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The Almighty Buck

Browser Becomes Billboard 476

Posted by michael
from the inevitability dept.
MikeKD writes "Citing a desire to 'enhance the user experience', United Virtualities is 'preparing to introduce a product [called Ooqa Ooqa] that will allow advertisers to automatically change the appearance of Web browsers, usurping some of the functions built into popular browsers...', according to an MSNBC article--and all this supposedly without downloading any additional software. UV says a lot of sweet things about being able to turn it off and allowing the web sites to customize the degree of intrusion (from reverting to normal form when leaving to retaining the rebrand even after leaving), but does anyone think advertisers will restrain themselves? Not I." Friends don't let friends use browsers susceptible to this.
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Browser Becomes Billboard

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  • Ooqa Ooqa? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ShaunC (203807) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:08PM (#3280329)
    What it does is bad enough, but what it's called is even worse. I think some of these dot com companies might do a little better if they didn't spend all the VC money on crack for the marketing department.. :)

    -s
  • glad I use Konq/Moz (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:10PM (#3280349) Homepage
    As I am sure the Mozilla team will write a specific patch to disable this slimeware the second it is reported happening on a mozilla install.

    Konq would do the same I'm sure...

    • by chennes (263526)
      ...and I think that not only do it because this kind of advertising is reprehensible, but because it is also what their users want. This might provide a nice niche for Mozilla or Konqueror to slide into - perhaps as a full-featured browser that doesn't allow the annoying ads it could gain some market share.
    • At which point every website with any hope of receiving revenue from this scheme will promptly stop rendering for any non-compliant browser.
      • by Enzondio (110173)
        With Opera I can be any browser I want to be as far as the webserver is concerned. Mozilla and others would certainly offer similar functionality if they aren't already (not sure, haven't seen Mozilla in a while).
    • Actually... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      I thought that one of the key features of Mozilla was "Chrome" which would allow a web site to modify the look and feel of the browser to fit the web site.

      The open source browsers have thus far been pretty immune to the obnoxiousness suffered by windows users. I was helping my room mate with a computer problem the other day and was subjected to the hideous "Real Download Manager." Someone needs to suffer for that atrocity, let me tell you...

    • or Omniweb on OS X (Score:2, Informative)

      by dukethug (319009)

      Free, only runs Javascript when you specifically click on a link (no pop-ups or pop-unders), filters out those big ads (like the ones on /.), fa-diddily-ast, and only for OS X.

      I wish I could share with you how great it is. Go buy a Mac [apple.com] and get Omniweb [omnigroup.com] and find out for yourself.

  • by RestiffBard (110729) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:11PM (#3280354) Homepage
    wouldn't this be similar to say you're watching friends and while you're watching someone enters your house and paints your television pink, puts a sign on top of your tv that says buy tampax, and replaces your remote with a tampax branded remote?
  • by Suppafly (179830)
    Why would people choose to use these browsers.. 3rd party browsers that are halfway decent like kmeleon have a hardtime getting users, who is going to choose to start using a browser that turns their webbrowsing experience into a clusterfuck of advertising.

    If this new thing doesn't have built in p2p mp3 stealing or something, there will be no incentive for people to use it over IE.
    • I have been using K-Meleon on Windows and iCab on the Mac for what seems like forever.

      Little great features like "Open Link in Background Window" and "Disable new windows on window open/close" make great selling points (image filtering on iCab being another great one).

      The more annoying advertisments become, the more people I think that third party browsers are going to convert with features to allow them to turn off/disable them.
  • Uh oh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by slipkid (442316) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:12PM (#3280364) Homepage Journal
    Is this going to affect my Bonzi Buddy??!!
  • It could work ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pgrote (68235) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:13PM (#3280370) Homepage
    ... if it is made optional.

    Some people enjoy the experience of the internet and this may be one of the things for them. How else can you explain Flash's popularity

    Seriously, the key here is the ability to turn it off if you don't want it. They've already built-in the functionality for limiting it to certain websites. As mentioned, weather.com is thinking about it. Personally, it'd be cool if they threw is some weather tools on the toolbar like standard conversions, rain=snow measurements, etc.

    You have to admit it beats the heck out of a car driving across your screen ...
    • How else can you explain Flash's popularity

      Easily. Flash is dynamic authoring tool that can be used to increase a users interaction with, and enjoyment of a website. Yes it's been abused often, but that is the nature of bad designers, not a bad design tool

      As opposed to this crap, which is just an advertisement that has very little potential to do anything other than distract.
    • by ziriyab (549710)
      the key here is the ability to turn it off if you don't want it.

      If it's anything like the "ability" not to use flash, I'll take a pass. Every time I go to a site that uses flash for ads I have to click at least twice to tell it not to download it for me. (BTW is there a way to get "never trust content from macromedia" working in any of the browsers?)

      If oompa loompa (or whatever the cofounder's daughter's retarded nick name is - she should sue for attaching her name to something this annoying) is too easy to disable, the advertisers won't pay for it. If it's unobtrusive, the advertisers won't pay for it. We already tune out 90% of the banner ads and use programs to get rid of pop-ups and -unders. Annoying and in-your-face is the only way left to sell ads online.

      I do agree that this has the theoretical potential to make sites more useful (e.g., comet, flash, etc.), but in the long run, it will mostly be used for evil (e.g., comet, flash, etc.).

    • by ewhac (5844) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @08:40PM (#3281316) Homepage Journal

      It could work ... if it is made optional.

      We're talking about advertising here. Advertising is all about being in your face without your consent. They want to turn your PC into a television, where you have to watch their "message" they way they want you to see it, without any opportunity for meaningful feedback.

      Schwab

  • Is this legal? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eggstasy (458692)
    I cant for the life of me imagine what kind of twisted legal logic allows some idiotic capitalist to have a program in my computer that changes everything he wants about my browser, and can still condemn the common burglar that comes through an open window and turns my house upside down, looking for something valuable.
    Bloody incoherent, if you ask me. The state of the modern world disgusts me to the hilt.
  • How? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by commonchaos (309500)
    The closest I have seen to what they are talking about is changing the colour of the scroll bar, they claim it will work without downloading anything does anybody here have an idea?
  • by Schlopper (413780) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:14PM (#3280380)

    I just __CAN'T__ wait to see the latest pr0n ads..
    Wonder what we'll be clicking on to close the windows?

    Gives a whole new meaning to 'pop-ups'.
  • It's MINE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pseudofrog (570061)
    The browser's look, as with the rest of my computer's appearance, is sacred and should be treated as such. Do whatever you want IN the webpage... I'll even accept a pop-up or two. But do not ever ever ever mess with how my browser looks.

    It's mine...don't touch!

    -Matt
    • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wirefarm (18470) <jim@mm[ ]net ['dc.' in gap]> on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @07:36PM (#3280843) Homepage
      This is "Overstepping the bounds" in more than one sense.

      When I open a web page, I am generally agreeing to let a web designer do whatever he or she wants with the space between the <HTML> and </HTML> tags. Not my destop, not the frame, just the page.
      If I don't have the option of turning this off, I will change browsers and not patronize sites that use this technique.

      Why is it that every blank space has to become an advertising marquee?

      Cheers
      Jim in Tokyo

      (Of course, .sigs don't count.)
  • or circle browser ... or browser that looks like a ship... or a sheep...
  • Weather.com (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dephex Twin (416238) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:16PM (#3280397) Homepage
    Weather.com, which had 11.6 million visitors in February, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, is carefully evaluating Ooqa Ooqa, given the concerns about intrusiveness. "If you interrupt the consumer for no good reason, it's not effective advertising," Iaffaldano said.

    Weather.com, right? Epilepsy-inducing annoying ads Weather.com? Cars driving across the webpage honking at me Weather.com?

    Yeah, they have really good judgment as far as intrusive advertising goes.

    Was anybody else totally not surprised to hear that Weather.com is looking to be an early adopter for this "technology"?

    mark
    • Weather.com has a link to Tell them what you think [weather.com]. So go there, and tell them that if they use this new ooki yucki whatever they wanna call it crap, that you'll never visit their website again.

      Chief Revenue Officer? I guess with as many crappy, gaudy ads as that website runs, they need a chief officer in charge of it....
  • by room101 (236520) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:16PM (#3280399) Homepage
    My first thought is "why would anyone use this browser and subject themselves to this"?

    But then, I remember the comet cursor scandal*. I'm sure they will package this into a really neat sounding program that will do everything you need, plus other things that you don't know about.

    * For those that don't remember, Comet Cursor was this cursor customization that you could download and make your cursor look like anything you want, even an animated something. Pretty neat, except that the software transmitted all your mouse movements and click to their company, so they know where you clicked (becasue it was a browser plug-in) and where you went. The product was wildly popular for a while. I guess some will do anything for a little bit of snazzy-ness.

    • and in addition to that, Comet Cursor seemed to install itself with no intervention on IE. I have seen it done.

      i have ALSO seen it not want to uninstall properly. hmmm....

      f%^%cking comet cursor.
  • No problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:20PM (#3280430)
    No images, no javascript, no java, no active X, no cookies, no nothing. My common browser settings.

    Saves a ton of bandwidth. No security problems. No popups. No hijacks.

    If some site doesn't work I get to evaluate how much I really want to see. And either drop the site or enable what I have to.

    Make the advertisers listen. The more crap they put up the less we should look at.
  • Considering all the horrible looking Flash sites out there, I can't image what they would do to my Browser if I allowed this. Although the Porn sites might be fun.
  • by rho (6063) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:22PM (#3280443) Homepage Journal

    Don't you know somebody (other than a marketroid) who would find this "cool"? I can think of quite a few people who would go for it myself.

    And it wouldn't bother me too much, either. Of course, I personally wouldn't tolerate it, but if somebody else gets giggles out of it, well why not? Look at the relative success of the IE skins with Star Trek themes, or whatnot.

    (having visions of banner ads disappearing and my browser window turning Coke-colored...)

  • problems (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The problems they will experience is people who do not use the most popular browsers.

    Now I now ie has some fishy abilities to let people mess it up (or enhance it), so ie would be a pretty easy target. Allowing plugins to automatically be installed was a bad idea, I do not know how many people have had me remove viruses from their computer that were really just garbage like comet cursor, gohip, nad that gator thing. Why is my computer so slow. Why does the internet not go where I tell it to. All because they clicked yes by mistake during a popup storm.

    The question comes in, are they going after mozilla/netscape6, and opera. If so I do not think these browsers will be as inviting as ie. If they find bugs to hijack mozilla, you can bet that it will be fixed in a hurry.

    Maybe if they block all the non complient browsers...

    If this all this advertisement invasion this keeps up it will make linux the better browsing platfrom (the plugins are windows only, unless codweavers for some reason decieds to support them). Heck right now people are amazed when they see me go to sites and get what I wanted, instead of all sorts of ads.
  • by Genom (3868) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:23PM (#3280454)
    Popups that abused javascript to run "full-screen", changing the size of my browser window without my permission caused me to disable javascript altogether.

    Then, I stopped visiting certain websites when the "browser takeover" intensified with the use of "shoshkles"(sp?) - which obscured the very content I visited the web page to read, in order to hock their annoying, unwanted product. The analogy here is opening a newspaper, and starting to read an article on a local election, when suddenly an ad from the other page crawls and sets itself over that article.

    Now, the same company that brought *that* annoyance now decides that the very interface of my browser isn't mine to control. Who needs that "Home" button? Not you! No - you go ahead and have this "BUY!" button instead. "Back" button? Nonono...you need another "BUY!" button!. What? You're not pressing them? Well, maybe you need some more incentive...let's replace the Reload button with a button that looks *just like* your old one, but actually goes to the same place our "BUY!" button takes you!

    Hopefully Opera will stay clear of this, otherwise I may have to stop browsing altogether when I'm forced to use the Windows partition of my comp.

    How long until a new worm uses this to quietly replace all the buttons and fields in a users browser with identical-looking ones that don't work as advertized?
  • "Without download"... yeah, its probably just a stupid trick where they pop open a new window without toolbars (like spam), and then just display the "browser". The "browser" is really just another web page in disguise. Dirty trick, and boy, what an "enhanced user experience" that will be!

  • "Opt out?" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maloi (175772)
    I especially like this:
    In fact, they'll have the option never to be exposed to the technology again
    on certain Web sites.
    So, a user can turn it off on those few web sites (probably none) that allow me to, but won't be able to turn it off altogether?

    Great. Look forward to that!

  • by Sarin (112173)
    United Virtualities calls the product "Ooqa Ooqa," the nickname of one of the cofounder's daughters. The firm's signature product is the "shoshkeles," named after another daughter of a co-founder.

    Hello! What planet is this cofounder-dude from? I heard his dog is called "Melissa" and his goldfish is called "Mary-Anne".
  • As reported previously here [slashdot.org], United Virtualities is the same company that came up with those horrible "Shoshkeles" ads!! If you've never seen them, they are ads that run, animated, all over the page, with full sound. Ack!

    It's times like this that I'm glad I don't use anything besides Mozilla; I'll never see any of these types of things. Companies like these need to be stopped, before we are even more overrun with ads than we already are.
    • It's times like this that I'm glad I don't use anything besides Mozilla

      Are you absolutely certain? The article says: "automatically change the appearance of Web browsers, usurping some of the functions built into popular browsers designed by Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc."
      and: "Netscape already lets people customize its browsers. Its client-customization kit lets Internet-service providers and others insert their logos to replace the Netscape logo in the browser toolbar, or insert specific bookmarks."

      Of course, from all that I know about Mozilla there's no way a website is going to be just allowed to install and switch to a different theme (though who knows what sort of extra 'features' might be added in Netscape releases...), and even if there was it'd be fixed nearly instantaniously in Mozilla, but Netscape/Mozilla definitely does seem like a target for this product.

      What I'm mostly interested in right now however is seeing some screenshots of for example those weather.com tests on various browsers... Anyone out there reading this who just happens to be a beta-tester / in the know / ...?

    • As reported previously here [slashdot.org], United Virtualities is the same company that came up with those horrible "Shoshkeles" ads!! If you've never seen them, they are ads that run, animated, all over the page, with full sound. Ack!

      This sounds like more marketing hype from United Virtualities. If you look at "shoshkeles" and what they actually do, you will see that they like the older "eyeblasters" contain a lot of code that obscures what they really are doing. They simply put a flash animation in a layer, make it transparent and position it with CSS. Flash does the hard work! It's 3 lines of code on IE instead of the steaming heap their scripts turn out.

      And ad executives like this? They think people want flying soft drink cans to cover their morning newspaper? Of course they're not human so what did you expect???

  • ---- -
    |o| Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters - Galeon
    |---- -
    | Do you like toolbar polls? [Yes] [No] [Maybe] [CowboyNeal]
    |---- -
    |
  • How long until slashdot does this. Although they'd probably at least give us options of how stupid they make our browser look. Like maybe a poll:

    How do you want your browser to look this week?

    1: Linux themed

    2: Flashing slashot (looks like vegas strip club)

    3: Cowboyneal

    *shudder*
  • Though I know I and a large portion of this audience would have a fit, I imagine a good number of the general browsing public in many circumstances would find such gimmicks endearing and may not be put off by their use. The problem is that I don't know if the general population of users would see the implied threat by making such auto-redesigning of their user interface: not all designers are benevolent.

    It could display "utilitarian" tools in the browser toolbar, such as a currency exchange-rate calculator on a financial Web site, Entel said I think it is fair to compare this example of breaking the user interface to other nefarious schemes such as designing borderless pop-up browser windows with what appear to alert dialogs that people by their previous experience will choose to click, thereby redirecting their browser to a site that they most likely had no intention of visiting. In this case, re-designing a UI beyond easy repair for most end users, replete with click dialogs to any number of undesired "features" like a link bar full of cheap drugs and bargain toner.

    If you interrupt the consumer for no good reason, it's not effective advertising, Iaffaldano said. The majority of the advertising I receive interrupts what I am doing and is not effective. Why would this "enhancement" be applied differently?

    My reading of the article indicated that customizations would carry from site to site, with no indication of it being an opt-in feature, though at that point in the article their was not clarification as to what browser to which they refer. It would be a strong step forward for browser writers to make such customization completely at the will of the end user and by default, turned off.
  • by Anemophilous Coward (312040) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:32PM (#3280536)
    ...as maybe many others are.

    One part of the article mentions "a demo version of a Weather.com-themed browser prepared by United Virtualities", which seems to imply that it is a modified version of a current web browser. This is really nothing new (aside from being able to service ads), when I ran my small ISP in town we modified Netscape Comm. 4 to have our logo in place of the 'N'. This would require the user to download and install a new web browser.

    However, there seem to be underpinnings in the article that make it seem like this could affect your current browser you are using. One bad scenario would be that it installs with another (freeware) program...much like the spyware in Kazaa, et al. The worse scenario would be that it could tap into the gui of your current browser just by visiting a web page. Then you would have no real control. This sounds like taking advantage of one of the many bugs^H^H^H^H features that IE has.

    And then this statement: "Web surfers will always have a clear option to turn off Ooqa Ooqa and go back to their regular browsers, said Ivan Entel, the firm's chief of staff. In fact, they'll have the option never to be exposed to the technology again on certain Web sites." Go back to my regular browser?? What is meant by that? Does this mean uninstalling/re-installing? Very vague terminology sends scary signals up my spine.

    Does anyone know more about this definitively so as to clear up the vagueness?

    - A non-productive mind is with absolutely zero balance.
    - AC
  • United Virtualities may be doing some of the greatest work towards advancing public demand for open standards.


    Sure, W3C creates the standards. The Web Standards Project evangalizes them. Mozilla provides a cross-platform alternative that follows them. But with their browser-morphing and overlaying ads, United Virtualities has created technologies that will drive users to Mozilla in droves if they show up in Netscape or Microsoft products. It'll probably increase demand for Junkbuster too.


    Thanks to rabid marketdroids and United Virtualities. Who knew.

  • Watch some late late late night TV and you might catch an old skit on brush or vaccuum cleaner salespeople with a foot in the door and a spiel spewing from their mouths. Many people, including my parents, see an intrusive sales person as the Monty Python Troop there to amuse the kitty. For the rest of us there's the chance for FS/OS to get it's footprint on the iron of more disgruntled users. Somewhere the ghost of PT Barnum is whooping it up... there are many, many more than just one born every minute. And, hey, I personally can't wait until it goes subliminal. Oh yea baby it's coming, it's coming.

    cheers
  • Deja vu (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal-9001 (43188) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:39PM (#3280582) Homepage Journal
    The same company that brought you the aweful and awefully-named Shoshkele [slashdot.org] (those were the Flash ads that obscured the content of the page that they were on) has rolled out another aweful and awefully-named advertising technology. And weather.com has spearheaded the deployment of both godaweful technologies...
  • Heh:
    But United Virtualities hopes to convince Web surfers that Ooqa Ooqa is useful, not a nuisance.
    I would say that having a web site hijack my 'Home' button is about as useful as scanning a barcode out of a magazine (which I must be reading while sitting at my desk) instead of typing in a URL. Which is to say, not useful at all. And a complete nuisance.
  • by zeropanic (254213) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @06:58PM (#3280680) Homepage
    Thank god for lynx!
  • This simply can't work without downloading any additional software unless they know of some super sekret buffer overflows to exploit.


    Without downloading anything, all they can do is open a toolbar/menuless window and fill it with a lame implementation of the regular browser but with their buttons. It would look stoopid and would be instantly dismissed by anyone with any sense.


    But to actually change the browser behaviour requires some form of download. That either means a plugin or exe for NS 4.x, a control or exe for IE or chrome for Mozilla/NS 6.x. There is no other way.


    And fortunately most people will be smarter than to install shit like this. May it be consigned to the lower levels of hell where it belongs with all other advertising spyware.

  • hello people! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GutBomb (541585)
    no one has stopped to think that this can be done on ANY browser. you take a web page. it then opens up the real site inside of a popup with all the navigation buttons gone, and makes it's own that function using javascript like javascript:history(-1) for the back button, and so on... it would work on ie, netscape, mozilla, konq, opera, etc... only lynx is safe remember, the oompa oompa people never said how it works. it could be something this simple.
  • Read the subject line!

    NotSlash [crystalorb.net] : We scoop Slashdot!
  • Just use /etc/hosts (Score:2, Informative)

    by ross.w (87751)
    Add the domain where the ads are coming from to /etc/hosts and point it to 127.0.0.1

    This works for most flavours of windows too, but the location of hosts varies (in Win2000 it is c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc)

    Good for blocking most ads (even the slashdot ones when they come from doubleclick)

    This circumvention method is probably now illegal in the USA, but I don't lve there so bite me!
  • Some names are just too stupid to be believed.

    If linux was called GNU/Ooqa Ooqa instead of GNU/linux I would never have used it.

    Honest. It truly leaves me speechless how mindless brand names are getting. Ooqa bloody Ooqa? WTF?

    Did some marketing drone actually get paid for belching this one up?

  • If they're that desperate, I'll take some money to stick some Post-It(tm) notes on my monitor which have advertisements on them. Hey, I'll see them for hours every day, that should be worth something.
  • If you read the article, you'll find out that Ooqa Ooqa and another of United Virtualities' products are named after the daughters of executives...

    All we have to do, then, is prevent these people from breeding and there won't be any more abominations like this.

    It'd probably be a good idea to pre-emptively knock off any still-living decendents of UV executives while we're at it...
    • "If you read the article, you'll find out that Ooqa Ooqa and another of United Virtualities' products are named after the daughters of executives...
      " is that for real, or are you saying they're monkeys? which would be pretty funny.
  • If any of my browsers succumb to Ooqa Ooqa, I'll have the owner of that site prosecuted under the PATRIOT act.

    Either the scumbag who tries to pull off these kinds of things goes to jail for terroristic computer hacking or the PATRIOT act gets struck down. Either way, I win.

    b&

  • To get more customers your going to annoy the hell out of them by altering thier browser.

    humm..

    cat > /etc/hosts
    127.0.0.1 www.unitedvirtualities.com

  • ... usurping some of the functions built into popular browsers designed by Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc.
    MS NBC mentions the parent company of "Netscape Communications", but doesn't mention their own relationship to "Microsoft Corp." I know that everyone in the world knows who MS is, and that most people above room temperature can figure out that "MSNBC" is somehow related to "MS", but the article doesn't say anything, at any time, about that relationship. "We're reporting on a news item that effects our parent/partner company, but we won't make that relationship explicit in the article." It strikes me as either arrogant ('everyone knows who we are, we don't need to say anything') or deceitful ('if we don't mention that MS owns us, maybe people won't look for bias in the article').

    To contrast, Slashdot is very good about disclosing corporate relationships when reporting something, even though this audience is practically guaranteed to already know what they are telling us. ("Really, you mean OSDN owns slashdot?!?! I thought that the OSDN banner up there was decorative. Wow, I'm glad you mentioned this.")

    BTW, I thought this was funny:

    © 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    So don't read it, because we aren't publishing it. :)
  • ...a web site that has a fancy looking shockwave (or whatever) animation is a front for a scam? Or is it just true sometimes
  • Get your paws off my browser, you damned dirty marketeer!
  • by Raleel (30913) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @07:47PM (#3280897)
    Someone once said, "Programmers are often so fascinated by the fact that they can that they often don't think about whether they should.

    If I find a site that does this, I will not use their product. I will email the web admin and inform them why, and I will feel a little better hoping that my little bit may cause them to stop using this technology because it costs them more money than it makes.
  • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @08:27PM (#3281223)
    I first saw this story posted over at SiliconValley.com on April 1.

    Are we sure it's not an April Fool's joke that caught out the guys at MSNBC???
  • by phlegmofdiscontent (459470) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @08:30PM (#3281246)
    The biggest mistake we as a species have made in the past 100 years was to allow advertising to become an industry in and of itself. There was a time when businesses did their own advertising, designed to inform the consumer of their new products and the superiority of those products over the competitor. Now, that function has been farmed off to other companies, who, due to the nature of capitalism, have to compete to get the most advertising business. That competition has fostered ever more intrusive advertising, from 30 second spots on tv to giant billboards to the various annoyances we're seeing now on the internet. I forsee that in ten years or less, an ad agency will replace mega-retailer Walmart as the largest company in the world.
    This trend will continue, with ads becoming more and more ubiquitious. A few sci-fi writers have drawn this same conclusion, such as Neal Stephenson, who envisioned 3-D billboards that "attack" pedestrians, or another writer, whose name escapes me at the moment (it might have been Greg Egan), who posited that nano-robots could be used to "hack" the brain and perpetually display ads in a person's visual field. I can envision some enterprising young advertiser inventing eyeglasses that display ads. Poor, nearsighted people would put up with the ads in exchange for clear vision (if slightly obscured).
    Sadly, there's not much we can do. Look at how well we've curtailed Microsoft. They had it wrong in Fight Club. The insurance companies and financial institutions aren't the enemies. It's the ad agencies. Maybe the same solution might work.
  • Is it illegal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by crucini (98210) on Wednesday April 03, 2002 @11:19PM (#3282075)
    I'm ignoring the fact that this 'technology' probably doesn't exist. The same people came up with 'shoshkeles' which never worked on my browser.

    New York's Computer Crime statute [securityfocus.com] says:

    A person is guilty of computer tampering in the fourth degree when he uses or causes to be used a computer or computer service and having no right to do so he intentionally alters in any manner or destroys computer data or a computer program of another person. Computer tampering in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor.

    It does require the computer owner to somehow notify the intruder that unauthorized access is prohibited. But one type of notification allowed is:
    (b) prominently posting written notice adjacent to the computer being utilized by the user

    So print out a big sign and tape it to the side of your monitor. Meanwhile, Wyoming has this to say:
    6-3-502. Crimes against intellectual property; penalties.

    (a) A person commits a crime against intellectual property if he knowingly and without authorization:
    (i) Modifies data, programs or supporting documentation residing or existing internal or external to a computer, computer system or computer network;...
    (b) A crime against intellectual property is: (i) A felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than three (3) years, a fine of not more than three thousand dollars ($3,000.00), or both, except as provided in paragraph (ii) of this subsection;

    Sounds like this technique, if it really exists, violates both laws.
  • by jbuilder (81344) <evadnikufesinNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 04, 2002 @11:55AM (#3284854)
    Thanks to the Configurable Security Policies in Mozilla:

    The gist of configuring security policies is described here:

    http://www.mozilla.org/projects/security/component s/ConfigPolicy.html [mozilla.org]

    The bottom of the page has examples that you can use for your 'default' security policy. You can customize them to any security policy you configure in just a few minutes.

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