They’re just now getting scared?

Posted: June 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

An article in the Seattle Times newspaper hypes up a blocker for web advertisements called Adblock Plus, and one of the more popular filters used with it called EasyList. Both are free, and web sites apparently are scared sh!tless about them…they claim if these tools and other like them become universal, "it could eliminate most of the money that supports online services and content."

Problem: tools like these have been around since the Internet was known as the World Wide Web. There is nothing new here.

In fact, these tools are cumbersome and can be difficult to maintain for the average n00b (yes, many computer users have a n00b life-sentence). For example, you can’t block ads with Adblock Plus…you need to also download a filter, such as EasyList. No one-stop shopping here, and that deters a large segment of surfers, cuz they just can’t figure it out. Keeping the list in your filter properly updated is also difficult for many to understand. And when you have to rebuild, or you buy a new machine, you gotta start all over again. So many people have relied on shelf software instead, such as Norton, and they pay for it. Convenience has a price.

However, the convenience is curiously being taken away. For some reason, the 2008 edition of Norton Internet Security is dropping their ad-blocking feature. Symantic claims that it’s because all mature browsers have pop-up blockers built in, but c’mon…pop-up blockers DON’T block advertisements. And pop-up blockers have been around since…well, since the Internet was known as the World Wide Web.

Could some sort of pressure have been exerted upon Symantic to discontinue what many of their customers considered to be the best feature in the Norton suite? And who could have so much power to exert this pressure? Or perhaps a conspiracy theory is a little over the top: Symantic may simply be worried that blocking web ads may not be entirely legal, and they don’t want some sort of lawsuit down the road.

And good gawd, Google AdSense is everywhere, with an annoyance factor of 12. But web ads aren’t only annoying. As I pointed out before, even advertisements from trusted sources (like, um…Microsoft, for example) can be used to compromise and/or infect your machine.

All of this is why I utilize The Original Ad-Blocker: it’s called the HOSTS file. It’s been a part of the Windows OS since long before anybody "surfed the Internet", tools can’t get any more "universal" than this. It’s dead simple: you download the latest, continuously updated list from mvps.org, copy-n-paste everything into your local HOSTS file and save it…you’re done. Nearly all advertisements, including those that could serve you malware, are completely blocked. AdSense is gone, too. If you’re on a dial-up connection, it drastically speeds up your surfing as well. If you want to unblock a certain URL that serves ads, just remove it from the HOSTS file.

So basically, those web sites griping about how their ads could be blocked are about 15 years late to the pity party…

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