Like anyone that works at their computer all day, I have to make a point of staying productive through periods of waiting. Waiting for an app to load, for a file to process, or anything else that takes me out of the Flow, and my habit is to reach for Firefox and pull up Facebook or Digg. These two sites really offer no value during the workday. Zero. Unfortunately they are horribly addictive.
Well, I’ve tried putting extensions on Firefox, but sometimes I’ll end up browsing with Chrome and BAM, before I know it I’m commenting on a photo of someone’s car or reading about the latest LOLCat to set the tubes on fire. Well my New Year’s Resolution was to put an end to this and at the very least start visiting sites that advance my life in some way.
So here’s what I’m doing and it’s working so far. See, most every computer nowadays has a “hosts” file, which takes precedence over everything in determining how a URL gets mapped to an IP address. By editing it strategically, you can redirect any attempt to visit one site to another. Wikipedia has a nice article on hosts files and how they work, but their links to instructions are poor. Try these instead:
Windows XP/Vista/7: http://www.fpweb.net/support/managed-hosting/hostfile-editing-support.asp
So what you can do with your hosts file is map a site that you want to stop visiting to one that you want to start visiting. If you habitually type digg.com into your browser, then that will get remapped. Here’s what you need to do to map digg.com to answers.unity3d.com (because reading the Unity Answers site will certainly enrich you in some way)
- Open up your hosts file per the above instructions
- Get the IP address of answers.unity3d.com by opening up a command line/terminal and typing ‘ping answers.unity3d.com’ minus the quotes. In this case it is 22.214.171.124
- In the hosts file, add a line that looks like this: 126.96.36.199 digg.com #digg->answers.unity3d.com
- Then add a line that looks like this: 188.8.131.52 www.digg.com #digg->answers.unity3d.com
- Save the hosts file
- Try visiting digg.com and enjoy your self-administered smackdown.
I’ve already found that this has helped me break some bad browsing habits.