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Stupid Freaking Auto Installing Spy/Software
Published on October 26, 2003 By russellmz In Personal Computing
I was merrily scrolling through my Add/Remove programs list trying to free some hard drive space by deleting unused programs. I am a virtual packrat, hoarding programs "just in case", or "maybe one day I'll use it". Towards the end I see a program called Viewpoint Media Player. Never downloaded and installed this. Never saw it before. Immediately I knew it was some junk spyware program that somehow got onto my system and didn't get caught by my spyware deleting programs.

So, like any sensible person with a question and an internet connection, I headed to google.com. There I eventaully got to an anti-spyware page that said Viewpoint was bundled with the new version of AIM, which I had downloaded some weeks ago.

Damn. It.

The AIM(AOL Instant Messenger) installer didn't say anything about other programs being installed on my computer. Most likely my firewall stoppped it from sending any random info out but I can't be sure what the damn thing has done.

Here is my privacy policy: I do not want any type of crap on my computer unless I specifically OK it. I do not want anything installed without my permission. I don't want some poorly programmed piece of crap crashing my computer, changing my bookmarks and homepage, and making itself part of the operating system so I can't delete it without instructions from the internet. I do not want programs that record what I am doing. I don't want programs accessing the internet at random intervals to send data to its home servers. I don't care if "At no point is the CUID connected to a user's name, email address, or other personal contact information". I don't freaking believe what is written in the privacy policy (which I didn't even get a chance to read since it installed without my knowledge), nor do I trust your abilities to safeguard my personal data even if you are telling the truth.

When can you install something on my computer? If you get within arms length distance of my computer and can install it before I cave your head in with a baseball bat, then I will allow it.

Anyway, I went to Add/Remove programs, highlighted it, and hit Remove.

Then I went to my file search utility and told it to look for anything with the name "Viewpoint". There were two or three separate folders still on my hard drive with the Viewpoint name. Lazy pieces of crap were too freaking lazy to program the remove utility properly and actually have it REMOVE the damn program. I had to delete the folders manually after making sure that nothing important was in them. Most likely AIM will still function normally over the next few days but now I have a nagging what-if to deal with. F--kers. The both of them.

That is why I like freeware but not adware or spyware. Freeware is usually all about respecting the user. Consider: I have a popup blocker, server proxy that stops internet ads and other annoying internet inventions like auto-playing looping music and scripts that change your bookmarks. I have a firewall. I never download any program unless I am sure it is an official patch/program or that it is a widely known and used freeware program. Yet this thing still got onto my computer and I haven't noticed it for days or weeks. Makes me wonder how many computers are now happily sending info to their home servers. Don't worry too much. I'm quite sure the spyware authors are hard at work making sure that "At no point is [your] CUID connected to a user's name, email address, or other personal contact information".

addendum:
Some people are still having problems even after they delete Viewpoint. The only thing actions I can recommend is after going to Add/Remove and removing Viewpoint to go to Start > Find > Files & Folders and search for "Viewpoint". Delete anything in there that you think is part of the Viewpoint Media Player program. If you still have problems try these spyware removing programs:

Spybot
Adaware

Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 27, 2003
i totally agree with this article. when you download something. you should be told of everything that is being put on your computer. i don't know much about the whole spyware/adware thing. but from what i have heard it is not good. they should mandate companies in telling you everything that is going to be download with a program. but anyway just thought this article was so true.


Z.D.R.

ejok
on Oct 27, 2003
i totally agree with this article. when you download something. you should be told of everything that is being put on your computer. i don't know much about the whole spyware/adware thing. but from what i have heard it is not good. they should mandate companies in telling you everything that is going to be download with a program. but anyway just thought this article was so true.


Z.D.R.

ejok
on Oct 27, 2003
Good article. Bundling of software has become economically attractive with the decrease in banner-ad and pop-up revenues, but it is bad. After spam and worms, I would rate this as the third-worst threat on the internet.

Thanks for the heads up.
on Oct 28, 2003
I saw this in Add and Remove a couple days ago, but was afraid to uninstall it because I wasn't sure what it was! Thanks to this article, I dumped it with no worries!
on Oct 28, 2003
gald i could help
on Nov 07, 2003
Ditto what Mouse said! These things are like recurring nightmares! I uninstall, delete everything related I can find, and low & behold months later they re-appear. Wish I knew how to put shit (literally) on their computers! LOL Thx for ur article!!
on Nov 29, 2003

Bad news:
Doesn't matter how many times you uninstall Viewpoint Media Player , or delete the folders/files, or even rename them, Aol 8 gets around this and reinstalls it on your system when you open your AOL program.

Good news:
If you find and delete the following file C:[or wherever AOL is installed on your machine]\Program Files\AOL 8.0\Jiti\Viewpoint.exe, then when you open AOL next time, Viewpoint Media Player shouldn't install.

I'm hoping this will work - I'm not an expert.

on Dec 03, 2003
I was doing the exact same things you were doing, trying to free up some space. I came to the file, "Viewpoint". What the heck is this? I don't remember downloading this. I deleted it. But, like you, I found many other files that were connected to this viewpoint. The files I found made it seem as though I had to reinstall viewpoint or nothing on my computer would work again!! I have been having trouble getting error messages. I (like an idiot and totally having faith in aol) went to live tech help. They did help some. They sent me a message which I printed out. One of the first things they suggested was to reinstall viewpoint. Well, I had already deleted it and couldn't find it anywhere. If it is spyware, I don't want it. Have you, by chance been getting messages that start out "WAOL"? I hate those. If you hace any more info or suggestions, I would appreciate if you would send me some. I am about ready to through this pc through the wall.
on Dec 08, 2003
Amazing, just went through the exact same process starting with being a packrat and deciding to declutter the vitual office and wound up on Google looking for this Viewpoint thing I couldn't remember installing, and ended up here and now with a revitalized sanity say, Thank you!
on Dec 24, 2003
I read your article about viewpoint media player. YOU ARE RIGHT!!! It is spyware garbage.. I hate but I cannot get rid of it. After uninstalling all the files from add and remove software, I went to file search typed in viewpoint the first time and view then, point the second time. My system said it was clean but after using some spyware finding software, I found it is still there! I delete it with the spyware and it is still there! Other than rebricking my hard drive any suggestions on getting rid of this GARBAGE??? Also be on the look out for My Search/bar. It also downloads on your system with your approval! I surf the web a lot. I feel that installing software without my OK, is like breaking into my home. I should have the opportunity to shoot anyone that tries it..
on Dec 24, 2003
Forgot onething. If you feel like you got rid of the program, download a spyware finding software and check under C://systems and C://user profiles. When I find the registry# I will post it here.. Great article!!!!
on Jan 07, 2004
I read the article, but I think the write totally didn't get one thing. I have the player, but you know, it ACTUALLY does something. It lets you view files that have 3D, video, music, picture file, whatever, all in one. The only thing thing is it does't display their logo when it runs (unlike Quicktime, or Winamp) so you just don't who they are. Plus, AOL uses them to display their new superbuddies, and the thing is no other program can do that.
Yeah, and they're def not spyware, 'cause you don't get pop-ups, and as far as I kow, nothing bad has happened to my computer, no extra junk mail, etc. S, I don't know what everyone is talking about.
on Jan 27, 2004
i wonderd what this utter shite was, i had to close AIM to uninstall and delete the folder
on Feb 01, 2004
Reply By: Paco
------------------
I read the article, but I think the write totally didn't get one thing. I have the player, but you know, it ACTUALLY does something.
...
Yeah, and they're def not spyware, 'cause you don't get pop-ups, and as far as I kow, nothing bad has happened to my computer, no extra junk mail, etc. S, I don't know what everyone is talking about.
------------------

it's nice that it does something, but i already already have stuff that does what it does or i don't need it. i only have aol messenger to send text to people so i don't care about "superbuddies". the installer did not mention viewpoint was going to be installed, as confirmed by the link to the anti-spyware page above. if you click on the anti-spyware link, you get a copy of the viewpoint pirvacy policy. there are two headings in that policy of interest:

"The Information That We Collect"

"What We Do with the Information We Collect"

call me crazy, but i get the feeling viewpoint is collecting information from me, without my knowledge. it was installed without permission and records information about me without my permission. hence: spyware junk.


i am not using aol to access the internet. so i don't know if that has anything to do with the problems everyone else has been having with removing it. if you still have problems try out these spyware removing programs and see if they help:

Spybot
Adaware

no idea what "waol" errors are but i typed it into google.com and got this link so it might help you:

WAOL errors

good luck!
on Feb 01, 2004
whoops messed up the links:
Spybot

Adaware