A fairer, more conscientious alternative to AdBlock Plus

Hav­ing just stum­bled across an arti­cle advo­cat­ing against AdBlock Plus (via Lea Ver­ou), I decid­ed to revis­it my set­tings for rel­a­tive­ly nui­sance-free brows­ing in Fire­fox.

For a long time I’ve done devel­op­ment work and writ­ing for a site that keeps its lights on through adver­tis­ing, so I sym­pa­thize with con­tent-cre­ators’ need for (and frus­tra­tion with) ads. It’s a nec­es­sary evil, and I’ve always found it a bit dis­heart­en­ing to see AdBlock Plus at the top of every “Pop­u­lar Plu­g­ins” list (whether for Chrome, Fire­fox, or Safari). Worse, there seems to be a sense of enti­tle­ment among savvy inter­net users, telling them that they shouldn’t have to endure ads. Com­mon­ly this might be veiled as being “anti-cor­po­rate” or some oth­er such vague excuse, but the real rea­sons are usu­al­ly the same as those behind pira­cy: it’s just nice not to have to pay for things, whether through eye­balls, band­width, or dol­lars.

(None of this is to say that I am entire­ly inno­cent on these points.)

Still, there are some trou­bling com­mon prac­tices among the more insid­i­ous of these JavaScript embeds, and I think there is some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in cir­cum­vent­ing them. But one doesn’t need to block every adver­tise­ment to severe­ly dimin­ish adver­tis­ers’ abil­i­ty to, say, keep track of one’s brows­ing habits.

Here are the things you can do to make your brows­ing a lit­tle more pri­vate and safe, while still (most­ly) allow­ing the sites you love to pay their bills. These tips will be writ­ten for Fire­fox users (though the equiv­a­lent plu­g­ins are read­i­ly avail­able in Chrome and Safari), and won’t include things that read­ers of this site will prob­a­bly already know about (e.g., avoid­ing “watch movies free” sites and their ilk, and dis­abling pop-ups).

Con­tin­ue →

Video: That MTV “Vertebrae” Commercial

Hey, I didn’t say it was good.

I guess what I find so fas­ci­nat­ing about it is: When did MTV ever con­done being unpop­u­lar? Between the Spring Break pro­gram­ming and drunk girls cry­ing on The Real World, it was an odd change of pace, but one that remind­ed me of the atti­tude MTV used to have, in the ’80s, before they became shame­less cul­ture-mon­gers. Still, it’s impor­tant not to ignore that this guy actu­al­ly is attrac­tive, and dressed fash­ion­ably, and — at least at my school — prob­a­bly would have been pop­u­lar. I guess it would have turned too many view­ers off to have pre­sent­ed him as acne-rid­den, over­weight, with­out any sense of style, and lis­ten­ing to black met­al?

Some­thing I for­got to men­tion last time is that this was part of a series of com­mer­cials, if I remem­ber cor­rect­ly, that played on the “V” in “MTV,” although I for­get the titles of the oth­er install­ments.

Thanks to La fille des mon­tagnes (“The girl moun­tain”?) for send­ing me the video.

Substantialiscious”

SubstantialisciousThis word is used in Snick­ers’ new ad cam­paign, where­in they plas­ter these long, awk­ward neol­o­gisms (e.g., “Peanu­topo­lis,” “Hun­gerec­to­my,” etc.) on bus­es and bill­boards and on their can­dy bar wrap­pers them­selves.

What struck me about this one is that any­body read­ing it would prompt­ly assume that it is a fusion of “sub­stan­tial” and “deli­cious”; but wouldn’t that pro­duce “sub­stan­tia­li­cious,” not “-scious”? In fact, the only words that end in “-scious” are “lus­cious” and the var­i­ous forms of con­scious­ness. I don’t think they meant to evoke lus­cious­ness, and even if they did, shouldn’t they have coined “Sub­stan­tialuscious”?

Things got worse when I opened the wrap­per:

Sub­stan­tialis­cious \sub-‘stan(t)-shu-‘li-shus\
(noun). The weight of some­thing when you weigh it with your tongue.

It is, of course, an adjec­tive, a fact that a con­trib­u­tor to Urban Dic­tio­nary even tried to point out, albeit incor­rect­ly.

It’s an easy tar­get, I know, but I’m just gen­uine­ly sur­prised that they let some­thing like that get out the door; it’s a fair­ly clever cam­paign, and “Hun­gerec­to­my” in par­tic­u­lar pre­sup­pos­es that the aver­age per­son is smart enough to know what the suf­fix “-ecto­my” means. And wouldn’t some­body who knows that also know an adjec­tive from a noun? It’s just con­fus­ing.