(Armchair experiment: I’m inviting my best friend and wife to use .


A tweet was recently posted featuring an advert claiming Firefox is the better browser in terms of respect for privacy:

Sadly, this isn’t the case, as this Pale Moon update clearly describes:

So, if you use , best to expect information leakage back to anyway.  If you value your privacy and want a functional browser, check out Pale Moon!


Syncing contacts on Facebook appSince Facebook introduced the data-harvesting ‘Continuously Upload Contacts’ feature in settings, a change has occurred in the background (the Facebook API, for those inclined..) which prevents you downloading your friend list via a trusted 3rd party app.

In addition, the Facebook app itself no longer supports the older style ‘contact sync’ properly (or at all) on both Android and iOS.

In addition (and YMMV), the calendar sync no longer seems to work either. There is a workaround you can follow (link beneath), to create a Google calendar which syncs your Facebook contacts’ birthdays – and this is the primary reason for my post.

I used to rely on the app syncing calendar events to my phone, so that I could see at a glance whose birthday it is and send them my best wishes, but I’ve missed a few recently and now I know why.

I’m starting to wonder what benefit the native Android/iOS app is these days, versus good old mobile website access. I’m going to ditch the FB app on Android and start using ‘Tinfoil for Facebook’ instead, which looks and feels very similar but does away with the bloated spyware that the official app has become.

How to Create a Contact Birthday Calendar:

Tinfoil for Facebook:

iOS users can always ‘Save to Homescreen’ from mobile Safari when visiting

[ This is a retrospective publication ]

It takes heroes like Edward Snowden to reveal how malicious governments can become. The Snowden revelations during the summer of 2013 showed that not only does everyone have to be wary of internet-based “threats”, but that those threats could be in the form of legally-appointed agencies seeking to catch out anyone who accidentally clicks something they shouldn’t.

Worryingly, despite the big players’ assurances of high levels of security, a post on Ars Technica discusses (and links to) slides created by the NSA, and leaked by Snowden, showing how Google’s international internet traffic was intercepted, analysed and understood – for a variety of its services. Thankfully, more heroes have recently stepped forwards with updates of their own.

My heroes today are +Brandon Downey and +Mike Hearn, who have voiced their contempt for the authoritarian misuse of power with, as we like to call it, the two-fingered salute (this would be one finger in the US…).

Google, too, has a data-collection objective

Let us not forget who Google is and what it does.  Yes, while its employees might be upset that their systems’ security has been brought into question, their employer’s mission “is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.  So Google, too, has a data-collection objective.

The good thing about the Snowden revelations, if indeed any of them can be “good”, is that it has revealed how much work still needs to be done and how much we assume our data won’t be intercepted and inspected. It’s no longer safe to think like that, and the use of encryption should be mandatory between two end-points.

But now that the larger players are catching up with better security implementations, who is there to help the smaller players? Running a hosting outfit myself, I know how much time is required to stay informed with regards to common exploits and vulnerabilities, as well as implementing working solutions when certain zero-day exploits are revealed. Every internet service provider, hosting company and other entity transacting business via the internet has a responsibility towards safeguarding confidential data. How many take it seriously enough?

It’s time the larger players stepped up and started working collectively in a security community designed to help the smaller players in the market, rather than try to pwn the market itself; if that were to happen, the purpose of the internet would be destroyed and the argument moot.

There is a growing trend amongst internet companies – i.e. those organisations who provide services over the internet which store your data – to proclaim your freedom and control over your data. Sometimes, the reality doesn’t quite bear up.

I have decided to write an ad-hoc series of blog posts treating this subject. My main area of focus will be how to use readily-available tools to help you liberate your data and regain control over it.

Keep an eye on my series, at – and subscribe by email if you want to be kept up-to-date with the latest posts.

Initial plans

The main subjects I am planning to write about at this stage revolve around the current internet/mobile ecosystem and what you can do to live a productive life while maintaining security.

My outline of topics so far:

  • Unlocking your saved passwords from Google Chrome, the internet’s darling web browser
  • Using a free office suite to replace expensive, proprietary vendors’ offerings
  • Getting to grips with your own web account

– why do this? Benefits? – How to set up? – Basic steps for maximum security

  • Using your own internet calendar and contact list, rather than letting your data be snooped on by the easier alternatives…
  • Secure P2P file sharing – no, it’s NOT ILLEGAL!

As well as these practical how-tos, I’m also intending to cover the bigger picture in a few supporting articles:

  • Leaving the “safety” of Windows/MacOS behind. Addressing some misplaced fears.
  • Risks of the “walled garden”
  • Get back in control

– what YOU can do to ensure your rights are not being violated – being pro-active and helping in the community

With writing in mind…

If you would like to suggest ideas or subject areas that you would like covered, please get in touch.

I look forward to your comments!