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Use Tor Browser to Surf Privately and Securely

What is the Tor Browser? The Tor Browser is based on the Firefox browser, and uses multiple relays to anonymize your web surfing. Sure, you can use your current browser to utilize their version of private browsing, but these only keep other people who use the computer from seeing you’re browsing history. They can’t keep your ISP, for instance, from monitoring the sites you’re visiting (see my previous privacy articles for other ways of doing this.)

Tor Browser, which stands for The Onion Router (to reach The Dark Web, more on this later) offers different levels of protection to keep your activities, location and identity completely private. All this anonymity does come at a small cost though, performance.

Tor routes your traffic through multiple relay servers, or Circuits, each of which anonymizes the information that comes from the previous relay. The more hops your data packets take on the way to and from your destination, the slower your browsing will become. If you find your surfing is unusually slow, or a page is no longer responding, click on the triple bar icon ( the “Hamburger” icon) on the far right hand side of the browser where you can select ‘New Tor Circuit for This Site” and your browsing should commence as before.

As well, you can choose your security level when you start Tor, Standard, Safer, Safest. When you start Tor for the first time, Security is set to Standard. Even Standard is FAR more secure than any other web browser, but if you want to work with either of the increased security levels, you need to be aware that these settings allow less and less features of a site to run or function, due to their ability to compromise your privacy, and warnings will also be shown to you onscreen.

In order to get the most out of Tor Browser, you’ll need to change your surfing habits. One of the first things is to change your default search engine from the likes of Google or Bing, to something like Duckduckgo.com, startpage.com, or searx.me that don’t attempt to track your searches. See my previous article on this.

If you log into your usual Facebook account or other social media while using Tor Browser, it completely defeats the purpose as the social media sites already know so much about you. As well, avoid installing any extensions in Tor as many extensions are not coded with privacy in mind.

Another feature under the Hamburger icon is called ‘New Identity’.
This is not as far reaching as it sounds, what is happening is that Tor is getting you a new IP address, which means it is changing all of the relay servers used to make your connection back to the web. Tor Browser will restart to accomplish this.

Staying safe and anonymous online starts with using encryption in all the connections you make. Tor Browser will automatically attempt to redirect you to the HTTPS version of a website, rather than the HTTP connection. The S in HTTPS stands for Secure, or encrypted. If Tor Browser can’t connect to the HTTPS version, a large in-your-face notice will be displayed alerting you to this issue. Another way to know if your connection is secure is that a green padlock icon will be present next to the URL.

For even more privacy and security, connect to a VPN prior to launching Tor Browser. The VPN will not be able to see what you’re doing in Tor Browser, and no Tor node will be able to see your IP address.

And now to The Dark Web we spoke of earlier. The Dark Web is basically a collection of .onion sites. These sites are not accessible to search engines so you will have to find a .onion directory on the clear web. And even though you are private and secure while visiting The Dark Web, be aware that many of the .onion sites contain illegal content, are selling illegal products, or promoting illegal activities. The Dark Web has its uses, but not for the average web surfing individual in my experience, in fact it can be dangerous.

You can get started with Tor Browser by going to the official site here: https://www.torproject.org/

If you would prefer to have me set you up on the Tor Browser, phone and we’ll set up a time to meet that works for you!

Surf safely folks!

Boost Your Privacy Folks!

Change Your Search Engine

It’s no secret that search engine providers like Google, Bing, and Yahoo track and record your search queries and either sell that data, or build a profile on you for the purpose of displaying targeted ads on your computer screen.

If you want to beef up your online privacy, you can remove these search engines from your web browser (i recommend Firefox), and install my following three recommended search engines in their place.

The most straight forward of the three is SearX. SearX claims to not collect any logs, displays no ads, and does not engage in any tracking. It is decentralized with nodes around the world so you can pick one from a country that you feel the most comfortable with.
https://searx.me/

StartPage.com is based in the Netherlands and promises Google search results with complete privacy protection. As they state on their website “we’re paying them (Google) to use their brilliant search results in order to remove all trackers and logs.”
https://www.startpage.com/

Another choice is DuckDuckGo. They also claim to not track any of your searches, nor do they store your search history so they couldn’t sell it if they wanted to. Your personal information is also not collected at any time, so no risk of it being shared out either.
https://duckduckgo.com

All three of these search engines claim to not track or log your activity in any way. StarPage is based in the Netherlands, and they have very strong privacy laws. Duckduckgo is based in the United States, in Paoli, Pennsylvania to be precise. Both the Netherlands and the US are part of the 9 Eyes group of countries that share intelligence data. It is also known that 5 Eys, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes groups of countries can and do spy on each others citizens, and the data is shared back. You can start here with this info: https://www.privacytools.io/providers/

So, having said that, these search providers do provide a great service, providing search facilities and not tracking your movements nor logging your search queries. I recommend you stop using Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search provider that doesn’t respect your personal data and your privacy.

While changing out your search providers in Firefox isn’t terribly difficult, if you value your privacy and would prefer I set it all up for you, give me a call and we can set up a time that is convenient for you.

Surf Safely folks!

Wayne Goldsmith
GoldTek Computer Services

Easy Tip to Boost Your Online Privacy!

Online privacy is more important than ever, and sometimes it’s the little things that can help make a real difference.

More and more people are becoming concerned about the idea that their activities online are being tracked, and that they could be identified and the information used against them.

There is no “one thing” that can keep your activity online perfectly private, except not going online at all. That’s just not practical in today’s world though.

Changing your DNS settings to a DNS server that does not log or track your DNS resolver requests is a way to help keep your activity much more private.

Who would want to look your activity up? Well, depending on your activity, it could be the police, it could be a suspicious spouse, or it could just be your Internet Service Provider (ISP) selling the info to companies like Google. Yes, this happens all the time.

What the heck is DNS anyway? Well, the quick answer is that when you type ”facebook.com” into the address bar of your web browser, your computer sends that to a DNS server to have our language translated into a numerical address that it can understand, which in this case would be “157.240.14.35”. Once it has that address it fetches Facebook’s website back to your web browser for you to use.

At this time the most private DNS servers I can find are at DNS.Watch located in Germany. They claim to not log anything at all so your activity can not be gone through later via this avenue. As well they perform their DNS translations (also called “resolving”) very quickly as I have not noticed any increased lag while surfing the web after adding them to my network configuration.

https://dns.watch/how-to

Changing your preferred DNS servers is not terribly difficult, and in fact DNS.Watch offer How-To’s for Windows, Mac, and Linux which you can work through to make the changes.

As always, if you’re not comfortable doing this yourself you can call me and we can arrange to get this done for you at your convenience.

Surf Safely Folks!

Wayne Goldsmith
GoldTek Computer Services

Beef up your Privacy online!

These days it is harder than ever to maintain your privacy. Just walking down the street will have you recorded on several video cameras, let alone hopping on the internet and pursuing your interests there. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and a host of others are tracking and recording your every step.

If you value your privacy, and want to do more to maintain it, there are things you can do that will help.

My first recommendation would be to use the Firefox web browser. Firefox has many configurable settings that can toughen it up to the point where it can be a real chore to even surf the web. How private and secure you ultimately become will be determined by how much effort you want to put into it.

The following link contains a lot of information on how to configure Firefox to be substantially more private and secure.

https://www.privacytools.io/browsers/#webrtc

As well, if you watch this video, they will take you through toughening up Firefox step by step. It can move quickly in some areas but you can always stop and rewind, or go through the article in the previous link.

I highly recommend that you download and install Firefox and configure it with the privacy settings recommended in the video and article. You will be amazed at how many cookies and scripts from online entities you’ve never heard of, who have no business whatsoever being interested in your activities, are recording your every move and forming a profile of you as an individual.

If this is all a bit overwhelming don’t worry, you’re not alone. If you want to beef up your privacy while on the internet, call me and let’s talk, I can definitely help.

Wayne Goldsmith
GoldTek Computer Services
250-485-7146

When Windows 7 is Gone in 2020, What Will You Do?

Windows 7 Coming to an End

It’s official, Windows 7 support will end on January 14, 2020. What does that mean to you at home?  After this date, your PC running Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates or any other sort of patching by Microsoft.  In this day and age where cyber security breaches are always in the news, this is a big deal.

Many people think they’ll be fine if they keep their anti-virus up to date, but, they are wrong.  Anti-virus vendors are not in the business of guarding against fundamental security flaws in the operating system.  They, like everyone else, rely on the vendor to patch these holes in a timely manner.

2020 is just over six months away, not that far off, and that time will go by much faster than you may realize.  You need to start thinking about what you are going to do about this.  There are several options for you to consider.

Buy a new computer with Windows 10 installed.
This is how many people will solve this issue.  They feel they’ve had their current computer quite a long time so a new one seems like a good choice.

Upgrade your current computer to Windows 10.
This is also a viable solution for many Windows 7 users out there.  As long as your hardware is robust enough to cope with the increased demands of Windows 10 this should work just fine.  You will have to purchase a copy of Windows 10 and install it.  This will cost you anywhere from $139.00 US for the Home version all the way up to $199.00 US for the Pro version.  Most home users do not require the Pro version.

Some people will move to a new operating system.
I’m always impressed when people branch out and try something new in their computer world.  Two other operating systems you could potentially move too are Linux and Mac OS.

Mac OS is a definite favourite of mine, it runs exactly the same way 99.99999% of the time when I turn it on, as it did when I turned it off.  No inexplicable weirdness, very stable, and everything “just works”.  Anti-Virus and Malware scanners and cleaners are really only needed to make sure you don’t pass something on to your Windows friends.  Yes, there are virus strains and malware out there for Mac OS, but it’s not mainstream and you won’t run into them doing normal everyday web surfing etc.  If you live your cyber life on the edge, you would have a better chance of catching something there.  So, while it’s not a bad idea to have an anti-virus suite on your Mac, it’s not life and death like it is for a Windows user.

Now, you can only use Mac OS on Apple Macintosh computers.  Mostly.  There are several sneaky ways of running Mac OS on other hardware, or in a virtual machine, but that is not a project for the average computer user.  Macintosh hardware, while of extremely high quality and excellent specifications, can really surprise some people with the price tag.  I personally do think they are worth the extra bucks.

Wipe out windows and replace it with Linux on your current computer.
This is a great option for people with older hardware who are also not in the position to buy something new, or pay for the new version of Windows.  At this time, my personal favourite Linux distribution is called Linux Mint, but there are many others available.  Linux is a free and open source operating system that is fast, efficient, easy on your disk space, and runs very well on older hardware.  Under the hood, Linux is a cousin of Mac OS down deep, so they share all the same traits that make them reliable, more secure, and far more private than Windows (Windows 10 collects reams of information about you).

So there you go folks, there are several ways to get past Windows 7 and move into a modern operating system.  My favourite option here is moving to Linux, so much more cost effective and so similar to what you’ve been using, your learning curve would be a very gentle incline indeed.

If you need assistance moving on from Windows 7, or if you’d like to talk about moving to Linux, feel free to contact me at 250-485-7146 or email me at service@goldtek.ca and I would be happy to discuss it with you.

Mileage Converter

Howdy folks! Recently I started to re-dable (now that’s a funny word, if in fact it is a real word) with BASIC programming. Programming in BASIC, for me, goes all the way back to being twelve to fourteen years old, somewhere in the early 80’s. That’s when the Apple ][+ ruled the personal computer world!

I found an App for iOS, Misoft Basic!, that purported to be an Apple staff favourite for its nostalgic feel, much like the old AppleSoft BASIC of the day. My father thought it would be fun to try some programming again and suggested we work together on a mileage converter. I agreed but went a little overboard and wrote the whole thing one afternoon. So, after cutting my dad out of the fun, he is taking it a step further and is giving it a graphical interface, as opposed to my purely text offering.

I am including the code to what I’ve written so far if you’d like to try it out. Be aware that not all versions of BASIC use exactly the same syntax or commands but if your willing to give this a go, you probably already know that.

10 Rem Convert l/100 to us & imp and back
12 REM by Wayne Goldsmith
13 CLS
15 PRINT “*******************************”
20 PRINT “Welcome to the Multi-Mileage Converter.”
30 PRINT “*******************************”
35 PRINT
40 PRINT ” 1) L/100 to Imperial MPG”
45 PRINT ” 2) Imperial MPG to L/100″
50 PRINT ” 3) L/100 to US MPG”
55 PRINT ” 4) US MPG to L/100″
57 PRINT ” 5) End”
60 PRINT
65 INPUT “Pleas enter you choice… “;c
70 IF c=1 THEN
GOSUB 135
ELSE
IF c=2 THEN
GOSUB 180
ELSE
IF c=3 THEN
GOSUB 250
ELSE
IF c=4 THEN
GOSUB 320
ELSE
IF c=5 THEN
GOSUB 400
END IF
END IF
END IF
END IF
END IF

GOTO 13

135 REM l/100 to imp mpg
136 PRINT
140 INPUT “Please enter your L/100 to IMP MPG you would like to convert. “;l
150 mpg=282.48/l
155 PRINT
157 PRINT
160 PRINT “Your L/100 figure works out to “mpg” Miles Per Gallon!”
165 PRINT
166 PRINT
168 GOSUB 450
170 RETURN

180 REM imp mpg to l/100
181 PRINT
190 INPUT “Please enter the Imperial MPG you would like to convert to L/100… “;mpg
200 l=282.48/mpg
210 PRINT
220 PRINT
230 PRINT “Your Imperial MPG figure works out to “l “L/100. ”
235 PRINT
236 PRINT
238 GOSUB 450
240 RETURN

250 REM l/100 to us mpg
251 PRINT
260 INPUT “Please enter the L/100 figure you would like to convert to US MPG… “;l
270 mpg=235.2/l
280 PRINT
290 PRINT
300 PRINT “Your L/100 figure works out to “mpg” US Miles Per Gallon!”
305 PRINT
306 PRINT
308 GOSUB 450
310 RETURN

320 REM US MPG to L/100
321 PRINT
330 INPUT “Please enter the US MPG figure you would like to convert to L/100…. “;mpg
340 l=235.2/mpg
350 PRINT
360 PRINT
370 PRINT “Your US MPG figure works out to “l “L/100.”
375 PRINT
376 PRINT
378 GOSUB 450
380 RETURN

390 GOTO 20

400 PRINT
410 PRINT ” Thank you for using The Multi-Mileage Converter.”
420 END

450 INPUT “Press ‘C’ to continue, or ‘Q’ to quit.”;d$
460 IF d$=”c” THEN
RETURN
ELSE
IF d$=”q” THEN
GOTO 400
ELSE
GOTO 450
ENDIF
ENDIF

Internet Trolls

If you have more than scratched the surface of the internet, you’ve seen evidence of the passage of internet trolls. They lurk in online forums, chat rooms, and blog comment sections waiting to drop their bomb and move back into the shadows to watch the fun.

internet trollWikipedia defines the internet troll as a person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or otherwise upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off topic messages. Their deliberate intent is to provoke readers into making an emotional response. Trolls love this sort of thing, it’s actually entertainment for them. Sadly most people don’t realize they are being manipulated, making it all the easier for the troll to get things started.

A Canadian study conducted by the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, and University of British Columbia researchers concluded online trolls were akin to “prototypical everyday sadists”, as reported by Doug Cross of CNN. Sadism is the tendency to take pleasure in other people’s pain or discomfort.

A troll’s efforts will be more successful depending on the maturity of the audience. Maturity does not necessarily equate to age when we consider it is adults who make Gerry Springer and his ilk successful. Your children may be the unwitting victims of the trolls if they frequent online community pages. They don’t have the emotional maturity to refrain from taking part in the online battles raging on their screens.

The best way to shut down a troll of course is not responding to their inane comments, but most people can not help themselves, they wade right in, with gusto. So, it begs the question, if these trolls are truly sadists, does that make the rest of us a little masochistic for enabling them?

 

*Masochistic – The deriving of pleasure, or the tendency to derive pleasure, from being humiliated or mistreated, either by another or by oneself.

War Thunder Update Issues

The other day I went to play War Thunder and the launcher required an update to the game to proceed.  I naturally agreed whole-heartedly, without reservation, and let things happen.

Getting towards the end of the process, an error message pops up, saying that I did not have the required permissions to perform certain actions, actions that were never defined.

In the end, I allowed full control over the whole War Thunder folder, and it’s contents, and that solved the issue.  If you have the time, you could add Full Control to each user or group attached to the folder (Possibly ‘Trusted Installer’ would actually save the day) one at a time to see which is the user/group that needs the access to the War Thunder folder.

November Service Special!!

Does your computer need a tune-up?
Whip it into shape with our November Service Special!!

We will:

install all applicable Windows Updates.
Install our Essential Utility Kit (to help keep your computer clean).
Examine and correct Hard Drive health issues.
Scan for and remove any instances of Viruses and Malware.
Recover any available Hard Drive space.
Scan and Repair Registry errors.

A complete tune-up, all for $ 50.00!

CALL GOLDTEK TODAY @ 250 485-7146

FOR SALE – ASUS eeePC Netbook – $99.99

FOR SALE

ASUS eeePC Netbook – $99.99

 

photo 1-2 photo 2-2

 

This netbook has been refurbished and has a fresh install of xUbuntu Linux.  In excellent overall condition with minor signs of wear.  Battery holds a good charge.  This netbook is the ultimate in portability, take it anywhere!

Pre-Installed Software

Pre-installed software includes Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email, plus a full load-out of included Linux apps.

Manufacturer ASUS
Model name eee pc 701
Model id 701
CPU type Intel Celeron-M
CPU speed 900 Mhz
Graphics Intel GMA 900
OS xUbuntu Linux
Display Size 7.0″ 800 X 480
RAM 512 MB
Flash 3.9 GB
Battery capacity 37 (Wh)
Battery Life 3.4 – 4.1 hours
Weight 920gm / 32.5 oz.
Size (w/h/d mm) 225/165/35 mm
Size (w/h/d inches) 8.9/6.5/1.4

AC Adapter Included.

CALL GoldTek at 250 485-7146