Small Ways I Strive for Privacy Online

Rows of security cameras on a wall

Over the years of working professionally in the tech industry I’ve developed a little bit of caution in how I handle my information online. This is by no means a way to stay anonymous in my online activities but it does help me maintain some control of how my data is used. Consider me an amateur tinfoil hat wearer. The list here is not exhaustive, just a few things I’ve personally settled on:

  • Wire for chat communication
    • Great alternative to non-encrypted text services (e.g Facebook Messenger, Social DM’s, and SMS). It isn’t a perfect app—but it is adequate.
  • Private Internet Access as my VPN service of choice
    • I use this 100% of the time when I work outside my home office (coffee shops, co-working spaces, airports, etc.)
  • Startpage as my default search engine
    • From the research I’ve done it offers the best “sell” of any of the privacy focused search engines.
  • I disable location services for almost all apps on my iPhone
    • The big exceptions here are navigation apps.
  • Host my own personal email
    • I don’t use end-to-end encryption on my email, but at least all my personal emails aren’t getting parsed to selectively deliver ads.

I have considered going further down the privacy rabbit hole before. Even contemplated getting rid of my smart phone altogether. But at this time the cost of convenience is too high for me.

A Moka Pot and Unexpected Outcomes

moka pot

It is no surprise for those that know me that I am fussy when it comes to my coffee. I consider a specialty coffee one of life’s luxuries and drinking it is one of my favorite parts of my daily routine.

I use an AeroPress as my daily driver for brewing but I also have a V60, a Chemex, and various other pour-over methods around which I use in rotation. Recently an unexpected method entered the ranks: a Moka Pot.

I received a Moka for Christmas last year and this was exciting to me because I had not tried one before. But I will be honest that I didn’t have “high hopes” for the outcome. I was looking forward to experiencing something new with coffee. The Moka pot though is not looked at kindly in many, ehh, high brow coffee circles. Most of this reputation is because it brews the coffee at boiling temperatures—which is considered a major faux pas. Contrary to this bad rap, the result in my experience has been a pleasant surprise. It is an odd mix of a double espresso like intensity with a texture that is much closer to a drip coffee.

I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in trying one out I’ve been using this recipe.

Always be open to unexpected surprises.

Just Write

I have been getting the itch to blog again. It is hard to say where this is coming from and it is not a feeling I’m unfamiliar with. There have been a few times I’ve gone through stints of blogging on a regular basis. Yet at the time I write this post the last time I wrote on my blog was over four years ago. I don’t know how long this next stint will last and I’ve decided to abandon my previous blog and the tech behind it. With this new round I am starting with a clean slate. No archive of posts and just a basic WordPress site. The previous site was statically generated by Jekyll. For me Jekyll was fun to tinker with, got me writing some Ruby for a few custom plugins and deployment scripts, and since the files deployed to the web host were static—it meant I didn’t have to manually perform security updates for a CMS. But it has now served its purpose for me. I do have issues with WordPress on several fronts from a technical perspective but for what I need for this site it feels like the perfect fit. After all, this is just a blog. WordPress allows me to maintain some control of the site (not use a third party like Medium), yet achieve three clear benefits over the other options out there:

  • No need for custom code. All that I need to accomplish can be done with site configuration. I do web development as my day job—but I don’t want to write code with this side project unless I have too.
  • WordPress does security updates automatically. Security is always a concern, but at least the updates to WordPress core are done without baby sitting them.
  • Web hosting is easy. The LAMP stack is tried, tested, and couldn’t be me more “boring” to implement. Exactly what I need here.

I can now focus on just writing.