OK, maybe “you ruined my day”, is an exaggeration, but…..
Let me start by saying I love CoolPreviews – a Picture-in-a-Picture free Browser add-on, that lets me preview links and rich media content, without clicking the link, or leaving my current page.
I use this tool every day to confirm that the links in my “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News” column are live. The screen capture below illustrates how this works.
I just cursored over the link, in this case ““CNET Free Security Starter Kit: Refined for 2010”, and CoolPreviews opened a preview window of the referenced link. Pretty cool, no?
But then there was yesterday. CoolPreviews, you definitely tried my patience.
Early in the morning on opening my primary Browser, Firefox, I was greeted by loud PacMan like music that I could not shut down. First thought – a malware infection. Drat – the first one in two years; maybe even longer.
Since mornings are a huge rush time for me, I simply closed Firefox and opened Chrome. Hmm, no PacMan music. So, probably not a system wide infection, but a possible Firefox infection.
After finishing what work I could using Chrome, I turned to the problem with Firefox. I won’t go through the whole process, but it went something like this:
Booted to Avira Rescue Disk – no infections found.
Uninstalled Firefox using Revo Uninstaller, since it was important to remove all Registry entries.
Reinstalled Firefox and launched – hey, no PacMan music.
Ran MozBackup to restore my add-ons, bookmarks, mail, contacts, history, extensions, passwords, cache etc.
Relaunched Firefox – oh no, PacMan Music. But some headway – now I know that the likely cause is a compromised Firefox add-on.
Disabled all add-ons, and then re-enabled one at a time, until CoolPreviews proved to be the guilty party.
Now, this whole exercise didn’t take all that long – the biggest time waster was in running deep scanning mode with my AVs. Diagnosing the problem after this part of the process, was a no-brainer.
Later in the day, CoolIris, the CoolPreview developer, finally posted on this problem. Here’s what they had to say:
Google launched a homepage today which features an interactive PacMan game, with music, sirens, etc. If CoolPreviews is enabled, the music plays even if you don’t have Google opened in your browser tab. We apologize for this inconvenience.
But, that’s hardly what I call an explanation. The real cause of this “bug” was pre-fetching. In this case, CoolPreviews pre-fetching the Google Home page. So, here’s a suggestion for CoolPreviews – STOP pre-fetching.
Pre-fetching might appear to be sexy but it is not universally admired. Some of the issues include, unwanted cookies, increased bandwidth usage, and possible exploitation by unwanted sites.
In any event, this “bug” issue won’t dissuade me from using CoolPreviews. In the long run, it’s just too valuable in my day to day computing.
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