Fixing FilePlanet’s stupidity on the Mac

Lately I haven’t been able to download files from via my Mac. It’s inane, because downloads apparently requires an ActiveX control. I’m appalled at the utter stupidity of excluding all non-Windows platform users from your download service, just to set up a download queue. Can’t you put up a Flash control instead? Just as shiny and unusable, but actually compatible with other operating systems.

It gets better. The good news – the designer had some foresight to set up a fallback mechanism, to use plain old HTML queue. The bad news – it simply presents you with a 403 Forbidden when clicked.

As it turns out, I found a post that contained a possible solution. Actually, that post is a bit unnecessarily complicated. Apparently, they’re blocking all browsers without a Windows user agent. On the fallback solution that was supposed to work for all platforms. Argh.

Until Fileplanet addresses this issue (which could be tomorrow. or never), the simplest solution (that worked for me) was to switch my user agent in Firefox (via the aforementioned and highly recommended User Agent Switcher) to a Windows browser (try the default Opera XP user agent). Then, click on the fallback queuing link, and it should kick you into the download page.

Note that the User Agent option in Safari (at least, v2.0.x) Debug menu will not work straight up. Believe me, as a primarily Safari user, I’ve tried hard to make this work. Because Fileplanet pops up a new window when download is selected, and the Debug menu setting only sets it for the active window. As the download window is a pop-up, you do not get a chance to intervene and change the User Agent code before FilePlanet denies you access to it. So for now, Firefox + User Agent Switcher is the solution. If you have a browser (or Safari, in the future) which allows the fake user agent setting to persist across windows spawned from the initial window, that browser would work too.

UPDATE 3/27/2009:
Feedback in the comments section reports that this is still a problem for many users. Appalling. It’s been 2 years.

11 Replies to “Fixing FilePlanet’s stupidity on the Mac”

  1. I don’t think the problem’s fixed. I’m using Opera 9.64 in Windows XP with both Flash and Javascript enabled and I get:

    “Unable to install the FilePlanet Download Control!

    Possible Reasons…
    The control requires Internet Explorer 5 or higher running on Windows 9x/NT4/2000/XP
    If you are running NT, XP or 2000 you must have Administrator privileges
    Your Internet security settings do not allow ActiveX plugins to be downloaded
    You declined to install the control on the previous screen
    Click here to to continue to the public queue!”

    After clicking continue to queue I get a HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden page. I must use IE7 to download – haven’t yet tried with Firefox.

  2. Amazingly, this problem still exists! It’s not so bad though, as there are so many better download sites around, it’s rare to find a file that is only on FilePlanet. I can’t be bothered working around it, it’s easier to just get it from another site (then you get faster downloads, less queueing and less obnoxious ads too!)

  3. Even with the new redesign of the site this still happens to me when I try using Safari on my Intel Mac

  4. un….be…..leivable…… This is the reason I canceled my subscription to IGN’s network. Guess they don’t miss my $5/month…….

    1. If you read my post carefully, as of Safari 4, that user agent setting doesn’t stick. As I said, the download control will open a new window or tab. The User Agent you set for one window doesn’t not persist to the newly spawned window or tab. Therefore, when the FilePlanet download control opens, your custom user agent is reset, and you get the 403 from FilePlanet anyway.

      For the user agent trick to work, it must persist across windows and tabs that are spawned from the initial window.

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