Some ways you can have internet privacy

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Image taken from mohamed_hassan at pixabay.com


While we’re busy talking about carbon footprint and how to save the planet, there’s also one thing more subtle that we should also take into account — our digital footprint.

We are tracked online on a daily basis. From our mouse clicks down to the websites we visit and the things we share, our data are used everyday as market insights by many different companies. If you notice how Facebook would usually advertise to you certain things that you literally were just searching on a few hours ago, this is because your digital movements are being tracked.

Considering these, I wondered if there is still some semblance of privacy in the internet. We could use the incognito mode in Google Chrome, for instance, but ultimately we’re still being tracked online. What could be some alternatives?

Presenting: Privacy-focused internet browsing. Here are a few platforms that I’ve been using that promote internet privacy, among other things. Try checking them out if you want to keep your digital footprint minimal as much as possible.

Brave: A privacy-focused browser

As a user, access to your web activity and data is sold to the highest bidder. Internet giants grow rich, while publishers go out of business. And the entire system is rife with ad fraud.

Taken from http://www.brave.com.

For me, Brave is the best alternative out there for Google Chrome. Aside from promising a privacy-focused browsing experience, Brave also has a number of features, the main one of which is blocking ads and trackers from getting your personal data. On the home page, you can see the total number of ads and trackers you blocked — I actually treat this as a trophy sometimes. So far, my Brave Browser was able to block a whooping 440,000 ads! Sorry guys, you can’t sell me things I’m not really interested with.

Another important feature of Brave is the rewards feature. Here, you will earn Brave Attention Tokens for viewing privacy-respecting ads. These are ads that were carefully prepared by Brave such that they are not intrusive and actually look like they’re a regular part of the web page.

If you’re looking for an alternative browser, Brave is the way to go.

DuckDuckGo: The search engine that doesn’t track you

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for over a year now. What I like about this search engine is that unlike Google’s search engine, DuckDuckGo provides you internet search results that you more likely need. When you search through Google, you’d usually be bombarded with a series of ads on the top results that you wouldn’t normally need. In DuckDuckGo, however, the searches are more refined based on the actual keywords that you placed in the search bar. Meaning, the search results you’re going to get are filtered from ads and aren’t a marketing strategy to draw you in.

As of February 2019, DuckDuckGo’s monthly searches have already reached one billion. You can learn more about them here.

Tor: Browse privately and explore freely

Another alternative to Google Chrome is the Tor browser. Tor blocks trackers and ads, defends you against surveillance, resists being digitally fingerprinted, provides multi-layered encription, and allows you to access websites that your home or country networks may have blocked.

For me, instead of subscribing with a VPN, you can just browse through Tor. It’s completely free.

We believe everyone should be able to explore the internet with privacy. We are the Tor Project, a 501(c)3 US nonprofit. We advance human rights and defend your privacy online through free software and open networks.

From torproject.org

And there you have it. These are the three main internet privacy browsers and search engines that I use. So far, I would say the experience has been exemplary, and I am all the more less distracted from unnecessary ads. While there are the exception of apps like YouTube and LinkedIn with tons of ads and trackers, I think it’s nice to have a right balance by also using privacy-focused apps.

Internet privacy-focused apps are also especially useful for people who are working in or are involved with very sensitive environments or contexts. Some of these apps are being used for such things. So while those people find use in the apps as a security protocol, for us people, not getting tracked by ads and trackers is the way to go.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

What we can learn from modern disease outbreaks

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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay


Internet culture has evolved so much ever since earlier disease outbreaks. Back then, we relied on news outlets to set the entire mood when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) first came about. Today, you’ll see constant updates on the news, real-time tallies of infections and casualties, and even memes and a video game about disease outbreaks.

Simply put, it’s come to a point where concerns of an international nature can be viewed through so many lenses, whether they may be informative, critical, progressive, or even entertaining and satirical. In other cases, they can be borderline racist, judgmental, or essentially nonsensical. These are all products of the information age, which is why we’re constantly reminded to be sensitive and conscious of what we put out in the online world.

But if there’s one thing we can learn from modern disease outbreaks, it’s that medical science has become so advanced nowadays that we’re able to proactively pave the path towards vaccines or a cure. Just check out this article and this article.

For medical professions alike, these are highly positive breakthroughs.

But what can we do as regular people sifting through news and information on the web?

It’s always best that we stay informed and equip ourselves with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the Philippines, there have been a number of ‘fake news’ advising people to ‘stay away’ from certain hospitals that allegedly have people infected with the coronavirus. Eventually, these rumors that spread about got debunked and verified as false by the hospitals themselves and the media.

It cannot be stressed enough, but we have to be able to constantly verify our sources and information. Digital literacy is becoming more and more essential today given the amount of information we consume on a daily basis. Asking very simple questions such as “Is this true? Who wrote this? Is the article written properly?” can literally save lives.

For starters, we have to battle it out with false information by sharing information that make sense and are actually helpful in setting up the general mood and conversation. No one is ever 100% certain, but we can at least help one another get closer to the truth, one step at a time.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Struggles of a digital nomad

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For this particular post, I’m going to be real with you.

While being a digital nomad in the metro sounds like a pretty neat gig, it’s not that easy.

Intermittent connection

I guess this is no surprise already? What I usually do when I visit cafes is to check out the area’s signal on my phone and if it at least says “4G,” then probably the signal in that place would be fast enough for me to perform some online tasks. It pays to be observant if the signal in a particular area is decent enough.

Sometimes even 4G+ can be deceiving because it doesn’t actually provide upload or download speeds equivalent to the signal indicated.

Moreover, it also depends on your job if it would require a really fast internet connection.

I think in places like Metro Manila, the best place to go digital nomad-ing is through a work-from-home setup. This way, you somehow have an assurance that your internet connection would be stable. The reason why I go to cafes and explore from time to time is because I don’t like getting glued just to one particular place all the time.

Traffic, traffic

Digital nomads aren’t spared from the typical daily traffic that we all experience. It can be just as frustrating.

I guess the only thing I can say about this particular issue is — let’s try to keep our sanity in check with all the stressors caused by traffic problems.

A leeway to explore

Okay — something a little more positive.

When you’re a digital nomad, you have more time to explore places. For the past weeks, I’ve been working during the morning in cafes at Intramuros, and in the afternoon, I explore the old sites and museums. I haven’t thoroughly seen all the sides and corners of Intramuros, and this is absolutely something I want to continue doing along the way.

By exploring, I also mean going beyond your usual tasks. I’m also able to do volunteer work thanks to the flexibility of my regular work. Last May 2019, I was able to go to Mindanao for a volunteer engagement in peacebuilding. During down times, I was still able to perform some tasks in my regular work.

I have another volunteer engagement every Saturday in a non-profit where we execute programs in a community. These are all possible through a flexible working schedule.

I think the infrastructure and systems are still far-off for Metro Manila to become digital nomad-friendly. Internet connection is terrible, transportation system is like chopsuey, and the general work environment hasn’t really come into terms with the word ‘digital’.

Nonetheless, we’re building that up. I won’t be surprised that someday we’re also going to be a “smart” city. But we have to dig deep for our inner voices and potential.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Defining a digital nomad

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It’s interesting when people ask me what I do for a living. Since I’m what you could call a ‘digital nomad‘, I work remotely and my office can be everywhere. But essentially, what I do includes research, writing, projects, social media, non-profit work, and volunteer engagements. Typically, I introduce myself as a researcher and writer, among other things.

Working, exploring

For the past weeks, I’ve been going back and forth the walled city of Intramuros, working in coffee shops during the morning, then exploring different sites during the afternoon. It has been a fun, educational, and ‘old soul’ type of experience so far. According to recent news, around 2.12 million tourists visited Intramuros during the first semester of 2019.

Last May 2019, I was able to go to a one-month volunteer engagement in Mindanao, where I was a class documenter for their annual peacebuilding training. This kind of engagement wouldn’t be possible without the flexible work schedule that I have.

Afterwards, I had many other volunteer engagements. So far, I was able to explore places in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao just this year. It truly is something to be thankful for. I’m learning more about our diversity and culture as a nation.

What you need

The good thing about being a digital nomad is that you essentially just need the following things in your work life: a laptop, your hands, head, internet connection, power outlet, and a place to work in. Of course, this would vary on the nature of the job, but you get what I mean.

Whenever I look for places to work in Manila, I want to make sure that either (1) the place has good WiFi or (2) my mobile data connection is strong in that particular area. Because obviously, an internet connection is essential for a digital nomad.

Independence

The good thing about being a digital nomad is that you handle your own time. You impose your own work hours. You create your own workflow. You sometimes even list down your own job description. It’s a good training for independence and developing your personal work philosophy.

The digital nomad life is not for everyone though. It also depends on the career you want. Regardless, it’s something to take note of if you prefer flexible working hours that give you a considerate time to explore and do other things you’re passionate about.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/