The Readers Write
Popcorn.net is Malicious Software
Subject: Re: [#10522]: Brought in a virus when I downloaded your program
After speaking with the HAL-PC Help Desk, I decided to forward this to you. I had recently downloaded [a program called ] ‘Spin It Again’ from Acoustica.com, which is a record-from-tapes or record-to-CD software, and was certain that this is how I got this nasty little ‘nagware’, popcorn.net (see below) introduced to my computer. Naturally, I wrote Acoustica.com a little note about the surprise software that I got bundled with the download (that I actually ended up paying $34.95 for).
I got the usual response that ‘their software never contains any viruses’, but then [their support person] took the time to research this for me and sent a link to an article about Popcorn.net that explains [exactly what happened to me] (you can click and read it below, I found it very interesting). You and many of us HAL-PC users will probably find this very interesting, if you haven’t already heard about it. I sure was and had not heard about this. Even though I have NEVER downloaded music and certainly not movies, I still got this little bugger somehow. Simple enough, I was able to get rid of it by restoring my computer to an earlier date and ‘popcorn’ is ‘poof,’ gone (I think).
Now, my ‘Spin It Again’ is gone as well; I think, however, that I may give them one more chance. But, if I get ‘popcorn’ back, I am going to give Acoustica.com and Spin It Again a real ‘spin’ and give them holy heck for allowing this to happen.
Keep up the good work for all of us HAL-PC members; maybe you can use this as fodder for an upcoming HAL-PC Magazine article. By the way, I learned a new computer term today, ‘Nagware’. Never heard of this before, but I got a good education on it lately.
Dan Moss, HAL-PC Member
----- Forwarded Message follows -----
From: Acoustica Support
Subject: [#10522]: Brought in a virus when I downloaded your program
Thank you for buying our software! Our software never contains any viruses (unless the virus was picked up after it left our hands) and we have no affiliation with Popcorn.com. Here’s a news article I found on it:
The article says people are getting it by downloading music or movies from the Internet. If you download Spin It Again from our web page, it will certainly not have any viruses in it. Here’s the download link:
You should probably remove the Popcorn.com problem first. You really shouldn’t have to restore Windows. According to that news article, you can “find information on removing it by doing a Google search to ‘remove popcorn.net.’”
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
“Software should be easy to use!”
Ticket ID: 10522
Department: Spin It Again
Editor’s Note: Thanks very much for sending this information. This is terrible! A little research provided more details about this problem. I also found a reference to a class action lawsuit brewing in California and wanted to share the link with you. You can read the details at www.thorschrock.com/index.php?itemid=64, and if you want to join the class, you can contact the firm that will be filing the lawsuit at www.manuelhmiller.com/. Popcorn.net is also known as Movieland or MoviePass. This is apparently becoming a very big problem, as the removal process is extremely difficult. So far I’ve been able to determine that the popcorn.net gets installed as an activeX download. The link provided by Acoustica support explains in detail how this P2P movie download service gets installed and then, after a 3-day trial period, pop-ups begin demanding a monthly fee payment of $29.95. A Louisville KY television station reported 260 complaints to the Better Business Bureau in their area in a 6-month period last year.
Reliable information to remove it is posted at www.schrockinnovations.com/removepopcorn.php and www.spywareremove.com/removePopCorn.net.html. If you try to remove it by using the link provided byPopcorn.net at members.popcorn.net/customerservice, you may be tricked into reinstalling it. Do not use this option for removal.
The key to avoiding this kind of infestation is to maintain a good antispyware program. Check the links from www.hal-pc.org/support/safety.html for recommended free programs or visit free.grisoft.com/doc/5390/lng/us/tpl/v5 to download free AVG AntiSpyware.
Reply from Dan Moss: According to our own help desk, this has gone beyond music & movie downloads. [I understand that] folks are unwittingly downloading this ‘spyware’ and then getting ‘nagged’ to pay up to have removed what they themselves have installed, similar to what ‘popcorn’ has been doing to me! You’re right, this could be a terrible problem for any unsuspecting PC user. [I heard that] someone recently had to pay $300 to get some ‘nagware’ removed.
I got the Spin It Again re-installed this evening (since I’ve already paid for it, virus free this time, I hope). Also, as an extra precaution, after I restored my computer, I did a search on all files & folders (hidden folders included) on anything that said ‘popcorn’. I got 15-20 hits, mostly cookies and internet folders/links etc. Needless to say, these all went to the trash can, but I was glad that I took that extra step.
I will keep you posted if popcorn comes back at me again. And, I just may join that class action lawsuit, because this may be the only option to keep this from getting out of control.
No Customer Support from Fingergear
Subject: Fingergear Computer on a Stick
In the Summer 2006 issue of the HAL-PC Magazine [“Mobile Computing” column], Chuck Horowitz described the Fingergear Computer on a Stick.
It sounded interesting, so I ordered one. The first time that I booted it, it booted off the CD as described in the instruction sheet. The second time I booted it I got an error message and it would not boot.
Their web site has a ‘contact us’ form which I completed, asking for advice. I received no answer. A week later I tried again - still no answer, not even an acknowledgement. They obviously do not provide customer support. I think that our HAL-PC Magazine readers need to be warned. The company has very interesting new products, but if they do not provide customer support, I will not buy another one.
Thank you for sharing [this information] with our members. I have a feeling that the company is a new startup and feeling its way.
Jack Tschupp, HAL-PC Member
Editor’s Note: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. A review of this product posted more than a year ago at hardware.earthweb.com/systems/article.php/3526676 characterized it as a “neat idea” but “not quite ready for prime time.” Their attempts to use it on 5 different computers failed on 4 of them, because the preinstalled Linux OS proved to be far from plug-and-play on every PC and there was no way to add or upgrade the pre-installed software.
The original product was only 256 MB, leaving very little free space for data. The review points out that it’s considerably more expensive than comparably sized flash drives, and includes several links to free OS downloads that could be installed on an ordinary flash drive by a do-it-yourself-er. Larger capacity Computer-On-A-Stick drives have subsequently been produced by Fingergear, in 512 MB, 1 GB, and 2 GB sizes, and new models with fingerprint authentication are planned. See www.fingergear.com for updated information.
We look forward to hearing from you! E-mail your questions or comments for this column to email@example.com. Names and addresses are printed only with permission.