Hot and Sandy

Travel writing, pictures and stuff for people I know. Quite a lot of cycling talk, and some semi-controlled ranting. Hiking, outdoor and two-wheeled stuff, perhaps a little computing when it's worth talking about. Meandering thoughts.

Wednesday, November 20

Internet Joy

Today I have improved the internet, and it's not even 0930. I am so pleased with this that I'm posting to remind myself how it was done and what the links and steps are. I first tried this in 2009 and it worked great, but then I changed machines and forgot (initially OS X Lion needed some tweaks as well). This is a rehash of things found using Google, to be clear - credit to the netizens working on this.

The basic premise is that you don't have to load internet adverts if you don't want to. It is a little galling that flashing and animated adverts use the bandwidth that you're paying for to try and flog you stuff you never wanted! On all modern operating systems there is something called a "hosts file". This speeds up the process of finding websites by keeping a local directory of domain names and web addresses. For years, web developers have been using something called a loop-back to test websites (so if I was working on I could doctor my local hosts file to divert my own browser into the local dev version of the site).

The good news is that we can divert the web addresses of evil domains back into our own network to a completely blank space, so the 'lookup' of the advert returns nothing and the people don't receive a bit of your traffic. No error, no traffic, nothing. First go here and download the file (basically the entire page minus the header and footer). I used an app called Textwrangler to save it to a no-extension text file. The site seems pretty up-to-date, the last update was 19 Nov 2013.

Then load this tutorial and more or less follow it. I used sudo cp to rename my old file and sudo cp to switch in the new one (editing in gedit, pico or nano was too much hassle). As soon as you commit the dscacheutil -flushcache line you'll be done. If you do this and use OpenDNS (google that one yourself) the internet suddenly seems more logical, more robust to human error and a lot less annoying. Enclosed are before-and-after screenies of a common website showing the difference. Imagine an internet with 95% less advertising!


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