Reuters: ‘Online privacy leaks worsen; “Do not track” gains steam’

A new study from a Stanford University researcher has found that a lot of  the little bits and pieces of supposedly anonymous data being deposited by your web browser are actually being gathered and reassembled by dozens of companies and sold. And stopping that from happening takes more than a little bit of effort, helped by a growing movement for “do not track” legislation.

Link to the Reuters article

It saddens me (seriously) that many folks I know don’t know that they’re being tracked, and nearly all of them say they don’t care after being told. And most of the ones that DO care about being tracked online just can’t be bothered to take simple measures to stop the tracking from happening, even though it barely impacts their internet browsing.

So here’s what I do to limit the online tracking as much as possible:

I use the Firefox browser with certain key add-ons to guarantee privacy (as much as possible, anyway) and practically zero online tracking:

To stop Facebook from tracking my movements across the web, I use Facebook only with the Opera browser on all my computers, and I limit the links I click on within Facebook. If there’s a link I really want to check out, I’ll copy the link address (right-click and choose ‘copy link location’) and paste it into Firefox.

So why go through all this effort?

This comment from this Reddit thread explains:

As a small constrained example, if you cross reference your real name from Facebook with every Facebook Like button you get a list of web pages that the person has visited. That’s incredibly sensitive information and given the cross-borders aspect there are no laws whatsoever preventing this information being sold. It’s a highly valuable gold mine.

Google have even more personal data but rarely get flak like Facebook does. Through Google+, Gmail and the AdWords/DoubleClick trackers around the web they get to see almost everything you do online.

Now, forgive me for not being a good customer, but screw that. I don’t want my information (even anonymously) connected to other bits of information. I encrypt/block/hide what I can and screw the marketers who want to sell/use this information.

 

On a somewhat related note, the German government has been found to have spread spyware among its citizens so it could spy on them, something the FBI tried several years ago. So it’s always worth the effort to protect yourself online!

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YouTube Comment Snob

I love Firefox, partly because it’s not Internet Explorer but mostly because of free add-ons like this! (and of course the awesome new address bar feature. and tabs.)

You know when you go on YouTube and the comments section of a video page is overrun with 12-year olds practicing their hate speech and typing skillz? Well I hate that, so that I don’t even look at comments any more. This Firefox add-on removes all the immature ranting, loads of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!! and misspellings so that you only see the comments from people that matter.

I’m on Pownce

Yeah, internet nerds and techie geeks, I’m on Pownce. It’s basically a social network aggregator, sort of like Twitter, it has links to my other ‘social’ sites like Facebook and Myspace and is set up to be a quick blogging platform for short posts and posting things like ‘I’m watching such-and-such right now’ or ‘I’m going out to eat’, etc.

I know it sounds kind of lame if you’re not into that sort of thing, but it’s been invite-only for ages and just recently became open to sign up.

So if anyone else is on there, look me up or sign up and then add me 🙂

One of my Flicker images used for London travel site

How cool!

When you upload stuff to Flickr.com, I think by default it gets added to the Creative Commons, which means that people can use your picture as they like, as long as they give credit to you and provide a link to the picture.

Well I was contacted a while back about using a picture I shot  of a sushi-on-a-conveyer cafe in London, called Yo! Sushi, and of course I game them permission! It’s basically a travel review site and I guess they source the pictures from Flickr subscribers and other places to use on their site.

Want to see it? Here it is! Not a massive thing but it’s still pretty cool. I’m happy with it 😀

Podcasts

No, this isn’t a post about me wanting to do a podcast, rather this is about the podcasts I listen to.

In case you’re not familiar with podcasts, in simple terms they are radio shows that you download from the internet and listen to on your computer or MP3 player. Like radio shows, there are loads of different types of podcasts, with topics like humor, music, information, news, topical stuff, whatever you like. If you have software like iTunes installed (I prefer Juicer, which is open source) you can look for and subscribe to podcasts and the software will automatically look for the latest updates and download them for you to listen to at your liesure.

To subscribe to these podcasts, just check out this simple instructions page from one of the podcasts I listen to.

Here are some of the podcasts I listen to regularly now, with links to their podcast feeds (i.e., subscription links):
The Kevin & Bean Show on KROQ – a morning radio show from LA/Orange county in southern California. KROQ is an ‘alternative rock’ station that plays a lot of new rock acts. Very student-y demographic. Their podcasts are updated every day with the best bits of each morning’s show.
The Mark & Brian Show on KLOS – another morning show from the same area. An older demographic and sometimes they put up their funnier routines online.
7th Son novel – the author of this series of novels reads a chapter for each podcast. Kind of a thriller/government conspiracy kind of book
Kill the Desktop – a newish podcast, these are a couple of guys who talk about techie stuff pertaining to web-based software packages
Diggnation – the guys who run the ‘social news’ site Digg.com talk about the top stories submitted by members every week
TWiT – This Week in Tech, this is hosted by one of the guys from Tech TV and he has different guests on each week to talk about the latest tech/gadget/geek news
Cnet Buzz Out Loud – a daily tech podcast
Beyond Organic – A US-based podcast that goes into some detail about the latest in organic foods, including government controls, etc.

Podcasts I’m trying out:
TwistCast – got this link from the 7th Son guy I think, these are young British guys who go on about various things. I’ve only listened to a couple of their shows so far.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – this guy goes into a bit of detail about various historical periods
Children of the Gods – nope, not anything to do with van Daniken, this is another podcast novel that basically extends the story of Independence Day, and the events that happen after the movie.
TWiG – This Week in Geek…sci-fi geek, not gadget/computery geek!

And a very strange podcast:
RPGMP3 – basically, a group of gamers playing Dungeons & Dragons. I listened to this one for a few minutes until I realized…well, I already *play* it, I don’t need to *listen* to people playing it!

If you’re new to podcasts or want to search for podcasts you might be interested, check out these sites:
Podcast411.com – gives you the basics on how to listen to podcasts
Podcast.net
digitalpodcast.com
podcastcentral.com

And if you are interested in sci-fi and fantasy podcasts, here are two I just found out about and will be checkingout: sffaudio.com and dragonpage.com

As far as the program to use, I recommend Juicer, which used to be called iPodder. It’s free and open source. You can also use iTunes, but if you’ve got an iPod or a Mac you probably already use this – if so, you can just do a search for any of the titles above.

Periodic Table of the Internet

Well I thought I knew about a lot of sites, but this Periodic Table of the Internet has definitely shown me the way! I’ve found a lot of sites I didn’t know about, like Unclutterer and Found Magazine.

I bet there are a ton on there that people reading this haven’t tried, like Freecycle, Ubuntu.com, Homestar Runner and Venganza.com (home of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!). Give it a shot, even if you think the internet is stupid and a waste of time. There’s a few fun sites on the table but there are tons of really useful and helpful ones!