Last Week on my Mac: Adobe and Canon in the firing line

Flash fakery

Adobe Flash has for too long been the sick product of computing. What had started as a good and justifiably popular media format and player, somehow descended into a sea of security vulnerabilities. Hardly a week passed without a fresh vulnerability being exposed, and all too often exploited ‘in the wild’ before Adobe could issue a fix.

With the amazing success of Flash-free iOS devices, particularly the iPhone, content publishers realised that Flash as a format was doomed. If they wanted their content to be available to the (then) hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, they had to migrate from Flash to a supported standard such as HTML5. Even the most recalcitrant publishers got the message, thanks largely to the late Steve Jobs standing firm and refusing to admit Flash to iOS. Currently, Flash is used by less than 8% of all websites; five years ago that figure was nearly 30%.

Not only do Flash security vulnerabilities continue, but malware developers utilise fake Flash update and install interfaces as a means of getting even quite wary users to install unwanted crapware and malware.

This is nothing particularly new, but has become both popular and effective. It is effective because Adobe’s Flash update system behaves almost exactly the way that malware does. Anyone who has Flash installed will be used to its update notifications popping up at the most unexpected of times – something I have long complained about.

There is only one solution to this, for Adobe to finally pull the plug on the life-support machines which have been keeping Flash alive for so long.

Until it does so, Flash vulnerabilities will continue to offer malware developers opportunities to breach our security, many of us will have to continue to update Flash Player every few weeks, and its flawed update mechanism will be faked to deliver more unwanted crapware and malware to unsuspecting users.

Flash has become a corporate liability, an embarrassment which only brings harm to Adobe’s reputation, and to users.

Canon can’t

Each major operating system update brings some surprising casualties, vendors who have clearly lost the plot, and revealed how badly their lack of support can let users down. There have been several candidates with Sierra – Dropbox and Fujitsu looked horribly wobbly at first, but have regained ground in the last few weeks – but I think that I have found the worst.

My choice for overall winner of the prize for the least support for Sierra goes to Canon, who seem to have been unaware that Apple announced Sierra back in June. Now, four months later and a month after its release, it has sheepishly admitted that it will be the end of January 2017 before all its camera support apps will be compatible with Sierra.

In addition, more than a hundred different models of Canon PIXMA printers, more than twenty MAXIFY products, eight models of scanner, and forty imagePROGRAF systems, remain incompatible with Sierra.

It may be that Canon has no intention of delivering support for Sierra for many of those models, in which case it would surely be better to declare that now, so that users know where they are, and can plan accordingly. If there is one lesson that Canon support has given us, it’s that you cannot rely on its support. Cameras, printers, and scanners are fiercely competitive markets which seem in steady decline: this is hardly a good time to demonstrate your disinterest in supporting your customers.