Pi-hole is an open source project to turn that Raspberry Pi collecting dust in your drawer into a whole-network ad blocking appliance. Not only does it stop ads from showing up on all your computers and mobile devices, it also keeps track of how many ads have been blocked and where they came from. Just in case you wanted to know how many thousands of ads you missed out on for a given time period.
While the graphs generated in the web interface of Pi-hole are slick and all, what if you just wanted a quick way of visualizing how effective your ad blocking system is? You’re not so much worried about the exact figures, you just want something to blink away on your desk and let you know all those ads are going to /dev/null. Enter the aptly named pi-hole-visualizer by [simianAstronaut].
With the addition of a Sense HAT to the Pi running the ad blocking, this Python script will generate an animated visualization that can be easily interpreted even from a distance. The primary display is a bar graph of DNS traffic, where the height and color of each column indicate relative activity within a specific time interval. A second screen shows a spiral graph which gives you an idea of what percentage of ads were blocked before they hit your devices.
An array of options can be given to the script from the command line; controlling both physical aspects of the display like orientation and LED brightness, as well the configurable parameters for the different available visualizations. As an added bonus, there’s also support for using the Sense HAT joystick to switch between modes interactively.
Contact, the 1985 book by Carl Sagan, was significantly better than the movie. Five people went through the wormhole, three machines were made (in Russia, Wyoming, and a third on Hokkaido), Erbium did something, and the novelization provided much better worldbuilding. One of the more interesting characters in the book was H.R. Haddon, the megalomaniacal business man, made his first million designing a chip that would block advertisements on TV. The book strongly suggests this commercial-blocking chip was a purely analog device, a concept that would have been an amazing abuse of NTSC produced by a damn fine engineer.
Now, even though cord cutting is commonplace and streaming is taking over, there’s still commercials on Hulu. In a few months, I’ll have to pay $5 a month to watch Star Trek with commercials. There is obviously a market for ‘adblock for TV’, and that’s what [PixJuan] is doing for his Hackaday Prize entry.
[Juan]’s device is a basically an HDMI switch with a remote that’s pressed every time the ads start to show on a broadcast. This switch will change the input of the HDMI switch from a cable box to a Raspberry Pi and play a short video clip or something else that isn’t selling you crap. When the Raspi is done, the switch goes back over to the original input.
With a bit of computation in this adblock-for-TV device, there are a few more options for ad detection. The Raspberry Pi could build a database of when ads play and for how long, depending on the channel. This is a great project that has a lot of potential to use some interesting techniques like computer vision and machine learning for the goal of removing commercials before they start.
Like ridiculously large electromechanical devices? [Fran] took a tour of the Wanamaker Pipe Organ in Philly, the largest fully playable pipe organ in the world. The scale is tremendous – 28,000 pipes in 463 ranks spread out over five floors of a department store.
The Nintendo Entertainment System is well over thirty years old now, and still there are only about ten or so games that require the Nintendo Zapper, the light gun so primitive you can use a light bulb to beat Duck Hunt. Now there’s a new game: Super Russian Roulette. Yes, it’s Russian Roulette with the NES Zapper. It’s actually a very advanced game for the NES, using a lot of Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) for real audio in the game. Of course it’s also Russian Roulette with a gun that doesn’t look like a revolver, making this the perfect game to introduce young children to the wonders of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Video demo.
Tektronix has a new logo! It’s not as cool as the old CRT flying spaceman globe thingy logo, but at least it’s not awash with 90s era corporate industrial design motifs.
The new logo is finally a logo and not just a serif typeface with a red slash below it. In keeping with every new corporate branding in recent memory, the new typeface is a sans-serif with a few bits cut off here and there. Is it a good logo? I’m sure it tested well in focus groups. Sometimes art is more of a science than an art. A lot of people don’t get that.
Every day your eyeballs are assaulted by advertisements on your box of cereal, billboards, t-shirts, magazines, milk cartons, plastered on the side of buses, buildings, bananas, and written in the sky. [Reed], [Jonathan], [Tom], and [Alex] came up with a solution to this: a Brand Killer that censors all the advertisements and brands you see every minute of every day. It’s a real-world adblock that you can build right now.
The team’s system uses a custom head mounted display made from cardboard, goggles, a webcam, and a seven-inch display. The software for the system uses Python and OpenCV to monitor the images from the webcam, compares them against a list of brands and logos, and filters them out with an unobtrusive blur.
Right now the system just has a few brands and logos that include Dr. Pepper, Hershey’s, McDonalds, Facebook, Starbucks, and clear evidence this was built at UPenn, Wawa and Tastykake. In the video below, the detection and tracking of these various brands is very good. The system is also stereoscopic, meaning this is wearable all day, every day, without a loss of depth perception.
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The plan to transition to advertisements which are more targeted for our interests was mentioned back in July, when Hackaday was purchased by SupplyFrame, I say ‘our’ interests because the companies who have signed up so far are ones with which I have personally done business when hacking my own projects. These include the manufacturers: Atmel, Microchip, NXP, and Texas Instruments as well as distributors: Arrow Electronics, Element 14, Mouser, and RS Components. The ads are in the exact same places as they have always been, at the same size, with the core belief that on-page advertising should be entirely unobtrusive. If you find the ads to be otherwise, please do let us know about it (screenshots are helpful!).
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There’s nothing quite as annoying as seeing bandwidth wasted on unimpressive flash animations, irrelevant ads, and animated GIFs. The bad news is these ads are the sole source of income for a lot of your favorite websites – Hackaday included. The good news is you can turn these ads off with a Raspberry Pi, a WiFi adapter, and a little bit of fun in the terminal.
This build creates a wireless access point with a WiFi adapter plugged in to a Raspberry Pi. With an Ethernet cable plugged in, this effectively turns the Raspi into a wireless router.
To configure the software to block ads, it’s a simple matter of installing dnsmasq from the command line and making sure all the ads on your favorite webpages time out. This means a fairly big hit on the performance of your new DIY router, but with the installation of Pixelserv you can host a 1-pixel transparent GIF image that replaces all the ads and renders them invisible.
It’s a great project if you don’t like watching ads on your PS3, XBox, tablet, or other non-PC Internetting device. If people stealing your wireless connection is a problem, it shouldn’t be hard to make every image upside down or blurry for those rogue WiFi pirates.