Blocking Ads, Protecting Privacy

I was surfing the web last week when I hit my advertising limit. It was brought about by what was at first a unobtrusive little square ad for a mans wallet. How it came to be attached to what I was surfing for is a mystery. A small wallet ad, is what sent me on a search for a whole new level of ad-blocking.

It was at first a small perhaps almost two inch by two inch ad. After a some web pages, I realized this little ad was following me from web page to web page. The ad placement was subtly changing. The ads location initially starting in the top right corner towards the top center of every web page.

Then the ad became more obnoxious. The little brown wallet, in all its two inch by two inch glory, started shifting from side to side. A web page or two later, and it was quivering right in the top middle of the page. Finally, when I reached the point of enough the ad had morphed from quivering to shaking to traveling around the page top third of a new web page.

Enough was enough. I decided in that moment, I have had it with advertising on web pages. Well, almost. As I changed from whatever I was surfing for to looking for ad blocking, I came across a blog that shared my feelings about ads. The owner stated that on his blog, advertising was limited to a banner on the top of the page, with no more than 140 characters. In my anti-ad state of mind, this seemed more than reasonable.

The result of about 20 minutes on a web portal. 203 ads and 9 invisible trackers trackers blocked.

The next day, I opened my web browser, the articles it collects on its main page seemed to be at an all time high. Usually there seemed to be three to six articles waiting for me. Today there was twelve to fifteen articles waiting. I looked at a few I was interested in, and realized they all contained ads. The article started out like any typed article found in a word processor. After a few seconds, ads started popping up running the gamut from barely noticeable to overwhelming.

This from a web browser, who claims they want to make the Internet more usable. It seems they found a way to capitalize on ads from those companies that pay to be shown in the browser. Whether this is true or not, is unknown, but in my new view of hating ads, it felt more true than not.

I added my favorite web blocker to my browser. I had not really noticed before, but there were ads present while using it. My favorite ad blocker seemed to let ads through. I went to their web page to investigate. I found that even feel, ‘some ads, are acceptable, depending on their location’. That wasn’t enough for me, I wanted all ads gone.

I read about a hardware fix called a Raspberry Pi running a program named, Pi-Hole. After reading about the Raspberry Pi, I decided to give one a try, as they are fairly inexpensive, and sounded like a lot of fun if ad blocking didn’t work out. So I purchased a Raspberry Pi, added Pi-Hole, changed my router settings as suggested, and off I went into the wild blue world wide web.

Creeping through the web, would be an accurate description. I was amazed over the number of web pages that were being blocked due to advertising. I felt waves of relief! Finally, I can surf the web ad free. I did notice a few ads slipped through, but they were well behaved. Some time later I noticed it felt like three-fourths of the web had now become non accessible. Looking for particular information meant, clicking on ten links to find all ten links were blocked by Pi-Hole.

This was ad blocking taken to the extreme. I shut down Pi-Hole and went back to a browser add on solution. After some trial and error, I have ended up using my favorite web browser with two Add-ons. The first is, “U Block Origin”, which can be reviewed on Wikipedia as its web pages are blocked by U Block Origin. U Block Origin I read in a review, stated that there was no good ad. My type of ad-blocker.

The second add on, I mentioned in a previous post, is Privacy Badger. Privacy Badger by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, blocks invisible trackers and gets smarter as you use it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation itself has been around almost thirty years and, bills itself as, “… a champion of user privacy….”, among other things.

These browser Add-ons have slowed loading web pages down as most ads are blocked from showing on the screen. How slow depends on how ad saturated the web page is. Even web portals are brought into line. You can check them out by clicking on these links:

UBlock Origin  and  Privacy Badger

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UBlock_Origin and https://www.eff.org .

A Different Slant on New Years Resolutions

This is different slant on New Year Resolutions. Instead of making a few vague rules about what you want to do different, I offer a change to a more fulfilled life. If you are happy with your life, I do not think you would be here wondering what I have to say. Welcome.

I am happy and content these days, living my life mostly in the moment, but I worked hard to achieve this state. I thought writing about my path may help you improve your life. Of all the lessons I have learned over my lifetime, there is one lesson that is bigger than the rest. That lesson is, we are more alike than different. The way I was and the who I am now is something people before me and people after have done and will do. You can do it too.

If you see yourself in what I write below, be patient. Know your life will change, and you will find happiness and contentment. If nothing I write below relates to your life, know that for many people, loneliness and despair is their normal life state. Reach out and touch them. They want you to see them.

Be part of the world, it is easier

Isolation can be overcome, you can do it.

It happened to me either one New Years Eve or possibly New Years night many years ago. Maybe it as early as Christmas. It certainly wasn’t later than the first week of January, as I would have my emotions under control [again] by then. This particular incident happened sometime after one in the morning, probably after two. My days and nights ran into one another in those days. Living life slowly and relaxing was for other people.

I was living out west, in the mountains. From a good vantage point, it was possible to see more stars than could be counted in a lifetime. I was walking home late at night, down a dark street. I didn’t have a car. The little town I called home didn’t have lighted streets.

Walking home, this night for some reason was different. Everything I looked at was overly sharp and vibrant. This time of night my world and thinking should have been cloudy and hazy with loosely construed thoughts. I looked up and saw a sky full of galaxies, millions of stars. I was alone in all of it. I was separated from everything and everyone. Family, friends, people in general lived in the same plane as me, though in a different dimension. We inhabited the same space separately, or so it seemed.

I remember looking to the sky that night and thinking, ‘if I could go to anyone of those living stars, I would still be an outsider, on the outside, looking in. I felt I didn’t have anything in common with the smallest speck of dust, or any of the people who cared about me and were my friends. I couldn’t have a heart to heart talk with them as none were close enough for me to confide in them. Most of all, I never felt happy and normal like people around me seemed to feel and act.

That period of my life happened so many chapters ago in my book of life, I can no longer feel how invisible I felt; how alone, how distant. When I think about my life back then, it feels like it was someone’s life I have memories from. It isn’t the me. These days, I am content. I am happy, almost abnormally so. Yet, I can’t think of single event in my life I would go back and change, because changing anything might change who I am now, I really like who I am now.

I also know that feeling so distant and separated from everything isn’t unusual. What was different for me, is I didn’t know other people felt the same. We are all very good actors. I did believe with certainty, and outside of rational thinking, there was a life ahead of me much better than the life I was living. I only had to go forward with my life and find it.

I held on to that belief through those years of my life. I watched a few friends and acquaintances destroy themselves and their lives, and the lives of those closest to them in the process. Drinking, drugs, loneliness, depression, most made it through, but a few gave up and selfishly cashed in their life. I was lucky, I, “Kept my eyes on the prize”, to almost quote a line from an old hymn.

I still have difficulty with too much idle chatter. I think more varied thoughts than most people around me. I wonder about other realities, the universe and everything in it. I think about the future and the past. The visible and the invisible.

However, I have lived a mostly honorable life. Though I may have been lost longer than I should have been. I now make my life fun, only now not at other people’s expense – that was a hard lesson to learn. People weren’t real to me, and their feelings didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t mean or vindictive, I just could not relate closely to people and their problems.

Of course I did some things I shouldn’t have done. I hurt people that didn’t deserve to be hurt. I intentionally hurt people I thought deserved to be hurt. I hurt them not knowing they were already damaged beyond anything I would ever do to them. In those early years, I lived with one way relationships, my way or no way.

I lived each day one step from letting the worst of myself lead the way. Preferring to having the best of myself shine through and lead the way. Now, “Life is good!”. I hope I don’t get sued for that comment, I hear the phrase is copyrighted, but it is the best and simplest way to say it.

I am here now, and I am better than I have ever been before. I have left most of my bad habits behind me. The few bad habits I have left, I will have forever. I made through to the other side of life, and you can too.

If you see yourself in what I have written. If you feel you have reached a point where you can’t go on anymore; If you feel so distant, alone and forgotten that you will never be found, take this on trust, life will get better and you will come to love yours.

Isolation happens on the inside and radiates outward. We isolate ourselves without realizing it we have shut everyone out. After a time, we forget we had human connections. Family, friends, people in our life, people we meet all care about is, and give us exactly what we project out.

People will sense our isolation and project it right back to us, because isolation is what we are putting out there. We humans have a polished expertise. With laser focus, we reflect back to the people what we see in them. If you doubt this think of the homeless. How do you think of them?

If you feel isolated and alone, people in your daily life will help you feel more isolated and alone. If you feel like you aren’t understood, (this is normal sometime), you think people do not understand you and your life, be patient. Live life your way, and don’t expect or need anyone to understand you. This is your life, be selfish with yourself. This is something you have to work out on your own time frame. Give other people the same leeway and respect, they have their own problems they are dealing with.

If you are like me, and like to think about serious things, do not expect people to want to talk about them with you. We are all trying to pursue a state happiness. Lighten up and talk to people on their level. Practice makes perfect. You may find you enjoy it and are good at it.

If your dress is unusual or unique, how many people do you see each day like you? How many parents with their children do you see looking like you? How many financially successful people look like you? Zero? If this is you, there are two real choices for you. Change your dress and try to fit in, or find somewhere to live where everyone else is more like you.

If you are looking for a friend or partner, it really helps to ask yourself, who are you trying to attract? Do you want a flakey fly by night friend or partner because they can relate to you in the moment, or do you want someone who will make you life better for years to come, to make you proud, and be a good parent to your future children. Life is not a movie fantasy.

What feels better to you, being alone and refusing to change, or starting to build a life you will be happy with and proud of? I am thinking you want most of what you see going on with people around you. You want real relationships, and you want to be happy too.

I started my journey with a few words written on a piece of paper pinned to the wall, placed where I would see it most of the time. Those letters were: IGTDSBIGTBSF. Quite a handful, and I would always get a questions about it: “What does that mean?” I would say, “I’m going to die someday, but I’m going to be somebody first”. Obviously by my choice of wording, I didn’t feel like someone back then.

I refused to keep the same behaviors I was comfortable with, because they hadn’t done much for me over the years. I thought any change in my behavior was an improvement over my old behaviors. Change came slowly, good change, healthy change. Life got better. Life became great!

The world is far from perfect, but the world of all is a lot better than living life in a world of one. Your life will get better, if you only let it. Let people in, listen to them, and be empathetic when they tell you their problems. Be their friend, and let them be yours.

Get out there and talk with people and find common ground with them. They need you, and you will find you need them just as much. Just don’t expect any one person to be your everything, be happy for the part of your life they fill, more people are on the way, as long as you are willing to let them in.

You will find the hollowness you now feel will slowly retreat until one day you realize, a new kid lives on the block. The old you is a vague memory. And you will wonder if that was someone else who inhabited you body and lived your life all those years.

Smart Phone Not Charging Hack and Rant

My phone has become harder and harder to charge over the last year. I changed cables and that is not the problem. The problem is around the plug in the phone itself, perhaps it’s a software thing, no way to know for sure. It was taking a lot of fiddling with the cord to get it to seat just right in the phone plug and start charging.

Then the fiddling was taking longer and longer. I would have to keep pressure on the cord seating with the phone for several seconds before it would keep charging without my pushing on the cord. I was losing patience with pressing and holding the cord, only to let go and have the phone stop charging. I thought the price of this phone was outrageous when I purchased it, so I am not about to go out and buy and new one.

Smart phones are doing pretty much the same things they have done for the last ten years, so what is the point of upgrading? What I did was find two strong rubber bands and connected them to the phone cord. Now I plug in the cord to the wall socket, plug the cord into the phone, and pull the rubber bands over the phone to keep tension on it. For now, this is a good fix.

As my phone won't charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the same type of behavior by my previous smart phone, after about the 2.5 year of ownership mark, This phone started really annoying behaviors suddenly. I would take my smart phone out of my pocket to find the dial pad on screen with gibberish in the number section, blue tooth turned itself off, Web pages I never visited opened, settings screen opened, and other annoying behaviors.

I only have a few basic apps installed, and they are in the apps store of both majors app stores, so I think I can discount them as the cause of the problem. I don not have enough faith in the integrity of any App Store to load too many apps on my phones. It isn’t worth the risk.

At about this time period, cost of ownership was down to around $1.00 a day. If I was paying monthly for the phone, it would have been payed off for a few months. Is this the break point for smart phones? When cost of ownership reaches a certain point, a random selection of annoying behaviors appear, bothersome enough to make the owner think of upgrading?

If this errant smart phone behavior was a one-time occurrence I would think nothing of it. There is a track record of this behavior starting with my old phone from a different company. It too started a pattern of erratic behavior around the two year of ownership mark. So too have some of the smart phones of other people I know, suddenly developed this odd behavior that eventually goes away.

One smart phone maker was found out for programming this behavior into their older smart phones a few years ago to make owners upgrade to a more expensive smart phone. This is what prompted me to change brands. I wonder if my current smart phone’s maker is doing the same thing, only a little more subtle? Staying current with technology is one thing. Being nudged into buying a newer same old is another thing completely.

From the user side of cell phones, we do not have the technology or authority to be able to examine the OS code and determine whether a behavior that eventually goes away was a mistake or intentional bug to encourage upgrades. However, the price of a new smart phones and the immense profit margin has me wondering.

Judging on the length of time and the progressively degrading behavior of trying to charge my phone, I am afraid this hack is little more than a band aid fix. In the moment, I have had enough of flagship phones acting up after a few years, and will probably purchase at a lower level phone than the flagship model.

Child Neglect Via Shopping Cart

This is a serious post, about behavior that needs to stop. If you prefer not to read negative material, pass on this post.

Child Neglect as defined by Psychology today:

“Child neglect is defined as any confirmed or suspected egregious act or omission by a parent or other caregiver that deprives a child of basic age-appropriate needs and thereby results, or has reasonable potential to result, in physical or psychological harm. Younger children are neglected most, and more girls suffer from neglect than boys.”

The Child Neglect I am seeing in almost every business that has a shopping carts, is Children old enough to walk on their own through the age of preteen, and sometimes older, sitting in shopping cart baskets by their Parent(s directive. I find this practice of placing Children of a reasonable walking age in a shopping cart basket, as lazy parenting, with shades of Child Neglect.

Child Neglect in Public, and it’s getting worse every day

It is disturbing enough to see Toddlers with cell phones jammed in their faces while the Parent(s) shop unbothered about someone else minding their children via the internet. Elementary age Children sitting in shopping cart baskets watching who knows what on a cell phone or a tablet, ignored by the Parent(s). Teen Age Children sitting in shopping cart baskets  is to me, beyond lazy and should be considered Child Neglect.

Our Children according to the Centers for Disease Control has this to say, “In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.”

Parents are teaching their children, sitting is preferred over using their body in any manner reflecting normal movement. Seeing Children in shopping carts is no different than seeing a Child in a Pet Carriers in the grocery store. The only difference is in the moment, one is apparently socially acceptable and the other is not.

Perhaps some of these parents are keeping their children in large Pet Carriers behind the closed doors of their homes? Doing this would really make parenting easier.

No reasonable adult would be quiet seeing a child in in a Pet Carrier. What is the difference between a shopping cart basket and a pet carrier? Nothing, other than one is open and the other is enclosed. Confinement is confinement, whether a Child is placed in shopping cart basket or a pet carrier.

Lazy and/or ignorant Parents are doing this to their Children. How distasteful and lazy to raise your Child to think it is okay for them to sit in a cage. Children don’t know any better, and in the case of the Child in this picture, the Parent is released from Parenting duties. This Child’s Parent(s) were not within thirty feet of the Child in the shopping cart. I did not know who the Parent(s) were!

Parents doing this must feel relieved of responsibility of their Child’s behavior. They probably feel like good parents as their Children are controlled. After all, what can a Child do sitting confined in a shopping cart. Parents doing this should be ashamed of themselves.

I feel this post is incomplete because I am not sure what needs to be done. I have no doubt that some type of action needs to be taken. This abhorrent behavior of keeping Children in Shopping Cart Baskets because it is convenient needs to stop.

Fast and Easy Toilet Bowl Cleaning for Busy People

Just a blip on the easiest and fastest way to clean your toilet. With caveats of course. If you have a family, or a lot of people using your toilet, this may be a method you want to skip. However, if only one or two people use your toilet, you may find this method works really well for you.

Not a lot to it. You should already have everything you need. You will need a pair of chemical resistant gloves, bottle of your favorite bleach, toilet brush, and a cleaning cloth. If there is anything in the toilet bowl except water, you will need to flush the toilet and let it refill.

Fastest and easiest Toilet Cleaning Method

1. Put on the gloves.

2. Pour the recommended amount of bleach into the toilet bowl. You are probably going to add bleach to about a quart of water, so less than 1/4 cup is all you need. You want to clean your toilet, not fumigate the whole house.

3. Wet the rag with the bleach water. Wring out excess bleach water. Wipe down the outside surface of the toilet, starting with the cleanest areas first (tank, seat and lid). If needed, rinse your cleaning cloth in toilet bowl, and wring out. Wipe the outside surface of the toilet bowl.

4. Set the cleaning cloth aside for a moment to pick up the toilet bowl brush. Scrub the inside of the bowl slowly – you don’t want to splash. Wipe up any water on the top of the bowl surface.

5. Flush the toilet. At this point, you can rinse the cleaning cloth in the now clean toilet bowl, or wherever you rinse out your cleaning cloths.

If you have never had cats or dogs in the house, or know someone who does, this might seem like a questionable way to clean your toilet. Every dog and cat that I have have had, frequently drank from the toilet bowl. Cats prefer the smell over stagnant water in there bowl. All of them lived a long, healthy life. The toilet bowl itself doesn’t get too dirty if you stay up with it.

This cleaning method has the advantage, of not having a bucket of bleach water to contend with. Everything is self contained in the toilet bowl. The time savings come from not using a bucket, pouring out the used bleach water into the toilet, flushing the toilet, rinsing the bucket, and putting it to dry.

Okay, the time savings are not ginormous or so it seems. However if you clean your toilet once a week, and save about a minute or so each week, you have about an extra hour in your life for something that makes you happy.