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All posts for the month January, 2015

My last post discussed updating the host file on Andriod. After doing a bit more tweaking I wrote a script which can be downloaded at the end of the article or created from the code below. The script will automatically download the latest hosts file from mvps.org and install it. It requires to be run as root and under the assumption that /sdcard exists as a storage location. Remember also to set the script permission to 700. The script can also be added to the crontab so you don’t have to worry about it again. (Next article will go over setting up crond and crontab on Android)

The Script:

#!/system/bin/sh

#Remount /system RW
mount -o remount,rw /system

#Make copy of current hosts file if backup does not exist
#Comment out this block if you have installed mvps.org hosts file before making backup
if [ ! -f /etc/.etchosts ]; then
cp /etc/hosts /etc/.etchosts
fi

#Check and create tmp dir if required
if [ ! -d /sdcard/tmp ]; then
mkdir /sdcard/tmp
fi

cd /sdcard/tmp
wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt
cat hosts.txt > /etc/hosts
rm hosts.txt

#If you need to add lines to host file
#make changes to /etc/.etchosts
#and uncomment next line to enable appending to hosts
#cat /etc/.etchosts >> /etc/hosts

#Remount /system RO
mount -o remount,ro /system

Download:

android_update_hosts.zip
sha256sum 95256b28deee2cbcd418f51ed6e358d42b7651bdbcc955521457dc370e5c537a android_update_hosts.sh

By now anyone using the internet is bombarded by ads everywhere online unless measures are taken to minimize them. There are plenty of ad blocking programs out there but another method that is easy is implement is the use of the hosts file. Originally this file was used to map hosts names to IP address before Domain Name Servers (DNS) was implemented in 1984 allowed for the process to be automated. For most end users today this file is unused but could provide beneficial experiences if configured. When an IP address is specified in the hosts file for a domain the system will use that address, allowing blocking of sites by directing them to 0.0.0.0 or 127.0.0.1. This can be used to stop ads from loading and potentially increase page load times. Now it might seem like a tedious task to add all the add sites to block but there are providers of hosts files that are already completed and updated regularly; I use MVPs.org to provide my hosts files.

Note that while the hosts file when configured can block ads and some malware redirects, it is only an additional layer of protection. Systems should still run other forms of protection such as anti-virus and anti-malware with the hosts file. Below are instructions to load the file from MVPs.org to the most common operating systems.

Windows:

The hosts file in modern distributions is located at %SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts and can be edited with notepad or other text editors. Just be sure not not add any extension like .txt which the built in notepad is known for doing. Note that the file is in the windows directory so any app trying to edit it will require being run as administrator.

Thankfully however, MVPs.org has an app to update the host file easily. Just download the zip file from http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm and unzip to a folder. Then right-click the mvps batch file and choose Run as administrator. This will load the downloaded data into the host file. More detailed instructions and the date of last updated host file is available on their site.

Linux:

While I was manually updating host files before, came across a post to make a script for Linux which when added to the chrontab allows for easily maintaining the most up to date hosts file. Visit http://www.putorius.net/2012/01/block-unwanted-advertisements-on.html for details and description of the script. I made a few small changes.

To complete these steps you will need to be running as root or using sudo su to get root permission. Your prompt should end with #

First, backup your current host file:
cp /etc/hosts /etc/.etchosts

Next use vi or nano to create the script /root/update_hosts.sh and add the following code to it:
#!/bin/bash
cd /tmp
wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt
rm /etc/hosts
mv hosts.txt /etc/hosts
cat /etc/.etchosts >> /etc/hosts

Make the file executable by running:
chmod +x /root/update_hosts.sh

Schedule to run automatically:
run crontab -e then add the line below to make it update nightly at 23:59
59 23 * * * /root/update_hosts.sh > /dev/null 2>&1
The time can be changed by adjusting the numbers. the > /dev/null 2>&1 is sending all output from the scheduled job to the bit bucket so that crontab does not email the results each night.

Mac:

Instructions for updating the Mac OS host file can be found here: http://pointhope.de/tips&tricks/no_place_like_localhost.html

Android:

If you have root on your Android device the hosts file is stored at /system/etc/hosts and can be changed with a terminal app, however you will need to mount the path as R/W before changes can be made. Something like Beansoft – Mount /system (rw / ro) will do the job. Because on Android the hosts file is symbolic linked to /etc/hosts as well it seems to not want to allow overwriting the file but the contents can be changed with the cat command and achieve the same desired result.

Remember to run su as commands require root access.

First time  backup your current hosts file:
cp /system/etc/hosts /system/etc/.etchosts

Then run the following to update:
cd /sdcard/tmp
If you do not have a /sdcard/tmp directory run mkdir /sdcard/tmp and rerun the cd command above
wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt
cat hosts.txt > /system/etc/hosts
cat /system/etc/.etchosts >> /system/etc/hosts
rm hosts.txt

At this point you can exit terminal and then remount System as R/O.

Wow, the amount of spam comments on WordPress is pretty amazing (not).  I thought by changing settings to “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” would fix things but apparently not… Even with “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” unchecked was still some how getting spammed like crazy (little did I know at the time that unchecking that option only affected new posts).

Getting hundreds of spam messages a day is enough to drive anyone nuts so I had to find a solution.  Now being that most the spam was being generated on one post, I probably could have just disabled comments on that one post but that would have only been a short term fix.  Also at the time I couldn’t find the option to disable comments on a single post… who thought it was a great idea to hide that option under screen options of the post?

WP Screen Options

Now however I have activated Akismet through JetPack and will see how it does on managing to filter all the spam. It’s got over 100 in spam already and none pending approval so that seems to be doing well.  Now I can focus on more important things other than filtering spam.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • Eggs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Miracle Whip
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Paprika

Fill pot with cold water, a dozen or so eggs and add a bit of salt. Using medium heat bring to hard boil for 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse to cool eggs, do not leave eggs soaking in water. Peel egg shells, and slice eggs in half. Separate yokes into a bowl and place the egg halves on a paper towel to cool and dry before filling.

Mash the yokes into a semi-fine powder, be sure to get the big lumps out now. Add a couple tablespoons of Miracle Whip, dash of salt and pepper, splash of vinegar and yellow mustard. Mix together until creamy and add Miracle Whip as required to adjust consistency. Taste and adjust other ingredients as required.

Fill the egg halves with the yoke mixture and place onto serving dish. Garnish with paprika.

So it may have been noticed that I haven’t posted in a while, a little more than a month to be exact. Part of that was due to being extremely busy with stuff I need to blog about, but also the fact that I had articles written that needed media uploaded and was being plagued with upload errors. To make it worse, the errors were so generic I had no idea where to start troubleshooting.

1-5-2015 12-21-21 AM
With the errors appearing after the 4.1 upgrade to WordPress I thought that maybe the issue but with no one else reporting issues then it would be unlikely. My next thought was folder permissions. My permissions had been set to 705, but that had been working in the past just fine. I adjusted the permissions to 755 and also an attempt with 777 just to check, but still got the same error. During this time I also noticed that it was uploading the main file to the server but not creating thumbnails so that helped in ruling out permissions and thus I went back to the 705.

1-5-2015 12-22-49 AMWhen checking in WordPress again, I found that it recognized the main image when full size, but with no thumbnails and just a default file icon when displayed otherwise. This made me wonder a bit more, but still without an error to go on would have to do digging. I already knew from past that contacting the host really would not get any results unless I knew exactly what was wrong and requested specifically what I needed to have fixed.

Next logical check, my file system quota. While my host offers a large amount of space, it is by default not assigned to the quota and occasionally a increase might need to be requested. I’ve needed increase in the past for running over the file limit, so ran ‘quota -v’ only to find that I still had plenty of storage space and files remaining to create.

1-5-2015 12-49-26 AM

Now, I was really at a loss. I started looking more closely at what I had uploaded in the past.  Everything seemed to have been smaller files in general. While the file I wanted to upload was well below the php.ini settings of 8MB at only 2MB and I thought that should be fine. I attempted with another small file and found, however, and it worked. The only thing I can think of is perhaps I am hitting a host memory usage threshold but don’t have a way to easily check that I’m aware of. It would appear however as long as I do not exceed 1500px on image width or height it should work so I can now resume posting.

Glad it works now but I really wish developers would put in more meaningful errors.