It is my emphatic personal advice that you NEVER install the ADWARE 'Extensions' now being foisted on users of VersionTracker.com / CNET Download.com. NEVER. Got that? NEVER.
VersionTracker used to be heaven for Mac users! It was one of the top 5 best Mac websites on the Internet! I have net friends who work there! I used to haunt the place every day! ...Then CNET bought them.
I had heard this was coming. It had happened to the Windows side of Download.com months back. Windows users hated the changes and complained to me about it at our local PC user group. Then this month it hit the Mac side of Download.com, I.E. VersionTracker.com. I learned what the Windows users were complaining about. And I'm not dealing with it. I suggest you don't deal with it either. It's bad.
CNET removed the terrific VersionTracker GUI and changed it to the goofy Download.com GUI. Annoying but livable.
CNET has removed direct download links to applications. That in itself is a pain. But I learned to live with their goofy download pages.
CNET reformatted the New Mac Software page so that it no longer tells you the cost of anything, free or otherwise. That's sneaky and bothers me.
CNET reformatted the New Mac Software page so the app entries are huge and clunky. You get maybe just 10 entries per page. Therefore, you frequently have to go through several pages to get through one day's worth of new app versions. Idiotic. But I've put up with it.
CNET bungled the 'Download Now' buttons such that they have overlaying crap text on them, obscuring the letter 'w'. What is this mess?!
CNET is now gradually removing direct downloads entirely. With time, they'll be gone. THAT I don't deal with.
CNET is instead forcing the download of their own installer app, making downloading of the software you actually want FAR more painful. THAT I don't deal with.
CNET is stuffing into their installer app a pile of ADWARE and a menubar that forces you to use Yahoo as your search engine and home page. AND it surveils your behavior across the Internet. THAT I don't deal with.
Three strikes, you're out CNET!
As in: Outrageous.
Let's use an example!
1) Go to VersionTracker.com / Download.CNET.com/Mac/, get forwarded over to the ugly, dysfunctional Download.com page for Mac. Bleh.
2) Flip through the pages. I went through eight pages today to find something from only two days ago. Yawn. Pick something out. For my example I chose the great little app 'A Better Finder Rename' v9.26.
3) Click on the bungled 'Download Now' button. We're sent to that goofy CNET download page... and the download starts. Except 'A Better Finder Rename' does NOT download! Instead, this CNET installer thing appears:
4) Double-click the CNET installer thing and we get a window with a generic app in it called "CNET-Installer.app". Is this Trojan Horse malware? Why not? How would we know?! This certainly is NOT what we wanted to download. It's another Bait and Switch and it's scary.
5) Double-click the scary CNET-Installer.app. Immediately on my computer, Little Snitch sets off alarms that this CNET installer thing wants to access a bunch of sites on the Internet, including:
http://cnet.mybrowserbar.com on port 80
http://api.cnet.com on port 80
http://software-files-a.cnet.com on port 80
If I deny these scary call outs, I get an error box that says "Error. Could not download an installer extension".
A WHAT? It wants to download MORE scariness? When I OK the error box, the app quits itself. Gee thanks.
If I approve these scary call outs, I get an app window that looks like this:
Finally we're getting to actually download the file we wanted back at #2. Right? So I click 'Next Step'.
6) What's all this then?
OIC: More scariness!
What we have here is a 'SPECIAL OFFER' with a PRE-checked 'I agree' box for some severe nastiness to which Mac users are almost entirely unaccustomed. ADWARE.
So what's ADWARE?
Here's what Wikipedia.org says:
Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package which automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process. The functions may be designed to analyze which Internet sites the user visits and to present advertising pertinent to the types of goods or services featured there. The term is sometimes used to refer to software that displays unwanted advertisements.ADWARE analyzes, aka surveils, where its victims goes on the Internet. Based on its surveillance data, it then pushes related advertisements to the victim's web browser.
IOW: You give up your personal privacy rights. Doesn't that sound enticing? Not to me!
Let's check out the license terms that are pre-checked for you:
2) You're going to have some Extensions installed.
3) These extensions have something to do with GC and SF and FF, whatever they are, as well as 'Slick Savings', Ebay and Amazon Shopping Assistant. Marketing stuff.
4) You're giving over ALL your web browsers to Yahoo! Yahoo! becomes your default 'provider', whatever that means. Yahoo! will become your home page. Yahoo! will be your startup option, whatever that means. Yahoo! is your Big Brother.
Let me point out some highlights of the
'TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE FOR EXTENSIONS SUPPLIED BY SPIGOT, INC. FOR CNET, INC."
(Note that these are only personally chosen highlights for my own personal interest. Read the entire agreement for details.)
Almost all of this whopping long agreement is written to protect the Spigot, Inc. and to point out the rights 'You' give up when 'You' install and use their ADWARE. Check this out:
2) MODIFICATION OF TERMS
We may make changes, modifications, and amendments to the Terms at any time.... The latest Terms may be posted or be available through http://cnet.mybrowserbar.com/terms_mac.html, and You agree that You should always review them prior to using the Extensions so that You may always be aware of what has changed, if anything. If any modification is unacceptable to You, You will cease using the Extensions right away. If you do not cease using the Extensions You will be conclusively deemed to have accepted the change(s) and amendments. Except as stated elsewhere, all amended Terms will automatically be effective as soon as they are initially posted by Us....
We are not obligated to provide notice of amendment....
4) ADDITIONAL RIGHTS YOU GRANT
By installing the Extensions... You expressly authorize and request Spigot... to:
a) act as Your search agent to conduct or process inquiries on Your behalf... and collect relevant information and display information to you;
b) take actions Spigot deems appropriate to provide the Extensions to You and to act on Your behalf in obtaining information from partners and displaying or otherwise providing that to You;
c) read and interpret Your search requests and results... offer alternative results and to personalize The Extensions for you;
e) start the Extension automatically when you start your computer....
f) modify your... browser
g) communicate with Our servers...
10. DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND PROMISSORY EXTOPPEL
YOUR USE OF ANY SPIGOT SITE, EXTENSION, OR ANY REFERENCE SITE OR THIRD PARTY SERVICE PROVIDERS OR VENDORS IS AT YOUR OWN RISK....
11. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND DAMAGES....
WE WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY DAMAGES RESULTING FORM ACCESS TO OR USE OF ANY EXTENSION, SERVICES, SITES OR REFERENCE SITE OR THIRD PARTY SERVICE PROVIDERS OR VENDORS....
. . . .
22. TERMINATIONHow about we just terminate this 'SPECIAL OFFER' right now!
You may terminate these Terms by uninstalling the Extensions from your computer and discontinuing your use of the Extensions.
I suggest you AVOID all such ADWARE installations on ANY computer.
If you dare bother with this CNET installer thing, UNcheck the agreement box. Be certain of this. UNCHECK the box.
It is then safe to click the 'Install' button.
One of two things will happen:
A) Either the CNET installer thing will BOMB (I've had this happen to me) and you get nothing (oh joy)...
B) In Step 3 you get the intended application to actually, at long bloody last, download! Phew. It dumps the downloaded file into your user account's Downloads folder.
You can then, in step 4, 'Install Now' if you so choose. I don't choose. I prefer to install it myself. Therefore, I push the 'Later' button. At that point the CNET installer thing Quits itself. Good riddance to scary rubbish.
A) Other Mac software downloads sites:
1) MacUpdate.com impresses me a lot these days. They have matured into a very nice site with great reviewing system, plentiful informed and helpful users, improved staff, excellent daily software promotions and rather good MacUpdate installation software that doesn't infect you with adware. MacUpdate's site is FAR easier to use and is FAR more user-friendly and FAR more reliable that CNET's.
2) MajorGeeks.com. It tends to be Windows-centric. But the guys there are terrific, they scan for malware, they offer reasonable reviews and features.
That's my current list of Mac software download sites. But I have provided a list of other Mac friendly websites at the end of the article. Skip ahead...
Occasionally, I still go to VersionTracker.com / Downloads.com to check if MacUpdate.com has missed any recent updates. It happens. If I find something I want, instead of using the horrible CNET installer thing, I go DIRECTLY to the developer's website to download every time. The CNET installer thing is NOT allowed on my computers.
B) Apple's Mac App Store
If you have OS X 10.7 and higher, you have the App Store application in your Applications folder. I find the app itself to be clunky with miniscule 'Help'. It also has terrible Apple tech 'support' I'm sad to say, entirely UN-Apple IMHO. I've let Apple know this fact on more than one occasion. But if you can get App Store to work adequately for you, good on ya. It's nice to know that Apple vet all the apps they allow at their store.
C) Use each application's own integrated updater
These days, most applications have integrated Sparkle, the open source application updating system. It's wonderful. It works. I tend to avoid apps that don't use it or an equivalent. Sparkle integration is free!
D) Check the developer's own website
I do this with Adobe and Oracle freeware crap specifically because it's buggy as hell and frequently has security holes. Therefore, I regularly watch for the latest versions, if I bother to use them at all.
FURTHER MAC SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD SITES:
Here are further alternative sites for downloading Mac software. I'll leave it up to you to evaluate and read about them on the Internet. The list is in no particular order. All of these sites are up and running today. If you have further suggested sites, please post them in the Comments!
I Use This
FreeMacAppADay (in Japanese)
Mac Downloads (aka DownloadAtoZ)
And of course, if you find any Mac software sites are foisting ADWARE, please post in the Comments! Happy Mac users want to know.
Don't download or install ADWARE.
You'll thank me.