Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I use both Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft’s Ad-aware. The pundits suggest using multiple scanners to get more of the baddies. None of the scanners get all the gunk. Getting rid of Adware is like washing off tree sap; it never seems to come clean. Nefarious uses of this type of technology are bad enough, but when corporations we should trust start using it I get really steamed.
Microsoft’s Genuine Advantage is one such program. Adobe has been regarded as dispersing adware/malware by many users (the google toolbar is one example) as well. What I hate almost as much as malware, adware, and spyware is Crapware! These are all the extra needless applications that come with hardware or software. When you bought your last PC it more than likely came with a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t want. AOL always seemed the worst. I could never seem to fully destroy the tentacles it spread through my computers. I think we’ve all wondered over the additional icons/features we didn’t want loaded, magically appearing on our computers after installing a program. Problems like this are why computers and technology are not consumer friendly.
People don’t help themselves either. Internet users flock to new Beta’s to try them out. I think this pushes programmers to finish a product faster to make final releases. After the initial release of a program there is the almost immediate release of a patch to plug holes and vulnerabilities. Isn’t that why there was a Beta version!? Having to constantly patch programs is another form of Crapware to me. If I don’t use one of my computers for a week I know it will take me about an hour to download all the new versions and patches for the programs I use when I turn it on. Do Mac users have this problem?

--As a side, I heard Dell recently enabled buyers to choose not to have trail-ware preloaded on their computers.

Web resources I choose for students must have very limited advertisements. Ads can be extremely distracting to already distractible middle schoolers. The ad designers purposely make them eye-catching and distracting. I have witnessed web pages instantly grab attention and keep it. Time on task is a valuable resource.
Most web-pages I use in class are government sponsored or very content oriented (i.e. howstuffworks.com). The focus of the web site should be the same as mine: to educate. Generally, government and university web sites do not have the advertisements that dot other sites. Free or trail versions of other sites often have advertisements, but the paid versions do not. Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line, for instance, has small inconspicuous ads toward the top of each article in the free version. These are not distracting and I have students use some on-line encyclopedias when doing research.
Your library probably has even better options. Our library media specialist recently introduced me to the on-line library database. Students and teachers can log in from home or school and have access to an enormous volume of material. The material is also searchable and organized by subject and grade level. Let’s not get so wrapped up in web-based resources that we forget our own libraries and what they have to offer. Oh, and there isn’t a single advertisement.

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