A Simple Hack

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Have you ever found yourself needing to read something on a web page, but the bouncing flashing ads and auto play videos keep drawing your eyes away, even when you have muted the sound? I know, that is a really dumb question. Of course you have! Intrusive ads are nothing new.

I don’t like to use ad blockers, since I know that the content creators need to monetize their work, or we will not have them around. After all, why would I even be on the page if the content wasn’t of use to me. I have a problem; when the ads have too much motion or too much variation in light levels, my stress levels skyrocket. I don’t get motion sickness, but moving ads while I am reading get me pretty close.

I like to shield my eyes from the ads in ways that keep the advertisers from knowing that I am not seeing the things they are touting. I have used many hacks to get these ads out of my face over the years. In the early days of flashing scrolling banner ads, I had a folded piece of cardboard, which I hung over the top of my monitor so that it blocked that space were all the action was going on.

Banner ads slowly went away, except for those websites which cling to the ’90s with death-grip. When the ads moved down to a sidebar, it became harder for me to position my cardboard block. My old computers always had bits of tape stuck to the sides. It was always a problem when I was using someone else’s computer, which I did not dare plaster tape all over. I often found myself holding my hands up to shield my eyes, trying to read as quickly as possible.

When the ads started showing up on both sidebars, I would zoom in and use the zoom to crop the edges out. Grabbing the window and moving it around to move the ads off screen helped when websites started staggering which side of the screen the ads showed up on as I navigated through the pages. Of course I wasn’t the only person using these sorts of hacks to combat the ads, so that I could get some work done. The web designers were working hard to circumvent each new hack.

Today I was doing some research on becoming a Nomad, when I found myself on the Forbes website. Both sidebars on the article I was reading were simultaneously running moving ads, distracting from each other as much as they were distracting me from my reading. Of course I zoomed in, only to find that the ads became lager and firmly glued to the sides of the screen with the text of the article sandwiched between them.

I am working on a 27 inch screen now, so I considered getting a couple of towels to hang over the sides of my monitor to block the ads. Before I dashed off to the linen closet, remembered that Macs come with a Stickies app. I opened up two notes and sized them over the sidebars of the screen. By hovering the cursor over the text I could scroll and read without the website popping up to the foreground.

Screenshot 2018-03-17 07.26.17

With the sound off I wasn’t being bothered, but Forbes was still getting credit for my seeing all those ads. I am sure the web designers will get around this hack eventually, but I will enjoy it while I can.


Categories: Computer Follies, Life HacksTags: , , , , ,


  1. Share your frustration and appreciate both the ethics and ingenuity of how to block! I can fund writers AND remain sane. Thank as always, Sam.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Bob! Any time I see a well done ad about something that interest me, I will click through and see more about the item or service. If it is a poorly done ad (bouncing, flashing, yelling, click bate headline, or gross photograph) I am not likely to even see what it is about in my hurry to get it out of my sight.

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