LeapFrog: My Own Leaptop

I hate the crapware that comes with modern toys. They try to make it seem like they’re doing you a favor. They try to make it seem like it’s going to make the toy better. But in fact it’s just rubbish. It’s poorly written and adds minimal value.

My son got a “LeapFrog My Own Leaptop”. Ignoring, for a moment, the absurdly long and vacuuous title, it needs to be personalized. Off I go to leapfrog.com.

First, I download a 13Mb “installer”. As far as I can tell, this program’s primary purpose is to take up a chunk of my screen and display ads to me while it downloads the real program.Having just downloaded 13 megabytes, the “installer” now downloads 3 times that much. Want to save 25% of my time and 25% of your bandwidth? Get rid of the stupid advertising installer!

Here’s an example ad:

Leaptop Ad

While it is true that in many countries, they write “personalise” instead of “personalize”, do you really have to put a slash there and put both words? Do you really think someone who normally writes with a z will not understand when it is written with an s? They don’t do it just once, they do it twice: in both the green ad copy and in the little dialog of blue letters coming out of the leaptop on the left. It’s one thing if the word were totally different (like the way the British call the storage area in the back of a car the “boot” and Americans call it the “trunk”). But this is the same word. It is silly and stupid. (Nevermind that they’ve been PAID their money. I do not need additional advertisements).

And some of their “research” is dodgy, too. Here’s a not-so-surprising fact: LeapFrog was somehow determined to be the #1 Reading System (it doesn’t say whether that’s through volumes of sales, dollars of sales, voting by consumers, etc). What it does say in the fine print is that several of the studies used “Reading Toys as defined by LeapFrog” or “Reading System brands as defined by LeapFrog”. I suppose there’s nothing unusual about coming first in a category you define. I’m sure the studies were completely independent and the gerrymandering of the category had nothing to do with LeapFrog finishing at the top.

LeapFrog #1 in Gerrymandering

After installing, they want me to reboot my computer. I’m sorry, LeapFrog. You are not important enough for that. And this is a Mac anyways. It all works fine without rebooting. If you don’t know how to launch your software after it has installed, you have no business writing Mac software. The days of “close all other programs while we install” and “reboot your computer after installing” are long gone. Of course, LeapFrog says to do both.

I will do my best never to run this software again.

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