Friday, March 19, 2010

False accusations

I received an email this morning (actually it was posted in my guest book of all places, though I have since deleted it) from a ham named Mike informing me that the program Morse Machine on my website contains a Trojan. It's a false alarm, and I've had it before. I blogged about it a few months ago, so I pointed Mike to that blog posting by way of an explanation.

Mike didn't mention which scanner gave the false alarm but I was able to deduce from the copy of the scanner log he posted that it was ClamWin, a free GPL virus scanner. Now I'm a fan of free software and in fact experimented with ClamWin a few years ago, but the honest truth is it barely deserves to be called a virus scanner. A bunch of enthusiasts working in their spare time do not have the resources to develop a commercial quality virus scanner and I don't think anyone should be depending on such a program to detect viruses, especially as there are plenty of free (though not GPL) alternatives that are much better.

After Mike read my blog post he replied:

"I downloaded your CW learning program for my grandson, trying to help steer him into Ham Radio.

With the preponderance of malware out there, I find your opinions a bit disingenuous if not downright arrogant. i.e. the "Im ok and your not" attitude.

You could would write your own installer like I (and others have) and stop the complaints (and your belly aching) rather than baiting users with KNOWN problems.

That's my opinion, although I will concede you have the right to yours and say and do what you want :)"

My opinion is that I don't see why poorly written virus scanners should become my problem? Why should I rewrite the installers for all these programs, which doubtless will then be accused of containing a different Trojan? I don't make these programs available for money and no-one pays me for my time working on them. If making them available means I am obligated to spend more of my ham radio time supporting and updating them because of issues like this, the best thing from my point of view would be to remove the programs entirely.

Nor do I see why I should have to put up with complaints like this just for making available programs I've written in the hope that others would find them useful. Of all the things I've done on this website, only the software results occasionally in emails that spoil my day and make me angry.

I don't have time to delete the software section at the moment but I will when I get around to it.


M0XDF said...

I'm sorry to hear you feel like Julian, but I understand.
Would be a shame if others were to loose the benefits of your software because of one person.

I'm sure there are many here who do support you.
Personally, I'm a Mac man, so haven't looked at much PC stuff.

Hope your weekend goes better than the previous days!

73 de M0XDF

Paul Stam PAØK said...

Hello Julian, it's funny that a Google ad under your posting shows a Trojan Remover Download. ;-) 73 Paul

Robin said...

Julian - Please keep going and giving items like Morse Machine back to the community. I have switched my whole household to Apple Mac, but your Morse Machine software was the persuasion to relent and buy a Win7 licence and VMWare just to run your software. Personally Morse Machine is (for the first time) allowing me to make headway learning Morse Code; even my four year old son is starting to take an interest too based on Dad's learning time with Morse Machine.

Jay Dighsx said...

What this Mike fella needs to remember is you get what you pay for.

And I mean that on two fronts. One this ClamWin is free and not even the kinda free you get from AVG or Avast. But free from a GPL project.

And second if you where charging for Morse Machine or any of your other fine software (I use VOAProp several times a day) then you would be on the hook a little to try and provide some support. But you generously have let the world use your software for nothing. And for that we are grateful and take the software as is.

Try not to let it get to you. You can't make everyone happy.

Keep up the good work and the great blog. I really enjoy both.

Jay aka KD8EUR

GW0KIG said...


That's a shame. I have found both Morse Machine and Morse Gen useful in bringing my CW speed back up. They both run fine under win 7 too. I agree don't let one (rude) person spoil it for you and those who appreciate your efforts.

73 De Kevin

E71DX said...

A very handy tool for this -

it's an online virus scanner incorporating dozens of anti-virus scanners, just need to upload a suspicious file.

73, Sanjin

Unknown said...

Hi Julian

It's a sad fact that 'netiquette' (and what a misnomer that is!) decrees that 'flaming' and using language and making comments that one would never use/make face-to-face has encouraged even the most mild-mannered amongst us to become ogres as soon as our fingers touch the keyboard.

That being the case, it's a good idea to divide the sentiments expressed by 10 (at least) before deciding how to react! It's sad but true that for every complainer there are probably a 1,000 satisfied 'customers' who have never thought to let you know.

I haven't used your software (yet) but I love your Blog - it's one of only a handful that I read regularly... and on those days when you don't post, I feel somewhat disappointed.

Don't change a thing else you risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Hamicably yours

Richard F5VJD

Unknown said...

Thanks for the support guys. I'm afraid I did take being accused of distributing a trojan (either deliberately or unknowingly) as a personal insult. Then to be told my attitude was arrogant and that I should jump through hoops because some rubbish antivirus can't tell a trojan from a morse trainer was the last straw.

Unfortunately, Sanjin, VirusTotal has become part of the problem because they include these rubbish scanners, so now 8 out of 42 virus scanners say my programs are trojans.

I've put a note on each download page warning people about the problem and telling them they will have to make their minds up whether to trust me or their scanner. If I was a commercial enterprise and this was costing me money I would probably have to do something about it but I'm not, so I won't. If people choose not to run my programs because of this I fully understand but the problem isn't of my making.

Chip said...

Please don't remove your software for a couple of complainers. Don't punish the rest of us for the bad manners of a few.

Kelly Keeton said...

2nd that I love your code learner tool. that guy is just a OM who thinks the world should be his way. if people arnt smarter then the computers they use

keep up the good work


LA8OKA said...

Hi Julian.

I'm sorry about this Mike fella. I have used your software for years and I hope that you continue to develop your software as time and interest allows.

73 de LA8OKA Martin

Theodore said...

Hi Julian,

I have to thank Mike for alerting me to your software page!
My up to date symantec virus scanner gives all your programs a clean bill of health.
But without his whining (and band manners) I would not have thought of looking at the software page.

These programs are great! I have used many morse training programs to get past my current speed block,
but yours is the only one I have found which works. They are also gentle on newbies, allowing repeats and are fun to use.
I have downloaded the propagation program and look forward to trying it. I am sure it will be as high quality as the others.
I can understand your desire not to be abused for providing free, no-support software.
It is sad to see this trend.
I was looking at an old QRP operating thread on Eham yesterday, and it was
disgusting how some QRO hams (not newbies either) were lambasting QRP, completely off topic.
But in the end, like all whiners, they come off looking silly and jaded.
Perhaps your abusive correspondent feels similarly foolish, but I would not bet on it.
It's always easier to destroy than create - which needs intelligence.

Anyway, whichever way you go, thank you for providing this great software, it has helped more people than the whiners care to admit.
73s and Cheers Julian.