "

Truth be told their website also sucks for those that can see it. I can only imagine the extra pain visited upon you.

Even to this very day they cannot make the effort to post static links to the latest Flash versions, a personal pet peeve. You are always sent to a browser / OS sniffing page where they decide what you need, never even entertaining the thought of someone going there on a different computer. There is a way to get the so-called offline installers after clicking around for a while, but it is needlessly obtuse. Sun / Oracle does a similarly bad job with Java as do most other high profile software vendors.

Ironically it is always the little guy, the really independent coders of all manner of drivers and utilities that make a nice effort for user-friendly distribution and pages that can be successfully bookmarked.

I must force myself to say something nice about Microsoft now. At least getting files from them is relatively straightforward, even if we must go through some bona fide checking through that WGA genuine checker and whatnot. Yeah, they sniff browsers and operating system and steer you into pages sometimes but I have always been able to load up on files for all architectures and versions from any computer I use.

So listen up Adobe. Everyone from Joe Schmo to Sourceforge to Microsoft itself does it better than you. Enough with the trialware and McAfee malware. Start acting professionally. And leave the good guys alone!

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Re: It's worse than you think.

+1 good commenter. Would read again

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's worse than you think.

Best. Comment. Ever.

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Unhappy

Re: It's worse than you think.

It would seem that Adobe are *literally* blind to the needs of anyone who is blind/partially sighted.

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Go

Re: It's worse than you think.

You may be able to sue them under the American Disabilities act for non-compliance. Worth looking in to.

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H H

Re: It's worse than you think.

"Truth be told their website also sucks for those that can see it. I can only imagine the extra pain visited upon you."

It's actually quite easy. Close your eyes and have a go. No cheating!

(I never tried that myself but now I definitely will for the sites I manage!)

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Childcatcher

Re: It's worse than you think.

Having to deal with it in an enterprise implementation is at least as bad. What I don't understand is why folks persist in using Adobe's products for Flash and PDF. Besides the dubious assertion that it cannot be updated by a third party (how do you think most large enterprises handle their updates?), they pump out updates too fast to evaluate without managing to fix the underlying issues. I switched to a non-Adobe PDF reader a while back. There are some non-Adobe Flash implementations out there, at least according to the interwebs. I am going to have a go with them.

If this approach would become more acceptable in corporate environments, life would be good.

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Re: It's worse than you think.

Adobe will, in fact, give you a plain EXE or MSI directly linked from a simple HTML page, with no bundled anything.

Annoyingly, if I gave you the direct link, they would sue me.

The only way to get it is to fill in the rediculous form at https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=distribution_form&pv=fp and get them to email you the link. Yes, I can barely believe it either.

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Linux

Re: It's worse than you think.

Have an upvote as I personally know someone in the same boat as you - although this was admittedly less of a problem for him since he was meddling in Gentoo and doing related coding work.

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Re: It's worse than you think.

This. Or at least a few articles. I write software and web applications. I've had to make sure what I do can be used by people with red/green colour blindness and I also have to be careful it can be understood by people whose first language isn't English (most of our main customers are based in Germany and the Netherlands). It would be very useful to have some ideas of how to design things for people with little or no sight written by someone who understands what it's like and has a technical background.

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Re: It's worse than you think.

I agree with Chris J - there is a lot to be learned from an articulate person with specific difficulties interacting with the technology. How about it, El Reg? 150+ upvotes say there is interest ... talk to this author and see if s/he is willing to do a few articles.

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Visit FreedomScientific's site.

Jaws is a free download, & operates in a "40 Minute Mode" indefinitely.

It runs for 40 minutes, then you have to reboot to make it work again, but otherwise is the exact same file as the Registered version.

(You pay for it, give it the reg code, and it unlocks from the time limit.)

Give it a try, close your eyes, turn up the sound on your machine, and listen to Jaws read (your|any) site to you.

Places like the Register are nice because the Print link gives you a Printer Friendly version of the article as a single page, with the links at the end as plain text.

Other sites seem to think that "Print" means "launch your printer's dialog box trying to have it spit out a copy".

This is *NOT* cool, as I don't want an article if it's spread across 15 pages, filled with ads, in full colour, and ultimately ends up being less than a paragraph of actual, useable, readable text.

If you listen to the site, and can, purely by it's audio description, figure out how to navigate & get stuff done, then you've done it right.

However, if your site is the audio equivalent of a flashing, blinking, scrolling marquis, animated gif laden, midi-auto-playing, Geocities nightmare (*cough*Adobe*cough*), then do us all a favour & go nail your head to a tree...

*Chortle*

But Jaws is a *very* good tool to use to verify your layout is done nicely, that all the Screen Elements (check boxes, radio buttons, DropDownMenu's not auto-triggering on the first Item you've ArrowKey'd to, etc) done with full text descriptions, that all the images are properly labeled (Alt Text! Use It! And no names like "ZXYSP!2~*#_Blah(DonkeySnot).jpg" either!), and if you MUST use Flash, make *damned sure* the buttons for the controls have text labels.

"Unlabeled button one", "Unlabeled button two", "unlabeled button 9,457,181" do absolutely f4ing *NOTHING*, because I won't click on any of them without knowing what they're for, what they do, and why I should go anywhere near them...

So grab a copy of Jaws, run it across your site, and do what needs be done to make it Accessible.

If you're in America, then the American's with Disabilities Act may apply, but even if it doesn't or you're not in the States, it's still a damned good idea to do it anyway.

Any & all B/VI visitors will thank you profusely, and your HTML coding skills will get honed to a point where you'll be leagues ahead of your competition.

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Feel free to contact me.

My pseudonym at Gmail, and be sure to use "From The Register" in the subject so I don't auto-delete it as spam.

This goes for you or anyone else whom would like me to assist in getting an Accessable site created.

My HTML coding may not be up to snuff, but I can certainly let you know if $URL reads well from my POV.

Cheers.

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Re: It's worse than you think.

Or you can just go here:

http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/distribution3.html

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Adobe=Malware

Yes, I was shocked that Adobe tried to stick me with McAfee when I updated. Presumably part of the aim of updates is to improve security and performance, which does not in my book include stuffing unrelated, unwanted, material onto my hard disk.

In short, Adobe products should be regarded as potential malware until they clean up their act.

As for McAfee -- I guess the only way they can get their products to be used is by paying other people to sneak it onto our computers. Hardly a recommendation.

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Re: Adobe=Malware

It can often be better to remote install software on a PC than allow users to do it. It saves me having to uninstall all those toolbars that come free with other packages when the user complains they are seeing the internet through a letterbox.

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Re: Adobe=Malware

Microsoft do that too. Went to update an xp box to IE 8 and it wanted to install the "bing toolbar" by default.

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Bravo!

"Reader, Flash and Air are - alongside Oracle's Java browser plugin - the screen door through which the raw unfiltered sewage of the internet oozes into the homes of netizens. These products are awful, the security is worse and the management of them over the years beggars belief."

I have never seen this sentiment better expressed.

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Re: Bravo!

"Reader, Flash and Air are - alongside Oracle's Java browser plugin - the screen door through which the raw unfiltered sewage of the internet oozes into the homes of netizens. These products are awful, the security is worse and the management of them over the years beggars belief."

I have never seen this sentiment better expressed.

I second that.

In addition, Adobe uses another trick to make security harder than it needs to be: it uses its own downloader. When you download Adobe products, you often don't actually get the product, but only a downloader - which means that the software you screen and virus check is not the software that actually does the job post install.

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Re: Bravo!

And the downloader conveniently deletes itself when it runs so you need to download it again for the next PC or when it fails...

Still, at least it can see a proxy server these days; that's an improvement...

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Re: Bravo!

I download the small downloader-installer and then make a copy of it, and run the copy. So far, it isn't smart enough to find and delete both copies of itself.

I g et prompted each time with a dialog to control Flash's auto-update behaviour that always changes my previous choice of "Never" back to "Annoying". Oh, so now you -want- to update Flash after all, Robert? Well, here's how you -should- do it. I -think- it doesn't auto-set to silent download at any time, which would be "Outrageous". Anyway, it didn't really seem to work before, it only popped up a "Download the new Flash" dialog box when I rebooted - by which time I'd probably already done it.

On most of my own PCs, I install Flash for Internet Explorer (ActiveX), then mostly never use Internet Explorer.

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Joke

Re: Bravo!

obligatory XKCD reference

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Re: Bravo!

"I have never seen this sentiment better expressed."

Well put ! The first time I read it as - sediment. it worked just as well, i.e expressed through a screen door -Yuk.

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Windows

Obligatory?

That word doesn't mean what you think it means.

Also, in the article, "they should have checked with PR first" -- clearly, because PR is where a bunch of geniuses, philosophers, and friends of humanity typically gather together and come up with far-sighted decisions.

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Re: Obligatory?

"obligatory XKCD reference" is a meme

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About auto-deleting installers...

As soon as the program is completed in the download, open File Explorer & find the file.

Rename it to something intelligent & identifiable ("Adobe Flash Updater, 2013-05-02") and make a copy to an Archive folder/drive.

This allows you to run it again from another computer, or from the same one at a later time, and not have to download the downloader again.

The next time you go to get an Adobe update manually, check the file sizes on the file you've previously downloaded, & the one you've just received.

If they're the exact same size, chances are they're the exact same file.

Try running (a copy of) the old version's updater first, and see if it does the trick.

If so, delete the recent one, and call it a day.

If it doesn't update to the most recent version, then go ahead & repeat the Rename+Archive+Run cycle on the new updater.

You'll always have a copy of the latest, can apply them when *you* want (versus Adobe trying to ram them home), and may save yourself a headache or two in the long run.

I've been doing this kind of thing for years (*cough*Decades*Cough*) and am always amazed, annoyed, & smug that a program deletes itself.

What if it didn't install correctly? What if it corrupted something & I need to re-run the installer? What if I don't feel like spending *ANOTHER* day & a half grabbing a ~10Mb file from your server in Elbonia over your evidentialy sub-Dial-Up speeds on a flaky POTS line in stormy weather?

So, yeah, grab a copy, Archive it, *then* run it.

Sure, you quickly end up realizing you're another Program PackRat, but nobody taunts you anymore when you've got something The Internet Archive or OldVersion *doesn't*.

(Makes a comical cheeks puffed out, tongue stuck out, HappyHootyMonkeyNoises face.)

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I prefer to use a slightly old version...

Firefox automatically disables older versions of flash. So you don't get flash cookies, or annoying flash adverts. When it is disabled you get a greyed out window where it would have been. If you actually do want to use it, you click on the bit you want to load and allow flash to run in that one instance. Seems to work, and hopefully I wont allow it to run anything that will cause a security risk. Still have to update occasionally though, when it stops loading what you want.

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JC_

Re: I prefer to use a slightly old version...

Why not install Flashblock or NoScript? They'll do the same thing and won't mean keeping an old and risky version of Flash.

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Meh

Ahhh I wondered why Flash had gone!

Now I know. It took almost as long to Install Flash on a new build yesterday from Adobe as it did to install the dozen or so applications I pulled in from Ninite.

The best thing the web could do is to ban the sneaky inclusion of software that isn't specifically requested with a single install/download.

On another note my other half had to (kinda) buy the latest version of Photoshop CS6 (whatever) or lose 'the right to upgrade' and have to pay quadruple later if so.

Her comment when it arrived in the post yesterday (after a big sigh) was "I remember a time when I used to look forward to my new Adobe software arriving but now I feel like I'm paying money for rape!"

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Re: Ahhh I wondered why Flash had gone!

A few years ago I had the misfortune to have to deploy the entire Adobe suite to a small design studio of 12 people. That's 12 people, 8 pieces of software, each of which had a 24 (or so) digit key to type in.

To make the job much more interesting, Adobe didn't bother to indicate which of the 96 keys was to be entered into which product. That's right - all I was given was a list of 96 keys and a couple of these were upgrade keys.

I rang the fuckers up and explained, carefully, why pirating their shit is such a good idea compared to trying to do it legally.

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Ugh. Adobe.

Ninite is one of the best sites to visit when you're setting up a new machine. Now you can't roll flash into that mess too? I hope Flash dies a horrible death because of this.

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Mushroom

Re: Ugh. Adobe.

I hope Adobe dies a horrible death for their repeated failures to; listen to the people that keep them in business, sort out their exploit ridden software, sort out a decent updating system etc. etc.

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Use Chrome

I don't trust Google for privacy reasons but I do trust them with vague competence at updating software so I have uninstalled system Flash and if there is a site that needs it that I really want I copy the link in Firefox and paste into Chrome.

I only use Reader annually for filling in my tax form and then delete it, there are plenty of other PDF readers out there.

Adobe has become an embarrassment to the software industry with their poor security, crappy update practices and now this attack on someone trying to clean up their mess.

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Re: Use Chrome

"Adobe has become an embarrassment to the software industry with their poor security, crappy update practices"

I must say that there's a swampful of other contenders for the honour of "Most embarassingly crap software company", and Electronic Arts appear to have actually won this by public acclaim in the US.

Until our gormless law makers start work to heal the festering sore of "licence agreements" and their ilk, second rate software will continue to exist, continue to be built, and continue to make money for third rate companies like Adobe (and Microsoft). I can appreciate that software companies can't guarantee that their software will always work for my particular requirements, but the law should require them to fix security and functionality flaws, accessibility issues of poor design (referred to in Shadow Systems brillant post) should be legally required to be fixed. In fact I'd guess there are laws on that last one already, but nobody enforces them, even though we have a quango or two paid good money to do just that (like the useless Equality & Human Rights Commission, who have a £27m a year budget).

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Re: Use Chrome

Don't trust Chrome? Don't use it. You can get Chromium for Windows or Comodo Dragon, another Chromium based browser. Personally, I like Dragon. http://www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/browser.php

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Re: Use Chrome

I do the same thing with Adobe reader. I guess the government uses Adobe tools to create their tax forms, and it only works with reader to fill out. Once taxes are done, I get rid of reader and go back to Sumatra.

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Anonymous Coward

> the software giant's updater [...] is a bug-ridden example of the unfathomable number of methods by which an application can crash.

It's also modal so you can't do anything useful whilst it's fucking up.

Oracle are guilty of the same; they added a T&C tick box to their Java download pages. This had the side effect of buggering up Linux update mechanisms (apt / yum / portage) and turning the Java update process into an assault course for anyone running a headless server.

What I can't fully understand is why companies do this; someone is offering to save Adobe / Oracle / whoever time and money by doing the donkey work for them, but they act like dicks instead.

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