Wednesday, July 02, 2014

For Your Information

Since the beginning of Time, there have been Good people, and Bad people.

At some point along the way, some good, smart people decided to make it where those of us who aren't quite as technically intelligent be able to participate in this whole Internet thing, and personal websites and Blogging was invented.

Some creatively intelligent people turned their websites and Blogs into Awesomeness, and attracted lots and lots of readers to their little corner of the Web.

And then Ad revenue and Affiliate selling was born.

Most of us are long accustomed to seeing Ads on Webpages/sites we visit. We've been accustomed to it from tv, newspapers, magazines, billboards, race cars, and on and on.

Sometimes its annoying, but mostly I guess I've just accepted it as part of life. I guess I'd rather ignore ads and click off Pop-ups than have to pay more than I already pay to enjoy this amazing thing called the Internet.

Until yesterday.
Well, a few days before yesterday, but yesterday was when it came clear.

Yesterday I went to log in to my Email account, and was interrupted by a Pop-up Ad.

Oh. Hell. No.
It wasn't a Free email account like gmail or yahoo or hotmail or such. This was my email through my Internet service provider that I pay over $50 a month to.
Ain't gonna be no Pop-up crap from some place I pay that much money to. No sir-rie.

I was almost pretty certain it was wrong, though. That the Ad hadn't come from my Internet provider's website.
I complained to Kev that it wasn't right, and said that I thought I must have downloaded a Bug or something I shouldn't have.

His advice was to use the Pop-up Blocker Add-on in my Browser, but I didn't want to because that would just be disguising the problem, if there was one.

About a month ago I got a new computer. A home-built one. Ryan bought all the pieces and parts and put it together for me. He installed Windows, Firefox, and Avast virus protection, and that was it. It didn't have all the programs and apps and what-have-you that most retail computers come with.

So I knew how my computer was working from the get-go, and could have a general idea when something wasn't right. I'm not very technically knowledgeable, though, and also I think maybe we're convinced that some things are normal, when it's really not normal.

This is where the Bad - in my opinion - people come in.
These people offer Free Programs you can download, but they hide Mal- and Spy- Ware code in with it and trick you into putting it on your computer.
Some Programs offer free versions with less options, or tell you up front you're going to see ads, and give you an option to buy a better-featured-no-ad version.

Long story short, I downloaded a free program...I did like Ryan told me and chose to select Custom Install, and unchecked all the boxes for adding toolbar this, changing browser default that, and whatever else they had stuffed into it.  On the next page was another offering to uncheck if I didn't want it. But that was the low-down, slimy, underhanded Trick.
I unchecked the box and clicked Next, but somehow that meant I accepted something anyway. I should have hit Cancel.
Which is completely stupid. Usually if you press the Cancel button, then you end the install and you're done, and you don't download the program or file.

I didn't really notice at first, because it changed the default of the Internet Explorer browser and I don't use it, and as I said, I was used to hundreds of thousands of millions Ads everyday.

I did notice that my computer started waking itself up between 7 and 8am in the mornings. I mentioned it to Ryan and he said "Weird" but didn't seem overly concerned.

Then the Pop-up ad popped up on my Internet Service Provider's page and I felt like that was wrong, so I went into my Control Panel and looked in the Uninstall Programs part and sure enough, there was Junk had been installed. DEALS-something or other, and something called Fast and Safe. (I did Search the things before Uninstalling to make sure they were Junk, and not something I needed.)

I thought everything was okay after that, until later in the evening when I went to my family genealogy website to upload a picture.

My website isn't a free website like google used offer, or angelcities, or tripod or whatever. The free spaces I used to use started closing down and I had to keep moving them, until eventually I decided to buy space and hope it hung around longer.

Basically I pretty much moved all the files of my family genealogy site to the paid space and ignored it.  I had had big ideas of growing the site, and adding Ad and Affiliate revenues, but other than editing some births/deaths here and there, I really haven't messed with the site at all in a long time.

I never did add any Ads, so imagine my surprise when I went to my site and there were Ads all over the page, and after a few seconds, a Pop-up ad!

Since I knew for a fact there were no ads on my site, I knew the problem was in my computer.
Sure enough, Ryan was able to find it, hidden in an invisible folder....I don't even know, it took him over an hour to finally get rid of whatever it was. 

Everyone already knows to be careful what you download, where you download it from, never download anything from emails from anyone you don't know (and even some you do, since email accounts get hacked), but the moral of this story is, if you're seeing a lot of Ads and Pop-ups, it might not be the Site that you're visiting causing it, but your own computer.

Beyond having an idea of the problem, I don't have much advice, if you don't have your own in-house computer repair kid.  See a local computer repair shop, or ask at your local vo-tech college maybe.

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