Firefox Security Hole Is Why You Need An Adblocker And An Update

Windows:

  • When I clicked “Help” then “About Firefox” it immediately downloaded the patch.  
  • Click on the “Restart Firefox To Update Button”

Linux (Debian)

Assuming you have “real” Firefox installed and the sources in place.

  • Open Terminal as Root.
  • Smile because you have Root.
  • apt-get update
  • apt-get upgrade
  • Restart Firefox when you click on the button that appears.

Other Linux Distros will vary, of course.

Mac apparently does not have the problem.

What happened?  Hackers.  Simply put, a Hacker exploited a hole in Firefox so that advertisements could push some code onto your machine to take it over.

Now, this business about ad blockers.

I run one and I use it very aggressively. It is for this reason.  It is also that I truly hate being pandered to and watched.

The latest trend is to watch what you are doing via “tags”.  A 1 pixel “dot” of a picture will be pushed to your browser as an anchor for them to watch what you are doing.

The best thing for you to do is to run an ad blocker.  You tell it what to block, and yes, it gets very technical because you have to take responsibility to block these things.  For the most part, an ad blocker with (free) subscriptions will block most, but never all, of these nasties.

When you run an ad blocker you will also notice that your browser runs much faster since it isn’t trying to paint all those ads for all those products that you will never use.

Lets be honest, have you ever actually clicked on an ad intentionally?

Me neither.

Heck, I don’t even see youtube commercials because I run an ad blocker.

The easier one to use is Ad Block Plus.  It is controversial because they allow certain advertisers to pay *them* to be allowed past the blocker.  I would recommend this for basic users because unless you want to learn how to use it, it’s pretty simple.

The one I am using is called uBlock.  I’m still learning how to use it.  It removes the ads, but I haven’t figured out how to make it remove the blank space the ad created.

It’s up to you.  Ads and Hackers, or a better browsing experience.  I know what I chose.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a browser to restart.

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I’m A Box

Well Played, Box, Well Played.

I found myself staring at the bottom side of a box.

Having knife in hand, it was time to slit the strapping tape holding it together.  It was going to be a box no longer.

We do recycle here.  We actually throw out less trash than we recycle, so Box, you will go out to the big green bin to the big green truck for it’s trip to the recycling plant here.   Box will join your friends, then roll down the block scaring my dog on its way.

It’s ok, you couldn’t have know that the very food you contained would sustain the same dog you would eventually scare on your last trip off the island.  He eats better than we do.

You visited me only for a short time.  Arriving crisp and clean, you sat in my dining room awaiting that Friday trip or a respite in a reuse.  We do reuse before we recycle, but that wouldn’t be your fate.  Holding a bag of dog food was one thing that meant you would be too large, Box, for that sort of treatment. 

For a while you sat on my dining room chairs, the solid maple chairs that I brought from my old home in Philadelphia.  You sat there empty looking over my dining room as if to ask what is my next step in life?  You were in effect asking me, “when do I move on?”.

My dog Rack did sniff you over from tape to tip.  After all, you smelled richly of Regional Red.  We got him the best food we could simply because he wouldn’t digest anything else.   Dogs who don’t digest don’t get strong, they don’t thrive.

But for about two months, the bag of Orijen dog food that came from the plant in Canada, then to Petflow.com in New York will bring life to our beloved faithful sidekick.  

Box, if that is what you wish to be called, you will have another life.  Perhaps as paper towels, perhaps as another box, perhaps as electricity.  Tomorrow the food you brought us a month ago will be opened so my dog can sniff it over, and eat slowly all day.  In another two months, Box, your great grandchild will visit us with another bag of imported dog food from the Great White North of Canada.

I am advertising averse.  I watch TV programs only with a remote and a DVR handy.  When a commercial comes on, I either skip past it, or let the delay build up so I can skip later.  But I caught myself looking at you.  Those commercials were not entertaining, but I have to admit I found myself pondering this message.

Once in a very rare while, even I pay attention.

I Can’t Be The Only One Who Gave Up On The 6 O’Clock News

If a bobblehead makes noise on the TV and it isn’t watched, does it still make a sound?

When I was asked about an accident that happened about a mile away, a car apparently ended up inside of a Miami Subs restaurant last night, I admitted I didn’t have a clue.

We heard sirens in the distance and I just didn’t realize what was going on.

I did look online about this particular story and couldn’t find it which was probably for the best.  

Thinking about it though, it did drive a point.  I stopped watching TV news years ago.  Fire, Murder, Corruption, Theft, Weather, Sports, and Chirpy Close all crammed into 22 minutes plus 8 minutes of Commercials and other “important” stuff all dumbed down to a Least Common Denominator level of intelligence to entertain, and not necessarily inform.

It got too easy to find news online, to skim the headings and read those things that mattered – to me.   With a little effort you could find a way to drop in your email box any story you want, targeted to what you are actually interested in.  Something called an RSS Feed from your favorite news website takes a lot of that targeting and makes it easy.  Frankly, the amount of information that you get from that “Rich Site Summary” is generally more than your favorite bobble head will give you on some of the longer ongoing stories.

I simply find the RSS Link and save that as a bookmark.  It reads in Firefox or other browser and allows me the option to read deeper or skip with minimal effort.  Not as shiny and flashy, but functional and fast.

I already do that, and while it could be too easy to miss something because you’ve pigeon holed yourself by reading only those stories that are interesting to you, it’s a lot more effective.   The serendipity of stumbling across a story that may be out of your normal scope is a wonderful thing, but a bit ineffective use of time.

TV has long become either the First or Second Screen in most people’s lives.  First World Problems aside, I’m lost without a laptop when I’m watching a show.  Easy enough to look up a reference.   Since I always watch TV on a digital recorder, I skip through commercials, pause at random points, and surf while doing other things. 

Broadcast news isn’t one of those habits I picked up again.  Easy enough to reduce a news program on TV to less than 15 minutes.   Sports is irrelevant to me as well as other specific stories.  For that matter, a DVR would be required for news so I could skip through the fluff pieces and thinly veiled commercials that pass for information.

I tried it after I moved here to South Florida.  I had accidentally recorded the hour of news broadcast and found myself watching one story.  It was forgettable, but before long they moved onto some detailed explanation of the opening of a business in another county and my thumb started hitting the skip button.  I also found myself screaming at the TV in frustration because it wasn’t really all that “Fair and Balanced” local news, it was pretty painfully tilted to their one closed way of thinking.

Independent news went out with the Fairness Doctrine and isn’t coming back soon since it isn’t profitable.

I did turn on RSS on this blog.  I know a few people do read it that way since the statistics I see show it.  I guess I’m “Eating My Own Dogfood” by following a philosophy that I tend to live by myself. 

Most major news organizations allow you to read their news that way. 

NPR has a large collection of RSS Feeds.
BBC does as well although you will have to use a separate feed for each topic.
NASA lets you get caught up on their field of Space Exploration in depth if you require.
MSNBC has them on their various pages as well.

And the local papers have them available.

It all makes it a lot easier to get the news you need and not be force-fed by someone else’s interests.

Dealing with Facebook Annoyances Using Adblock Plus

Audience is either Firefox Users or Chrome Users.

Facebook is the website you love to hate.

Teens are leaving it, adults can be addicted as a time sink, marketers think they can buy the world’s information at a song.

You can tame the beast some. 

Lately Facebook has made some changes to the way they present information.  It’s all about getting you to opt into more things – you know, to “Like” them.   That helps them build a profile about you.   Since you tend to give up that information freely, it’s pretty valuable.

But lately it got to be a bit much.  Since I manage a number of websites, and a number of social media presences online, I have to be on Facebook – all day.

First thing is you really need a good ad blocker.   The reason is that those ad services may be entertaining but they are watching what you do everywhere.  You may not have a problem with it, but I do.

I went to Firefox years ago and installed an adblocker.  The latest iteration of it is called “Adblock Edge”.  It will block both intrusive and non-intrusive advertising.   The distinction between that and “Adblock Plus” is that Adblock Plus has been paid by Google and perhaps others to not block their text ads.  That raises the question of what else are they not telling you.  Supposedly Adblock Plus is making the decision as to whether something is acceptable, and I’m not comfortable with that.

  • Simple, get Adblock Edge instead.  Adblock Edge will allow you, once you learn how to use the thing, to block any advert as well as things like frames and those reprehensible “Fancybox” and “Lightbox” things that seem to float over a web page.

I’ll let you look into that whole learning process.   It’s best that you look into it yourself, but the default settings on Adblock Edge are pretty good to begin with.  The simplest explanation is that you can right click on an ad, Select “Adblock Plus: Block Image” and tailor what you see.

The next step is to import something into Adblock Edge that works with Facebook itself.   There’s a big long list of things that they added that annoy me, as well as clutter their interface.  Frankly I don’t have time for most of it, but a long list of that stuff can be found in this article. 

Those annoyances are the “You May Like” or the “You May Know” genre of items.  They got to the point where they were more than half of what I would see on Facebook.   So when I saw the article, I followed the simple instructions:

  • First Surf this page.  It gives you a graphical representation of things you don’t want to see.

  • Second, select the link you want.  I selected the Block All in the first column but that may be a bit too much.  You can see the graphic and select the one you want by clicking on the green “+ add” button.

  • Third, add the rules to your Adblocker.  When you click on the “+ add” button, it will pop up the Adblock dialogue box for “Add Adblock Plus Filter Subscription”.  Click on the button to “Add Subscription”.

You’re done.  Facebook will be less cluttered – until they break that by changing things.

You can always hide those people or businesses by unfriending or unliking them, but that is a bit of a Nuclear Option.   This keeps the friends but loses the “chaff”.

It just got too hectic, so thankfully Technology came to the rescue.

South Florida Needs a Proper Hoagie, Come on Down, Wawa!

Forget that Subway stuff, it’s a pale imitation.  The bread is just too Poofy and Bland.

That’s the problem, they will tell you here.  The “water is just wrong” to get a good bread.  I will say that there are some places that make some amazing artisanal breads here.  I know, I search them out.

I also make my own bread and sometimes the crust is “right” with just the right amount of crisp.  It’s fine for what I use it for, pizza crusts, dinner rolls, and the like.

The last time I had a Proper Hoagie, I was in the Wawa in Orlando.  My best guess is that Wawa has licensed the Amoroso Roll recipe and “process” because the roll in the Wawa there tasted just like I remembered them back in Philly.

A Hoagie.  Not a Sub, Grinder, Zep or what have you.  The name is from Hog Island in Philadelphia.  It came from the Italian Immigrants who worked on Hog Island at the Shipyards during and before The World War One and later.  The women would send their husbands to work with a characteristic sandwich of meats and vegetable on a torpedo roll, and the non-Italians would get jealous. 

Mind you, this same kind of sandwich was popular anywhere you had the lucky accident of Italian families, good cold cuts, the right rolls and the right recipe.  Typically in the Northeast US, Philadelphia, New York, and nearby cities would specialize in these “Italian Hoagies”.

They were so common growing up that we never really thought twice about them.   We knew where to get The Best ones, often made with home made meats and cheeses.  Talk about Artisanal food, you can’t get much better than sopressatta made by grandpa in the basement, some fresh capicola, proscuitto, extra sharp provolone or Scamorza, parmesan cheese.  Add all that with Lettuce, tomato, and onion, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, and wine vinegar.

The Wine Vinegar would be from Mom’s bottle of Chianti that she’d leave a little in the bottom for cooking.  It never went “bad” it just turned into vinegar for sandwiches.

Don’t waste that stuff, it’s good for you! I would hear.

Food here in South Florida is excellent, but it is not the same.  There are a few Italian Markets, but I’m not seeing what I was used to in those claustrophobic little places near THE Italian Market on 9th and Catherine in South Philly.  Here we have amazing seafood, wonderful Cuban food, and more Thai than I could shake a Bangkok Lady Boy at.  They’re all wonderful in their own rights.

But sometimes, you just want that oddball bit of strange food that mom would slap on the table with “Try it, it’s from The Market” and you knew you were in for a treat.  Four ingredients and you would have a salad, take the tail end of the salad and add a little meat to a roll and you’ve got your basic hoagie.

Again, Don’t waste that stuff or mom would throw a wooden spoon at you.

I guess that’s how I got to be 6’4″, finishing off all that food.

But I still haven’t stumbled across a Hoagie here in South Florida that would be as good as the “common” Wawa Hoagie.  Wawas were everywhere and what you grew to love when you needed a quick hoagie fix.

When I traveled through Orlando to get to Deltona to get the dog from the rescue, we detoured an hour just to hit that “Southernmost Wawa” on South Semoran Blvd.  It was a flashback for me.  The hoagie was just as good as the little Wawa that used to be five houses down from my home in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. 

I sunk my teeth in and realized “They Got The Roll Right”.   In Florida, they got the roll RIGHT!

They weren’t shipped in either.  These rolls were made on the premises and I could not taste a difference from the Amoroso’s Rolls from my youth.  Heaven on a Foot-long roll in a cabinet coming out dozens at a time.

Getting That Roll Right has been a challenge for me.  It’s gotten me started baking again.  I don’t have the recipe down, which is fine.  It’s right for other uses, and head and shoulders better than the usual “Bakery” rolls down from the supermarket.

But it just doesn’t beat a Wawa Hoagie.

Do Not Track – It’s A Start But Only A Start

In the “modern” browsers there’s a setting deep down that tells advertisers that you don’t want to be tracked for advertising purposes.

Internet Explorer sets that on by default.
It is also in Chrome and Firefox.

For Firefox you can set it yourself by:
Click on Tools
Click on Options
Click on Privacy

Under Tracking, there is a tick box that promises to tell advertisers that you do not want to be tracked.

Mine is checked, but I don’t believe it actually works.

You see you’re telling someone that you don’t want to be a source of their income.  That’s how advertising works, they have learned that they can watch what you surf and build a profile of what you’re doing.   They can tell pretty much everything you can do.

You can lower their effectiveness but you can’t eliminate what they’re doing unless you do something that is fairly “heroic” by installing all sorts of software or learning another operating system and surfing from that.  There is InPrivate mode in Internet Explorer but it also breaks sites sometimes.  Better solution than most, but nothing is perfect.

When I set up a computer for myself or anyone else, I immediately install a few pieces of software.

Firefox as a browser.

Then I install an extension that is also available for Chrome called “Adblock Plus“.  That breaks some more of the advertising as well as some of their tracking.   The benefit is that I do not see advertising.  I can also block that sort of thing. 

For me, browsing a website on someone else’s computer is a jarring experience.  Ads blink, flash, and sometimes even scream at me.  On my own computer, it’s a blissful experience.

That and it also speeds up browsing. 

I’ve taken it a step further by adding a hosts file onto computers that I am not doing web development on which simply tells the computer not to search any web pages that are at a certain address. 

I went so far as to add a hosts file to my Android phone and it’s quite nice not having to look at ads.  It’s a great “advertisement” for “Rooting” your Android phone.

The software I use on Android is Adfree to help block advertising by placing that hosts file in the right spot.  Just because I want to be “complete” I also installed a Hosts Editor but strictly speaking I don’t really need that.

Both of the above only work on Rooted Android phones.  If you’re not rooted, you’ll need to find a guide on how to do it for your specific phone, model, carrier.   It gets complex but usually there’s a step by step guide to do the work for you.  Once I found mine, it took about 10 minutes.

They can’t track you if they can’t find you.