Old 9th August 2002, 21:18   #1
randman
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Winamp. Now with optional "tracking software".

Installation of Winamp 3 added this to my registry.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\FullCircle\TalkBack\NullsoftWinampWin32488
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\FullCircle\TalkBack

From the TalkBack help file:

The Agent gathers information that Netscape can use to improve Communicator. The most important information that the Agent collects after a crash or bug is the state of the software and the state of your computer. The Agent may also collect information about the stability and usage of Netscape.
There are three basic types of events that can invoke the Agent:
Crash—Communicator suddenly hangs or quits
Trigger—A Netscape-defined event that occurs during a user action, such as using a specific feature or reaching a pre-determined count.

Assert—A Netscape-defined event that can occur without any specific user action.


The Agent sends your information back to Netscape, where it is combined with information from other users. This allows Netscape to get an overview of how their applications are being used, how well they are performing, and what problems their users might be having. This overview lets the developers focus their attention on the features and problems that have the greatest impact on you, the user.

Although most of the information collected by the Agent is low-level, technical, and impersonal, some users may consider portions of the gathered information private. For your privacy and protection:
The Agent encrypts all data before it sends it to Netscape The Agent uses a secure transmission that makes sure only the software development team will receive the information the Agent has gathered. See Is the information gathered by the Agent secure?
You may view all of the information collected by the Agent before you authorized it to be sent. See How do I view the information the Agent will send?

Netscape can configure the Agent to collect information that is specific to their application. Application-specific data can be essential when tracking down a problem. The information that Netscape can specify for collection can include application state information, event histories, timing data, execution, and user-customizable settings.

Any data that the Agent collects on the Netscape’s behalf will be displayed along with the standard data when you view information from the Agent Information window.

How many of you saw an option to opt-out of this (by all definitions spyware), when you installed Winamp 3? I didn't. Uninstalling Winamp 3 doesn't remove it from the registry. It has to be removed manually.

This is going to be brushed off by the mods and admins, but face it folks, the new version of Winamp now contains spyware.
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Old 9th August 2002, 21:20   #2
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That's just fucking great.

Yep, whenever I uninstalled WA3 it left registry shit that I had to remove.
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Old 9th August 2002, 21:25   #3
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Re: Winamp. Now with optional "tracking software".

Quote:
Originally posted by randman
Installation of Winamp 3 added this to my registry.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\FullCircle\TalkBack\NullsoftWinampWin32488
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\FullCircle\TalkBack

From the TalkBack help file:

The Agent gathers information that Netscape can use to improve Communicator. The most important information that the Agent collects after a crash or bug is the state of the software and the state of your computer. The Agent may also collect information about the stability and usage of Netscape.
There are three basic types of events that can invoke the Agent:
Crash—Communicator suddenly hangs or quits
Trigger—A Netscape-defined event that occurs during a user action, such as using a specific feature or reaching a pre-determined count.

Assert—A Netscape-defined event that can occur without any specific user action.


The Agent sends your information back to Netscape, where it is combined with information from other users. This allows Netscape to get an overview of how their applications are being used, how well they are performing, and what problems their users might be having. This overview lets the developers focus their attention on the features and problems that have the greatest impact on you, the user.

Although most of the information collected by the Agent is low-level, technical, and impersonal, some users may consider portions of the gathered information private. For your privacy and protection:
The Agent encrypts all data before it sends it to Netscape The Agent uses a secure transmission that makes sure only the software development team will receive the information the Agent has gathered. See Is the information gathered by the Agent secure?
You may view all of the information collected by the Agent before you authorized it to be sent. See How do I view the information the Agent will send?

Netscape can configure the Agent to collect information that is specific to their application. Application-specific data can be essential when tracking down a problem. The information that Netscape can specify for collection can include application state information, event histories, timing data, execution, and user-customizable settings.

Any data that the Agent collects on the Netscape’s behalf will be displayed along with the standard data when you view information from the Agent Information window.

How many of you saw an option to opt-out of this (by all definitions spyware), when you installed Winamp 3? I didn't. Uninstalling Winamp 3 doesn't remove it from the registry. It has to be removed manually.

This is going to be brushed off by the mods and admins, but face it folks, the new version of Winamp now contains spyware.
It only sends information if you let it, it's not spyware, spyware would send information regardless of whether you let it. I will not object to any of your other observations of the software however.
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Old 9th August 2002, 21:26   #4
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Please do not blow this out of proportion. The talkback application is only a debugging tool that assists Nullsoft in improving the product. You can safely delete it from the Winamp3 folder. It's 100% definite that they will eventually remove it from at least some distributions as the code matures. It has been included for many builds now, and was announced in the Winamp3 forums quite some time ago. Mozilla and Netscape also include talkback applications, as does Windows XP (of a different variety). As a developer, I can attest to the fact that users often are unable to provide the most basic NECESSARY details when questioned about a problem they may be having with a product. The talkback application can make the process of fixing bugs much less painful, and can also help to prioritize bugs according to severity and frequency.

-=Gonzotek=-

I was away for a while.
But I'm feeling much better now.
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Old 9th August 2002, 21:31   #5
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yes but I give merrit to the appearent mishap of the application not cleaning house on uninstall, they really should fix that problem.
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Old 9th August 2002, 22:50   #6
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I agree with Gonzotek. Talkback has been well publicised on the forums for a while now, and Ad-Aware comes up clean, so I'm not worried.

Damn thing still won't play .oggs though. I'm sticking with Winamp2 + wa2update for the time being.

It does have a nice feel though. I will upgrade when it's as functional as Winamp2.

There's no need to tell me when I'm right;
I operate on that principle exclusively and with absolute certainty
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Old 10th August 2002, 00:33   #7
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I'm with randman on this one, I'd rather opt-in to such schemes than have it forced upon me...
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Old 10th August 2002, 01:19   #8
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though im too lazy to check at the moment...im pretty sure by going under preferences you can disable the feature.

and yes, this has come with many other builds of wa3. so its not like its new.

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Old 10th August 2002, 01:28   #9
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So instead of blindly defending it, is anyone going to disclose exactly what information it sends??? Hell, if it's legitimate I'll install it.
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Old 10th August 2002, 01:33   #10
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I'm unaffected because a) I have no Netscape! and b) I tell it to not report usage statistics upon installation. Although I have installed it prior to unchecking that field, so I should check the registry just in case as I hate having a cluttered registry. Thanks for the inf.

"Welcome to the Island of people who know too much."..."Did you really think balloons would stop him?!"
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Old 10th August 2002, 01:57   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by randman
So instead of blindly defending it, is anyone going to disclose exactly what information it sends??? Hell, if it's legitimate I'll install it.
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Old 10th August 2002, 02:03   #12
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Heck, I'll let Winamp recieve help if my Winamp crashes, or dies because of some weird error. Just I wished that those errors could be uploaded from Talkback, and viewed to us Forummers that have experience to help the user fix their problem. That is like MMSYSTEM errors, and several crashes by Winamp. Just the thing I don't like it the AOD thing. Its annoying!

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Old 10th August 2002, 03:16   #13
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Great.
I'll think about about but my instinct to spyware in Winamp3 is to rip it out by the roots and stay with 2.x forever. Besides the only reason I put up with the management capabilities of Wimamp is how cool the visualizations are... or were.

I wonder if Ad-aware is will class W3 as spyware?
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Old 10th August 2002, 03:19   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by nextguard
I wonder if Ad-aware is will class W3 as spyware?
No, it wont.
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Old 10th August 2002, 03:37   #15
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People are stupid. Listen to Gonzotek. It's a developer tool that should really have been removed before the final build.

I really hate people making a meal out of spyware. So they spy on you. Does it matter? They really can't find out much about you.
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Old 10th August 2002, 04:16   #16
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Now AOL won't do that would they? They're already under Accounting investigation. If they found about this, then AOL is screwed.

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Old 10th August 2002, 04:53   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt
People are stupid. Listen to Gonzotek. It's a developer tool that should really have been removed before the final build.

I really hate people making a meal out of spyware. So they spy on you. Does it matter? They really can't find out much about you.
No it doesn't matter.

The question is, is talkback necessary? For Winamp? A media player that should be simple?

At least they should have made a note about it, even a call "feature," at least let us know, god damn it.

But I really don't like the direction this is going, with more and more "features" installed.
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:17   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nemessis


finding out what caused a crashbug is necessary for ANY program.
I agree.
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:23   #19
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Spyware by definition is not only the transmission and sharing of data without the user's knowledge. Unless it is fully disclosed to the user what data is being sent and for what purpose said data is being used, then it also qualifies as spyware.

Honest to God, I'm not trying to be a pain in the ass. You people should know me better than that. But nowhere in the TalkBack documentation did I see a clear and open disclosure of what was being sent. I'll quote again from the help file: "Although most of the information collected by the Agent is low-level, technical, and impersonal, some users may consider portions of the gathered information private." This is the part that concerns me. It is vague, to say the least.

And yes, I do care whether people spy on me. Internet privacy should be a concern to everyone. I know the software can be uninstalled, that isn't the point. The question is, "Should it have been installed in the first place?"

So far the closest I've gotten to a real answer was from Matt. "People are stupid...... It's a developer tool that should really have been removed before the final build." I'm going to assume he meant the developers were stupid for not removing it.
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:29   #20
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randman, I love all your posts.
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:29   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by dylman
Damn thing still won't play .oggs though. I'm sticking with Winamp2 + wa2update for the time being.
really? mine didn't play .oggs until version 3 (2.5 just wouldn't), but now they play sweet and clear. have you tried the latest version?

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Old 10th August 2002, 05:33   #22
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randman, I love all your posts.
w00t!!! A one member fan club!!!
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:34   #23
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Quote:
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randman, I love all your posts.
I concur. Two member, randman :O

heh?
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:34   #24
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Make that a three member fan club!...I agree with Randman.

YES
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:35   #25
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Welcome to the club... of one member fan clubs

edit: damn! You two-upped me!
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:38   #26
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Welcome to the club... of one member fan clubs

edit: damn! You two-upped me!
Wait now. You're telling me I'm the only member of your fan club?

Damn. It's sickening how quickly this thread turned into a love-in.
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Old 10th August 2002, 05:55   #27
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Somebody say love-in?
I heard that clear across town...
count me in...
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Old 10th August 2002, 07:11   #28
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Why don't we call this something like bug-aware or something other than spyware. There is a section in the preferences called "usage reporting" that you can uncheck, but I don't know if that's the same thing.
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Old 10th August 2002, 07:41   #29
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Usage reporting is different.

While I do agree that it would be nice to opt out of Talkback during the installation, I would hardly call this spyware. The purpose of info gathering is not commercial. Furthermore, you do know what information you are sending the servers, when you are sending it, and in what manner. Just crash Winamp3, and find out. Talkback pops up, asks you if you want to send a bug report, then details the information that will be sent. This kind of bug reporting is starting to become a standard feature of all modern software.
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Old 10th August 2002, 08:10   #30
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Re: Re: Winamp. Now with optional "tracking software".

Quote:
Originally posted by KXRM


It only sends information if you let it, it's not spyware, spyware would send information regardless of whether you let it.
get a freakin' firewall! one that tells you when something is trying to connect to something else, and lets you Permit/Deny the connection. something like Kerio Personal Firewall works good for me.

and no spyware gets through. bling bling.

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Old 10th August 2002, 09:43   #31
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I AM SPYING ON JOOOO000!1!1!@

I AM SPYING ON JOOOO000!1!1!@

Hi, I'm one of the evil corporate drones who has been brainwashed into watching TV and eating Hostess Snack Foods by the horrifically consumer minded bastards at AOL who are ruining EVERYTHING by doing things like paying me to longwindedly taunt you all in posts like this, and/or supporting open source codecs like Vorbis and VP3, and/or giving away huge chunks of the source code to the app in the SDK, etc etc etc. Yah. I'm one of "the bad guys."

And I'm spying on you.

I'm salivating at the chance I might have to look at the stack frame for the WA3 process EVERY TIME you run our program, if you manage to crash it! And I do mean YOU. Mister #8843626405. Yah. I've got my eye on you, now. Don't try anything stupid.

You probably don't know what a stack frame is, of course, but you're worried about the fact that I might possibly be able to see it if the app crashes. Because that's when the SUPER SEKRET SPYWEAPON (I mean, uh, the nice happy Talkback mechanism if it actually functions properly) notices that the app has crashed, and tells you that it noticed the app has crashed, and asks you politely if 1) you'd like to actually do something useful to help us by sending us your diseased and putrid stack frame or 2) you'd prefer to completely disable talkback and never bother seeing it again.

``But why?`` you cry out in agony and anguish, ``Why must you have access to my stack frame?``

And that's why I'm spending my friday latenight decompression writing a post in the forums. Anyhow.... let's pretend I'm a programmer and I'm trying to fix a crashbug.

Purely hypothetical situation, of course, but bear with me or something.

Now, if _I_ crash the app, that's very useful. I have a debugger. I have source code. I go "oh, look, the debugger points me to the exact place in the code that my program has crashed." These are the magical and arcane tools that allow us to hopefully fix multiple bugs in a single day (instead of spending multiple days on a single bug). Hooray for integrated debugging tools.

But, let's say, I have to fix an UNCOMMON bug. Let's say it's a nasty little bastard and we only see it crash once every 10000 times someone presses the eject button in the player while playing a WMV track (or whatever). On my machine, running under the debugger, lets assume I'll need at least 3 shots at the bug before I find it, fix it, and prove it is fixed. Just by having to replicate the bug three whole times it could take me a really really really REALLY long time before I would get that bug fixed. At that rate of odds, even, it's entirely possible that such a bug wouldn't even be seen by QA and I don't even know that bug exists yet.

Meanwhile, we've shipped a product to, say, 1000000 users. If each user only hit the eject button once a day, that's ONE HUNDRED users crashing their app. One hundred people that hate us. Every day. For a bug that I can't even find on my machine, let alone fix.

This would be bad.

The talkback application "magically" intercepts the fact our app is about to crash and takes a picture of what the hell was going on in the system and on your stack frame when it crashes.

It then sends that useless-to-anybody-but-a-programmer-with-the-wa3-source-code file to a repository on a server (OWNED BY AOL!!!! OH MY!!!!) to sit alongside the reports from the other 99 poor bastards who also crashed that day.

On a good day, it's ENTIRELY possible that the information you send us COULD TELL US WHAT PIECE OF MEDIA YOU WERE PLAYING WHEN YOU CRASHED THE APP!!!!

If this was porn, you might be embarrased. We, on the other hand, would have 99 other goddamn crash reports to sort through and probably could give a rat's ass what media file you were playing. Unless we saw that ALL the people were ONLY crashing on, say, WMV porn -- in which case that would be useful debugging info, wouldn't it?

(At the very least, we'd have to go get a bunch more WMV porn, ourselves, just to "check out the problem" -- right?)

There's one last point to be made: ignoring the fact you can remove it, ignoring the fact that it's voluntary, and ignoring the fact that the only information being sent is when you crash and (hopefully!) WHY the app crashed, none of this stuff will be included in the "lite" installations, etc. So if you're still bound and determined to be obstinate in your ignorance, we would kindly request that you wait the few days longer for the lite installs. Then you can be smug in the knowledge that even tho everyone around you SWEARS TA GAWD that it's "totally okay, dood," you'll be safe no matter what.

And that's all any of us really want, right? Just a little warmpth and security in our frightfully out-of-control lives?

Are we done now? Can I go to sleep?

mig
"Hell, if you're running XP and WA3 crashes, you get asked if you want to send all of our happy debugging info to MICROSOFT instead. Hmmm... who the hell is spying on who, here?"
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Old 10th August 2002, 09:46   #32
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Maybe (just maybe) the problem here is that we shipped something that you haven't been able to crash yet, and you're just seeing the fact that "something got installed" and you're confused about what it's doing simply because it hasn't actually done anything yet.

This situation, however, could be argued to be a good thing.

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Old 10th August 2002, 09:56   #33
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ALL HAIL THE TWINKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 10th August 2002, 10:05   #34
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DAMN RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 10th August 2002, 10:10   #35
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i hate talkback
i think its nasty
because when i crash wa3 a window with a lot o' blank fields pops up and i dont feel like putting somethin in ;=)

oh, and did i mention i was unable to crash 3.0? it just works... fuckers!

besides that, one thing that i hate even more than talkback is PARANOIA! Oh well... you care about which piece of information wa3 sends to AOL? Why the HECK are you using windows (maybe even XP) then?
what do you think.. how hard would it b for microsoft to implement a hidden, low level tcp-sending routine? not that hard, quite sure...
now you ask: But if they would have done that, at least 10 tech-nerds in front of their packet-sniffers would have screamed 24 hours after the warez version got released...
and know what? your prolly right!
Guys, we have some BIG corporations here... they are like HUGE money-making machines that operate just to make more money... its a cruel system... but lemme tell you, NO ONE of these (big) companies would ever ILLEGALY collect information about single users to sue them or to hack em or to do anything stupid... why should they? sure they wanna know how their program is used, when it crashes and which features are not widely used... but they dont want to FUCK YOU, get it... they want your money, not you pr0n!
Apart from that every company cares for its reputation...
They guys up there are cruel, have no heart and let you hand out your last dime to em... but they do it with a SMILE not with a lawsuit or something...
did i mention i like dots? ;=)
have fun
yay for winamp3

and always remember: winners don't do drugs!
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Old 10th August 2002, 10:46   #36
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We fixed the blank fields bug in talkback before we shipped 488/final, Arv. :P

And I didn't say I trust AOL to never try to sneak something in behind our backs. I just said that I trust that AOL can't use anything in the talkback data to make money. And that we CAN use the talkback data to make a better and more stable product.

If it makes any sense as a statement, Nullsoft as a collection-of-like-minded-individuals is as concerned about "spyware" or any other nastiness coming down from Corporate and finding their way into the app as all of you are.

That's why there aren't any in the app, today.

I suppose that's why it's so frustrating for us when people see what is (unquestionably) "an anomaly" and then immediately jump to the conclusion that we're somehow completely turning our backs on the users who got us to where we are now by screwing them with spyware.

Now, you folks haven't seen my folks fight tooth and nail to prevent that like I have.

But, you see, I think my folks might be worth that little bit of extra trust required to assume that we're going to do right by you to the very ends of our abilities.

That's all entirely up to you, of course. We'll love you and try to protect you no matter how much you hate us for it.

"Nullsoft as a brand-name" is owned by AOL. "Nullsoft as a collection-of-like-minded-individuals" will never be. If you see all of the names leaving the company all at once, maybe THEN it should be safe to assume there might possibly be a spyware in the app.

Until that day, however, "let's face it, folks:" you all might want to think twice before flying off the handle about how rapaciously horrible we're being to all of our users.

mig
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Old 10th August 2002, 16:19   #37
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LOL @ "CODERS ARE PEOPLE TOO!"
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Old 10th August 2002, 16:44   #38
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Thanks for setting the record straight, Mig. Heh.
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