Showing posts with label block ads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label block ads. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Prevent Docker for Windows Auto Update

I recently installed Docker Desktop in order to then install PiHole on my Windows 10 desktop PC. PiHole is a cool and free little utility that you can install as a Docker container to provide ad blocking capability that goes a step further than a browser ad blocker add-on like say UBlock Origin. Once installed you can have your PC serve as a sort of DNS proxy for your entire network which bypasses a wide array of blacklisted IP addresses and domains.

One annoying and frankly impolite "feature" of Docker Desktop in general is that some time ago (possibly after version 2.5 or thereabouts) they removed an option through the GUI to disable automatic updates. This is irritating because what you might expect happened to me; a newer, buggy version once installed caused Docker to behave erratically and crash frequently. 

I took a quick look at the Docker documentation (Dockermentation??) and while there are command line options to disable auto updates in the Docker daemon I haven't got the patience to figure out what syntax to use; I mean come on, I'm so lazy I'm using Windows 10, right?

Instead I tried to find out where Docker downloads its updated versions, and I believe I found that folder as shown below. From the Start menu you can type in C:\Users\<Windows username>\AppData\Local\Docker Desktop Installer:

Docker's systray icon will conspicuously show a little "i" to inform you of a looming upgrade, and at the next restart of Docker Desktop the upgrade ordinarily will be installed. However, in lazily taking a stab at preventing this behavior I decided to alter the file system attributes of the folder containing the updates to make it and its contents read-only.

The idea is to both prevent updates from being downloaded in the first place, and in case Docker normally attempts to write any temp files to that folder as part of the upgrade process to kneecap its ability to do so and maybe indicate to that logic something's up that makes upgrading a bad idea.

I altered the folder attributes and applied them, then exited Docker via the systray icon and after a minute or so opened the shortcut. I checked the version first of all:

I was rewarded not with Docker dictating the 3.2.x version I'd use going forward, but rather the previous 3.1.x version I downgraded to in order to not get stuck with the buggy behavior of the newer but less stable version. Success!

I also noticed the conspicuous "i" was gone, as if the logic quietly decided the attempt to upgrade never even happened, which is fine by me.

Of course this isn't the optimal way to prevent software from doing its thing despite user preference, but in these "challenging" times laziness reigns supreme in my headspace. Possible caveats may be that the next time you manually upgrade to a newer version you might need to reapply this change to your file system (too lazy to post a batch file to do it, sorry!) but that's minor compared to browsing on my tablet across the house from my PC and having Docker crash and take out my PiHole.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It Appears You're Using Advertisements, Click Here to Learn More

We now live in an age where informed consumers can increasingly control their digital environment.

In the area of entertainment, which includes movies and TV, we can choose to pay cable or satellite companies a hefty monthly fee for the "privilege" of dozens or even hundreds of channels we might never watch. Inevitably bundled with this pile of privilege in the case of non-premium channels is advertising. LOTS of advertising.  Much the same applies to the internet.

When I browse the web, given the choice, I would with very few exceptions choose to opt out of seeing any advertising whatsoever in any way, shape, or form. I tend to be specific about what I'm looking for, and anything outside of that is generally just clutter.

Occasionally, websites will throw up a message like the one below when they detect that I have ad blocking software (in my case most recently, uBlock for desktop browsing, and for my Apple-using friends, the iOS app Purify):

Contrary to this, I'm well aware of the consequences of using ad blocking. These include:
  • Ensuring my serenity by eliminating the possibility of being drawn away from what I really want from this website by at best vaguely relevant advertising.
  • Saving my bandwidth (which, in this era of greedy ISPs with their data cap overage fees, is particularly important).
  • Getting exactly what I want out of my experience, on my own terms and no one else's.

Serenity is important to me; advertising is not, at all. Yet advertisers and their ilk try desperately to lure as many eyeballs as possible to their wares. 

Bandwidth is something I pay for, not advertisers, not website owners. They seem to assume they have a right to freeload and vomit their ads onto my internet, and believe that their advertising has even one iota of importance in comparison to what I arrived at their site to view. They are quite mistaken.

What I want often differs with what I get on sites that are rife with advertising. Facilitated by demographics obtained overtly or covertly through my interactions with social media and elsewhere, advertising appears in an attempt to cater to me based on my age, ethnicity, profession, and innumerable other personal attributes. I eagerly block all of these as I come across them on any site whose content I care to explore further.

If I find your site useful, provide a link with a reputable, non-PayPal site and I will happily consider donating. If you want to advertise things that are closely relevant to the content of yours I'm browsing in the first place, that's actually fine with me. If you passively advertise with non-intrusive hyperlinks, I'll happily leave them be.

BUT, intrude on my serenity, whittle away the bandwidth I pay for, and try to derail the experience I want to achieve, and I will block, blacklist, and if necessary make a fuss to the FCC or whomever will listen, and inform the purchasers of said advertising that you've not only wasted their money, you've brought a bit of disfavor upon their brand by choosing such advertising so poorly.In short, SHUT UP, Leslie!

That logo on Leslie's shirt seems just a wee bit familiar...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Block Reddit Ads, Part Deux

In my previous post I outlined a method to block Reddit ads. 

It worked, until I tried hitting Reddit early this morning.

It appears that the ad structure is slightly different, now the following element hiding rule in the Element Hiding Helper of AdBlock Plus should do the trick:

This ought to work until they decide to change up their site structure once again. 

UPDATE: Apparently, the developer of AdBlock Plus has decreed that Reddit ads will from this point forward be whitelisted, stating that Reddit ads meet their 'acceptable ads' guidelines, necessitating custom rules like I describe above. To me, this is a bad idea, especially since even bigtime advertisers like Yahoo, Fox, and Google have inadvertently helped malware procreate through ads.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Block Reddit Ads

Reddit recently introduced an update to their ads which eludes AdBlock Plus.

Instead of a simple element ID denoted as a sponsored link, their page uniquely identifies it according to a link to the comments for a given ad posting. Ads annoy me, and as my previous post on blocking Reddit ads attests, even their minimal advertising is an unwanted distraction.

However, using the Element Hiding Helper, it's trivial to block the new ad scheme. If you're already familiar with hiding elements, all you need to do is add an element hiding rule like this: > *

If you want a more detailed procedure which might help you block other unwanted web content, read on.

In Firefox, tap the ALT key to display the menu, then click Tools => AdBlock Plus => Select an element to hide (or alternatively hit CTRL-SHIFT-F3). This brings up the element selection dialog that lets you pick and choose items on the web page to hide.

Now a red selection box will outline and identify elements of the page as your mouse cursor hovers over them. If you hover over the sponsored link area, you should see something like this:

Note the entire ad post is surrounded, with a tag in the lower-left indicating the post is within a DIV element. Click on the tag for this area, and you'll open the Compose element hiding rule dialog.

This is the Basic view, but we need to go deeper, so click on the Advanced view button.

By default, when you clicked to select the ad, the element hider chose that specific DIV element. However, blocking this won't do, as each ad will have a unique identifier (in this case, 17aahm) which will foil the filter. 

To get around this, first click on the checkbox beside the option that begins "class: thing id-..." to uncheck it, and then click on the DIV in the list which is the parent to this one, just above the default selection. Then, click the checkbox beside siteTable_promoted so that it's checked, and then click the Add element hiding rule button.

Now the ad should be hidden, either immediately or after your next refresh of Reddit's page.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Manage Blocked Sites? Thanks, Google!

Google recently unveiled a tremendous new feature which allows you to block sites from their search results.

A feature previously only available as an extension for Chrome, users with a Google Account can now maintain their own, personal blacklist of sites whose search results aren't useful.

The original entry about this release on the Google blog tells the story, and you can click the following link to actually access your very own Manage Blocked Sites screen (assuming you're signed in to your Google account).

I mainly use Google, Bing, and Ask for my searches, but now Google is in my top spot solely for this feature. Too often I've submitted a query to a search engine only to be bombarded by useless results consisting of anything from advertising to porn to advertising about porn to malware, and habitually I'd just click the third or fourth page of results in the hope that I'd find some worthwhile content. Now I can shape my search results by eliminating much of the fluff, which translates into much more productive searches.

Creators of fluff are on notice:
"Sites will be blocked only for you, but Google may use everyone's blocking information to improve the ranking of search results overall."

Content is king, as the saying goes, and this is one big step in helping us mere users leverage the system by enabling us to trim away the fluff as we find it.

Well played, Google!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Block Reddit Gold on User Pages

Recently, Reddit added a new link beneath users' overview section of their page:
treat yourself to reddit gold

Also if you happen to be checking out another user's profile, you'll see:
buy (another user) a month of reddit gold

I enjoy Reddit a great deal, and I don't block their sponsored ad banners even though I otherwise have AdBlock Plus enabled, but I found this linkage a bit annoying.

To remove it from your own Reddit user page, you can copy and paste the following Element rule to your AdBlock Plus filter list:[href="/gold"]

To prevent the link from appearing on other users' pages, add another rule with the following slightly different syntax:[href*="/gold?goldtype=gift"]

Here's a screenshot showing how the rules appear:

Friday, October 16, 2009

How To Block New Ads

Recently, digg has embedded new advertising within its list of news stories, making them easier to click and detracting from what might otherwise be an interesting glance at potentially interesting copy.

You can click Bury to blot the ad out, leaving an "X" and the parting remark, "We'll try to give you fewer ads like that one." Well, gee, how about NO ads instead??

To hide this advertising, you can use Firefox in conjunction with the AdBlock Plus add-on and a companion extension, the Element Hiding Helper.

Here's a screenshot of the digg frontpage with just AdBlock Plus enabled. Note that the third entry from the top is a sponsored ad for weight loss supplements. How annoying!

The Element Hiding Helper lets you seamlessly hide text elements appearing as part of the useful content of the page you're viewing. In this case, the new ad element digg is using is encapsulated by a div tag which resembles this:
     <div rel="digg-ad:xyz" style="z-index: 5;" class="news-summary v img-summary sponsored"> 

I chose to filter the ad based on the rel attribute of the tag, specifically the "digg-ad" portion which is consistent from one of the new digg ads to the next (the xyz is a number which differs with each ad element).

I brought up the AdBlock Plus Preferences, and clicked Add Filter. Then, I input the element syntax like so:[rel*="digg-ad"]

The ensures that I'm focusing on filtering these particular elements from only, while the remaining syntax filters out elements where the rel attribute begins with digg-ad.

Now, the result, no more sponsored ad element:

You'll also notice that in among the preferences list is a new subheading, "My Element Hiding Rules", which are rules specific to hiding elements within the web page itself.

You can find a good explanation here on how to pinpoint and filter elements that you find obscure your browsing experience.