Category Archives: Android

Tech Tip – Private Browsing with StartPage

Product ReviewmacOS Toolkit – I don’t recall where I first saw StartPage, but I installed the extension into Safari a few weeks ago and have been using it on a regular basis.

So, what is StartPage? StartPage is a search engine company based in the Netherlands. The potential benefits of StartPage include:

  • it is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies
  • it uses secure connections over HTTPS
  • it does not collect search information
  • it provides private click-throughs using a proxy

The basis of the search engine results is Google, so the results of the searches are as good as any when using StartPage. StartPage is provided by Ixquick “the world’s most private search engine. Ixquick has been third-party certified by EuroPriSe, a European Union privacy initiative.” If you visit the StartPage website, you will see the very prominent statement that “StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!“. Many have become concerned with this as some ISPs have begun to ‘harvest’ search history information from their clients.

Beyond the search anonymity, sites listed in the StartPage search results are accessed through a proxy service that “allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 2.10.56 PM

A portion of a search using StartPage is shown above. In the list of search results will be links very similar to those seen in a Google search. If you click on a link there, you leave the protection of StartPage and are browsing just as if you had been using Google. There is a “proxy” button besides each link in the search list. If you click that link then the page is retrieved through a StartPage proxy making your website visit invisible. You will encounter slower page loading when going through the proxy. StartPage provides a full description of how their proxy works here.

I think that this will become a standard part of my macOS Toolbox. While I am using StartPage with Safari, it is compatible with most browsers. There is also a Ixquick Search App that provides anonymous searching on mobile (iOS and Android) devices.  If you are concerned with your web browsing privacy, this may be an option you want to look into.


See my other macOS articles


 

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Another Source of Tech Information

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-1-45-23-pm

I saw a article about How-To Geek, an online tech magazine, and thought that it might be something of interest to my readers.  It includes articles targeted at both the technical and general readers.

The site was founded in 2006. Articles are divided into the categories of Windows, Linux, Office, Gadgets, Mobile, Hardware, Apple, and Geek School. This might be a good addition to your ‘tech’ leisure reading.

I have subscribed to their RSS feed so that I get all of their articles in my RSS reader (I use the FOSS program Vienna).

Review of Slack

Updated 3/11/16

slack_rgb

What is Slack? Slack is a collaboration tool for groups that was developed under the leadership of Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield. It allows for synchronous communications from a variety of devices. Messages can be sent to groups or individuals
on a Slack Team. The groups are collected in ‘Channels’ and any message posted to the Channel is readable by any member of the Channel. The Channel members can also scroll back to see what messages have been exchanged in the past.

Channels are organized into both public and private categories, with the private Channels restricting members to be added by invitation only. One-on-one communications between individual Slack Team members are private. The tool allows messages, files,
images, links . . . a variety of information to be shared. Messages are searchable so past posts can easily be found.

Every Slack Team has a ‘general’ channel which all Team members are automatically a member of. Additional channels can be created as needed by the Team. The @ character can be used when writing a message to alert an individual, or all of the members of a given channel of the new message.

Multi Device Group

Slack is a cross platform solution:

  • Web interface from any browser
  • Apps for mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Apps for OS X (10.9+), Windows (7+) and Linux

Pricing of the service is available at three levels:

  • Free
  • Standard $8/mo. – unlimited integrations, unlimited searches
  • Plus $12/mo.  – more features above Standard

I have been using the Free account for a few months now and find it to be extremely useful. The Free account is limited to browsing and searching only the last 10,000 most recent messages, but that is more than enough for my use cases. I particularly like that I receive notifications on my Apple Watch when a new post has been made. It is much quicker and easier to glance at my watch instead of getting my iPhone out.

Several of us within the IEEE Central Texas Section have been using the tool and it has been very helpful in planning events. The Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac) has recently begun using it as well. Even though I was out of town last weekend, Slack let me interact with other on the CapMac board to plan our last meeting. Once you begin to use Slack you may want to reach out to other established, public Teams. You can visit Slofile and there search their database of public Slack communities.

Slack has good information for new users on how they can get started including a brief video tour. Slack can be set up to allow any to join, allow any from a give set of email URLs to join, or join by invitation only.

Pros

  • Has a Free level of service
  • Supports multiple Slack Teams
  • Cross platform
  • Use of ‘channels’ to voluntarily collect similar posts
  • Good ‘Getting Started’ resources
  • Flexibility in controlling participation
  • Large and growing list of public Slack Teams
  • Works with Apple Watch

Cons

  • Wish more integrations were available for the Free level
  • no conversation ‘threads’

I highly recommend this App and service. Whether you choose to use it for your business, club or just your extended family, it is a great and easy way to communicate.

References:

  1. What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds – added 3/11/16

See my other iOS, OS X and Web Tools articles