From: Patrick Douglas Crispen 

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP(S): WebWasher (Take Two)

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
Blah blah blah Orange Curtain blah blah blah blash largest strawberry blah blah. :P

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On with the show ...

There is an old rule in show business that you should never follow an animal act. The reason behind this is self-explanatory: no matter how hard you try, you'll never be able to top a wombat playing "Lady of Spain" on some bicycle horns. [And, like Joan Rivers, animal acts are also known to poop all over the stage.]

There is a similar rule in online newsletter writing: don't write about software. The reason is a little less self-explanatory (and much less gross): you can't guarantee that a particular piece of software will work on everyone's computer.

Two years ago I wrote about a wonderful software program called "WebWasher." Unfortunately, WebWasher didn't work on everyone's computer. And for that I am TREMENDOUSLY sorry.

The smart thing for me to do would be to put this whole sordid episode behind me and move on. But the fact that some of the people on our little bus of Internet happiness had problems using WebWasher has bugged me ever since.

So, I am going to break the "don't write about software" rule and take another stab at WebWasher. Hopefully it will work this time.


The three things that annoy me the most are banner ads, javascript pop-up windows, and Joan Rivers. I don't think I can do much about Joan, but I have found a way to deal with the first two: WebWasher.

You've probably already heard of WebWasher. Originally developed by German electronics giant Siemens, WebWasher is a free filter program for both the PC and Mac versions of Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

You heard right, folks. WebWasher works on *BOTH* PCs AND Macs!

Now for the bad news. WebWasher works only with Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. It does *NOT* work with AOL's built-in browser (but you can always connect to AOL, minimize AOL, and then launch a WebWasher-enabled version of Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer installed on your computer.)

Once you install WebWasher on your computer, the program automatically blocks unwanted Web content like banner ads and pop-up windows. Instead of the ads, all you see is white space -- the ads aren't even downloaded! :)

Why would anyone want to block out banner ads? Well, some banner ads are offensive to children (I did a Yahoo search for "Patrick Crispen" while I was at a local elementary school, and a banner ad for Playboy appeared. Granted, it was funny ... just not appropriate.) Also, cutting out banner ads and pop-up windows speeds up your Web surfing (one less thing to download). Finally -- and correct me if I am wrong -- I think blocking banner ads also solves the DoubleClick "tracking cookie" problem we talked about a couple of years ago. Aren't DoubleClick's cookies served with their ads? Block the ads, and I think you also block DoubleClick's cookies (but I could be wrong).


What is most amazing is that WebWasher is free for non-commercial (home) users. You heard right, folks: IT'S FREE! To download it, point your Web browser to .

Now, this is where things get confusing. The top of this page announces that

You can test WebWasher with a free 30 day evaluation. If you would like to purchase the software, please purchase either directly from a WebWasher Sales office, or from our secure Online-Shop

A *BUNCH* of people are going to read this and think I am lying when I say that WebWasher is free. But notice that the 'WebWasher is free for 30 days; after that you have to buy it' quote is located under the section "Commercial and business users." Chances are you are neither a commercial OR business user, so this section doesn't apply to you.

If you'll scroll down the page a bit, you'll see a second section -- "Home and educational" use -- that says

"WebWasher is available for home and educational use (schools and Universities) for free."

Remember, despite what the WebWasher page says about licensing for commercial and business users, WebWasher is free for non-commercial (home) and education users -- US!

Getting WebWasher

To start the download process, click on the "I agree" button at the bottom of the page.

On the next page, choose the operating system that you are running -- Windows, Linux, or MacOS. This takes you to the download page.

You will then be given a choice of whether your want to download WebWasher from an HTTP (Web) server or from an FTP server. Choose HTTP. The link to begin the download isn't the greenish-blue "Download" button but rather the non-underlined link to the right of the button. [You'll see what I mean when you get there.]

By the way, there are two versions of WebWasher for the Mac: an English version and a German version. Choose the one written in your mother tongue. There are also two versions of WebWasher for the PC: version 3.0 and version 3.2 BETA 3. Unless you are feeling particularly adventurous, choose version 3.0 (and ignore the "$19.00 per license" note at the top of the Windows download page -- again, that is for commercial users, not for us.)

I'm going to assume you know how to download files. If not, take a look at .

Our friends at CNET have written a wonderful, free tutorial called "The Beginners Guide to Downloading" that shows you everything you need to know to download stuff on both a PC and a Mac.

Installing WebWasher

Once you have downloaded WebWasher's installer file, double-click it. The first screen that comes up lets you choose the language you would like to use during the installation: English or German. Again, choose your mother tongue and then click on OK.

The next screen is a welcome screen that tells you to

... Klicken Sie auf die Schaltflache Weiter, um mit der Installation fortzufahren ...

Oh, wait. I clicked on the wrong button. That should say

Click on the Next button to continue with the installation. Click the Cancel button if you want to quit the Setup program.

Click on the "Next" button. The next couple of screens are identical to the screens you have seen when you've installed other programs: a license agreement, a destination location chooser, and an icon group chooser.

Eventually, you'll see a "Start Installation" screen that asks you if you want to start WebWasher when your computer starts. UNCHECK THIS BOX! You do *NOT* want WebWasher running all the time. (As for adding a shortcut to the desktop or adding a shortcut to the quicklaunch bar, I'll leave that up to you. I unchecked both).

Click on the "Next" button to begin the installation process.

WebWasher should install pretty quickly. The last screen you'll see asks you if you want to view the readme file and if you want to launch WebWasher. Uncheck the readme file -- does anyone EVER read those? -- and leave "Launch WebWasher" checked. Then click on the "Finish" button.

Configuring Your Browser

Now for the fun part.

Once you have installed WebWasher, the program's Browser Configuration screen will appear. You'll see a list of the browsers on your computer and underneath those browsers will be a list of ways that you connect to the Net, one of which will be in bold Chances are WebWasher will automatically find your default browser and your default Internet connection. If you want to change what WebWasher has chosen, just click somewhere else.

For example, I use Internet Explorer 6 and connect to the Net through both a LAN and, in case of emergency, a dial-up connection. The word "LAN" under Internet Explorer is in bold, meaning that WebWasher will work with IE when I am using my LAN connection.

Beneath the configuration screen are two checkboxes:

1. Always use these settings and don't ask me again; and

2. Start the selected browser.

Check "always use these settings" and UNCHECK "start the selected browser." Then click on OK.

Configuring WebWasher

The final thing you have to do is tell WebWasher what you want it to block. Open WebWasher (by double-clicking the blue "W" icon in your task bar in Windows, launching the program from the Start menu, or double-clicking on the WebWasher program icon on your computer.)

WebWasher's configuration screen appears. This is where you choose what WebWasher will and will not block. The choices are completely up to you, but there is one thing you need to remember:


So, UNCHECK both "Client" and "Server" under "Proxy Engine."

What about the rest of the checkboxes on WebWasher's configuration page? If you want to learn more about each of WebWasher's functions, check out .

If you want to know how *I've* configured WebWasher, here is a list of the stuff that I have checked:

Standard Filter Dimension Filter URL Filter Popup Windows Scripts Privacy WebBugs Filter Cookie Filter Prefix Filter

Everything else I left unchecked. When you check Dimension Filter, URL Filter, Scripts, and Cookie Filter, WebWasher shows you a bunch of options on the right side of the screen. I trust WebWasher, so I didn't change any of these.

Click on "OK" and you are done. :)

Using WebWasher

Your browser should now work both with and without WebWasher. To see if WebWasher is working, point your browser to

and look directly under the red Yahoo icon. If all you see is a blank space, WebWasher is working! If not, well ... um ... I can play "Lady of Spain" for you on some bicycle horns.

Disabling WebWasher

To turn off WebWasher, right-click on the WebWasher icon in your task bar and choose "Close WebWasher." I haven't used a Mac in a while, but there is something on the top right side of the Mac screen that lets you see which programs are open. You should be able to close WebWasher from there.

And, since we chose *not* to have WebWasher automatically load every time we start our computer, another way to disable WebWasher is to simply restart your computer.

Killing WebWasher

If WebWasher isn't your cup of tea and you want to nuke it permanently, remove the program from your computer. Then,

1. If you have IE, go to Tools --> Internet Options. Click on
the Connections tab. Then click on the LAN Settings tab. Finally, uncheck "Use automatic configuration script."

2. If you have Netscape, go to Edit --> Preferences. Click on
the plus sign next to the word Advanced. Click on Proxies. Choose "Direct Connection to the Internet."

A Final Word

Gosh, I hope this works.

That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon! :)


KERNT (adjective). Belonging to the present time. Usage: "Bubba, you know nothing about no kernt 'fairs!"

[Special thanks to CJ Stanman for today's wurd]

.~~~. )) (\__/) .' ) )) Patrick Douglas Crispen /o o \/ .~ {o_, \ { / , , ) \ `~ '-' \ } )) AOL Instant Messenger: Squirrel2K _( ( )_.' '---..{____} Warning: squirrels.

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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