Friday, June 06, 2014

Protecting Your Home From Porn

I grew up with Internet pornography and it did a lot of damage to my life.  If you want to protect your kids and husbands from the dangers of Internet Porn, I recommend taking some important steps to reduce access to porn in your home.  But before diving into the details, here are some important things to know about males.

Things To Know About Males and Porn Addiction
  • Men are looking for the shape of a woman (if heterosexual) or any flesh colored visual input they can see.  It's all about the eyes.
  • When we see visual input, it freezes us. The brain goes numb, it's hard to move, it's hard to get away.
  • There are triggers that cause men to start looking:
    • bathing suits, underwear, teasing positions
    • Ads, magazines, news sites and video game sites are often triggers
  • Porn is never satisfied, you can't get enough.
  • Spirals down into darker and darker areas.  Websites are all linked together to get darker (softcore > intercourse > group > bestiality > pain > child > violent > dead) .  It never stays at the same level. Something once gross slowly becomes erotic with each side link exposure.
  • The tendency is to prolong pleasure which leads to very long searching and viewing sessions which is very damaging and changes sexual stimulus in the brain, to the point where sex with a real person is less pleasurable.
  • It's like crack, almost impossible to lift yourself out of it on your own.  You need help from others.
  • Once you see it once, it can get stuck in your brain for days or weeks with a strong pull
    • Images are often permanently stuck and comes back to haunt you years later in moments of weakness
Now let's think about this. Internet porn is such a distortion of God's marvelous creation!  In a healthy marriage:

  • You are looking for your wife
  • You see her and are frozen in love, brain goes numb, can't take your eyes off her
  • There are triggers like bathing suits, underwear, teasing positions
  • A look is not enough, you need to keep going : )
  • Images are permanently stuck in your brain
Isn't that amazing!  Plus you don't feel guilty, you are satisfied for days and you get to have beautiful kids as a result.  So what looks like something really bad, is designed for something really wonderful!

But, we're not here to talk about the birds and the bees, so let's get back to the topic at hand.  Porn is a lot easier to stay clear of if you avoid it in the first place.  You can be instrumental in saving your kids from a world of heartache and destruction. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let's get technical and setup some prevention.

No Magic Bullet

There is no software on earth that can block all porn sites.  There are so many different ways to search and access porn. Filters simply cannot account for all possible scenarios. If you want to have the Internet in your house, you are going to have to work hard to protect your family. Hopefully these tricks will help you get started and you can continue to work at it as technology advances.

Internet and Computer Safety

  1. Stop Using Internet Explorer
    • It is a malware magnet, it is not safe and can destroy your PC
    • Use Google Chrome instead
    • Delete all shortcuts to IE and replace them with shortcuts to Google Chrome
  2. Setup Adblock Extension for Chrome
    • Sex sells and advertisers are selling hard
    • Get rid of these triggers on all websites instantly!
  3. Do Not... I Repeat Do Not Download Illegal Content
    • Torrents, PirateBay, downloading movies, don't do it
    • It's illegal
    • You are going to unwittingly download malware that will destroy your computer
    • It's God's punishment, save your computer and don't do it
    • These are major channels for porn, don't mess with it
  4. Do Not Install Crappy Weird Photo Art Software
    • Weird one-off software will wreck your computer
    • Might install malware you can't off your computer
    • Stick to name brands and software that millions of people use
    • Use Web Apps (don't install weird activeX plug-ins though, Flash only)
  5. Setup OpenDNS Family Shield
    • Don't have to install clunky software
    • Open community list of blocked porn sites
    • Updated with new sites all the time
    • Hugely popular, used in schools and workplaces
    • It blocks major porn sites
      • Helps with popular sites kids hear about from friends
      • Helps with accidents
    • It does not block all porn sites!  There are millions of ways to access porn through searching and this only covers 1% of what is out there!
    • Older kids and adults can still hack it:
      • They run into a blocked site
      • Google OpenDNS and see how it's setup
      • Undo the setup
      • Turn it back on before mom and dad get home
    • Here is a video I made showing how to set up OpenDNS Family Shield on a BellAliant router
      • Don't try to test it yourself!  Even though I did in the video as a demonstration, it's a bad idea, you are just asking for trouble.
      • Make sure you flush your DNS and empty web caches (resets your internet connection history)  
Restricting Access on Specific Devices

First, I will just start by mentioning a great article that has a lot of this information and I will be referencing it so as to not re-invent the wheel.  The article is  How To Child Proof the Internet.

Secondly I'm just going to come out and say that Apple is better.  I mean that in every sense, but especially when it comes to protecting kids.  It's easier to setup, well thought out and it's part of the operating system.  If you have the choice between a mac and a PC, get a mac.  If you have a choice between an iPhone and an Android, get an iPhone.  If you have a choice between an Android Tablet and an iPad, get the iPad.  With that said, I will try to cover both types of device, but keep in mind that Windows and Android both treat child protection as afterthought.

Windows 7

  1. Download Windows Essentials
  2. Do a custom install and only install the family safety software
  3. Sign in with a Hotmail or Live account (create one if you don't have one)
  4. Click Start button and search for Family Safety or Parental Controls

    *Instructions vary at this point depending on if it's a home PC or work PC and other factors
  5. Create a monitored account
  6. Control Parental Control Settings through the web portal
    • Use the Allow List Only to specific websites they can visit, no other websites are allowed
    • Use Time Limits and Curfews to restrict times
    • Hopefully you can allow only specific programs, otherwise they will just find others ways to get the things they want.  I was not able to get this working on my laptop.
  7. Do lots of Googling on Windows Parental Controls and Family Safety and try to get it working
Windows 8

Use some of the steps above.  Apparently it is built right into Windows 8 and you don't have to download anything.


Use the article  How To Child Proof the Internet to turn on parental controls.  Once you have an account set up with restricted websites and applications, you can use the login name menu at the top right of the desktop to quickly switch between users.  Make sure that the adult login requires a password so the child can't switch back to the adult account automatically.

Best Advice - Use Screen Saver Passwords!

This is probably the best advice I can give you on this whole subject... when you walk away from a computer logged in with an adult account, lock the screen and require a password to get back in!  It's so easy to setup and is the easiest way to protect your kids.


  1. System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Hot Corners... > (top right) Put Display to Sleep
    • Put mouse in top right corner to turn screen black
  2. System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Require password for sleep and screen saver immediately
    • Requires a password to get back in


  1. Start > Control Panel > Personalization > Screen Saver > On resume, display logon screen 
  2. Use Windows key + L to quickly lock the computer when you walk away
Best Advice - Buddy Up for Searches

When you need to use the internet to search using an adult's account, buddy up with someone else.  Always search with two or more people.  One person should be a female or very responsible.

Best Advice - Keep the Computer High or Central

If your kids are young, put your computer up high so the kids can't get at it.  If your kids are older, put the computer in a central place like the kitchen.

Best Advice - Moms and Girls Have the Passwords

Keep the passwords away from the men.  Simple!  We haven't set this up yet, but we probably will soon now that the boys are getting older.

IOS Devices (iPads, iPhones and iPodTouch)

Use the article  How To Child Proof the Internet to turn on restrictions.

Turn off:

  • Safari
  • iTunes Store
  • Installing Apps
  • In-App Purchases
  • Deleting Apps (if you have small kids)
You can turn them back on anytime to use the the device as an adult, but don't forget to turn the restrictions back on when you are done!


Download and Install Kid's Shell . It's an easy way to restrict what apps the kids can use when playing games or using educational apps.  Make sure the web browser is off limits.

Other Sneeky Devices

I don't cover these devices here, but there are other sneeky devices that you need to be aware of as well. You can Google instructions on how to restrict these devices.

  • Wii
  • Xbox
  • Playstation
  • Watches (soon enough!)


When friends come over, make sure any devices they have get handed over to mom.  It might be awkward, but you can't risk the kids running off to a closed door room and getting into trouble.

Friends Houses and Sleepovers

Super danger alert!  There is no easy answer here.  You need to know the parents really well and they need to share your thoughts and practices.  I saw porn at friends houses.  I would recommend against sleepovers.  More trouble is going to happen at night.

Wrap up

That's all the advice I have for now.  Hopefully you have found this helpful.  The technology landscape will change drastically and this information will probably be outdated soon, but the main idea is that you either do the work to research online and protect your family or you get someone technical to help you out.  It's worth it!  Make the investment!

Update: Here is the powerpoint deck I used for the June 7th, 2014 HENB conference

Friday, July 12, 2013

RIP Google Reader - What Now?

Well, you may remember that many moons ago I wrote a post about how Google Reader could save you a lot of time by letting you know when people create new posts on blogs you love to follow.  That promise is still true and I still use it for my friend Eli's blog!  I have a Google Reader iGoogle gadget and when Eli puts up a new post, I get notified right away, it's great!

Well, sad news.  Both Google Reader AND iGoogle are dying and will soon be dead : (

So what now?

Well, there are a lot of products out there now like,,,,, etc...  There are also some apps like Reeder which have come out for you smartphone users.  However, I use none of them.  I'm just depressed about the state of the whole thing and couldn't be bothered to do much about it.  I expect you are in a similar position if you are reading this.

Here are my suggestions if you need a quickfix:

1 - See if the website you follow has an email update.  That way you can get notified by email when a new post is created.

2 - If you use twitter, see if that website generates a tweet each time they make a new post, then just follow them on twitter.

3 - If you sit at a desk all day and use outlook, just put the RSS feed address into outlook.  You will then get a notification when there are new blog posts right in Outlook.  Here is a very quick video showing how you can set it up!

If you any of you have a suggestion for a good replacement for Google Reader that won't cause me a lot of pain, I would love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment.  Peace out!

Friday, June 19, 2009

"I Don't Care If You Are Drinking Coffee."

"What is Twitter and why would I want it?", I hear many ask dully. "One more thing to check?" "Something for nerds like you?" "Why do I care if you are drinking coffee?" Yes, all good questions, I asked them myself, I was once a twitter hater too. But I converted. I've changed my mind after using it. I don't think it's just for weirdos anymore, It's actually a lot of fun. Want to know why I like it? Check this out...

A Brief History

In order to fully appreciate Twitter, you have to understand why it's growing so fast. Twitter is meeting a need. Each communications revolution grows out of a need. We want to connect to other people and if the current technology does not evolve and allows us to connect faster, easier and from anywhere in the world, we get bored with it and wait for the next technology to emerge. The next technology is here. But before I get ahead of myself, let's put this whole thing into context.

mail was the first communications revolution of my lifetime. No more 2 week wait at the mailbox, no more envelopes, no more buying stamps. Just communication as fast as you could send it. Pretty cool stuff for us old school Windows 3.1/Eudora/Dial-up people.

Next came Instant Messaging. A little green icon changed everything. Using a little status icon, not only could you send communication instantly, you could actually see if the other person was standing at the mailbox so to speak. MSN Messenger took the lead here, teenagers invented new lingo (lol, brb, ttyl, etc...) and the rest is history.

The third and most recent communication revolution was logs and RSS. You may know about blogs, but not as many people know about RSS. Blogs enable regular people like you and me to express ourselves to the world without knowing how to write HTML. Suddenly everyone started making blogs and writing posts and everyone knew what everyone else was up to and it was great. When the blogging honeymoon ended, people remembered that they don't have time to blog. Oh maybe they updated their blog once every couple months, but it was too little too late, bloggerland was stale and people stopped checking other people's blogs.

In the midst of all this the idea of RSS caught on, it was the idea that you could have an inbox for blogs, just like your email inbox. You could "follow" certain blogs and it would notify you when someone put a new post up so that you don't have to go checking all the time. But this never really seemed to take off. Maybe it was the name (RSS?), maybe it was too complicated, maybe people didn't want something else to check (it's hard enough to empty your email inbox). For whatever reason though, it failed and it's still failing (if you don't believe me, walk down the street and ask people what a feed reader is...).

Then came acebook. It attempted to pick up where blogs and RSS left off. In fact Facebook is actually just one giant RSS feed. You get pushed information about your friends whenever they put something new up and people who are never on Facebook just kinda fall off the edge of the earth. There is something missing from Facebook though, it's not quite the same as blogging...

And that is the hole that witter is growing up through. Twitter is now well on it's way to becoming the next hottest thing and this was recently confirmed when Facebook reportedly attempted to buy Twitter for 500 million dollars (of it's own stock, not cash, but whatever, that's a lot of moulah). Twitter is the answer to the Blogs/RSS problem and much much more. Simply put, it is a revolution in communication.

What is Twitter?

But you are probably still wondering what Twitter is : ) No worries, check out this video...

Here's the summary on Twitter:

-Answer the question "What are you doing?" at random times of the day (140 characters max)
-You follow your family, friends and other people you are interested in
-You see what people are doing
-People start following you
-People know what you are doing

So you saw the video, but your not convinced. We are back to you not caring if I'm drinking coffee. That's ok. So now you know what Twitter is, but you don't "get it". Why are people using this? What is so "revolutionary" about Twitter?

"Why Should I Use Twitter?"

In order to understand Twitter, you have to try it. But with that said, I am going to try to help you understand it without trying it. I'm going to give you 4 big reasons why twitter rocks.

*Remember, if at anytime you get bored, you can just go sign up and try it yourself ; )

1 - Microblogging

My wife and I are hardcore bloggers and we find that it's a great way to communicate with our family and friends. After our first year of marriage, Katie got an internship at the hospital and we started having less and less time to blog. So instead of 2-3 updates a week, we started Megablogging. What a nightmare. We would compile several months worth of stories and pictures into one giant blog post that people weren't ready for because they weren't visiting the site anymore, and the posts were too long to read!

So if you're like us and want to blog, but have no time to blog, Twitter is for you. You can only type 140 characters max and you can update twitter from literally anywhere (, desktop programs, iPhones, iTouchs, firefox add-ons, facebook apps, blackberrys, etc, etc....). You can express yourself, your excitement (like when I won a $500 gas card the other day!), sadness, frustrations, or whatever, and post it once for everyone to see, in a "less time-intensive way than starting a blog"[L].

Plus, you don't have to worry about checking people's Twitter pages for new stuff. RSS feeds are built right into the fabric of Twitter, so you just start following other people and they start following you. The tweets from people you follow show up right on your twitter homepage. The Blog/RSS problem is solved.

Another cool part of Microblogging is that it's not based on a friendship exchange (like most social networking sites, ie Facebook), so you can follow famous people too! You can see everything that really influential people are saying, and they don't have to follow you. You can also follow subject matter experts and harvest their wealth of knowledge. Very powerful stuff. More like blogging, less like friendship bubbles.

1a - Openness Rocks

"But Micah", you might say, "seriously, how can I fully express myself in 14o characters?" You're right, that is pretty limiting, but that's where nerds who make free stuff come in!

You see Twitter has something else built into it's fabric that is really neat. It's called Openness. Nerds like to call it an open API (Application Programming Interface). It's sort of like they've built this really neat robot, but the robot doesn't really do anything cool.....yet. They don't really have time to make it do cool stuff, so they write a very detailed instruction manual on how to make it talk and walk and stuff like that. Then a bunch of nerdy guys who do have time, come along and use the instruction manual to make the robot do the robot dance, amongst other things. That's what an Open API is like.

What does that mean to you? It means that when you get Twitter, you don't just get Twitter, you get Twitter with all the bells and whistles. You get desktop applications (apps), browser extensions, phone apps, blackberry apps, marketing tools, tools to link twitter to facebook status, tools to tweet automatically when you put up a new blog, see how influential you are, trending topics and just about anything else you can think of.


Twitpic - allows you to easily upload pictures, then link to that picture from your Twitter updates.

TinyUrl - allows you to take a really long website links and tinyfi them - great for 140 character updates!

Not only are all these services available to you for free, but they are being built into other Twitter applications too! So for example both twitpic and tinyurl are built right into a Twitter desktop app called Twhirl.

Another really cool example is Twinkle for the iPhone. Take a picture with the IPhone built-in camera, then instantly create a tweet with a link to the picture! If a picture is worth 1000 words then that is some seriously fast communication!

So openness means you get cool free stuff that allow you to fully express yourself, just like blogging, in a tiny little window that only lets you type 14o characters. We're not just talking about coffee anymore...

2 - Conversating

One of the cool things about Twitter is that you don't just say what you are doing, you comment on what other people are doing. You reply to people and publicly give them congrats and kudos! These aren't necessarily new ideas, but what makes Twitter unique is that you don't just write their name out, you use their Twitter username. Put an @ symbol in front (like @micah63) and it creates a hyperlink to that person's profile in Twitter.

There are two main ways of conversating. The first way is a simple mention. If you just put @username somewhere in your tweet besides the front, it will be a mention that everyone following you can see. This is great for congrats and kudos. Like say I want to praise my wife's good cookin', I could say: "The spaghetti tonight was awesome! Thx @kateprd". Now everyone following me can see how much I love my wife's cooking!

The second way of conversating is called replies. If you put the @username in front of your tweet, it is like an email reply... only not at all like an email reply. Although the reply does get directed to the intended person, everyone following both you and that person sees the reply too! So there are invisible groups within Twitter which is awesome! You're not just having a conversation with one person, but with everyone who knows the two of you, like mutual friends chatting at a table.

So in essence there are many layers of conversation, with little invisible groups are all chatting away, each oblivious to the other groups around them. I love it! In so many other application you have to manually create groups and try to get the right people in the group and get people to post to the group, etc... Now groups just happen once friend circles collide! Mutual friends automatically become a group.

This Reply functionality also lends itself very well to asking questions and getting answers fast. It is very common to see someone ask a question and then moments later thank someone for the answer. In fact just the other day I was working on this Twitter blog and was getting very frustrated with the blogger user interface. I vented about it on Twitter and asked if there was a good desktop blogging tool that would upload to blogger. Shortly thereafter I received two great answers and I am seriously thinking of using Windows Live Writer (thx @derekhat!). Great answers from people you trust. I really believe that this kind of human response could someday rival the likes of Google itself. Humans understand questions... but that's a thought for another day!

And finally, there is also a third level of conversation that happens in Twitter called directs. Say you want to meet up with a friend for lunch, but you don't want to bother anyone about that information (or give your phone number away). In that case you can just use a direct. At the front of the tweet, if you put d username, only that person will get the tweet. Very useful for taking conversations offline.

3 - Retweeting

News travels on Twitter. Big news travels fast and far. It's like a chain reaction, like in the movie WALL-E when EVA gets frustrated and blows up an old oil tanker, then it falls onto another oil tanker, then another, blowing them all up like dominoes, each explosion triggering the next (if you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend). In Twitter, when important news explodes onto the scene, it can travel through the invisible friends groups like a chain reaction. Here's an example:

-There is a big fire in your city
-@markanto is close to the fire and tweets about it
-You don't follow @markanto, but your friend @joe does
-@joe retweets the news about the fire
-You find out about the fire

That may or may not be a dumb example (depending on how much you care about fire), but that principle is PO-TANT. Think about how fast news could travel in that context! I'm telling you news on Twitter travels like the flu man.

Retweets basically have 3 components:

1 - either the word "retweet" or something like it (RT, RTW, etc...)
2 - a mention of the person who originally posted it , a pat on the back (the first time someone retweets one of your tweets, you feel the love, it's like a drug : )
3 - and the message itself

Retweets don't always come in this form though and sometimes you just get a lot of people talking about the same thing. This isn't really retweeting per say, but it is something worth talking about. I have two things to say about this.

The first thing is that because people often put links in their tweets, Twitter is quickly becoming a powerful force in directing where eyeballs are going on the Internet. The Internet is just a bunch of webpages, you can search it with Google, but you don't really know what's good out there and often it's hard to find good stuff. When your trusted friends, family and subject matter experts start telling you what's good out there, it makes the Internet a much smaller place.
Twitter is like the new started the job of collecting what is cool out there and making it more accessible to you. It does this by getting votes from everyone on the Internet. If everybody thinks something is cool, it gets thumbs up and bubbles to the top where more people can see it. Stupid stuff gets boooed all the way to the bottom. Twitter is a million times more powerful than votes because it's automatic. It just magically picks up what everybody is talking about and whatever gets talked about the most must be the coolest. For instance, check out Twitturly to see most twittered links. Once I visited Twitturly and saw a Spider eating a bird, crazy.

Secondly, using data analysis, programmers are finding trends around the topics people are twittering about the most, and this turns out to be kind of interesting. Check out the homepage to see the top 10 trending topics. Trend monitoring is made possible because Twitter is public, just like blogging. You can't analyze private social networking sites like Facebook because it's well.... private. Another big win for Twitter.

These kinds of sites are like tools for measuring the power of retweeting explosions! Be sure that you will see more of these kinds of tools in the future and it's only going to get more interesting.

4 - Save It For Later

See something cool on Twitter and don't want to forget it? No worries, it's got bookmarks built right in. They are called favorites and with the click of a button, you can save it for later.

"Wait, Isn't This The Same As Facebook?

This is kind of an obvious question. Many of these listed benefits sound eerily like features from another web app we are all familiar with. Although Facebook's features are very similar, fundamentally I think Twitter and Facebook are two totally different things. Facebook is for privately sharing thoughts and pics with friends and family, Twitter is like Facebook with the top blown off. It's public. It is because of the public nature of Twitter that the above benefits of microblogging, conversating, retweeting and an army of cool tools are made possible.

The user community is also different in Twitter. In facebook it is fairly normal to just say that you are having coffee or doing something rather mundane, but in Twitter it's cool to get lots of followers, or get retweeted and in order to do that, you have to post interesting stuff. People generally seem to tweet less as well, which is much easier on your brain. So in conclusion, you have more interesting information and less stuff to look at. *As a general rule, I don't usually follow anyone who tweets more than 10 times a day (excluding replies).

Twitter is ultimately about your interests. This is one of my favorite quotes on the subject:

"I’ll add you as a Facebook friend just because we went to elementary school together, even if we don’t really have anything to talk about anymore.

I’ll add you as a Twitter friend just because we have something to talk about, even if I have no idea where you went to elementary school."[L]

Again, I think they are two different tools and I use both.

Conclusion - The Twitter Collective

For an outsider, all this chatter just seems like a bunch of noise, but connectedness is probably one of the most important parts of being human. Connectedness means that I care about what you are doing and you care about what I am doing. Social networking thrives on this fact. I want to know what my friends and family are up to, when they are in town, their hobbies and interests, their highs and lows, likes and dislikes and where all the fun is happening. Likewise, I want them to know these things about me. It may sound a bit sappy, but that really what it boils down to. That is why Twitter is growing and why it will continue to grow and why more and more people will be "assimilated". We want to be connected!!

Want to check it out? Go to Twitter and sign up. If you are on a computer all the time, I would recommend a desktop application like Twhirl, Seesmic Desktop, or Tweetdeck. Find some cool people to follow and join the conversation!

Hope you enjoyed the post! @micah63

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Better YouTube

Wish You could Watch YouTube Like This?

You can! Now that we're getting into the firefox groove, it's time to clean up YouTube a bit.

Now I know that some of you may be saying: "Micah, isn't YouTube already good enough, why would you want to make it any better?" Well, we'll get into the details of it, but basically I see that YouTube can be a temptation for men who would not like to look at Internet Pornography. It may not always have nudity per say, but it's bad enough and it's a hook that can drag you into worse stuff. I know that for me, I just want to watch YouTube without all the distractions and I was thinking some other people might be interested in that too, so here is my post.

*If you don't need an explanation of how YouTube trips up men and just want clean YouTube, jump down to the How section.

Oldschool Napster was to Music as YouTube is to Video

Most people love YouTube. It's very useful and awesome that you can get videos about almost anything instantly. It reminds me of the good old days of Napster when music ran wild (how else you could find the theme song for Astroboy? Don't laugh, it had a screaming eighties guitar solo in it). Along with being able to find all the world's videos, people probably also like a lot of YouTube's features over other video site offerings. Features like commenting, video commenting, featured videos, everybody's favorite videos, related videos, what everybody else is watching, friends, making your own channel, etc, help organize all this wonderfulness and make it fun. A lot of these features are what we nerds like to call "Web 2.0 stuff". That is to say the evolution of static text and pictures to a more flashy, usable, social networky web. YouTube works much the same way as Wikipedia in that we harness the power of people to make great websites. Here we are all helping to collect, sort and bubble up to the top our favorite videos from all over the world. I wouldn't normally have a problem with any of these features, but there is one problem sticking out like a sore thumb.

Men are lustful

The problem with YouTube as I see it is that in an effort to create web 2.0 goodness, we have underestimated how lustful men are. All of the tools used to promote good videos to the top and bring relevant videos to you and I have also done an amazing job of exporting all kinds of filth on YouTube. In fact, I can hardly think of a time I have visited the site that I have not seen scantily clad women or worse. Let's have a look at how YouTube's features can trip us up:

What Everyone Else is Watching and "Promoted" Videos

When you first visit the YouTube homepage you are greeted with two things; What everyone is watching right now and "Promoted" Videos. Ok.... so let's say that one guy decides he is going to watch a video of a scantily clad woman. Now let's say that there are oh, a couple million viewers on YouTube and roughly half of them are men. Have you ever noticed how the "what everybody else is watching" bar rotates like a rotisserie chicken at Sobeys? Well now thousands of men are staring at the rotisserie video bar and guess what pops up? Right, that rot video that the other guy is watching! And the more guys that watch that video, the more chance that video has of being in the rotisserie bar. It's practically an exponential equation! So that's not cool.

Secondly, let's say that there are a bunch of guys that don't care that they are lustful and actually give some of these videos 5 stars.... Now these videos are popping up in the Promoted videos. You think I'm crazy? I'm not. Top 100 video lists are consistently plastered with seductive videos. Maybe YouTube takes them down eventually, but they can't and don't do it fast enough.

But let's just say that you skipped the homepage because you did a search for the video in google and came in that way. Now you have three problems! One, you have wacko video comments and you have no idea what is going to greet you there. Two, you have "Related Videos" that are sometimes related, but sometimes just have some scantily clad woman *shoulder shrug*. And finally, you still have the "promoted" videos again.

The How

There are two easy steps to avoiding distractions in YouTube:

First, do not visit the youtube homepage!!! Instead, go to google and type in "youtube".

This will give you a search box within google that you can type your search into and will get your search results right on the google homepage! Sweet.

Secondly, before you click on any of those search results, make sure you have "Better YouTube". This is a great firefox add-on that gives you the ability to watch youtube videos in Theater Mode. No crazy video comments, no "related" videos and no "promoted" videos. Just plain old video. Here's how to get it (if you have firefox):
- Visit the Better YouTube add-on site by clicking here
- Click the "Add to Firefox" button
- Restart Firefox

- Go to Tools>Add-ons and click the Better YouTube Options button

- Check the YouTube Theater checkbox so that it is selected and Click OK
- Done! Now you can check out this awesome man playing drums on the keyboard!

That's all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post. Until next time...... Safe and Happy YouTubing!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Banner Ads Bite The Dust

Pa-leeze. Haven't we all had enough of these things? You know what I'm talking about. They are on hotmail, they are on Facebook, they are on news sites, they are everywhere!!! Banner ads are annoying (punch a monkey?), they are flashy(punch a monkey?), they are in your face and most of all, half of them are sleazy, trying to get you to undress some cartoon szwinky or gawk at some half dressed woman on a dating ad. Wish you never had to look at another one again? You're not alone. Some Programmers are sick of them too and you are a couple clicks away from Banishing Banner Ads I dare say, FOREVER (forever should be said like a middle century englishmen)! Or you could say it like: "For sire, until the end of time...". That's from those old Canadian TV history moments when they found all the fish.

Now that we are starting to see how sweet Firefox is, it's time for last piece of the puzzle. We now know why it's better than Internet Explorer, we know what do about those pages that just won't work in Firefox and finally one of the best reasons to use Firefox in my opinion, Adblock Plus. With a few clicks, this puppy will be annihilating those ridiculous Banner Ads.

How to install it

-First, open firefox and go the add-on site
-Do a search for "Adblock Plus"
-Once you see the add-on, install it using the "Add to firefox" button
-It will install and ask you to restart firefox

-When you restart the above screen will pop up, choose the USA option and hit "Subscribe"

That's it, no more banner ads. God Bless Wladimir Palant for creating this add-on! Send him a kudos at trev ((at,)) adblockplus [dot] org.

**Important Update**

Facebook seems to have found a way to evade Adblock Plus. No worries, with 2 filters added to Adblock Plus, you will be one step ahead of Facebook's picture ads.

-In Firefox, in the top menu, choose Tools>Adblock Plus...
-Click the Add filter... button on the bottom left of the pop-up window
-Add the filter text*(social_ad) and hit Enter on your keyboard
-Add the filter text*(social_ad_advert) and hit Enter on your keyboard
-Click the OK button

Done, now you have created element hiding filters and if you open facebook, the picture ads should be all gone!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Only When You Have To

This is a beautiful button. This button will save you from the shackles of Internet Explorer. This is a follow up article on my post called Firefox Rox, in which I outlined the many benefits of using Firefox over Internet Explorer. One of the drawbacks of using Firefox is that certain sites just don't work in Firefox. It can be a hassle to go find an Internet Explorer shortcut, then re-enter the website address just for those couple of sites. The solution? IE tab.

IE tab is an add-on for Firefox which enables you to use Internet Explorer from within Firefox, all with the simple click of a button! You can also tell the add-on which sites you would like to use in Internet Explorer all the time and it will open those sites in IE by default upon future visits (like your company Intranet for example). This is awesome, so let's get it installed and look at an example.

Installing IE Tab

- Make sure you have firefox first
- Using Firefox, go to the IE tab download site (
- "Add to Firefox" the latest version if you can, if it says you can't, take the second last version
- Follow the instructions to install it and restart firefox

Using IE Tab

Now that IE Tab is installed, you need to do a bit of configurating. The first thing to do is put the IE tab button right up where you can see it. I like to put it right by the home button. To do this you will need to customize your toolbar.

First, right click right up beside the Help menu on the grey/brown area. From here you should be able to choose Customize... from the menu.

Next, find the IE tab button in amongst all the other buttons.

Finally, drag the IE tab button right up beside the home button and hit Done to the button menu.

Sweet, now you have an IE tab button! So here's how it works, whenever you visit a website and it looks like junk or you know it should be run in Internet Explorer, ask your self a question: "Do I really need to go to this website?". If the answer is no, don't go, it's not worth it. You risk frying your computer and will end up in the same mess you were before you had Firefox. If the answer is yes I absolutely have to go there, simply hit the IE Tab button. This will immediately load up that website in the Internet Explorer format within Firefox.

Using the same site over and over

Now what if you visit that site all the time and you don't want to hit the IE Tab button every time you visit? For me that's my work webmail access. It brings up outlook inside my browser, but it looks awful in Firefox. So here's the drill:

- I visit the site
- Hit the IE tab button
- In the Firefox Menu go to Tools>IE Tab Options
- The website address is prefilled, so I just hit the Add button, then hit OK.
- Done

If you don't see the IE Tab Options, you can always go to Tools>Add-ons, click on the IE Tab Options from there and enter the website address.

There you have it. Now you have no reason not to use Firefox. You can have your cake and eat it too!

Firefox Rox

IE is Wrong

Well if you know me really well, you will know that I really hate Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer is the most famous and commonly used browser on the planet and it has been for a long time now. Not because it's the best mind you, but just simply because it's the default browser in Windows. Well, I am here to tell you that using Internet Explorer is wrong. Here's why:

-It is made by Microsoft

That's pretty much it. Now I'm not a Microsoft hater, but I do believe that Microsoft is fundamentally out to make money and that is wrong. When you are out to make money, you are not out to make a useful product. I much prefer the ideology that if you make a good product, the money will follow, but regardless, if the Internet has proven anything, it's that great things can be made even for free!

Now because Microsoft needs a monetary reason to do everything, here is what happened to Internet Explorer over the Internet years:

- Everyone used IE because it was the default in Windows
- It didn't make money(and maybe even threatened the Windows Monopoly) , so Microsoft stopped working on it after version 6
- Hackers wrote programs to destroy your computer, fill it with pornography pop-ups, steal your credit card numbers, learn your banking information and pretty much make you go crazy with adware and spyware... (they are mostly able to do this through vbscript and activeX, Microsoft languages with lots of security holes).
- Microsoft did nothing to fix it......

Enter the Firefox

Solution? Enter the Firefox. A smooth new browser that is:

- Easy to install
- Has tabbed-browsing
- Safe from adware and spyware (does not allow vbscript or activeX)
- Has a team of dedicated developers that make sure if the hackers do get wild, they won't get too far
- Has inline spell checking (the little red squiggly line, yah!)
- And has crazy add-ons that make Browsing life wonderful

There you have it. Now Microsoft has it's tail between it's legs and is trying to play catch up with IE7 and now IE8. But IE7 is terrible and I expect IE8 will be as well, you know why? Because Microsoft only cares about money, not making something good!

*Now in this case, it's not money, because browsers don't make money directly, but it's about power and control and that is usually about money : ) It's like: "Hey, if you can do everything through the Internet now, and you don't need IE, and Firefox is on Mac, why not buy a Mac instead of Windows?"....see where I'm going with this?

Bottom line, Firefox cares about your browsing experience, your computer, your kids and you. As you will see in my forth-coming posts, not only are you more protected against adware porn-pop ups, but Firefox add-ons can even save you from seductive banner ads on many websites! Praise the Lord!

So what are you waiting for? Make the switch and delete that Internet Explorer icon off your desktop!

Tips for installing

- Click here to get it.
- Just follow the instructions, they are very easy.
- When you start using it and it asks if you want firefox to be the default browser... SAY YES!
- If Internet Explorer ever comes up again, it will beg you to make it the default......SAY NO!

Final Thoughts

If you are web savvy, you might be thinking, but hey Micah, don't some websites only work in Internet Explorer? Yes, you are right. No fear though, if you absolutely need to use a website in IE, you can because you can't uninstall Internet Explorer! If you do, your computer will blow up, literally. It's like tearing the heart out a human, Windows will die (I tried it once : ). Firefox is more like a fancy jacket that you got for free from someone in a big clothes bag that your mom dropped off, you can wear it or not wear it. I guess the point is that you should do most of your general browsing in Firefox, but only use Internet Explorer when you absolutely have to (like the canadian passport application site), but do NOT use Internet Explorer for that crazy site with some weird music program that you would like to run in the browser, it will fry your computer!!! That's the whole point of Firefox!!!

Also, I found a neat add-on for firefox that allows you to use internet explorer pages inside firefox if you have to! How sweet is that. Check it out here.

Hope this is helpful! If you work at Microsoft and are reading this, I hope this wasn't too harsh : )

Sunday, April 01, 2007

No More Blog Checking!!!

What a colossal waste of time. Let's say you have 30 close friends with blogs. You want to keep up with them, but this requires you visiting 30 blogs......a lot. This wouldn't be so bad, but it seems that the hype is over. I hate to say it, but the blogging world isn't what it used to be. People just don't update their blogs everyday anymore. They update them when they can, or when something exciting happens. So now you are visiting 30 blogs, but maybe not even one person wrote a new blog in the last week. How sad. You feel like quitting.........but then you say: "What if someone comes out with a really great blog, or someone has some really exciting news, or that blogging elephant that I heard about finally finishes typing his first blog with his giant cylindrical feet, mashing all the keys. What then!". I'm excited, are you excited? Say hello to your new friend, Google Reader!!

Yes, if you want to keep up with your international gang spread out all over the world, you need Google Reader. Google Reader is an inbox for blogs. It is like your email program (Outlook, hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc...) for managing your blogs! Just like that. It tells you when there is a new blog in your blog inbox. Check your email, check your blogs! Life is simple again.

Here are the 2 steps to make your life easier:

1. Sign up for Google Reader

Click here to sign up. In order to use this, you will need a google account. If you don't have gmail, the world's best email program, I would urge you to get one now. Click here for the benefits of gmail, click here for the the sign up. I love gmail, and I will just say this about it, almost 3 gigabytes of free space, you can instantly search all emails, no pictures with sleazy dating advertisements!!! Tons of great stuff, I can't say enough, check it out. You may only know Google for search, but getting this google account will open a hidden door into a wonderful nerdy land. More to come in the future on this.

Once you have signed into Google Reader, go to the green "Add Subscriptions" bar on the side and click on browse. This will allow you to quickly add friend's blogs from all kinds of blog sites. If you know the web address of the friend's blog, you can go to the green bar again and click "Add Subscriptions". Now add the blog's web address, it's like adding your friend's email address. Voila, you are ready to receive incoming blogs. Play around in Google Reader and have fun.

2. Isn't there some way to get everything in one place?

The answer is of course yes if I made the question into a subtitle. Now to be honest with you, after I subscribed to everyone's blog that I could think of, I didn't really visit the google reader site very often. I think this is because you just visit blogs, you don't really reply to them, you just leave comments on the site itself. I really just needed a notifier to tell me when new blogs were up so I could go visit them. Enter Google Personalized homepage. Check out this screen shot from my Google Personalized homepage:

We got the weather in Moncton, a preview of our gmail inbox, the latest google docs we are working on, calendar event previews and a box showing us who has put up the latest blog!!!

Here we can see that Erin Stevenson has a brand new blog up that we haven't looked at yet. We also see that Eli, Renee and Harry, and Phil and Genieve have put up blogs recently that we have already read (they are greyed out).

Wanna get it? Ok.

-Go to and in the top corner you should see a link for "Personalized Home". Click on that.

-Next, you need to sign into your google account if you are not signed in already. Look for a "Sign-In" link and click that to sign-in.

-Once you are signed in, you can start adding gadgets and removing gadgets that you don't want. Play around with this and have fun.

-When you are ready, click on the "add stuff" link on the right. From here you can add all sorts of neat gadgets.

-In the search bar, do a search for "Google Reader". It should be the first result in the list and you can click the "Add it now" button.

-Once you see that it is added, you can click on the "Back to homepage" link in the top left corner. Now you should be able to see the Google Reader gadget on your personalized homepage!!

-You can drag it wherever you want

You did it!!

A smart person once said: "I nerd to live, not live to nerd". Don't waste your time nerding, use your new nerdy skills save you time!! Blog on friends!

*Note - I know that there are other methods and programs to accomplish this same goal. If you have something that works (browsers can do it for instance), all the power to ya. The more you get to know me though, the more that you will realize that I'm sold on Google as far as tech things go. So Simple and so free....