Browser privacy settings

If you run Chrome or Firefox or any other of the popular browsers you can do a few things to the settings in order to keep your data a little more private.

I’m talking more specifically about Google Chrome right now, but the same concept applies to all.

Here’s some settings to look for:

  • Turn off sync and services
  • Turn off offer to save passwords
  • Turn off payment methods
  • Turn off Addresses and more
  • Turn off allow Chrome Sign in
  • Turn ON Do Not Track
  • Turn off Allow sites to check for payment methods
  • Turn off Preload Pages
  • Site Settings – Notifications – Do not allow any sites to use notifications or prompt for them

These are just a few of the settings you can use to your advantage with any browser. Just make sure you check all your settings before using a specific web browser.

Web browser

Browser wars are boring. Try them all and test them all. Find one you like the best and use it.

Browsers can be a nice swiss army knife of the web if you wish. Find one with plugins that are useful to you.

I would like to point out a recent favorite of mine, Vivaldi, does have some fine compatibility on Mac OS X as well as a great set of plugins and options. If you want to check it out: Vivaldi. It also has an interesting history.

Custom Arch Install

Specifications

Hardware: Lenovo N23, Celeron(R) CPU N3060 @ 1.60GHz, 4GB DDR3L, 32GB eMMC, Touchscreen, 802.11 AC (2×2) WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0

Linux Kernel: 4.15.9-1-ARCH

Filesystem: XFS, EFI, Swap

Display Server: X11

Display Manager: LXDM

Desktop Environment: LXDE

Theme: Adapta-GTK

Browser: Firefox

Package list: 
xorg, lxde, bluez, bluez-utils, pulseaudio-alsa, pulseaudio-bluetooth, networkmanager, network-manager-applet, ttf-droid, ttf-roboto, chromium, firefox, hexchat, p7zip, htop, xterm, guvcview, rclone, rsync, cups, hplip, python-pyqt5, base-devel, adapta-gtk-theme, wireshark-gtk, nmap

AUR Packages:
visual-studio-code-bin

Netbook Project

I jumped all-in on the Google Cloud.

The idea was to purchase a Chromebook. They were a little too expensive. I went with a N23 from Lenovo. I love the design of the notebook. It’s small screen, tight case and touchscreen are awesome. It doesn’t win awards for storage space or processor/memory, but it sure does suit my needs.

I thought about installing Chromium OS on it, but I really just skipped right to Linux. Choosing the distro wasn’t hard, but I did give my old friend, Fedora, a try before deciding on Arch.

It turns out the more I learn, the more I love about Arch Linux. It’s allowed me to completely customize the software on the N23. It’s not bloated like recent Fedora Workstation releases were. Believe me, I tried to run my old favorite distro. It was way to system resource intensive and the screen rotation was generic, and the list goes on. For the N23 I needed a lightweight distribution. With Arch, it can be whatever you want. It’s up to you how bloated you want it to be. Arch was easy to install using the documentation (which is excellent). It works very well for what I will use this netbook for. It allows the user to totally build what they need from the ground up. It’s genius.

Currently, I’m using the KDE Plasma Desktop Environment and Chrome. This is a pretty good combination on this device.

So far, the experience with Arch Linux and its community has been very good. I’m looking forward to being part of it.

Obviously, I highly recommend Arch. Please take a look at their website and learn about its awesomeness.

Update: 031418

I really want to get the most out of the hardware on the N23 so, I’m using LXDE which uses %60 less memory then Plasma. So far, I love LXDE simplicity and minimalist style. It leaves plenty of memory for other applications too.

Update: 031518

Using Arch and LXDE, my system config is as good as it gets. Fast, reliable, efficient. It’s not bloated. 
Only the packages I want and services I want are running. It’s magical. Arch has allowed me to fully taylor my OS and applications to suit my hardware and needs. I’m enjoying this for the moment and will let you know how it all turns out.

Linux Customizations

Linux is a free and open source kernel available to the world to use and modify free of charge. Since it’s introduction in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, Linux has been customized and built upon to meet the needs of a variety of complex environments. It runs many of the devices and servers we use every day. The customizations are numerous.

When you delve into the world of Linux, you’ll find many people with opinions on what application, Desktop Environment, Distrobution, etc. is best for this or that. You’ll also find that it’s difficult to keep your goals in sight because of the fog of so many opinions. Just remember that no one can know your environment better than you, and only you should determine what works best for your situation.

If you just don’t know…do the research. Don’t let other people make the determination for you.

There are many different Kernels, Distributions, Desktop Environments, Window Managers, Terminal Emulators, Text Editors, Database platforms, Web servers, Coding languages, etc. It’s all so much to handle at once, so you’ll really want to do research for yourself and find what will work for your needs.

What works for me:

I’ve been working with Linux servers for nearly 20 years. With that said, I’ve been using Fedora as a desktop OS since 2003 and before that, Mandrake. I’ve been accustomed to the Gnome desktop environment ever since. A few weeks ago, after many years of being away from Linux desktop, I’ve taken the plunge once again and found more than a few useful tools. As a desktop system, Manjaro meets and exceeds my needs as an OS. The desktop environment Gnome is useful as well, especially on a tablet (MS Surface Pro 3). However, while doing research, I found that an old friend Xfce desktop environment has come a long way since the last time I used it. I won’t go into the reasons why it meets my needs, just know that it’s what I consider to be the top solution. So, with Manjaro as a OS and Xfce as a desktop environment I am able to customize my Linux box further by installing pre-packaged software with a few simple keystrokes. Manjaro uses the same package manager as Arch Linux (pacman) which makes installing and removing packages a snap. Testing has never been easier. When it comes to toolkits, mine includes the following:

  • nmap
  • Wireshark
  • bind-tools
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Firefox
  • ownCloud
  • GIMP

After all my research and testing, the OS and software described above is what works for me personally. I don’t expect you to use my exact configuration and I won’t judge you by your configuration. There are people in the Linux world that get in their sandbox about which software is better than Xyz, etc.. but I’m a realist. What works for others may not work for you. Do your research and come up with an awesome, unique solution that meets and exceeds your needs either as a business or an individual.

Chrome in pwn2own

Another reason Chrome is awesome and my number 1 browser. Although I can’t run my VMWare server interface or Netflix….but that’s coming. Click HERE

Microsoft Bing

After about a month or so of use, I’ve found Bing to be a great search engine. Excuse me Decision Engine. Anyways, it works like it should and looks great. The only thing I would develop more is the Map area. In Google Maps you can click and drag a different route. Not to mention Google’s Street View. But, your map is coming along with options like Traffic. I’d say maps are about 30% of my purpose for using Bing anyway. Other than that, good job Microsoft! This is a great product. So great, in fact, that Yahoo has announced they will use it for Yahoo Search. Looks promising for you Bing! I’m a supporter.

For more information on Bing you can visit: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bing_(search_engine)
http://www.discoverbing.com/
www.bing.com

Parallels: Vista Ultimate

Installation of Vista Ultimate on my MacBook went very well. After the install I noticed a couple of things I would’ve liked to see. I did lose some functionality, but that’s expected when you’re in a virtualized environment. Or is it? I would think that by now Microsoft and Parallels would have driver issues ironed out. Installing Parallels Tools was simple and it provides the feel that I’m going for. I like how you don’t have to press CTRL + ALT to release the mouse from the virtual machine. I also like the auto display setting when I resize the Parallels window. Other than that I didn’t notice much else that Parallels Tools helped me with, but there may be some under the hood changes. So, let’s begin discussing the bugs.

The first bug I noticed (and it’s small) was that the Windows Experience Index calculator wouldn’t work. This is not really a functionality, nor does it hinder my ability to process, but it’s still something I’d like to know.

The second bug is a little more severe. Somehow, I can only use the Shared Networking option in order to connect to my network in Vista. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve tried several settings. My MacBook is connected to a wireless router using DHCP. One would think that connecting Parallels to the Airport would allow Vista to pick up an IP, but no dice. It may be that I have to play around with it more.

The third bug is the sound. Windows sounds are good, but when I try to play any of my mp3s or movies, it gets choppy. This is upsetting especially when I’m trying to really test out Media Center and Media Player.

I know that if I wanted everything to work fine I would have to install Vista Ultimate on its own machine. I’m torn here and have yet to find the heart to put a lot of money into a Vista workstation yet. I know that eventually I’ll have to, but until then I’ll probably just deal with these flaws in a virtualized environment. Anyways, it’s a good OS so far and i think it does have some real potential. I mean, what else is there for businesses, really? Don’t say the *nix word because I’m not quite sure that businesses are really ready to adopt Linux for their workstations just yet. That’s another topic I’ll touch on at a later date. For now, let’s end with Windows Vista is notĀ allĀ that bad on a virtualized environment and has great potential as the next generation business workstation.

Cool new toys

Yesterday I went to a Microsoft {heroes} launch event. It was awesome. Free Mountain Dew, lunch bags (with food) and free software. Aside from all the free stuff I was pleased to find that it didn’t all seem like a big marketing seminar. I was actually impressed when the Evangelist (Kevin Remde) got into some nitty gritty of Windows Server 2008 product. Here is a link to his blog where you can find more info.

All in all I really enjoyed learning more about Windows Server 2008 capabilities. Their software seems really good. Now, the only question remains is Is it good for my company? or How can we use that technology here?. Those are the only other questions I must ponder as a Sys Admin.

One of the big features I’m interested in is Virtualization with Hyper-V. I really liked seeing it in action. It was only the beta version Kevin demoed so it had some bugs (one of which we were able to witness).

At the end of the event we were all given copies of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Basic 2008 and Windows Vista Ultimate. This was really AWESOME!!! We were all told it is to be used for evaluation and testing purposes only. As a matter of fact I’ve installed Vista on my MacBook and am using it right now to type this blog. Pretty nifty software if you ask me. It’s not for everyone, but its pretty nice. Some of the features resemble OSX features closely. Things like the Windows sidebar with Gadgets. Anyways, I’m not doing a review of Vista just yet, but you get the idea. Vista has some great potential and I’m looking forward to continue to test it.

Necessities for your PC

***Obviously Out of Date in today’s world 092917*** I’m writing this thinking that your already know what I’m going to say, but surprisingly enough many don’t. There are a couple of applications that don’t come with windows (or do, but are not effective) that need to be installed in order to protect your PC as much as possible. Windows XP Service Pack 2 addresses the issue of the Firewall and updates, but lacks the functionality that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that my PC is protected. Really, the Antivirus protection side of Windows Security only offers a warning that your computer is not protected by AntiVirus software. Installing the Antivirus software is up to the user.

Here is a list of software that your PC needs:

I know common sense is just plain common sense, but it needs to be said.

One might believe that obtaining this extra software is costly, but you’d be surprized. There are a number of companies out there that offer this software for free in hopes you will purchase the full or corporate versions.

Feel free to discuss even more effective free alternatives to this type of protection software.