Junk is everywhere.
- My son’s diaper bin is a putrescent mass of funk.
- My inbox is inundated with stupid offers to enlarge my penis and vexing invitations to date desperate dames in Russia.
- The streets of New York City are replete with used Metrocards, cigarette butts and crumpled newspapers.
Junk is everywhere.
But one place I refuse to tolerate junk is my computer. I won’t stand for it and neither should you. A few days ago I showed you how to hack your way through the junkware jungle and today I’m going to arm you with even more tools to vanquish those unwanted offers.
Come with me… we’re going on a mission.
Sourceforge and Download.com were once reliable sources of adware-free software.
Believe it or not, there was a day you could download free software without worrying about catching a digital disease.
But as the avarice of software hubs became ascendant, virulent software became more common and people became leery of downloading anything online.
The problem is that unscrupulous advertisers pay software repositories, such as Sourceforge, money to trick users into opting into unwanted offers. The audacity and guile of organizations like this is growing because there’s big business in selling ad impressions and stealing your private data.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today – you and I are the Empire and we’re about to Strike back.
Tricking Sourceforge to forget software wrappers
The first thing we need to do is banish those software wrappers.
By “wrappers” I’m referring to the bloated download managers that are often teeming with adware.
The next time you download an open source project from Sourceforge.net, try appending the URL with the following HTTP GET parameter:
For example, FileZilla server usually ships with a wonky wrapper. By adding the ?nowrap suffix to the URL it downloads without the wrapper.
In other words, it downloads the application – sans the crap.
The second approach is to use a browser extension that constantly protects you.
Introducing AntiAdware Atomizer
AntiAdware Atomizer by devnoname120 is perhaps the greatest nemesis to the evil ad networks. It’s a tidy little browser extension that removes forced download managers, accelerators and adware on a growing list of over 40 major download hubs.
So here’s the thing: if you’re using an older version of Chrome, you need to download the Tampermonkey extension from the Chrome Web Store; however, if Chrome is current, scroll down this page so I can show you how to manually install the script.
Okay, back to what I was saying… Tampermonkey is a productivity tool that developers use to manage the eccentric collections of scripts they have stored on their computers.
To install the script, click the blue +Free button in the upper right corner of the browser viewport.
Tampermonkey leaps to action admonishing you to only download scripts from sources you trust.
And that’s a good exhortation! Malicious scripts can choke your browser and flub up your computer so this warning is justified and super important.
If you scroll down you can actually see the script’s source code.
The script we’re downloading today is hosted from a credible source. Greasyfork is an open source script store that maintains a list of unruly scripts. Moderators periodically roam the hallways (almost daily) looking for and deleting any bad scripts posted to the site.
That being said, after clicking Process with Chrome you’ll get another warning. Heed and continue.
But if you try to add the Script, it might fail with the following error:
Apps, extensions, and user scripts cannot be added from this website.
If you have the latest version of Chrome, it won’t let you add scripts to the browser that didn’t originate in the Chrome Web Store.
This is a good idea so I applaud Google for its increased security awareness.
So here’s what we need to do:
Manually Installing The Script
Right click the green Install this Script button and choose Save Link As from the context menu.
Then go to the Chrome extensions panel by typing this in the omnibar:
Chrome faithfully alerts you about permissions…
And that’s it. After adding the script, when you visit any sites supported by AntiAdware Atomizer, your browser will silently filter out the adware.
Incidentally, if you get tired of AntiAdware (or it just freaks you out) you can always remove this extension by clicking the trashcan icon in your Chrome extensions page.
That’s all for now. You can also download the extension for Firefox, Opera or Safari. Sorry IE users.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately the best defense against being assailed with junkware is common sense. But unfortunately common sense isn’t so common.
We need to be mindful of the stuff we click.
Of the places we visit.
Of the sources we trust.
Little tricks like the ?nowrap tip or using specialized scripts like AntiAdware can help but the onus really falls on us to make smart decisions on the content we consume.