Sunday, 4 September 2016

No varnishing but hopefully vanishing

We’re moored in the Saltisford Arm at Warwick and on shore power for the first time in quite a few months.  I’ve been regularly turning the Victron Inverter/Charger off and back on in a effort to both squeeze as much power into the domestic batteries as possible and to recover some lost capacity.  After the first two hours on shore power the ammeter showed a small negative value.  By turning the Victron off for 3 second and then back on I forced it to restart the ‘Bulk’ charge cycle.  When I first started doing this the ‘Bulk’ rate was 40-50 amps.  After 12 hours it’s now down to a peak of 10 amps on the initial Bulk charge which then falls quite rapidly.

The plan for today was to do some sanding and varnishing of doors and hatch linings.  However it started raining during the night and hasn’t stopped.  Consequentially the varnishing task has been deferred. 

With little to do I started searching online about upgrading the firmware on our wireless router currently in Australian storage.  It’s now starting to get old with the manufacturers upgrades ceasing in 2012.  Although I could have modified it to operate on the boat 12V system there was little point as it doesn’t accept a usb wifi dongle.  So we have a reasonably new, but relatively unused Linksys wireless router in storage. 

After some searching I’ve discovered there are two alternatives to the current dated Linksys firmware.  This might be considered as the equivalent of fitting a new drivetrain and engine to a car.  I could use Tomato or DD-WRT.  Both of them are enhancements when compared to the existing firmware and importantly, free!  Unlike the Linksys firmware, each of them is able to run a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on the router.  This has three major advantages.

  1. Everything we do on our (the home) side of the internet is anonymous.
  2. I won’t have to install a VPN on every device (computer, tablet, TV, etc) in the house.
  3. We will only need to purchase/rent one VPN license.

You might wonder why I would want to be anonymous?  The answer is I’m starting to become paranoid about the amount of personal data being harvested by internet companies; in particular search engines and social media.  Microsoft ceased supporting Windows Live Writer because it decided blogs are a low value personal data (revenue) source.  Google would like to get rid of Blogger and move everyone to Google+ where they can be a high value quasi Facebook. 

Frankly Facebook frightens me.  I’ve never seen so many people so freely and willingly give away personal information about themselves, their friends, children and grandchildren.  Facebook deletes NOTHING!  Users may think they have deleted data, but all Facebook does is hide it from viewers.  They (and Google) employ powerful and accurate facial recognition software.  If you face appears on a friend’s Facebook page then Facebook can and do track you and what you were doing.  If you gave them your mobile phone number (to enhance your security…. hahaha!) then they are probably tracking all your movements.  This is because Facebook will be continuously running in the background on your phone..   These days I rarely place any thing on Facebook and ‘like’ even less.  Usually it’s just photos of scenery, which I never link to a recognised placename.  Consequentially Facebook bombards me with queries about whether I like certain Ads; do I know these people; please provide more personal information in my profile to enhance my experience; provide my phone number or email address to improve my security.  My usual Facebook Ads are for Viagra or Russian brides (my profile has the barest minimum of information.  I was born in 1901 and am single :-)   

Signing out.  I always sign out of Google (search, email, blog, etc) and Facebook when I’ve finished .  I never just close down the screen because the program continues to run in the background collecting data on where you go next and sending it back to Google/Facebook.  I have the browser configured to erase my browsing history when I close it and I always close the browser after using Facebook or a Google product.

After he retired, my father completed a Masters degree in computer science. I used to scoff at his paranoia over personal data protection.  Now I realise he was right!  Our son specializes in the ‘search’ side of internet marketing.  Some years ago he ceased publishing on social media sites.   Yes I am paranoid!  


clint said...

(from NZ) for much the same reason I refuse to join 'Flybuys' or apply for a Woolworths/Countdown 'OneCard'. I don't want my every single purchase data mined and supplied to 'trusted third party companies'.

I have never created a Facebook account in my name and never will.

BTW, spring has arrived down after a very mild winter. Everyone but the ski fields are happy.

NB Muleless said...

Can you not do "force equalisation " on your inverter? When we are on shore power we do 5 or more which brings the batteries right up

Tom and Jan said...

Yes I can do that Gary but the batteries are in a very awkward and inaccessible spot with a self watering system. Last time I did a 15.2V equalizing charge one of the batteries leaked. The Sterling PDAR puts out 14.8V and also does regular equalizing cycles, although I'm not sure of the voltage. The batteries are now 5 years old and holding up well. They are normally above 80% in the morning.

Nev Wells said...

I also recently toned down my FB engagement. It is a real contradiction in the UK over personal data. A few years ago there was an outcry over personal ID cards - they did not want to be most freely allow a large amount of tracking data to be harvested via ther social media activity.

We recently discussed if phones listened in to conversations to pick up key words to then 'sell'.... my son is conducting an experiment where he routinely mentions a very specific product and it waiting to see if it appears on his phone/laptop in any advertising. Talk about paranoid !