Ask Mr. Modem: Internet advertisers are on your trail

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

Old Time Radio Archive

Here you will find old radio shows such as Abbott and Costello, Ranger Bill, The Shadow, Batman and many other broadcasts that aired before television came along and ruined everything.

Reflex Games

What could be more fun than testing your reflexes and then comparing your results with others to enhance the humiliation? In addition to a vast assortment of reflex games, you will also find a collection of equally addictive memory games, but I can’t remember where they are. Check the tabs at the top.


Few things are as popular online as how-to tutorials. If you would like to toot your own tutorial, Tildee makes it easy. Click the Want-to-Know-More? link for an overview of Tildee and to help get started. The See-What-it-Looks-Like link shows you what a Tildee how-to tutorial — well, what it looks like. When you are ready, click Create a New Tutorial and you will be guided through the process.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

I’ve noticed my email provider apparently has some way of identifying certain keywords in messages that results in related advertising that appears on screen. This suggests that my mail is being read or scanned and some information being shared with advertisers. Is this anything to be concerned about?

Everything we do online is tracked or monitored in some manner, so there isn’t really anything new here. I’ve been a bit of a broken record on this topic for years: What you do and where you go online and the email you send, nothing is completely off limits. You can safely assume it is being analyzed and archived in some manner, somewhere. Advertisers, in particular, always want to know what people are doing online, what sites they visit, what they’re searching for and what they’re viewing so they can target ads accordingly.

If you think email is bad in this regard, the Mother Lode for advertisers is Facebook, where hundreds of millions of individuals inexplicably share their incoherent thoughts, photos, opinions, likes and dislikes, identify their friends — does the phrase “crabs in a barrel” ring any bells?

There are various sites and browsers that promise “private browsing,” but take it all with a grain of salt — not that Mr. Modem advocates the consumption of sodium. If you assume that everything you do online leaves a trail, you will never be surprised to learn that it does leave a trail.

I have a fantasy football league PDF form that I have to fill in weekly. Is there an easy way to do it? Thanks, Mr. M. is a free, online PDF form filler-outer and arguably the easiest way to crack open a PDF file. No additional software is required. There is a little video on the site that demonstrates and explains how it works. Go Aardvarks!

How do I defragment my SSD (solid-state) drive?

I’m a big fan of solid-state drives and have installed several of them on my systems, replacing traditional mechanical hard drives. (Grammatical footnote: Though many people refer to “SSD drives,” it is correctly “SS drives” or “SSDs.” The phrase “SSD drives” translates to “solid-state drive drives.” Helpful information or annoying grammatical nitpicking? You be the judge.)

The care and feeding of SS drives is a bit different from mechanical drives. One of the primary differences is that you don’t have to defragment SS drives. In fact, frequent defragmenting of an SSD can actually reduce its lifespan. SSDs derive no benefit from disk defragmentation because there is no mechanical “seeking” function and thus no seek or search time can be improved, nor will it benefit from defragmentation.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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