Posts

Featured Posts

Writing on various topics including travel, finance and technology.

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…

Securely Access 08chan on ZeroNet

2 minute read Published

How to use Tor and WireGuard to access ZeroNet without revealing your IP.

Daily Beast reports 8Chan refugees are leaving DARPANet, commonly known as “the Web”, for a new home on ZeroNet and doxxing their IPs in the process.

Getting on the ZeroNet can be done more discretely, however, and it's not hard if you're running Linux – even if running Linux on a MacBook Pro:

Hugo Deploy: Migrating from S3 Website

10 minute read Published

How to install and configure Hugo for Amazon S3 deployments using Docker.
Scala is great and all though I'm not familiar with it and the maintainer of the deployment tool I've been using since 2016 ended active support for s3_website earlier this year. That's too bad because s3_website was a huge breath of fresh air for me given its support for deploying both Jekyll and Hugo, among others. In addition to its support for various generators s3_website also has some novel features for deployments to AWS not trivial otherwise including:

Bali Short Visa Long Stay

2 minute read Published

Exploring the depths of Bali using a short-term tourist visa.

“Duah tahun setengah,” I replied to a pair of grinning Indonesian men just beyond the gate of a modest homestay in northern Bali. They were “kepo” to know how long I've been living in Bali. And though I've been here just over two-and-a-half years I've been doing so freely using a short-term tourist visa called a VoA.

Who wouldn't want to live on an island in the tropics given the opportunity? And that opportunity became apparent in late-2016, the first time I set foot in Ubud. “What kind of magic place is this,” I remember thinking. The desire to move came strong, and my intention manifested accordingly.

It's been two-and-a-half years since I moved to Bali. And even without a typical long-stay visa I've managed to make things work using bi-monthly flights, and appreciate being able to communicate it to others more with each passing day.

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:

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.

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

10 minute read Enclosure Published

Testing the waters of 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

2 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.