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.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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