Why does Swordfish call back home?
Thread poster: opolt
opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:17
English to German
+ ...
Sep 16, 2010

Hi all,

so I have downloaded Swordfish for testing, and as it turns out it's actually such a nice program, especially on a Linux desktop. Looks much better than Heartsome. Initially I was delighted.

But there's one thing that soon began to annoy me: at startup, Swordfish calls back and queries its "home server". OK, so I fire up Wireshark, and as far as I can see, there's nothing really suspicious going on there, just some versioning information being exchanged.

But why on earth does it have to do so? Why aren't we told beforehand that some innocent data is going to be sent over the wire? What's there to hide?

Does this behaviour only occur if you don't have a licence key (yet)? I couldn't find any hint in the manual, and there doesn't seem to be any possibility to cancel the query, or opt out of it.

The worst part of it is that the program gets locked for a full half minute, or even more, if the network is down.

I mean, I really don't want my main translation editing tool to wait for the network to come up. Heck, sometimes there is no network at all. There may be myriad reasons for that.

BTW there doesn't seem to be any mention of this on Maxprograms's privacy policy page either.

And Swordfish isn't alone in this. Heartsome has the exact same "feature", with about the same timeout.

Sorry for getting so worked up over this, but I'm a Linux guy and I havent' seen this strange, inhibiting behaviour for more than a decade now :-] But maybe this is just the way it's done for commercial programs nowadays. Even so, I find it annoying, and basically useless for everyone involved.

Swordfish seems to be such a nice program, but that kinda spoils it for me. I still hope that I have overlooked some config option, or that this only applies to the non-licenced version.


[Edited at 2010-09-16 23:28 GMT]


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Rodolfo Raya  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:17
English to Spanish
Swordfish checks for updates Sep 17, 2010

Everytime you launch Swordfish, it checks if there are updates in the download server. If there is a new version, it opens a window and informs you.

If you are not connected to the internet, nothing happens. You can use the program without restrictions for 30 days.

Regards,
Rodolfo


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opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:17
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Checking for updates is ok but ... Sep 17, 2010

Rodolfo, thanks for the quick reply.

Checking for updates is the expected thing here -- no big surprise. I was expecting this. Many programs do that in the background.

But you didn't reply to my other points: why does the program lock up when the network is down? Personally I believe that one shouldn't assume connectivity for any desktop program. As I said, there may be a thousand reasons for the network being down, and why should that keep people from writing?

I'm not a coder, but none of the options here should be very difficult to implement, the best of course would be to include a config option to turn it off, like most other programs let you do.

Apart from that, not everyone will use Wireshark, as I have done, to see what's going on -- some people will have suspicions -- and rightly so. They might then shy away from using such a program. So it's completely unneccesary and counterproductive even from your own standpoint. I believe you should make it clear in the manual, in the privacy policy, and, if applicable, via a config option, what the intention of this behaviour is, and which data are exchanged. This is just about basic honesty.

(BTW I didn't single you out personally here -- they exact same complaint of mine will go to the programmers of Heartsome.)

Rodolfo, yours is one of the best behaving 3rd party desktop apps that I have seen on Linux in ages, one can perceive that immediately. Even Adobe Reader doesn't come close. But that little thing -- c'mon, it's just unnecessary. Please change it if you can.

Cheers.



[Edited at 2010-09-17 00:38 GMT]


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Rodolfo Raya  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:17
English to Spanish
No internet connection needed Sep 17, 2010

If you are not connected to the internet, the program doesn't complain and let you work anyway. You will not know if there are updates, that's all.

You can use the program without an internet connection. There is no problem with that.

Regards,
Rodolfo


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opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:17
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes and no Sep 17, 2010

Rodolfo Raya wrote:

If you are not connected to the internet, the program doesn't complain and let you work anyway. You will not know if there are updates, that's all.

You can use the program without an internet connection. There is no problem with that.


Well, no.

Rodolfo, I have heard many good things about the product support that you provide, but in our case it seems very hard to convince you :-]

But I'm not making this up.

I have performed some tests, and the thing is, there's a router/firewall sitting between my desktop computer and the DSL modem. Now if that router is up but the modem is down, or my Internet provider has dropped the line, Swordfish gets locked for about one minute and 20 seconds after start-up. Worse, the splash screen sits on top on all virtual desktops, refusing to go away or to get moved, thus blocking a good part of my entire screen real estate.

If in turn I start Swordfish with just my router/firewall down, there is no such problem.

So as it turns out we are both correct, you and me :-]

Now you might say there's a firewall misconfigration issue in my case. To which I would reply that Swordfish is the only program that shows that behaviour, that my firewall works fine with many complicated network tasks and has never gotten in the way, plus that many small firms will have such a firewall and might thus get the same problem with Swordfish.

And that it's easy to make it configurable (in the future) -- easier than troubleshooting ports and network protocols. Providing a dialog and a checkbox also makes the thing visible to the user. As I said it's a potential privacy issue. As translators, we are bound to confidentiality, and the slightest suspicion that a program does weird things behind your back, even if unfounded, makes it unlikely for that program to be used in certain contexts.

I hope that clears things up for you, and that you consider this as just another bug report If you need more info, I'm happy to communicate with you privately via email.

Un saludo cordial a la República Oriental --

[Edited at 2010-09-17 10:31 GMT]


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