Popups Eliminated!

Some readers have recently reported popups (or popunders) when they navigate to any of my blogs. It seems one of the web analytics trackers I use had changed their terms-of-use so as to start including advertising. This has now been taken care of! My apologies for the inconvenience and thanks for those who wrote in to bring this to my notice.

So why did i not notice this myself? No no .. I do read my own blogs every now and then (i particularly enjoy reading my older posts) ;-) But it's that I have been using Firefox (which, for one comes with a built-in popup blocker) with the Adblockplus add-on installed. This plugin does such a neat job of blocking ads, popups, etc that I've never had to see any - even those on my own site. Not surprisingly, readers who reported this use Microsoft Internet Explorer. Although the latest versions do offer a certain level of popup blocking, it is far from perfect. To such readers, I highly advise switching to Firefox.

To see the real difference try browsing to this website (The TOI is a major Indian newspaper). Hold on! Note that their website is full of advertisements and quite a few popups. Navigating to the website opened 3 new windows in the front and 1 more behind (see screenshot on the right - using Microsoft Internet Explorer v6.0).

If you are already using Firefox then it should have already blocked the popups. But you should still continue to see advertisements that include static images as well and flash-based animations.

Now install the Adblockplus add-on (requires browser restart). I feel there is a little explanation required here. As said before, this nifty little add-on does a great job of blocking ads, banners, annoying flash animations (only the unwanted ones), etc. It comes with a set of existing filters - think of these as rules that tell Adblockplus what to and what not to block.

The add-on makers continuously improve these filters and keep adding more to cover new advertising websites and keep up with changes to existing ones. Such "filter lists" are available online (Eg. Easylist). Adblockplus can "subscribe" to one or more list of these improvements i.e. look for and download new ones whenever they are available. This way it always remains on top of things!

So, the first time your Firefox restarts after installing Adblockplus, it will prompt you to select one of many such lists. I usually select the first entry - named "Easylist (USA)". This will have to be done only once. From then on it will automatically continue to download updates to this list.

Next, try browsing to TOI again. The screenshot (Firefox v3) on the left shows the same website . You may note that not a single advertisement is visible!

And for those advertisement that still manage to come through, you can tackle those personally by simply right clicking on one of them and select "Adblock Image...". It's as simple as that! People with techie background can quickly get a hang of of doing this and can easily add their own to cover things like scripts (*.js), iframes, etc wherever easylist has missed them :) For those willing to learn, here's a useful link.

I stress again that legitimate popups and images are rarely blocked (never in my experience). And in case you want to disable adblockplus for a particular site or a while, here's how.

All in all, I highly recommend that you install this plugin and sharing this info with your friends, relatives and loved ones :) Happy browsing!