Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn


One of the researchers in my group just came to me to ask if I wanted to know about an error message he saw on his computer. I went over, and saw a message saying "You Registry is Badly Corrupt", with next and help buttons attached. I was initially surprised (and felt bad for the user given that his previous computer just died), but .. things didn't look quite right. I clicked around on it, and saw the popup menu on it was actually that of Internet Explorer. Yes, it was one of those fake error popups that either prompt the user to install malware or buy things. This is not cool.. it should not take a seasoned techie to figure these things out. Internet Explorer (and Firefox, and Mozilla) are badly misdesigned in a key feature -- they let webpages hide parts of the browser UI (immensely frustrating in itself) without leaving the user any obvious clue that they're working with the browser and not the OS. This may be useful in some very limited situations, but by and large is a misfeature that brings little but pain (and opportunities for abuse, like here). This is slightly less a problem on Macs because they at least have the menu bar (which is irritating in its own way, but handy here) that's separate from the application window. Still, on all platforms, I think browsers should *never* allow pages to hide user elements. Browsers also should take steps to otherwise not be carriers of irritation and abuse.

Tags: tech, warning

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