Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


My Software is Mine.

People often become emotionally entangled with the software they use. It’s not a geek-only thing, although geeks often become more entangled with a broader range of the software they use. Normal people speak of “My Excel is screwed up,” or feel bad that their Sony CD has messed things up for them.

One of the reasons that people become enraged by spyware is the interference with what ought to be a private space. It is, after all, called a personal computer, and peope extensively personalize them. An important and worrisome trend is your computer responding to commands from outsiders. Recently, AOL added two “buddies” to my buddy list on AIM. What the hell? It turns out that AIM synchronizes buddy lists with the mothership, and that there are good reasons for this. (Thanks to Len for explaining that to me.) But it was deeply offensive, and the Pebble and the Avalanche has a good analysis in “Putting the ‘Mess’ in Instant Messaging: AOL Makes a Big Mistake.

Another instance of this is web sites that think you should write your password on paper instead of a nice, semi-secure, encrypted keystore like KeyChain. (Hello, Citibank!)
JWZ, who knows a thing or two about browsers, offers suggestions for fixing this bug in Safari in <form autocomplete=”yes, dammit”>. [Update: fixed link.]

One comment on "My Software is Mine."

  • David Brodbeck says:

    Now if I could just get Firefox not to autocomplete my credit card number. I like autocomplete otherwise, but automatically filling in my credit card info is taking it a bit far.

Comments are closed.