1Blocker Stops YouTube Ads on Mac, iPad, and iPhone

Soon after Apple allowed “content blockers” to block advertisements (six years ago! ?) the 1Blocker app became my favorite tool to do so. With iOS 15 and iPad OS 15, as well as Safari 15 on the Mac, that usefulness expands to allow blocking ads on YouTube via the newly supported Web Extensions in Safari.

There are considerations here for the consequences of blocking ads and especially on YouTube where the people who make the videos are essentially spec workers without any guarantees. I have had generally pleasant interactions with the workers for YouTube as a creator, but the ads and content are often extremely objectionable. Beyond Coke ads, the ads on YouTube include ads for hate groups , grifters, and scam artists, selling everything from Bitcoin to literal poison. There are other, better ways to support the people making good things on YouTube.

Blocking ads on YouTube isn’t a perfect experience, sometimes not loading an ad will also mean you need to reload the page to continue watching the video but I would rather be slightly inconvenienced than accidentally exposed to YouTube’s advertising. Of course this method of blocking ads also won’t work inside the YouTube app, it only works through Safari.

If you decide to use the new support for blocking ads on YouTube through 1Blocker or another web extension, I recommend supporting the people you enjoy watching on YouTube through other means.

The 1Blocker FAQ has a guide to enabling their Web Extension for YouTube ad-blocking. 1Blocker itself is free with an in-app purchase subscription to enable more features.

This is a link to the 1Blocker website where you can find out more about the tool.

The Secret Life of Components: Hinges

Tim Hunkin’s ongoing series about the parts that he uses to make his contraptions continues in episode three: Hinges. Tim is an absolute legend and he can even make hinges interesting. The series has so far covered working with chains and LEDs. You can find out more about The Secret Life of Components at Hunkin’s website.

Hunkin has also re-released machine-learning upscaled versions of the first series of The Secret Life of Machines episodes from 30 years ago and added a bonus chat at the end with recollections from filming and other behind the scenes hints:

YouTube’s Advertising Hellhole Urges People to Waste Money on Mystery Boxes

Will Sommer for The Daily Beast:

Untold riches are promised on Mystery Brand, a website that sells prize-filled “mystery boxes.” If you buy one of the digital boxes, some of which cost hundreds of dollars, you might only get a fidget spinner—or you might get a luxury sports car.

For just $100, users can win a box filled with rare Supreme streetwear. For only $12.99, they can win a Lamborghini, or even a $250 million mega-mansion billed as “the most expensive Los Angeles realty.”

Or at least that’s what some top YouTubers have been telling their young fans about the gambling site—with the video stars apparently seeing that as a gamble worth taking, especially after a dip in YouTube advertising rates.

Yikes.

The Plagiarizer

IGN recently fired an editor that covered Nintendo platforms and software, Filip Miucin, when it was discovered that he had plagiarized a review for Dead Cells from another video review.

This situation was awful enough, but IGN’s managers did a good job of resolving it quickly, and I thought it could be an opportunity for the journalist who plagiarized to grow and learn a valuable lesson. That isn’t at all what happened, he posted a video apology to YouTube and it is just completely insincere garbage that I won’t embed or link to. ResetEra has a transcript.
Portions are excerpted in this retort from another writer that Miucin plagiarized, Chris Scullion:

Fortnite Skipping Google Play to The Detriment of User Security

Epic is skipping Google’s Android app store (the advertising publisher calls it Google Play as if that meant anything) for their upcoming Android version of the free-to-play Fortnite (which is already on iOS and almost every gaming and computing platform.) There’s a beta signup here and the compatibility situation on Android is already a nightmare, check out the list of supported devices. It is extremely specific and the few Android devices I have aren’t supported.

Epic’s Tim Sweeney was pretty straightforward about why they’re avoiding Google’s app store in this interview with Dean Takahashi:

There’s typically a 30/70 split, and from the 70 percent, the developer pays all the costs of developing the game, operating it, marketing it, acquiring users and everything else. For most developers that eats up the majority of their revenue. We’re trying to make our software available to users in as economically efficient a way as possible. That means distributing the software directly to them, taking payment through Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, and other options, and not having a store take 30 percent.

I’m not sure how well this is going to work out for people playing Fortnite. Google’s app store security is awful and routinely distributes software that compromises user privacy and security already, but at least they can moderate that. To get started with Fortnite on Android users are going to have to disable built-in security functionality that disallows third-party apps. Sideloading applications is useful and should be possible on any computer we use, but there are going to be negative consequences for users who don’t fully understand the risks involved.

Parents and tech savvy folks helping their friends and family are going to be busy when they realize their devices are compromised by installing a phony version of Fortnite, or a version that works but steals their credit card data. Try searching your favorite web search engine for the premium currency in the game, “Fortnite Free V-Bucks”, those scammers are oiled up and ready for anyone who falls into their trap.

Julia Alexander investigated the versions of these “V-Buck” scams that run on YouTube:

Since Fortnite’s meteoric rise, there have been multiple YouTube videos running as ads that pitch Fortnite players easy ways to get free V-Bucks. (V-Bucks are Fortnite’s premium in-game currency, which lets them purchase limited-edition skins, gear and weapons.) Search “free V-Bucks” in YouTube’s search bar, and more than 4.3 million results will populate.