Don’t travel to the US if you can. At the border you won’t have any privacy in terms of your digital devices. And bringing a burner and a cleared laptop probably means only trouble. 

Read what a Canadian had to go through when he wanted to visit his boyfriend:

US Customs block Canadian man after reading his Scruff profile

“They said, ‘Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,’ and that was it.

More privacy in your online life

Clickbait is everywhere. This time it is privacy clickbait called “How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour“. The article is mostly not about encryption but enhancing your privacy. The tips in short:

  •  Use 2 Factor-authentication
    You want this. If someone gets their hand on your password, they still need the second factor to open up your account
  • Encrypt your harddrive
    Even with computers you never move, you might want this. Just had a case in the family were a computer got stolen out of the home. With encrypted data at least the thief won’t be able to take advantage of them
  • Turn on your phone’s password protection
    Yep, 4 digits are worthless. Biometrics like your fingerprint can be easily copied1. Watch this talk to understand why:
  • Use different passwords for each service
    When someone opens up one account of yours, they have all your accounts if you always use the same password. Use a password manager to make your like easier. I use Enpass but Keepass and 1Password are good, too.
  • Send private text messages with Signal
    Signal trumps Whatsapp etc. I prefer Threema though. And in the end I still use Whatsapp for some contacts of Jabber with OTR or OMEMO depending on the contacts. Jabber with OMEMO is actually quite good. But on an iPhone Jabber is not that great. Thus stick with Signal or Threema, both are available on Android and iOS. Signal is free and open source. Threema is independent of your telephone number, costs a few bucks and isn’t open source2
  • Your browser’s incognito mode isn’t actually private
    Yeah. That just hides you from other users using your browser. There’s a reason why it is called porn mode.
  • Use Tor
    Yup, Tor will hide anonymize you better than most other stuff. The original article has tips how to use it on Android. On iOS there is Tob. If you want to improve your privacy further on your computer use Tor in Whonix. Or go a step further and use Tor in Whonix on QubesOS which gives you far more security than your OS or even Tails for even more privacy.
  • Use DuckDuckGo
    Yes, DuckDuckGo improves your privacy but unfortunately I have to switch too often to Google 😐

You see, most of the stuff isn’t actually about encryption. Thus some further tips.

You might want to think about e-mail-encryption with S/Mime or GPG. It is a PITA either way. But unencrypted mails are like postcards. And there is still the metadata…so e-mail is actually not that good. But if you have to use mail and want to send sensitive material, use GPG or S/Mime. Btw. if your doctor’s office wants to send you something about your case via mail, it probably breaks the legal requirement concerning confidential medical communication. And this can mean jail time in Germany for example.

In addition: when you use backups, encrypt those as well. It is great when your harddrive is encrypted, when your backup isn’t. Same for USB-sticks you carry around. For those you want to use something like VeraCrypt

Are you using Dropbox? Think again, loads of unencrypted data. Use something like SpiderOak instead. I sync personally nowadays with my own Nextcloud-server and do encrypted online-backups with CrashPlan. And I think about using Tarsnap.

  • And some more privacy-hints at the end:
    pay with cash and don’t use some card that will collect points for your shopping – those track you better than your credit card
  • when you use a Kindle know that Amazon knows what your are reading when and where you are in the book. I guess Kobo et al. are similar when connected to their service
  • Netflix and Spotify (et al) know the same about your movie and music-taste. But I guess books are more dangerous than movies and music. You rarely watch a several movies about how your government is a bad thing, how to topple it or convert to religions that several mad men are using for their cause.
  • log out of Facebook and Google or use an extra browser for them.
  • Use an ad-blocker. More privacy and digital self-defense against malware delivered by ads. I am using UBlock Origin.

I could go on depending on your level of paranoia. But that’s enough for thinking a bit about it. Oh, and read Little Brother3 by Cory Doctorow for the reasons you want more anonymity in your life. Btw. I do not follow all of that advice by myself but I try to improve.

  1. I am at fault here as well. The fingerprint-thing on the iPhone is sooo convenient

  2. But it is audited and there is a way to verify your messages

  3. available for free on that site

Those little hells on earth existing even in developed countries (this one in the US)

A Hidden Hellscape

Along a half-mile gorge cut by a Conrail line that runs through Kensington and Fairhill, tens of thousands of used syringes and their tossed off orange caps cover the sloping ground like a plague of locusts


Correa’s own addiction began when her mother introduced her to heroin at 16, she said.

vim-tricks without plug-ins

vim is a text-editor I use a lot in my daily work. I even wrote my whole thesis with it. Most of the notes I do on my computer I do in vim, when I configure software I use vim, when I rarely code I use vim. The reason for me to start mutt, a console-based e-mail-client, was that it allowed me to use vim for writing e-mails1. Some time ago I found a presentation I finally watched which explains some nice-tricks you can do without using plug-ins:

  • file-search
  • tag-jumping
  • auto-completion
  • file system navigation and some more

I knew some of the stuff already but the talk was interesting nonetheless. If you use vim, watch it. And if you want more I can really recommend Practical Vim by Drew Neil.

  1. Nowadays I appreciate mutt for itself as well and each time I try something else, I switch back to mutt pretty fast.

Please don’t work at Uber

What the hell is Uber for a work place? 25% women going down to 6% in a year because of sexistic behavior (superiors asking women for sex, HR lies to them about being the first offense; perfect reviews but punishing behavior because they probably aren’t compliant enough with the sexistic behavior…). Aaah.

Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber

The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem. (…) Our meeting ended with her berating me about keeping email records of things, and told me it was unprofessional to report things via email to HR.

What the serious F?