In one of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" works, New York City is described as a place where it's best to answer "No" to three out of every four questions people ask you.* Douglas Adams wrote that back in the early eighties, well before the first "Windows" was released. Yet it applies so well to our modern day Windows operating systems.
Consider what you go through today to install software.
"You must agree to the following End User License Agreement. Blah blah blah... Do you agree?"
"Yes." [Replying no here means you can't install.]
"Would you like to install Active Desktop?"
"Would you like to make this your default browser?"
"Would you like to sign up for our mailing list so that we may pester you with annoying HTML emails that contain web tags?"
Now that End User License Agreement, or EULA, is a truely annoying thing. The difference between Spyware and "Legitmate" Spyware is that the latter comes with a license agreement that tells you that it monitors your activity and calls home about it. So it's important to at least skim through license agreements before agreeing to them.
And I do. I really do. But it's getting harder to find time to do this, especially since I use many programs that get updated once every few months.
So I was intrigued when I learned about a tool called EULAlyzer (which I first learned about from this CastleCops newsletter article) that "can analyze license agreements in seconds, and provide a detailed listing of potentially interesting words and phrases."
I plan to try it out just as soon as I finish reading its EULA. :)
* Well, I recently re-read all five books in DNA's HG2G trilogy. I came across the "answer 'no' to three out of every four questions people ask" idea in "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish". And it takes place in San Francisco, not New York (in which, I suspect, you'd be better off answering no to every seven out of eight questions...), when Arthur and the fetching Fenchurch travel all the way to visit Wonko the Sane. -LG 2006-03-04