Are you sure (you want to read this post)?

[DISCLAIMER]

This post has a few opinions publicly expressed, and I must tell you that everything that will be expressed in the following text is out of my own head, whether you agree on the validity of the aforesaid opinions or not. It is hereby a contract stipulating that I (referred to as THE AUTHOR) am writing something that you (referred to as THE READER) might want to read.

If THE READER (you!) doesn’t want to read what THE AUTHOR (probably me, although a certain “I” has been mentioned earlier) rambles about, then he (or she, for that matter) should step away from the computer, turn it off carefully, and take a long walk in a nearby green (or blue) area, to meditate about the way he (or she, because I hope I don’t write offensive posts for the members of the feminine gender out there – more on that in another potential disclaimer) followed undue links or pieces of advice that would point them in the direction of this post (referred to as THE TEXT).

If THE READER (you, but you only, this is a private post) thinks he (or she…) has been wronged by the aforesaid link or piece of advice, then THE AUTHOR (stilll me… we are starting to know each other, now) has nothing to do about it, although THE AUTHOR could probably tell you to be very careful about the links or pieces of advice THE READER follows, because one can never know where such things can lead.

Should THE READER choose to continue to read THE TEXT, THE AUTHOR declines any responsibility if THE READER’s brain overloads and blows out of sheer anger, or even if THE READER disagrees with THE AUTHOR on some or all opinions expressed here.

THE READER (you, yes, even now that you try to cover your face with makup so that I won’t be able to recognize you anymore) has to make up his (or her) own mind about the validity of anything that follows, because THE AUTHOR (me, I, myself, etc…) thinks THE READER has a brain and is able to use it, otherwise THE READER wouldn’t be able to read the disclaimer.

THE READER has been warned

[/DISCLAIMER]

This is the first part of a somewhat long rant about the “legalism” which is nowadays creeping everywhere.

It all started when I tried to install BootCamp on my Intel-based iMac. Actually, I wasn’t trying to install it, but to update it.

So, I download the installer (after having typed my email address and so on, therefore maximizing the time needed for a somewhat simple download), and mount the disk image. I then carefully read the readme (as every user should do when they are not quite sure what to expect), which states that I should have a Windows XP SP2 install CD and a blank CD at hand. Since I am a simili-geek, I know what a WXPSP2 is, so I think that this is for a somewhat experienced user to do. “Cool, I’m taken seriously”, or something similar.

Then, after installing the software (and agreeing to the EULA, just like THE READER just did), I launch the application, to see that since I am only updating, I shouldn’t have spent a couple of hours trying to dig my CD out of the shoebox in the closet, among 10 other shoeboxes, each filled with a few hundreds of CDs. Damn.

The application gives me 3 choices : burn a driver CD (that’s what I actually needed), install Windows, or do something with a backup. I insert the blank CD on cue, and wait till it’s finished burning. Ooooooh but wait, there are some menus, maybe containing some interesting side features. Nope. It just contains the way to install the driver without burning a CD. For crying out loud!

Frustrated and angry, I switch to Windows, and insert the (useless) CD. It opens an installer that gives me the same kind of blackmail to install the driver (Read the EULA. Have you read it? Are you sure? If you are not, we can go back and stamp it on your forehead if you’d like. Stapling is also an option), and after agreeing to selling my soul, should the need arise, the thing finally starts to do something useful.

How wrong of me to go and make myself a cup of coffee, thinking that it was all over now, and all was left to do was waiting… For each driver, Windows asked me to confirm I still wanted to install the driver, since it wasn’t signed by Microsoft itself. Each and every one of them. Then, I had a few more questions about activating the damn drivers.

All in all, it took something like 2 hours just to install a driver update.

I have absolutely nothing about “Are you sure?” popups, provided they warn me of something I should know, but might not be written anywhere else. For example, in DesInstaller v3 I added a warning/confirmation whenever someone tries to delete something that might be needed for the system to run. I don’t do that out of mistrust, I just inform that the package that you are about to remove has some files in a strategic location. It is something you might not know if you haven’t taken the time to read the list of files, because it’s not mandatory.

For any other package, you probably won’t wreck your system, and will be able to reinstall things pretty easily. That is why there is no warning in that case.

Here, in France, we have a semi-official motto : “no one has the right to ignore the law”. It doesn’t mean we are supposed to know by heart all the 100 000+ laws currently in application. It just means that not knowing that something is illegal is no excuse, and that we should probably check in advance before doing something borderline illegal. It is also based on common sense : when you do something, you take responsibility for it, especially if you knew that it could lead to something you don’t approve of.

These “are you sure?” confirmation panels have the exact opposite motto behind them : “if we don’t tell them, they are not supposed to know”.

Let’s recap:

  • I download (legally) a piece of software that is labeled “beta” on the website
  • I agree to a EULA saying in essence that Apple is not responsible if I loose data over this beta. Fine, I wasn’t about to sue them anyway, since I took the responsability to download and install it in the first place. But, why not?
  • The readme is way more extensive than what I need to know in order to do what I need to do, but it’s my fault for not understanding correctly that I didn’t need these two blasted CDs. Maybe it’s because english is not my country’s tongue, or somesuch. Still, everyone speaks english, right? And legal english too.
  • Then I burn a CD, because I’m dumb. No worries, though, I still won’t sue anyone.
  • Then I spend half an hour trying to explain to an installer application that if I underwent all these things, it’s precisely because I want to install the damn software!


Where will it stop? Will we have a confirmation for startup (“Warning, you are about to draw more power out of your house. Are you sure? It might blow a fuse, be careful…”), login (“Warning, you are about to enter a universe that might or might not give you epilepsy/seisures/… because of all the warning popups you will assurely get”) too, since we already have them for everything else (install, first launch, quit, logout, and power off)?

At least provide us with a way to say “yes I’m sure, for that particular case, I will always be sure”.

  

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