Blocking Ads under iOS

I always aim to jailbreak any iOS device I have (iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.). Primarily I do this because I believe consumers should have full control of the hardware they own, without having to operate under the constraints of the Apple nanny. Also, jailbreaking is the only way to effectively block distracting advertisements that eat mobile bandwidth. The AdBlock app on Cydia (the “app store” for jailbroken devices) only seems to work on the native browser Safari which I don’t use anyway. A repository once existed at with an app with nice ad-blocking ability, but the modyouri repo has been down for several months.

I was pleased to recently discover the Untrusted Hosts Blocker which works neatly by modifying the /etc/hosts file to block not just connections to ad servers, but also to other servers that might undesirably collect private information. It has been working well for me so far.

Repair of faulty flush valve

One of our toilets stopped working reliably – the culprit seemed to be the valve that fills up the top tank (AKA the fill valve or flush valve), as it wouldn’t consistently open to fill the tank after flushing. This water-saving valve seemed like a good choice and it’s inexpensive to boot. Installation was easy, involving just a quick shut off of the water supply to the toilet, unscrewing the old valve and threading in the replacement. The water-saving aspect is interesting – there is a small valve to adjust the rate at which the bowl fills, with the idea to get it filled at the same time as the tank. Apparently with a conventional system, some water is wasted as it overflows the bowl before the float rises in the tank to turn off the valve, It works great so far.

Recirculating with an Immersion Chiller

I’ve already mentioned my new homebrewing system.  One feature I made sure to include was recirculating the wort with an immersion chiller.  Like a counterflow or plate chiller, this provides for very efficient cooling.  But it retains the advantages of an immersion chiller regarding easy sanitation, by dropping the chiller into the boiling wort for a few minutes.  The key is a pump to recirculate the hot wort over the chiller.

The copper immersion chiller is connected to tap water as normal.  The recirculating flow keeps the hot wort flowing over the chiller for improved efficiency.  In this picture I’ve raised the outlet above the surface to visualize the wort flow (normally I would try and keep it submerged to reduce hot side aeration).  A pump connected to the outlet of the kettle accomplishes the recirculation.  A six inch piece of half inch stainless tubing helps direct the flow and provides weight to keep it contained in the kettle – don’t ask how I learned that lesson.