Easy Web Filter
The Worldwide Web used to be the nice and quiet place you visit whenever you want to find some information. But times have changed, and the Worldwide Web has changed with them. While it still is a valuable resource, it has become extremely noisy.
Wherever you go, total strangers from all over the world have the audacity to assume that you have nothing better to do than look at their advertising. And they are going out of their way to make sure that you read nothing but their ads.
Most of us feel completely powerless. Most of us do not know how to stop the annoying and distracting ads, many of which, by the way, can induce an epileptic seizure in people who otherwise would not experience one!
Services have popped up that offer to filter the web for you in exchange for a monthly fee. They act like they have some secret knowledge about the way the Worldwide Web is working. The truth is that you can filter the Worldwide Web yourself. You can filter out any web site you want. Your browser will act as if it never existed. And you can choose which web sites you want to filter out, whether they are ad servers, or sites you do not want your children to see, or perhaps the sites you are required by law to filter out (if you are a library offering public Internet access in the US, for example). Best of all, once you have set it up (and it is very easy to do), your filter keeps working. No monthly fees to pay either.
The Two Steps
There are two simple steps you need to take to set up your very own web filter on your own computer. I have prepared an 11-page document that explains what you need to do and how. It is in the .pdf format, so you can either read it online, or you can download it to your computer and read it offline, or you can even print it out on your printer and just read it comfortably and keep it as a handy reference.
And, here it is!
I am now assuming that you have read the above document (if not, please do so now, otherwise this may not make much sense).
So, the first step is to add the web servers you wish to filter out into your hosts file. If you wish, you can start by downloading my own hosts file. It contains more than 18,000 web servers that I am excluding. If that number surprises you, remember how huge the Internet is. 18,000 servers are a drop in the ocean, but they are the drop that poisons the ocean waters for the rest of us. I update this file every time I find a new ad server. The current version is dated Sep 26 2005 and can be downloaded as hosts.zip. Once you download it and unzip it, you can place it in the appropriate directory. However, please be careful. If you have some IP addresses other than localhost in your original hosts file, you will want to append them to mine before overwriting your existing hosts file.
So, where does it go? Under most varieties of Unix it goes to /etc. Under Windows, well, in a typical Microsoft fashion, it depends on the version of Windows:
Please remember that just because I am filtering a web server does not mean you have to filter it. And just because I am not filtering it does not mean you cannot. For example, if you are a public library which is required by law to filter out sleeze and hate, you need to add those sites to your hosts file (and you should share your list with other libraries). I never visit those sites, so I do not know what they are. Or if you are a business owner who finds out that his employees are visiting some game sites on company time, you may want to place those sites to your own hosts file.
Now that you have redirected all requests for unwanted web servers to your own computer, you need to make sure that your computer satisfies those requests. If you do not, your web browser will wait for a while (thus slowing you down), then decide there is a problem and inform you about the problem.
Just how the browser reports the problem depends on what kind of resource it was expecting. If it expected an HTML page, it will display a page of its own stating that the server could not be reached because the server is down. If it expected an image, it will display a little crossed-out image of its own to inform you that the image is missing. While any of this is better than getting unwanted ads or web sites, it slows you down.
Luckily the problem is very easy to fix. All you need to do is install a small web server that will respond to any and all HTTP requests sent to your own computer. This server should only be visible to software running on your own computer (e.g., your browser), but not to the Internet at large. In other words, it should only act on requests sent to your 127.0.0.1 IP address (i.e., localhost). It should, however give you the option to configure it to satisfy any HTTP requests from your entire local area network, if you so desire.
Since a server is always running on your system, it should be very small. It should also run very fast, so there is no delay.
Web Bubba is exactly such a server. It is written in 100% assembly language (the language of the computer, not some human programming language that, sadly, most software is crafted in nowadays), so it is extremely small and lightning fast. It runs on any Windows system from Windows 95 up. Additionally, on those Windows systems that support Windows services (NT, 2000, XP), it will run as a service, which allows you to turn it on and off at will, as well as to reconfigure it without you having to reboot the system for any changes to become effective.
Here is what its configuration utility looks like:
It lets you turn the service on and off (stop/start) and to change the IP address and port it is listening to.
You are permitted to use Web Bubba on your personal computer at home for free. For any other use (library, school, business, etc) you are required to pay $35 for each computer on which you have Web Bubba installed. You can do so by purchasing a T-shirt from this link, one for each registration. Please keep the receipt. That will be your proof of registration.
Why a T-shirt? Because all major software registration companies charge software developers a hefty fee for the use of their services. That fee is about as big as the cost of having a nice T-shirt printed and delivered to you. Whether I would choose a software registration service or the T-shirt company, your cost would be the same, and my income would be the same. So, why not just give you a T-shirt as a token of appreciation for using and registering my software. Please note that the store may, on occasion, give you the choice of something other beside a T-shirt, such as a sweatshirt. In that case, the cost will be higher, simply because a sweatshirt costs more to produce than a T-shirt.
Download the Web Bubba installation file. Unzip the file and double-click on WBub-1.0.exe. That will install Web Bubba on your system. It will start running immediately, no need to reboot the system. It will also install the PDF instruction manual, and the full assembly language source code of the software.
Please note that a copy of my hosts file is not included with Web Bubba. You need to download it separately. There are two main reasons for that:
Copyright © 2003 G. Adam Stanislav.