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Privacy Resources

I have found the following to be useful sources of information about privacy and am sharing them to help other people:

Even so, Gmail has a lot to offer if your main concern is security, as distinguished from privacy:

If your main worry is that hackers could gain access to your email, then you should rely on Gmail. To be clear, for a majority of users, the threat of hackers trying to break into their emails looking for a way to make a quick buck is more real than the threat of a government investigating them as part of a crime. With the proliferation of phishing attempts and the threat of hackers obtaining your password via hacks of other services, this is what the average consumer should be worried about. Google has one of the best teams of security engineers in the world. Moreover, the company has several strong security mechanisms for users to protect their account.

Vice

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Technology

AirPods Max

I’ve had Apple’s AirPods Max for about five days. My initial impressions are positive:

  • The sound is phenomenal. When I get new headphones I listen to my favorite music to compare the sound. The detail and depth of what I hear is like nothing I’ve heard before. I don’t want to stop listening. And I am not a big listener of music. I mainly listen to audiobooks and podcasts. But that may change now that I have these headphones. Apple has really provided immersive sound.
  • The noise cancellation is impressive. I have not used the headphones while flying but I have tested the noise cancellation with a vacuum cleaner. I can barely hear the vacuum cleaner while listening to music at a normal level.
  • The headphones are big. To me they don’t feel heavy. I cannot see walking down the street wearing these headphones. I will use the AirPods Pro outside. Having said that, I saw someone walking around with the AirPods Max and it looked fine.
  • The earcups feel a little scratchy on my ears. I stretched the headband and now they feel much better.
  • The controls are very easy to use. I love the digital crown. It’s very easy to find and use.
  • Call quality is excellent. I hear callers clearly and they hear me clearly.
  • Transparency mode works well. Spatial audio is very nice, especially with the right movie. I don’t feel like I am listening through headphones. It’s hard to describe.
  • The case is not to my liking. I ordered a third party case from Waterfield Designs. In fairness, I generally don’t use the case supplied with over-ear headphones. Still, the Apple supplied case is odd. I have never put the headphones in the supplied case.
  • The battery does not run down much when the headphones are just sitting on a table, which is where I leave them when I am not wearing them. All day battery life is no problem.
This is the AirPods Max case I ordered.
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Technology

Privacy: Major News Sites Collect Data Too

Timothy Libert, a computer science faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, wrote in The New York Times in 2019:

The press has performed admirably in reporting on privacy violations by the National Security Agency and major internet companies. But news sites often expose users to the same surveillance programs and data-collection companies they criticize. Even articles that explained how the N.S.A. was using Google cookies to “pinpoint targets for hacking” often included the exact same cookies revealed by Edward Snowden. Likewise, articles about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica often include Facebook tracking code, allowing Facebook to keep tabs on what people read.

Libert points out that surveillance on news sites can reveal personal information like political leanings and health interests.

We all need to protect ourselves even when visiting “trusted” sources.

Fortunately, Libert’s site reports no trackers.

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Technology

Why Blog? – A Place to Speak One’s Mind

Photographer and blogger Kirk Tuck, in summing up his 2018, wrote:

Everyone should have at least one safe space in which to be archly and profoundly opinionated.

I’m not sure if Kirk was writing tongue in cheek. In any event, I always look forward to his posts.

Kirk’s blog is called the Visual Science Lab. He’s been blogging since 2009 and has more than 1,300 followers.

Given all that has happened, 2018 now seems like a long time ago. I wonder what the next two years will bring our way.

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Technology

Why Blog? – ‘You just might want to say hello’

What motivates people to blog? The late Nora Ephron (1941 – 2012) writing on HuffPost in 2006 explained that:

getting heard outside the world of blogs occasionally requires that you have something to say. And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.

Among her many accomplishments, Ephron wrote the script for the lovely romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally.

I hope to share other answers to this question.

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Technology

Text-only Websites

Sijmen J. Mulder has a wonderful directory of websites composed with simple, marked up, hyperlinked text. These sites load quickly, scroll smoothly and preserve battery life on mobile devices.

For example, the full CNN site uses 13.4 MB of data, makes 426 requests and loads in 3.53 seconds. In contrast, CNN Lite uses 486 kB of data, makes nine requests and loads in 530 milliseconds.

There are some great light sites on Mulder’s list including Pinboard and the blog of Pinboard’s founder Maciej Cegłowski. Try them. They load lickety-split.

What have we done to the internet?