by Chris Taylor
When I first saw the World Wide Web back in 1993, my reaction was, "Well,
it is kind of nifty, but it's not like it is going to change my life or
OK, so I won't make it as a futurist. But, to my knowledge, there is
one thing few people predicted correctly about the web back then-the massive
amount of advertising we now have on web sites.
I freely admit that I get a lot of free information on the web and I
know a lot of it is supplied courtesy of advertising dollars. But I think
things are getting out of control. We now have windows popping up over
the middle of a page that can't be dismissed for a number of seconds. We
have ads that float around the screen. We have pop-under windows that appear
as you shut down the windows on top. We have banner ads running in the
status bar. For the latest annoyance, read news.com.com/2102-1023-978616.html.
It talks about a new technique whereby just passing your mouse over an
advertising window will redirect you to the advertiser's site.
Proxomitron kills web annoyances
For years there have been programs that would do various tasks to eliminate
they may be OK. But I tried them in days when I was not quite so annoyed
and I found they frequently prevented legitimate content from being displayed
As my annoyance level rose and my tolerance for shenanigans dropped,
I went looking again. And I found a terrific program called Proxomitron.
Besides being completely free - and no, it is not full of spyware, adware,
etc. - it is a fantastically configurable program. I downloaded and tested
version "Naoko 4.4". Don't ask me about the odd version name.
Proxomitron installs itself as a proxy server. You reconfigure your
browser to use a proxy server. You point it to localhost, which
is your own machine, on port 8080. Proxomitron listens on that port and
intercepts all requests for web browsing. It fetches the content your browser
is asking for. But, before it passes the information back to your browser,
it acts as a filter. It removes elements you have decided you would rather
not see. If you happen to be using port 8080 for something else, you can
configure Proxomitron to use a different port.
Proxomitron resides on your machine as a tray icon. Click the left mouse
button to bring up the main configuration dialog box or click the right
mouse button to bring up a context-sensitive menu.
Some of the capabilities of Proxomitron are;
· Stop or limit Pop-up windows
· Control MIDI music and other sounds
· Freeze animated .GIFs
· Kill advertising banner
· Stop Web-Branding and other scripts added by web space providers
· Stop Pop-up alert/confirm boxes
· Remove slow web counters
· Stop web pages and ads from "auto-refreshing"
· Remove Dynamic HTML
· Prevent getting stuck insomeone's frames
· Remove frames or tables altogether
· Kill or change selected Java scripts and applets
· Remove off-site images
· Kill Flash animations
· Remove or replace web page and/or table background images
· Force popups to have browser controls
· Stop status bar scrollers
· Unhide URLs obscured by status line text
· Convert blinking text to bold
· Remove Layers and Style sheets
Web page before Proxomitron
We now have windows popping up over
the middle of a page that can't be
dismissed for a number of seconds.
Same web page after Proxomitron
There are many more, most of which I don't really understand yet. And
if those are not enough, you can define your own filters. Be prepared to
spend some time with the documentation, if you want to create filters.
The documentation does appear to be well-written and the style is light-hearted
and humorous, so who knows, I might actually get around to it.
The defaults for the program are a good starting point. As you get familiar
with how the program operates, you can start fine-tuning it by turning
various filters on or off. Right after installing Proxomitron, I loaded
up a page from the New York Times web site. Proxomitron blocked a total
of 11 ads found on the one page. Other than the missing ads, the page looked
the same as the unfiltered version.
There is always a chance that some of the information that gets blocked
will be information you want, rather than an ad for a wireless video camera
from X10 or something. Two clicks are all that it takes to bypass all filtering.
And, of course, it only takes two clicks to flip the filtering back on.
As well, if you have some site you always want to see unfiltered, you can
add the URL to a bypass list.
If you want to see exactly what the program is doing, you can bring
up a log window. In colour-coded splendour you can then watch all traffic
going back and forth.
If you are worried about the program burying its way deep into Windows
and not permitting easy removal if you don't like the program, rest easy.
The program installs absolutely no files outside its own program directory.
It writes absolutely no information to the Windows registry. To get rid
of the program, you simply exit the program, change your proxy setting
in your web browser back to the way they were-in most cases this means
simply telling the browser not to use a proxy, and delete the program directory.
If you want to try out Proxomitron, you can pick up the latest version
Originally published: February, 2003
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.