|Home » Products » Reviews » The Very Ugly
There is something intrinsically unfathomable about certain Mac programs. There is also something undeniably unprofessional about them. What follows is a spontaneous account of a journey through darkness - the download, test, and cleanup of one Interarchy 6.0.1, an FTP client which, according to some sources online, is the absolute best.
What is and who are Interarchy? The Whois listing for Interarchy is cryptic and mysterious.
Stairways Software Pty. Ltd. (INTERARCHY-DOM)
P.O. Box 1123
Seagull Networks (22343159O) email@example.com
PO Box 1931
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Wonderful to know that you have no way of contacting them, isn't it?
The Interarchy website is a curious setup: It's a Kagi direct order page, with offshoots going to vanity domains and a user support link going to the notorious Yahoo! groups.
The Interarchy people claim at one spot to have serviced over 450,000 downloads and been featured on US TV news programs; and at another spot they claim to have sold over 100,000 copies of the program (which at $45 a pop would be four and one half million dollars - you decide if it's plausible).
Interarchy 6.0.1 is the only product available. There is something inherently suspicious of websites - and corporations - founded on a single software program.
The Interarchy 6.0.1 download is a 3.0MB HQX file - enormous for only a single program. The first surprise is that the file name is not what one clicks to download. The downloaded file is 'Interarchy 6.0.1.smi': the link is to 'interarchy-601us.hqx'.
SMI is a type of DMG ('self-mounting image'), so double-clicking it mounts it on the desktop. Now is when one has to be careful: This guy is time-limited in some way, so it pays to be sharp to see what kind of dirty tricks he tries to play on your system. First step is therefore to get that Preferences folder open... Done.
Second step is to open the SMI/DMG on the desktop... Done.
The folder has four items: one for the application bundle, one for a URL to the Interarchy site, one with 4,593 bytes of release notes, and one which is a zero-size file with a folder icon and an arrow pointing to the bundle.
Drag that to hard disk--> [sic]
Interarchy 6.0.1 is not a Cocoa bundle and is still 4.4MB on disk. Compare with Transmit which is 1.3MB, including all its directory waste. One doesn't exactly get a good feeling about this, but here goes.
It turns out Interarchy 6.0.1 is just a fancy resource-forked folder. The executable is within, and it's called simply 'Interarchy' (no extension) - and it's still not a Cocoa bundle. Here goes again (yuck).
It is at this point that Interarchy 6.0.1 asks for an administrator password to install. (Is this an install executable or the real thing?)
We should all know by now how unnecessary - and dangerous - the 'need administrator password' scam is. And there can be only one reason a program wants a password like that anyway: It wants to put files where you won't be looking for them; it wants to go where it has no business going; it wants to play a dirty trick on you.
With Interarchy 6.0.1, it's a bit of all three.
Interarchy now poses a new question: Would you like to use Interarchy as your default FTP client?
What kind of brain-dead question is that? What kind of file types pertain to 'FTP'? Ridiculous - mind-boggling... (The appropriate answer is of course a flat 'no'.)
The application now opens with a single window with a single 'pane' - a real narrow sucker at the top of the desktop, extending most of the width of the desktop.
What a weird program!
It's built with an NSOutlineView or the Carbon equivalent. It has two tree nodes with disclosure ('flippy') triangles on the left: 'Mac' and 'Web'.
Mac & Web
Opening both 'Mac' and 'Web' with option-double-click in an attempt to expand all branches does not work as it should, probably because the operation would be endlessly recursive as it would be with the Finder and force a power-down of the machine. Expanding the branches does reveal a ton of sites to download from, but typically: no view of your own disk. Double-yuck.
And if you ask the sorry contraption to show you a listing of a local folder, can you guess what happens? It opens a Finder window.
A program this lame can easily bring a power user to tears. The temptation is to abandon the test and review - this application is just too poor.
But this was only 'Mac' - indescribable horrors may await with 'Web'.
Click the link below if you dare.
How about accessing the Rixstep site?
Unfortunately, it is futile to attempt to accurately describe how awful this application is - how clumsy and ugly - or to, for that matter, describe - yea define - exactly what happens at this point. A brief summary:
- Interarchy has no toolbars, so it's ugly - really ugly. And the remote site listing window is no different. It's ugly, clumsy, and fills the entire height of the desktop, which is already considerable.
- There's a 'path' combo box at the top - the kind you find in the Jaguar Finder. Clicking this box results in certain listings being listed a second time alongside the first ones - but what is really bizarre is that the program does not merely change the format of the data it already has (keeping an eventual 'refresh' command separate and sovereign) but it actually downloads the entire site once again. Shockingly stupid.
- What this listing is supposed to be is anyone's guess, but an FTP client cannot correctly read a remote server anyway. Remote directories will not allow listings by 'other' or 'group' and only allow read-only display of files.
As an example, Steve Atkins's Sam Spade will 'crawl' a website: It will look for links, and follow those links - but there is no way Steve Atkins - much less these Interarchy clowns - can in effect log onto a remote server and play file owner there.
So then - what is this listing?
The Web Page File
What the listing is remains a puzzle until you get all the columns visible. Interarchy has columns for file name, file type, server (useless information included to impress - they only list one server at a time) and the path.
If you click on the Path column, you begin to see things in the order they're normally listed - almost. Root first, then the other directories thereafter. Makes it a bit easier to overview the program's confusion.
So - what is it? It's not the entire site - what is it?
What it seems to be is a crazy, chaotic, and senseless listing of any file listing the damned thing could get its hands on - through hyperlinks mostly, but without the ability to 'crawl' deeper than the root directory.
Bloody useless piece of shite.
But it gets worse: All files are listed as file type 'web page' - even directories.
This is unparalleled: Interarchy takes the pain of listing - for every file in the listing - the name of the remote server, even though all would have to have the same server, and even though you can only be connected to one server at a time per window - and then it goes on to impress even further by using yet another column to denote 'file type' - where it lists everything simply as 'web page'.
Beyond the Unbelievable
Here's another cutie: If you ctrl-click a directory, you get the option 'read as text file'. Guess what happens if you choose to read a directory as a text file?
Did you guess that your open browser window goes to a local copy of this file? (And where is this local file being stored? The dialog box says specifically the file will not be downloaded.)
Interarchy deigns, in all its wisdom, to put the file it is not going to download here:
Note the cute '%23' ('#'). Interarchy is making temporary files not in a dedicated temporary directory, or by holding them in memory only, but by naming them '0#1', '0#2', and so forth. And it is making these 'text files' for the following URL:
Which of course is neither a 'web page' nor a 'text file' but of course a directory.
And you're going to love this one: If you want to view the same directory as text again, Interarchy's already forgot it's already displaying it, so it has to download all over again - and create a new file!
Brilliant, isn't it? Even Transmit isn't this bad!
All Apple Programmers
But hey, as long as it can get better, why stop the misery now?
And each time you select the file (which, as you may remember from the mists of time is not a file at all but a directory) it gets downloaded all over again and Interarchy adds more junk to the pile that officially is not there.
Are all Apple programmers this brilliant?
It's got a column view too - but what good is it? You can never see the contents of further directories.
The window displays about six columns - but will only ever use two...
It's time to ditch this piece of shite - and as you will see, that's quite a bit of work.
Interarchy's Dirty Tricks
Getting Interarchy 6.0.1 off a system is not something an ordinary user will be able to do, and the Interarchy people know it. They deliberately wreak havoc on your system - all in their own best interests of course. And the damage is not insignificant.
If you want to get rid of Interarchy - really get rid of it - you need to do is follow this narrative a bit further.
Step 1: Exit the sorry mess
Should not present a problem (knock on wood).
Step 2: Check ~/Library/Preferences
When/if you do this, you're going to dirty your knickers, for there's a whole folder hierarchy here. The Interarchy monster creates 512KB of preference settings in ten folders - half a meg! Which is sick - downright sick.
There is also a plist file called com.stairways.Interarchy.plist - 'in da Trash wif it'.
At which point you might think your system was relatively clean, but you'd be fooled.
Remember the 'need' for the administrator password?
Step 3: Look for Session Junk
Sure enough, the ten junk files that Interarchy promised would never be downloaded to disk are still there - the program couldn't even clean them up on exit. And actually it is eleven files and not ten, because Interarchy first downloaded the file ten times and then copied it (duplicated it) ten times - bordering on the pathological.
Step 4: Zap the SMI? No!
All that remains at this point is to delete the 2,219,605 byte Interarchy SMI file - right? Wrong. Don't be fooled. And as the Interarchy site said their trial download would not be available much longer, it might be a good idea to hang onto it - 'just in case'. And if you did, you'd be in for quite a shock.
Remounting Interarchy 6.0.1 at this stage will leave you in for quite a shock. For even though you might have used the program a single time, for as little as five minutes, it will refuse to run.
You the poor defenseless user are presented with a threatening dialog box with no exit buttons and all your menus disabled. At this point you can, thanks to the kind Interarchy people, choose to do two things:
- Do nothing.
- Do nothing.
The astute reader will of course recognise a number of anomalies. As the program is trying to strangle you, it must be obfuscating, playing dirty tricks, hiding something on your disk - and your thoughts should go immediately to that 'need administrator password' nonsense at the time of install.
Fortunately this is no challenge - not for anyone, anytime, ever.
sudo find / -newer Interarchy\ 6.0.1.smi
And sure enough: You should find a good 10MB (ten megabytes) of junk in an 'Application Support' folder. (<-- Read that again: 10MB.)
People need to ask where their disk free space gets off to?
An attempt to run Interarchy at this point will succeed - but if you are following this narrative to do an experiment of your own, think twice about reinstalling: You'll have to repeat the entire cleanup process. Yet - and this is hilarious - if you just 'test' that Interarchy will 'run' and don't install, you get an absolutely fabulous crash-and-burn diagnostic (yes, the app will crash if the install is not completed).
Interarchy: Failed to startup (-90: -128, User cancelled the query) [sic]
Is this REALbasic, or what?
At this point you can calmly 'eject' the SMI and know your system is clean. It's time to recapitulate - is this possible? Let's hope so.
Interarchy is a totally worthless - and potentially dangerous - FTP client for the Macintosh. It is designed and written by total morons. It follows the archaic ideas of Fetch, but the latter, although still painfully useless, is several leagues better than this disaster.
Amongst FTP clients for the Macintosh, Transmit remains in the #1 slot (not exactly something to be proud of). Serious Mac software sucks.
Use your 'free' command line FTP - it's not that hard to learn - or if you are brave, use Transmit, and then nag Panic Software to fire their entire programming team and bring in professionals to make it work right. Don't bother nagging the Interarchy people - like their application, they're beyond hope - and most likely not very honest either.
And don't pay them - or anyone else - a cent until they get it right. (In the world of the Mac, this may take a long time.)
And if you've read this far, you deserve a reward: Take a strong drink and settle in for the night. An evening with whatever-its-name-was is shaking and traumatic.