The Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas make a return

Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas One of the many podcasts that I hugely enjoyed in years gone by was the Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas, a show that reviewed older science fiction and fantasy films, books and TV series. The hosts were invariably witty, insightful and entertaining and frequently inspired me to go back to books and films from my past.

And then the episodes started to become less and less frequent until January 2012 when episode 48 was released. I had assumed that they had finally faded out until today when I found that Episode 49 had finally turned up in my podcatcher.

Summer and guest host Jez Conolly discuss John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic The Thing, also touching on the novella it’s based on, the original 1951 Howard Hawks Thing From Another World, and the 2011 prequel The Thing.

I shall be listening to this as I drive to work tomorrow. And, if old school SF and fantasy is your thing, I strongly recommend you do the same.

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Remounting a read-only filesystem on Android

Following on from my last post, I figured that copying the hosts file from my laptop to my phone would be a very good idea. In principle, this is just a case of getting the file onto my phone and then copying it to /etc/hosts.

Obviously, I need root access to do this but, with a Fairphone 1 this is not a problem.

What did catch me out, though, is that /system is mounted as a read only file system. It’s not difficult to get around, but I am noting it here so I can easily look up the steps when I next do this.

# mount -o rw,remount /system
# cp /storage/sdcard0/Download/hosts /etc
# mount -o ro,remount /system

For other phones, some pathnames may vary.

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Unified hosts file with base extensions

Using the /etc/hosts file to block malicious sites at the operating system level is an effective way of ensuring that none of your applications will access any of these sites, ever, and has the advantage of removing the need for a separate browser plugin for every browser you might possibly use. But maintaining the /etc/hosts file involves doing work and this is where Steven Black‘s hosts comes in handy.

This repository consolidates several reputable hosts files, and merges them into a unified hosts file with duplicates removed. This repo provides several hosts files tailored to you need to block.

Using it is simple. Clone the repository, update the myhosts file with any custom host records you may have, and add any domains you don’t want to block to the whitelist. Then build your hosts file:

python updateHostsFile.py

There are a number of switches you can use (all of which are documented in the readme file) which allow you to control which types of sites to block and whether you want to automatically replace your existing /etc/hosts file.

This all works very nicely indeed, but I’m lazy. So I knocked together a short script to grab any updates from the repository and rebuild my hosts file:

#! /bin/bash
# Automatically update hosts file

# Change to the correct folder and do a git pull
cd /home/paul/Stuff/hosts
git pull origin master

# And update the hosts file
python updateHostsFile.py -a -r

And put it in /usr/local/bin.

This means I can use a systemd service and timer to execute this every Saturday afternoon.

[Unit]
Description=Auto-update hosts file

[Service]
Type=oneshot
Environment=DISPLAY=:0
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/hosts
StandardOutput=journal

[Install]
WantedBy=basic.target
[Unit]
Description=Auto Update Hosts File

[Timer]
OnCalendar=Sat 14:00:00
Persistent=true
Unit=hosts.service

[Install]
WantedBy=basic.target

And, so far, it all appears to be working very nicely indeed.

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Free subdomains with FreeDNS

Because remembering an IP address is hard.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a private Voxelands server running so that the boys can build and explore in the same world. This works pretty well but it does mean that, as can happen, one of them connects to the wrong server I have to go and look up the IP address so that I can reconnect them.

And then I discovered FreeDNS which, as the name suggests, allows you to set up a subdomain for free. You sign up, select a public domain from the extensive list available, add a subdomain, and point it at your IP address.

It really is as simple and as quick as that.

I’m impressed at how simple and painless they have managed to make the whole process. So much so that, if I do find myself needing a premium service, I will be very happy to go back to them.

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Quote of the day: Priorities

Last night hundreds of children went to sleep alone and hungry in the Jungle at Calais- a humanitarian mess that the UK is responsible for. Last night the food banks were doing good business. Last night the NHS faced just another day of strain and pain. Last night millions of workers in the UK were facing renewed threats to their livelihood because of the Brexit fiasco.

This morning the British right wing press: 80% supporting the Conservatives and funded by five off-shore billionaires, decided that the marriage split of two actors was the chief story their readers needed to know about.

Cicero

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Duffercast 13 – A Pork Pie Sent Him Over The Edge

640px-pork_pie_on_plate Episode 13 of The Duffercast is out. Now is your chance to learn about podcrawls and the dangers of pork pies.

I very nearly didn’t make it to this recording as this was the evening that our barbecue collapsed, just as the charcoal had reached the optimal temperature for cooking meat and igniting the wooden platform underneath.

Click here to find the full shownotes and to download the episode to your audio device of choice.

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Happy Blogiversary, Inscius

The Weblog of Inscius turned five years old yesterday. This means that it is now old enough to help with the weeding, but not old enough to know the difference between weeds and vegetables.

My blogging has gone down markedly, especially this year, but I am not giving up. I never had a goal, I did not have a glorious five-year plan. I write for my own enjoyment, and others’ enjoyment. Or pity :p

I find my own blogging can be all over the place. There are times when I am posting updates daily and other times when I don’t even look at the blog for a month or more. Ideally, I would like to manage a post per week, but time and motivation often get in the way. That said, though, it is nice to have a small space on the web that is unambiguously mine.

Happy blogiversary, Mikael, and here’s to another five years of text-based dufferdom.

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The Gordian Knot Delusion

Seen on The Null Device:

Observing political debate, I have noticed a trope that keeps recurring, particularly (these days) on the Right. I’ll call it the Gordian Knot Delusion. It says, in essence, “the so-called experts/eggheads/‘intellectuals’ keep going on about how complex things are, but they’re liars. When you get down to it, things really are simple.” (There is an implicit “Watch this!” after that, as the speaker purports to bulldoze their way through some issue that namby-pamby liberals and ivory-tower boffins have been wringing their hands ineffectually over, like the two-fisted, lantern-jawed hero of one of those old sci-fi paperbacks the Sad Puppies lament aren’t being written any more.)

It’s an interesting observation, and one that is widely applicable. Go read it.

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