Saucers of Mud

September 20, 2008

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Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 4:43 pm

Is there anyone else out there who’s kind of thinking, “If I ever encounter Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution I’m going to have to punch him in the mouth?”

[Because he keeps talking at me about the intertwining of the food and fuel markets whenever I move my mouse over the top of about half the web pages I visit. I’m sure Homi Kharas is a lovely person, and the intertwining of the food and fuel markets is very important, but YOU CAN SHUT UP ABOUT IT NOW THANK YOU.]



  1. You need to install a Flash blocker. For Safari, you can try Safariblock, . What I then do is to right-click on a Flash animation I don’t want to see and choose “Safariblock.” This will show the pathname of the ad file. This is usually a long incomprehensible path, but most ads are served from a small number of sites, and you can replace most of the path with the ‘*’ wildcard. So, I right-click and see that the ad is coming from, and I edit the path in the Safariblock window to be “*” or “*.swf*”. (swf is a Flash file.) This will block all ads from that site. If you do this enough, you’ll block most of the major ad servers.

    For Firefox, I use the Flashblock plugin (download from somewhere on This replaces all embedded flash with a little logo that you click on if you want to see the Flash video. Thus you can click on Youtube but not see Flash ads.

    These will make your life better. On older slow computers like mine, they will also greatly reduce the CPU use of your web browser and speed things up.

    Comment by Ben — September 22, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  2. Is this better than disabling plug-ins altogether? In Safari you can disable plug-ins, Java, and Javascript via Preferences. And you can block pop-up windows from the Safari menu. I used to block pop-ups, but I caved and permit them now.
    As I recall, Explorer, which I had at work 3-4 years ago, allowed “stop animations.”

    Comment by Matt's mom — September 24, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  3. Yes, because sometimes you want to use a plug-in. You might want to see a Flash video on Youtube, or your browser may use plug-ins for postscript, PDF, sound files, and so on. Many web sites use (rather silly) menus that don’t work right without Javascript. There is no reason to allow pop-up windows, though. If you want to allow pop-ups from certain sites, like newspapers that pop up photos in a new window, you can allow them for those sites only.

    Netscape had “stop animations” (shortcut=Escape key) before IE as far as I know, and Firefox still does. But what that does is stop animated GIF files from moving. It doesn’t stop Flash files from playing.

    Comment by Ben — September 24, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  4. I am not so depraved that I don’t have the pop-up blocker installed on Firefox! It doesn’t block every pop-up, but it gets some. Flashblock seems like it’s probably a good idea, especially with the CPU issues.

    It’s a shame, because I don’t have an objection to ads in general, just the ones that yap at me or that spread themselves all over the site content (or in Homi Kharas’s case, both). And it seems to me that less obtrusive ads would probably be harder to block. But they’d also probably vacuum up less attention.

    Comment by matt w — September 27, 2008 @ 6:59 am

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