Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

The Google logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif can be seen in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2018
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Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

WASHINGTON: Google has begun a new effort to block annoying ads on its Chrome browser, as part of an initiative aimed at improving the online advertising ecosystem that provides the bulk of its revenues.
The new ad filtering system rolled out this week aims to eliminate the most irritating marketing messages such as pop-ups, auto-play video ads and “sticky” boxes which cannot be removed.
The system was implemented by Google in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, an association which includes the Internet giant and a number of media and advertising partners.
“While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we’ve increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google engineering manager Chris Bentzel said in a blog post ahead of the rollout Thursday.
“Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.”
While Google’s effort is expected to block only a small percentage of ads, it aims to counter a growing movement to install third-party ad blockers which filter all such advertisements and could be a threat to firms relying on online revenues.
According to a study last year by the research firm PageFair, about 11 percent of the global Internet population uses ad-blocking software, affecting 380 million mobile devices and 236 million desktop PCs.
Google vice president Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said the move aims to improve the online ad system even if it means blocking some ads from Google itself.
“To us, your experience on the web is a higher priority than the money that these annoying ads may generate — even for us,” Roy-Chowdhury said in a blog post.
“The web is an ecosystem composed of consumers, content producers, hosting providers, advertisers, web designers, and many others. It’s important that we work to maintain a balance — and if left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system.”
Google and its partners in the ad coalition thus appear to be aiming to head off a consumer revolt which could choke off revenues to Internet, media and advertising companies.
The Coalition for Better Ads said in a statement Thursday it “is pleased by the large number of companies in the online ad industry that have embraced the Better Ads Standards and taken action on their own and with their business partners to discontinue the ad formats consumers find most annoying and disruptive.”


First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

Updated 09 December 2018
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First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

  • 20 second audio clip shows sound of wind on Mars
  • Clip also supports evidence of wind speed and direction on Mars

DUBAI: An audio clip of the first sounds captured on Mars by its latest inhabitant, the InSight probe, was released last week, British broadcaster BBC reported.

The clip, 20 seconds long, has captured the sound of the wind on the desert planet.

InSight carries a British-made seismometer package, which was able to detect the vibrations from Martian air rushing over the solar panels.

Professor Tom Pike, leading the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London, likened the placement of the solar panels to the robot “cupping its ears”. “[They are] the perfect acoustic receivers.” he said.

The wind on Mars moves from the northeast to the southeast at about five to seven meters per second, according to the latest estimates. This falls in line with evidence shown by satellite pictures that display the tracks left by dust devils travelling in the same direction.

 “This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigors of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals,” Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, told the BBC.

“It is just amazing to hear the first ever sounds from Mars,” Horne added.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26th, following a six-month journey from Earth. Its overall aim is to study the world's interior from the mission site, a flat plain just north of Mars's equator.