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Thirteen Months of The Privacy Dad

The one-year anniversary of The Privacy Dad blog passed me by. I published my first post on 21 October 2022, titled 'Deleting my Facebook Account'. So with this post, I'll be reflecting on my thirteen month anniversary instead.

In October 2022, I was doing the washing up in the kitchen while listening to one of my favourite privacy podcasts, The Surveillance Report, when hosts Nathan and Henry half-joked about 'The Privacy Dad' as a freebie title for any listeners compelled to write about privacy in relation to parenting.

I was catching up on episodes, and so heard the name a week or so after the episode went live, but I remember having a sudden, clear picture in my mind of what the blog should be, and that I could write it. So I rushed to the PC and looked for the domain name. The Privacy Dad was still available.

I began taking notes for potential articles, and I couldn't stop. I was surprised by how much I could say as a non-technical person, and by how much I had experimented with privacy tools over the preceding years.

I wanted to write from a non-technical person's perspective, and chose the form of a privacy journey diary, starting at the beginning and recounting all the steps I had taken up to the point of starting the blog. Rather than promote all privacy tools and methods, I also wanted to be honest about frustrations and problems.

Post #81

This reflection will be my 81st post, and I still have not made it through all the notes for articles I started with, which would take me up to the point when I began writing this blog. I have yet to cover discovering Monero, Veracrypt, VPNs, (finally) keeping a Nextcloud server running reliably, learning Linux command line, and switching to Pop!_OS as my daily operating system.

As I began writing more, I developed an interest in topics beyond the personal diary. I wrote about parenting, or separating work/student life from personal life. I started a glossary. I became interested in steelmanning arguments against my own views, in order to test them out, and wrote product reviews. I explored negative psychological effects that can come with diving too deep or when things don't work, and I examined the difficulties with onboarding others. I participated as an online viewer and reviewed MoneroTopia 2023. I was invited to be a guest on the MoneroTopia show and was interviewed for The New Oil blog. This in turn gave me the idea to interview Jesper Graugaard about his fight for privacy in schools in Denmark, which was recently reworked for the Freedom Tech blog.

I feel all of these related topics have been worth exploring, but my aim is to complete the diary of my own privacy journey.

Looking ahead

I had thought that around this point in time I would have come to the end of the chronological dairy, but that is not the case. When I started writing last October, I also hadn't considered that I would continue trying out new privacy tools too!

The personal diary is intended as the structural thread that connects all the other privacy-related topics, and I plan to focus on finishing up the original list of experiences in the coming months.

I'll end this reflection with brief notes on tools I am currently testing, taking notes all the while. I hope these can be developed into new posts in future, keeping the blog going beyond it's originally intended end.

It has been a joy to write this blog, and I have loved receiving meaningful responses throughout the year, whether on Reddit, the MoneroTopia 2023 live chat, E-mail, messenger, Mastodon, X and in forums like Techlore. It has also been wonderful to be acknowledged and see engagement with my articles and ideas from the people who I've been reading and listening to. This includes Seth for Privacy, The New Oil, Techlore, Douglas Tuman, and also newly discovered privacy advocates like Firewalls Don't Stop Dragons and LINus on MOBile.

I can't thank Nathan and Henry enough for the initial spark of inspiration that started such an enjoyable and meaningful experience for me! Also a big thank you to Herman for his fantastic Bear Blog platform and his patient support of my blog.

Current projects

Despite my best attempts, my youngest child simply does not love refurbished Thinkpads. They are heavy and clunky. I remembered I have a 2013 model MacBook Air, which is actually a really light and attractive piece of hardware, currently approaching end of support. I have had bad experiences trying to install Linux on Macs, but read somewhere Xubuntu works well with this particular device. I installed it, and it works flawlessly!

I run my Monero node from a separate machine, with the node saved and synced on an external drive. I mine with P2Pool and XMRig. I use SSH to start up those processes using the remarkably useful screen command. The string of commands required to get all of this going is now so long, I have lost sight of what I'm actually doing, and so I have put aside time to unpack what each tag means and does. In a weird way, this kind of learning is actually fun. On the flip side, looking at notes I wrote and apparently understood only a year ago sometimes makes me feel like the protagonist Charlie in the latter part of the novel Flowers for Algernon, when his intelligence is in decline.

Freedom Tech encourages using SimpleX for communication. It's fantastically simple to use and requires no identification at all.

Nathan writes and speaks high praise for Qubes OS, and that got me curious to try it out myself. Now that I am learning more about it, I realise I could not have attempted a Qubes OS project earlier than now. I was able to purchase a 'community- recommended' laptop very cheaply and plan to install Qubes with one of my kids, so we can both learn and pretend to be hackers.

I use an older Google Pixel model with CalyxOS, but am aware that Google stopped support for this device a while back, and that Calyx will stop development for my model in the coming months. Through a timely and very lucky break, I was able to get my hands on a Google Pixel 7a, which should enjoy support into 2028. I thought I would try Graphene OS this time around for comparison. (I know, I know: GrapheneOS is superior).

I have been a long-time supporter of Standard Notes software, which I encouraged graduating year after graduating year of my students to download and use for notes and blogging. I published a positive review of SN on my blog. But I have lately gotten tired of persistent bugs, especially around the default note-type settings, which seem to keep changing, and the unreliable cut/paste/undo functions. Notesnook looks like a slicker version of SN, at a lower yearly subscription cost, so I think I'll test it out soon and possibly migrate all my notes there.


Surveillance Report #106 10 October 2022 - call for parent privacy bloggers with a 'warts and all' approach, and gift of the name 'The Privacy Dad' :)

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