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I really hate web ads

I really hate web ads

breitbart article

I do.  I really, really hate web ads – the kind of ads you see on web pages.  I’ve been using the Web regularly since 1996, so I’ve seen all kinds of ads.  First there were banner ads, and then pop up ads, and then noisy Flash ads, and then double-underlined text links within a page’s text that, upon hovering the cursor over it, would display information.  Then they moved to full-page hijacking, square banners in the middle of pages, giant banners that briefly take over the screen and then move away after a few seconds, and pop-unders.  Then came wretched Taboola and RevContent, fooling you into thinking that stupid bullshit clickbait like “This one weird trick will melt fat in nanoseconds!!!”  These ads are hard to get rid of.

You name it, I’ve seen it.

I have ads on my book review blog, although I haven’t bothered to check if they still work or not.   I don’t mind it if you block the ads on it.  It’s fine.

Blocking ads is really important to me.  Now, I don’t use Windows much anymore.  My two primary computers are a Mac Mini (which I only use as a movie streaming server) and a MacBook Pro (with Retina display).  I also use my grandfather’s 27″ iMac from time to time (it’s very handy for editing my books, as I can compare the notes I’ve written by having them on one side of the screen, with the actual book on the other).  I don’t have to worry as much about malware delivered by bad ads (Mac users can still get viruses, trojans, worms and other malware).  But back in the day, when I used my old Dell laptop regularly…yeah, I had to worry about ads.  My parents ended up with so much garbage on their computers because of malware delivered by ads.

Another reason for me hating ads is that they consume memory and processing power.  If you’re using a mobile device, it’s even worse, because downloading the ads consumes data.  I currently have unlimited everything on my mobile plan, but not everyone does.

I use adblockers on every single device I own – iPhone, iPod Touch, laptop, desktop, Kindle Fire tablet, etc.  I don’t browse the Web on my Playstation 4 even though I could, simply because there’s no adblocker on it.  If a browser does not have adblocking capability I don’t use it.

I don’t trust ads.  At all.  Plus, they’re irritating and far too distracting.  A list of the kinds of ads I hate:

  • Redirect ads.  You see these on piracy sites and other sites of ill-repute.  Encyclopedia Dramatica is a hilarious site, but I don’t like going there because of the horrible ads (and the hijack ads on that site are often pornographic).  You’ll be at some website, and click a link and you’ll see the intended site for a brief moment, and then you’ll be forcibly redirected to some other website, often a full page ad.
  • Above-the-fold banner ads.  These are like, really big ads that briefly take up half the screen.  They’re often noisy and flashy.  These are also called floating ads.
  • Square ads that appear after every single paragraph.  Sites like Breitbart and Twitchy are notorious for these highly irritating ads.  They’re not that bad, it’s just that I can read a single sentence, then see an ad.  Read another sentence, and see another ad.  It’s ANNOYING.  I use an adblocker on my devices, but on the mobile versions of these sites you can still see caption text saying “advertisement” in a gray font.
  • Ad takeover.  This is usually in the form of the website’s background being turned into an ad.  Kind of hard to block these in adblockers.
  • “Paid Content” or “Sponsored Content.”  This shit is usually delivered by Taboola or RevContent and other similar networks.  A lot of websites use this – they’ll look like they’re part of the web page, but instead of relevant content it’ll be links to stupid garbage like “Why Trump doesn’t talk to Tiffany anymore” or “Katy Perry’s shameful secret that she doesn’t want anyone to know!”  These ads are so hard to get rid of.  I stopped visiting one right-wing blog because these ads kept showing up.
  • Ad links.  I don’t think these show up much anymore, but about a decade ago a lot of websites would install scripts that took certain keywords in their text and turned them into special links that would, upon mouse-over, reveal a special kind of tooltip that essentially served as an ad.  One service was called IntelliTXT. Oh, I hated those ads.
  • Video ads.  I’m not talking about the ads that play before YouTube videos (although I hate those too).  I’m talking about the kind of video ad you’d see while reading an article at CNN or something.  A video might be embedded somewhere on the page, and all of a sudden something will start blaring from your computer speakers.  You won’t know where the hell it’s coming from, until you scroll down and see a noisy video ad playing below the fold, so to speak.  UGH.

Few things, however, will piss me off faster than an adblock blocker.  Sites have now taken to detecting adblockers by determining which ads aren’t loading, and deliver you a message either begging you to add their site to the whitelist or by flat-out keeping you from consuming any content on the site until you disable your adblocker and let in all their shitty ads.

Patheos, a blogging host that is supposedly for faith, has recently implemented such an adblock blocker.  Needless to say, I am not happy.  At all.  I don’t visit that site often – in fact, the only blogs on there that I bother to visit are Bristol Palin’s blog and Stacey Dash’s blog.  Now I can’t look at either because they want to bombard me with annoying, intrusive advertising.

Here’s the kind of ads I can deal with.  Banner ad at the very top of the screen, banner ad on the far right or far left side of the screen, and banner ad at the bottom of the screen.  That’s it.  Oh, and perhaps a smaller banner in between blog posts if we’re talking about blogs.  And maybe an Amazon search box that allows the owner to make a commission if you buy something through their affiliate link.

Putting a fucking square ad after every damn sentence is annoying.  Putting the same kind of ad after every paragraph is also annoying.  It’s distracting.  People will either stop visiting altogether or will resort to using adblockers.

I couldn’t visit Breitbart without an adblocker.  There’s entirely too many ads on that site and it’ll crash my browser, even on my MacBook, which is kind of old but is still high-end (I bought it in 2013 and it still runs like a champ, although my grandfather’s iMac has a much faster processor).

You remember toolbars?  Seemed like every major website had a friggin toolbar for you to add to Internet Explorer or Firefox.  I’m so glad those are out of vogue now.

Anyway.  I know that a lot of websites rely on these horrible ads for revenue.  I’m lucky because hardly anybody visits this blog, so my bandwith costs are very, very low.

Couldn’t we just have non-animated banner ads at the top and on the sides?  Isn’t that enough?

A post about social anxiety disorder

A post about social anxiety disorder

I posted something on Medium called “You can’t just turn it off.”  It’s about my, uh, struggle with social anxiety disorder (so there’s one reason you can’t post comments on my blog).  It’s short.  I mentioned things I didn’t really want to mention, but helping erase the stigma surrounding mental illness in general is really important to me, more important than my ego.

I hope it helps someone.

Gab is open

Gab is open

Gab is no longer in closed beta.  Anyone can sign up for an account.

If you don’t know what Gab is (http://www.gab.ai), it is a social network in the mold of Twitter, with the upvote/downvote feature of Reddit.  Instead of a 150 character limit, you get a 300 character limit.  There’s hashtags and the ability to post pictures, follow other people, etc.  There is a paid tier with more features, and you can also simply donate money for the service’s upkeep.

I’ve been using it for a few months now, and I don’t have conversations with people – yet – but that’s also something you can do.

Gab is an alternative to Twitter, because the people at Twitter are biased.  Twitter lets terrorists post, but if some special snowflake is offended by anything a right-winger says, that right-winger gets suspended or permanently banned.  BLM douchebags can express racist hatred of white people all day long, but if a right-winger offers even the mildest criticism of the black community, they get suspended or banned.  Twitter does not apply their rules fairly.  That’s their right, and it’s your right to simply walk away and try something that treats people fairly.  That something is Gab.

There’s an Android app, but it’s a closed beta, I think it’s actually live and on Google Play.  I am not at home right now, so I used my iPhone to install it on my ghetto Verizon Android tablet.  They’ve been trying to get their iOS app off of the ground, but Apple are being jerks about it, since lots of right-wingers and alt-right people post on Gab, so to Apple that’s hate speech (but they let a lot of vile anti-Christian and anti-Republican stuff in the App Store).

I am on there as elainearias.  The link should be in the sidebar.  I am pretty happy about it, because it hasn’t attracted hordes of leftists yet, so if you say something salty, you won’t get a torrent of death threats from unhinged liberals.

New theme

New theme

Ah, finally, a theme I like!  This one’s nicer and more readable, although if you view it on an iPad, the sidebar stuff appears at the bottom of the page, which is something I’m not crazy about, but oh well.  I did some minor customizations to this one, as the previous two themes were a total trainwreck.  This one looks much better.

I plan on learning to create my own WordPress themes, as I have a degree in web design.  It’s all about making myself do it.

I also have a very long essay in the works.  Started it on Friday, might finish it today.

Never give up – never let them get you down

Never give up – never let them get you down

I’m a little late to the Milo party/pile-on, but I have to say just one last thing.  I follow him on Facebook and he’s gone back to posting news stories as usual.

I am very glad for this.  I am glad he’s not hiding away in a corner (although, to be honest, he probably has hired some people to post on his website and Facebook page, but that’s okay – loads of people do it).  He’s going to be back after this, better than ever.

I also caught a glimpse of his partner.  I hope the left never finds this guy – they will destroy him, especially because he is black.  I am also glad Milo has someone to help him through these times.

We cannot just jettison our loyal soldiers the way the #NeverTrumpers and RINOs do.  That’s one of the right’s biggest failings – some of us have absolutely no loyalty and practice no forgiveness.  You screw up, you’re done.  No second chances, no forgiveness, no attempt at trying to understand.  Not that I’m saying we should accept actual wrongdoing either…but in this case, Milo didn’t do anything wrong.  He got hit by some idiotic group calling themselves the Reagan Battalion and the left latched on to it.

As I said, I’m glad he’s still doing what he does best.

Digital Libraries

Digital Libraries

pexels-photo-76942

If you’re lucky enough, your county’s library system might have a “digital library” or a website where you can check out eBooks (usually with DRM applied).  I have a library card from my previous residence (on the West Coast), and that county library uses Over Drive.  My local library has a digital library but they use something else (someone stole my local library card, amongst my other things, grrr).

So, since I no longer have my local library card, I’ve been poking around at the Over Drive site for my former county of residence, and I wanted to talk about something that’s been bothering me for a long time.  Almost all of the books, save for classics, have DRM.  Those limitations are very steep.  Only one person can check out a book at a time, never mind the fact that the average ePub or MOBI file is about 300 KB.  It wouldn’t be a huge bandwidth drain to let several patrons check out a book simultaneously.

The reason for this is copyright law.  The library has to purchase a license for a given title, and that license is only good for a certain number of checkouts.  Then they have to purchase it again.

I found an blog post called “Why borrowing an eBook from your library is so difficult” that explains the wretched situation:

Once you get past the technical hoops of connecting your library to your e-reader, you’ll figure out fast that publishers have decided to force libraries to treat e-books like paper books, so only one person can check them out at a time. The library can only check out as many copies of an e-book as they’ve purchased or licensed from publishers. Seems like an antiquated way of going about things, right? It gets worse.

Publishers also decided that since e-books don’t wear out the way paper books do, they need to put limits on how many times a title can be lent before the library has to buy a new copy. For some publishers, the e-book “wears out” after 26 uses. Other publishers put a time limit on it, allowing a library to loan an e-book for a year before having to renew what amounts to a license fee. The publishers that still allow libraries to buy an e-book and loan it out forever without restrictions often charge a very high price for each book.

Note:  the blog post is from 2013, but is still pretty relevant.  This, of course, is the publishers’ fault.  They’re greedy and they think this kind of crap will prevent piracy (hint:  it does not.  At all.  Trust me, I know).

What astonishes me is that there are some people (mostly on Mobileread) who actually defend this practice!  They’re all, “but, it’s a library.  It only makes sense.  I mean, more than one person cannot check out the same hardcover copy of a book!”

No, it’s not the same!  We’re talking about a small digital file that can be anywhere from 300 KB to 2 MB!  It doesn’t take a whole lot to host such files, and it doesn’t take a whole lot to allow people to download the files!  Even simultaneously!  The whole point of ePub and MOBI files (and PDFs, of which tend to be larger and are only really any good on a desktop PC or a ten inch tablet like an iPad) is that they are small and cheap to reproduce!  One hundred people could easily check out a copy of, I dunno, My Awesome Book by Jane Doe simply because the technology makes it possible to do so.  eBook libraries should be the future, and yet they are not because the publishing industry is completely greedy and unwilling to change.

So I’m looking at the library on Tuesday – New Release Tuesday – and I would have no chance of checking out a new release because some other patron has already checked it out, even though, technically, it can be done even with DRM restrictions on the file (of which can still limit the amount of time I can actually read the file, depending on my account settings).

A waiting list for a digital file that can easily be replicated is just absurd.  It’s antiquated and completely ridiculous.

The past two days have been awful

The past two days have been awful

Wow, the past two days have been pretty horrible.  I don’t want to get into the details because frankly, it’s humiliating (and has nothing to do with politics…at least, I don’t think so).  I know I need to work on my book but I just have no motivation or confidence in myself anymore.