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How To Blow off Ads and More   (December 16, 2005)

Don't you get tired of your Web browing experience being hijacked/ disrupted/ slowed by innumerable Flash (animated) advertisements and banner ads? Wouldn't you like to disable them? Here's how to do it, and it's free.

For Windows PC users, go to Mike's Ad Blocking Hosts File and just click on the "download installer" button. Double-click on the installer after you've downloaded it and voila, ads are banished. (Note: this does not rid your computer of pop-up ads, but Windows XP Service Pack 2 has a built-in pop-up blocker, as does the Google taskbar, which you can get for free at Google.com. Both work well.)

Here's how Mike's Hosts file works:
This file is a very simple hack which takes ad server URLs and redirects them to non-existant numerical addresses. In other words we're fooling the internet. Its pretty simple and it works. Tens of thousands of people use it everyday with no problems.
Don't you love this? You've just spoofed all the ad servers! Of course if the major ad vendors like Doubleclick add new server addresses, you'll need to add them to the hosts list. But you'll be amazed at how many ads disappear, and you didn't have to spend a dime on new "ad blocking" software. Note that it doesn't get rid of all ads but it certainly reduces the bandwidth hogging animated adverts.

For Mac users, here's another site which tells you how to install the spoof/hack hosts lists on Linux, Mac and Windows machines: Web Ad Blocking. Basically, you copy a list of hosts off this site, save it as a text file and then place the file in /etc (Mac OSX) or in the "preferences" folders for Mac OS8 and 9.

I wasn't sure which "preferences" folder to put the file in (the main one in the System Folder, or the nested one for I.E.?) so I did another search for help and came up with this site on editing Hosts files: Editing Hosts files which explains how to load your new spoofing Hosts file via TCP/IP. Maybe it's easier with Mac OSX but for the older versions this is a bit of a hassle but well worth it if you can get it to work. Here is another site with an explanation for older Macs Hosts files for the Macintosh. It's especially nice if you are working with a slow dial-up connection or an ancient (hence slow) machine like my Mac.

There are a number of excellent recent articles on important topics often addressed here, and so for your reading pleasure this weekend, here are the links:

On Iraq:
From the Wall Street Journal: the story of a 31-year old American journalist who joins the Marines, for reasons which are essentially an American "blowback" to the brutality of the Iraqi and Afgani insurgents. Very well worth reading: Mightier Than the Pen.

For those who don't know anyone who's actually in the U.S. Military, and who therefore don't know the high quality and motivation of our citizen-soldiers, this balanced, if not outright skeptical article from The Economist will be an eye-opener:
Learning to Do Better: American Army Adapting to Conditions in Iraq.

As I wrote earlier this week, if democracy has a chance in Iraq, it's due to the American citizen-soldiers on the ground, not the ham-handed administration in Washington.

On the U.S. economy:
Also from The Economist, a story on how the U.S. economy continues to chug along on the backs of its formidable consumers, even as it racks up frighteningly prodigious trade and Federal deficits: trade deficit, consumer spending

On France's rioting woes:
Again from The Economist, a report on France After the Riots:
A month after the riots died down, France is still taking stock. In three weeks of violence across the country, some 10,000 vehicles were burned, 255 schools, 233 public buildings and 51 post offices were attacked, 140 public-transport vehicles were stoned, and 4,770 people were arrested, according to figures obtained by Le Monde. A report by the Renseignements Généraux, the police intelligence service, leaked to Le Parisien, concluded that the violence was neither orchestrated nor religious, but was rather a “popular revolt” linked to a “crying lack of integration”. It gave warning of possible fresh explosions on New Year's Eve, when hundreds of cars are torched even in normal years.
On civil unrest in China:
The Economist was hitting on all four cylinders: here's a story on heavy-handed repression of peasants protesting land grabs: China Unrest. It's the usual story of China: pervasive corruption, deadly force used to quell spontaneous, violent civilian rioting, Central Government worry that the nation is spinning further out of their centralized control.

And last but not least, here's my latest helping hand to young writers: Dear Aspiring Writers: The Worst Advice You'll Ever Read.

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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.

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