[aprssig] WARNING If you are using Streets&Trips 2006 or Autoroute 2006 READ THIS

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Tue Jan 3 16:23:37 EST 2006

Many APRS users use Microsoft Streets & Trips (or it's Euro equivalent 
AutoRoute), either standalone, with APRS applications like UIview, or as 
a source of static maps for other APRS applications.   Before installing 
or using the 2006 version of these programs, note the following.............

======  SPYWARE WARNING FOR STREETS 2006 !!! (=======

Also applies to AutoRoute 2006  (the Euro version of Streets)

Microsoft is using tactics virtually identical to spyware pushers in 
Streets 2006.    When you first insert the CD to install the program, an 
undisclosed undocumented program is stealth loaded onto your hard disk, 
even before the first screen of the install dialog appears.  

This program,   Microsoft  Location Finder,   utilizes Internet 
connections, either hardwired or WiFi, to attempt to determine your 
current location and reports it back to Microsoft.  The application 
attempts to triangulate your location by monitoring what WiFi hotspots 
your PC can currently hear.  If there is no WiFi present in the PC, it 
attempts a whois on the IP address your wired connection is currently 
using. The secret placing of this invasive privacy-invading application 
on millions of PCs is part of Microsoft's future plan for "Location 
Based Services" which means popping up banner ads when MS detects that 
you are within a block or so of a particular business.    The unwitting 
installation of this program places a 64 MEGABYTE ( !! ) 
password-protected database of the known locations of hundreds of 
thousands of public WiFi hotspots in airports, cafes, Starbucks, etc on 
your hard disk.   (You can see it in the directory \Program 
Files\Microsoft Location Finder).       Further, you are recruited as an 
unwitting accomplice in updating this database.  Every time your GPS and 
WiFi equipped laptop passes within range of a new hotspot, it's 
coordinates are reported back to MS via your current Internet connection.  

The first indication of the installation of this piece of unwanted 
crapware is the appearance of an icon of a curved green arrow pointing 
into a target in your Windows System Tray next to the clock.     The 
first time you run Streets, it produces a message "We have detected a 
WiFi connection on this  PC. Do you want us to determine your current 
location on the map?".   Whats wierd is that this message appears even 
when there are NO network connections at all active on the machine.

Even though the install is completely undisclosed, an item IS placed in 
the Install/Remove programs applet in the Windows control panel.  The 
uninstall routine is a COMPLETE SHAM!   It removes the systray icon, an 
.EXE file,  and a couple of documents  from the Location Finder 
directory but leaves 4 DLLs (program modules) and the 64MB database.  

Thinking perhaps it was just a sloppy uninstaller, I erased the 
remaining files (especially the space-wasting database) by hand.   
Starting Streets afterwards generated several error messages that 
"program files were damaged or missing" and requested that the install 
CD be placed in the drive so that this thing could be re-installed!!!  
In other words, even after the supposed uninstall, Streets is calling 
components of Location Finder.

After many hours of experimentation, I discovered there is a way to kill 
this obnoxious crapware.   

        WARNING!  This requires editing the Windows Registry database.
        One errant keystroke here can totally trash your Windows system.
        Back up the registry first!  

1)  Before initially installing Streets & Trips 2006 (or the Euro 
equivalent AutoRoute),  make sure you have NO network connections of any 
kind live.  Unplug any ethernet cable and ensure that your WiFi 
transceiver is turned off.

2)  After the install, immediately go to the Windows Control Panel  
"Add/Remove Programs" and "uninstall" Microsoft Location Finder.

3)   Locate the directory "\Program Files\Microsoft Location Finder"   
and delete it.

4)   Click "Start, Run" and enter "regedit" (The Windows Registry 
Editor).    In Regedit, pull down "Edit, Find" and search for "Microsoft 
Location Finder".  Keep pressing F3 to find the next occurrence of this 
phrase. Delete every item (registry "key") you find with this string in it.

5)  Exit the Registry editor and reboot.  Streets should now be able to 
startup without Location Finder and without complaining.

Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink Node:      14400    [Think bottom of the 2M band]
Home Page:          http://wa8lmf.com

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