It was the ads. I became furious at the ads cluttering the pages I was reading. In the early versions of Netscape, I could turn off images to speed up page loads, which was handy when I was using a 14.4 K modem, and even a 56 K modem, on a dial-up account. That capability has disappeared in modern browsers, and setting a browser to ignore images would ignore content. There are hosts of pop-blockers but no effective ad blockers for IE. Ad blocking in IE is generally limited to blocking new windows (pop ups) and banners – images of specific size at the top of a page. There is a product called Webwasher which tries build a blacklist of banned sites which was promising but configuring it was a problem. There is a free classic version, with no help files and the full version is not cheap. Finding a real IE ad blocker on Tucows or the Web is just a nightmare. Lots of cookie-cutter pop-up blockers, lots of shareware from little.wannabe.dot.com ventures.
My searchs for adblockers took me to pages by and for Web advertisers talking about hiding their content in layers to fool ad blocking software. I tried to repeat that search today, and couldn’t get those pages. I found some interesting pages about web advertising. I found a little venture trying to sell a php program to detect if a browser was running an adblocker, and block a user from accessing web site unless the user turned the blocker off. That’s a useless idea. Today, a google search of the terms adblock or adblocker will bring up the Mozilla adblock project pages, and web sites, mostly blogs, creating a buzz about the Adblock extension.
There isn’t anything for IE that is nearly as good as the Adblock extension in Firefox.
This time I reviewed my installation more carefully. Firefox does import favourites and internet settings but does not import the Internet Connection settings. It worked as if I was connected to a proxy server. In fact I connect through a gateway router. Changing that setting makes a change in speed to load pages. I added the extension to open the current page in Firefox in IE to deal with the pages that load slowly or don’t show well in Firefox. The is the Export Bookmarks extension synchonizes IE favourites on closing Firefox. (This is a one way synchronization, which means that if you a delete a bookmark in Firebox it will be gone in IE too).
I explored the Adblocker tool and discovered that I could open the Adblocker pointed at a problematic image by running the cursor over screen content and right-clicking for context menu and selecting an adblock option that identified the linked feed for an object. Neat. At first I blocked images instead of the ad feed which created ghost boxes – I ran the mouse across a blank area on the page and cursor went active. I got the hang of it after a few passes.
I have also loaded the Sage extension – an aggregator that takes RSS 1.0, 2.0 and Atom feeds. It seems to work well. I haven’t used RSS much so I can’t compare it to various IE plugin aggregators. It seems to be the right tool at the right time for my interests. Apart from the Sage aggregator, Firefox supports live bookmarks which open into list of recently updated pages and blog entries on the bookmarked site. That’s a neat feature.
Firefox seems, with its Extensions, to have all the essential features to use the WWW without worrying about how separate programs will interact with IE Explorer and Windows.