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My Browser Keeps Closing

Question: My browser is behaving strangely...

...It closes for no reason, but only on certain web pages.  I thought it might be some sort of spyware or adware, or maybe a virus, so I went first to the lavasoft website to download the latest advertising blocker.  And THAT web page is one that just closes on its own!  So I rebooted in "safe mode"  (press F8 after the bios stuff, but before Windows starts loading) and the web page stayed up long enough to download Ad-Aware.  I installed it and ran it, but the problem persisted.  Oh, and by the way, on every web page, there's an annoying thing where the page just loses focus for no reason.  That means the cursor just vanishes as I'm typing, and I look up to see the title bar of the window is gray instead of blue.

Additional keywords, to help people find this page: ssl-hints.netflame.cc/Fc, Internet explorer closes on its own, java, page disappears, malware, adware, adaware, ad-aware, popup blocker

Answer: OK, OK already!  Stop asking the question long enough for me to answer...

...Your problem is that you have some Java script for advertising that conflicts with (perhaps is designed to conflict with) your web pages.  The java software is loaded from website ssl-hints.netflame.cc.  This website has nothing useful to you, trust me.  So block the whole website by adding this line to your "hosts" file:

127.0.0.1 ssl-hints.netflame.cc

Where is your "hosts" file?

If your O/S is...   Then your HOSTS file is in...
Windows Vista   C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC
Windows XP   C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC
Windows 2K   C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC
Win 98/ME   C:\WINDOWS

You can edit the file using notepad.  It's called, simply, HOSTS, with no extension.  This is a problem for notepad, because if you name it HOSTS, notepad will put a .txt at the end of the name.  So after you save it, go back with windows exploder -- I mean explorer -- and renamed it back to HOSTS without any extension.

More information

Website www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm tells you how to do this, and offers you a sample HOSTS file that blocks all sorts of unwanted advertising.

Even more information: I emailed Lavasoft to ask them why their website has a "tracking pixel" (a tiny, invisible image file that tracks my progress through their website).  After all, this is a kind of spyware, isn't it?  Their response: there's spyware and then there's spyware.  The tracking pixel they use isn't dangerous, and no personally identifiable information is stored.  Hmm.  Seems like a conflict of interest to me.

And yet more info: It turns out I'm guilty myself of the same sort of tracking.  Yes, that little icon at the very bottom of this page is my free tracker.  If you use the hosts file from mvps.org, above, you'll see it blocks my tracker, too.  Like Lavasoft, my tracker doesn't know who you are, and the information it gathers is available for everyone to see, so I hope you'll agree it's not underhanded in any way!

--Graeme