Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something Advertisers Should Be Ashamed Of

Advertisers are using dubious methods to put your computer at risk!

Here's the problem

I recently updated my copy of the Calibre program - a wonderful bit of software against which I have no complaints, just praise. This is what I saw. I've set the screen capture to display what most people would see if they use the most common screen size - 1366 x 768 pixels:
Now here's what they would see if they had a taller screen:
As you can see that large green download button isn't where you download Calibre - it's an advertisement and something the advertiser should be deeply ashamed of because it's designed to trick people into downloading something they would not normally choose to download.

In this case it tells you you are downloading 'Premium 7-Zip' but it doesn't tell you anything about the program. A search on the Web indicates it might be useful or might also contain a computer worm.

One such program I've seen people being tricked into downloading is 'BrowserSafeguard.' This is a browser extension which intercepts your searches at Google and sends back a list of five or so of it's search results before the real Google results. Nothing really wrong with that except, when I checked it, every single site they linked to was flagged by Web of Trust as being of dubious quality. It changes your proxy server settings to do this.
Can you imagine Google will be happy with that? Look closer at the images above.
See that little icon at the top right of the advert?

This means that this advertisement is being produced through Google's advertising service. Shame on you Google for allowing these trickster advertisements!

So what can you do to avoid being caught out?

  1. Use the scroll bar and make sure that download button is not an advert.
  2. Hover your pointer over it and make sure what the status bar tells you it is sending you to is not something unexpected.
  3. Refresh the page and see if you get a different advert where that download button was:

Maybe the ultimate answer is to demand that Google and other advertising firms forbid these adverts designed to trick us. What do you think?


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reductio ad absurdum 3 - The revised National Curriculum 2014

"Beginning in 2014, the United Kingdom will require all British schoolchildren to complete a unit on the history of Islam, proudly reports Press TV, Iran’s very own 24-hour English language news organization.
Michael Gove (Unflattering picture
 courtesy of The Telegraph)
British Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the addition of a Muslim-specific component after revisions were made to address an outcry over a prior draft that did not include any references to the monotheistic Abrahamic religion."
So starts an article at Yahoo News. Now I have to admit to being doubtful about it because I could find no reference to this news story at the BBC, Sky, or any of the major UK newspapers. However let's assume it's accurate and take this to it's logical conclusion. ('Reductio ad absurdum' - Latin for following implications to an absurd extent.)
Islam is the UK's third most common 'religion'. In the last census, taken in 2011, Christianity was declared as the most popular religion (59%), 'No Religious Affiliation' the second choice (25%) and 'Islam' the third (5%). Now if a religion which has a mere 5% following gets a study in the UK National Curriculum then far more time should be devoted to a 'religion' which has five times Islam's following. That means we should ask UK children to complete five study units dedicated to the history of 'No Religious Affiliation' or atheism.
Of course it's very difficult to study nothing (although for hundreds of years, many children have successfully studied it at school). So just what items should we study?
My first thought was that we leave the content to the UK politicians - after all they are very good at doing nothing, however, they are also very good at making bad decisions so we need to help them out with some ideas. To give you a start there are some excellent websites out there on why you should be an atheist of no religious affiliation. 
One of my favourites is Plasma Engineer's Something Surprising blog Try his Grandfather Gospel Challenge for ideas and follow some of his links.
The Rosa Rubicondior blog is good too. Try the article Another Easy One For Muslims... Or Not!
No 'religion' of course can be considered 'true' unless it has it's martyrs. That being the case you need to read 'On blasphemy, wielding both standards and stories' from the Richard Dawkins foundation.
I'm sure you can find lots more. Just remember these politicians need our help if our children are to avoid studying 'the nothing' from the Never Ending Story


Please - add your suggestions on what should be studied about the history of 'No Religious Affiliation' in the comments below and I'll make sure the UK's Education Secretary of State, Michael Gove gets them. Alternatively you can send your suggestions to him directly at  ministers@education.gsi.gov.uk