Making Your PC Work For You – Internet Ad Pop-Ups

NEW VOICE COLUMN — HELP FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMPUTER

Have you seen those pesky advertisements that appear while browsing the internet? I’m sure you have, and that like me, you have found them extremely annoying. But, we can stop them!

To do this, first I must classify them into 2 categories. Browser Pop-ups — ads that appear while browsing — and Parasite Pop-ups — those ads that appear when not browsing.

Browser Pop-ups first: How do these ads appear when we surf the web? Believe it or not the people who make the web pages actually program them to do so through a computer language called JavaScript. The way it works is you go to a web page and in the coding of the page are a few lines that call up other web pages or sites and *POP* goes the ad. Now that you know how they are invading your screens, we have a starting point on how to stop them.

There are few ways to become pop-up free. 1) Don’t use the Internet 2) Use a web browser that allows the disabling of pop-ups 3) Disable your Java Scripting 4) Download a program to block the ads. Since avoiding the Internet is not the real answer and is self-explanatory I won’t say any more. There are a few web browsers that have pop-up blocking built in; Netscape (http://www.netscape.com) and Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org) are two of the better known. When Microsoft releases its update for Windows XP this year (SP2) it will have an addition for Internet Explorer to block pop-ups.

Disabling your Java Scripting is an option but doing that also might stop other web pages from functioning properly. JavaScript is a very useful and powerful way of doing things on the web. If you wish to go that route and you have Internet Explorer try going to this link: http://dev.cybersessions.com/testbrow/javascript-IE55.html It will show you how to disable scripting. This link is for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, so the process will be different for other browser programs. You can also stop scripting for individual sites by doing the following:

1. Start Internet Explorer.
2. On the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
3. Click the Security tab.
4. Click Restricted Sites, and then click Sites.
5. In the Add this Web site to the zone box, type the Web address for the site that you want to restrict, and then click Add. Repeat this step if you want to add other sites to the zone.
6. Click OK.
7. Click Default Level to set the Restricted Sites zone to the recommended level, which disables Active Scripting.
8. Click OK.

For Netscape users, click Edit on the top of the screen, then Preferences in the drop-down menu, choose Advanced in the Preferences directory. Unclick the box that enables JavaScript.

The last way that I identified to block pop ups was to download a program to stop ads. Some are free and some cost money. Three free ones include SurfGhost (http://www.surfghost.com), Google (toolbar.google.com) and Stopzilla (http://www.stopzilla.com). I prefer the first 2, but that’s just me. There are many others that are not free. Just do a search in your browser for “pop-up stoppers” and you will get many pages to visit. Both SurfGhost and Google add a new bar to your web browsers that can be configured to your own preferences as well as a one click pop-up enable/disable.

As I first mentioned there are two categories of pop ups, the second being non-browser Pop-ups. These vicious things can appear when your web browser is not running. My wife ended up with four “parasite” programs on her laptop.

‘Parasites’ are unsolicited commercial software applications installed on your computer, usually without your knowledge – or consent. Parasites work through your browser, assault you with unwanted advertising, spy on your web surfing habits, compromise your system’s security and stability, and even alter the content and links that you see in web pages! (SOURCE: http://www.allentech.net/parasite/index.phtml)

Norton Anti-virus and McAfee Anti-virus both classify these programs as low warning, low damage viruses.

These Parasites were bringing up pop-ups all day, every day. Most are automatically downloaded with other programs. I used KaZaa (an internet file sharing web site) that also downloaded a program called Gator. It comes from a company called GAIN (The Gator Advertising and Information Network). The tricky part is you can’t uninstall gator without uninstalling the program it came with. I wanted KaZaa, but my wife was tricked. While browsing one day all of these Pop-ups appeared to her. Some were web browser ads others were windows asking if she wanted a particular program. It had nothing to do with her search. Out of frustration with all these ads she clicked yes to get rid of them. In doing so she downloaded and installed some sort of calendar and date book, which added to the parasite program. In the end it took a month to track all these down and get rid of them.

Fear not, others are on our side in this fight against evil! There are many parasite removers out there. Ad Aware by Lava Soft (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/) is the most popular, and it’s free. Removing them manually is not something a novice user should do. PLEASE consult an expert user to do this.

I hope this information helps increase your internet use pleasure.

WINDOWS TIP OF THE WEEK

Creating custom start-up/shutdown screens for Windows 95, 98, ME

“¢ Make duplicates of the files LOGOS.SYS and LOGOW.SYS in a temporary folder. These files are located initially in your Windows folder in your system drive (usually C:). LOGOW.SYS is the one that reads “Please wait while…,” and LOGOS.SYS is the one that reads “It is now safe to…,”
“¢ These files are just standard bitmaps, so rename the extensions of these duplicates to .BMP.
“¢ You can use any graphics editor to edit these files, such as MSPaint, Photoshop, or Paint Shop Pro.
“¢ The files are 256-color windows bitmaps (RGB-encoded, but not RGB color), 320 x 400.
“¢ Since the aspect ratio (width / height) of these files are not standard 4:3, like most computer screens, the bitmaps will appear vertically elongated.
“¢ To make your new design conform to this aspect ratio, resize the bitmap to 534 x 400 while you’re working on it. Make sure to resize them back to 320 x 400 when you’re done.
“¢ Save your changes, and rename the extensions of your new files back to .SYS.
“¢ Last, copy the new files back into your Windows folder. It might be smart to back up your original files.
“¢ While you’re at it, you can create a startup screen as well (using the above method).
“¢ Just call the file LOGO.SYS, and place it in the root directory of your boot drive (usually C:\). There’s no file to replace here; the default logo, imbedded in IO.SYS, is used if no LOGO.SYS file is found.

COOL SITE OF THE WEEK

Space Imaging is the only privately owned satellite taking pictures of the earth. They have some very cool snapshots, I urge you to check it out. Go to http://www.spaceimaging.com

If you have any questions you want answered or any topics you want discussed please email me c/o The Voice at voice@ausu.org.

The Voice accepts no responsibility for loss of data or any other computer related problem you might encounter as a result of following computer advice in this or any other column. The tip of the week is intended to help you personalize your computer system. Novice users should ensure they understand the directions, and make backups of any files changed.

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