R.I.P Rick Petnel, Adblock Plus pioneer
You may never have heard of him – I know I hadn’t – but virtually every Firefox user owes a huge debt of gratitude to Rick Petnel, the man who built the best filter list for the indispensible Adblock Plus extension. He’s recently passed away after a short illness, and I know that I owe thanks to the man for making my browsing easier for the best part of the last decade.
The filter, dubbed EasyList, quickly became the first entry in the list of recommended filters shown after AdblockPlus is installed, and its success at picking up and blocking dozens of types of advertisement – from the simple banner ad to the more complex flash and java creations that now litter the web – is surely part of the reasons why Firefox is both popular and enjoys a far more favourable reputation than its main rival, Internet Explorer.
If you need further clarification as to Adblock Plus’ popularity, then look no further than Mozilla.org: the extension sits in both Mozilla’s list of recommended software and the leaderboard of most popular add-ons. In fact, it’s the most popular extension out there, downloaded more than 620,000 times per week and with over one thousand five-star reviews.
A blog post over at adblockplus.org mentions that Rick’s list ‘helped improve the browsing experience for millions of people’ and that’s no exaggeration – so next time you’re browsing a site and find that all those pesky adverts have disappeared before you’ve even loaded the page, raise your tea or coffee in a salute to the man who made it all possible.