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Much recent press coverage of the Internet has focused on the problems caused by SPAM (unsolicited e-mail). It is not uncommon for me to get 30-50 of these messages a day. As annoying as they are, I can identify and delete these messages fairly easily from my mailbox. More frustrating to me than SPAM is the pop-up ad that won’t close.
A couple of months ago, a few minutes after I logged onto the Internet using my CCIL dial-up connection and MSIE 6 (Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 6), a pop-up ad appeared titled “Search the Web,” with links to different categories such as health, gambling, travel, etc. The ad filled my entire computer screen. There was no “Close” box in the upper-right corner of the pop-up, and since the pop-up filled the entire screen I could not use the “Back” button on my browser or manually enter a new web address.
I pressed the Alt-F4 key combination, which normally allows an exit from a program in Windows 98. No such luck. Instead of exiting the program, pressing the Alt-F4 combination produced a warning window that instructed me to make a search selection.
Next, I pressed the Ctrl+Alt+Delete combination. This brings up a list of the programs currently running. I selected the “Search the Web” program and clicked the “End Task” button. This didn’t work either, and I ended up having to restart my computer.
The next time the pop-up appeared I tried the Alt-Tab key combination. By holding the Alt key and pressing the Tab key you can cycle through all of the currently open programs. When you find the program you want, release the keys and that program will appear on your computer screen. I selected the web address I was using when the pop-up appeared. That address appeared and the pop-up was hidden.
From searching Google Groups at http://groups.google.com, I found I was not alone in being annoyed by the “Search the Web” pop-up. I decided to try a pop-up stopper from www.panicware.com aptly titled “Pop-Up Stopper.” In addition to a “Pop-Up Stopper Free Edition” for personal use, Panicware offers several other versions with enhanced features.
These other versions of Pop-Up Stopper which range in price from $19.95-$39.95 offer a wide array of features including advanced controls, statistics, complete browser cleaning, Windows history and file cleaning, cookie management, surfing enhancements, browser support for many browsers including Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, Yahoo SBC, AOL, MSN and others. (For a comparison of the different versions, go to www.panicware.com/popupstoppercompare.html.)
I found that the free edition stops all pop-ups including “Search the Web.” The free edition is a small download (477kb) and is easy to install. With the free edition, users can set limited preferences such as starting Pop-Up Stopper when Windows starts and setting sound and display options. The free edition does not allow for advanced pop-up control or being able to allow pop-ups by site. When a pop-up is blocked a bubble message appears next to the system clock in the lower-right screen.
If you want the pop-up to appear, you must hold the Ctrl key while the pop-up is loaded. For example, when composing an e-mail message using CCIL webmail, the compose window is a pop-up. If the Ctrl key is not held when the Compose option is selected, the Compose window will be blocked by Pop-Up Stopper.
Because of the frustration and annoyance caused by pop-ups, Internet Service Providers are now beginning to offer pop-up blocking software as a part of their service. As one example, current promotions from EarthLink (www.earthlink.net) tout their “Pop-Up Blocker” which “gets rid of virtually all pop-up ads.”
While SPAM can probably never be completely eliminated, the day of the pop-up ad may have come to an end.
The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)
column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on
July 16, 2003.
Greg Gore can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.
2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.