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Internet Advice from Ann Landers in the Mid-1990s

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1990s, advice columnist Ann Landers sensed the rising tide of the Internet. She wasn't exactly an early adopter, and Landers made her wariness of the web known by highlighting a long series of letters from readers who shared their online horror stories. Starting around 1994, her column began to feature more and more tales of marriages destroyed by pornography or chat rooms, people lost to full-out Internet addiction, and legitimately frightening accounts of violence and abuse perpetrated by online "friends" when in-person meetings were arranged.

Even in the early days of the modern Internet, a sizable amount of "netizens" voiced their disapproval of what they perceived as unfair and selective depictions of the World Wide Web. Landers, to her credit, didn't really care what they thought. What follows are eight tidbits of wisdom about the net from one of America's favorite advice columnists.

1. To Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, who wrote to Ann Landers to defend the Internet and the people who use it:

"You are a superb senator...As an advice columnist, however, you aren't so hot. The Internet is tailor-made for con men, the lonely and the bored. The word from here is 'beware.'"

2. To a woman who lied about being a man in a chat room and accidentally struck up a romantic relationship with another woman:

"Many people find it easy to reinvent themselves as attractive, rich and young over the Internet. At least you have the decency to be ashamed of yourself for the deception."

3. To "Larry in Monterrey, California" who wrote "in defense of the computer buff who had a thing going with a girl who, unbeknownst to him, turned out to be 12 years old.":

"You’ve made a good case in defense of the computer junkie who was on-line with the 12-year-old-girl. It’s good to remember that strangers always put on their best face when they are trying to make a good impression. Beware."

4. To "Surfers in Basking Ridge, N.J.," who simply asked Ann to reprint an AP article about how people who meet people on the Internet are prone to compulsive behavior:

Ann excerpts 6 paragraphs from that AP article and adds, "Dear readers, if you or someone close to you is an Internet junkie, please consider seeing a physician about prescribing chemical help."

5. To "D.I.S. in Minneapolis," whose husband was addicted to pornography, "gets up at 4 or 5 in the morning to log on," and has joined a support group for help:

"Your husband needs more help than he is getting. Ask your group leader to recommend a competent psychologist."

6. To an L.A. Times reporter who asked Ann if she used the Internet:

"I have no particular interest at all. I do not have a computer. I'm not interested in that sort of thing at all."

7. To a group of "netizens" who convinced Landers to try the Internet to see if she likes it:

"It's a nice toy, as far as I'm concerned."

8. On the benefits of the Internet:

"It's wonderful for the lonely. There are a great many lonely people out there, and it makes them feel that they're a part of the living world. They can talk to somebody. Somebody will talk to them. And I think it's wonderful."

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “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 wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Live Smarter
Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door
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Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit primenow.com to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]

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