Category Archives: Web Tool

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


Cyber Attack Map

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Cyber Security – The company Norse, which is one of the major cyber security players, offers a “real-time” cyber attack map. I can’t embed the page here, but you can follow that link and see it your self. The image above is a screen shot I took as I was writing this post. It offers various filters that you can choose to narrow your view of the cyber attacks being displayed.

As the article “Cyber Attack Maps…Accurate Or Just Eye Candy?” points out, this (and the other similar maps mentioned in the article) “real-time” map is really more symbolic of what is happening than a true “real-time” depiction of all of the malware activity. That said it is a very good tool to show people the magnitude of the cyberattacks going on around the world.

You may want to add a link to one of these sites to your collection of Web Tools.

Web Tools – SpeedOf.Me

Updated 12/2/15

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.14.22 PM

Have you ever been using your computer and wondered if you were really getting the bandwidth you were paying for? Well, you can easily find out your up and down speeds with this useful HTML5 web tool. SpeedOf.Me is a web site that can be used to determine those up and down data speeds, and it is done without installing any apps on your system, nor does it require Flash or Java.

The SpeedOf.Me site was created four years ago in December of 2011. In less than a minute this web page running locally in your browser will run a seven pass download test followed by a three pass upload test. This will give you a quick snapshot of the performance of your broadband connection.

Test file sizes for download passes increase with each pass until it takes longer than eight seconds to download the file. Test file sizes range from 128KB to 128MB, doubling the file size between passes. The test files are all contiguous files, similar to what you, as a user, would be doing. Test servers from which the test files are downloaded and uploaded are spread around the world.

While the test will work with any browser supporting HTML5, the SpeedOf.Me folks recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari for the best results.

I found this to be a great took and have added it to my bookmarks for future use.

UPDATE – One of my colleagues from CapMac contacted me after reading my post. He had compared SpeedOf.Me to others web tools and found some variation in the results. I followed up with similar tests and also found different speeds being reported. My first guess is that the methods of measuring the upload/download speed differs between these tools. That said, here is a table of the tools I tried and the results. These tests were run from the same Mac Mini over a 10 minute period.

Tool Technology Browser Download Mbps Upload Mbps
SpeedOf.Me HTML5 Safari Version 9.0.1 (11601.2.7.2) 8.31 1.53
SpeedOf.Me HTML5 Chrome
47.0.2526.73 (64-bit)
8.3 1.4 HTML5 Safari Version 9.0.1 (11601.2.7.2) 7.6 1.4 HTML5 Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.8 1.3 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.71 1.41 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.61 1.46 Flash Chrome Version 47.0.2526.73 (64-bit) 7.60 1.46


See my other Web Tool articles