Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #103 - October 7, 2005
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Honest Adware. Honestly!

It's refreshing in the world of spyware um I mean "adware" when a company just comes right out and tells you they're going to fill your computer full of advertisements in "exchange" for you using their "free" software. Well, for sure, the one thing we don't have enough of these days is advertising, right? What is more "American" than good old advertising? So, since we all love it (don't we?) why not download stuff to give us more of what we love, right?

Gain Publishing (Claria) makes several applications which fall into the spyware/adware group. But if we call them spyware we'll be sued because they say they're not spyware - yes indeed, right on their site, it says "No Spyware" and well if they say it it must be true.

I guess in the most rigid definition of the word "spy" it means some sort of clandestine activity. Well, let's look up the word "spy" at www.dictionary.com . In this case were interested in the verb forms of "spy" so we'll disregard the noun. Here's what Dictionary.com has to say about the word "Spy"

1. To observe secretly with hostile intent.
2. To discover by close observation.
3. To catch sight of: spied the ship on the horizon.
4. To investigate intensively.
5. To engage in espionage.
6. To seek or observe something secretly and closely.
7. To make a careful investigation: spying into other people's activities.

For sure Claria/Gain's products certainly don't "observe with hostile intent". They observe with the intent to make money, but this cannot be construed to be hostile.

Number 2 though, seems to fit. "To discover by close observation". Yes indeed. For sure their products "discover" where you're going on the Web and what you're searching for so as to display "targeted" advertising to your desktop. Cool!

Number 3? Well, hmmm, Claria/Gain's products "catch sight" of everything you do on your computer so, yes, maybe #3 applies.

Number 4 - Uh huh. Claris/Gain's products investigate your computer usage intensely since they keep track of your surfing activities and your web searches so as to provide you the advertisements you're most likely to click on.

Number 5 - We'd have to look up espionage and go through it step-by-step and that opens another can-o-worms, which we're not going to do, so we'll just call this one a toss-up and throw it out.

Number 6 - "To seek or observe something secretly and closely." Well, if they tell you up front what they're going to do, you can't say they're doing it 'secretly" can you? If I say I'm coming over in the middle of the night and stealing your lawnmower, you can't say it was done secretly. After all, I did warn you :) So, number six is out.

Number 7 - "To make a careful investigation: spying into other people's activities." Indeed, if Claria/Gain's products record my web surfing and the searches I perform, then they're making a careful investigation and "spying" into my activities. In this case for their financial gain.

Still, even though Claria/Gain's applications match 5 of the 7 definitions for the verb "Spy" we cannot call them spyware. No way. They say they're not right on the web pages. And if they say so, then it must be true! So, we'll call them "adware" and let it go at that for now.

But they're honest spyware/adware for sure. They tell you in the license agreements and terms-of-service exactly what they're going to do. They're completely honest. For instance they even show you what the popup ads they're going to show you right from you desktop are going to look like! Really! Don't be so incredulous! Take a look for yourself!

One thing they don't tell you though, is that they're going to eat up your computer's system resources to show you advertisements. Flash advertisement, banner advertisements, flashing advertisements, antimated advertisements, etc. Not a good thing even if you have a gazillion gigabytes of RAM. Do you want to waste it viewing advertisements? Well, maybe, if you have advertismentmania and can't get enough. But, if you're really hot for advertisements, watch the Weather Channel or NFL football :). At least these don't waste your computer resources!

This page shows you all the kinds of neat advertisements you're going to get when you download one of Claria/Gain's "free" applications. We see "Slider" advertisements, "Enhanced Slider" advertisements (yummy!) Search Scout Browser Pop-Unders (Aww "Search Scout" ain't that cute?). just plain-old "Browser Pop-Unders", "Embedded Ads" and "Pop-Up" ads. If you're interested in what all these look like and you're really into advertisements just visit the link at the beginning of this paragraph and you'll see for yourself what they look like.

They even tell you which of your behaviors they monitor and log (and store). Yes, this company tells all! So, take a look at http://www.gainpublishing.com/global/help/psdocs/70/datause.html   to see how they track you and what information they collect it, how they store it, and how they use it.

But wait there's more! These are some goodies from Gain/Claria's various policies (comments are ours and our opinions..and blah, blah, blah, ya know?)

1. GAIN Publishing, the GAIN Network, and Feedback Research are business units of the Claria Corporation. (Yes, this is the same company who owns Gator, DashBar and GotSmiley for those of you who have been around the web awhile!)

2. ...free of charge ("GAIN-Supported Software") in exchange for your agreement to also install GAIN AdServer software ("GAIN"), which will display Pop-Up, Pop-Under, and other types of ads on your computer based on the information we collect as stated in this Privacy Statement. (Oh goody! Just what I wanted.. more ads!)

3. How Do I Stop The Display of GAIN Ads? You can stop receiving GAIN Ads by uninstalling all of the GAIN-Supported Software from your computer (oh.. so if I don't want ads I have to pay to play so I can actually enjoy the "free" screensavers?)

4. Sale, Merger, or Asset Transfer: If Claria Corporation or any of its assets is purchased or merged with another company, information we have collected from you may be one of the transferred assets. (Wait a minute.. my personal info???? Huh? I just wanted some screensavers!)

If you're interested in a evening's worth of reading please feel free to read Gain's 12 page EULA/Privacy Policy. Make a pot of coffee first. You're going to need it!

We have to to give Claria/Gain credit. They make it perfectly clear they're out to pharm your computer for all they can get. Yes, indeed, in exchange for the use of their "free" applications, they'll drain your resources showing you every kind of advertisement imaginable, even those ads we all love to hate - the "slider ads" which float across your screen and cover up what you're trying to read. I love them!

So, if you just can't get enough ads and you have computer resources you'd like to use up in a hurry, then you have to be interested in products by Gain/Claria. But don't complain when your computer runs like a 5-legged octopus in a pool of axle-grease. You can't say they didn't tell you upfront what you were getting into. What? You didn't read all that stuff before you downloaded their programs? You should have, but didn't - and that's exactly what they're counting on. Because if you download their software AFTER you've read everything they tell you, you deserve what you get.

It's "Honest Adware". Honestly!


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