Black Mirror, Black Hole: Kill Your Television

don't waste your time TV screenWould you believe that some people think the internet is a time waster? Well, not at this particular address of course, but we can think of some other sites that are absolute rabbit holes without so much as a rousing game of croquet at the bottom. If you need help achieving what Tim Ferriss dubbed a Low Information Diet, there are browser extensions that will block your access to sites that keep you from getting things done. [Ivan’s girlfriend] has taken this time management tack seriously and even created a simple web page that states “Don’t Waste Your Time!” that will show if she tries to get to Facebook.

There’s one small problem with all this, and it’s been around for a long time. [Ivan’s girlfriend] still watches TV. Out of love and respect for her goals, he decided to prank her by blocking her TV viewing. In a delightful twist, the TV will display her own web page to her after 30 seconds.

They have digital and analog TVs, so he had to set up both in order to cover his bases. The digital TV is a monitor fed from a set-top box with HDMI out. As the STB can only be controlled via IR remote, [Ivan] used an HDMI switch to change from the STB input to a Raspi that will display the reprimanding web page and play Pink Floyd’s “Time“.

The analog TV took  slightly more doing. He put a Raspi on the AV input, but connected it from the inside so nothing looked suspicious. The Raspi checks the TV status every second and switches to the Pi once the TV is on. Same deal: judgmental web page, Pink Floyd. The beauty part is that both of [Ivan]’s setups also record her reaction; the digital TV uses a dash camera and the analog  uses an Android phone. Check out [Ivan]’s tour of the analog TV Pi after the break.

If you or [Ivan’s girlfriend] need even more time management help, there’s always the roll-your-own-Pomodoro timer.


15 thoughts on “Black Mirror, Black Hole: Kill Your Television

    1. “This video is not available in your country. Sorry about that.” – You have to love the music collection agencies. It has gotten so bad, they will not allow people to be trolled without their cut.

  1. If you want to do something similar for your web browsing, here is how to do a simple local redirect on windows:

    1. Little known fact, IIS, microsoft’s website hosting software comes with windows 7. Install it via the ‘features’ part of programs and features in the control panel.

    2. Make a default page of your liking, name it properly and put it in your webroot, or where the website is located on your machine. What it should be named and where the webroot is can be changed. It is very easy once you have IIS up. Oh, you may have to start the ‘World Wide Web Publishing Service’ service. Do so via searching for ‘services’, running the services mmc, using the Component Services MMC, or any other that has the Services snap-in.

    Don’t worry about changing firewall rules. By default locally hosted websites are not blocked locally and cannot be accessed remotely.

    3. Redirect wasteful websites via the hosts file. Make a backup first, it will probably be empty though. The hosts file is stored in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\ . It is self explanatory when opened with notepad. Remember to save it without an extension. It uses IP addresses. If you don’t know what the bothersome website’s IP is, just look it up online or open up a command prompt ( windows key+r, type ‘cmd’ enter) then use nslookup. As an example, say I want to block facebook. I type ‘nslookup’ at a command prompt. It tells me the address is To redirect it to a local webpage I would add the line ‘’ to the hosts file and save it. Keeping the prompt open it is a good idea to flush your dns cache. The hosts file is loaded into your dns cache pretty quick, but for instant testing just flush your dns with ‘ipconfig /flushdns’. It may also be necessary to clear out your browser history and temp files depending on the browser.

    I put in a moderate level of detail to avoid some problems. It is really very simple. Install IIS, make webpage, configure IIS and hosts file. Done! Oh, and the prank potential is rather obvious. Just make sure you only do it on systems you own.

    1. I have no idea why I typed that nslookup stuff.

      Oh, now I remember! If you really, really, need to get to the website and don’t want to bother with reverting the hosts file, it can still be done via its IP.

  2. I need the sound clip of the cloister bell on the Tardis that goes off (whole house sound) with dimming lights and other sounds of impending doom, whenever someone goes to facebook on my computer.
    Lets hope the Supreme Court kills TV as it has existed.

  3. hope he enjoys the couch…people love to talk diets, time management, etc as long as it doesn’t truly interfere when they want their time wasters and calories. A technical solution that makes them stick to their talk, sets them off.

    Like the whole men/mars/women/venus thing. Women don’t want a solution, they want to vent. Offering a solution, is a good way to have the whole girlfriend/wife problem resolve itself.

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