Spam, spam, spam

Now this is not to say everything is going to hell, but I just encountered a classic example of what I'm about to talk about.

It might just be me, but I doubt it (as a matter of fact, I contradict myself to make a point) - The amount of crap that is out there now, both on the Web and in E-mail, is getting ridiculous.

You've got spam!

Referring to my initial statement: I got ten copies of the same piece of spam in my POP3 inbox today (my Hotmail address has over 50 from two days ago when I cleaned it out), along with the regular deluge of other penis enlargement, viagra, finance stuff and whatever else from lousy spammers. Spammers who appear to have no conscience, nor care for the privacy or age of the person(s) who may be reading a fraction of the millions of e-mails they send out daily. I extend my middle finger in the general direction of all of you. Eat SpamCop .. high fibre.

The Web, too

So I'm annoyed with the e-mail, fine. Let's do some searching on Bala Sharks, as I recently got some and wanted to read up some more on their behavior etc. The first few sites I hit are good, but then what? Crap like /fishinfo/bala_sharks/ under, which has very little information to offer. Insead, it's someone trying to sell me some stuff. Now, is the purpose of that site really to provide info on Bala Sharks, or rather to redirect traffic to some other site for the purposes of hawking some product that I, a "temporary Bala Shark researcher", do not give a flying @#(%*&! about? I extend my middle finger vigorously in your general direction as well!

That site tried to open three pop-up windows for advertising, as well as install the much-loved GAIN (adware/spyware) software from Gator (those guys should be given an extra-extended.. well, you know.) Thanks to a pop-up blocker and DNS filter I have installed, I didn't see any of it - but the attempts were noted.

The earlier days of the Internet were nicer in many respects, even though we were (and still are in many ways) stuck in the disco era of web design (checked ICQ's web page lately? Used to be far worse, but it was even worse than that several years before, it makes me want to break things) .. To its credit however, the disco era of web design was like, "hey man.. make nice sites, not ones loaded with pop-ups" compared to what we're seeing now.

Sales pitches galore

"BUY NOW! XXX VIAGRA P3NI5 3NL4AG3M3NT5! FIX YOUR CREDIT!" ... ad nauseum. Oh and that's just the e-mail :) The web as we knew it died a long time ago. Banners used to be the only thing that irked me. Now it's pop-ups, full-screen or "maximized", repetitive activeX install prompts "required" to view sites (and they try to reload the page if you say "no" so you "have" to install).. (same for cookies) .. Tracking "web beacons", spotlights, bugs, whatever you want to call them, all the same crap - tracking browser info, referer, your IP, OS and anything else your computer is willing to "volunteer".

It's a jungle out there; wear a big rain jacket. Oh and Flash pop-ups, did I mention those? Argh.

Oh and don't even get me started on Verislime's recent decision to redirect all DNS errors to their own site - Not is it only little more than a money grab (the ginsu knife) in my opinion, but they are (drumroll).. breaking the way the internet works at a basic level! Software for e-mail etc. expects some DNS lookups to fail - now with Verislime's shady switch, every lookup resolves to an IP address regardless of whether or not there's a site there. They did this without informing the necessary people first, I might add. (It has been noted that this "service" was later voluntarily taken down as I understand.)

Block, filter, remove

I hardly see any ads ever though (and I never get pop-ups I don't want). If you set up a few key things properly, you can block a ton of advertising, pop-ups and tracking garbage. And hey if anything, browsing is faster since less crap has to load!

Here's what I use, works nicely for me:

Meaya Popup Ad Filter

Self-explanatory - a quick and effective fix for the most annoying form of advertisements. Clicked on a link and a pop-up didn't open when it should have? (Most of these pop-up filters allow pop-ups if you clicked on a link and one is supposed to open; sometimes it doesn't work).. if not, hold CTRL and then click. No problem. You can "whitelist" sites so pop-ups will be allowed on a certain domain if you want.

DNSKong + eDexter

Filters sites at the DNS lookup level. Nothing beats it. Awesome program.

DNSKong Acts as an intermediary between your computer and your ISP's DNS servers. All "valid" requests are passed along to the DNS, which then returns the IP address for the site you're trying to get to. ie. resolves to - unless let's say you told DNSKong to block it .. then it would say, "hold on - this is filtered." And instead of forwarding the request to your ISP's DNS to look up the IP, it returns instead - The local loopback IP address. This means that your browser would try to connect to your own computer instead of microsoft's servers when you tried to go there, or load some images, script or whatever from there. (Advertising, maybe?).. so effectively it is blocked. (MS is just an example, maybe something like would be better.) This ties in to the next thing..

eDexter is a simple web server that listens for incoming connections on It will return (this is the killer bit) a 1x1-pixel transparent GIF image, rather than the huge banner advertising you were supposed to get. Most web pages don't actually specify the width of what the banner image is supposed to be, so not only is the ad not shown, it doesn't take up any space either! eDexter can handle requests for Javascript files and other stuff too, so the browser doesn't break on 404 errors and that kind of thing. You could run DNSKong and not use this, but then you'd get broken X images all over the place on web sites where the advertising was filtered. Not too pretty to look at. This is the solution to that problem.


A good proactive tool for removing ad/spyware/privacy-invading stuff packaged with programs (lots of them these days, it seems), as well as stuff in the browser cache, cookies and registry entries etc. Like a virus scanner, but looking for advertising/privacy crap.

Buy now!

So that is my rant, and proposed solution. It would be nice if computers came pre-packaged with programs like this, as they effectively shut out all advertising .. well, on my machine at least. Setting up DNSKong and some of the tools can be an intimidating/confusing task first time around, but it isn't so bad once you get the hang of it. (You should then go around setting it up on your parents' computers, their friends' and your friends' computers.. And hey, it's a good excuse to hit up the relatives while you're at it..)

Then again, if everyone had this kind of set-up, then it's likely the spammers and advertisers would come up with some other scheme to get their crap to us. They're a shady bunch, and it seems like everyone's out there to make a quick buck at any expense. Spam would have died if it weren't for the fact that spammers can stand to make some good money.

Sending mass amounts of e-mail costs very little to do due to the giving, open nature of the Internet, (like how it was intended originally), and if 0.1% of the 1,000,000 people you e-mail in one day buy your $50 US penis enlargement pill then you just made $50,000 in revenue. For one day. They're concerned about losing their business, as there have been massive Denial of Service attacks on anti-spam services in recent times - The antispammers are having an effect, but it's an uphill battle to fight when all the bad guys seem to have the bandwidth and resourcing to spare on tactics like that.

When people stop buying stuff there will no longer be a "market" for spam, and it'll die. (I don't forsee this happening any time soon.) Ditto for telemarketing. In the meantime, middle fingers all around!

Okay I'm done now, seriously.