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What is Java and Why Did it Stop Me From Playing Pogo?

 
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Anne from USA writes “Hi Steve.  I have rather a bizzarre problem, that happens when I try to play Canasta (and other games), in Pogo.com. I have recently reinstalled Windows XP, so my Java is up to date.  I’m using Virgin Media Security, no bugs etc reported.  This is the only problem I’m experiencing – so far!  Any ideas what I can do to resolve this?  I know it’s a long shot, but I live in hope. ;o)  Thanks.  Anne

Hi, Anne.  Thanks for the great question.

I apologize that we didn’t get to your question in time to help, but, as I’m sure that you’ve figured out, this problem has been resolved.  But I am going to go ahead and address it anyway so that people who don’t know what was going on will and you’ll be armed in case it ever happens again.

First of all, what is Java?  And yes, it is the cup of coffee sitting to the right of your mousepad, but it’s also the number one programming language in the world right now.  In addition to powering Pogo games, Java (or Javascript as it’s also known) runs many of the applets that bring life to the websites that you look at.  According to the Java website, there are over nine million developers working with Java.  But it’s not just computers… Java runs on tablets, mobile phones, Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles and smart TV’s. 

And therein, really, lies the problem.  Java is so ubiquitous that bad guys know that if they can find some way to exploit a weakness inside Java that they can potentially reach a LOT of devices.  This is what happened with Pogo.  When Java version 7 was released in late 2012/early 2013, some bad guys found a large, exploitable hole in the program and immediately started to try to use it to steal people’s personal information.  This was a bigger problem because so many bank and credit card websites use Java to power their information storage pages. 

This exploit was so bad that it made national news, whereas most, smaller exploits don’t.  It was advised that you disable Java on your machine until the problem was resolved.  Pogo initially simply disabled it’s games, but then, when a resolution to the problem was found but the Java update had not made it to all computers, Java started to flash the following message to gamers to give them a choice of whether or not to run the Java application:

This was definitely a frustrating time for those of us who play games on Pogo.  I met one of my best friends over the game Shuffle Bump about five years ago, and one of our greatest pleasures (she lives too far away for frequent visits) is to play Pogo games together.  Thankfully, the next two Java updates completely eradicated that vulnerability, but you can bet your cart and horse that as long as there are Java vulnerabilities, there will be bad guys ready to exploit them.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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2 Responses to “What is Java and Why Did it Stop Me From Playing Pogo?”

  1. Helen Considine says:

    I have been paying for Club Pogo for a number of years. Now my games are not working and I can’t find any telephone numbers to inform Club Pogo what is happening. I have 32 bit and 64 bit Java installed. Do I just have to unsubscribe from Club Pogo? I’ve been trying for about a month to get the games going. I actually can get them going now on my laptop but not on my desktop. If I try to contact Club Pogo I get a site that tells me I need tickets and have to fill in a whole bunch of forms which I don’t understand at all. Like Randal Schaffer I really do enjoy Club Pogo and the people I play games with… Someone help please. I know somewhere a few months ago my PC was hacked into and I have been trying to clean it up since then but I am not a computer technician and really don’t know how to go through a dozen or more pages to fix this. Please, please answer me with a phone number or some way to get help before I just have to cancel my subscription and lose the years of points, and game companions that I have accumulated.

  2. Randal says:

    Hi, Helen. Thanks for the feedback.

    First off, let me suggest that, if your desktop was infected that you take it to your friendly neighborhood computer geek to get it cleaned out. Especially if you are able to play Pogo on your laptop. That indicates that bits of the infection may be hanging around. Some of these things are just practically impossible for the casual user to remove.

    The bad news is that I have a friend who has been having trouble running Pogo games on her laptop every since they started “embedding” games. The fact is that her laptop is several years old and she has other issues with it as well. So as far as cancelling your Pogo membership goes, that will ultimately be your call. I understand that it’s frustrating, and I have experienced it myself when trying to contact Pogo.

    Good luck!

    Randal Schaffer

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