’s use of Octoshape puts readers on edge

Dennis o'reilly By Dennis O’Reilly

Last week’s Top Story on prompting visitors to install an application named Octoshape application hit home with many readers who had been stung by the program.

The backlash is directed at the sneaky nature of the Octoshape installation rather than against P2P technology, which can benefit users and providers alike when correctly implemented.

When it comes to applying new technology, there’s a right way and a wrong way. People who inadvertently installed the Octoshape peer-to-peer application prior to watching’s live video stream of President Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20 bumped head-first into the wrong way.

Among the victims of’s drive-by download was a reader named Ron:

  • “Thanks for the great article on Octoshape. I became aware that something was running but was not able to discover what app was the culprit ’til your article on CNN’s adding of Octoshape for the live stream on Jan 20.

    “I watch CNN for a number of reasons and never felt the need to be concerned about what they might add to my system. You have opened my eyes to the methods that can be used to compromise an individual PC. Great article. This is the type of article I keep an eye out for when I get your newsletter.”

As the story by WS editorial director Brian Livingston pointed out, there’s nothing new about P2P. As with so many technologies, the key to winning customers over to the idea of sharing their bandwidth is being up-front about how P2P will be implemented and — most importantly — how to turn it off.

Reader Tim Monk provides a U.K. perspective on a service that is much more considerate in its use of P2P:

  • “I read [last week’s Top Story] with some interest. Over this side of the pond, I’ve been using the British Broadcasting Corporation’s iPlayer (making much of their extensive produced-for-TV content across all their channels) since mid-2007. As one would tend to expect, their approach was from the beginning peer-to-peer based using Kontiki, but this was relatively clearly explained before signing up and could be easily opted out of at setup or any time later.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-02-12: