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