One thing I hate more than ad-ware bundled in software installations is authors who think they can stop it being optional and attempt to force these ad-ware installations on consumer machines.
My wife is a teacher at a primary school and she frequently uses the many resources available on the web-site Twinkl.
Not long ago, the authors of Twinkl decided that resources could no longer be downloaded without the new ‘Twinkl Toolbar’ (Annoying bar from now on).
The reasoning the authors put behind the installation of the Annoying bar is because of costs to maintain the website.
Problems with the Annoying bar
- The authors of Twinkl attempt to justify the forced installation of the toolbar by stating the costs of maintaining the website. However they are making the problem worse for them selves as the toolbar sends several requests to the website every time the browser is launched – even if the user is not visiting the Twinkl website
- The majority of schools will not be able to install the toolbar due to the requirement of administrator privileges on the machine they are using
- The toolbar contacts external websites with usage statistics without your prior permission… see:
- The toolbar automatically subscribes and attempts to incorporate it self with external weather forecasting services as well as Facebook – again, without prior knowledge of the user.
Getting around the Annoying bar installation
Fortunately, getting access to the resources on Twinkl without installing the Annoying bar is possible and quite easy
After sniffing the network traffic with Wireshark, I noticed that every time I launched the browser, the Annoying bar was attempting to contact the Twinkl page:
So basically, visiting the URL below will tell Twinkl that you have the browser, even if you don’t:
- All you have to do is visit the above link and continue looking for the resources you want on the web-site – you shouldn’t be asked to download the Annoying toolbar.