If there's one thing that I can't stand, its popup ads. This hideous perversion of javascript for advertising purposes really makes my skin crawl.

Similarly I detest blinking flashing banner ads distracting me from the webpage I am trying to view. Especially that blasted "punch the monkey and win $20" one. You want to punch him - he's so annoying, yet the consequences of doing so lead to nothing but more advertising! But I digress.

Finally, driven to the brink of insanity by these flashing monstrosoties, I investigated several potential solutions. Obviously it would be simple to simply block requests to sites that present banner ads and popup windows. The problem is that one must sit down and create such a list.

This being the internet and not being the first person driven to dispair by the plethora of internet browser junk mail, many others have amassed such lists. There is a solution at hand!

Fear not, for the answer lies in the proxy server.

I chose to set up squid on one of my sparcstations. One of the neat features of the squid is the ability to pass all functions to a user-defined external program called "squid_redirect". This is where the solution fits. All queries are directed to a PERL script with a handy database of damn dirty advertisers.

Equipped with a handy list of advertisers' URLs my web browsing is now peaceful and ad-free. All banner ads are replaced with a user-defined gif image. I prefer the small yellow-on-black which says "This ad zapped.". It's oddly satisfying to see webpages populated with four or more of these as I surf.

Better still: all those nasty popup ads are replaced with a javascript window which once opened simply closes itself again. Bliss!

And the true state of ecstasy - once the proxy is configured in the internet options for Windoze, any and all software which embed advertising into their product (edonkey, imesh and friends) find themselves bereft of advertising.

I have truly found browsing nirvana!

See squid-cache.org for Squid, and http://sourceforge.net/projects/adzapper/ for the ad-zapping script.

Note: This writeup is now a little dated. Many web browsers now have a facility to block pop up ads, and software such as Norton and McAfee Internet Security allow windows users to configure settings as well.

The solution I describe here is very useful in a networked environment or in a home setting where you don't want to fork out for commercial software.