My Favorite Gadgets: Another developer gone over to the dark side!


Yes folks, yet another freeware developer has gone over to the dark side, bundling undesirable software with its products. I have stated on many occasions that I have no problem with developers wishing to monetize their efforts, anything which helps keep our favorite freeware free can only be a good thing, right. But there are also three critical provisos… 1) That the bundled software must not be malicious, or indeed suspect in any way… 2) That the bundling must be completely open and transparent, not covert or undisclosed, and… 3) That options to decline must be present during the installation process. My Favorite Gadgets fails on all three counts.

My Favorite Gadgets is a freeware site providing a wide variety of Windows desktop gadgets, unfortunately the developer has decided to bundle Somoto with his freeware offerings. Somoto is an advertizing platform similar in concept to OpenCandy but, unlike OpenCandy, is not considered harmless. You can read more about Somoto in an article we published in July this year: Beware: Solimba and Somoto bundled with freeware. The article includes both FreewareBB’s and DCT’s assessment of Somoto. While there is no absolute proof that Somoto is definitely malicious, there is certainly enough prima facie evidence to suggest it is highly suspect and should be avoided… fail one.

I could not locate any mention of the Somoto bundling anywhere across the My Favorite Gadgets site nor is it mentioned in the EULA or during installation… fail two.

An option to decline ‘suggestions’ proffered by Somoto during the installation process is ignored with only two options available… either agree or cancel the entire installation… fail three.

Remove all checkmarks in an attempt to decline the additional installation and then click Next:


And receive this message:

Gadgets distributed by this developer include:

  • Atomic Clock
  • Barcode
  • Binary Clock
  • Binary Uptime
  • BOINC Monitor
  • Drives Monitor
  • GPU Monitor
  • HTML Guardian Decrypter
  • HTML-Protector Decrypter
  • Keyboard Monitor
  • Metric Clock
  • Mouse Monitor
  • Network Monitor II
  • Ping Monitor
  • System Monitor II
  • System Uptime Full Plus
  • Top Process Monitor
  • World Population Monitor

I downloaded one of the gadgets myself and unpacked the executable, Somoto is definitely bundled. DCT’s advice is to avoid this freeware.

(Many thanks to Marko at FreewareBB, our recommended freeware download site, who brought this matter to our attention. As usual, Marko is right on top of of the situation and all these freeware products have now been removed from the FreewareBB download listings).

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

13 Comments

  1. Cheers Jim for alerting the readers. There is great free (no strings attached) software out there, but as nature has it, some are what feeds the bottom scum, Mindblower!

  2. In regards to ‘fail two’ in your article. On the download page of each gadget it says and this is a copy and paste from their website:

    ” IMPORTANT: this file is just a downloader which downloads the complete application. This downloader (BetterInstaller from Somoto) could be detected by some antivirus software as either virus or Trojan. This is a false positive and we guarantee 100% that this app is free from any virus or Trojan. Somoto is constantly working on removing the downloader from the black-list of these antivirus software. Please, go to the following link to know more about false positives:[Link removed – leads to a site rated RED (high risk) by leading site advisory services]

    Also they include a button link called ‘click here’ to download the “clean gadget, without installer.” just below the notice. That download is just the gadget itself in a zip file.

  3. Hi Kenneth – Thanks for your input. Yes, I just went back to the site and checked, you are correct. But that information is disclosed only after the user has already initiated the download by clicking on a “Start Your Download” button on the previous page.

    So, considering the information is only presented following what would generally be considered a fait accompli, I would hardly describe it as entirely transparent. It would be a different matter altogether if all that information were available prior to clicking on the “Start Your Download” button.

    By the way: I removed the link from the “IMPORTANT” notice you copied and pasted. It leads to a betterinstaller.com page which is rated Red (high risk) by leading site advisory services. Guilt by association might not always be equitable but it is a fact of life.

    Cheers… Jim

  4. Jim, thanks for the heads up.

    this is very bad, i dont undersatnd why devs do these practices. Bundling their product with useless toolbars and programs only waste their hard work and give no benifit.

    thanks for the link to frewarebb too, something new for me.

    thanks and have a nice day. 🙂

  5. Jim
    I think I understand that OpenCandy is the dangerous download.
    What does that have to do with System Monitor?
    I downloaded System Monitor from a link on your site
    but not sure if it is 1 or 2.
    Is it safe to use?
    Thanks

    • No Kestrel, your understanding is incorrect; OpenCandy is generally considered to be quite harmless (benign – not malicious). System Monitor comes bundled with Somoto, not OpenCandy. And the evidence to date, although circumstantial, suggests that Somoto is highly suspect and should be avoided.

      You could not have downloaded System Monitor from DCT, we do not, and would not, provide download links to anything dangerous or suspect.

      System Monitor itself may be quite harmless to use, the risk occurs during the installation process… that’s when Somoto is likely to make unwanted changes to the host machine.

      Cheers… Jim

      • You are correct. I was thinking System Explorer and got it mixed up with this topic on System Monitor.
        Thanks for straightening out my aging brain.
        Kestrel

    • Dan, the link was omitted on purpose. This article is reporting a site which hosts BAD software, we do not support such sites and would never publish a link, for obvious reasons.

      Cheers… Jim

  6. It gets worse. Since this article was written, the MOFO has now changed the “clean” .zip file download link to a SURVEY LOCKED download. ESET Smart Security goes nuts with every download site, sponsored download package and choosing the clean version just makes you fill out surveys ad nauseum.

    Got greedy, indeed he did ..