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 .

It’s All in The Cloud, and Maybe Statistical Databases

Two years ago, I bought into the fantasy of Chromebooks. They were going to take over the computing world. I went (almost) all out, lots of memory, folds into a tablet. Thinking about the good things coming down the pipeline, it would be a great investment.

My Chromebook was going to replace one of my Desktops which were beginning to show their age. Just a few more programs or applications, some with local storage, and I would be all set. Two years later and this bubble has burst. I have a very expensive limited laptop or an overloaded tablet, depending on your view.

Apps missing local storage is the problem for me. Everything goes to the Cloud. I ask, what exactly is the Cloud? Why is my data safe, and why does every business and program want to store in the Cloud?

The Cloud is probably the same as one of my local hard drives, only tens of thousands of people are saving their files on it too. It is managed by thousands of people, some brilliant, some not so much. All prone to human error.

As with Application or game, nothing is for free. Buy a game and if you fail to spend money buying things for it, some algorithm(s) will filter you out, and is going to kick in and kill you off in one form or another.

Cloud Storage doesn’t always mean safe and secret storage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the Cloud any different? Why are all these mega Companies so willing to keep my personal secrets, my family photos, my password listing, my favorite collections text files. I am of the opinion, just like paid game apps, nothing is for free?

It must cost a lot of money keeping thousands if not tens of thousands of programmers working on keeping data in the Cloud is millions of users can put their stuff in the cloud? This money is not coming from a Cloud Company’s good will. Cloud Storage, Cloud Computing, anything Cloud is a Business. Business needs to make a profit to survive.

Sure, I can manage local storage, but it’s not as simple and painless as Cloud storage. Why is this? Because someone has access to our files, our personal information, and someone is studying us using our data for profit. Nothing is free.

I use my overpriced Chromebook for basic things. I have an email account on the Cloud. I have some documents on the Cloud. I play my few basic games. I do not have anything sensitive, private, or important on my Chromebook, or in the Cloud.

With all that being said, the Cloud is not a guarantee of data safety and security. Hundreds of people around the world are trying to hack Cloud storage somewhere, every day and night. No one hosting free Cloud storage guarantees your pics, documents, and other files will still safely be there tomorrow.

And back to my biggest issue with the Cloud, “If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t write it down.” Sometimes we have to write it down. We don’t have to send it to the Cloud though, encrypted or not. Do you know anything about your Cloud Storage? Who really runs it, what happens to your files? Apple’s recent Siri problem is a good example. Siri listens while you _______?

I think someday the Cloud will burst, and if we wish to have Cloud storage, we will pay real money for it. The data being sucked out of the pictures and files stored in the Cloud, will be the same types of information stored in the Cloud a decade from now. People are people, and we haven’t changed much in the last x thousand years.

In the meantime, I have an overpriced tablet with an attached keyboard.