Upgraded from Safari to Orion and couldn’t be happier

Web browsing on my Apple devices has been awful, although pretty much everything else has been excellent. Now that I’ve replaced Safari with the Orion browser by Kagi, I have an excellent web browsing experience.

Why does Safari suck? Advertising.

Internet content paid for by advertising is a terrible business model.

For my home automation experiments, I bought a refurbished iPad. They are quite inexpensive as schools age out the older ones and replace them with new iPads. But a 2018 iPad is still a fine device in 2023, and I wanted something to work with HomeKit. The problem was, I’ve got this iPad just sitting there on my nightstand, and there would be times when I wanted to look something up on the Internet. I would give in to temptation, which was universally a mistake. Every time I used Safari to search the Internet it was a completely awful experience because Safari does not support uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill.

Over time, I developed an aversion to browsing the web on any Apple device. It was always bad.

A week ago, I learned about a web browser for Apple devices that can invoke Firefox extensions: Orion browser by Kagi.

Of course, the first thing I added to it was uBlock Origin.

And now I find that browsing the web on iPhone or iPad is pretty nice.


They also have a version for Mac OS, if that’s your thing. 🙂

The Rocket Mortgage web site is privacy hostile

If I have any sort of privacy controls enabled, the Rocket Mortgage web site does not work. They have some sort of cross-site scripting going on where they throw something at https://streaming.split.io/ (which is actually a ably.com )

Even when I tell Firefox to keep everything together in the same container, Rocket Mortgage fails it. My only choice to get it to work is to disable all privacy controls.

Thanks, Rocket Mortgage. I simply love you for pimping out my data to advertising johns. Not.

OMG shitty advertising

Do I want to watch television? Or maybe check out YouTube for a Home Assistant tutorial? I decided to try YouTube on the television set. I do the search terms, I find a video with more than 1 million views, and I hit play.

First, Google wants to play an ad. It is so fucking stupid that I’m out.

Back to HBO for me.

I suppose someone thought that being outrageous was clever. Instead, they just confirmed my suspicions that YouTube, on the television, is simply a waste of time.

I chuckled at a recent observation by someone: Google gets paid to put ads on YouTube. Then they put unskippable ads on YouTube. Then they offer to let you pay to skip those ads. “Get paid to create the problem, get paid to solve the problem. Genius.”

The year 2022: Late stage 2021 but with new, higher prices

h/t to one of Scott Adams Twitter followers, responding to a challenge to summarize 2022 in the snarkiest way possible.

The whole thing is a psy op run by incompetents at behest of elites inflicted upon the aimless. It came about through sixty years of indoctrination: “Buy this shit from our advertiser; that will make you happy.”

Amazon disappointment – I’ve removed my Echo (Alexa) devices

There was a recent policy change at Amazon which I hate, and as a result, I have removed the Amazon Echo (Alexa) devices and app from my life. It does mean I’ll be carrying my phone with me more.

A part of the Vision Statement for Amazon is “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company”. Well, this change in policy belies that; trying to annoy their customers for more money is the new practice. That’s the nice way to put it; predation is the stark reality.

So, what happened?

  1. Amazon Music started inserting audio advertising into my morning music play. This happened four days ago.
  2. Amazon raised their prices on Prime membership, and I opted-out at the beginning of October (about one month ago).

I’ve mentioned before that I hate bullies, and dislike advertising. I also really liked setting up my morning wakeup routine to start the day with inspirational music. This change by Amazon crossed all three lines.

So if my morning wakeup routine is spoiled anyway, what really do I need these devices for?

Other than as voice controlled light switches, they are sometimes a convenient voice controlled timer. I don’t need this – it’s a nicety at best.

The bargain was they would listen in, the app on my phone would do tracking, and Amazon would do (whatever) with that data. I assumed they were monetizing it somehow; that was fine – that was the bargain. But now that they’ve crossed the line and spoiled my morning wakeup routine, I’m out.

Really, the only power consumers have is the power of money; either the boycott or favored trade.

Part of the annoyance is that I purchased the .mp3 files outright. I made my playlists out of only these files. Yes, I wanted the artists to get paid for their work, and thought is was only fair that Amazon also got paid for doing the work to set up the deal, import the files and handle the transactions to the artists. My point is that I paid for these files. Anyone that would wrap my files inside their advertising is a bully / predator.

This morning, the advertisement specifically said “Buy Amazon Music Unlimited and you won’t get advertisements”. Or, I can just completely opt out. Spotify costs the same as Amazon Music Unlimited, they do have Joe Rogan, and they have an API I can use to create my morning playlist programatically.

In that way, Spotify is better: I can write a Python script to classify songs into lists, and pick two from the spirtitual category, one from the energetic category, build today’s list and program Spotify to play that. I could even then put the songs in a FIFO queue (perhaps with some randomization). Much better than anything I could get with Amazon Music.

It’s not lost on me that the Open Source community has a project, Mycroft, which would let me connect to my IoT devices without the data tracking which was the part of the Amazon Echo bargain. I’ve already got one Raspberry Pi. All it really needs is a microphone. Guess what I’ve got on order?

Maybe I don’t even need Spotify. Maybe I can just get Mycroft or Home Assistant to play .mp3 files on various Bluetooth connected devices.

Until I get that set up, I’ll have to use my phone apps for controlling the lights and keeping timers. This is a minor inconvenience at worst. And if eventually I hook Mycroft up to a Home Assistant and a Magic Mirror, the better.

“Free” apps for your smartphone

There has been a long standing piece of knowledge in the computer industry that if you are not the customer, you are the product being sold. That is to say that advertisers are the customer, and the data that the “free” services harvest from you is what is being sold to them.

There’s a reason why you get offers for a free hamburger if you order is from their app (and the like). If you use the app, you collect reward points and get discounts and such.

Oh By The Way


Do be very selective in what apps you install. They are all pretty much data harvesting machines.

Why I would like to see the U.S. Postal Service privatized

  • I could pay to have junk mail thrown in the trash at the source
  • The USPS often gets used for corruption
  • Being government employees, bad apples last forever

No more junk mail

The number one reason I would love to have the USPS privatized is that it would become possible for me to pay a fee (to whomever takes their place) to trash any junk mail that gets put in the queue to be sent to me.

At work, we spend a rather large amount of dollars to combat email spam. Everyone’s life is better for it*. But that’s not an option with physical snail mail. Why the heck not? Because the USPS is a government agency. They are very specifically not allowed to “censor” mail by just throwing it in the trash.

If they tried, they would get sued, because if you’re a scumbag with a lawyer, you want to sue the really big organization with the large checking account.

But with a private company, I could buy in to a Friend of the Environment subscription plan, where I pay the delivery company a small monthly fee, and they chuck the junk mail into the recycling bin. They don’t want to spend the money on fuel to transport it. They would have a financial incentive to do the right thing early on in the process.

Indeed, it would take almost no time for the people who pay for snail mail spam to ask the privatized company “How many of these should we print? How many are actually going to get delivered?” The end result would be less trash generated; less trash to be wrangled. It’s a win-win-lose for me, the mail carrier, and then the spammer, er advertiser.

One problem of course, would be predatory advertisers implementing junk delivery, as a protection racket (to collect the fee to not deliver it). They’d hire an Uber or Lyft driver to put trash in your mailbox, along with a flyer that suggests you pay them for no more trash.

I’m going to have to puzzle out what antidotes there might be to a pristine mailbox protection racket. If you have any ideas, please feel free to make a SQRL identity, and login and post.

USPS as a political corruption tool

This is not the USPS fault. But, because they are a government agency, they are the tail on the dog that is Congress and their buddies. Congresscritters love to commission a new post office building to line the pockets of their buddy who has some land for sale. Whether that buddy then kicks back some of the overpriced payment back to the critter is an exercise for the reader.

Back during the Reagan and (first) Bush era, every post office building had a Novell NetWare server in it. When Bill Clinton got elected, every one of those NetWare servers were replaced with Microsoft Windows servers. It was a gift to Microsoft, at the expense of Novell.

Because email started replacing some snail mail, the overall volume dropped. Suddenly we didn’t need so many post office buildings. And magically, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s company was awarded the contract to broker the sales of 60 USPS facilities (one report says 600 were on the list to be considered for sale).

The problem is, that as a Federal agency, if there is corruption there, there is no incentive to get rid of it as long as it doesn’t become embarrassing. Did the CIO of USPS get a kickback from Microsoft? Nobody has incentive to rat the guy out, and, they do have incentive to keep their jobs by keeping their mouths shut. Did someone at USPS get a kickback from Richard Blum (Feinstein’s husband)? Nobody has incentive to rat the guy out, and, they do have incentive to avoid retaliatory employment decisions.

My local postmaster

So, my dad was a member of the California Young Republicans back in the 1960’s and 70’s. I would learn that the postmaster in town was on the Democratic Central Committee. I remember my dad suddenly going in to a rage one day; I had followed him out to the mailbox. “Do you see this‽ Do you see this‽”

The post office was reading our mail.

Of course, in school I was educated that one’s mail was sacrosanct, and the Post Office never read one’s mail. That turned out to be total bullshit.

What my dad was shaking in front of me was an envelope with a return address stamp of CYR California Young Republicans. The top of the envelope had been sliced open (all the way across the top, and not gently, either), and then lots of cellophane tape had been used to close it again. There was a rubber stamp on it: Damaged During Handling.

My dad would later go to the post office and speak with the postmaster, telling him that someone in the post office was reading his mail. The postmaster feigned an apology, but the mail reading did not stop. It was the postmaster himself who had ordered that all the CYR mail get routed to his desk first.

When I was younger, pretty much the very beginning of mass-shootings in America was in Post Offices. A new term entered the vernacular: “Going Postal”. What was happening was that guys were in line for promotion in every post office, and (some of) their bosses were real assholes. They would torment an underling for decades, and the underling couldn’t do anything about it, because his hopes for advancement would then be destroyed. 20 years later, it’s finally time to get the promotion to Postmaster of the Office, and the outgoing asshole gives the promotion to a junior bootlicker. The next day, the spurned postal worker would come in and shoot up the place. Institutional assholism works in government, because one cannot go to other bosses and say “This asshole is losing us money”. It’s a government agency. It’s not supposed to make money. If it’s making money, then it’s competing with the private sector who could probably do the job more efficiently anyway.

In my dad’s case of systematic invasion of privacy for political gain, there was nothing to do but to hide. The mail from CYR started using a fake return address. It was some sort of charity / orphanage, if I recall correctly.

That doesn’t mean that the California Young Republicans never sent another envelope with the old CYR rubber stamp. Indeed, one went out with “Remember that the big all-state dinner meeting will be held at the Black Oak Restaurant in Paso Robles at 7:00 PM on (whatever date)”. Our copy was opened and read and taped shut and rubber stamped with fuck-you-we’re-reading-your-mail as per usual. In the envelope with the charity return address, the letter said the meeting was still in Paso Robles, but it had been moved to a different restaurant. Someone from CYR did go hang out in the lobby at the Black Oak, and sure enough a total stranger walked up to the hostess and asked to be seated with the California Young Republicans group. Confusion ensued for the hostess and spy, although the CYR member got the chuckle he was expecting.

My bigger point is that management assholes exist in larger organizations, but, when that organization is private sector, the organization suffers enough for it that there is financial incentive to change (not always, due to monopoly power). But in public sector organizations, it is almost impossible to remove bad apples. There is no real incentive to change. The person who reports is asking for a target on their back and henceforth will never get another promotion, ever.

If Congress couldn’t manipulate USPS (because now they are UPS or Fedex or whatever), that would be a good thing. If bad apples didn’t have the career public sector employment worth suing over (for wrongful termination), that would be a good thing. And if I could pay to auto-trash junk mail, I would love that, and it would be the best thing.

*I would even argue that the spammer’s life is better for it: if you are a spammer, you are a loser who thinks there is a easy / low effort / low quality way to get rich. The quicker we clobber your delusion, the better for you.

Advertising sucks (again)

I don’t know how much money there is in tracking people and selling their online profiles / behavior patterns. My guess is that a huge amount of folly has people convinced that their folly is worth it. I hope that they are severely disappointed.

I first noticed with WordPress, that Automattic (the company behind WordPress), really wants to track your every move. They created the Gravatar system, and it is something that you cannot opt out of. You as a WordPress admin were not allowed local profile pictures – you had to use Automattic’s avatars or use nothing. And now it’s gotten worse. Your web site won’t run right without reporting in to the Automattic servers.

Every visit of yours to any WordPress site will generate a “hit” of you going to that web site. It’s worse than cookies, because at least you can delete your cookies.

What I’ve noticed is that if I have uBlock Origin turned on and “Block remote fonts” turned on, then WordPress does not render the admin panel correctly. Remote fonts are a way for the web site to get your machine to “phone home” to someone else’s servers. Apparently, Dahsicons have been a thing since WordPress 3.3.

Why should my web site make a call to Automattic’s servers just because you visited my web site? It does that with Gravatar (unless I try really hard to block that).

Other web sites appear broken when remote fonts are turned off.

I have a hard time believing that there is any good value to me for my web browser to retrieve on every page load an image file from a remote server just to show a button.