adblocking

Discussion in 'Internet Explorer' started by Stewart, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. Stewart

    Stewart Guest

    My son uses Supanet as his server and accesses the internet with either a
    dongle or internet cafés; he does not have a fixed connection.
    He is having a tremendous problem with the number of adverts that are coming
    in. They are taking up a great deal of his usage allowance.
    I suggested that he change from Supanet but as he is in the merchant navy
    and travels worldwide that is not acceptable. Except for the adverts
    Supanet works reasonably well with his O2 account.
    He has tried adblocker pro but that did not work well with the dongle. He
    has tried various settings in internet explorer but again without much
    success.
    Does anyone know how he can cut these down?
    Thank you
     
    Stewart, Jun 27, 2013
    #1
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  2. Stewart

    Mayayana Guest

    By far the easiest method for blocking ads is to use
    a HOSTS file. See here:

    http://www.jsware.net/jsware/browsertips.php5#host

    It works for all installed browsers and doesn't require
    installing anything. There's a full explanation at the link.
    A HOSTS file will only block a given number of URLs, but
    it works very well because the majority of ads are not
    on websites in the first place. They're loaded from massive
    ad servers like Google's doubleclick.

    Another good method is to block all 3rd-party content
    in any Mozilla browser. (Also explained at link above.)
    Nearly all ads are 3rd-party. (You never chose to visit
    the website of origin in the first place.) But blocking
    3rd-party files can have some disadvantages. Some
    websites are poorly designed. For instance, storing pages
    in one domain and images in another. So if you block all
    3rd-party files you'll find that occasionally websites are
    nearly empty.

    Also, don't install Flash. You shouldn't need it, anyway,
    and it's a high security risk. That will help to prevent
    unwanted video from playing. If your son likes Youtube
    tell him to get the Download Helper extension for any
    Mozilla browser.

    I use all of the methods above and rarely ever see ads.
    But only the HOSTS file can be used with IE. The 3rd-party
    blocking methods require Firefox, Palemoon, or possibly
    Opera.


    | My son uses Supanet as his server and accesses the internet with either a
    | dongle or internet cafés; he does not have a fixed connection.
    | He is having a tremendous problem with the number of adverts that are
    coming
    | in. They are taking up a great deal of his usage allowance.
    | I suggested that he change from Supanet but as he is in the merchant navy
    | and travels worldwide that is not acceptable. Except for the adverts
    | Supanet works reasonably well with his O2 account.
    | He has tried adblocker pro but that did not work well with the dongle. He
    | has tried various settings in internet explorer but again without much
    | success.
    | Does anyone know how he can cut these down?
    | Thank you
    |
     
    Mayayana, Jun 27, 2013
    #2
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  3. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    You only mention Internet Explorer. Has he considered using a
    different web browser, like Firefox, which has a much higher count of
    add-ons available, like AdBlock Plus or Ghostery. I first tried
    Adblock Plus, stopped, switched to Ghostery, tried them together, and
    eventually only used Ghostery (in Firefox).

    Ghostery now has an add-on for IE; however, you must be logged in
    under an admin-level account yet I still found it too flaky. I gave
    up on it in IE after a couple months.

    IE has its own importable XML block lists. You can write your own but
    you need to know some regex syntax. Microsoft's own documentation is
    inconsistent as to just what or how Microsoft will comply with regex.
    What XML blocklists you use depend on what version of IE which you did
    not mention. These blocklists are handy in IE because it's easy to
    disable their use to refresh a page that won't paint correctly when
    using them. Give the IE version and then I can suggest where to get
    the XML blocklists for that version.

    Another user mentioned using a 'hosts' file but there is no easy way
    to temporarily disable that method when you do want to view a page
    with all content versus seeing a corrupted or unreadable page with
    some of it blocked. The 'hosts' files you download are pre-compiled
    by someone else with their bias and may include content that you do
    want to see or content you need to allow on occasion. There is no
    handy and quick enable/disable when using the 'hosts' file.
     
    VanguardLH, Jun 28, 2013
    #3
  4. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    There is another choice for blocking content: doing it upstream. Use
    a DNS provider who allows you to block specified sites. OpenDNS lets
    you have a free account. You configure your router or host(s) to use
    their DNS server, not the one from your ISP. If a hostname is on your
    block list then the DNS server won't retrieve the IP address for that
    site and you cannot retrieve from there. You do have to install their
    DNS updater client so they know what is your current IP address to
    know how to associate your DNS request to the settings in your
    account.

    While they have some pre-compiled categories of sites that you can
    elect to block, I don't recall that they expressly have an ad
    blocklist. You would have to enter your own list of sites. Unlike a
    'hosts' file that has to list every hostname for every ad domain to
    block their ads (Doubleclick, for example, has over 50 entries in the
    pre-compiled 'hosts' file), you can simply specify the domain that you
    want to block so you won't retrieve content from any host there.
    There is a limit of 50 blocklist entries but I found that it takes
    care of a LOT of ads common across lots of sites.
     
    VanguardLH, Jun 28, 2013
    #4
  5. Stewart

    Mayayana Guest

    | Another user mentioned using a 'hosts' file but there is no easy way
    | to temporarily disable that method when you do want to view a page
    | with all content versus seeing a corrupted or unreadable page with
    | some of it blocked. The 'hosts' files you download are pre-compiled
    | by someone else with their bias and may include content that you do
    | want to see or content you need to allow on occasion. There is no
    | handy and quick enable/disable when using the 'hosts' file.

    A HOSTS file is not compiled. It's plain text.
    It's true that it's not easily shut off. One would have
    to close the browser and edit the file, then re-open
    the browser. But that's not the way a HOSTS file is
    used, anyway. Anything in there should be a URL that one
    definitely never wants to go to, like ads.doubleclick.com.

    While you might want to occasionally edit the HOSTS
    file, there's no reason you should ever need to unblock
    specific addresses temporarily while browsing. If you
    find yourself wanting to do that then you need to edit
    the list.
     
    Mayayana, Jun 28, 2013
    #5
  6. Stewart

    SC Tom Guest

    I think VanguardLH was saying that the list of sites is compiled by someone
    else, not that it's a compiled file. And I have come across a site or two in
    those lists that I needed to remove (IIRC, ESPNs streaming site was one).

    A lot of those lists are fine, but there can be thousands of entries in
    them. Quite often, that can slow a PC down considerably when surfing,
    especially on a lower end PC and/or a slower connection. It'll grind XP to a
    halt :-( I add my own sites (mostly Google ads and Doubleclick, it seems),
    and that gets most of them. I don't think there's any easy way to get them
    all.
     
    SC Tom, Jun 28, 2013
    #6
  7. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    Perhaps you were raised entirely on electronic communication and have
    no experience with books or other hardcopy. The word "compiled" is
    not reserved only for translating human-readable strings into
    instruction code for a processor. Pre-compiled means someone OTHER
    than you compiled the list.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/compile

    Off the cuff, a means that I can think of enabling/disabling the
    'hosts' file would be to use a batch (.bat) file to rename it. You
    would flush the local DNS cache, run the .bat file to toggle the name
    of the 'hosts' file, like to 'hosts-old', to disable its use and then
    do your further web browsing. When you wanted to toggle back to using
    the 'hosts' file, you would run the .bat file again to rename it back
    to just 'hosts'. You could use one .bat file to merely toggle the
    filename (and tell you in which state to which you toggled) or use two
    separate .bat files, one to rename away and another to rename back.

    It is rare that I've heard any users retrieving someone else's 'hosts'
    file (hence a pre-compiled one) that then edited it. Users don't
    review those 16-20 thousand entries to see if they agree with the
    blocking of those hostnames. About the only time that I've heard of a
    user editing a 'hosts' file is after deciding to use it as-is, later
    finding they are having a problem with a site, not remembering about
    employing the 'hosts' file, asking for help on why the site isn't
    working or reachable, and perhaps someone mentioning the 'hosts' file
    whereupon the user has to edit the pre-compiled 'hosts' file to remove
    that entry. Yet the next time that same user downloads a new version
    of that same pre-compiled 'hosts' file they are back to square one
    with having problems with some sites that isn't easily toggled off/on.

    Only hostnames can be blocked with a 'hosts' file, not domains hence
    the name of that file. If you want to block Doubleclick, you need to
    add dozens of entries for it or use the dozens of entries in a
    pre-compiled list. You cannot specify just doubleclick.com to block
    all hosts at that domain. Same goes for all the other multitude of
    hosts all at the same domain that you want to block if using a 'hosts'
    file.

    There is also a problem with the time to do the lookup through a plain
    text file. This is not a database file through which a binary search
    can be used to find an entry. The 'hosts' file is read serially from
    top to bottom until a matching host is found (to then return the
    specified IP address). If a page has LOTS of off-domain content
    coming from sources that are listed in the 'hosts' file, every one of
    them results in a separate search through that text 'hosts' file.
    There is no caching of those entries in the 'hosts' file, either. A
    severely "polluted" web page will take longer to load when having to
    do the sequential search through the 'hosts' file. It doesn't even
    have to be a "polluted" web page (with lots of ads that you are trying
    to block using the 'hosts' file). EVERY lookup for content in that
    web page has to do a singular serial lookup in the 'hosts' file.
    However, the assumption or hope is that you are blocking off-domain
    content that would take far longer to load than the repeated and
    serial lookups from the 'hosts' file, and that's true *if* the page
    you visit has some content that is getting blocked. If the page
    doesn't have any sources that are blocked by entries in the 'hosts'
    file then the page takes longer to load due to all those lookups that
    weren't blocked.

    There is also the problem that pre-compiled 'hosts' file always use
    127.0.0.1 as the specified IP address. That means the user cannot run
    their own web server; else, all those redirects would be looking for
    pages on their own web server (and many would fail but the user thinks
    the external web site is failing). Anything listening on that
    localhost IP address is going to cause a delay to reject the connect
    attempt. Web pages will paint slower because there *is* something at
    127.0.0.1 listening for traffic but incurring the delay to fail. I
    have no idea why the 'hosts' folks focused on 127.0.0.1 instead of
    something that IMMEDIATELY fails, like 127.0.0.0. Even if you don't
    have any process listening on 127.0.0.1, it still takes time to fail
    the connect attempt whereas 127.0.0.0 isn't even attempted. I've done
    the testing and a page load of IP addresses going to 127.0.0.1 can
    take about 17% longer to fail than for 127.0.0.0. When I've used or
    tested pre-compiled 'hosts' file, web page loads (waiting for the
    failed redirects) complete faster if I globally change all 127.0.0.0
    entries in that 'hosts' file to 127.0.0.0.

    Editing the 'hosts' file to remove entries so web pages will paint
    incompletely is a rather static change. You find a web page that
    doesn't paint correctly, you edit the 'hosts' file, and now the page
    paints okay. But that assumes you always want to allow that otherwise
    blocked content. That isn't necessarily true. You may only want to
    allow the content a few times. Maybe you only want to allow it once
    so you see if that's the cause of problems with that page. Unblocking
    a host doesn't mean you want it permanently that way. Again, a means
    of toggling off/on the use of the 'hosts' file would let you test
    without having to open a file, search, edit, and save and do that
    again when you wanted to re-block the content. I'm sure someone could
    come up with a decent batch file to do the toggling and announcing in
    which state was the 'hosts' file; however, that means toggling off ALL
    the redirections in the 'hosts' file and not just those discovered on
    the particular page you are visiting.

    The 'hosts' file is a clumsy and archaic method of blocking unwanted
    content. It's doable. It's just not very elegant.
     
    VanguardLH, Jun 28, 2013
    #7
  8. Stewart

    Mayayana Guest

    | The 'hosts' file is a clumsy and archaic method of blocking unwanted
    | content. It's doable. It's just not very elegant.

    I think you're masking it all more complex than it
    needs to be.
    I find it very easy, simple and efficient to use a
    HOSTS file. More to the point, once people
    understand how it works they can manage it easily
    themselves. I would expect that anyone who sets
    up a HOSTS file will at least check over the one
    they start with. (And hopefully they won't start
    with 16,000 to 20,000 entries! I probably have about
    100 in mine.)

    It's true that HOSTS requires the subdomain, but
    nearly all doubleclick ads come from just a few. And
    doubleclick ads comprise a big portion of all online
    ads. So HOSTS won't stop all ads, but a relatively
    small HOSTS file, set up in a few minutes and not
    requiring a lot of expertise, will block most ads.

    I was just trying to provide the most useful, concise
    information for someone who may not be technically
    oriented. A HOSTS file doesn't require adjusting network
    settings or installing any extra software (which Stewart
    noted had been a problem).
     
    Mayayana, Jun 28, 2013
    #8
  9. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    You have a dozen or a hundred if you compile your own 'hosts' file.
    The most popular per-compiled 'hosts' file is the MVPs version
    (http://www.winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm) and that has over 15
    thousand non-comment entries. Folks that ask how to block ads don't
    roll their own blocklists. They use someone else's and don't touch it
    unless they have problems with sites, usually much later, that help
    from others lead them back to this file to edit out the entries
    causing the problem. Then they leave it that way which means that
    content is always allowed whereas they may have only wanted to unblock
    it once. The discussion was directed to the OP's education, not
    really how you and I might use a 'hosts' file.
    There are 90 entries for Doubleclick (under the doubleclick.[com|net]
    domains and also as subdomains for which the hosts are
    sub-subdomains). That's a "few"?

    There is something I forgot to mention: some nameservers from ad
    sources will accept ANY hostname. That is, they will resolve any
    hostname to an IP address for their own hosts. That means no 'hosts'
    file will ever list all possible hosts there for the ad content
    delivered from there. Thankfully few nameservers do this but I've
    seen that do. This was to deliberately thwart blocklists that specify
    hostnames. A web page can use Javascript to create a randomnly named
    hostname and their nameserver will return an IP address for the
    requested A record for their content server. You'll never be able to
    cover all the possible hostnames in a blocklist; however, a block on
    the domain (not possible with a 'hosts' file) will eliminate that
    content from any host there regardless of name.
    With only 90 (which is not a few for human editing) entries in the
    MVPs 'hosts' file, it doesn't appear Doubleclick is the biggest
    content provider. They were at one time but there are thousands of
    content providers now; however, that doesn't mean you hit them all.
    Your web experience will only discover a portion of them and that's
    why a small self-compiled blocklist might work as well as a deluge of
    sources in a pre-compiled blocklist.
    The problem with self-compiling a 'hosts' file is knowing what source
    to block. The folks you describe won't be able to discover many of
    the 3rd party content sources in a web page to then add them to their
    self-compiled blocklist. With dynamic web pages and use of javascript
    or obfuscation, it isn't always easy to tell from where that content
    is coming. In fact, I gave up looking at the page code or using tools
    trying to find from where is that content and instead using Fiddler or
    other network monitoring to see to where the web browser actually
    connects. Building your own 'hosts' file isn't necessarily easily,
    either. It is also a pity that there is no included means of logging
    which entries in the 'hosts' file caused a blockage. It would be
    handy for troubleshooting why a page isn't painting correctly or for
    statistics sake. Without the logging or some information about which
    sites got blocked, like a current block status list, the user is
    working in the dark as to how to troubleshoot a web page that isn't
    working quite right. Of course, how we're discussing the 'hosts' file
    was never intended as its purpose.
     
    VanguardLH, Jun 28, 2013
    #9
  10. Stewart

    Mayayana Guest

    | You have a dozen or a hundred if you compile your own 'hosts' file.
    | The most popular per-compiled 'hosts' file is the MVPs version
    | (http://www.winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm) and that has over 15
    | thousand non-comment entries.

    If you'd bothered to check my link you'd see that it
    provides explanation as well as a relatively short
    HOSTS file. The main thing is that once someone knows
    the basic concept they don't need great expertise to
    manage their own HOSTS file.

    | There are 90 entries for Doubleclick (under the doubleclick.[com|net]
    | domains and also as subdomains for which the hosts are
    | sub-subdomains). That's a "few"?
    |

    The majority I see in actual webpage code are
    ad.doubleclick.net. Another one is pubads.g.doubleclick.net.
    A few others may be common on non-US sites. (I use
    a VBScript to add new addresses to my HOSTS file.
    Usually the addresses found in webpages I visit are
    already in my file.)

    | There is something I forgot to mention: some nameservers from ad
    | sources will accept ANY hostname....

    I'm not going to argue with you about all of the
    obscure reasons for your odd and thoroughgoing
    contempt of HOSTS files. I'm only discussing it
    with you because you're giving the impression
    that it's a very complex and abstruse topic. I just
    want Stewart, or other people reading this thread,
    to be able to set up a HOSTS file, if they want to
    try it, and to be able to find out how it works. Then
    they can decide for themselves how useful it is. You
    certainly don't have to use one if you don't want to. :)
     
    Mayayana, Jun 29, 2013
    #10
  11. Stewart

    Stewart Guest

    Thanks all, I have copied the content of all messages to a word document and
    will send it to my son. He will just have to decide himself what will serve
    him best.



    "Mayayana" wrote in message
    | You have a dozen or a hundred if you compile your own 'hosts' file.
    | The most popular per-compiled 'hosts' file is the MVPs version
    | (http://www.winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm) and that has over 15
    | thousand non-comment entries.

    If you'd bothered to check my link you'd see that it
    provides explanation as well as a relatively short
    HOSTS file. The main thing is that once someone knows
    the basic concept they don't need great expertise to
    manage their own HOSTS file.

    | There are 90 entries for Doubleclick (under the doubleclick.[com|net]
    | domains and also as subdomains for which the hosts are
    | sub-subdomains). That's a "few"?
    |

    The majority I see in actual webpage code are
    ad.doubleclick.net. Another one is pubads.g.doubleclick.net.
    A few others may be common on non-US sites. (I use
    a VBScript to add new addresses to my HOSTS file.
    Usually the addresses found in webpages I visit are
    already in my file.)

    | There is something I forgot to mention: some nameservers from ad
    | sources will accept ANY hostname....

    I'm not going to argue with you about all of the
    obscure reasons for your odd and thoroughgoing
    contempt of HOSTS files. I'm only discussing it
    with you because you're giving the impression
    that it's a very complex and abstruse topic. I just
    want Stewart, or other people reading this thread,
    to be able to set up a HOSTS file, if they want to
    try it, and to be able to find out how it works. Then
    they can decide for themselves how useful it is. You
    certainly don't have to use one if you don't want to. :)
     
    Stewart, Jun 29, 2013
    #11
  12. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    The crux of using a 'hosts' file, even for you, is knowing where is
    the source of the unwanted content so you know what to add as an entry
    in the 'hosts' file -- but do you (know the source)? To be simple, as
    you claim, means not requiring more network interrogation tools, like
    Fiddler2 or Wireshark, to see where the user's web browser is
    connecting. It also means not having to interpret the code in a web
    page to determine the source. The source may not be easily picked out
    from HTML code but buried in Javascript. The page might be
    dynamically generated by server-side scripts or programs. The code
    could be obfuscated, especially if it uses Java. In simple HTML-only
    coded web pages, yep, Stewart might be able to find the hrefs to the
    external sources. Considering the content is trying to get blocked,
    it's been a long time since such simple coding has been employed in
    web pages laden with 3rd party sources distributed by content
    providers.

    Once you know what to add to the 'hosts' file, yeah, then it's easy to
    add. It's finding out what to add when you are compiling your own
    blocklist that's the difficult and often tricky part requiring more
    than just Notepad to edit the 'hosts' file.

    That you may know how to detect the sources using *more* than just
    what you can discover in the code of a web page using other tools goes
    beyond the non-requirement of "great expertise" that you claim. That
    the users even have to review a page's code often goes beyond the
    expertise of most users to whom you are advocating the 'hosts' file.
    Think of your grandma (if still living) and her level of expertise
    when dealing with web pages. Does she know how to read HTML or
    Javascript? Does she know how to use a network monitor, like Fiddler
    or Wireshark, to see to where her web browser connects? If you're
    going to promote your pre-compiled blocklist then it's just as
    appropriate for someone else to suggest using the pre-compiled MVPs
    blocklist.

    If the audience to which you suggest using the 'hosts' file has the
    expertise to read HTML and Javascript along with using network
    monitoring tools to see to where their web browser connects so they
    can actually discover for themself where are these unwanted content
    sources then, yep, using a 'hosts' file is doable. At the time such a
    user modifies their 'hosts' file, they will also have to expertise to
    realize they are blocking that content from all web pages and not just
    from those where they want it blocked since the 'hosts' file doesn't
    let you specify at all sites or just some sites where to block or
    unblock that content. Personally I doubt that's the type of audience
    to which you or others are addressing their suggestion to use a
    'hosts' file. With the vast majority of those suggestions comes the
    recommendation to use a pre-compiled 'hosts' file whether it be yours,
    MVPs, or someone else's because it is actually known that such users
    do NOT have the expertise to discover the sources themselves to
    compile their own blocklist.

    You're telling someone that changing the oil pressure sensor in their
    vehicle is easy. Well, it is if they have the tools, some automotive
    mechanical experience or aptitude, and they know where is the oil
    pressure sensor on their engine. Easy for you and I doesn't mean easy
    for the typical web browser user.
     
    VanguardLH, Jun 29, 2013
    #12
  13. Stewart

    Mayayana Guest

    | A lot of those lists are fine, but there can be thousands of entries in
    | them. Quite often, that can slow a PC down considerably when surfing,
    | especially on a lower end PC and/or a slower connection. It'll grind XP to
    a
    | halt :-( I add my own sites (mostly Google ads and Doubleclick, it seems),
    | and that gets most of them. I don't think there's any easy way to get them
    | all.

    I ended up downloading the mvps list to see how
    they could possibly have so many items. Personally
    I think they've missed the whole point. It *is* about
    15,000 entries, at 558 KB! My own is 7-8 KB. I think
    the problem is that the mvps authors are trying to
    collect any and all addresses that were ever responsible
    for tracking or ads. There are about 25 entries for
    sexybabesx.com. (I went to see if that site even still
    existed. It's now an x-rated Paris Hilton fanclub site. :)
    There are a vast number from specific countries. Most
    people don't need entries for things like
    [countrycode].doubleclick.net or [domain].co.[countrycode]
    I visit a handful of British sites, but that's about it.

    There are also numerous entries for commercial sites
    that the vast majority of people will never visit:

    smetrics.zionsbank.com - a bank in Salt Lake City
    metrics.boston.com - the Boston Globe newspaper
    omni.macworld.com - I don't own a Mac

    I wouldn't consider the mvps HOSTS file to be usable,
    but unfortunately it comes across as an official list
    because it was created by a Microsoft MVP and is hosted
    on the mvps.org website. I notice there is even 3rd-party
    software designed to update the mvps HOSTS file. And the
    mvps HOSTS file is the only one linked from wikipedia. In
    a brief search of 50-odd returns, the only other HOSTS file
    download I found was also 500+ KB. Given the paucity of
    resources, the ridiculous bloat of popular HOSTS files,
    and the NTFS restriction problems in Windows Vista+, I
    guess it's not surprising that few people know about HOSTS.

    I usually block 3rd-party files altogether in my main browser,
    Pale Moon. (I also usually don't enable script and don't have
    Flash or Java installed in the first place.) So I don't entirely
    depend on HOSTS. But I also have Firefox set up with standard
    settings for use at sites requiring script, where 3rd-party images
    may be required, and I generally don't see any ads there.

    One thing that hasn't been discussed here, which I also
    find useful, is a custom userContent.css file for all Mozilla
    browsers. Mine has the following:

    IFRAME {display: none !important;}
    IMG[width="1"] {display: none !important;}
    IMG[width=1] {display: none !important;}
    IMG[width="0"] {display: none !important;}
    IMG[width=0] {display: none !important;}
    IMG[src*="1x1"] {display: none !important;}
    IMG[src*="0x0"] {display: none !important;}

    IFRAMES are a security risk and are also now used for a
    lot of 3rd-party ads, in order to render then as 1st-party
    to enable remote cookie setting. Facebook also likes to have
    their buttons put into IFRAMES to work as tracking beacons.
    Blocking IFRAMEs prevents all that.
    The IMG lines above are to block web beacons.

    But there is one caveat: People who use free webmail
    (yahoo, gmail, etc.) and some other highly interactive sites
    will find that in some cases nearly the whole page is
    composed of IFRAMES, like an old-fashioned FRAMESET.
    But IFRAMES actually serve no purpose now with CSS
    functionality. In general their use is only sleaze-motivated.
    As someone who doesn't use webmail I rarely come across
    sites that break without IFRAMES.
     
    Mayayana, Jul 1, 2013
    #13
  14. Stewart

    VanguardLH Guest

    Part of the long length for the 'hosts' file is due to how it is used.
    You can only specify hostnames, not domains. A domain can have a LOT
    of hostnames there. There really are a lot of ad sources out there.
    It's big business. It's how many sites manage to continue to exist;
    else, they disappear and the info that you wanted there is gone.
    Since the point of the blocklist is to block ad sources along with
    malware sites or other "normally unwanted" content, there is a lot to
    block. They obviously cannot block based solely on just the personal
    experiences of one or two users for where they happen to browse for
    the type of unwanted content they happen to find. They're trying to
    provide a blocklist for anyone that wants to use that scheme for
    blocking unwanted content.

    I don't know how long is the AdBlock Plus blocklists. I stopped using
    Firefox awhile ago so I don't need the ABP add-on. There is a version
    of one of their blocklists that you can import into IE's TPL over at
    http://www.quero.at/adblock_ie_xml.php. The XML version (since IE8+
    uses TPL, not XML) has somewhere around 1800 entries. An advantage
    with using the XML or TPL blocklists in IE is that you don't have to
    specify only hostnames, you don't have to only specify domains, but
    you can also specify strings on which to match, like "/adserver" (with
    the appropriate regex syntax, of course).

    Those pre-compiling blocklists for use as a 'hosts' file or within
    adblocking software are trying to give their users as much coverage as
    possible. They can't just give a list of their own personal
    un-favorites since that wouldn't help a lot of users and cripple the
    point of using blocklists. However, it is possible to have a lot of
    coverage in a smaller blocklist. Ghostery's blocklist, for example,
    is much smaller but has been showed statistically (by someone working
    at Akamai with their worldwide distribution of data centers and huge
    statistics collection) that Ghostery provides 99% of the coverage of
    the much larger AdBlock Plus blocklist. But what if your routing
    and/or the sites you happen to visit employ content sourced from that
    other 1% and that happens to be a majority of the unwanted content for
    your particular choice of web navigation?

    You may want the 3rd party content to show at some sites and not
    others. Just because you don't want it in one page doesn't mean you
    don't want it elsewhere. Just because you're forced to allow it at
    one site doesn't mean you want it everywhere else. Despite the
    unwanted content, perhaps you do want to visit that page but it won't
    paint correctly unless you override the blocklist to allow the 3rd
    party content at those target pages. The 'hosts' file won't let you
    specify where the 3rd party content should be blocked or NOT. It'll
    get blocked everywhere. Other adblocking solutions will either let
    you define exceptions or they can be easily toggled off and on so you
    visit and see the web pages where you are stuck allowing the otherwise
    unwanted content but not stuck having to see that unwanted content
    elsewhere.

    Twould be interesting if some professional statistical analysis were
    performed that guaged how much web surfing time was actually saved by
    blocking unwanted content versus how much time was spent in trying to
    find and trial various adblocking solutions and then keeping them
    updated or modifying them for your personal requirements. Sometimes
    time is saved in painting web pages but some pages may load slower
    because the blocked content contains script or defines objects that
    causes other script in a web page to error and those errors incur
    delays for the web browser to handle. The user has to disable
    blocking somehow if they really do need the page to paint correctly
    but it took time for them to figure out what was wrong with the page
    and reconfigure their adblocking solution. Then there's all that time
    spent deploying and maintaining the adblocking solution. I suspect we
    really haven't saved much, if any, time at all. This is like all
    those requests on how to tweak Windows which does nothing to improve
    efficiency or productivity on that platform. We spend all that time
    on *preferences* and really haven't saved any time we claim to have
    saved but may actually waste more time enforcing our preferences.
    I've seen the same happen with users that are super sensitive to spam:
    they expend gobs of their time trying to find, trial, and configure
    anti-spam solutions just to filter out those last 1 or 2 spams that
    leak through per month but all that effort swamps the short time to
    just to press the Del key. They're expending gobs of time to assuage
    their hypersensitivity to spam. The anti-spam solution gets rid of
    99% of the spam but the user expends 99% of their anti-spam efforts
    getting rid of the last 1%. The first 99% takes 1% of their effort
    but the last 1% takes 99% of their effort.

    Even with the 'hosts' file approach, you find the file, download the
    file, download each time there is a new version of the file, diagnose
    why a page doesn't paint correctly, edit the file, incur pages that
    load SLOWER due to script errors because they expect objects defined
    in the blocked source, the time to scan linearly through a text file
    to check if there is a hit on a content source and do this linear scan
    for EACH referenced source in a web page whether it is in the list or
    not versus a the time to allow the unwanted content in the first
    place. I suspect we aren't saving any time at all and may be wasting
    more time. We are spending more time just tweaking our web experience
    per our own preferences. Look at how much time users waste changing
    their desktop backgrounds or other trivial tweaks in Windows or apps
    that have no effect on productivity or efficiency. It's not that they
    want to save time but to enforce their preferences. We're spraying
    the yard and donning imprenable armor to avoid the last couple of
    mosquitos.

    As bad as has become the unwanted content providers and web page
    authors is how bad users have become in modifying someone else's
    proprty on the web to enforce their own preference on how they think
    that other person's property should look and behave. It's not about
    saving time to paint pages at all.
     
    VanguardLH, Jul 1, 2013
    #14
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