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Michael Gracie

Blocking Facebook, Completely

A long while back I deleted my Facebook account. Yes it was a large pain in the ass, but not nearly as bothersome as the potential risk of having such a thoroughly untrustworthy group – downright devious if you consider they change their privacy terms seemingly by the hour – holding a constantly updated dossier of oneself. I have avoided the site like the plague since. If I accidentally passed by I would immediately clear browsing history and caches.

Nevertheless, a few months back I observed browser cookies showing up from Facebook, so I added a Little Snitch rule to block all processes for facebook.com.

fb-ls-rule

Soon after I noticed that Instagram photos embedded in sites no longer displayed in my browser. Bonus! I was henceforth free from drunken selfies, cat gonads, and $30 spinach salads laden with moldy cheese and anchovies.

But the question lingered: How many other points of entry might not be blocked here? After all it’s a huge ‘organization’, and they’ve probably conjured a myriad of stealthy domains for the purpose of pinging, tracking, recording, and otherwise intruding. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one asking.

Enter one Jonathan Dugan, technology consultant and entrepreneur from the Bay area. He offers a blocklist for Facebook, via Github, and from the looks of it is an extremely thorough one indeed. Over 880 distinct domains, one heck of a long list.

dugan-github

It is constructed for use on Windows, Mac and Linux; all you need capability-wise is editing your computer’s host file. You can find this dream come true right here.

process-blocked-lsThank you sir.

Meanwhile, I’ve downloaded and edited this blocklist, removing the loopback IP addresses so it can be utilized easily within Little Snitch. You can find that here (plain text 26kb, which will not be updated past today). 100% credit goes to the previously mentioned originator, and copy/paste works like a charm.

MG signing off (safe from prying eyes)

If you are not doing anything wrong…

“…then you have nothing to worry about.”

drudgeheadlines060813

Haven’t heard it said yet, but imagine it’s coming. At least I no longer have to explain why I don’t participate in social media though; merely pointing is so much easier.

MG signing off (because the best human interactions are face-to-face, irrespective of what the headlines say)

Intel Official: Say Goodbye to Privacy

I think Donald Kerr is correct on the first bit, and naive on the latter:

“Privacy no longer can mean anonymity. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguards people’s private communications and financial information.”

Anonymity has always been a tool for ill means. But, the government is hardly capable of safeguarding people’s communications, and big companies will hide behind their terms of service (and their lobbying efforts). In other words, there are zero remedies for the little guy.

Everyone loses, but I’d say those hardest hit will be the ones who entrust their data to online services; that data doesn’t need to be actively “intercepted” – instead it’s just mined at will. The winners might be companies like PGP, as well as anyone manufacturing large, portable data storage devices.

UPDATE: Tim Lee‘s take.

No Child Left Behind working after all?

nochildlb.jpgThe folks I know in the education space, including some teachers, a few policy makers, and the higher-ups at a couple of for-profit institutions, have pissed and moaned about the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind program. I’ve heard funding is the big issue, but I can’t opine on the matter myself, as education just isn’t my “business.” But I see a covert signs that NCLB is actually working.
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