Pop-ups – trouble in paradise

Just when you thought you’d struck it lucky and found gold something comes along to burst your bubble. Now what could that certain something be I wonder. I sense you’ve been introduced to the exasperating world of pop-ups, am I right?

You will soon discover that the main drawback of visiting download sites of any kind is the spontaneous appearance of pop-ups. If you’ve been surfing the net for more than a day or two I very much doubt you need me to provide you with a definition of a pop-up, but you never know so here goes. A pop-up is a browser window containing a graphical advertisement which magically appears before your eyes when you open a web page containing the necessary pop-up generating javascript code. Yet again this is a money making scheme; the idea being that by thrusting adverts under your nose, webmasters can earn money by getting you to click on the links to commercial sites and buy whatever unmissable deal is on offer at the time. Very rarely are you taken to the site you were expecting to visit. Instead you are deliberately mislead and more often than not you are redirected to subscription based porn sites. The link you clicked on sends a message to the site that is being promoted and the details of the referrer are logged. Then at the end of the month the cretin who tricked you into visiting a site that you had no interest in receives a cheque for his trouble. Sound familiar? Well I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice before. But don’t despair, you will be delighted to know that you don’t have to put up with this intrusion; the almost 100% effective solution is to install a pop-up disabling program to stop the evil blighters in their tracks.

Like with every other aspect of computing each person has his or her own favourite program for carrying out a particular task. Now usually I’d say fair enough, each to his or her own and so on and so forth, but in this case anyone who doesn’t agree with me is totally and utterly deluded, period. The best program for preventing the untimely appearance of pop-ups is Pop-Up Stopper, available from www.panicware.com. I won’t hear a word said against it so don’t even bother trying. Did you hear that? That’s the sound of the trial version beckoning you to visit its home page and download it immediately. We wouldn’t want to disappoint the little mite now would we so go and grab it right now. Once installed a new toolbar will be appended to the underside of your browser’s address bar containing a selection of invaluable pop-up murderingly useful options. Take a last long look at that pop-up loitering menacingly on your screen because now you have Pop-Up Stopper installed it will be the last one you will ever see.

With the myriad of pop-up killing software on the market why do I love this one so much? Well it’s free (there are two versions available you see) and very small for a start, and what’s more it unobtrusively sits in your system tray or attaches itself to your browser using minimal resources. Also you are never more than a single mouse click away from enabling or disabling it, a feature which comes in very handy for those odd occasions when you actually want pop-ups to do what they do best, pop up that is. If you find that PUS (hmmm, that’s an unfortunate acronym) is interfering with a single link you can hold down the control key whilst clicking on it to temporarily disable the program. But wait, there’s more. PUS also comes equipped with a fully functioning brain enabling it to distinguish between commercial propaganda and pop-ups containing real content which are extensions of the sites you actually want to visit! The upshot of this is that the only pop-ups which are impeded are the ones which belong to the former category. The best is yet to come however; you can set the program to either flash, play a sound or do both each time it zaps a pop-up dead in the water. Give it a try – you won’t realise how satisfying a flashing icon can be until you visit a pop-up laden web site!

A more drastic solution, however, is to disable javascript altogether. Javascript is what’s responsible for creating the many gadgets, pop-ups, navigation menus and flashy eye candy which you will inevitably come across on your quest for free software. With javascript disabled completely it is impossible for pop-ups to appear hence your browser will be much faster and more stable. A further advantage is that the location of web pages in the status bar of your browser can not be masked or altered in any way once javascript has been deactivated. This means that you are less likely to be tricked into visiting a site that you aren’t interested in because you will be armed with the knowledge of which links are fake and which aren’t.

In essence, disabling javascript is like traveling back in time to a period when web pages were constructed with only basic text and images. This is fine if you’re looking for a speed boost and that extra control over your browser, but the problem is that nowadays many web sites cannot function without javascript, so by disabling them you are severely restricting the number of sites that you are able to view correctly. So the choice is yours – disable javascript and banish the pop-ups for good, but lose functionality (refer to the FAQ to discover how this is done) or leave javascript enabled so that you can enjoy all the latest web gadgetry yet suffer the chaos of uncontrollable browser windows. A third option is to be neither one thing or the other, a javascript user or a non-javascript user that is, not a hermaphrodite for those of you who are confused! I should really make this a bit clearer for you shouldn’t I? Well what I mean is that in the later versions of Internet Explorer you have the option to set your browser to ‘query mode’ so that whenever you load a page that contains javascript elements you are asked whether or not you would like to allow them to be executed. This enables you to select in which instances you would like to have javascript enabled, a bit like a pick and mix option if you like. So, for example, if you visit a site that is notoriously known for having excessive numbers of pop-ups, when queried you can say “nope, not today thanks” and they will quickly become a distant memory.