Info

a short diary of some part of my life.

Posts from the Computer Category

Peace – a must have ad-blocker for iPhone & iPad

Untitled

Forbes.com w/ & w/o ads

The title says it all. Peace allows fine control over what you want to see on your iDevices. You can block ads, trackers, any kind of social media extensions and commenting system.

I’m all for supporting a website but when it gets really annoying to read their contents and they are valuable information, I would install an ad-blocker. Sorry but some websites’ ads are just unforgivingly bad. Peace allows you to download only the necessary files, you don’t need to download a huge amount of data just to view a website. This is a very useful feature for mobile users, users who use cellular data.

For those who value online privacy, this is your way to safe haven. One of the main reasons why a website can be very slow is due to trackers embedded to the website. You have to load all those trackers when opening the website. Once I installed Peace, I cannot believe how fast my browser experience is now and how bad it was.

Peace is not a free app. I’m not fond of buying free apps, we need to support apps developers more than ever, especially Indie developers who are now slowly withering.

Update: The developer – Marco Arment has since pulled the app off the App Store. There is a good alternative – Purify

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There is no optical audio output at the back of the new Apple TV. It’s a big bummer for an audio enthusiast like me. I’m aware that there is a way around this but I need to have an AirPort Express, next to the Apple TV, connected to my DAC via its’ optical input or a powered speakers via its’ analog input. By having an AirPort Express in the audio chain, it’s going to add another complexity to my audio setup. What if the AirPort Expess goes bananas and I would have to fiddle with resetting or re-routing the audio output setting on the Apple TV to HDMI. I prefer not to use my TV’s HDMI to optical output. The sound quality is going to suffer.

I consider myself to be a minority user who likes to have the least hassle but also to have the best sound quality out of an Apple TV. But regular users will still face a major issue; with the older Apple TV, they can easily connect a separate analog audio line  to a powered speaker. Now, they cannot do it anymore with the new Apple TV. They need to have a TV with audio output jack(s). Usually, if the TV is not turned on, you won’t be able to pass an audio signal thru it. I have seen a lot of TVs without any kind of audio output.

you won’t be able to AirPlay audio directly to your speakers

I’m going to buy the new Apple TV but if I don’t like it, I’m going to return it. I don’t care about tvOS App Store. The UI looks awful. Now, there is a compelling reason to get myself a PlayStation 4. My Android-TV-equipped-Sony-TV might become my permanent Plex client.

I might buy the 3rd gen Apple TV just to keep it around for AirPlay.

Here are the scenarios that I’m considering:

  • new Apple TV -HDMI- Sony TV -optical- DAC -analog- powered speakers
  • new Apple TV -AirPlay- AirPort Express -optical- DAC -analog- powered speakers
  • 3rd gen Apple TV -optical- DAC -analog- powered speakers
  • PlayStation 4 -optical- DAC -analog- powered speakers
  • Sony TV -optical- DAC -analog- powered speakers

I’m seriously leaning towards the last setup. Perhaps, I should add, I will be installing a Wyred 4 Sound Reclocker before the DAC to whatever setup I end up with to improve sound quality.

I thought I’d share my home network map. I have a lot of devices connected to the network and I figured I needed a top of the line WiFi Router, I came across Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000.

The router packs a punch. I never had a situation where i had to reset the router in order to get it working again. It works flawlessly since day one. I realized the day I replaced my old Apple AirPort Extreme, the transfer rate between devices were bogged down by the AirPort Extreme. I could have multiple devices streaming at the same time:

  • My Dropcam constantly uploading to Nest servers.
    I’m working on replacing this with Blink cameras, I also do not like having a monitoring device constantly uploading videos to a remote server.
  • I am torrenting 24/7 all year round.
  • The wife is an avid YouTube user.
  • Apple Music is frequently streaming music to Apple TV or AirPort Express as AirPlay devices.
    My wife and I like having music on.
  • I have a Plex server running and when I want to watch a movie or a TV show, I stream it from one of my iOS devices to one of my Apple TVs.
  • A Synology DS415+ (NAS) is running 24/7 as a remote office data backup.
  • Backblaze is running on both Synology DS415+ and my MacBook Pro.
  • There are a couple of smart home devices connected to the WiFi but they can also work offline, without an internet connection.

A superb network setup gives me this freedom to have uninterrupted use of the network and internet. I don’t have to worry about adding more devices or reduced internet speed due to a slow processing speed in the old AirPort Extreme.

The red stripe lines on the picture above represent Cat6 wired connections. I think wiring a house with Cat6 is a no brainer. You should definately do it if you can. Do it once and you’ll get the benefits for years to come.

My audio setup is even more interesting, built on top of this superb network. I’ll share about it later.

Free Apps Comes with Ads

A lot of free apps coming into the iOS App Store. A lot of them do not even offer in-app purchase. Even some of the most well known networks opt to offer Google’s DoubleClick ads. I have no idea how much these app developers earn by offering a premium DoubleClick ad in their apps. The only clue is a claim made by Dong Nguyen of Flappy Bird. He was reportedly earn $50.000 per day by showing DoubleClick ads in the game.

There is a way to block those annoying ads. Space is a premium on today’s mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) and nobody wants a company snooping what you do on your devices. Who knows what they send back to their servers.

The Results:

Flappy Bird

Discovery

Catch

Before I get any further, I should warn you there is a catch. You cannot use your iOS devices away from your home WiFi or office WiFi without a managed OpenDNS account. That includes Cellular Data. You need to configure your home or office WiFi with OpenDNS. So, the service area is limited. If you don’t have any control in the WiFi configuration, you can forget these instructions.

What is OpenDNS? OpenDNS | Wikipedia

After you sign up for an OpenDNS account, go straight to configuring OpenDNS for your home or office WiFi: Intro to Configuring OpenDNS

Now, go to Dashboard – Settings – Click on the IP address you want to manage.

Here you can customize which categories you want to block.

This is the most important part to block DoubleClick ads, type: doubleclick.net
You can also block any other websites. After the settings take effect, you may notice that a few websites accidentally get blocked. You can put them on the whitelist by choosing ‘never block’. Since OpenDNS is also running ads (possibly only on free accounts), you may choose to block them by adding rubiconproject.com to the blocklist.

That’s it. Enjoy iOS apps without Google ads!

I am not against mobile ads in general. Those Google ads look out of place. They should have gone with the elegant route, the Apple way with iAd.