ASPENSMONSTER Just another WordPress site

October 8, 2017

It’s Been a Long Time…

Filed under: Uncategorized — aspensmonster @ 3:25 am

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More than two years have passed since the latest blog post. I spent the better part of an hour upgrading wordpress and fighting with broken plugins, and why? So I could write… something? Why bother? I couldn’t even tell you how many people ever bother to visit this place anymore. Finding out might be yet another hour spent digging around logs in wordpress or cpanel or my home directory. And we all know that ancient beasts like AWStats aren’t particularly reliable –and more likely to confuse people thinking of Amazon Web Services these days (though curiosity did get the better of me, and it seems a couple hundred folks “might” be looking at this blog every month).

In any event, we’ve all moved on to aggregator sites like Reddit and Tumblr and Facebook and Snapchat Whatsapp whatever. Most of my “writing” and “interaction” has been on “platforms” like these for years now.

I yearn for a distributed –or at least decentralized– system that puts the users and communities first, that is devoid of the incessant need to track and optimize and monetize every human interaction out to the highest bidder. A system that feels at least like the decentralized forums and BBSs of yore. At least then, there was no shortage of admittedly-still-centralized silos to choose from. I know such forums and BBSs still exist. But they’re dead or dying, in either case rotting in the Wayback Machine, while pseudo-forums like subreddits or facebook groups masquerade as their evolution.

If it took shelling into the Linux box running this wordpress instance and moving files around just to get to a point where I could write this screed, what hope is there for someone *without* a technical background? How can I seriously look someone in the eye and say, “just become a Linux admin” if you want to talk to the world? Is it really such a shock that nobody bothers? I know it’s not fair to perform a major upgrade from “old as hell” to “current” and expect everything to “just work.” But I suppose that just underscores why these aggregators and “social networks” have flourished: *someone* –or a gigantic team of someones– is around to constantly make sure things “just work” for everyone else. And of course those someones have to be paid, and so we find ourselves with walled gardens and the kind of user tracking that would make the KGB blush.

Perhaps distributed and decentralized systems necessarily tend towards centralization over time. I’d like to think otherwise. I’d like to think that there’s an elusive technical solution to the desire for a fully distributed, free-as-in-freedom, social network. Something that can attain the undeniable benefits of centralization that draw users in in the first place without the seemingly concomitant deluge of user-hostile behaviours. Or at least, I’d like to think there’s a way to keep decentralized silos… decentralized, to keep them from coagulating into a single, massive, privacy-violating, user-subjugating shit show as the arrow of time goes on. After all, decentralization is how things *started*; we weren’t born with The Facebook. Is there truly no way to at least build gardens without walls, that exist *permanently* for the users’ benefit and not some landlord’s? Surely there is some sort of feasible confluence of technical innovations and social and political constructs that could leave us with something I’d be happy to be a part of.

Time to start looking, I guess.

June 19, 2015

Experiments in Blocking Ads on the Twitch Roku App

Filed under: Uncategorized — aspensmonster @ 12:03 am

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Wow. So I haven’t written anything for this in ages it seems. I can’t say I have much content to give, but I recently acquired a Roku. It shows ads. I’m not down with appliances I own doing things I don’t like. So I looked into ad-blocking, and sure enough, Reddit has the answer:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Roku/comments/2qiqvn/blocking_advertisments_on_most_roku_devices/

It involves network-level blocking. Not the best approach, but until pervasive rooting efforts are underway for the Roku it’s better than nothing. I utilized the following regex to block the mentioned URLs at Layer 7 on my Mikrotik router device-wide on the FORWARD chain:

^.+(cloudservices.roku.com|doubleclick.net).*$

This will surely have a performance impact, so I’m looking into restricting the packet body check to just the MAC of the Roku. Will update if I figure that out.

After restarting the Roku, sure enough, the irritating-ass adverts to the right of my home screen were gone. However, I then noticed that I couldn’t watch any streams from the Twitch app. Any attempt to load a stream –any stream, no matter the viewer count or relative obscurity of the title– was met with a black screen and “Retrieving…” text for approximately 30 seconds, followed by a return to the Roku home screen. It was as if the Twitch app had simply crashed.

I was able to isolate traffic on my network and confirm that it was the Roku hitting the firewall rule when attempting to watch the stream. I’ve got work in the morning, but I’m making it a weekend project to figure out if there’s a way to get ad-blocking working in the Twitch Roku app (and perhaps other apps as well), and perhaps on the Chromecast as well.

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