The heaven that is ad-free websites

Install AdBlock Plus (free!) to rid your webpages of annoying ads and speed up your browsing

Over the past few years, internet ads have slowly crept their way from existing as minor annoyances to being a regular pain in the ass. What started as relatively unobtrusive banners at the tops and bottom of pages and blocks in the margins have evolved to become scrolling, blinking, text-blocking, distracting, sometimes hard-to-close monsters. I hate them.

This morning I boiled over on the topic. I was trying to do some quick research on something that I needed to fix, and every website I went to was inundated with ads. I had to spend several seconds figuring out how to close several of them because they hid the ‘x’ in a hard to see part of the ad. Enough!

This post is not an exhaustive list of ad blockers that are available these days. Quite frankly, this is a straight forward topic and I don’t feel the need to write a long post about it. If you want longer details, check out this article from the folks over at Tom’s Guide about many of the options available.

For me, it’s simple. Go with one of the best solutions that’s been around for a long time, is reputable, and is endorsed by major publications and review websites. Don’t even spend time thinking about it. That solution is AdBlock Plus from eye/o GmbH.

You can download the needed browser extension directly from the AdBlock website, or Mac users can install it from the Mac App Store. There are versions available for Windows and mobile devices as well. Make sure you turn off the option in the software for ‘Allow Acceptable Ads’ in order to get a total ad-free experience. If a website that you use forces you to allow it to serve ads, then you can click one button to turn off AdBlock Plus for those websites and the software will remember that setting for the future. For example, two websites that I use (NBCNews.com and CNBC.com) require ad blockers to be disabled for their sites.

Try it, it’s free. You have nothing to lose, and you have your internet-using sanity to win back. The lightweight app installs in just a few clicks, and as soon as you load some of your previously ad-bloated websites you’ll be pleased with the results. Enjoy a saner internet!

Everything you ever wanted to know about the taste and global domination of…coffee!

Contrary to some of my long-form posts that you’ll find here on ‘Slant on Life’, this is a short one.

Many of us reach for coffee every day, often more than one time. We do it out of sleepy necessity, wanting something warm to drink, as the common denominator of a relaxing conversation, or just because we…love the taste!

For people who drink coffee because they love the taste and want to learn more about that (and how coffee goes from bean to cup), this post is for you!

Tip from me: Know your labels to get the taste you want. In the photo above of a bag in our house, the label tells you all you need to know. If possible, buy a handheld coffee grinder and grind your own whole beans each morning for freshness. From the label take note of the roast (light/medium/dark), whether or not it’s a blend, the type of bean, where it was grown, and the expiration date. The videos below discuss all of those factors.

But first, a word about decaf coffee and caffeine

For those of you who might be concerned about your level of caffeine intake from your coffee habit, or simply wondered “How is decaffeinated coffee made?”, check out this article called “How Much Caffeine Is in Decaf Coffee?” from Healthline.

And speaking of caffeine…Are you curious about why it perks you up and seemingly gives you long lasting energy? Check out this short video from NBC New’s “Better” series that clearly explains how caffeine affects your brain and body. It’s interesting to know the specifics of it. If you want to reset yourself back to normal, maybe consider giving decaf coffee a try instead. 🙂

And now, to the videos about taste and bean-to-cup

This first video called “Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about coffee” shows the many different factors that influence the taste of coffee. Flavor is affected by where beans are grown, what altitude they’re grown at, how long they’re roasted, and of course how the coffee is brewed. Learn it all from Chandler Graf in his TED Talk filmed at Beltway Coffee in Abilene, Texas.

This next video linked here called “How the world came to run on coffee” discusses the coffee industry from end-to-end to get from bean to cup, and explores how coffee has become a central part of many societies around the world (the excellent companion article is here). As the video mentions, it’s a business worth hundreds of billions of dollars that supports the livelihood of over 120 million workers worldwide. It’s no wonder that “in just a few centuries, the world has developed a two-billion-cups-a-day habit”.

Sit back and enjoy the articles and videos linked above, with a cup of coffee…of course!