I don’t know why I didn’t deploy this before, but this is another case where Docker lowers the bar of entry and makes running this less of an ordeal.

10% of internet traffic at home is ads & trackers (well 10% of DNS queries but let’s not split hair).

This number is obviously higher in reality considering all the ads and trackers which DNS alone can’t tackle. Ublock Origin is still really busy after all.

There are 2 main drivers of these 10%. Unsurprisingly a 13 year old’s windows machine, he just wants to game but gaming now means being online and bundling in greedy vectors to your eyeballs. The other unsurprising culprit is an iPhone tied to social media. Without these 2 devices, we hover around 2% with 10+ various connected devices. With them we immediately jump to 10% of all home internet traffic being ads.

The real beauty of Pi-hole, is in being able to neuter various household “smart” devices. The printer which calls home and requires extra buttons presses to annoy us into a firmware update we don’t want. Screw you Epson. The connected TV which should have never been connected but the kids wanted Netflix, and oh surprise ads are now everywhere. Screw you Roku. Both are gone now. Pi-hole makes it very easy to see what clients are contacting and neuter it along with the millions, yes millions of worthless domains your home network will never see.

A few years back, I tried a more drastic approach doing a full network proxy with whitelist only. But that proved too cumbersome to setup and maintain. Specifically, the interconnectedness of everything. You can’t just allow one website through, it requires too many dependencies to be functional. I wish they had a concept degrees past whitelisted websites one can get to, but they didn’t. Say you whitelist wikipedia, and that lets anything it refers to through as well. I never found something that did, and I didn’t have time for another project. Pi-hole isn’t a panacea, but it strikes a great balance of effectiveness Vs ease of deployment.

I have no polite words for people wasting human potential on marketing. Nothing in the world was ever made better with marketing, its impact on society is strictly negative with no redeeming quality. It is a nefarious endeavor amplified by recent advances in technology. One of the most salient point I heard against it (I wish I remembered where) went like this: chess grand master Kasparov was overtaken by a computer in 1997. 27 years of exponential technological progress later, we now allow thousands of super computers to be pointed at our kids’ brains for persuasion. Do you really think they stand a chance?

Ads should be illegal. I understand we historically accepted them into society at a time when they were innocuous, but their dial was cranked so far up they are unjustifiable in their current form. There is no justification for using psychological trickery on children. People should risk prison for being so ill intended as to devise such machinations. And let’s not even get into how bad it’s been for public conversation to use them as a funding model for everything. There is a direct line between flailing western democracies and the outrage engines ad funding inevitably creates. Maybe it’s not the only line, but it’s definitely one of them. It’s a moral imperative to avoid ads.

Vermont has a road billboard ban. You don’t quite know why things feel better here until it’s pointed out to you. It was done so as not to stain the beauty of the state, thus preserving tourism. But a side effect is that it also removes an ambient layer of aggression and you can feel yourself relax driving into the state. Life is demonstrably better without ads.

Warning! We have detected that we need to monetize absolutely everything with ads. Lower the draw bridge, drop your shields, and let us aim an army of poorly vouched 3rd party marketing dickweeds at your family.

I love seeing these anti-ad-blockers popups for they show how they lost the arm’s race, and all they have left is making an inarguable case. What a pathetic position to find oneself into, all they can do is ask “pretty please let us keep harassing”. I have no doubt they’ll find more insidious ways soon enough.

All the respect in the world to ad blockers, and sites taking risks with principled funding models.

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