must filter ads
Tuesday, July 20 2010
While experiencing an infuriating absence of useful communication on another project, I decided to focus on fixing some issues in my generic database editing system related to the forking of data to two different databases. This is functionality that I added to deal with a gradual migration I am undertaking of David's (of Penny and David) website (his main source of income) from Cold Fusion/Microsoft SQL to PHP/MySQL, though I could see it being useful in other cases. Keeping data consistent between two different databases living in two different database systems using a single tool is a fairly complicated task, particularly if (as the case is now) there are two different sets of tools hitting both databases. I can't actually provide a complete solution to this problem given the amount of time I have to work on this problem, but I can come fairly close.
At some point this evening Gretchen visited thepiratebay.org to search for a bittorrent file for a cluster of music files she wanted. But while there, some nefarious worm infected her computer, spewing windows claiming an infection and trying to sell a remedy (one might call this ransomware). The class of advertisers willing to pay for ad space on a site providing access to pirated media is necessarily low, the kind who view a population of users the same way Dick Cheney views oil, timber, and aquifers: as a resource that should be exploited as quickly and ruthlessly as possible, without any concern for sustainability. There's no real solution to the Dick Cheneys of the world, but there is to the lowlife advertisers on thepiratebay.org: an ad-blocking DNS server and ad-blocking software. I decided to use both, the former to filter ads on our entire network and the latter to block any remaining ads on Gretchen's copy of Google Chrome (a month or so ago she switched from Firefox to Chrome because she found Chrome much more responsive and stable). First, though, I had to spend a half hour rooting around through Gretchen's file system to remove the tentacles of the infection. She doesn't use any anti-virus software, and with the possibility of worms secretly installing themselves from websites, it will be important to maintain a rigorous ad blocking regime.
While I was working on Gretchen's computer, Eleanor blasted out through the pet door and ran after something. Worried about the possibility of another altercation with a wild animal, I ran after her. She ended up in the woods behind our uphill neighbors (the "Greenhouses"), barking enthusiastically at times and then running quickly off in some new direction. I never saw what she was chasing, but from the sound of things, she was after something that couldn't climb a tree (so it wasn't a bear, a fisher, a porcupine, or even a woodchuck), could run very fast, but wasn't making a concerted effort to get away (which a deer would have). That left few possibilities except perhaps a coyote or a fox. But why would one have been so close to our house in the daylit part of evening? Had this creature not started out so close, Eleanor would never have bolted after it from the house as she had.
As a reward for my fixing Gretchen's computer, she washed the dishes and made a brothy, garlicky soup with fine noodles and small cubes of tofu. It was, she told me, her "sick soup," what she makes herself when recovering from the flu or a cold. Both she and Ray have had the summer illness that's been going around, though I've been spared.
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