Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

How to search the web while protecting your privacy

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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They want to know everything about you

It is no secret that every advertising-funded site (Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Bing, etc) works very hard to build a complete profile about you. They want to know as much as possible so they can sell expensive highly targeted advertisements.

Every search you perform, every site you visit, every link you click is recorded and analyzed.

You live in a filter bubble

The profile we talked about above is also used to return information the site believes you will like most (therefore making themselves more sticky). this is the filter bubble problem.

The site (e.g. Google) will return results that it believes are aligned with your view and this is what we call the filter bubble. At some point, you will stop seeing other opinions or points of view. In the most extreme examples, it can reinforce certain questionable points of view such as the earth is flat or other similar prejudices.

How do I search the web privately

There are many search engines that promise private searches but the problem with most is that they crawl the web themselves and their index of the web just isn’t as good as Google. This is where startpage.com comes in. It allows you to search using the Google web index without giving up your privacy.

  • Startpage.com does not log user activity and does not perform any type of user tracking or profiling

  • Startpage.com allows you to browse any of the pages returned in a search query anonymously

  • Startpage.com is based in the Netherlands which has better privacy protection than the US

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Ok but are the search results good?

  • Search results use the Google index so they are as good as can be without profiling you to customize the response

  • The results layout page is clean and uncluttered

  • You can search the web, images or videos


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  • You have all of the advanced search options you could need (including words contained, avoiding certain words, dates, domains, language, file type, etc)

  • Some searches won’t contain ads and those that do clearly mark them with the word Ad

  • You can browse any search result link using their free anonymous browsing option (called Anonymous View)

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When you browse using the Anonymous View, the webpage is surrounded by a blue frame

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How it makes money

Startpagecom generates its revenue from clearly marked search ads and affiliate links.

These ads are not targeted (since they do not profile visitors).

The ads are segregated from the actual search results so as not to confuse the visitor.


Tell me more about Startpage.com’s privacy

Since most of its users originate from the US, Startpage.com has search servers located in the US to speed up searches. These servers are said to be hardened and properly secured.

This should be perfectly acceptable to most users but if you are extra paranoid, Startpage.com does offer users the option of choosing non-USA servers.

Their privacy claims have been independently verified (read this).

They have never showed up on any blacklist (that I can find)

They have an A+ rating from the Qualys SSL Labs site


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Don't buy the Zendure SuperPort or SuperTank

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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The Zendure SuperPort and SuperTank are positively talked about on hundreds of blogs throughout the internet. I ordered (I paid for it) 2 SuperPort USBC chargers and a SuperTank 27,000 mAh battery. Both devices have the same design defect. When you have something plugged into the 100-watt port and then plug/unplug another device in the 60-watt port, it resets the 100-watt port every time.

My first 2 SuperPorts were sent back to Zendure for engineering review and the 2 replacements also exhibit the same behaviour. I just tested the SuperTank and can confirm it does the exact same thing.

I have been a Zendure fan and own all of their previous devices. None of them have this same defect. At this point I would recommend you look at other brands for your battery and wall charging needs. I have gone back to my Omnicharge Pro USBC for my battery and will carry an Elecjet and RavPower GAN USBC wall charger.

How to install Firefox on a Chromebook

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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There are many reasons why you may want to install Firefox on a Chromebook (could be for security, privacy or just as a technical challenge). You could install the Android app but that isn’t a full featured browser. Here are the instructions on how to install it in the Linux container.

Go to Settings

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Search for Linux and Turn it On.

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You will get the installation window. Continue and let it complete.

Prepare Linux

You will then be presented with the terminal window, run an update then an upgrade.

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sudo apt update
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sudo apt upgrade

Install Firefox on ChromeOS

Now we are ready to install Firefox.

Got to the terminal and enter sudo apt install firefox-esr

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Now you can start Firefox by entering the firefox-esr command to invoke the app.

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If you want to invoke Firefox-Esr but also need your terminal to work (at the same time), use the command firefox-esr &

It's time to evaluate your company

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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As we pass to the second half of the year, many companies start their annual merit review cycle. It is an opportunity for your leaders to evaluate the corpus of your work and determine how much value you delivered to the company (thus deserving a salary adjustment).

What employees often forget is that they too should use this period as an opportunity to determine if they are doing the right job, in the right company & at the right compensation level.

Read my blog entry The “You” Brand

The 4 power questions

  1. Do you like what you are doing?

  2. Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

  3. Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

  4. Are you fairly compensated

As we walk through each of these questions, it is important to remember that there is no "perfect" life partner and there is no "perfect" company. What we are trying to determine is: "Is this company the right one for your at this moment in time".

It is important to evaluate the questions in the order I have presented them.

Do you like what you are doing?

Ask yourself if you (honestly) are excited about the work you are doing. When Friday comes along, do you turn off “work mode” until Monday morning? If you do then you have a job, not a career. It means you are not passionate about your chosen profession and it may be time to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up”.

Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

Many leaders would probably break this question down into 2 separate ones (one for people and one for the company) but I believe they work better together.

You may like your job but do you like the people you are doing it with? There is no perfect environment but overall, do you enjoy collaborating and working with most of your co-workers? Are you surrounded by like-minded people who challenge you and respect you? Do the people you work with care as much about you, as you do for them?

In the same vein, do you like working for your company? Do you share the vision, mission and core values of your company? A 2017 MetLife survey found employees (9/10) would rather work for a company that shared their values than one that offered higher pay. The survey also found that employees were willing to take a 21% pay cut to work for that better-aligned company (jumped to 34% for millennials).

This is also the category I include work-life alignment in. Does the ratio of work-life balance the company expects to, align with what you are looking for?

Obviously, every employee’s requirements are different but the importance of this alignment is undeniable.

If you love your job (question 1) and you love who you work with (where), then work doesn’t feel like work. You can enjoy going to work and living your best life.

Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

Not everyone is looking for career advancement but most of you probably are. Does your company offer a supportive, nurturing environment where you can learn and grow? Are executives willing to take a chance with less experienced employees, allowing them to develop? Are executives willing to coach and guide employees to develop their skills in preparation for future promotion? Last, but not least, does the company promote from within or do they hire most leaders from the outside?

Are you fairly compensated

The question about compensation was purposefully left until the end. Every other question we have examined will feed into this one.

The old 1980's corporate mantra was :

"Employees work just enough not to get fired. Employers pay just enough so employees don't quit".

As stupid as this mantra sounds today, some older leaders still espouse this as a "nugget of wisdom" (do the companies values align with yours?).

The modern strategy of salary management dictates that companies must pay enough so employees aren't stressed about money and spend their mental energy on doing what they do best.

The real-world equation is more complicated and is a subjective evaluation of fair pay within the company (often difficult to judge because the information is not readily available), and compare to other organizations offerings for similar roles.

It is easy to understand why a company that compensates you properly, probably also values your skills and expertise properly.

Remember the MetLife survey, where employees were willing to work for less if the company's values aligned with their own? This is also true about the other 3 questions we previously discussed.

If you feel that the company's values don't align with yours and/or that the company doesn't offer career advancement and/or you dislike the people you work with, you may decide to stay but may demand a higher premium for the extra "suffering".

Conclusion

Ultimately this is a deeply personal introspection and one you must do honestly (regardless if you are a new graduate or a seasoned executive).

Your company evaluates you annually to decide if you are worth keeping, you should do the same and decide if the company is worth staying at.

The Phoozy spacesuit for your smartphone

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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What is a Phoozy?

The Phoozy is a NASA space-suit inspired jacket for your phone that protects it from the searing rays of the sun or the frigid battery killing cold of winter.

Have you ever gone to the beach and noticed your phone refusing to start with a temperature warning message (even though it was "protected" from the sun by a sun-umbrella?) The same happens at the other temperature extreme where the phone refuses to start because the components are too cold and the phone tries to protect itself.

The Phoozy is a well-insulated purpose-built capsule (made out of space material used to protect astronauts). The Chromium Thermal Barrier can reflex up to 90% of the sun's heating rays.

This is an important distinction some online testers didn't remember. These geniuses cooked their phones in the oven or left it in their locked cars, then complained the Phoozy didn't work. The Phoozy is not air conditioning, and work's by reflecting the sun's harmless rays but won't help if the ambient temperature is oven-like (a car under the direct sun can reach 170 degrees within an hour).

During the summer, I tested the Phoozy while at the beach, hiking or the amusement park. I used an old iPhone as my unprotected test "victim" and my Pixel 2 XL as my protected device. My Phoozy protected device never shut down because of heat, while the control iPhone regularly displayed that dreaded temperature warning message and refused to start until I cooled it down.

Water protection

The Phoozy case is buoyant and will float but the top isn't waterproof sealed (it's velcro). The Phoozy shouldn't be your go-to water protection solution. The fact it will float is a nice to have feature just in case.

Compare the Phoozy Apollo and XP3

I bought and tested the newer XP3. The Apollo & XP3 offer the same sun and cold protection, but the XP3 has slightly more padding (which is better for drop protection), it has attachment points (so you can hook it to the outside of a backpack) and an internal stash pocket (to store cards or cash).

The XP3 easily accommodated 5 credit cards and an iPhone XR, Pixel 2/3XL, or Samsung Galaxy S10.

Conclusion

I love my Phoozy and it has found a permanent place in my everyday carry backpack (which is high praise coming from me). Many colleagues and friends have also bought Phoozys and every one of them is extremely satisfied.

The Phoozy performs as advertised and is well made.

The Apollo XL retails for $29 which is a very fair price for the protection being offered. I believe most customers should opt for the newer XP3, but this retails for $49. I still recommend it, but think they should cut $10 from the price.