The elephant gun uninstaller

This morning I was served up yet another reminder as to why CleanApp can be such a dangerous tool in the wrong hands, not that I needed another reminder. However this example is pretty succinct in that it highlights one of the main issues with an uninstaller that offers any file an application touches, as a candidate for deletion.

You see a lot of applications will access your data files, whether that’s documents, spreadsheets or even mp3 files, and in the case of the latter if you go to uninstall an mp3 tagging application then CleanApp may offer to delete any mp3 files you’ve tagged with that application. Case in point The Tagger which I was trying out earlier to see if anything could ever replace my trusty Tag & Rename (which I have to run under VMware Fusion). After messing around with the tags in just two mp3 files, I decided that nice as The Tagger is, it’s not for me (mainly because I do a lot of bulk tagging and The Tagger seems more geared towards tagging a file at a time). So I go to let CleanApp do its thing and as you’ve probably guessed by now, it offered up the two mp3 files I’d edited as being files I should delete! In addition it suggested deleting something called cookies.plist which I am suspecting is a file accessed and updated by any application that accesses the web (The Tagger accesses the Discogs website). Deleting cookies.plist would I guess be the equivalent of purging all your cookies, given that the file does not appear to be application specific.

No... not the mp3 files!

No... not the mp3 files!

In the end I kept the two mp3 files and the cookies file and let CleanApp do the rest. But just imagine the damage you could do if you edited a lot of data files with an application and then let CleanApp do its thing without a second look!

I still like CleanApp but think it really needs more features to help people protect themselves against accidentally deleting stuff they want. It already knows about protecting certain system files, but I think there are a number of ways this could be extended. For example, automatically protecting known Apple applications, protecting data files shared between applications, monitoring an app and protecting all the files it uses, or even protecting files of a certain type such as mp3 files.

While we’re on the subject of VMware (were we?!) I thought I’d install the latest Windows 7 beta build under VMware to have a look. The install went fine and after a quick Windows Update I even had sound working. Then I thought I’d install ESET Smart Security 4 rather than rely on Microsoft’s built-in anti-malware tools like Windows Defender. Result? Well see for yourself…

Windows does its thing

Windows does its thing

Well it is beta and no-one ever said ESET Smart Security 4 would work with it, but the effects are pretty dramatic. I’ll see if I can unpick the mess in Safe Mode, failing that I’ll just do a re-install. After all, it’s nice to keep an eye on what the other side is doing.¬† As it happens, I also installed Ubuntu 9.04 in another VM, but I’ve yet to make it fall over…

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Windows 7 Beta… Silenced!

Despite being a confirmed Mac user at home, part of my job requires me to be familiar with Windows operating systems in all their ‘glory’. Now I have Windows XP SP3 on my work laptop and it is relatively stable and so I was quite relaxed when it came to installing the latest Windows 7 beta (build 7000) on a spare PC. The spec of the PC is pretty good – Asus P5N32-E SLI motherboard, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6Ghz, 2Gb RAM, 2 x 500Gb SATA disks, Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio, built in gigabit ethernet, etc. All fairly modern stuff, and so no problem for Windows 7 beta… you’d think.

vista_7_1Actually doing a clean installation was relatively quick and painless, certainly faster than Vista Ultimate was (which had been installed on the same hardware). Little did I know that when I clicked on my first mp3 file I would be greeted with the message that there was no audio device! Sure enough, under Device Manager there was a ‘Multimedia Audio Controller’ with an exclamation mark over it. Windows Update didn’t help, so Windows 7 beta couldn’t load anything for a relatively modern sound card. I resorted to Google and found a tip that installing the Vista driver from Creative would fix it (if run in Vista compatibility mode). Tried that – blue screen! Deciding this was a futile battle, I removed the card and enabled the onboard sound on the motherboard. Windows 7 beta didn’t even spot that at all, and trying to ‘force-load’ the Realtek Vista driver for it just got me in a loop of ‘This driver can’t be verified – install anyway?’ prompts.

So, a PC with no sound. Not much use to me and a morning wasted trying to get it working. It reminded me why I switched to using a Mac in the first place – that pain is largely taken away. Now don’t get me wrong, Windows is a huge achievement by any measure and when you look at Windows vs Mac OS you have to remember that Apple is writing code for a known hardware configuration, while Microsoft is writing code to try and handle litterally hundreds of thousands of possible configurations, so it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison really. It’s a case of you pay your money and you take your choice, and I was tired (and guess I still am) of spending hours trying to get things working in this fashion. Yes Mac OS has a reputation for being¬† safe, secure and reliable compared to Windows but let’s not underestimate the scale of what Microsoft is doing. I still prefer OS X but it’s purely a matter of choice and if you enjoy the challenge of Windows and the rewards of getting it all just right with the drivers and anti-malware and stuff, then you’re a better man than I.

Maybe I’ll install OpenSUSE 11.1 on the PC instead… oh hang on, memories of compiling things, the ‘Vi’ editor and frequent trips to the command prompt have just popped into my head. Maybe not…