Microsoft, please don’t annoy me before 6AM.
I had gotten in after the dog walk, settled in for some iced tea, and wanted to check my email once the computer got started.
Using www.outlook.com has never been a pleasure for me. I want an email service that stays out of my way with extra “features” that I don’t want. Having a chat service tied into an email program that is a bloated mess was not my choice. Even Hotmail.com was better than the steaming pile of garbage that Outlook.com has been bloated into.
At the lower left of the browser screen was a helpful “Messaging” area with little icons of people who I have written in the past. I found myself immediately looking for a way to turn it off. After wasting a half hour in the “Byzantine” settings menu in Outlook, I went to do a search for how to do it. I found this page suggesting that I add an entry into a low level file and restart my computer. The low level file is a text file called “Hosts” that your computer reads in when it starts. What Hosts does is to override networking.
In Windows it is at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and Linux keeps it at /etc/hosts which would be where I would expect to find it on Mac OSX.
Some very basic and oversimplified networking concepts.
If you type in http://www.ramblingmoose.com your computer doesn’t know what that does. It consults your network stack, finds the gateway, and then talks to your internet service provider. In this case it looks at a giant phone book called your DNS and gets the IP Address of the site. Since my blog points to a blogger site, that number changes, and it’s hosted by Google anyway.
But I can change that.
If I bring up Hosts in notepad or any other TEXT editor, I can add in a line saying that a specific IP address is to be used when you go to a specific web address or URL.
For example, if I want to block Google, I add a line to the file:
Save the file and restart the computer.
This works for some sites that are advertising providers and other nuisance sites. My own Hosts file is pretty large having gotten one that has most of those malware and advertising sites that were known at the time.
But all this is annoying to maintain. Fortunately, there is an easier way to do it.
Adblock Edge or Adblock Plus in Firefox and whichever other browsers it supports. Adblock Edge is always the first thing I add when I install Firefox. It allows me to block ads, hide pictures, and even block whole websites (domains) if I choose to from a semi-friendly interface.
Simply add a custom “rule” to adblock to block the following URL:
It would be a whole lot simpler if Microsoft had decided that it would give you a way to block that Messaging app within Outlook.com settings, but they chose not to. Luckily I can turn it off and get some things done.
How to add a custom rule:
- Ctrl+Shift+F will open a window called “Adblock Edge Filter Preferences”.
- Click on the “Add Filter” button in the upper right of the window.
- In the blue box, enter geo.gateway.messenger.live.com and Enter.
- Close the window by clicking the Close Box.
- When you refresh Outlook.com in your browser, it will be blocked in that browser only.