Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pop (up) Go the Weasels

I'm not one for putting very many restrictions on the Internet; the unfettered displaying and exchanging of information (except maybe in places like China) is one of the Net's finest attributes. But if I were the Grand Poo-bah of the online world, I might well try to stop one particular behavior: Disobedient popup windows. You've probably had them too--the kind that come up when you close a certain browser window, saying "Wait! Don't Go!" or something like that. This is fairly annoying; it's as if they think I couldn't possibly have wanted to leave their site on purpose. But when you get down to it, that's all they are is an annoyance, though the people responsible should be taken out back and roughed up a bit on general principle. (And in case you're inclined to say, "Kev, just get a popup blocker and be done with it," I can't find one for my platform and browser--Mac OS 9 and Mozilla 1.2.1--that allows specificity, because I can't block all popups, or things I need to use, like my online banking, won't work properly.)

But in the past week, something has happened three different times that has me concerned. I play a few online lotteries and what-not (they're free, so the only thing I'm "gambling" is the few minutes it takes to enter my numbers), and sometimes those sites have popups from third parties. Usually, the solution is easy: Close 'em, and they're outta there. But in these three instances, if I closed the popup, it came right back again. And again. And again, and again, ad nauseam. One time, quitting the browser solved the problem; another time, I had to restart the computer. But the second time it happened, it wouldn't even let me quit the browser or restart the computer; I finally had to switch it off (improperly) at the power strip. That annoyed me, because I realized that whatever was causing that window to keep reappearing could also be trying to damage my computer.

Needless to say, I sent a scathing email off to the host of each of the host sites, naming the popup site by name and suggesting (rather strongly) that they might not want to do business with advertisers who might be trying to harm their customers. I haven't heard back from anyone yet, but I also haven't had a repeat appearance of the malevolent window at any one given site.

Has anybody else run into The Popup That Just Won't Leave? (That sounds like a bad horror flick, doesn't it?) As a Mac user, I'm usually immune to viruses, so I'm wondering if this is the new wave of hacker work or something. At any rate, whoever's doing this is pure scum in my book, especially if people's computers are actually being damaged. I'll update if it happens again.

Wildlife getting your goat? How stunning: In South Carolina, a goat gets loose and charges one of its owner's neighbors; a deputy sheriff subdues the animal by using a Taser.

I'd like my eggs Samsung-side-up, please: Today's Fun with Science project involves cooking eggs using a pair of cell phones.


Shawn said...

Those are annoying. I can't believe no one takes time to code for OS 9. It is still being used. Probably as many as there are Linux users...

Shawn said...

Also, if I had a million dollars I'd get you a new one.