March 30, 2010

EA Download Manager…

… is fucking awful. Under any other name it would be recognised as malware. How I hate thee:

  • When uninstalling, it deletes the install files for games you’ve downloaded. We’ve lost over 40gb worth of downloaded games because of this and the next point.
  • When updating to a new version (automatic!) it deletes the installed version and any downloaded game installers.
  • The new version requires Adobe Air to be installed, not explaining why, or whether it’s optional, or indeed even what it is. First time through I cancelled the Air installer, and the EA Download Manager installer stopped. Of course it had deleted the existing EA Download Manager install completely, leaving me with nothing.
  • The EA site has no visible link to download it. I had to look at an old invoice from EA (that only arrived after they’d charged me twice, I might add) to find a link. Searching for “EA download manager” gives me a useful looking link that goes nowhere.
  • The EA site contains no link to view your profile or account information.

So, a piece of software that needs to be installed, installs other software without informing the user of what or why, deletes unrelated important files arbitrarily upon updating or uninstalling, and starts by default with Windows? Malware.


  • The application failed to initialize properly. Please ensure you are not attempting to run the application on multiple Windows accounts simultaneously. If the problem still persists, please reinstall the application.”
  • It fails to start from the icon it put on the desktop. I initially thought, “Oh, it’s because I mangled the Air installer or something”, so I uninstalled everything. It still doesn’t work.
  • I go exploring the EADM install folder. From the looks of it, the app is a bastard mess of QT, Adobe Air (and thus webkit), a server, a command-line app, XML and inexplicably an SWF. What the fuck? Did the programming team just cherry pick bits of software and duct tape them together? I can understand dependencies, but this list is absurd.
  • I try EADownloadManager.exe. Doesn’t work. I try EACoreServer.exe. Doesn’t do anything. I try EACoreCLI.exe. An icon appears in the tray. Yippee!
  • Where do you want to save your downloaded game installers?” Can’t type in the directory text box. Ok. I think, “let’s use that stupid directly your last version created, c:\programdata.” I select it. The software changes it to “C:\ProgramData\EA Core\cache\EADM\{ myemail@address }”. Why ask if you’re going to insert random crap anyway?

An hour later I’m finally downloading the game they’re still charging retail prices for even though they’ve cut out all the middlemen involved in the retail process. Great work guys!

BTW, budding programmers, don’t ever create horrible shortcut targets like ‘C:\Program Files\Electronic Arts\EADownloadManager\EACoreCLI.exe” -eadcommand:?cmd=agent_task_add&taskId=TASK_LAUNCH_VAULT&allowDuplicates=1’. If you need to do this on an end-user system, your program is badly written and you’re exposing too much of the inner workings to outsider influence. Also, passing ampersand-delimited URLs with startup instructions to a native application is disgusting and a hack. At least use real command line parameters, available since the 1970s. Thanks for revolutionising application development Air!

posted by Andrew

March 3, 2010

The Internet Explorer 8 Render Mode chart

OK, so Henri’s IE8 render mode flowchart was a running joke in the webdev community a year ago. Now it’s official (albeit a year late).

Two strange quotes in the MS article above made me wonder…

[…] many high traffic websites want to render in as many browsers as possible, which is why they write for Quirks.

Thinking in terms of web-scale, there are billions of pages written specifically for either Quirks, IE7, Almost Standards, or the latest Standards.

Seriously, no one “writes for quirks”, especially for compatibility. One writes in quirks accidentally, or from laziness, lack of knowledge, or possibly as a result of head trauma. Phrasing it this way makes it sound like people intentionally choose to ignore the past 10 years of browser landscape. Besides which, you can’t be “writing for quirks” with 1193 errors on your front page.

The official blog’s wording always comes across as carefully phrased to avoid taking blame or honestly admitting past mistakes that lead to the current mess, further ruffling the feathers of the many pessimist hawks subscribed to their RSS feed. And the fact this post comes a year after the product’s launch (when the official flowchart would have been useful) is befuddling.

posted by Andrew