Recently I was working with someone on a GoogleDoc. A very nice tool to write a text together online. It offers most of the options that Word has, too, like commenting and so on.
One of the extras it provides is the possibility to have a chat if you are working online on a document at the same time as others.That is, if the chat window is visible. Which in this case, it wasn’t for my colleague.
I wrote a chat message, suggesting to discuss something and while I could see she was online and working in the document, I did not get any reaction from her. I was puzzled, because this is not like her at all, but I assumed she was busy with something else at the same time and I was sure we would eventually discuss the matter. No hurry, no problem.
However, when I spoke to her later I found out that she had not even seen my chat message. It had been obscured by ads.
I am not sure how that happened, and it may have been something else entirely. But it made me consider once again how annoying (pop up) ads can be online if you are there for your work. (Of course they can be equally annoying when you are just Facebooking for fun, I do know that!).
But it is truly annoying if your work is being hindered by ads popping up on vital positions on your screen. Like happened a while ago during a webinar. Some of the participants could not see the full presentation screen or were simply unable to concentrate, due to ads.
Imagine if such a thing would happen offline – if half of a meeting would be inaudible because of ads. Or if your notes in your writing pad would be obscured by ads. Or if, as you can sometimes see during TV reports of football matches, part of the playing field would be covered in banners and ads (luckily the ones that seem really in the way of the game are only virtual).
Of course I am aware that all free things have their price: ads and data collection. I am using many free services and I enjoy them a lot. And I hope they will continue to be free tools. And I am OK with paying a small price by giving up some level of privacy and providing some interesting data. That is our deal. But that doesn’t mean I need to see silly ads all the time.
If you also prefer to work in a quiet online environment, without ads for women to meet, bras to wear, food buy, equipment to covet and so on and so forth, there is an easy tool to use. The reason why I had no clue that the chat message window was obscured. The reason why I can never cheer up my Facebook friends with posts about the funny products that Facebook thinks I could be up for.
It is simple to install and works miracles. It is called Ad Block Plus. It is available as plug in, for free, for most current browsers (like Explorer. Chrome, Firefox and a couple of others).
If you want to have a quiet work place online, I would highly recommend investing two minutes of your time, if that, to install Ad Block Plus. After all, we go to great lengths uncluttering our desks and making everything just so, in order to be able to work productively. So why not extend that courtesy to yourself when it concerns your virtual desk?