On Computers

News and Stuff

by Gail Allinson

20 June 2004

A Pop for GMail

Okay, it's Father's day so we had to do something for Pop.  <Groan> As you know the GMail "feeding frenzy" continues and so there arrive some useful programs to help make your GMail experience easier .  I have not yet had time to test this GMail pop client, which allows you to use GMail with any POP e-mail client, but if you want to give it a go, here's the link.

Neowin.net - [Alpha] Pop Goes the GMail

AdSubtract Pro

AdSubtract Pro

In the never ending war against intrusive advertising, there is an improved weapon.  The popular ad-blocker AdSubtract Pro has been updated to version 3.  There are some pros and some cons in version 3.  Unlike version 2 which included unlimited ad definition updates, version 3 has moved to a yearly subscription mode.  If you are upgrading the $14.95 price is pretty attractive until you realize that you now have moved to a yearly subscription model.  The full price of  $29.95 is less attractive considering that you only get ad definitions for a year and that Windows SP2 will include a pop-up blocker. I'm also having problems with the proxy server in that I no longer can automatically dial-up.  I have not had time to contact Intermute (the company behind AdSubtract) to see if there is a fix or work around.

Now for the good news.  This version really works on floating ads.  This ultimate annoying form of pop-up ad is easy to disable by turning off all Flash animation but I have found that to be difficult because there are websites that use Flash for navigation and other useful purposes.  This version also selectively blocks pop-ups in a manner much more akin to the Google Toolbar instead of the blocking all pop-up windows -- something I found disabling.  There is a new interface which may be easier for beginners.  Those of us who have been using this program for a while may have a little learning curve in order to find things on the completely new menus. One of the things I really like in the new version is the improved cookie handler.  You can now easily change cookies to trusted or untrusted.  That used to be a much more involved hand edit that I considered less than trivial.

One new feature that I don't particularly find useful is the "Search Sanity" feature. This feature will block sponsored links on search results pages.  Since I generally use Google, I like to see the ads and can easily, visually tell the ads from the search results.  Then again AdSubtract Pro includes 7 popular search engine ad blockers and you can only select those search engines that you find most egregious.

One last bit of good news is that you can download a free trial version and make your own evaluation.  You may find the features worth the price or you may just want to use free tools currently included in many browsers or use the Google Toolbar.  When Windows XP Service Pack 2 arrives you just may want to use the pop-up blocker that will be included with the Internet Explorer update. Speaking of SP2...

Windows XP SP2

Changes to Functionality in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

As you may know by now we are wending our way to SP2.  In fact we are already at RC2 (Release Candidate 2), but no one knows for sure when the final version will be available.  If you didn't already know the many changes that are coming to Windows XP you may just want to take a look at the Microsoft article outlining it.  Brian's Buzz on Windows is even saying that this update is more like the difference between Windows 98 and Windows Me.  Just let's hope that MS doesn't carry that analogy too far.  Very few people were able to run Windows Me successfully.

Lego Computer Cases

Don't ask me how I stumble on this stuff, but until I was Googling this week, I never realized that there is a whole community of folks building computer cases out of Lego blocks.  Because the blocks are expensive I probably won't pursue this for myself, but it sure is fun to see what others are doing.  Here is the main Google search link:

Google Search lego computer

And here are links to a Web sites I looked at:

My various Lego PCs

Winston's Lego Computer

And for supplies:

BrickLink - The Unofficial Online LEGO® Shopping Mall

Space Ship One

What would the tips page be if I didn't mention the biggest aviation and technology event we have seen for a while?  Tomorrow morning will bring the attempted launch of Space Ship One.  With one pilot on board this will not be the X Prize attempt but it is a huge step towards commercial space flight. CNN plans to cover the event and I will be setting my alarm in order to be up for the 6:30 am PDT launch.  Best Wishes to Scaled Composites and everyone involved in the mission.

Scaled.com SpaceShipOne - Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21

© 2004 Gail Allinson

P.S.  Next Week is Geek Meet 2004 -- be there or be square :-)

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