June 2, 2001 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Woohoo! Follow the link to a post at the beloved-by-all-metafilterians Jason Levine.

read the fourth paragraph: it seems that i'm not the only one highly ticked off by the recent slew of x10 pop-under ads.

Jason has kindly provided links that will set cookies to prevent them from appearing for 30 days, 1 year or 10 years.

I modified the url yet again to keep it from popping up ever again within my lifetime.
posted by o2b (39 comments total)
these are really big with everyone.net, so if you have webmail powered by them (and probably not that many people here, but I had everyone.net powered webmail for my site for a while), then you will notice them pushing it.
posted by benjh at 8:42 PM on June 2, 2001

Jason very graciously credits my site, Pop Culture Junk Mail, with the X10 link (which was one of many sent to me by readers, so I can't take full credit for it either). I've been kind of obsessed with X10 links lately, and you'll find more on my May 31 entry--info on fighting the ads, a bit about their history, and more. Hate the damn things. Hate 'em.
posted by GaelFC at 9:12 PM on June 2, 2001

o2b, 30 days is the max.
posted by register at 9:18 PM on June 2, 2001

X10 will haunt the web forever.
posted by register at 9:19 PM on June 2, 2001

Thanks, in any case, to both of you; I'll be popping through that link of yours on at least three systems.
posted by Perigee at 9:23 PM on June 2, 2001

Gael is my hero. :)
posted by kristin at 9:43 PM on June 2, 2001

register, where do you find the info that it's only 30 days?
posted by pnevares at 10:08 PM on June 2, 2001

It's too bad that X10 has such a dastardly marketing department, since their products are actually pretty cool. I use their Entertainment Anywhere package to wireless broadcast MP3s to my stereo and DVDs to my TV.
posted by waxpancake at 11:16 PM on June 2, 2001

i've got it set on 30 days, too. unfortunately, the ads are still annoying me, since the pop-under window will show up underneath the current browser window and then kill itself. how inefficient.
posted by kathryn at 1:56 AM on June 3, 2001

I never even made it to the X10 stuff, as I couldn't wipe away the image of Poo's heroin nod.

I'm in the fetal position now. Happy?
posted by dong_resin at 5:08 AM on June 3, 2001

pnevares, modifying the URL so that the pop-under ads disappear for more or less than 30 days still results in their disappearance for exactly 30 days; I don't know why DAY=30 is in the URL (maybe the script prevents the ads for X days but prints the same confirmation page). this message appears regardless of DAY's value:

"For the next 30 days, the X10 "pop-under" ads will NOT appear on your computer!"
posted by register at 8:18 AM on June 3, 2001

register - I doubt that means 30 days is the maximum. It's probably just a hard-coded html page. Since they didn't expect to be using the cookie for anything other than 30 days, there wasn't really any reason to make that value dynamic. So i think it's pretty safe to assume you're getting a cookie for x amount of days, even though the page only says 30.
posted by chrisege at 11:38 AM on June 3, 2001

Guess we'll know in 30 days, eh?
posted by kindall at 12:38 PM on June 3, 2001

I dunno, folks -- if you have to have advertising on the web, these 'pop-under' ads seem like a pretty darn civilized way to do it: seems like the idea is that they'll stay out of your way until you're finished surfing. That's pretty polite; I almost prefer it to the huge in-page ads that some sites have been experimenting with.

And then they go ahead and put in the effort to let the customer turn the things off if they want... I feel like I'm siding with the bad guys here, but that seems like pretty darn good net citizenship to me...

...of course I'm saying that without actually having seen one of these things; I wandered around on everyone.net for a while trying to get one to appear. (Maybe they don't work on a mac?)
posted by ook at 2:40 PM on June 3, 2001

They work *just* fine, alas.
posted by rodii at 3:22 PM on June 3, 2001

I just responded on Jason's Discuss page. If you want to disable the popup forever and ever, put this into your hosts file (on Windows or Unix. Perhas Mac as well)    www.x10.com

A list of other known advertisers and cookie tacer/placers can be found here. Enjoy!
posted by
fooljay at 3:40 PM on June 3, 2001

ha, how could we forget? thanks fooljay.
posted by register at 4:20 PM on June 3, 2001

the idea is that they'll stay out of your way until you're finished surfing.

Nice idea, maybe, but there are two problems: It doesn't work unless you use that single-window browsing style, where you leave the same window open all the time and do all your browsing within it. (Needless to say, I don't.) Second, it's much harder to tell where the little beast came from. I eventually figured out that latimes.com was at fault, and now I don't go there anymore, but it was frustrating while I tried to find its origin.

posted by Mars Saxman at 4:43 PM on June 3, 2001

Considering the ads come from ads.x10.com not www.x10.com you're just blocking access to the opt-out link.

Good points, scallas. I didn't check to see where the ads were coming from. I suppose I could put "   x10.com" in there, eh?

Actually my hosts file has x10.com blocked, but it doesn't stop the popup just the loading of the ad. So I get a full size pop-up window (IE5.5 W2K) with the typical cannot find host error. Go for the opt-out.

Nah, I don't like the idea that X10.com gets to see the fact that I'm visiting sites where they have a popup placed. I personally would rather just halt any communication between them and my computer. I bet I could forge a cookie on my computer (because x10.com would be mapped to which would disable the popup forever as well....
posted by fooljay at 5:48 PM on June 3, 2001

am I wrong that I'm getting it at the NY Times? that's where it always appears.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:48 PM on June 3, 2001

posted by rebeccablood at 5:56 PM on June 3, 2001

did that work?
posted by rebeccablood at 5:56 PM on June 3, 2001

[OT: sorry, all. in opera, fooljay's <br /> has rendered everything following in boldface. (although in preview mode it read the right way... go figure.)

apologies for not checking source before trying to fix it, and for not checking it in another browser before doing so.

so, does opera not support <br />???]
posted by rebeccablood at 6:01 PM on June 3, 2001

posted by register at 6:23 PM on June 3, 2001

I clicked queso's link, but I'm still getting the X10 pop-unders from nytimes.com and chicagotribune.com.
posted by ktheory at 7:14 PM on June 3, 2001

you know what? me, too.

posted by rebeccablood at 7:55 PM on June 3, 2001

The first big site (that I visit) to use the X10 ads was Space.com. Then the Chicago Tribune added them; then shortly after that, the LA Times (remember, Tribune Media bought them). Only last week did the pop-unders spread to the NY Times. Man, there can't be that many people buying wireless spycams in Voyeurweb Igor's wildest wet dreams.

(Or perhaps we've entered Asimov's short story, "Welcome to the Fishbowl", depicting a future where every television could tune to a camera secretly installed in any other television.)

For instance, I have installed a spycam in the period at the end of this sentence. Smile, and move a little to the left.

It's pretty strange that they programmed that cookie with the DAYS value in the URL. It would have been insanely easy to hard-code (maybe the X10 web coding staff is being unexpectedly kind). Note also that it would be insanely easy to simply ignore the DAYS value and set it to 30 days regardless. It would be a little harder to program the cookie so you could tell exactly when it was set, but that's also not out of the question.

My experimental results? I clicked the actual link on the X10 site, went to ChicagoTribune.com, and saw no ad. I then used the one at the top of this post, and returned to the Trib site, and saw no ad. Remember that you have to have cookies and javascript enabled for it (this fix) to work. (One of my defenses had been to set Chicagotribune.com as a Restricted Site via my security tab, but that also meant every search submission was intercepted and other annoyances.)
posted by dhartung at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2001

I get queried as to whether I want to accept cookies, and usually try hard to discriminate between sites with legitimate uses for them and ad server/tracking sites. With x10 I originally declined, so I always saw the ad but didn't set a cookie. In order to turn off the ads, I had to accept x10's cookies. So now I don't see the ads, but I do allow them to have a cookie. In other words, I've traded the nuisance of the popup ads for the surveillance issue of giving x10 a cookie. Plus, every 30 days, x10 gets to refresh to whole issue with me.

If I were doubleclick, I would be working on a similar scheme right now. Pop up annoying ads but offer to make them go away if they can just set a cookie on my machine. Then they can do all the tracking and profiling I painstakingly opted out of before. Am I being paranoid here?
posted by rodii at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2001

ktheory and rebecca, I bet you initially declined x10's cookie, just like I did.
posted by rodii at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2001

Looking at the cookie that X10 creates when you try to block the ads for longer than 30 days, it appears that you can successfully create a cookie that doesn't expire for five years (even though the text is hard-coded to say "30 days" on the page). If you try a value too high (such as 999999), the cookie expires within 24 hours, which prevents it from blocking the ads.
posted by rcade at 9:47 AM on June 4, 2001

Sorry about the BR business. That's weird...

Rodii, I had the same experience as you. MyFamily.com uses them, and I kept rejecting X10's cookie, but that meant that upon every single page load I got the *(@^#$ popup ad.

I still say you should be able to use the hosts file in conjunction with a forged cookie and make the popup and the ad never show up again. Hmmm, I wonder though if you have to be running a webserver for that...
posted by fooljay at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2001


I'm glad that they gave us the option to shut off the ads, and it made me want to visit their site. Alas, I don't have an RCA output for my computer player (software DVD decoder) so I can't use it.

I wish I could, since I'd love to broadcast my DivX movies to the TV.
posted by Pinwiz at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2001

This thread gets a mention in today's Moneybox column at Slate.
posted by Skot at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2001

From I've read, while the X10 camera is apparently a great little device, purchasing one means you will get spammed with emails, several times a day.

Companies with marketing tactics like this don't deserve to be in business.
posted by crunchland at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2001

...you will get spammed with emails, several times a day.

I suppose that their marketing tactics could have gotten worse since I ordered one of their kits a couple of years ago. At the time, though, I was able to dump their mail — one a day at most — into its own folder with a simple filter rule; when I got tired of that, a simple unsubscribe request stopped all their mail.
posted by harmful at 2:46 PM on June 4, 2001

Re: the Slate post mention:

Would the real Fray, please stand up?

Embrace and extend, I guess...
posted by fooljay at 2:55 PM on June 4, 2001

Both Frays have been around for about the same length of time, I seem to recall from an earlier MeFi thread.
posted by rodii at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2001

<plug>Well I've solved my pop-up/under window problems. I downloaded the fabulous freeware NoPops. It comes preloaded with the most common popup window names, and you can add your own. It also works for non-web windows like IM's new popup. </plug>.

BTW is anyone offended by the way x10 always shows a pretty woman along with the xcam. It seems they're blatantly marketing the device to voyeurs.
posted by matt324 at 6:57 AM on June 6, 2001

I was thinking the same thing. Those X10 ads are the stuff hidden-camera arrest news stories are made of.
posted by rcade at 7:04 AM on June 6, 2001

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