Posts

Alternatives to Firefox on Manjaro Linux

6 minute read Updated

A quick rundown of Firefox browser alternatives you should be aware of.

Last week Firefox suffered multiple zero-day vulnerabilities, prompting renewed interest in a browser discussion thread on the Manjaro Forums.

Ironically the reason I’m using Manjaro in the first place is because macOS itself had several zero-day vulnerabilities recently, prompting me to perform a serious back-up of macOS and all my files on iCloud.

Thankfully switching browsers is trivial compared to switching operating systems on macOS. So herein I’ll show you how to easily install a few different browsers so you can try them out and decide for yourself which you prefer.

Burying Firefox's White Tab of Death

3 minute read Updated

How to change the Firefox New Tab page for suitable display in low-light.

I don’t know about you but I really like dark interfaces. Dark interfaces use less battery on AMOLED screens, reduce eye strain at night, and help protect you from shoulder surfers and nosy bar flies. Plus they just look good.

Which is why I was a bit miffed after installing ghacks-user.js to lock-down security in Firefox Quantum. I finished setup right before bed, opened the browser and – WHAM – my entire room illuminated with New Tab page:

Encrypted Internet with WireGuard

9 minute read Enclosure Updated

How to install and configure WireGuard on Manjaro Linux, a step-by-step guide.

One of the motivations behind dual-booting Linux on my MacBook Pro was to take back control of my personal data. Not just because Apple uses faux encryption on iCloud. And not because macOS has been shown to leave users open to eavesdropping exploits. But because when I use my Mac with macOS the operating system gratuitously beams out activity records1, sharing information I’d rather keep private with people I don’t personally know nor have I ever met. And without the ability to shut it off, I find my privacy – the sentient and autonomous nature of my very being – constantly under attack.

In many instances, privacy is threatened not by singular egregious acts, but by a slow series of relatively minor acts which gradually begin to add up.

I've Got Nothing to Hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy

In this short guide I’ll show you how to encrypt and route your local Internet traffic through a fast, modern, and secure VPN tunnel called WireGuard using a free and open source operating system called Manjaro Linux. I will explain how to install WireGuard on Manjro, share a simple means of establishing and testing an encrypted Internet connection, and leave you with next steps and personal experience to help further your understanding and gain confidence getting started.

Dual-Boot Manjaro Linux & macOS Mojave

12 minute read Updated

Improve the utility and enjoyment of your MacBook. Learn how to dual-boot macOS Mojave and Manjaro Linux directly from your Apple SSD.

Are you familiar with the concept of “habit fields”? They’re these magical auras we give to everyday objects, assigning them purpose and allowing us to focus our awareness to accomplish tasks faster. But habit fields can work against you as well, if you’re not careful:

If you’ve been trying to do everything from one place and one device, then you may need to make a conscious decision to divide different modes of behavior.

Jack Cheng, Habit Fields (2010)

One device you may be trying to do everything from one place is the MacBook Pro. With the beefy specs on the flagship Apple notebook it can be easy to piledrive too many activities all into one place, affecting your Mac’s habit field.

But there’s a trick you can use to divide different modes of behavior on a Mac. And that’s to add a second operating system and dual-boot. Here’s how to install and dual-boot Manjaro Linux alongside macOS Mojave on a MacBook Pro.

Beyond Incognito

2 minute read Updated

Block your computer from making requests to known ad and malware servers.

I read an article on Medium titled How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour. The article provided a number of tips for staying secure digitally. One of the tips was to use the Tor browser because popular browsers such as Safari and Chrome were not private enough – even in private mode.

What the author didn’t tell you was that it’s possible to increase your privacy without switching browsers using Dan Pollock's hosts file. A quick look at the file describes exactly what it does…

How to Backup & Restore macOS Mojave

17 minute read Enclosure Updated

If there's one thing computers do well, it's malfunction. Plan ahead so you don't lose data should your Mac start behaving more like a computer.

Last month, while download Mojave patches for at least two zero-day exploits a malfunction occurred and I couldn’t upgrade, leaving my machine vulnerable:

During a 10 minute chat with Apple Care it was suggested I back-up and restore Mojave. The resolution wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for. But not a big deal as I hadn’t created a backup in 3 years and it was about that time.

Awesome React Boilerplates

7 minute read Updated

Awesome React starter kits to kick your app development into high gear.

Not interested in reinventing the wheel? Neither am I. Here’s a short list of awesome boilerplates – sometimes called starter kits or seeds – for getting your React applications off the ground in a hurry.

These boilerplates weren’t taken from any list, however awesome it might be. Rather, they’ve gained enough mindshare to find me outside The Stream.

So without further ado…

When I Stopped Trusting Apple

3 minute read Published

How I lost my trust for Apple as an American, and what I'm doing about it.

Trust is like the stock market. Escalator up, elevator down. When an individual places trust in something they typically do so because that trust has been won through unwavering commitment over time. When we speak of brand trust – or trust with a company – committed relationships work much the same. Especially as that trust applies to technology in an era of cloud.

But here’s the thing about trust. If it’s not built with transparency, it is created under false pretenses – smoke and mirrors – and, in the long-term, will never stand. This is the unfortunate case with Apple. And here I will explain exactly when I stopped trusting them and why, and what I’m doing about it.

Surfing the Uncensorable Web

11 minute read Enclosure Published

Getting it on with ZeroNet to enjoy a Web without information gatekeepers.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you already know the guy behind WikiLeaks, who was living at an Ecuadorian embassy in London, was recently arrested and now facing extradition to the United States – the country I’m originally from – and the country which forces tax payers to fund the second-largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry ever created.

But perhaps you didn’t know that WikiLeaks was at one point hosted by Amazon. Yep, right up until political pressure caused them to take it down. Afterall, nothing says freedom like a fear of misbehavior in a country with the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. I suppose Julian Assange’s situation could be worse… Maybe, had he also been practicing Falun Gong in China. But I digress. And there’s no telling what’s going to happen.

DarkDuckGo

3 minute read Published

Improve your search privacy on DuckDuckGo using custom URL parameters.

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine since it was introduced to me by a colleague in Chicago. This was before I was able to close my Google account but some time after losing hundreds of photos leaving Facebook. And though I was aware DuckDuckGo maintains a hidden service for Tor users it wasn’t until recently I felt confident enough with my OS security to safely use it.

Rather than just bookmarking and using the DDG onion site, however, I decided to leverage some of the nifty URL params they’ve made available. Following is a quick rundown of the URL params I’m using to customize my DDG search experience for use with Tor. In After Dark fashion I’ve decided to name them “DarkDuckGo”.

Self-host Gitea on Amazon Lightsail

9 minute read Enclosure Published

Learn how to self-host Gitea on Amazon Lightsail for only $3.50 USD per month.

Shortly after the buzz of MS purchasing GitHub I started self-hosting a Gitea stack using a Docker Compose file I threw together just for the occasion. The hosting I chose at the time was a $5 Vultr VPS with the following specs:

  • CPU: 1 vCore
  • RAM: 1024 MB
  • Storage: 25 GB SSD
  • Bandwidth: 1000 GB

I chose Vultr partly because they’ve been shown to be faster than DO and Lightsail. But really I just needed a testbed to prove things out. Something I did through sharing knowledge on the Gitea Support forums before, months later, finally feeling confident enough to abandon GitHub.

But Vultr isn’t cutting it anymore. Their $5/month VPS option, while arguably a great deal, isn’t delivering enough storage. Sure I could add block storage at $0.50 per GB or even consider switching to Linode. But I don’t see the point of either when Amazon offers a 40 GB SSD option at $5 an instance with double the bandwidth offered by Vultr and half the cost of the Linode equivalent plan.

As luck would have it, last night I ran out of disk space on Vultr. What better a time to make the switch over to Amazon Lightsail? And if you’re looking to self-host Gitea on Lightsail, here’s how you can too.