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Google Chrome to start blocking intrusive ads worldwide

Image: jaap arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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Google Chrome‘s built-in ad blocker is going global this summer.

Starting on July 9, “Chrome will expand its user protections and stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly display[s] … disruptive ads,” Chrome Senior Director of Product Ben Galbraith wrote in a Wednesday blog post.

Google first launched this feature in February, but only in North America and Europe. The filter removes only the most intrusive, annoying types of ads that violate the Coalition for Better Ads’ standards, as outlined in the image below. That includes pop-up ads, full-page prestitial ads with countdown timers that block you from seeing content on the page for a certain amount of time, auto-play videos ads with sound, and large sticky ads that stay on the page even when you scroll, among others.

Image: google

Beginning today, website owners in areas outside North America and Europe can use Google’s Ad Experience Report tool to check whether they have any unacceptable ads on their sites.

“Our ultimate goal is not to filter ads, but to build a better web for everyone, everywhere,” Galbraith wrote. He added that fewer than 1 percent of the millions of sites reviewed to date have had their ads removed. As of the start of this year, two-thirds of publishers who at one time did not comply with the industry-developed standards now do.

“Chrome’s enforcement of the Coalition’s standards has inspired many website owners to improve the advertising experience on their sites in a way that benefits users,” Galbraith wrote.\

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Google built a digital Etch-A-Sketch that’s just as hard to use as the real thing

My most successful Web-A-Skeb piece, in which I attempted to write "MASH."
My most successful Web-A-Skeb piece, in which I attempted to write “MASH.”

Image: screenshot: rachel kraus/mashable

Want to relive a frustrating yet addictive childhood experience? Now you can!

A Google Chrome Labs developer has built a web version of the classic Etch-A-Sketch. It’s called Web-A-Skeb, which is a name that rocks. And I am happy to report that attempting to create anything with it is just as maddening as the original.

Google Chrome Labs is a group of “experimental projects” from the Chrome team created to showcase creativity in coding for Chrome. Earlier this year, the Chrome Music Lab debuted Song Maker, an application that lets anyone compose songs with a few clicks of your mouse.

The digital Etch-A-Sketch comes from developer Rowan Merewood, who introduced the project on Twitter (h/t Ars Technica).

Web-A-Skeb lets you do everything an original Etch-A-Sketch would. You turn the dials on the side to draw, and shake your device to erase. You can enter full screen mode (though that didn’t work for me on my iPhone). And you can even go into ~Fancy~ mode, which lets you draw with colors.

It works best with a touchscreen. You can use it on a browser but your mouse really only lets you toggle one knob at a time. So, no curved lines for you.

My attempts to write and draw in Web-A-Skeb were… not successful. But it was also strangely fun and addictive. Which is to say, it mirrored the experience of using the real thing.

Here was my attempt to write something. I started with the word “The,” which then tapered off as I was like, OK, I’ll just try to make a heart. Sad.

Hard fail.

Hard fail.

Image: screenshot: Rachel kraus/mashable

Then I decided to simplify and just go for the heart. Better, but still heinous. The hubris of going for curved edges…

Just ugly.

Just ugly.

Image: screenshot: Rachel kraus/mashable

Wow, the internet can still be fun guys! Faith = restored.

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The good news and bad news of HP’s new AMD Chromebook

Good news: HP made an AMD Chromebook. Bad news: It uses an old chipset.

Meet the new HP Chromebook 14. This is one of the first Chromebooks powered by an AMD processor. But don’t get too excited. This isn’t the AMD-powered Chromebook a lot of people were waiting for. This Chromebook is powered by a really old AMD chipset.

Traditionally, Chromebooks use Intel chips. But in the summer of 2018, word spread that Chromebooks would eventually be offered with Qualcomm and AMD chips — both offering unique advantages over their Intel counterparts. The Qualcomm models, in theory, could offer always-on connectivity options with stellar battery life while the AMD could, in theory, bring better graphic render capabilities to Chromebooks.

This HP Chromebook offers neither.

The new HP Chromebook 14 packs a AMD Dual-Core A4-9120. This chip was released in June 2016. Compared to the chips in other Chromebooks announced at CES 2019, this chip is slower and has less power management capabilities. On the upside it packs Radeon R4 graphics, but again, when paired with the older silicon, the net result will not likely be a impressive as it could be.

Hopefully, this model will lead to another AMD Chromebook but one with a modern chipset.

Google Chrome may soon keep your back button from being hijacked

Google Chrome could stop something called "history manipulation."
Google Chrome could stop something called “history manipulation.”

Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF

You’ve been there: Caught on a dodgy website, faced with a barrage of ads or suspicious content, and found yourself trapped — no matter how much you hit the back button.

It’s a sinister issue called “history manipulation,” where multiple dummy pages are inserted into your browser’s history to fast forward you to the page you were trying to leave.

The issue has been on the Chrome team’s radar since 2016, and now it could be a thing of the past in a future release of the browser, as spotted by 9to5Google.

In a series of published Chromium code changes, Chrome would flag pages that have been added to the back/forward history without the user’s intention, then skip them when the user hits the back button. 

Chrome would then send the questionable pages to Google for analysis. 

A Google spokesperson told Mashable that it’s part of the company’s ongoing work to stop navigation hijacking, but had nothing specific to share on the feature.

Lately, Chrome has been implementing features to protect users from shady behavior on the web, such as warning users when they might possibly fall into a phone billing subscription scam, and shaming websites that aren’t using HTTPS.

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Google Chrome will warn you before you fall for a phone subscription scam

About to fall into a mobile subscription scam? Google Chrome will give you a heads up.
About to fall into a mobile subscription scam? Google Chrome will give you a heads up.

Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF

Found yourself subscribed to a shady ringtone service? Even though it’s 2018? Google Chrome will soon stop you from falling into that trap.

In an upcoming version of Chrome, the browser will throw up a warning page when it suspects users could be unwittingly subscribed to a direct billing scam, leaving them with unexpected charges on their next bill.

Chrome will detect if the subscription information on a webpage is insufficient, and like its other warnings, give the user the opportunity to go back, or proceed if they like.

The warning page.

The warning page.

Image: google

Google has unveiled a series of best practices for mobile billing on Chrome, which includes telling the user how much they’ll be charged, what they’ll be charged for, how long for, and ensuring those details are clear and visible.

“We want to make sure Chrome users understand when they are going through a billing flow and trust that they’ll be able to make informed decisions while browsing the web,” reads a blog post by Google.

An example of a mobile subscription scam.

An example of a mobile subscription scam.

Image: google

The warning page will launch in Chrome 71, which is set to release in December. 

It also has a feature which blocks all ads from a website if they’re deemed to be abusive, in that they trick users to open new tabs or download files.

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