Not So Shiny

A long-standing target for comedians is the comb-over hairstyle that footballer Bobby Charlton made famous. This week, however, I had a Chrome-over and it definitely wasn't funny at all.

Though while we're talking about comedians (and before I fall back into my default diatribe mode) I ought to mention that, according to David Quantick's recent article in the Daily Telegraph, they just released the list of the best gags from this year's Edinburgh Festival. Amongst the winners were "You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks", and "I took part in the sun-tanning Olympics - I just got Bronze".

However, what really took the shine off my otherwise entertaining week was another Adobe-initiated episode of nonsensical installation. I've moaned about how Adobe Reader takes over your system when you install the latest patched version by adding desktop shortcuts and auto-run programs. But after half an hour of aggravation with the latest Flash update I'm wondering if, together with its unavailability on new mobile devices, Adobe is trying to kill Flash off by annoying people so much that they give up on it altogether.

Why? Well if you didn't notice, the latest update for Flash fires up the Adobe installation page that contains a big yellow "Update" button. Being well trained in the need to keep software up to date for security reasons, my wife did as you would expect and clicked the big yellow button. Then, when the prompt appeared for the installer, I wandered over, checked it was digitally signed and looked valid, and entered the admin credentials.

Within minutes I was summoned back to explain why her web browser had "gone funny", only to discover that she now had Google Chrome installed as the default browser. Grumbling heartily I uninstalled it and the Google toolbar that had also snuck itself onto her computer. Then, when IE prompted, I allowed it to set itself as the default browser, and all seemed well.

But it was only few minutes before the next summoning from "her who must be obeyed". Now, when clicking links in her emails from Facebook and from other friends, the computer politely informed her that she wasn't allowed to open them, and to contact her system administrator (which, unfortunately, is me).

It was only after much furkling on the web that I found the answer, and a Microsoft Fixit, that solved the issue. It seems that uninstalling Chrome breaks Outlook's default associations in the Registry. Thank you for that Google. And thanks Adobe for installing all this stuff in the first place. Yes, I admit that Chrome and the Google toolbar are "optional", as I discovered when my own computer decided to tell me there was a Flash update available, but why on earth is "yes" the default setting? Has Adobe found a new meaning for the word "optional"?

My understanding of things that are "optional" is that you can ask for them if you want them. Imagine if you bought a new car from a dealer that operated Adobe's "optional" policy, and you forgot to specifically tell the salesman you didn’t want electrically operated sun visors on all the windows, 24 inch bright green alloy wheels, a tow bar and bicycle rack, and three inch thick fleece upholstery. Like when you update your Flash player, you might be less than happy when they delivered it.

One of the evergreen one-line gags that regularly surfaces is "What's another word for thesaurus?" According to my thesaurus, "optional" means "non-compulsory", "voluntary", and "uncompelled". Adobe seem to use different kind of thesaurus where "optional" means "recommended", "advocated", and "proposed". It's enough to make your blood boil. Though, according to Phyllis Diller (who died recently) you know you are getting old when you go to give blood and they tell you that your type is discontinued...