Browster thoughts

June 3rd, 2006 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

Browster is an interesting little plugin for both Internet Explorer and Firefox that I came across today via Roland Piquepaille at ZDNet. Browster is free to download and easy to install, which is always a bonus.

But, while it is very handy (particulary with blogging in mind) to be able to see the entire content of a link without moving to that page, I do have my concerns specifically in regard to Browster’s prefetch function.

For example if you’re searching for a term that has an alternate meaning, Browster is by default set to prefetch all those pages turned up in the search results. Let’s face it we’ve all at one time or other searched for a word or phrase then thought better of it once we saw some of the unsavoury search results that were returned! In that circumstance I don’t like the thought of the targets of those links being downloaded to my hard disk.

Legally that’s another issue again. Theoretically, prefetching those pages (caching them to your hard disk) would be a criminal act and could land you in a heap of trouble. I seriously doubt the law would make the distinction between pages that were automatically prefetched by the software and something which was deliberately and consciously downloaded.

Think I’ll be turning off the prefetch option!

    Updated to add…

Google Adsense and Browster
If you run Google Adsense on a website you will probably be aware that you mustn’t click on your own ads. Doing so violates Google’s terms and conditions, and Google can and will track you down! When I click save on this WordPress post my browser will refresh to the front page of my site where my Adsense appears. Browster will prefetch all the links on that page, hence my predicament. On the upside Browster doesn’t seem to be displaying the little icon above the link that indicates that I can view the entire page by hovering over it when I hover over the Google links, but I still can’t be sure that the pages haven’t been prefetched. Need more info!

(There is a partial answer to the question of ads on Browster’s forum suggesting that possibly ads are blocked ‘by design’, but again this needs more clarification as they may be referring to whether or not the plugin is designed to deliver pop up style ads to the user, rather than whether ad blocks such as Adsense are excluded from the hover to view function.)

As Blarney rightly pointed out yes my Google ads are being prefetched, so this is more serious than I thought. Not just due to the issue of prefetching (which can be turned off), but also because it can be difficult enough at times not to accidentally click on my own Google ads, it’ll be even harder still not to accidentally hover over them … thus opening out the Browster window and racking up a click-through.

For me, I think it’s time to uninstall Browster … shame because I do think it’s rather cool. But it represents too much danger because of:

  • the issues of unintended unsavoury content being downloaded,
  • the possibility as Adrian pointed out of opening sites which have active content that could be malicious
  • the risk of getting kicked off Adsense for ‘clicking’ my own links via prefetch or by accidentally hovering over Google ads


This entry was posted on Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 at 2:12 am and is filed under Browsers, Software. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Browster thoughts”

  1. The PC Doctor Says:

    Thoughts on Browster…

    Kathie has just post an interesting post on her on her blog at Vexentricity  about a new browser add-on called Browster  she came across today.  This is a free app that speeds up your viewing of pages by precaching the files r…

  2. Blarney Says:

    Actually Browster IS showing the icon when I hover over your Adsense links…

  3. Kathie Says:

    Oh yup. So it is …

    Oh dear.

%d bloggers like this: