26 June 2008

Quick Article Roundup -- Easy and Adblock, and Google Defines Obscenity

One Man, One Long List, No More Web Ads - washingtonpost.com

A quick story about "Rick752," the guy behind the AdBlock Plus filterset EasyList. I don't really depend upon AdBlock Plus to block ads for me (I depend upon the NoScript extension to block ad servers -- much easier and quicker -- I stopped using AdBlock Plus due to the enormous memory leaks it had in Firefox version 2), but I support people who do.

Once again, this whole issue stems from a misunderstanding of how the internet works -- when you go to a website, you're not really going to a place where someone else's computer is running little noisy flash ads and pictures and music and explosions. You're downloading framework information (HTML, JavaScript, Flash binaries) to your computer, and then these things are being run on your computer. And if I don't want these things running on my computer, I won't let them. Especially when they're lag-inducing Flash ads that cause my poor old computer to chug chug away for 10 seconds before I'm even able to render the rest of the site I'm going to.

I'm not "depriving" any company of anything -- if their business model depends upon me letting them have access to run bits of code (no matter how small) on my computer, they're in for a surprise, because I don't open my doors for just anyone.

But enough of that -- I'm really curious about the detection methods used by the sites they mention (the Daily Kos, among others). They've got to be some sort of funky client-side code -- I notice the DailyKos' "please subscribe if you use AdBlock" message is downloaded to the browser whether you're using AdBlock or not, and apparently just displayed afterwards...

Oh, bloody clever... just figured it out. The message is apparently displayed by default as "display: block", and then if your browser has access to "blogads.com" (which if you're using AdBlock Plus, you more than likely don't), your browser downloads a little css file with a "display: none" in it for the "Please Subscribe" text block.

Clever -- wonder if this could be fixed by making AdBlock Plus not block css files, only images? I thought JavaScript would be used for this situation, but then JavaScript is still supposed to be optional for all websites, right? ;) (It's the reason why NoScript users are practically untouchable.)

What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer - nytimes.com

Just a quick read -- I thought this was funny as hell. A lawyer, defending somebody for something (who cares), tries to strike down legal definitions of "obscenity" (which are often worded quite silly in local lawbooks, with definitions like "that which the community finds obscene" -- wonderful circular logic there), by showing that more people in that area search for "orgies" than search for "apple pie." Brilliant!

Edited 06/27/08: Changed several instaces of "Adblock" to "Adblock Plus" because there's actually a good bit of difference between the two.


  1. Adblock Plus and Adblock are not the same. Adblock is an unmaintained extension, and that's for 3 years already. Yes, Adblock has known memory leaks, but I don't think the project maintainer cares. Adblock Plus on the other hand is tested for memory leaks regularly, no known issues.

  2. Duly noted! Though I meant "Adblock Plus" when I was saying "Adblock," I went ahead and made a few corrections -- however, my experiences with FF2 were definitely with Adblock Plus and not regular Adblock. (Mem usage went down from an average of 600MB after a day's browsing down to around 300 after I disabled it.)

    However, could this have been from my blocking list? (I depend upon a long regex string to block ads servers rather than a list of sites.) I must admit, I don't hear other people having near as many problems as I did with it, so I imagine it was something that I was doing differently.