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Tech: A BHO named TODO

JohnInKansas 05 Oct 11 - 07:01 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Oct 11 - 01:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Oct 11 - 11:42 AM
JohnInKansas 06 Oct 11 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Oct 11 - 02:52 PM
terrier 06 Oct 11 - 03:13 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM
MartinRyan 06 Oct 11 - 04:02 PM
open mike 06 Oct 11 - 07:06 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Oct 11 - 11:34 PM
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Subject: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Oct 11 - 07:01 PM

With the current rewriting of web pages to satisfy the tweets and twits, a particular BHO (Browser Helper Object) has been appearing with annoying frequency. In IE it appears as a popup saying something to the effect of "The website is requesting to install TODO .. company name TODO … Unidentified … Unknown."

In at least my IE, if you allow the "item" to attempt to install, it immediately crashes the link and locks up the computer. (Recovery is more graceful than with some other errors, with only the individual Tab affected being killed in most cases I've seen.)

There is considerable discussion on the web about this "BHO" with nobody apparently having figured out that it's basically a programming error.


Programmers (including the term loosely enough to include web page designers) have used the marker TODO in programs to indicate "unfinished work." It's an abbreviation for "To (later) Do (when I figure out the details)." This usage has been fairly common for at least several decades.

Several web sites from which people can copy and paste programs and/or program snippets have separate "folders" named TODO where people can describe problems in the hope of getting comments/assistance from others. This is particularly common on open source, freeware, and shareware "help and discussion sites."

Code scripts that programmers/designers can copy and paste into their programs are full of TODO markers indicating where the individual must supply his/her own code to perform purposes appropriate to the specific use. Properly used, these markers are always "commented out" so that they're ignored when the program runs, but either the "comment" markers are being removed, or some contributors don't observe the rules. The rush to make everything "cloud compatible" and to incorporate the NONSTANDARD features people imagine are in "new releases" of HTML, XHTML, and Java (among others) has apparently brought out a large number of "careless" website "designers."

The most prevalent source appears to be one person named "Ucking Fidiot," although that web identity may be in use by more than one.

If you encounter a "TODO" request, it's primary meaning is "the idiot that posted this didn't finish it so you might as well go somewhere else." (But see WARNING below.)

So far as I've encountered it, this purported BHO most commonly occurs when the page target is a PDF, and may be an unfinished bit to offer Adobe Reader, although it may also be associated with Flash(?). In some cases for PDFs you can go back to the link that sent you there, right click the link and "Save Target As." If the error is not too severe, it will sometimes get you the PDF, although a really glorious muckup may still not work.

Sites where I've encountered this include General Motors (Chevrolet), four or five US Government agencies, MSNBC, and a half dozen "financial news" sites (Brookings et. al.) linked from MSNBC. One such from HP is well enough known that it's reported in some "help blogs" as being something that actually installs – but usually doesn't work.

WARNING: The appearance of accidental "TODO" calls has been sufficient that several malware examples, actually named TODO and disguised as BHOs, have been found. Giving permission to install for one of these actually will work to perfom it's intended functions, but AIN'T GONNA BE ANYTHING YOU WANT IT TO DO.

There usually will be no harm in clicking to allow an attempted installation on trusted sites, since most such errors will simply fail to install anything; but you should be aware that it's could be a malware entry attempt that's been documented and that appears to be increasing in distribution.


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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 01:43 AM

It might be worth mentioning that "todo" is a perfectly good Spanish pronoun, so searches for more information on this subject may produce a number of hits for the real word, on hispanic web pages. Most such "strays" have had little to do with computing, and only a very sparse few have had a possible connection to this BHO.


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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 11:42 AM

Thanks for the info, John. I shall be on guard against anything named BHO or TODO.

(At our house, we always spelled it "2Do.")

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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 02:05 PM

Leenia -

There are bunches of BHOs (Browser Helper Objects) that you probably need, and that are helpful. You probably have several in each of your browsers. In IE, they're the stuff in the "Manage Add-Ons" menu. If you have the Google, or Bing, toolbar it's an Add On (BHO). Flash requires a BHO, so if you watch videos or read the news you've probably got it. Some versions of Adobe Reader include a BHO to aid in viewing PDF files directly in your browser, without opening a separate "reader."

It's only the ones that contain the TODO marker in unfinished code that cause a problem. Most of the queries found by searching for information are from people who assume that "TODO" is the name of something, and want to know "how to make it work" or "is it malware." Amazingly, many of the "expert advisors" assume it's a real program and give extensive advice on "how to fix it," when it's really just a mistake that needs to be deleted. That advice is invariably followed by "that didn't work, what else have you got?."

While the malware people have picked up on using the name for real infections, in the legitimate world it's just an accidental result of "sloppy site design." It's really annoying (IMO) to be unable to look at a US Supreme Court Decision just because it's a PDF and someone mucked up the download page out of careless stupidity, and until you know, at least vaguely, what caused the problem it might compel you to suspect malware and do all the searches and tests to make sure you didn't pick something up.

A mistake of this kind is an open invitation for malware distributors, because most people won't know what the intended real BHO was supposed to do and they're generally willing to "give permission" if a site says they need it. Without understanding what you're supposed to get it's much harder to recognize that you got malware instead.

You should try to limit the BHOs you install, and know why each is in your browsers, but BHOs are not all bad. Anything with a "TODO" name is crap - or malware.

(Incidentally, Chevrolet has corrected their page and the spec I tried to get is now available. Unfortunately the information they promised was in their PDF wasn't, and what was there was all useless garbage, so it wasn't really worth looking at. That happens a lot when people try to get a little too fancy with their web designs. MSNBC appears to have patched a couple of pages I complained about. Most other pages that are prone to this error don't provide a clear way to contact the webmeister, so you can't even curse them effectively.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 02:52 PM

Okay. I looked at my add-ons. They all look okay. Until you mentioned them, I've never given them a thought.

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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: terrier
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 03:13 PM

Is this advice also applicable to Round Tuits, havn't seen one for a while though ;)

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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 03:58 PM

The concepts of TODOs and Round Tuits are quite similar, but the "TODO" notation is generally confined to fields of work/study where tasks left undone are more clearly identified, while Round Tuits are the term used by more philosophical fields where those who procrastinate have only the vaguest idea of "something that might be useful" in something they might get around to hallucinating about later.

Round Tuit as a notation is seldom seen, since most who would use that terminology never write down anything intelligible enough to provide a basis for planning ahead. They may talk about Round Tuits out of conviction that they fully expect (usually by miraculous revelation) to somehow get a Round Tuit.

Round Tuits are an almost exclusive province of those of us who have achieved wisdom through age, while TODOs belong to the hopeful wannabe achievers of younger generations where promises are lightly made and then - as in the current case - frequently forgotten.

A TODO to some degree represents a promise, while a Round Tuit (for most of us) only expresses an interest(?).


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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: MartinRyan
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 04:02 PM

Didn't we discuss something like this before? Or was that a TOORALOO? Kind of a Celtic Tiger dropping, IIRC...


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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: open mike
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 07:06 PM

oh, i thought you meant "You and your little dog, too.."

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Subject: RE: Tech: A BHO named TODO
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 11:34 PM

A sample of where the TODO comes from, although not really how it all happens, can be viewed at How to write a BHO
This page gives "sample code" anyone can copy and paste into their "design." Only fragments are here, and they had to be htmlized since the 'cat doesn't like tabs. Get the original if you want to use it. No guarantees about the code, as it's a "random pick."

A line that begins with "//" is "commented out" and should be ignored by any program that "runs" the code. Some other sites aren't as careful about the notation.

Note lines 24, 47, 52, 61.

From: > BHO_enum.rar > BHO.cpp, change:2007-05-09,size:2221b
1    // BHO.cpp : Defines the class behaviors for the application.
2    //
3    #include "stdafx.h"
4    #include "BHO.h"
5    #include "BHODlg.h"
6    #ifdef _DEBUG
7    #define new DEBUG_NEW
8    #undef THIS_FILE
9    static char THIS_FILE[] = __FILE__;
10    #endif
11    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
12    // CBHOApp
14    //{{AFX_MSG_MAP(CBHOApp)
15    // NOTE - the ClassWizard will add and remove mapping macros here.
16    // DO NOT EDIT what you see in these blocks of generated code!
17    //}}AFX_MSG
18    ON_COMMAND(ID_HELP, CWinApp::OnHelp)
20    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
21    // CBHOApp construction
22    CBHOApp::CBHOApp()
23    {
24    // TODO: add construction code here,
25    // Place all significant initialization in InitInstance
26    }
27    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

… …

45.    if (nResponse == IDOK)
46.    {
47.    // TODO: Place code here to handle when the dialog is
48.    // dismissed with OK
49.    }
50.    else if (nResponse == IDCANCEL)
51.    {
52.    // TODO: Place code here to handle when the dialog is
53.    // dismissed with Cancel
54.    }
55.    // Since the dialog has been closed, return FALSE so that we exit the
56.    // application, rather than start the application's message pump.
57.    return FALSE;
58.    }
59.    int CBHOApp::ExitInstance()
60.    {
61.    // TODO: Add your specialized code here and/or call the base class
62.    ExitSkin();


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