remove ads from outlook

I find myself at the moment without a license for Office 365 and for the time being, I’m just using the web-based version of Outlook as found on outlook.live.com. This would probably be bearable only it’s a fair bit irritating to me with their frequent ad rotation/animations as seen in the right panel.

I’m guessing that people in marketing must think that if they’re not irritating, we won’t pay attention to them. But how should rudeness result in a sale? That just defies logic to me but that’s how they think now.

Adding Insult to Injury

Looking into this further, I can see that Microsoft is allowing third parties to track what I do, what I type, etc. I’ll be culling some of these abuses as well.

The Fix

Without further ado, I indicate the work-around to stop their ad server from functioning. I’ve given the instructions for OS X. For a Windows computer, you’d use Notepad to edit c:/windows/system32/drivers/etc/hosts instead.

$ nano /private/etc/hosts
127.0.0.1       ads.adacado.com adacado.com
127.0.0.1       lax1-ib.adnxs.com adnxs.com
127.0.0.1       aka-cdn.adtechus.com adtechus.com
127.0.0.1       a248.e.akamai.net
127.0.0.1       ads.scorecardresearch.com scorecardresearch.com
127.0.0.1       ol.at.atwola.com
127.0.0.1       pixel.advertising.com advertising.com

Initially, you’ll need to supply the you password. When finished adding these lines, you would enter Ctl-O, Enter and Ctrl-X and finally exit. Refresh in your browser and the ads should be gone.

 

magnetic card readers

Continuing in the series of fun recycling projects for these Dell Vostro 200 computers, I purchased a MagTek Dynamag USB-based swipe card reader for a new project to track visitors in the office’s entrance.

dynamag

Overview

The solution includes an Ubuntu server which only runs a single application to receive the card swipe details, to find the Track 1 data and to then submit this information to a Microsoft IIS—based website. The pages here then offer up an API for the incoming card swipe details and an administrative page for registering new visitors, reviewing the log details and the visitors as seen, to include the ability to export those details to Excel. The data is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.

To save cost, I decided to have each visitor just use a magnetic swipe card already in their wallet. In this way, I wouldn’t have to buy a magnetic card encoder, purchase card blanks nor worry about designing or issuing them (or trying to get them back later).

Typical Cost of an Access Control System for Visitors

From this webpage 2016 Average Card Access Cost

“Expect to pay an average of $1,500 to $2,500 per door for a high-quality system for up to 150 people. … It will cost an average of $1,000 to $1,500 for the hardware for the door. It will cost an average of $3 to $5 per keycard. Monthly service fees can range from $10 to $100 per month.”

My total cost for this project was just eight hours’ labor plus the $48.36 for the card reader! This included the database and website coding plus the I.T. work to setup the Ubuntu server and to create the Python script to talk to the USB-based reader, to test everything and to write up the documentation. This isn’t bad, considering the cost of an average system.