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December 26th, 2000

Worst Program Ever: My Comet Cursor

I don’t visit a lot of sites that use the Comet Cursor plugin, but I wish that even those sites would stop. It is, far and away, the most annoying program I’ve seen, and as a bonus, is completely useless.

Here’s what’s good about it: nothing.

Here’s what’s bad about it: First, it gives the web page control over how your cursor looks and functions. So, if we really wanted to, we could have a little Ping logo attached to your arrow, and it could animate, and maybe even speak. Alternately, we could get rid of the arrow altogether and make it look like, say, Ryan’s head. Which might be entertaining for a while… but bear with me on this.

Changing the way a cursor looks is, to me, a big no-no. Lots of people customize their PCs to work and look the way they want to, and this includes the cursors. And, more importantly, what about sight-impaired users who need to have large cursors? What happens when they visit a site and find their arrow is knocked down to a third of its size?

Second, it installs itself automatically on IE. I’m getting awfully tired of IE’s hopscotch security measures (ie, JavaScript can be on or off but I can’t select what the JavaScript can/can’t do.) Opera lets you at least kill new window spawning. Once this program is installed, it gives itself a taskbar icon, too! For me, that’s another no-no… I like keeping the system tray rather clean.

Want to get rid of it? Sure, you can, but you have to go into Add/Remove Programs and expunge it there. Then, it even has the audacity to require a reboot to complete removal. All of this just because I wanted to look at a web page, guys. Tell me, is it that important that the cursor matches your aesthetic design?

In addition, Comet collects information about where you’re using custom cursors on the web. While there are consistent claims that these aren’t linked directly to you (they’re linked to an ID, instead), I can’t be sure I trust these folks. Not after their software simply plops itself on my hard drive without my asking.

Here’s an alternative to Comet Cursor: don’t change the cursor at all. -pm

Posted in Technology

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