Adverts and Popups

The internet is filled with webpages which are in turn filled with adverts – and a bit like spam, they seem to breed!

Most of my spam problems have now been controlled by setting filters as “tight” as possible on my normal email accounts and forwarding all the junk collected to a gmail account. I then collect my normal email and gmail normally as part of Outlook’s normal mail cycle so that all mail is collected centrally on my main PC and deleted from the mailservers. Any spam getting through after this is neatly mopped up by my old favourite, SpamBayes

When I’m out and about I still collect mail on the iPhone or iPad, but this time the POP collection process is set to leave mail on the server. It seems to work for me!

Anyhow, back to annoying popups and adverts; I’ve tried a lot of ad-blocking software (usually configured as a browser add-on or extension). They work but require updating from time to time and, of course, add-ons slow down the browser. While searching for solutions the other day I saw mention of an open-source solution called Privoxy and decided to give it a try. It’s still early days, but things are looking good!

This might get a little techy but I’ll do my best to keep it simple; Privoxy works at network level outside the browser and therefore doesn’t care which one (or 6!) you choose to use. Essentially, your browser now send requests  to Privoxy, it gets the page, filters out all the stuff you don’t need then forwards the nice clean, ad-free website to your browser.

OK, this does require a couple of small changes to your internet settings, but they are very easy to make. I won’t go into the detail here as the software authors have done a great job in producing all the info you need in a nice understandable manual – in fact everything apart from the small setting change mentioned just works straight “out of the box”.

Privoxy is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and quite a few other operating systems and once installed it allows you to route all your website requests through it.

For the moment I am using Privoxy on OSX, Windows and Mint Linux machines and all work perfectly – the next step is to “donate” a Raspberry Pi to this little project and put the software on that, which would allow me to remove the individual installations on each machine and route browser requests from any of them through Privoxy on the Pi.

There’s more for me to learn but things are looking good.

Whoops, I should have mentioned that Privoxy is free although, of course, donations are welcome.

CNC and Rapid Prototyping

The racking I use at work has one small deficiency; there is no easy way to attach any kind of label to it!
As the racks are open to the public, the labels must meet a few basic requirements:

  • they must not obstruct the person stacking the rack
  • they can’t have any sharp edges
  • it should be difficult/impossible for them to get dislodged

Not so easy to create anything to solve the problem in my garage using odd bits and pieces and even worse when I need the solution for 20-30 racks.

 I’ve been following the development of basic 3D printers for a while now, and have been fascinated with the whole idea of having a machine at home which can “print” all kinds of solid objects for a very reasonable price. One of the terms used when describing these machines is “rapid prototyping” so, it seemed pretty natural for me to use that when searching for help with the labeling problem. Adding “wight” to the end of  it gave a few results in Google but nothing really stood out until I looked a lot more closely.

I found mention of a small company called GoCNC in Ventnor, and decided to give them a call and pay a visit.

I explained the problem to them and left them with a rough sketch of what I thought was needed, a rack and some of the contents (just to make sure they got the right measurements).

It was good to get involved with a small engineering company and I hope to report back soon on their solution and the final product.

Happy New Year

OK so I’m a few days late… take it or leave it 😉

Not much to report really, I just thought I’d better get a new post in and bring things up to date a little.

No matter how I try I can’t seem to get my office/workspace clear of  a seemingly ever growing pile of old PCs and bits! As fast as I get rid of a pile of old machines, a couple of “new”  broken ones appear. I meant to photograph the current pile and put an ad on FreeCycle but haven’t got around to it – 3 old laptops, 2 PC desktop cases, 4 tower cases, an HP scanner, 2 printers and a bunch of PSU, oh and a partridge in a pear tree!

The pile is now big enough to raise eyebrows at the local tip as I’m sure they’d think it was commercial dumping so I think the FreeCycle thing is the only way to go.

I hope there’s not another one on the way as I just had a call from somebody who fell for the phone scam where the caller reckons he’s from Microsoft Support. He says he has detected that your PC is infected with all sorts of nasties and eventually convinces people to allow him remote access to assess the damage. Unfortunately, my friend allowed him online and only realized the scam halfway through. He immediately shutdown his PC but is rightly scared about what has been done by the intruder.

More later I suspect….

BBC Homepage…..

I’ve been using the BBC page for a good few years now and visit it at least once each day. This morning when I visited I see they have implemented their threat of a new design.

OK, so it’s the first day of general release for the new page but I am really surprised that they have removed the options for me to customize the page to show only the things I am interested in. All I can do now is set my postcode so I see the latest weather and news for my area.

Instead of being presented with a set of options in a relatively small screen space, I now find I have to wade though half a screen filled with irrelevant (to me) pictures, football news, and the latest Strictly rubbish etc etc.

I hope they improve things…. Meantime, I’ll give the new look a 1 out of 10!

Update:
Well it’s been a few days now and my opinion of the new BBC pages hasn’t changed. Please go back to the previous version…. This new one grates more each time I visit, oh, and please make links from the iPlayer or Listen Live open in a new tab as it’s far too easy to overwrite the page with a new link.