Tired of that big banner ad taking up the bottom of your tiny smartphone screen? Or what about the commercial you have to sit through on videos?
Well you are not alone, and startups are emerging to help you block those ads, said Chad Russell, the chief technology Officer at BluePoint Security. BluePoint went onto Kickstarter and proposed a device to block ads. Two thousand people chipped in about $135 each, and Ad Trap was born. It’s a small, white box that plugs into your router.
“It eliminates all of the inbound advertising from any device in your house,” said Russell. So when you hop onto the web from your desktop, smartphone or tablet, the sites you visit are stripped of ads. And the videos are commercial-free.
Of course, websites and advertisers are fighting back. “It really is an arms race between us and the advertisers constantly,” Russell said. Right now, the ad blockers have the upper hand.
To change that, it’s going to be costly for the web publications, and it’s unclear that a victor will emerge, said Sean Blanchfield is with PageFair, a start-up in Ireland that helps web publishers sidestep ad blockers. “The most correct response to this is to address the underlying problem which is the quality of the ads themselves,” he said.
Ad Trap isn’t the only ad blocker out there. The most popular one is called “Ad Blocker,” and it's free. But right now, advertisers aren’t too worried, said Clark Fredricksen with eMarketer. “I would say ad blocking is on advertiser's radar, but it’s not the top of their lists,” said Fredricksen.
He adds that’s because there hasn’t been a wide scale adoption of the technology.
The Rim Fire continues to consume parts of Yosemite National Park. The blaze has spread to over 200 square miles. The cost of fighting that fire is $47 million and climbing. Add to that a whole lot of other costs tied to the economic ecology of the Sierra Nevada. There are actually cattle that graze in the high valleys and of course there are the tourist dollars. Even the Stanislaus National forest, where most of the fire is burning, brings in money. The fire took out a stand of trees that were part of a million-dollar timber sale.
We also have a lot invested in researching parts of the forest. In the 1920s, some forward-thinking scientists drew very detailed maps of parts of the Stanislaus-Tuolumne forest.
"They mapped every tree," says research scientist Carl Skinner. And not just every tree, but every stump, every rock outcropping, every, fallen log and all the brush. Skinner is one of the scientists working to update those maps. "One of the things that showed us, was that we have about three times as many trees out there as there were in the 1920s."
Skinner and his colleagues are trying to transform this experimental forest into what it was like in the 20's so they can study how U.S. firefighting policy has made fires bigger -- and much more costly. Some day they set it on fire -- with controlled burns.
If the Rim Fire heads north and burns the experimental forest, it could destroy 80 years of research and investment. "It would give us a lot of information, but it would essentially end this experiment as it's being done," says Skinner.
A 75-mile drive south of the Stanislaus National forest is the town of Groveland, which nearly burned. It's unseasonably quiet there and the skies are hazy. "At the moment they are incredibly smoky," says Groveland Hotel innkeeper Peggy Mosley, her voice hoarse from the smoke. " I have a scratchy throat, if you will excuse it," she added.
Normally the Groveland Hotel is full during Labor Day weekend. Last night, only two of the 17 rooms were booked. But Mosley is hoping that will change soon. She wants to get people to come photograph the moonscape of charred forest.
"One of the absolute positives is in the spring following a big fire, the wildflowers are absolutely unbelievable," says Mosely. She is already putting together some package deals.
Whether you're tall, short, like to dress up in Duck tape for prom, can call a duck, or are a Van Valkenburg descendant -- there is a scholarship for you.
And even if you're none of those things, trust us, there's probably someting you're eligible for. Take twerking, for example. One of the members of the hip hop group Three 6 Mafia made headlines recently when he offered a $50,000 scholarship to the best female college student twerker.
Since then, he's amended the scholarship's criteria. Twerking's optional. You just have to submit a video discussing why you deserve the scholarship.
Here are 25 other scholarships that don't necessarily require high SAT scores:
1. Loyola University of Chicago Zolp Scholarship - Be Catholic with the last name Zolp
Any student who attends Loyola University Chicago who is Catholic and has the last name Zolp is eligible. Scholarship amounts will vary depending upon fund availability and the number of eligible recipients.
2. Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship - Be a left-handed student
A scholarship reserved for sophomores, juniors, or seniors attending Juniata College. Open to any student who demonstrates financial need as well as academic success. Oh, and the student needs to be left-handed.
3. Stuck at prom - Best outfit made of Duck tape for prom
Duck brand holds an annual contest to see who can make the best prom outfit ... from Duck tape. Winners receive a $5,000 scholarship and $5,000 for their school.
4. Tall Clubs International - Be tall
If you're under 21 and about to start college in the fall and meet TCI heigh requirement minimums -- 5'10" for women and 6'2" for men -- you can win a scholarship for up to $1,000.
5. Lambert and Annetje Van Valckernburg Memorial Scholarship - Be a Van Valkenburg descendant
Eligible applicants could receive a scholarship of $1,000 if they are descendants, whether by birth or legal adoption, of Lambert and Annetje Van Valkenburg, who came to New Amsterdam from the Netherlands in 1643, and their spouses; and descendants of others of the surname Van Valkenburg, and their spouses. Scholarship may be closed.
6. Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship Fund - Have an interest in Vacuum Coating Technology
If you have an interest in furthering your education in a course of study related to vacuum coating technology, you might be eligible for a scholarship.
7. Bucknell University Gertrude J. Deppen Scholarship Fund - Be un-intoxicated
If funds are available, this scholarship is available for graduates of Mount Carmel Public High School, who are not habitual users of tobacco, intoxicating liquor, and narcotics, and who do not participate in strenuous athletic contests.
8. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest - Call a duck
High school seniors may compete for college scholarships totaling $4,250. All you have to do is call ducks.
9. Klingon Language Institute's Memorial Scholarship - Be knowledgeable about constructed languages
The purpose of this scholarship is to recognize and encourage scholarship in fields of language study. Familiarity with Klingon -- which was invented for use in some of the Star Trek movies -- or other constructed languages is not required, however creative and innovative applicants are preferred.
10. Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation - Know common things
Take a quiz, show your common knowledge, win scholarships. There are no essays, applications, or GPA requirements
11. Kerope Zildjian Scholarship - Be musically inclined
This scholarship recognizes an outstanding student percussionist, who is currently enrolled in an undergraduate music program. In addition to a trip to the Zildjian factory in Norwell, Mass., to select complimentary cymbals, the winner will receive a tuition award of $5,000. Applications must send an audio recording playing a complex snare or four-mallet marimba solo.
12. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program - Be knowledgeable about fire sprinklers
High school seniors have a chance to win 1 of 10 $2,000 scholarships. All you have to do is take a 10-question multiple choice test about an essay titled "Fire Spinkler Essay." The test is open-book and you may print the essay beforehand for reference during testing. For each question answered correctly, students will receive one entry into a drawing for 1 of 10 $2,000 scholarships.
13. National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance HAES Scholarship - Utilize Health at Every Size tenants
Applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student from an accredited institution who utilizes Health at Every Size (HAES) tenants in their studies and research. Up to $1,000 awarded.
14. Billy Barty Foundation - Be short
Applicant must be diagnosed with some form of dwarfism to receive a minimum award of $1,000.
15. American Association of Candy Technologists John Kitt Memorial Scholarship - Have an interest in confectionary technology
College sophomores, juniors or seniors who have a demonstrated interest in confectionary technology can receive a scholarship award of $5,000.
16. Michigan Llama Association Kathy Larson and Laurel Zechlinski Memorial Scholarships - Be a member or child of llama organization
If you're a member or child of a member of the Michigan Llama Association and hold a minimum GPA of 2.7 you could be eligible for one of two $1,000 scholarships.
17. Eileen J. Garrett Scholarship - Have an interest in parapsychology
A scholarship of $3,000 to assist a student who wishes to puruse academic study of the science of parapsychology. Applicants must demonstrate a previous interest in parapsychology by including a sample of writings on the subject with the application form.
18. Jif's Most creative sandwich contest - Create an interesting sandwich
Let your little kitchen helper create his or her own sandwich recipe using Jif products for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund.
19. John Gatling Grant Program - Have the last name Gatlin or Gatling
Students at North Carolina State Univeristy who were born with the surname Gatlin or Gatling are eligible for $9,000 or $18,000 grant.
20. Zombie apocalypse essay - Write an essay about escaping zombies
ScholarshipExperts.com offers a $1,500 scholarship for writing an essay about escaping zombies. Just be over 13. The site also has several other essay writing scholarships -- with prompts like write an essay describing what flavor ice cream you would be and why, and one prompting writers to make the review committee laugh.
21. Willy the Plumber Scholarship - Be the child of an inmate
For children of people doing a lot of time and/or habitually doing time, especially prison time. Eligible students can get about $1,000 attending a college or university and $500 for students attending a technical school.
22. Make it with Wool competition - Use wool
To promote the beauty and versatility of wool, eligible preteens, juniors, seniors, and adults can get up to $2,000 by making something with wool and modeling it in a photo.
23. CollegeHumor's Average Student Scholarship contest - Be an average student
If you're a normal achiever you can receive $5,000.
24. Lake Erie College Twins Scholarship - Be a twin
This full tuition scholarship is awarded 50/50 if both twins are enrolled full-time at Lake Erie College. In essence, both twins can attend Lake Erie College for the tuition cost of only one.
25. University of North Carolina at Greensboro Alice Mcarver Ratchford Scholarship
Awarded on the basis of financial need to female, undergraduate students. You just have to meet these critera: must live on-campus, must not possess an automobile, must be single, and may not have any other scholarships in conjunction with the Ratchford Scholarship.
These days, the price of education is moving higher and higher. But how do you decide if it's worth the investment? How do you pay for the costs? Beyond the numbers we hear -- that student debt has exceeded $1 trillion, that the cost of college has risen faster than inflation -- there's an emotional part of this equation. Education isn't like any other commodity. Many families face a balancing act: You want to give your child the best option, but you don't know how to talk about what you can afford. We've asked Michelle Singletary, a personal finance columnist for the Washington Post, to provide some guidance on how to cope with the costs of college.
Singletary has some real-world experience with the issue. Her daughter recently started her freshman year in college. And Singletary is determined to make sure that her daughter graduates debt free. Singletary says she started talking about paying for college with her children when they were young, sacrificing things to save for their college funds. For her family, talking about paying for college has been a life-long conversation.
"We have a zero debt policy as far as education when it comes to my family. Now people are out there [saying], 'This woman has lost her everlasting mind.' But if you have that going into it, then you do the things that it takes to make sure that happens. Now here's what we recognize: that that might mean that she's not going to the top school that she wants to go to if we didn't save enough."
Singletary says her policy limited her daughter's choices. But, she says too many parents give their kids a blank check and allow them to apply to any schools they want -- only figuring out how to pay for it later and causing debt to pile up.
"Life is about limits," she says. "I see far too many families [taking on debt]. And then the kids can't handle the debt. The parents can't handle the debt because not only are they taking on the student loan debt, but they're not saving for their retirement because of this debt. And then just everyday life expenses. You need to put limits. You say, 'I want you to have the best in life, but I want to have the best in life that you can afford.' That is an awesome lesson to teach your child going forward."
There are some people who say that taking on debt for education is OK -- good even -- because you're investing in your future. Singletary disagrees.
"There is no such thing as good debt and bad debt. There is only debt," says Singletary. "What we're finding is, particularly now, people are taking on too much debt. And the jobs that they're getting, the income that they're getting, in this economy is not enough to service a lot of that debt. Because we've given people a blank check and said go, this is good debt, they've taken on too much. What we're finding is a lot of kids coming out of college, they can't get the jobs that they think they were going to get for the amount of debt that they've taken on."
Singletary shared some advice with two parents trying to figure out how to pay for college.
Catherine from Cleveland, Miss., has a daughter who is a senior at Tulane University. She and her daughter have both taken out loans to pay for her college. But, she has a 16-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who has aspirations of her own that could possibly take her beyond the Mississippi Delta. She's wondering how she will pay for her younger daughter's college education and what she should be thinking about in the next few years to prepare.
Antonio from St. Paul, Minn., works as a restaurant manager. He attended a private art school and now has to pay back thousands of dollars in loans. He has been helping to raise his son, a junior in high school. He wants to make more money to help pay for his son's upcoming expenses, but wonders whether he should pursue another degree in the next few years or stay in his current field.
Click play on the audio player above to hear the conversations.
For the victims and witnesses who came from Afghanistan to testify, the U.S. and its justice system were very strange. But seeing Staff Sgt. Robert Bales be sentenced to life in prison for killing 16 civilians brought them some peace. So too does their belief that he will suffer in the afterlife.
The most important thing you can do to get ready for college costs is to save -- early and often.
But saving for college can be bit of a maze. Like retirement, there are several different types of plans, like a pre-paid plan which lets you buy a percentage of tuition in advance, or a 529 plan, which lets you invest money and let it grow without a big tax bill when you start using the money.
Kimberly Lankford, contributor to Kiplinger Personal Finance, says 529 savings plans are one of the best ways to save for college. "The money you put in may be tax-deductible, the key thing is the money grows tax-deferred for years and years, and when you finally use it for college expenses, it's tax-free."
And how much should you start with? "Nothing is too early. As soon as you have a baby born, even if you got just a little bit, [saving] that would be great. A lot of these plans let you invest just $25 or $50," Lankford says. She also notes that many plans can automatically take investments from your savings account. This type of 'set-it-and-forget-it' approach is an easy way to start saving.
Lankford notes that you should check to see if your own state offers a tax deduction for investing in its 529 plan. SavingForCollege.com can be a good resource to compare the 529 plans available.
Not all 529 plans are great. Since the money is invested in mutual funds, it's important to look out for fees and the holdings of each fund. "Especially after 2008 [and the financial crisis], there's been criticism of some of these age-weighted funds where they start out of more aggressively and gradually get more conservative," Lankford says. "Some of these didn't get conservative fast enough."
One alternative to a 529 plan is a pre-paid tuition plan. "With a 529 plan, your money is invested in mutual fund and grows through the years. A prepaid plan on the other side has you using today's dollars to buy [a future share of] tuition. You can set aside a certain amount of money now, and that will guarantee you get a certain share of tuition down the road."
But prepaid plans also have drawbacks. Unlike a 529 savings plan, you're usually locked into only using your savings in the same state you invested in. A 529 plan lets you use that money for any college.
Lankford says, "the key thing is for the person with a newborn or a child in elementary school, they still have many years until the child starts college. Don't get freaked out about the short term blips."