VISUAL NEWSLETTER – OCT 2003           


 

THE ADVENT OF SCUMWARE

 

Viruses are not the only thing users have to worry about these days on the Internet. Aggressive ad companies have developed numerous programs collectively known as “Scum Ware”, to further aggravate the lives of computer users. Pop-up ads have been a problem on the Internet for some time but they were in most part sponsored by the web-site that you were visiting. If you wanted the information on that site you put up with the occasional ad, but for the most part you could close them down easily.

 

Then, there came along companies offering free software for your computer. Under such names as Savenow, Precision Time & Date Manager, these programs offered a service with a catch. If you installed the program, the acceptance screen allowed the company to pop-up ads anywhere on the Internet. In fact in some cases ads popped up while you were just sitting at your desktop. Most people who did go ahead and download these programs were unaware of the ads that were attached.

 

Other programs such as Kazaa have made a living off pop-up ads but these only occurred while you were using the program. These new utilities operate 24/7, so you are literally bombarded with ads. As long as you use the utility, you are obliged to put up with the ads day in and day out.

 

The easiest way to get rid of the excessive ads is to unload the utilities. This you can do via the Control Panel in the Add or Remove Programs screen. Be careful not to remove anything that is not an ad generator or you may possibly disable your computer. You should also check the Start-up Group on your Programs menu for names such as Gain, Gator and Savenow as these programs can set the ads in motion as well.

 

USEFUL INTERNET SOFTWARE

 

In response to excessive ads, software companies have developed additional software to combat the ads. Ad-Aware, Add/Subtract and Pop-Zilla are just a few of the programs you can download  on a trial basis to help combat the ads. Having tried a few of them I can testify that they do help suppress the ads but do not eliminate them. Just as Virus creators find ways around Anti-Virus programs new ad technologies find ways around the ad suppressors and so a new cat and mouse game has begun.

 

Many other programs are available free of charge on the Internet and are largely free of excessive ads with the exception of ads for the Professional version of the program. A short list of the better ones follows:

 

Program                                 Supplied By

 

Direct X                                  Microsoft

 

Media Player                          Microsoft

 

Acrobat Reader                     Adobe

 

QuickTime Player                            Apple

 

Shockwave                                      Macromedia

 

Flash                                       Macromedia

 

The above products are Internet essentials and are largely devoid of excessive ads. They can be downloaded free of charge from the supplier’s web-site. You may need to supply your name and e-mail address to download the program so be sure to remove any ticks in the “Can we send you e-mail” boxes otherwise you may create another Internet problem, that being unsolicited e-mails. Most of these e-mail campaigns can be turned off by visiting their web-site but who needs the headache.