- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

It’s annoying, almost as much as a telemarketer calling during supper. It’s all those ads that pop up when you click on a Web site. It’s one of the ways Internet publishers try to make money.

But there are several ways of dumping the pop-ups. Both AOL and MSN offer ways to block the ads. MSN’s gives you a small “preview” of the blocked window just in case you do want that low-low-low second mortgage offer. Some Internet service providers, or ISPs, will block pop-up ads if you use their browser software.

However, those options work only with the MSN or AOL built-in Web browsers. For those using other Internet Explorer or a “plain vanilla” ISP, there’s a new tool at hand, called STOPzilla, a $29.95 downloadable program that really blocks pop-up ads, by going after their source.

“Eighty percent to 90 percent of all pop-ups we hear users complain about are spawned by ‘adware’; the Web site a user happens to be visiting or the browser they’re using is completely irrelevant in most cases,” Scott De Sapio, president of STOPzilla, said. “Our Adware/Spyware suppression engine is totally transparent to the end user and requires almost no user intervention. The result is a simple yet effective solution that puts the user in the driver’s seat without having to become a guru —STOPzilla is the guru.”

In the week or so that I’ve been running the software on one of my home PCs, the program has blocked 26 pop-up ads from a variety of Web sites. As far as “adware,” I’ve not noticed any, but perhaps that’s the point.

The program works with Internet Explorer, but not, so far, with Netscape or, I would imagine, any other Web browsers based on the “Mozilla” platform that Netscape also uses. The STOPzilla folks say they are working on a Netscpae version. One for Mac users may also come along.

One nice feature about STOPzilla is that it seems to be able to discriminate among different types of pop-ups. It blocks ads, but not my bank’s little check-image-viewing window. Also, you can have the program display a “black list” of blocked pop-up sites and links, just in case you are wondering.

In short, this is an intelligently designed piece of software that may be helpful. According to the software publisher, a GartnerG2 research survey indicated 78 percent of respondents claimed pop-up ads were “very annoying.” However, Nielson/NetRatings’ online advertising rating service, AdRelevance, found pop-up ads increased from 1.2 billion to 4.9 billion during a single nine-month period.

More on the data timepiece front: Recently I had nice things to say about Suunto’s n3 data watch, which receives broadcasts from MSN’s radio-based computer service. I still like the product. Last week, on arrival in Manhattan, N.Y., for a business trip, the watch “sensed” where I was and switched its weather forecast and local news feeds to items I’d be more likely to need.

However, there have been some glitches: older news alerts I’d imagine were deleted would suddenly show up, and one day last week, the final Dow Jones average was not what the watch indicated.

One other point: I’d said there was no chiming of the hours or beeping when a news bulletin arrives. I was wrong on both counts, but the sounds are not loud or long enough to disrupt a meeting.

E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit www.kellner.us.

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