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If you’re reading this, you’re a computer user, and you most likely use Windows. By now, given the dominance of Windows in the consumer PC market, you’ve probably heard of abominations such as spyware, viral marketing (where companies infiltrate your PC and/or software to unveil new, “creative” ways to nag you about their ****ty product, or to report your usage habits to ****ty marketing firms who then sell your ****ty data to ****ty companies to they can, in turn, send you scads of ****ty email about other ****ty products), and clinically insane copy protection/software validation schemes that take your PC, dip it in a bucket of hell, spit in its eye, and leave it for dead – and for you, the user, to figure out.

<P>Let’s talk about that last one.

There’s a particularly nasty new copy-protection technology that you should be aware of, and it’s called SafeCast, by a company known as C-Dilla. This is an idea that was reached by crossbreeding a pile of human feces with a retarded ape, and it grants you the following zestiness, courtesy of a kernel-level driver (read: it’s messing with the very core of your PC’s operating system, something that should, theoretically, be very off-limits to things like this):

<UL>
<LI>It attempts to prevent copying of any copy protected CD on a kernel level, which means you have software on your PC whose sole function is to ensure that you don’t do things it thinks are wrong. Nevermind what you want to do with it.
<LI>It logs and has the ability to transmit all attempted CD burns, including their full file index – not only will this spy on you, but it will also tell on you.
<LI>It logs and potentially transmits copy protected CD burns, including personally identifiable system information, which means that not only will this spy on you and tell on you, but it will also gather everything it can about you and spill it to the Nazi demons who thought this up in the first place.
</ul>

But wait, there’s more! This kernel-mode driver:
<UL>
<LI>Is not removed when the protected application is uninstalled.
<LI>Is reinstalled and re-enabled each time you run the protected application, provided you discovered a way to kill it in the first place.
<LI>Cannot be uninstalled without an operating system reinstallation.
<LI>Causes your software to fail if it is not installed. That’s right, if you buy a program and somehow get this SafeCast garbage off your PC (assuming you even knew it was there to begin with), it will cause the software that you paid for to not function at all. Until, of course, it automatically reinstalls and reactivates itself.
</ul>

<P>To boot, you have no idea what commercial software uses this garbage. Buy a new game, and you could get burned. Buy a new graphics program, and your machine could be in for a raping of epic proportions. Roll the dice, mister. With 100% completely legal, store-bought software. Does anyone else have a problem with this?

<P>So what’s the point here?

<P>The point goes back to a column PC Magazine ran a few months back, in which the author accused certain software companies of treating you, the user, like you're a goddamned moron and using your computer for whatever reason THEY see fit, seeing how you're too stupid to know better. Bury a few system processes and most people won't even know about it. Right?

<P>And that's the problem: they're right. Most people aren't techies, and they’ll just continue using their PCs without ever knowing what's going on at the kernel level. Hell, it took some of the brightest, greasiest professional nerds on the Net a while to find it, so this is WAY beyond the threshold of the Average Joe.

<P>The sad reality is that PCs (Windows in particular) are increasingly becoming a platform for spyware and viral marketing bull****, as if they’re a frontier for predatory companies to discover and claim. How arrogant can these technology shops possibly be to consider your computer a bit of the market they have not conquered, or reached with their moronic marketing?

<P>Hint: the worst is yet to come. What you’re hearing about here is merely the tip of the privacy invasion iceberg. Just wait until the day when you can’t even boot your PC without the software passing all sorts of trusted-computing checkpoints that will do their best to ensure you’re not using pirated software…and that software vendors can gouge you for every imaginable penny (chargeable, mandatory OS upgrades, anyone?).

<P>Let’s put this another way, seeing how some of you simply don’t care about your PC that much, and hence some of this might be lost on you.

<P>This idea is like buying a tank of gas that changes the wheels on your car without your permission, then expecting you to not notice. Oh, and the new wheels prohibit you from going to certain places, driving too fast, and you can't take them off. If you do take them off, they put themselves back on when you drive your car next. The only way to get rid of the wheels is to trash your car and buy a new one, then HOPE LIKE HELL you don't buy gas from another gas station whose infected gas will change your wheels again. What gas does this? YOU DON’T KNOW! Fun!

<P>It's amazing what companies can get away with in the technology world. The consumer’s desktop seems to be the most viable target for braindead ploys like this. If this happened with any other consumer good, heads would roll. Companies would fold overnight. Ideas like this would be litigated out of existence faster than you can possibly imagine.

<P>And so it goes: until this happy horse**** gets legally restricted, it's here to stay. It's literally to the point where you have to SERIOUSLY evaluate whether or not installing a piece of software on your PC will lead to massive, horrible, brain-smoulderingly difficult problems, some of which might require a reformat/reinstall to fix. Nowadays, legit software is full of treachery, and to think it used to be the other way around (with pirated software) is really amusing.

<P>Digest that: in some contexts, illegal software is safer than legal.

<P>In fact, if this DOESN'T push people to piracy, I'll be surprised. Certain things in the technology arena have gone too far before, and this is just the most current example. But again, the scary part is that two years from now, this will seem mild.

<P>Just wait and watch.
 
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