03/26/2001

The battle against the blinky Web continues. Regular readers of this site will know there’s virtually nothing I hate more than blinky Internet content. You know, stuff that moves for no good reason. Our natural instinct is to pay the most attention to the things that move the most, so if we’re reading static text and there’s some annoying Flash ad running, we’ll pay more attention to the blinky Flash ad.

CNet’s huge Flash ads are especially obnoxious. At the very least I wanted to drop the quality level down to speed up their loadtimes. Load times are no problem at home, but at work where the T1 is absolutely bursting because of hundreds of people listening to Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura all afternoon, with the result being a connection that’s slower than 56K dialup, I don’t want stupid Flash ads eating up all my bandwidth and CPU time.

So I went hunting through the Registry, and one of the few references to Flash I found was in regards to c:windowssystemmacromedflashswflash.ocx. Aha! An ActiveX control! I know how a quick and painless way to defeat those… So I went to Tools, Internet Options, Security, Restricted Sites, and added news.com and cnet.com to the list. Then I went to www.news.com , loaded a few pages, looked at where the Flash ads should be, and… I got the first frame. That’s it. Outstanding.

So if a page starts annoying you with too much Flash, try adding it to the Restricted Sites zone.

The next place I went was to www.allmusic.com , one of my favorite hangouts. I was looking for information about Dot Allison, former lead singer of Scottish one-hit-wonder One Dove. (Spending more time with teenagers lately has been making me nostalgic for the music I listened to when I was 18.) I found information about her, and I also found some Flash ads. Gack. So I added allmusic.com to the list of restricted sites, hit reload, and was greeted with another Flash ad. What on earth is going on? So I went to View, Source, looked at the page’s source code, and found the ads are located at ad.doubleclick.net. Figures. Those creeps should be in the restricted sties zone by default. I trust them less than the average American trusts the IRS. So I added them, hit reload, and was greeted with a GIF ad in its place. GIF ads I can live with, especially because I turned off animation.

Now that you’re using it, you might wish to click the Custom Level button and make a couple of changes to the Restricted Sites zone.

First, there’s an option that says Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting. It’s enabled by default. Repeat after me: “There is no such thing as an ActiveX control safe for scripting.” Again! “There is no such thing as an ActiveX control safe for scripting.” Good. Now click that Disable button.

Next, there’s the Downloads option. I’m torn on this one. Automatic downloads are annoying. Fortunately, they’re rare. With File download disabled (the default), you can’t download a file by clicking on it. So I generally enable this option.

The only downside is that the same options that knock out Flash also knock out RealAudio and QuickTime content. That doesn’t bother me, but it may bother you.

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