Digital File Check: Disabling file sharing, thanks to record companies

C|Net’s recently reported that three trade organizations representing record and movie companies released a program called Digital File Check, a so-called “powerful scanning engine that allows you to search your computer for installed file-sharing programmes , as well as media files.” That quote is directly from the home page, as is the grammatically-incorrect space before the comma.

Since I like being a victim, I decided to run this on my laptop, which was recently overhauled as a result of a hard drive crash. Here’s some interesting information on the overall experience.

  • The Digital File Check (DFC) Web site is written mostly in Flash. It is also configured to scale to window size, so peole with desktop resolutions of 800×600 will have a difficult time reading the blurry text without zooming in. Whoever designed this site needs to take some hints from usability expert Jakob Nielsen.
  • Nowhere on the DFC Web site does it say it only works on the Windows operating system. Glad to know they have no problem with file-sharing Mac and Linux users.
  • Inexplicably, you are required to enter a password when installing the application, in order to “stop unauthorized users from trying to run this program without your permission.” I thought they’d want people to run this program as often as possible.

I chose the password “jerk”. The default password recovery question is, “What is your favorite movie?” I also used the work “jerk”. Too bad passwords must be six characters long, so I changed everything to “thejerk”. Continuing, the installation finishes fine, so I fire up the program, type in “thejerk,” and get to the main window.

Going for total system hosing, I tell the program to do a full file search. After a few minutes, I’m told I have 0 file-sharing software, 0 videos, 6 music files, and 14,000 images (exactly 14,000).

A little wizard tells me it’ll automatically remove my file-sharing software if I click on the ‘next’ button, even though I don’t have any. Confused, I click ‘next’ anyway, wondering how a program can remove something I don’t have.

With the excitement to be gained by uninstalling things not installed, I click next, hoping for total system meltdown. No luck; the program(me), obviously concerned that the user does not read what’s on the screen, warns me again that it’s about to remove software that doesn’t exist on my computer.

Sadly, clicking ‘finish’ didn’t reformat my hard drive in an attempt to remove the nonexistant. However, I’m still curious as to what those 14,000 (exactly 14,000) images are, so I go to the “Music, image, and video files” area.

This is clearly a very useful tool, if you are interested in seeing a list of every image on your hard drive, including those installed by evil programs such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Visual Studio, OpenOffice, and the demon of all demons, the Recycle Bin. No formats are ignored — I have JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, and TGA files identified.

By the way, the program simply looks for any file with a <dot><extension> in the filename — anywhere in the file name. I know this because I created two files on my desktop, one named thejerk.gif and another named thejerk.gif.txt. Both were empty files (0 bytes). Excellent false positive matches by DFC.

Overall, this is the most impressive piece of useless software I’ve ever seen. I’ll give an update after I install it on my home PC, which is chock-full of legal music files (from my own CD collection) and legal images (taken from my own digital camera). I can hardly wait.

.Text, Comment Spam, Captcha, FreeTextBox, and more

A friend who runs AngryHamster was recently inundated with spam posted through the comments field of his Web site. His site, much like this one back in the pre-WordPress days, runs on a product called .Text by Scott Watermasysk (the product is now marketed as Community Server :: Blogs by Telligent Systems). Apparently, this comment spamming is not new, and some users have come up with solutions to this problem using CAPTCHA imaging techniques (particularly a .Net implementation by BrainJar).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get them to work reliably. So, I did what any self-respecting coder would do: hacked it myself.

The implementation (which is running on this site) has the following features beyond the standard .Text 0.95:

  • A limited CAPTCHA method in the comments. I couldn’t get the image to render, so I just displayed it as text. This should solve the problem – at least until some spammers recognize what I did and try to hack it. (It’s a temporary fix until I fix the image rendering.)
  • The latest version of FreeTextBox, a rich text box editor for Web pages. Although totally unnecessary from a spam perspective, it was necessary for a different reason. Since I’ve given up on Internet Explorer and started using Firefox almost exclusively, I’ve had one problem: the .Text: admin section would not use FreeTextBox unless you were running IE5 or higher. I added the latest version of FreeTextBox (2.0.7) to my .Text implementation and hacked the code to use it without regard to the browser used by the client. Nore more IE just to post blogs!

The real test of FreeTextBox will be if this page renders correctly when I click post, so… let’s find out!

Because newer is not always better, there’s

I used to have piles and piles of CDs with old versions of software. Used to is the operative phrase there; most of those CDs have gone into the garbage over the years. Who ever thought I would need an old copy of Internet Explorer?

If you find yourself needing some old software, check out They offer 51 (at the time of writing) different programs, and in most cases different old versions of each one. Want to see AOL Instant Messenger 1.0? They’ve got it. How about America Online 1.0 – a scant 0.3MB? Yup. Adobe Acrobat 2.0? It’s in there. They provide old versions of the most popular instant messenger, file sharing, e-mail, multimedia, and Internet applications.

You may need an old version for compatibility, or testing, or to be nostalgic. Whatever the reason, is a worthy bookmark.