noun: skills in many areas. a little of this and that.

PSA Newsletter 08: Privacy, Security, Automation!

Private DNS Settings, How to Disable AutoJoining Managed Public WiFi, Basic Photo Merging with Shortcuts, and more...


Quad9, a Swiss company, provides a free service that replaces your default ISP or enterprise Domain Name Server configuration. In short: you want to change this setting on your devices or network hardware if you don't want your home internet provider or mobile phone company to automatically see and log every website you browse by default. Changing these settings takes about 30 seconds and is a one-time change per WiFi network you connect to. Highly recommended. [1]


In the last few years, I've noticed my phone connecting to several WiFi networks without my permission. It turns out these networks were automatically added to my WiFi network list without my approval by my carrier. 9to5mac has a great writeup on the why and how to disable auto-joining these networks when out in public, but I took it a few steps further:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap on Wi-Fi
  3. Tap on the Edit button in the upper right corner
  4. Scroll down to the "Managed Networks" section and tap the "i" next to the name of the network you want to change
  5. Uncheck Auto-Join
  6. Check Low Data Mode, Private Wi-Fi Address, and Limit IP Address Tracking
  7. Configure the IPV4 Address and DNS sections as shown in [3]. Don't forget to Save when making changes!
  8. Repeat for each network you want to disable

What does this do? In theory, this should make any traffic from your device unroutable over Wi-Fi and thus force your device to fall back to your cellular connection. If traffic does somehow make it out of your device over Wi-Fi, the DNS server being used to look up all the websites your device communicates with is run by Quad9, a privacy-centric company with a great track record for protecting its users' privacy.

But why do this and go through all this effort? For starters, I vehemently disapprove of anyone tricking your device into connecting to networks that you the user didn't explicitly choose to connect to. In any other scenario, this would be considered unethical criminal behavior. Personal feelings aside, I'm not completely sure having lots of devices on the same (often unsecured) Wi-Fi network without their owners' knowledge is sound security practice, given how chatty those devices can be. Until those protections are assured, it's probably best not to connect to free Wi-Fi networks, automatically or not.

[2] [3]


If you need to stitch a few photos together to show a sequence of steps (like showing your newsletter audience how to change network settings above), you don't need to download a photo stitching app; this capability is built in to Shortcuts. The steps to do this are provided in the source, just open the Shortcuts app and start searching for the names of the steps to get started. [4]


Should I Buy a New iPhone Now?

If you don't care about having the latest and greatest, then yes. If you do care about having the latest and greatest, there are lots of rumors that Apple will hold an iPhone announcement event in mid-September. Perhaps you should wait.