PSA Newsletter 02: Privacy, Security, Automation!

How Chrome is Terrible, Home network advice, Apple Shortcuts, and more...


Google Chrome sends loads of data about you to Google and by extension other data companies and eventually major government entities by default. Use Mozilla Firefox, Brave, or Apple Safari instead for a more private browsing experience. The comic ContraChrome (a parody of a cartoon created to explain Chrome’s capabilities for internal staff) provides an easy to digest explanation of how Chrome does this, without blowing your mind too wide open all at once. [1]


If your home network router or wifi access point comes with guest network capability, set up your smart home devices on that guest network. This way, you can access them through the internet, but they don’t have access to your home network PC’s and phones. This is an example of network segmentation and isolation. It also goes without say: change the default password on every camera, door lock, light, etc. you get for your smart home and keep the password stored in a secure location like a safe or password manager. [2]


Apple Shortcuts is a great way to automatically perform pre-scripted actions you define. These Shortcuts can do things like automatically turn off your phone’s WiFi when you leave the area, to connect to a Linux server via SSH and automatically run a script. For example, I have an automation that logs into my home server and shuts it down. To get started and see what actions (steps) are available: Open the Shortcuts app > Tap the + > Tap “Add Action” > Search for the app or thing you want to work on. [3]

Heads Up!

The EARN IT Act is going to Congress for a third time, after being rewritten twice. Although it seems written to protect children through CSAM detection, the devil’s in the details. This act as written will greatly subvert and circumvent encryption, with no regard for those who might be affected by this loss of fundamental privacy. This is an oft-repeated tactic of lawmakers: every few years, try to attack encryption, until the public is caught unawares and it gets pushed through. [4]


Q: What is Pseudo Code?

Pseudocode is a plain language description of the steps in an algorithm or another system. [5] Before programming in a specific language like Javascript, PHP, or C++, I recommend writing the steps out in plain language. Sometimes, programming conventions like loops and condition statements can be worked on plainly, like so:

  • if (starting at 0 and increasing by one every time)
  • show the current number on the screen
  • stop at 50

This should be fairly easy to follow. Pseudocode helps you gather your thoughts and work on the flow of a script or program before worrying about language-specific syntax. Think of it as writing an outline for a term paper.