I Am Not Your Product

July 30, 2019

I’ve decided to go on a war against Google and frankly any company where I’m the product. This is going to be a long and drawn out war, with many battles to be fought. Our house is primarily an iOS/Apple household, no Android or Windows to be found. We have a number of personal devices and of course, millions of accounts online. I’m not expecting my lovely wife to go along with this battle until I figure it all out, so I’ll be doing this on my own VLANs and SSIDs for now.

I’m okay being uncomfortable for the sake of my own privacy. Yes, I’m aware that I will still be tracked in various ways, but I’m not going to make it easy on them. My primary focus is to make things hard to be targeted by Google’s ads not be “invisible”. Although being “invisible” online has it’s own sexy appeal, I’m just not ready to forgo my Credit Cards and the points they offer for complete anonymity. Not to mention online shopping.

You’ll see me update the sections below as I make more headway with each one, eventually adding more sections as I go.

First things first, switching my search engine.

DuckDuckGo

I made the switch to DuckDuckGo a long time ago for my search engine, and have been rather pleased. It’s an easy switch to make, go do it now, I’ll wait.

Firefox

I ditched Chrome and use Firefox. Sometimes I’ll use Safari, but most of the time it’s Firefox.

Protonmail

Next was ditching Gmail. This is a longer battle that you’ll have to fight for a while. I wasn’t about to forward everything over, so I figured I’d manually change a few things up front and then keep tabs on the account and update as necessary. To make life easy, I created a new account with Protonmail that starts with the same username as my Gmail account. Last time I tried to make the switch to Protonmail I ended up bailing because they didn’t have Calendars yet. They still don’t have Calendars, but they will very soon (September from what I hear).

I exported my GPG key and then imported it into Protonmail. I am very cautious using keys that I have generated, rather than utilizing ones that are generated by someone else. The good news is, Protonmail makes this easy. Settings > Keys > Import Key

PiHole

Google is everywhere. So many websites use Google Analytics and Google Adwords. On top of Google, there are hundreds of other tracking sites out there. A huge way to help blocking all of these tracking sites is to install Pihole on your network. We’ve got one deployed on our primary VLANs for wifi and ethernet, but for this test I’m going to be getting a little more aggressive with my blocklists. For this, I decided I would deploy another Pihole dedicated for my testing on a dedicated VLAN and SSID. This ensures that I’m not frustrating my wife when I break things. Deploying Pihole is easy, so I’m not going to walk you through it, instead I’ll show and link out to my blocklists.

I’ll be using this blocklist as a base and then expanding from there.

Thankfully all of my required sites for work still function while blocking Google, with of course the exception of GSuite. We utilize GSuite sparingly at work, so I’m not going to be missing out on much.

Syncthing

I’m working on migrating both Google Drive accounts and Dropbox accounts to Syncthing. Since Syncthing is a self-hosted solution, I’ll need to get some nodes set up to host it. I will be utilizing ODroid HC1’s with 2TB SSDs that I’ll place at my in-laws, a friends and my dad’s homes. This will give me a geographically distributed network that should protect my data.

Pictures/Videos

Where on earth to sync all of our pictures and videos? In the end, we want all of them available in Syncthing on our computers and on our phones. I’ll be digging into this a bit deeper.

Plex

I’m in the middle of writing a post about our switch to Plex instead of continuing to use Netflix and HBO. We’re very disappointed in the availability of shows and the upcoming fracturing of the number of streaming services that we will need to subscribe to in order to get to the shows and movies we want to watch.

Website(s)

My blog is built using Jekyll and is currently hosted on Github. As much as I love how easy it is to host with Github Pages, I need to find a self hosted home for it.

Bookmarks

I need something to backup and sync my bookmarks. Right now I’m looking at Reminiscence but haven’t tried to implement it yet.

Gitlab

I’ve been hosting this blog on Github Pages, but I will be moving it to a self hosted Gitlab instance, which then builds the blog in a Jekyll container, outputting the _site folder to a VPS or two. These VPSs will be spread across multiple providers, then load balanced using Nginx or Caddy. For sure, this is another post coming soon!