Category Archives: Internet

Toolbar Overwhelm

I guess it was time for this post. I know I can’t be the only person who is suddenly hating all these toolbars popping up all over the place. It’s almost to the point where you can’t go to any site or blog without having either the upper or lower part of your screen filled with a toolbar that won’t go away. Heck, even my buddy Sire had one (he might still have one, but it’s not coming up anymore & I haven’t seen him talking about it any).

At this point probably everyone has seen either this picture to the right or something like it. These types of toolbars are bad enough because it seems like every piece of software wants to load someone’s toolbar onto your computer. I already have a search engine I used that I specifically loaded myself; why the heck would I want to keep adding other company’s toolbars onto my computer like this?

You go to a news site these days and there’s a toolbar at the top. You go to close it and sometimes it doesn’t close, just reduces itself to this little tab that seems to be saying to you “go on, you know you want to use me; I’ll just be sitting here until you’re ready”. If I closed your toolbar I’m not going to use it; take it away! And, for whatever reason, Firefox’s Adblock Plus can’t block them; what the hey? Guess I have to find some software or plugin that blocks pop-unders, which is kind of what these things are.

Why are most of these sites loading toolbars? It all comes down to money; it always does. Everyone is getting paid to add a toolbar in some fashion. Software companies, if it’s not their toolbar, are getting paid. Blogs that add toolbars get paid if someone actually uses it. I doubt there’s one truly altruistic company out there putting out toolbars. Heck, even Google’s toolbar, which I stopped using, was getting something out of the deal, mainly tracking people who used it, even on their own computers, so they could target advertising towards them based on their surfing habits. I wonder what kind of ads Google sends to those folks who only search for porn all day, since they don’t accept advertising from adult related sites.

Either way, I have to say that I didn’t purchase this 22″ widescreen monitor so someone could invade and fill up my space with a toolbar. Please, if you’re going to use one, at least allow us to be allowed to totally close it and get it out of the way.

Hamilton Beach HealthSmart Contact Grill - 25219

Hamilton Beach HealthSmart Contact Grill

Price – $39.95






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Customize Your Google Page; There’s A Caveat Though…

Last week I heard the news that Google was going to allow people the opportunity to customize their main page. What they were going to do was to have certain images already set, but if you wanted to you could use your own image for the page.

I have to admit that I was excited. Though I have my Google page already altered thusly, there to the left (right click to see it bigger), via Stylish and Firefox, and I have that stupid sidebar shut down through a script on Greasemonkey, the idea of adding my own image was kind of appealing. And all we had to do was wait until, one day, the link to the bottom left of the Google screen popped up.

Mine popped up Sunday evening, and I thought that was pretty cool. I went to look to see what I had to do, and saw some choices already there. I saw that you also had to log in to your Google account, and for the first time I was sort of hesitant, and I wasn’t sure why. Then I realized why. The thing is if you want to use your own image, you must set up a Picasa account, which is their photo sharing site. Then you can upload your image and attach it to your page, and go on with your business. If you didn’t want to do that, you could upload one of their pictures, but you still have to have a Google account to use it, so that when you sign in it knows it’s you. Otherwise, you can stick with your white background, or do something like what I’ve done.

Here’s the thing about a Picasa account. If you have one, it pretty much means other people can go through your images. That’s what the user agreement says. I don’t have an account, so if there’s a way to make it private I don’t know about it. Still, the idea of someone being able to go through my personal pictures and use them for whatever reason they wish to bothers me somewhat. Yeah, I have some pictures on Facebook, but I knew that I’d be sharing those pictures with people I allow into my Facebook life, since that’s the kind of privacy I put on my account there. Anything beyond that, I’m not sure I want to deal with.

For me, I can do without it. Truthfully, if I wanted to tinker with it, I think, because I use Firefox, I could figure out a way to alter one of the scripts to use my own picture if I wanted to badly enough. However, overall, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s not a great thing to go messing around with these scripts. That’s why my background is black instead of my favorite color, which is red.

Anyway, if you’re not quite as skittish as I am about sharing some of your images with the world, and you want to customize your Google page, go for it. It’s not a bad deal overall, and gets rid of the boring white. Lucky for me, I’ve already taken care of that on my favorite browser.

Sounds True, Inc.

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How To Subscribe To RSS Feeds

You know, it’s possible that this is one of those posts I really don’t have to do, but something is telling me that I need to make sure. What’s prompting it is that lately more than half of the spam I get asks the question “how do I subscribe to your feed.” As simple as it seems, after a meeting I had last Friday I realized that many people really aren’t all that internet savvy, and they might not even know what a feed is to know how to subscribe to it, or even where. Hence, this post. For the rest of you who already know this… y’all don’t have to read this, unless you want to see if I miss something.

You see that symbol to the right? Any time you see that symbol it means that particular website or post has what’s known as RSS, or Really Simple Syndication (sometimes known as Rich Site Summary) feed. In essence, it means you can follow certain websites or blogs that have new content with some kind of regularity in a place other than having to visit that website. You can subscribe to the feed by clicking on that orange button whenever you see it and read it whenever you want to somewhere else. I use a program called Feedreader, which is independent of a browser, and a lot of people use Google Reader, which uses the browser, but groups all the feeds in one place. There are plenty of other options as well.

On websites, you might see that orange symbol in many different places, and sometimes it depends on the browser you’re using. On Firefox, you’ll see that little symbol to the far right of the address bar. On IE 8, you’ll see that symbol on the right next to the home button on the toolbar. On some sites you’ll see that symbol elsewhere, and it might not be the orange symbol. Seems that some sites will change the color of the symbol. If you look on my blog, you see that symbol in the far right column, and underneath that you can decide to subscribe by email, which other sites also. This means you’ll get any blog posts from me through email instead of a reader; many people like that instead. Other sites will do this as well.

That’s pretty much all it takes for RSS subscriptions. And those of us who blog love when people subscribe, as we want more people to read what we have to say. I subscribe to many blogs and news sites, more than 200, although I think it might be time to pare down my list some. We’ll see if I get to that. Any questions?


The Oatmeal

I have no idea how I learned about this site, but it’s so unique that I just had to share it with you.


It’s called The Oatmeal, and it’s a collection of articles, cartoons, quizzes and news that’s presented in a unique way. What I’m stunned about is that it’s ranked really high, yet I’m just hearing about it, and I’m betting it’s fairly new to most of you as well.

A good example of an article on this site that’s also educational is called How To Use A Semicolon, something I use often, but see very few other people using. It’s a training article with images, and very simply teaches people how to use semicolons. There’s even dinosaurs in the article; when’s the last time you saw talking dinosaurs teaching you anything (don’t even go the Barney route)?

As you’ll see, the articles are also presented in a totally different style, with cartoon headers rather than text. Frankly, if I had an artistic bone in my body, I have just the type of warped humor to be able to pull the same type of thing off.

Me being me, I wondered how they made any money off the site, since I can’t find any advertising. They have an online store, where they sell items with their logo on it and other stuff associated with their brand. I’m betting they do well; heck, I’ve been tempted to buy something myself, but keep wondering where I’d put it and how long it would last before my wife snatched it and hid it on me. Also, some of the articles end up being products themselves, being created into posters.

What else is there to say? Check the site out, and obviously this isn’t a paid review, since how the heck could they pay me when they don’t know me? The Oatmeal is a lot of fun; give it a shot.

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Morgan Avery 5911 Home Radiance Home Sweet Home Candle Collection – Oatmeal Cookie and #44; Apple Pie and #44; Strawberry

Price – $46.13






Sometimes You Should Read The Terms Of Use

Okay, stay with me for a minute. I was going through Kristi’s weekly Fetching Friday listing, where this week one of my posts was mentioned (thanks Kristi), and came upon an article she was highlighting called 10 Firefox Addons For Affiliate Marketers from the blog Ace Affiliates.

Always someone who’s looking for the next big thing, I went to read that article, and one of the Firefox addons it recommended was something called Ghostery. It seems to do two things for you. One, it lets you know how safe a website is that you’re visiting. Two, it allows you to block sites from tracking your IP address and the like.

That second one is very intriguing to me. I was talking to my friend Kelvin about it and saying how freaked out I was when I go to websites, such as MSNBC, and see all the ads that are targeted for me knowing that I live in the Syracuse, NY area. He said he didn’t know of anything that could block that, so I thought this might be the plugin for me.

When I went to the page where the addon is, it looked different than what I’m used to seeing. There’s no description of what the addon is about, and there’s this big block in the middle with only one line: Ghostery requires that you accept the following End-User License Agreement before installation can proceed. And in the box there’s only one thing: http://www.ghostery.com/terms. Now, maybe it looks that way because I’m running Adblock, but it looked strange.

This tasked me (a line from Star Trek II; Wrath of Khan), so I decided I wanted to read the terms of service for using this particular addon. Overall, it was the same standard stuff you see everywhere else, but suddenly I came upon a line I didn’t like, under privacy: You acknowledge that the Software will contact GHOSTERY and send limited information about the websites you visit to GHOSTERY’s databases.

Come on now; y’all know me! I’m the guy who has a problem with Google Toolbar tracking our movements, to the point that I won’t use it anymore once I learned it did that. I’m certainly not letting some other group of folks track where I go; wasn’t the point of using their software so you could go to websites without them knowing where you were coming from, as in “tracking” you? I’m going to give up my privacy to these guys who I don’t know to get privacy from sites that I at least have some idea of who they are?

Many times I don’t read terms of service, just like most people don’t when we want to use something. However, the way this was segregated looked, well, suspicious. They might have specific reasons for wanting to track people, as in making sure the software works. And, of course we all have the right to use or not use something.

I’m choosing not to use it; that doesn’t sound surprising, does it? So, I’m still on a quest to find something that will aid me in my privacy efforts. Sure, I know that there’s no real privacy online, but I’d still like to find a way to decide when I want to give up information about myself and when I don’t.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell