Today’s Tech Tips!

Using Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 10 or OS X and a bit frustrated? If not and completely satisfied, then ignore this post. However if not…

Give Linux a try.

At work I support Windows and Mac machines.

At home I use exclusively Linux for the last decade or so, and it has only gotten exponentially better in that period, till today Microsoft is incorporating Linux pieces into their newest versions of Windows, including giving away Windows 10 for free and collusion with hardware vendors in an attempt to make using Linux more difficult.

And despite all that… Linux Distros just keep getting better.

It’s fun. It’s loaded with apps and utilities and the ability to download same for free.

There are tons of tutorials to help you every step of the way.

And did I mention it was fun. 🙂

Now the biggest thing about Linux on the laptop/desktop is which version do you choose.

Distrowatch which has just celebrated its 15th anniversary, is the best place to learn about and find new Linux Distributions.

Two good ones they have recently covered are:

Gentoo Linux’s new LIVE DVD is a great place to start (The livedvd-x86-amd64-32ul-20160514 ISO which will work on 32-bit x86 or 64-bit x86_64 systems)
http://distrowatch.com/?newsid=09415

and

Debian
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=debian

Use the links to try them!

Now, I do think it is a shame that hardware vendors are releasing new laptops, that while they give us a slimmer size, do so at the expense of DVD/CD players and more importantly longevity and stability. I’ve had the chance to support these newer laptops that are coming out and they are almost across the board, ready to fail in the first year.

It’s close to criminal.

In a future update I’ll review some newer laptops that are still worth your money, but honestly get yourself an older generation Dell Latitude 6430 ATG series, wipe it and put Linux on it, and you have yourself a tank in the form of a computer that will last you years. Like a tank it’s not slim and it’s not the lightest, but hey that’s what your tablet is for. However for getting down to work, it is a reliable desktop replacement (particularly when using Linux) in a portable size.

Now that we have the basic of what you should be using, here are today’s tweaks!

Firefox version 46.0.1 is out and I probably do not have to sell anyone on using this browser.

However two features that do not come activated out of the gate that you may find useful are:

1/ The DO NOT TRACK ME feature

https://www.bestvpn.com/blog/8499/make-firefox-secure-using-aboutconfig/

and

2/ Block Tracking Attempts

Mozilla launches Tracking Protection feature in Firefox Nightly

And beyond those helpful tips, the biggest tip I can give you for security while surfing the web, keep Javascript disabled for all but trusted sites.

Your webmail, bank, paypal, school site, vendors you buy from. Firefox has an exception list you can use to just give Javascript access to those sites you trust, and the rest you let eat cake. Makes a huge difference in your browser’s vulnerability, by closing down the default attack vendor of giving everyone javascript/programming control of your browser.

If you have found this post helpful, pay it forward by supporting the Electronic Freedom Frontier and becoming a card carrying member.

https://www.eff.org/

If you use the internet, whether via desktop, laptop, tablet, or your refrigerator, these are the guys and gals fighting to keep your digital and therefore physical world, just a little more free.

I’ve been supporting them for three years now, and it’s every year some of the best money I donate. These people are Daniel’s fighting in numerous Lion’s Dens. They are doing noble work.

You can view and support them here:

https://www.eff.org/

Well that’s all for today’s Tech Tips!

Website of the Day: https://www.whatismybrowser.com/

Try it both with and without Javascript turned on and you will see a drastic difference.

Thanks for reading and safe computing!

Linux, Cloud Computing, Trusted computing, Gnome and other technologies to be concerned about!

As much as previous posts have lambasted Microsoft, Linux is not without its faults.

The major one being Linux distros, following in Microsoft’s Footsteps to a degree with the instant on technology, and integration of the web into the desktop experience.

Jumping on the idiotic ‘Cloud’ bandwagon, which is really if you think about it, a process to reduce your desktop to the thin client paradigm of yesterday.

The difference being that rather than trusting a centralized server for serving applications and storage of your sensitive information, the cloud is you trusting the entire internet with access to your desktop and your data. It’s the evolution of this inherently moronic Youtube, Facebook, twitter idiocy where the bulk of people blithely surrendering privacies to strangers at best, and corporations at worst.

Everyone moving to reduce the desktop experience to the same thin client style interface as the mobile experience. Hey it that’s your cup of tea, you want the entirety of your life freely roamed and stored on the internet, well more power to you, though every week brings news of one online database after another being violated and hacked.

Not to say a desktop can’t be hacked, but you’re looking at one point of failure, as opposed to having via peer to peer, and facebook, and gnome, and numerous other sites, now potentially thousands of points of failure, and entry to your sensitive data.

Ubuntu, a great Linux distro, unfortunately is also embracing this ‘no-desktop’ paradigm, as is Gnome with their latest update.

It is not for me.

I want to decide when and if my computer connects to the internet, with this new instant on/cloud push, being shoved down peoples’ throats, you don’t turn on the internet, the internet turns you on… and that is a dangerous and insecure place to go.

Trusted Computing, another Microsoft word game, doesn’t mean you can trust your computer, it means Microsoft and its partners can trust you, because they have every bit of information about what you are doing with your computer.

So Ubuntu, you’re going in the wrong direction. Gnome, you’re going in the wrong direction. And Microsoft … well that goes without saying.

I would suggest people avoiding any version of Gnome later than 3.0, (3.0 has a lot of issues, but it’s a lot to like about it as well, and with a little work you can clean up most of its garbage and built in insecurity) and I do find many Linux distros are heading toward this cloud idiocy, and becoming problematic because of it (example being Opensuse 11.2? very good, 11.3? not so much, 11.4? pretty darn broken. However Gnome 3.0 on top of 11.4 does resolve many of 11.4s issues).

So, in summation, just research your computing options with care, and realize that ease of use, at some point becomes ease of abuse.

Word to the wise.