The alternative is effectively DDoSing random websites from 100 million devices, which is definitively an uncool move.
I put "internet" in quotes because it's not really a well-formed concept. How much of the global network needs to be accessible to count as "internet access"? Your home LAN? Your country? A specific server in Larry Page's basement?
This is more of a problem with things like Windows reaching out to msftconnecttest.com or some other generic internet service. But in the case of a smart home device it's needs are usually more well defined.
This becomes harder with a consumer router trying to determine if it is online though unfortunately because of exactly what you describe.
If you just try to ping the resource you were going to access, for all you know it's the resource that's down.
FWIW, I use whitehouse.gov. I figure it's my tax dollars at work.
The alternative is that the devices:
* ping an IP controlled by their manufacturer, and/or
* try to ping one of a catalog of multiple large sites (e.g. Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) instead of relying just on Google, and/or
* allow the user to override the IP they use.
Who is the manufacturer? For many smart home devices, Google either is the manufacturer or at least the creator of the software, so it sounds like they might already be doing what you're proposing.
> Who is the manufacturer? For many smart home devices, Google either is the manufacturer or at least the creator of the software
Probably not Google, since the whole point of his experiment was to remove Google from his life.
Also, the original quote doesn't make much sense if you assume he was talking about Google-manufactured devices.
For me, these are the most important servers for the www. More important than Google's.
Never thought to use a "random website". Is that your idea?
In that case, you could ping a recursive nameserver on the open internet that listens on a non-standard port.
Which reminds me:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15911501 TP-Link firmware sends six DNS requests and one NTP query every 5 seconds https://www.ctrl.blog/entry/tplink-aggressive-ntp
Not denying your bad Apple Maps experience - just, I have no idea why mine is so trouble-free because so many have bad ones.
(For calibration, I live in NoVA)
Occasionally I'll rent a car that only has Apple's Car Play and have to use my work iPhone to navigate (gawd forbid Apple would let us use Google Maps on Car Play;).
My experience has been universally poor:
- it provides no instructions for major actual intersections. It thinks you're staying on same main road even when there's a confusing Y in front of the driver. I have constant moments of panic when I see the intersection coming and no help from the maps.
- It provides confusing instructions on straight roads ("Turn right in 100 meters" when there's a stretch of straight road)
- It'll reference names for a road that are nowhere near what any of the signs indicate
- "Keep in right three lanes to stay on the road" - when the rightmost lane is actually a turning lane
- Something that is admittedly tricky, it struggles to provide useful instructions on more than four-way roads (e.g. if it's a 5-way or 6-way, "Turn right" has multiple interpretations). It doesn't use, at least not in my cases "bear right" or "slight right" or similar vs "turn right" or "acute right" or "sharp right" - and again, it gets the road names wrong.
- When Searching:
* it'll show me Bedford England 5000km away, but not Bedford NS 12km away
* It has some weird internal naming so searching for actual address will again not lead me anywhere near to what I want
Basically it's been a constant source of frustration beyond what I believe could reasonably be attributed to my inexperience with its UI :-/
EDIT/UPDATE: Thx for feedback; my work phone is on iOS 11, good to know that (*recently, after 4 years without it) CarPlay now supports other maps; note that I don't think it in any way makes Apple Maps experience itself any better 0:-)
So perhaps it's not that GoogleMaps are good, AppleMaps are bad. It's more that while AppleMaps are good/decent, GoogleMaps these days are miraculous - almost to the point of being unfair comparison.
I don't own a car with Apple CarPlay, but a recent rental had it, and it worked perfectly with Google Maps.
There was pre-action mention of "Turn right in 500 feet". The driver was so frustrated with it, I finally turned on Google Maps and made the co-pilot turn off Apple Maps.
On the interstate, Google mentions "In 2 miles, take Exit 17 to Middleton", "In point 5 miles, take Exit 17", and "Take Exit 17".
Additionally, I don't know if it had the lane indicator Google Maps puts up at the top . You could feel the tension rise in the car as we tried getting to the various destinations throughout the week.
Apple Maps did route me up a to the top of a mountain on a single-lane two-way road in France, but I had "avoid tolls" enabled so it might have been my fault. Can't say it wasn't scenic though.
The search, however, is absurd! It does constantly return places on the other side of the planet! And God-forbid you misspell anything by a single character. I wish there was a plugin for Apple products that would just return the "Did You Mean" result from a Google search. I'd gladly trade a little bit of privacy for crowdsourced spellcheck at this point.
They do support third party navigation now
Perhaps there's a setting I've missed, but for me Apple Maps seems to "lock" onto a particular route, and if I miss a direction it'll keep trying to get me back onto that route no matter how convoluted it would be, rather than updating to the new 'best route' like Google Maps usually manages.
Other than that, which I recognize as partially user error, Apple Maps works at least as well as Google. If anything I like their routing better... so long as there's no unexpected issues.
That said - there is a lot of feature parity that Apple Maps does not meet Google Maps on (i.e. - searching for something along your route is near impossible on Apple Maps, whereas that's a natural seamless integration on Google Maps).
Additionally, and this might be just because I'm more used to Google Maps, but the UI is way easier to follow in Google Maps - it feels more natural and in-sync with my actual position as a driver. If I have to turn off an intersection, I sometimes feel like I'm guessing if it's the right exit with Apple Maps, but never have such confusion on Google's.
Lastly - and this is also certainly anecdotal, but almost always Google Maps estimates are far more accurate for me than Apple Maps. Apple Maps has several times taken me a different route than Google Maps to my work, only for it to take another 5-10 minutes than normal. I've tried it several times and it just doesn't match up.
Apple Maps sometimes feels closer to a burden to bear since I've chosen Apple for so much - I wish it worked as well dearly, since Apple tries to make you use it so often, but because of the experience I'm much more willing to copy an address and paste it myself into Google Maps than get that sweet integrated sensation I crave.
Happens to me on Google, but I don't have Apple to compare it with. But I definitely do miss or take the wrong turns because of this.
The two companies have different approaches to businesses, landmarks. I find Apple much better for places I"m familiar with -- generally has the info I am looking for without as much noise. But when I'm a tourist in someplace unfamiliar I find google clearer so far.
Some of the worst traffic in the country, and absolutely awful roads.
Other than that, I did not have much issues.
The Uber/Lyft app dependency on Google is surprising but probably shouldn't be. I wonder/hope it's different on iOS?
I do like the parking spot rememberer though.
The only complaint I might have is absence of certain venues/places that GoogleMap has, but this is something I can live with, putting privacy first.
Personally I prefer having a majority of my internet experience centralized in one place. Calendar, Email, files, maps, news, search, entertainment, etc. This saves a lot of time and effort in my life. Is it worth it?
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15989146 is just one example I found with minimal searching.
Though for whatever reason the formatting on that appears terrible (to me in my uMatrix locked down Firefox)
Just because you don't balk at the current usage (that you know of), doesn't mean they aren't, or won't, do something you won't balk at. Anything learned can't be unlearned, and so by definition you've allowed them collect any data they are able to, and to do anything they wish with the data they collect.
In fact, I actually bought the pixel 3 just two weeks ago. It's nice.
I made a similar observation before, and despite reasonable points raised I was downvoted to oblivion both here and at lobste.rs.
It is one of those things you can't say here.
If you're a dissident, a journalist or a political party member, there are powerful people who might want to track or silence you. If you're the wrong type of minority in the wrong place at the wrong time, there are people who might want to put you in camps or murder you.
A KGB-style surveillance apparatus that's used to better target ads can be abused by anyone with an agenda, no matter how petty their motivation is.
Please don't strawman my anecdote. I never said it was Google's fault.
However, I did say that Google's surveillance system enabled a level of stalking that's never been this accessible to laymen and nation-states alike.
*Google's surveillance system in conjunction with irresponsibly giving one's account login to one's ex
Fixed that for you.
To answer your question, scroll up two posts, because I already answered it:
> However, I did say that Google's surveillance system enabled a level of stalking that's never been this accessible to laymen and nation-states alike.
If someone stole the key to my house, and went on to steal important things, is it the fault of the company that makes the locks? Did the lock company "enable" the stealing to happen?
But then blaming someone/ something else for what one is personally responsible for is as old as humanity.
Here is the comment I addressed with my anecdote:
> I'm still not convinced that "being tracked" in my day-to-day life is a negative thing. I still don't perceive that my privacy is lost when I use those services.
Perhaps context is necessary, or perhaps you should consider why you're so driven to make assumptions about my posts.
> If someone stole the key to my house, and went on to steal important things, is it the fault of the company that makes the locks? Did the lock company "enable" the stealing to happen?
This is a poor analogy. Before locks, people could still break into your house.
Before Google et al., you needed expend significant resources to track a person 24/7 to the nearest 3 meters. As I said in my previous post, fine-grained tracking is more accessible to the general public now than it's ever been before.
This was my point.
Here's the poster's comment:
> I'm still not convinced that "being tracked" in my day-to-day life is a negative thing.
I provided an anecdote where "being track" in my day-to-day life was a negative thing. I don't believe it's that hard to follow.
No, you provided an anecdote where having your "password stolen" (by an abusive ex) was a negative thing.
If someone stole the key to your house, and went on to steal important things, is it the fault of the company that makes the locks? Does that make the act of locking, day after day, a negative thing?
Does Google really free up your email address for re-allocation when you delete your account? I do recall that was in issue at one point with Yahoo Mail. No email provider should allow the reassignment of previously used email addresses for precisely this reason.
According to : "Your Gmail address can’t be used by anyone else in the future."
Seems really crazy considering how email is often the verification for password recovery.
Everyone knows if you allow email re-use, it breaks the most obvious security features for everything on the internet.
It also shows that it doesn't have real competitors, being so broad in scope and having all that data before others did.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that the US nationalizes it. That leaves EU, Australian, Canadian, &c Google customers out in the cold---it's unlikely either the US or those other countries will be comfortable with continued service by a national utility to customers outside that nation. Perhaps some kind of subsidiary model could be constructed, but the details of how are non-trivial.
Mail is on Thunderbird and an IMAP server at an ISP. My email address is on my own domain. If I want to make something available to others, I put it on Github, or an "outgoing" directory on my web site. Documents are edited with LibreOffice. Browsing is with Firefox on the desktop and Fennec on the phone.
A few sites don't load properly, but they're marginal ones for which there are better alternatives. More often, the site loads but the ads don't, which is nice. I don't see many ads.
It's just easier this way. The junk level is way down.
It's great that some of us can protect privacy by going crazy on each channel that leaks our personal data. But the remaining >7B people on the planet will still leak a lot of personal details, undermining their authority over their choices. If the data creep continues we'll one day find ourselves in a dystopia, and we'll be the people to blame. Much like the 2008 crisis is the fault of bankers because it was easiest for them to figure out that the human project is headed towards suffering.
> I have to admit that the enjoyment of a holiday dedicated to dressing up is somewhat degraded when not using Facebook’s apps.
And in Private browsing, no caches should be saved anyway.
> And in Private browsing, no caches should be saved anyway.
That's one of the trade-offs the user is choosing to make and one of the reasons why those that use Private browsing at all, use it selectively. I believe Private browsing will not re-download web fonts if the browser has already cached them in a non-private window but that's a performance and bandwidth distinction, the CSS request will still be made.
The page explicitly states that they use Google Fonts log data in aggregate to show font popularity, that's it. They don't set a cookie and request headers and ips are relatively poor identifiers for individuals. I don't think they use Google Fonts to track one's browsing habits, you're free think that I'm insufficiently paranoid.
It suffers by comparison to Google Maps mostly in the lack of integration with the full database of businesses/reviews/etc. though I think it probably has most of the business listings. I suspect its traffic info is weaker as well, though I haven't really checked.
One employer used Gmail, and I happily used it whilst employed there, but that didn't do nearly enough to change my mind.
And so I never did buy into Google like the linked article describes. To this day I cannot imagine a scenario in which I'd trust my world to a single vendor, in a single location.
It's no surprise that the non-technical great unwashed don't think this way, but it surprises me that technically literate and able people do not care for reducing or eliminating the risk posed by depending on a single vendor for... everything.
Especially given what we know about Google.
I wouldn't do that. Riseup is providing email on a very tight budget. They are activists and every free account they give out is using some precious resources. Unless you really need it for specific purposes I believe it's better to go to fastmail or protonmail for "general purposes" email needs.
There is a ton of web and data infrastructure being hosted/ran by Microsoft, Google, and Amazon that we often don't think about. The only big service provider I can think of besides those three is Digital Ocean, and it's not a 1:1 comparison, since they're more like infrastructure.
*edit: Basically, if you find Amazon so abhorrent that you want to cut them out of your life, you can't unless you eschew huge swathes of the internet. Which might work for you. But think about that: they own the digital land under our feet.
I try to keep as many sites as possible into relevant containers. Facebook and Google get their own containers just for them (there are additional addons which will handle this for you as getting all of Google siloed off is cumbersome otherwise).
I also make use of the built in tracker blocking, blocking all third party cookie use entirely. There's also an option to resist fingerprinting that I enable, which does a ton of things 
For blocking I'm using uMatrix, plus uBlock Origin and Ghostery. There's a lot of overlap and it might not be the most efficient, but there are reasons. This is fine for sites that I'm on regularly, but is annoying for one-offs. I actually flip to Chrome with only uBlock Origin for some purchases and for some specific websites that work better there (like GMail), though I could probably use the Firefox beta channel builds as a non-locked-down browser for that.
uMatrix generally blocks third-party items, though it defaults to allowing CSS and images from anywhere and I haven't changed that. uBlock Origin provides list-based blocking instead and is a failover if I give up and temporarily turn off uMatrix for a site. Ghostery is useful for a quick reference of why various things are blocked in terms of website categories (trackers, discussion, ads, etc.).
I'm also using DeCentralEyes, which provides locally-injected versions of a lot of CDN-based resources.
Here's a paper they put out about how they handle learning from their users in aggregate without knowing anything about specific users—they call it differential privacy:
Wife's appleid got broken into last year and some stuff was purchased with funds in the account. One call, and we got our money back and the account all reset. After being the administrator of a google business account for a few years, I was astonished. I'm not really ok with how much information apple OR google has on their users, but I am absolutely sure that apple is doing a better job and is more trustworthy.
The biggest problem with debating privacy and security these days is the sheer paranoia running rampant from people who don't understand the workings behind the scenes, coupled with the people behind the scenes assuming defensive tones from the get-go whenever stuff is brought up.
Overall, though, I am glad this is becoming more of a thing in terms of mass appeal. Hopefully the pendulum will swing the other way to a greater awareness of shiny-new-tech-that-comes-with-strings.
Agreed, and too absolutist. You can take a reasonable stance without upending your life. So you can't get away from maps integration in apps, that's ok, still using the competition helps. Same with browser choice and others. I can decry all the plastic waste and still type on a keyboard with plastic parts.
That will be pretty easy. Only thing I used of Microsoft website for is to get .NET for a one-off project that required it.
Don't forget: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitio...
Avoiding Microsoft is often a problem when exchange documents with someone and the files don't work well with whatever not-Office you choose (Apple Page/Numbers/Keynote, LibreOffice, etc.).
I wonder if they can even attempt to block receiving or placing phone calls from/to a number with Skype on the other end.