Use PowerShell’s Invoke-WebRequest to report if a website is up or down

If Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) — a protocol used to communicate problems with data transmission — is disabled, PowerShell’s Invoke-WebRequest can be a helpful alternative to use to monitor of a website is up or down.

# What website would you like to check if it is up or down?
$website = ""
# How many seconds do you wish to pause between attempts?
$seconds = 3
# Loop indefinitely
while($true) {
    # Clear previous result
    $response = $null
    # Send an HTTP request to a website and store the response object in $response
    try {
        $response = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $website #-ErrorAction SilentlyContinue -UseBasicParsing -DisableKeepAlive
    } catch {
        $response = $null
    # If the HTTP status code is 200 (OK), write "OK" to the console with a green background
    if($response.StatusCode -eq 200) {
        Write-Host (Get-Date).ToString() "Okay" -BackgroundColor Green
    # If the HTTP status code is not 200 (OK), write "Fail" to the console with a red background and play a sound
    else {
        Write-Host (Get-Date).ToString() "Failed" -BackgroundColor Red
    # Wait for X seconds (defined above) before sending another request
    Start-Sleep -Seconds $seconds

Booe North Carolina genealogy books

My grandmother Sarah Alexander Pearce enjoyed genealogy. She most enjoyed researching the Booe surname (mostly from North Carolina), and created four books on the Booe surname.

They feature her ancestors:

Booe Genealogy Book Red Binding

SaAlPe Booe Genealogy red book (2015 May)

Booe Genealogy Book Blue Binding

SaAlPe Booe Genealogy blue book (2015 May)

Booe Genealogy Book III

SaAlPe Booe Genealogy book III (2015 May)

Booe Genealogy Book: Booe Who

SaAlPe Booe Genealogy Booe! Who? (2015 May) Domain Registration Scam

This scam is so old I forgot about it. Goes back to at least 2010.

Basically, the scammer says they run a domain name registrar and noticed someone trying to buy .cn,,, and other variations of a domain name you already own.

At first, they imply that they want confirmation from you to block the sale of similar domain names. In reality, they want you to block the sale by buying the domains from them yourself.

Don’t fall for it. Very few can afford to by every top level domain variation of their domain name. Learn more about this scam here and here.

This is the version of the scam I received in 2022 July:

Subject: exampledomain From: [email protected] (It’s very urgent, therefore we kindly ask you to forward this email to your CEO. If you believe this has been sent to you in error, please ignore it. Thanks) Dear CEO, This is a formal email. We are the Domain Registration Service company in Shanghai, China. Here I have something to confirm with you. On July 7, 2022, we received an application from Hongmei Ltd requested “exampledomain” as their internet keyword and China (CN) domain names (,,, But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor in China? Best Regards Robert Liu | Service & Operations Manager China Registry (Head Office) Tel: +86-2161918696 Fax: +86-2161918697 Mob: +86-13816428671 6012, Xingdi Building, No. 1698 Yishan Road, Shanghai 201103, China This email contains privileged and confidential information intended for the addressee only. If you are not the intended recipient, please destroy this email and inform the sender immediately. We appreciate you respecting the confidentiality of this information by not disclosing or using the information in this email.

If you want to setup mail filtering rules to block this particular scammer, here’s some email header information:

As you can see, this particular scammer is using valid SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records.

Keyboard Shortcuts for InPrivate, Incognito, and Private browsers on Windows

Most browsers have a mode you may use that will not remember your history or cookies when closed. For a Windows machine, these are their keyboard shortcuts.

How to Disable Ads on the Roku Home Screen

If you own a Roku streaming media player or Roku TV and want to disable the advertisements that occupy one-third of the Home screen, you will discover that Roku does not provide you a way to opt out.

According to How-To Geek, Roku makes more money from ads than it does selling hardware ($740 million in ad revenue in 2019).

Don’t be deterred. If you are technically savvy and motivated, this article documents how to engineer an ad-free Roku home screen — like this one.

Roku without ads on Home screen

A summary of what needs to be done (overview)

There is more than one way to remove Roku ads. If you are a talented technical engineer, this is what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Prevent your Roku from reaching a list of domains (see below)
  • Provide your Roku a fixed/static IP address
  • Prevent your Roku from using DNS port 53 for LAN to WAN queries

Settings within the Roku (easy)

Most of the steps that you will take to remove ads resides outside of the Roku. If you simply want a little more privacy and fewer customized ads, at least perform these easy steps on your Roku.

Roku Features to Disable:

  • Roku TV > Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit ad tracking (enabled)
  • Roku TV > Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Reset advertising identifier (do this often)
  • Roku TV > Settings > Privacy > Smart TV experience > Use info from TV inputs (not selected)
  • Roku TV > Settings > Privacy > Smart TV experience > Enable auto notification (not selected)
  • Roku TV > Settings > Home Screen > Featured Free > Hide
  • Roku TV > Settings > Home Screen > Movie Store and TV Store > Hide
  • Roku TV > Settings > Home Screen > My Offers > Hide

Block these domains (medium)

Using some network capturing tools, I logged about fifty unique IP addresses the Roku attempts to access within the first two minutes of it powering on. Blocking them all would result in a loss of functionality. Instead, you want to prevent the Roku from accessing just the following domains (LAN to WAN traffic).


Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to use either or a Raspberry Pi Pi-Hole as your DNS provider, and subscribe to the Lightswitch05 Ads & Tracking block list. All of the domains above, except for and (in bold) were already included in Lightswitch05’s block list at the time of writing.

I accomplished DNS filtering by installing ASUSwrt-Merlin on my home router. I then configured my router to use as the router’s DNS-over-TLS / DNS-over-HTTPS source. Using at the router level will help you block ads for all devices on your home network, not just your Roku.

Here’s how I configured my home router to use

ASUS Merlin settings

And how I configured to filter out most Roku ads and tracking.

  • > Privacy > Blocklists > Add > Lightswitch05 Ads & Tracking
  • > Privacy > Native Tracking Protection > Add > Roku
  • > Denylist > Add > (missing from Lightswitch05)
  • > Denylist > Add > (missing from Lightswitch05)

NextDNS Roku Settings

Optionally, if you prefer to roll your own DNS filtering solution, build a Pi-Hole or install Diversion via AMTM on your ASUSwrt-Merlin router.

Once you have a DNS filtering solution in place and have configured your home router to use it, all devices on your network should (by default) have their DNS traffic filtered. Except for the Roku, of course, which has hard coded its own public DNS source for some of its queries.

Provide your Roku a static/fixed IP address (medium)

To perform the last step, which involves creating firewall rules, you need to first provide your Roku a static IP address. I accomplish this by letting DHCP provide the Roku a dynamic IP address, and then configure my router to always reserve that IP for the Roku.

ASUS merlin manually assigned IP

Firewall LAN to WAN Port 53 (hard)

DNS queries traditionally use Port 53 via TCP or UDP. You want to force your Roku to always use your router (and thus NextDNS or Pi-Hole) for all of its DNS queries.

In order to prevent your Roku from quering Google’s public DNS servers at and directly, you’ll need to configure a network firewall to block LAN to WAN traffic over Port 53 (TCP and UDP).

How to do this differs for each router. Here’s how I did it using ASUSwrt-Merlin.

  • ASUSwrt-Merlin > Firewall > Network Services Filter > Enable
  • ASUSwrt-Merlin > Firewall > Network Services Filter Table > add these two entries
  • Entry 1 > Source IP (the static LAN IP address of your Roku), Destination Port Range 53, Protocol TCP
  • Entry 2 > Source IP (the static LAN IP address of your Roku), Destination Port Range 53, Protocol UDP

Asus Merlin Network Service Filter Port 53

That should do it. Reboot your router to clear your DNS cache then reboot your Roku. Hopefully you will be rewarded with an ad-free Roku.


Removing Roku ads will take some work. And for some of these steps, like installing ASUSwrt-Merlin or a Pi-Hole, take some effort and require specific hardware you might not yet own. There are likely other ways to perform these steps on your own hardware — but I leave that to you. You know what needs to be done, and now just have to figure out how to do so if you want an ad-free Roku.