The Status of My De-Google-ing

I decided a while ago to move off of Google for a wide variety of reasons. How am I doing? Percentages are all how far I am migrating away from Google.

Search – 95%

Duck Duck Go is my default on all the things. There is an odd search where I need something else. When I do, it’s in a private browsing session with as much content blocking as possible.

Calendar – 75%

I moved a lot off. Weekend activities in Tokyo might end up in a shared calendar so my friends can see options where we can meet up.

GMail – 75%

I continue editing my profile in different places to get my email moved to something in my control.

Google Voice & Hangouts- 0%

There is no replacement for Voice short of porting the number to a device. So I will maintain this. Apple’s Handoff is almost a replacement. The big piece they can’t do is the number porting. Hangouts for me is inextricably tied to Voice.

Google fi – 0%

I can move this to another service, but I needed it to be one with a good international rate for calls and data. Maybe I can move this to T-Mobile? Or do I ditch my US number completely?

Google Docs – 100%

Done. After PVC Security shut down there was no need for it.

Google Drive & Photos – 75%

Done, at least for the paid service. The free photo backup service is compelling, but I am working to replace it.

Google Chrome – 100%

I stopped using it everywhere. It was not a hard thing to leave behind since it’s a performance hog. If I need it here and there, Opera does the same thing.

Google Android – 75%

My Nexus 6P is only able to run a few hours without recharge. Project fi requires it. Maybe I will get a new (to me) device to replace it.

Google Pay, Wallet, and the other financial stuff – 100%

I got rid of it all a while back when they couldn’t get the physical card working properly. I still have a $0.90 US credit!

Google Maps – 90%

It only comes up for the little bit I use Google Calendar with location. They are not the best map service in Japan, so it’s not hard to leave.

Google Translate – 75%

I want to ditch this so badly much! My Emacs use requires no account, so I just need an iOS replacement.

Google Play – 90%

I have a credit here I need to spend somehow. I think I picked up some free movies and books.

Other Google Properties – 100%

I am totally off of all other Google stuff.


How are you doing with your migration away from the Google? What advice do you have for me in my journey? Comment in social media and link back here.

p.s. – Google Plus

I forgot about this like you probably did. It will go.

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iPad Productivity Report: 10/8/18 – The Brooks Review

Scraping websites: I’ve seen a bunch of actions for grabbing Instagram profiles/stories/posts/everything in Shortcuts and saving it all in high resolution. I’m sure there’s nothing nefarious going on with that, but that is something which seemed damned near impossible on iOS to most users for quite some time — at least without downloading a specific app for it.
— Read on

Interesting, this. I’ve been unimpressed so far by Shortcuts (as a non-Siri current Workflow user) but something like this is compelling. Where most other use cases encourage laziness versus solving actual problems, this might provide some value.

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TaoSecurity: Network Security Monitoring vs Supply Chain Backdoors

The limitations of this approach are worth noting. First, if the intruders never activated their backdoors, then there would be no evidence of communications with C2 servers. Hardware inspection would be the main way to deal with this problem. Second, the intruders may leverage popular Internet services for their C2. Historical examples include command and control via Twitter, domain fronting via Google or other Web sites, and other covert channels. Depending on the nature of the communication, it would be difficult, though not impossible, to deal with this situation, mainly through careful analysis. Third, traditional network-centric monitoring would be challenging if the intruders employed an out-of-band C2 channel, such as a cellular or radio network. This has been seen in the wild but does not appear to be the case in this incident. Technical countermeasures, whereby rooms are swept for unauthorized signals, would have to be employed. Fourth, it’s possible, albeit unlikely, that NSM sensors tasked with watching for suspicious and malicious activity are themselves hosted on compromised hardware, making their reporting also untrustworthy.

The remedy for the last instance is easier than that for the previous three. Proper architecture and deployment can radically improve the trust one can place in NSM sensors. First, the sensors should not be able to connect to arbitrary systems on the Internet. The most security conscious administrators apply patches and modifications using direct access to trusted local sources, and do not allow access for any reason other than data retrieval and system maintenance. In other words, no one browses Web sites or checks their email from NSM sensors! Second, this moratorium on arbitrary connections should be enforced by firewalls outside the NSM sensors, and any connection attempts that violate the firewall policy should generate a high-priority alert. It is again theoretically possible for an extremely advanced intruder to circumvent these controls, but this approach increases the likelihood of an adversary tripping a wire at some point, revealing his or her presence.

— Read on

An assessment of the Bloomberg hardware compromise report which provides insights I hinted at but are better articulated here.

I remain skeptical this happened. It seems cheaper and easier to introduce fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) into the supply chain than to actually compromise it (beyond what the Chinese supply chain already does to skim money). Again, time will tell.

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The Trail Mix of iOS Keyboards – Tablet Habit

With my iPad only lifestyle, there has been a pain point that’s been present with a lot of iPad Pro users: keyboards.

There never seems to be a perfect keyboard for the iPad that is agreed upon with everyone. In fact there are a number of choices that seem to have some sort of drawback no matter how you look at it.

— Read on

This is one of my gripes with iOS and why I won’t (yet) go iPad only. If Apple intends the iOS platform to be more than just consumption devices, fixing input – both with the keyboards (physical and soft) and pointing devices (Apple Pencil and introduce trackpad!) would go long way.

For example, when I use a non-Apple Japanese JIS Bluetooth keyboard it defaults to a US QWERTY layout. There is no way to tell iOS what layout is needed when it does the wrong thing.

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The one serious MacBook Pro security flaw that nobody is talking about

The one serious MacBook Pro security flaw that nobody is talking about:

It’s the USB-C ports. Because of the USB-C ports, all MacBook Pros introduced since late 2016 are inherently unsafe. Likewise, all of the 12-inch MacBooks introduced since 2015 are inherently unsafe.

(Via Latest Topic for ZDNet in security)

Yep. The article cites several cogent references supporting the premise.

It’s funny how hardware manufacturers, including Apple, moved power to a shared data port like USB-C where I expect users cared more about disposing of the myriad proprietary power connectors. Apple, with MagSafe, designed and delivered an elegant solution. More and more vendors eschew ports in the vain pursuit of thin, and this puts customers (you and me) potentially at risk.

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hW fAiLz: Nexus 6P & iPod Touch 6gen & Mac Mini

I lost two gadgets in short order. I will miss them both, but they are just things.

The Google Nexus 6P declined recently. It terminally reached a point a few weeks ago where it wouldn’t power up past the boot screen. It’s my personal phone, my Project fi phone, and my main connection to the US.

My backup was my iPod Touch. Today, in a fit of me eating lunch, it landed on concrete. It would not power on after.

This weekend my Mac Mini started overheating for no clear reason. There’s no malware AFAICT but the bearings in the CPU fan might be failing on this replacement. While again just a thing, this one would cause significant inconvenience should it fail.

I don’t believe in coincidence, yet Murphy’s Law cannot be ignored.

There’s risk running hardware past the manufacturer’s shelf life. Components degrade. Bits and bobs fail eventually. Maybe they are replaceable and maybe they are not.

Bitrot, the loss of data because of time in one way or another, is the real enemy. Going analog is no panacea. Fire, neglect, and nature degrade analog systems.

Backups are key. Analog data can be scanned. Digital data can be printed.

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ICYMI: Facebook Is Allowing Ad Targeting Based on Contact Information You Have No Control Over

Facebook Is Allowing Ad Targeting Based on Contact Information You Have No Control Over:

Even for Facebook’s low standards, this is exceptionally unethical: you haven’t given them permission to use this information; someone you know or someone you purchased products from has done that for you, probably with consent buried in an opaque privacy policy. There’s no way to opt out. And there are few-to-no regulations governing this.

(Via Pixel Envy)

This is a disaster from the security perspective. Users should enable 2FA to protect themselves with an expectation that this data is restricted for only this use.

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Apple Pay Suica performance improvements coming with iOS 12.1 update

Apple Pay Suica performance improvements coming with iOS 12.1 update:

Good news for Apple Pay Suica users: word coming down Apple developer channels is that iOS 12.1 contains Apple Pay Suica fixes and performance improvements.

After updating to iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica users started complaining that Express Transit cards were sometimes unresponsive with Apple Pay demanding a Passcode/Face ID unlock at transit gates, or causing error flicker. It seems to be a performance issue across all Apple Pay Suica compatible devices: iPhone 7 (JP), iPhone 8, Revision B iPhone X, Apple Watch 2 (JP), Apple Watch 3 and the just released Apple Watch 4.

iPhone XS is free of the problem thanks to A12 Bionic bulletproofed Apple Pay Suica.

iPhone X Suica problem units will not see any improvement because it is a hardware issue for iPhone X units manufactured before April 2018. The only way to fix NFC problem iPhone X units is to get them exchanged. See the iPhone X Exchange Guide for details.

(Via Ata Distance)

Now I know when to upgrade unless work forces my hand sooner.

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Juggling domestic and international App Store accounts in iOS 12

Juggling domestic and international App Store accounts in iOS 12:

I can’t find the link right now but some blogs reported back in early summer that iOS 12 gained the ability to update App Store content from 2 different account IDs, USA and international.

I have juggled USA and Japan App Store content since App Store day 1 2008. Updating meant constant logging out and logging in to different accounts manually, a pain in the neck that I grew accustomed to over the years. Things have slowly improved but seamless savvy domestic~international App Store switching is still not there yet in iOS 12.

iOS 12 updates Apps from both USA and Japan accounts but only for content that is exists in both App Stores. Any attempt to update Japan only content from Yahoo Japan, Docomo, etc., and the USA App store coughs up a ‘This item is no longer available’ error. Back to the old tried and true ‘log out of US store log in to Japan store’ update maneuver.

This kind of ‘USA English version first, internationalization and optimization later when we can get to it’ attitude seems to be getting worse at Apple instead of better. On iOS 12 alone we have Apple Music Japan content that still does not Kana sort, half-assed Apple Maps Japan content, no Japanese TV content what-so-ever even though Netflix Japan and Amazon Prime Japan are going all out. On the just released macOS Mojave 10.14 iMessages is still missing Location settings. The list goes on.

Apple likes to pride itself on being, slightly, ahead of the curve on software internationalization. Sometimes it is, sometimes not. Smart, savvy internationalization of OS, cloud and content services that lead the industry may not sound sexy or produce big profits, but they have a huge impact on product quality around the world.

Making Apple products the best possible products out there was what Steve Jobs was all about. Apple may be stumbling of late, let’s hope they remember their founder by putting all into the job at hand.

(Via Ata Distance)

As usual, I cannot agree more.

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Global FeliCa iPhone XS, iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 4

Global FeliCa iPhone XS, iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 4:

Apple updated Apple Pay eligible device information and Suica information with the release of iPhone XS today. It’s really boring to know that iPhone XS, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4 are Global FeliCa just like previous generation devices, boring in a nice predictable way. They have to be in order to work with those FeliCa powered Student ID Cards for iOS 12 and watchOS 5. It’s really just Apple Pay, that’s all customers need to know.

I suspect A12 Bionic powered Express Cards with power reserve will work better on FeliCa Suica than the forever beta China Transit cards. We’ll find out soon enough.

(Via Ata Distance)

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