Since January, Google has been pushing for a change to its extensions handling in Chrome; one casualty of that change is ability to block unwanted content before its loads, something that would effectively kill privacy tools and ad-blockers. Read the rest
Alisdair McDiarmid's Kill Sticky Headers bookmarklet banishes all fixed-position CSS elements, like navigation bars, cookie consent popups, email list subscription solicitations, and so on -- these are an annoyance at best and an accessibility problem at worst; if you have low vision like me and habitually scale up the type on the pages you browse, these elements grow to completely eclipse the type, making you choose between eyestrain and access. Drag this Kill Sticky to your toolbar and click it whenever you want to get rid of these annoyances. Read the rest
Tomek Rękawek, irritated by ads on the radio, created an app that mutes them. Radio Adblock uses digital signal processing to detect distinctive audio patterns that signal the beginning and end of breaks. (via Hacker News)
I also prepared a simple standalone version of the analyzer, that connects to the Trójka stream on its own (without an external ffmpeg) and plays the result using javax.sound. The whole thing is a single JAR file and contains a basic start/stop UI. It can be downloaded here: radioblock.jar. If you feel uneasy about running a foreign JAR on your machine (like you should do), all the sources can be found on my GitHub. Apparently, it works :)
To make it work universally, perhaps DSP could detect the use of extreme waveform compression. This makes ads sound as loud as possible without increasing the signal volume, and is a technique that advertisers and radio stations supposedly use to skirt the regulations that forbid them from doing just that. It would also have the bonus of silencing shitty pop songs. Read the rest
Cracked Labs' massive report on online surveillance by corporations dissects all the different ways in which our digital lives are tracked, from the ad-beacons that follow us around the web to the apps that track our physical locations as we move around the world. Read the rest
The "replay sessions" captured by surveillance-oriented "analytics" companies like Fullstory allow their customers -- "Walgreens, Zocdoc, Shopify, CareerBuilder, SeatGeek, Wix.com, Digital Ocean, DonorsChoose.org, and more" -- to watch everything you do when you're on their webpages -- every move of the mouse, every keystroke (even keystrokes you delete before submitting), and more, all attached to your real name, stored indefinitely, and shared widely with many, many "partners." Read the rest
Facebook is at war with users who block ads, and battle proceeds apace. Just two days after boasting that it could serve ads that were undetectable by adblockers, Facebook got a rude awakening in the form of updates to AdBlock that detected them just fine. But it isn't giving up, and has already adjusted its code to once again circumvent the blocks.
A source close to Facebook tells me that today, possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site’s code that will nullify Adblock Plus’ workaround. Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it.
Update: A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus’ workaround. It should reach all users soon.]
Still, the cat-and-mouse game is sure to rage on.
AdBlock is at a disadvantage due to Facebook's engineering resources and ability to update its site on-the-fly. That said, Facebook loses more money from each lost ad than AdBlock pays to remove it, which creates an asymmetrical fight. AdBlock is, of course, not a noble venture—it dominates the ad blocking market and whitelists ads from publishers that pay it protection money.
Adblockers generally distinguish ads from content by looking at how web pages are structured and where they come from. To those unfamiliar with HTML, web pages are a nest of boxes, each tagged as a <paragraph or a <division or an <articleor what-have-you, with each identified or classified so that other code can decide what it looks like, where it goes, or what content gets pasted into it as the page renders. Read the rest
Gus the hacker puppeteer (previously) writes, "Most of us have a relative whose computer or phone is still a snake's nest of pop-ups and malware. The 'YOUR COMPUTER HAS A VIRUS, CLICK TO SCAN' attack is still a thing, 2016 though it may be. And there are enough people asking 'why do ads pop up (on my iPhone, computer, etc)' for that question to register on Google search autocomplete." Read the rest