Stop using the Internet! 4 ways to maintain your online privacy

The other day I was thinking about new shoes.  I went to Google and typed in “Keen Mary Janes”. Now, all I see when I’m on my computer (and phone!) are ads for Keens and ads for Mary Janes.  So much for my online privacy… I keep wondering if I do decide to buy them will the ads disappear and I’ll start seeing ads for a different product that I’ve Googled.

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy lately, ever since the House & Senate passed a bill last month in favor of blocking internet privacy rules.  You can read more about that here.  This bill essentially gives Internet Service Providers more leeway in selling our searching info to advertisers.

There are ways to keep our data more private, one of them being setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). That’s a little over my head, so I’ve asked Chris to write a blog about that.  In the meantime, there are four pretty easy ways of keeping your searching history more private.

Online Privacy – What can you do?

You could….

Well, you could just stop using the Internet.  No more email. No more Facebook and other Social Media. No more online shopping sprees.  No more checking the news online.  Yeah, like that’s gonna happen!

Or, you could….

Do all of your shopping in person.  With cash.  Without signing into the store’s reward program. A good friend of mine once went to a store and bought a pair of pink Ugg boots for a friend with cash.  Unfortunately she did use the store’s reward card.  For weeks afterwards she got ads on her computer for Uggs!

Or, maybe….

You can go to your local library.  As long as you don’t sign in to your email or any other account, your online privacy is maintained.  You can search for anything while you’re there without worrying about what your ISP will see.  You can print off the relevant pages, fork over 10¢ or 20¢ per page,  and be on your way.

Realistically….DuckDuckGo helps protect your online privacy

You can use apps that protect your privacy.  Two that come to mind are DuckDuckGo for Internet searches and What’sApp for texting.  I like What’s App’s description of their end-to-end encryption:

“WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is available when you and the people you message use the latest versions of our app. Many messaging apps only encrypt messages between you and them, but WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. This is because your messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and you have the special key needed to unlock and read them.”  Here’s the link to download WhatsApp to your Smartphone or tablet.

It’s easy to change your default search engine on the iPhone to DuckDuckGo.  Click on the Settings icon, then scroll down to Safari.  Click on Safari and select your preferred Search Engine. On your computer, just bookmark the DuckDuckGo page and use it whenever you do a search.  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and am not noticing a difference in the quality of responses to my searches.

Using DuckDuckGo and WhatsApp doesn’t protect you 100% but it does help you maintain some online privacy.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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My Favorite Websites

Several months ago, I blogged about Chris’ favorite websites.  People keep asking me what mine are so here goes!

Searching:

For searching, I prefer Google over all the other search sites like Bing or Yahoo.  I think it’s results are accurate – it finds what I am looking for, especially if I use the provided search tools, like Images, Video, Date, etc.

News Sites:

I’m a Jersey girl and grew up with the Sunday New York Times – every week!  For a long time I didn’t like it because at my friend’s house, they had a newspaper with comics!  But as I got older, I learned how to read and enjoy it.  Now it’s my go-to website for what’s going on in the world.

I like the Huffington Post for its left-leaning news, and its separate pages for meditation, healthy living, and eastern religions.

I started following Mashable on Twitter ages ago.  Now, the website is my go-to site for news that not everyone is writing about.

Other:

Call me weird, but I have a huge collection of books.  I like LibraryThing because it helps me keep them organized.  You can borrow and lend books with other LibraryThing members too.

Entertainment:

If I ever have a question about a movie, or an actress, or who was that guy in that TV show, I head over to IMdb.com, short for Internet Movie database.

Eagles:

In the spring, there are a couple of webcams pointed at eagle nests.  I found it very relaxing to watch the mama and papa eagles tend the eggs and then the eaglets.  There’s one from Minnesota, one from Georgia, and one from Pennsylvania.  The webcams generally operate from February thru July.

What are your favorite websites?  Let me know why!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at www.GeekForHireInc.com. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.

Internet Searching Tips

Do you ever find yourself frustrated when searching for something on the internet?  You either get too much information, or it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for.  Here are some tips that I use to streamline my searching:

EXACT MATCH:
When you use quotation marks, you only search for what is inside the quotes.  For example:

Coffeehouses “live music”

will bring up all the coffeehouses that have live music.

EXCLUSION:
When you use the minus sign, you’ll exclude that information from your search.  For example:

“Republican candidates” -“Donald Trump”

will bring up information about all the Republican candidates except Donald Trump.

WILD CARD:
When you use the asterisk with another word or phrase, you’ll get lots of different options. For example:

Hollywood *

will provide results like “Hollywood Bowl”, “Hollywood Blacklist”, and “Hollywood movies”.

SPECIFIC WEB SITE:
Do you want to search within a specific web site?  Use “site:website”. For example:

“Jerry Lewis” site:nyt.com

will bring up articles relating to Jerry Lewis on the New York Times site.

MORE:
Have you used Google’s Search Tabs? Underneath Google’s search bar, there are a number of options:

WEB     NEWS     IMAGES     VIDEOS     BOOKS     MORE     SEARCH TOOLS

NEWS:
If you are looking specifically for a news story that occurred in the last 24 hours,  follow these steps:

  1. Enter your search terms in the search bar.
  2. Click on the News tab.
  3. Click on the Search Tools Tab
  4. Click on “Anytime” and select “24 hours” from the drop down menu

IMAGES:
If you’re looking for an image, enter a description in the search bar and click on the Images Tab.  If you want to fine tune your search, you can add other criteria.  Click on “Search Tools” and select the color, type of image, usage rights, etc.

LOCATION:
If you want to find something in a particular location, click on “Search Tools”, then click on “Location”, then type in where you would like to search.  For example:

“Hot Springs” California

will bring up a list of all the hot springs in California.

Have you used these tips before for searching?  Are there other tips you use?  Please share them in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.