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Okay, I’m in. Now what?


Up to now, I’ve been carrying around the dumbest of dumb phones. It’ll make calls, it’ll just send text messages, and that’s it. I didn’t think I wanted a smart phone, but I did want a better phone. The sound quality on this one is crap, and I have a hard enough time understanding these people and their silly accents as it is.

Well, Sandy Claws brought me a proper Motorola Android phone. And I love it. It’s like my beloved Android tablet, but smaller and with a phone stuck on it.

Only. Only…I think my devices are ganging up on me. Colluding. Plotting.

I have two tablets, a Kindle, a computer, (Uncle B’s computer) and now this. And between them, they know the books I’m reading, the websites I go to, my allergies, my bank balance, my bra size, my taste in movies and, to within about fifty feet, where I’m sitting right this minute. And they’re starting to share. And it’s giving me the jimm-jamms.

Like today, I signed up for a new forum account using my computer (CG Society is back in business, if you know the story) and when I called it up on my phone, it already knew my username and password.

I don’t remember telling it it could do that. I don’t really like where this is going.

So, what about you? Phone: smart or dumb? Doing anything to protect your privacy?


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 29, 2015, 10:27 pm

Some weasels get Jesusfones….

What happened woz that Her Stoatliness needed a ‘pure’ Android and if you get something like my absolutely crappy Samsung, what you get is Android overlaid with the sticky fingerprints of people who want to stuff your phone with bloated crap. Thank you Samsung and, as soon as this contract is up – goodbye!

The choice came down to the Motorola, which reviewers seemed to like, or what could be my next buy – a £40 Chinese no-name running raw Android. Someone I work with has one and it runs like an iPhone on speed.

As for the spyware… badgers, being secretive animals, disable just about everything that can track you. We’re just like that. The Red Army knowing where I eat lunch, I can live with. That arsehole Zuckerberg, on the other hand…

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: December 29, 2015, 10:59 pm

My phone is not only not smart, it is absolutely retarded. Deliberately. Won’t take pictures. I never enabled voicemail. I carry it so that if a limited number of people need to reach me, they can, and if I am broke down in the nether end of Patagonia, I can call for help. If I could though, I would disable the E911 feature that gives my location when I call 911, just because I don’t like being tracked. And if I am ever going somewhere I don’t want Zuckerberg or the regime knowing about, I leave the bloody thing at home.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: December 29, 2015, 11:12 pm

First thing: Santa brought me a nice new shaving brush. It has, of course, the traditional badger bristles. Thank you, Uncle B, for your contribution even if it was vicarious.

As for smart gadgetry, sometimes the sharing is a convenience, and sometimes it is scary-bad. I’ve compromised with the four items I use frequently. My primary Windows computer (17″ Dell XPS that makes me not miss any of my old desktop PCs at all at all at all) and my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy Mega with a 6.3″ screen) are set up to use the same Google account. I use Chrome on both and the synchronizing business is very handy.

I also have a Chromebook that is set up with entirely different accounts. When I need to swap things between it and my notebook, I export things such as bookmarks as XML to a thumb drive and import them – manually – on the other setup. This has worked well, and I initially got the Chromebook when I was faced with international travel to support a family member with legal difficulties with high-level assholes in a well-known banana republic which shall remain nameless. Taking my notebook or smartphone through customs and into/out of govt facilities such as courthouses was unthinkable, as was using a mobile phone under any circumstances.

Enter my old Apple iPod Touch. I did have frequent Wi-Fi connections, and the iPod did email OK, and FaceTime was usable (barely) on the tiny screen. Needless to say, my Apple ID is totally unconnected to any other devices.

So there’s my setup, and while not perfect, is reasonably usable. If you already have devices that know each other and you don’t want them to, I imagine you will find YouTube or other step-by-step procedures to divorce them. You’ll probably have to wipe at least one of the gadgets clean and start over, alas.

p.s. Although I use a couple of Google accounts for convenient Gmail separation and sync-ing stuff, I use DuckDuckGo for searching. Highly recommended: good search engine, and they do not track your activity. There’s an Android app for that, too, plus an add-on for Chromebooks.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 29, 2015, 11:35 pm

DuckDuckGo is pretty good, I agree, but for reasons I can’t quite explain, I find Startpage better.

If you haven’t, it is worth trying. Of course, they are probably both run by the NSA 🙁

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: December 29, 2015, 11:59 pm

I went through a phase where I shared everything. Then I started keeping different accounts. Then I had a bad day and started dismantling my online persona and very nearly went off line. Then I had so much time on my hands I trying writing stories that I think are at least ok, but no one knows me because I took my online persona down, and now. I’m just … kinda … in between…something like purgatory. Not dead yet, haven’t raised enough hell to get to heaven. And I’m certain that all of my online comments are stored somewhere just waiting for someone to decide that I am an enemy of the state.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: December 30, 2015, 1:13 am

I have mixed feelings about Android Phones… They are much more flexible than the Apples if you like to get into the software and wallow around with it. For a while I liked mine a lot but eventually I started to get into conflicts and collusions and I started finding I was spending more time playing with the software than using the software to play around. I eventually gave up and went over to the darker side (Apple, so not the darkest side).

As for tracking me..well, no facebook, no LinkedIn (anymore since I retired), and absolutely no Google+ since they abandoned their “Do No Evil” motto. I try to run as silent and deep as possible in the inconnected age.

Words to live by?

Did you ever take a look to see who is left around?
Everyone I thought was cool, is six feet under ground
They tried to get me lots of times and now they’re coming after you
I got out and I’m hid in safe, maybe you can get out too

I’m still alive and well, still alive and well
Every now and then I know it’s kind of hard to tell
But I’m still alive and well

Johnny Winter

Comment from Nicole
Time: December 30, 2015, 2:32 am

I am about at the point where I’ve stopped worrying and started learning to love the bomb. My phone is smart and since it’s an iPhone (we have been an Apple house for about 7 years now), it knows everything after I tell it my name and password. All my stuff like contacts and calendar is in The Cloud and when I got a new iPad for Christmas, all of my stuff got put on it without my having to do anything. I figure everyone out there already has or already could get any info on my they wanted so I’m embracing convenience and loving that I don’t have to spend hours setting stuff up any more. I may well regret it one day, but until then, life is easier when Skynet knows everything about you. 🙂

I don’t go out of my way to store passwords on my device, I don’t post personal info online anywhere that is public and I avoid Russian and Chinese websites when I know about them. That’s about the extent of my security measures.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: December 30, 2015, 2:43 am

my phone is smart because I are an idiot. We’re an apple house with 2 iPhones, 2 iPads and 1 MacBook. The hubby and I are just 1 gnats hair above computer illiterate. I like the simplicity of turn it on and all the damn shit works…and if it all talks to each other and makes my life easier, I’m all good with that.

Comment from Nina
Time: December 30, 2015, 5:56 am

Yeah, I like my devices talking to each other. When I got here a couple of weeks ago my Air, which is new and had never been to my son’s place before, was able to pick up the wifi password from my iPhone and iPad, which had. I know I can turn all that stuff off, but I don’t bother.

I’m too boring even for the NSA.

Comment from gromulin
Time: December 30, 2015, 5:58 am

I spent the Holidays migrating 2 lines over from the Deathstar to Verizon, getting three new Samsung S6’s up and going (mine was just an upgrade from a G4, the other two migrations from iPhones), but in the end SKYNET is now live…Bwahahaha
I now can find both my teens within 50 feet, have remote control of their data plans and can kill their phones with a mash of a button. I can see what apps they have, who they text, who they add to contacts. It’s beautiful. BEHOLD THE POWER OF THIS FULLY FUNCTIONAL TECH-SAVVY FATHER!!! I’ll be in my lair. Side note – Samsung rocks in too many ways to list. FU Apple!

Comment from dissent555
Time: December 30, 2015, 6:12 am

personal information overload in 3 … 2 … 1 …

Comment from F X Muldoon
Time: December 30, 2015, 2:25 pm

1. Go to a pub or other place with WiFi with a laptop and the offending phone.

2. As Android phones require a Google account, which is only slightly less offensive than an Apple account, install a web browser that you don’t use on the laptop.

3. With this browser, use mailinator.com to create a bogus yahoo.com mail account to create a bogus google.com account.

4. Write down the yahoo & google accounts & passwords, delete the web browser.

5. If you want to purchase applicataroniconicons, or “apps” as the kids say, via GooglePlay, buy a $50 (38 Stone 27 hapnikles UK) Visa Gift Card.

6. Turn off the fargin GPS.

7. Do not use the built in Google apps.

8. Do not “share” the phone data with your other devices (turn off the sync).

9. If you are feeling bold, root the phone.

10. Now that you have the “smart” phone sorted, put it in a bag with a heavy weight and throw it in the nearest body of salt water.

11. Turn on your flip phone.

Comment from mojo
Time: December 30, 2015, 10:21 pm

unlocked GSM phone (Moto G), will take various SIMs, pay-as-you-go.

and no provider-locked bloatware.

Comment from BJM
Time: December 30, 2015, 10:29 pm

DuckDuckGo is pretty good, I agree, but for reasons I can’t quite explain, I find Startpage better.

If you haven’t, it is worth trying. Of course, they are probably both run by the NSA 🙁

I don’t think it makes a whit of difference…data miners of all flavors have their tentacles so deeply embedded in the OS that they sweep up our data no matter what we do.

You can run a no-track/incognito window, or AV app protected window, but it’s just smoke & mirrors.

You don’t think the gummint isn’t sweeping every hard drive that connects on a public node? Fish meet barrel.

Turning off the GPS only makes your phone less usable, especially during an emergency, and the authorities can track via cell tower and MAC address…and/or your car’s data box.

Bottom line, your device’s MAC address at some point leads back to a credit card.

I synced Amazon & Google accounts on my Samsung tablet, Win laptop and Moto Droid since I figure they were born compromised and it’s convenient to sync across whatever device I want to use. It’s fabulous to begin watching a movie on one device and pick it up in another room on a different device. Or reading a book on Kindle and pick it up on Audible on my Droid phone in the car.

However, our smart TV’s and Blu Rays are not connected to the internet…we use Roku boxes which, thus far, are fairly non-intrusive.

My desktop is for gaming only so there’s little to track as the game portals already have my data. No point in having a powerful game machine and bogging it down with app bloat.

Comment from BJM
Time: December 30, 2015, 10:52 pm

@Uncle Al

Um…so how do you get to Duckduckgo? Used the back button between duckduck’s pages?

It’s turtles all the way down.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: December 31, 2015, 12:03 am

Watch out for your smart TV. Vizio TVs track your TV watching and mail it home.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: December 31, 2015, 7:34 am

BJM (et.al.):

Um…so how do you get to Duckduckgo?…

Simplest thing I could think of –


Opens as a stand-alone link – though, it’s a pre-loadable app-based search strip at the top-right of my preferred browser’s window (I mostly use Pale Moon, a free-for-the-downloading, more-efficient [I think, anyway] branch-off near-clone of Firefox). On the front page, it also gives you a link to make it your default looker-upper, if you want – though, you should probably test-drive it a bit before you do that.

Actually, I plead guilty to still using Google, often as not – but, I’ve got some fairly-solid ad blocker stuff, other “invasion”-repelling stuff that’s (apparently) very effective, and I periodically bilge all cookies, so there’s that…in the end, you can run (online), but without getting pretty elaborate (false-I.D.s, full-coverage encryption, etc.), you can’t really hide all that much.

I also don’t use any sort of non-hardwired Internet access if I can help it – wireless online back-and-forth with anything even remotely personal is simply begging some nefarious yobbo(s) to intercept-and-steal…

Just do the best you can, encrypt (strongly!) what you really, really need to keep “quiet” online – and stay entirely off the Intartoobs-accessible devices with all genuinely private stuff.

Comment from mojo
Time: December 31, 2015, 11:58 am

MAC address is a hold-over from the original ethernet protocol, and uniquely id’s an interface.

I think you mean the IMEI.

Comment from BJM
Time: December 31, 2015, 6:59 pm


Yes, of course cell phones have a different network ID scheme but the concept is the same, burners would be the cell phone breadcrumb exception. Given the ease for terrorists to purchase and use burners, I am surprised that govts haven’t closed the burner loophole.

The point I was making, is that all devices have a hardwired identifier that cannot be masked and will lead back to the person holding the device account. Software only masks but cannot hide hardware ID numbers from those with tools to seek it out and it’s hard to tell the black hats from the white nowadays.

For those of you wondering what the hell we’re talking about. Your computer (and router) has a unique, hard-coded hardware address given to the network adapter card when it is manufactured. Once a host registers that unique number on it’s network it then matches internal databases to ID the machine asking for permission to connect (There is another protocol that translates IPs to MACs).

This is why secure sites warn about public access and ask for extra security info when you access on a new device or from another network.

Some might remember the olden days of modems when the machines acked back & forth…they still handshake only now it’s totally opaque to the user and takes nanoseconds.

BTW-an easy way to keep low skill level wi-fi freeloaders off your wi-fi is to use hardware addresses to allow access to your router. Any device not on the permission list is rejected. Go to your router manufacturer’s support page and search for a MAC filtering how-to or Youtube. However MAC filtering will not prevent a hacker from accessing your network, just the mooching neighbor, as there are tools to capture the hardware address and/or spoof it to gain access.

The best defense is still WPA2 encryption, a strong passphrase and common sense, thankfully, of which we have a plethora in Stoatville.

Comment from BJM
Time: December 31, 2015, 7:17 pm


This is why I disabled interactivity and don’t connect our smart TVs to the internet. Their wi-fi is feeble and has a lousy refresh rate anyhoo.

Having our TV habits tracked is one thing, but that it can transmit conversation back to a faceless entity is more than alarming.

Personally, I’m rather disappointed in the glorious future as predicted in the last century. We were promised Whirled Peas and flying cars; we got terrorism and Telescreens.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 31, 2015, 7:49 pm

Interesting stuff. Thanks, BJM.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: January 1, 2016, 4:55 am

Gromulin is my HERO!

Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 7:47 pm

BJM: your home network runs on Ethernet, until it hits the router that can packetize the EN blocks for IP/TCP/UDP. The IP protocol is then used on the wifi and WAN links.

Phones? Totally different media access protocol. based on the HW’s fixed IMEI and changeable SIM info.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 7:51 pm

PS: the point of using multiple pay-as-you-go SIMs is to make tracking more difficult by using multiple networks in random order.

Not as good as lots of burners, but less expensive.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 7:54 pm

grumpyguts bitch: can we lose the stupid “rate this” bubbles which pop up on a mouse-over? Require a click, at least.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 1, 2016, 7:55 pm

PPPS: I swear, that weasel is making kissy-face at me…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2016, 8:07 pm

Duckface. At least, that’s the search term I used to find those lips.

Comment from RealMc
Time: January 8, 2016, 11:28 am

Hey, Open up Bing .com

They gots a SNOW WEASEL!!!!!!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 8, 2016, 9:02 pm

OH MY GOSH THAT’S AWESOME, RealMc. I’ve just spent half an hour trying to video capture it, as it’s not available for download.

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