November 19th, 2009
The Kill Switch: Turn Off Sites At Will
Following the footsteps of fine sites such as bacolicious, fale.ca, and cornify, The Kill Switch loads any website of your choosing (save nytimes.com, which doesn’t play nice) into an iframe using URL rule rewrites in an .htaccess file to funnel whatever follows “/TheKillSwitch/” into a GET variable and superimposes a nice toggle switch with which you can turn the site on and off (toggling the visibility an initially invisible black div).
Try out the The Kill Switch or use the live example below by clicking on the toggle switch.
Ideally, your browser would remember which sites were off so that even if you closed the window or navigated away from them, the next time you tried to open them, you’d be redirected to my page until you toggled them back. Greasemonkey and SQL would do the trick, but that would limit the site to Firefox. As a compromise, I’ll try to have my site remember which sites are on and off, so that if someone else KillSwitches Google while you’re browsing it through my site, it would turn off for you too.
John Dimatos alerted me to a much more elegant solution which is both way beyond my ken and also way too irreversible (and way cool too). Steve Lambert’s Self-Control is a little application that allows you to blacklist websites for a specific time period. It works on a system level (I’m guessing on your hosts file) and is a real bitch to shut off when after three hours, you regret the bravado that led you to believe you could go without checking your fantasy team for a week.
Hours of fun.