Father Nemo Needs A Notebook

I was talking to Father Nemo, and I must now pass the ball to you.

Father Nemo needs a notebook. He will use it for exclusive blog use, so that no information about it is saved anywhere in it. Not even the password and name of his blog. Not even the email he used to set the blog up, or the photos he has posted on his blog. Nothing at all that might trace the blog back to him.

Father does, therefore, not need storage. Everything he needs will be on his blog, and a separate USB key will be aplenty for blog backups if he really wants to (he might not want to). What Father wants is something preferably not expensive, practical in use, and allowing him to go on the Internet exclusively for his blog purposes. He will, though, need a VPN service, so that the two questions might be interconnected.

Looking around, Father has found that Internet suitable devices (“suitable” means cheap, but with proper, full-size keyboard) do not come all with Windows. There are also, at the very least, Android devices, and the strange Chromebook ones. There is also Apple, but that’s expensive, sodomitical and utterly Christianophobic, so it doesn’t count.

Father has noticed these strange web-based Chromebooks. They are well cheap, but he still wonders. Will Google start asking information for him? With email verification perhaps? Will he, in other words, be anonymous for Google? How can this be, if apps can only be downloaded through the “store”, like Apple? Is it wise for him to purchase a device and trust to Google a lot on information about him? Father will, of course, not store any document on the little “cloud” at his disposal – this wouldn’t make sense, because if Inunderstand correctly everything he puts there will have his own name on it – but he does not care, as everything would be on the WordPress blog he opened fully anonymously, with an anonymous email – a big difference with other services, who asked for email verification -. If he puts nothing of himself on the cloud, where’s the danger? Well, in his having a cloud account with nothing but his name on it, perhaps? Or in Google knowing – if I understand correctly – every blogging or Catholic app he ever bought for the purpose of blogging?

Chromebooks are, apparently, very fast to be fired up. But is this so important? He would only use the device to post – VPN-protected – posts on his WordPress site, and WordPress do not know, nor do they ask to know, who he is. Why would Google? And do they in the first place? Or is the cloud thingy an optional? But then, what if one wants to buy an app? Does he have to give Google unique identification information, like his mobile phone?

I told Father when I started the blog I chose WordPress over Blogspot because the latter wanted to know who I am (through verification of email). Why on earth? How is it that WordPress, operating in the same legal environment, has no need for it? I find the attitude of Google between somewhat creepy and utterly disturbing. Put all my documents where *you* (or the NSA; or the Gaystapo) can read them? Seriously?

Then there is another Google-dominated system: android. Some cheap devices are available with this system, but it seems to him (Father) that this is no better than Chromebbok. An Android device needs to be registered to download even the most banal application. Is this really anonymous? Not the device, or the user. The use, perhaps. But only if no data on Father is anywhere on the cloud, on his account.

Linux does not come into question. Father has heard this needs some work and technical knowledge he does not want to acquire unless it is strictly necessary for his purposes. He can put time and effort to tweak his blog site, not to learn to do something other OS will do for him. Father is a priest, not a computer geek.

Lastly, there is – unless there are other ways Father doesn’t know – the bad old Windows-based laptop. Costs are now at Chromebook level, that is: very low. It has all the usual problems of Windows, but the availability of everything – from VPN services to meme-creating software – is there, very probably free if he so wishes,mor at a cheap price if he wants the added security and comfort of the “premium” account. The device can be operated in a fully anonymous way. Nowhere would there be his name. The device would be used exclusively for Catholic news to be linked to, images to be put on the blog posts, and the blog posts themselves. Some Catholic apps if practicable (but is it?). That’s it.

Father told me VPN should be dealt with separately; but clearly, how well VPN can be efficiently and anonymously organised will play a role in his decision. This is, though, for another post.

If VPN is viable, then, Father asks what device you would suggests that he buys:

1 Chromebook?

2 Android?

3 Windows?

4 Something else?

Let the game begin. If will be fun and instructive at the same time.

Father thanks in advance. All of them.


Posted on October 6, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Linux might be an option. It is fast, cheap and secure. The Ubuntu flavor is pretty user friendly. Of course, I’m typing this on a Mac (God forgive me), so what do I know? (And who am I to Judge?

  2. May I suggest Lubuntu. It’s the lightest Debian variant of Linux, and more or less installs and configures itself off a CD. (yes, CD). comes complete with all manner of things which do for adobe, djvu, MS office etc. It takes a little getting used to vs Windoze, but there’s copious online helps as it’s open source. Since the OS is lightweight, it runs great on a P4 with <1Gb of RAM. There's also a nifty set of WiFi "tools" available for it 😉
    Linux is generally best for ensuring privacy too..

  3. Honestly, I would buy a refurbished laptop with Windows 7.

    • Can you expand on this, Wintermaid?

    • A refurbished laptop would be most economical option and the easiest way to utilize an external hard drive. I avoid Google like the plague so I would not use a Chromebook. I don’t like the user interface on Windows 8, and the fact that the software is now downloaded much like an “app” from Microsoft, which would require registering an account, and I’m assuming you would want to keep as much personal information as possible off the actual device. Windows 7 is also simply much easier to use than 8, and I’m assuming Fr. Nemo will have minimal experience with such things.

      You can usually buy refurbished laptops here in the States from computer stores, sites like ebay, etc. for around $100-$150 US dollars.

    • Thanks! Extremely useful! I did not know MS now also requires an account!

    • Was the account anonymous (an extra email made just for that) or do they require your identity with, say, mobile phone number?

    • The MS account to download software and “apps” does require personal information.

      When I last tried to set up a google account, it did require a phone number. I’m not sure if that has changed, but it is one reason I avoid google accounts. New hotmail and yahoo accounts also ask for phone numbers now, they didn’t when I first signed up years ago.

      http://www.mail.com has truly anonymous and free email accounts, no phone number or second email address is required.

  4. Padre should use a linux live distribution that is designed for anonymity. You can run them on older low cost windows laptops as they are not resource hogs. You run the operating system from a USB key that does not write to the hard drive of the windows machine. Linux on a “live” OS is designed to run in RAM and goes away when the system is shutdown. You can set it up to write to the USB drive to save documents and content. The linux distros contain an office suite and with a little familiarization he can be up and running. You can set up it up to run from an encrypted USB stick (like ironkey or a cheaper alternative). He can also forgo the VPN by taking advantage of TOR (free). He can log onto TOR using the wireless connection at any cybercafé and post away. Read about Tails → https://tails.boum.org/index.en.html Seems intimidating but it is pretty easy to figure out.

    Love the blog Mundabor, I read it daily.

    • Thanks for the help and the kind words!
      Padre doesn’t like Tor because it’s so slow. Is it fair to assume the USB solution would host all the necessary software including VPN solutions?
      Second question: I did not know encrypted USB exist. Can you make other names, possibly not so expensive? And is the encryption necessary once Padre is going online with the “live” OS solution and VPN? What is the additional security given?
      Thanks again!

  5. I would buy a chromebook. The only possible drawback I can see (based on your requirements) is that one has to login to Google in order to use it. Therefore, to maintain anonymity I would create a proxy account on google (e.g. john.smith2525@gmail.com) and use that account to login with.

    The Chromebook has:

    1. A file manager which allows one to plug in a USB stick or SD card and transfer files to and from the chromebook.
    2. 2 USB connections to plug in external mouse keyboard (effectively use it as a desktop if you need to)
    3. An HDMI display port to plug into an external monitor.

    The biggest advantage (for me anyway) is that it doesn’t go wrong. It is effectively virus proof (admittedly, so is Linux) and if anything goes wrong with it there is a RESET button which restores the machine in 5-10 minutes.

    I recently bought 2 (used) for £100 each on Amazon. My kids use them for home-schooling. They can login to the various home-schooling websites (e.g. Oxford Open Learning).

    The only thing I’m not sure about is you mentioned VPNs. Is the VPN something that the Chromebook would connect to or would it require software to run on the machine. If this is the case I would recommend Mint Linux.

  6. I’d first of all encourage a ‘think tank’ type of atmosphere (with objectivity and no hard feelings or ridiculing over ideas) to discuss this particular case, and consider this article of yours as only the initial article. There is no simple, quick answer. You should mull replies over, synthesize and come back with more questions and also ask commenters to shoot down the current best proposal.

    I’d go with Win 7 laptop. It’s known by Nemo how to use Windows, and convenience is a big factor. Besides, being a dedicated device might very well obviate any advantage for Linux or running from external drives or virtual machines or whatever anyway. I see mobiles as being designed with reckless disregard for security – apps are even given ability to read everything and ‘phone home’ to the corporate spies (the new iPhone apparently had some exercise app that did so from day one of the new iPhone release). Conversely, there is a wealth of knowledgeable experts (I’m not one) that audit Windows software looking for spying tricks – whereas the average smartphone user is an idiot who doesn’t care if everything they do gets tracked, so it’s a whole different atmosphere.

    I’d have an exact plan before ever connecting the new computer to the internet. One initial slipup means the machine is compromised ever after.

    I’d probably avoid a refurb. It might have malware on it already. E.g, top xpert Bruce Schneier says you can never know what’s on a computer that’s been in use, reformatting won’t necessarily erase it clean.

    Yes, google is evil and they lie about everything. They even had their mapmobiles illegally break into unsecured wifi connection in peoples’ homes and get private data. But guess what? google is allowed to spy on wordpress bloggers. If Nemo can manage the pain : he should slowly introduce himself to NoScript. Most attacks against anonymity will come via a browser running some Javascript. NoScript blocks scripts or at a minimum lets you see who is running scripts on your computer.

    Avoid anything ‘cloud’ whenever possible. They are folly.

    Yes, you need to give now a phone number to get an email at google, yahoo, msn, almost everybody. They want to ‘help’ you, you see, in case you lose your password. Liars. The whole world has seen how evil google has gotten filthy rich from spying and nobody cares. The average webmaster is a naive idiot who is starstruck by google and turns over his visitors privacy at every turn. Every other company now wants to emulate google, from Facebook to your local supermarket.

    Browser fingerprinting kits/services (which do spying) are now available to spies. But then again, a dedicated computer might sidestep any vulnerability there.

    Keep in mind that for practical purposes, there is unlimited money used in spying. From NSA and google especially but not exclusively. There is no longer any such thing as thinking, “Oh they wouldn’t waste time in tracking that or using that strategy” because resources are unlimited.

    There are other topics like plausible deniability.

    A minor thing: I’d use a memory card instead of a USB key, they are less likely to get bumped and damaged over time. Yes, keep everything related to blogging on the card – even the browser.

    But keep in mind that *everything* you do will likely be stored somewhere in Windows’ myriad of internal places. Forensics people find everything. I now that we are *not* discussing doing anything illegal, bit it’s good to know what is what anyway. Besides, free speech might be illegal one day.

    Also attitude is important. I think you mentioned quick startup as a desired factor? That’s wrong thinking, you need to accept that there will and must be some amount of inconvenience. Besides, keep the computer on sleep (not shutdown) and startup is very fast anyway.

    No Apps whatsoever. That’s like whispering secrets to some stranger and hoping they keep it private.

    Use PaleMoon browser (you are less likely to be sold out to google by the management at Firefox). Always try to blend in with crowds, so PaleMoon should say that you are using the Firefox browser. Use an open source image editor.

    Whew… that’s it for now. I hope other commenters find any holes or errors in what I’ve said.

  7. The latest I’ve heard, in England they put you in jail if you do not hand over your encryption keys.

  8. Anyway, I’d suggested a dedicated device the other day because I think that maybe/probably solves many or most problems: fingerprinting, cookies and Flash cookies especially. True or false?

    That doesn’t solve identification by IP,, though. Anyone who connects to a VPN or Tor probably is put on a list immediately anyway. But not by google, only by governments and possibly ISPs. (That’s why google wants to ‘help’ people by becoming an ISP.)

  9. Fr. Nemo would be wise to give a Linux distribution a try. Ubuntu is best for newcomers. It is absolutely false in these late days to consider Linux to be more difficult to use than Windows. Software installation alone is easier in Linux than any other O.S. by orders of magnitude.

    Maybe back in the 1990’s Linux was something of a hobbyist’s toy, or an expert’s proof-of-concept, but today the major distributions of Linux offer a stable and user-friendly operating system for the most casual and non-technical of users. Again, Ubuntu is the way to go when entering this free and open-source ecosystem. Another comment mentioned Lubuntu, which is of course a “lightweight” version which can be tried if, and only if, Fr. Nemo feels it is necessary. As was mentioned already, Fr. has no need for anything fancy or super fast to write and publish a blog.

    Also, it seems as if the good Father is concerned about security and anonymity. These considerations are taken more seriously and are better integrated in Linux than anywhere else. You don’t need to register in any “store”, or give any names or email addresses, to download and install any of the thousands of pieces of free software with one click through the graphical “Software Center”. I don’t think he needs anything like Tor. The Internet is overflowing with articles and projects addressing these very concerns under Linux, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation regularly publishes materials about these issues exclusively for the benefit of “non expert” readers.

    Fr. Nemo would not need to learn anything about how Linux works to make it work for him.

  10. Many thanks to you all! This is getting fun, and useful!

    Questions up to now:

    1. If Father buys a new Windows computer, then, will he be able to download the software (Windows 8) without giving away his identity? Yes, he will need an email, but there are plenty of providers of anonymous emails. The real question is whether a verification by phone number is required.

    2. (new!) When Father buys the computer (new) in a computer store, will the sale of the computer be recorded in police registers? In Cuba or China, probably. But in the UK? USA? Germany? This is to put in perspective the risk with a used computer (rubbish inside) with the risk of a new computer (they know a Father N ordered a computer by amazon, and paid with a credit card. This computer might be used for anti-revolutionary activity…). This is, again, more a problem for Cuban Padre Nemo. Unless I am being wildly optimistic.

    3. If one buys a computer and runs it with the Linux “live” option, does it matter what computer it is? Meaning: would this go past the problem of whatever rubbish might be in a used computer? Can Father buy a Windows computer and then decide to use the same machine exclusively on a Linux “live”, usb-run solution? Does this compromise his security? Or does access to the computer via alternative, USB-key driven operating system give access to all the information therein contained?

    4. Encrypted USB key: is this a protection only when the police has a search warrant, or does the use of an operating system via encrypted USB key add an additional layer of security against malicious intent when one is out there in the blogosphere?

    In general, Father Nemo does not desire, or consider realistic, to be invisible to the anti-terror squad of the NSA. His enemies are the (probably illegally) hacking journalist, or the faggot who hates his blog but is good with computers, Things like that.

    Again, thanks for the collaboration! Keep the comments coming! .

    • 1. If Father buys a new computer with Windows pre-installed it may have to be activated but you don’t need any personal information to do that. He would not have to download any further software except for updates, which also don’t require personal info. I’m assuming he needs no other software but a web-browser.

      2. In the USA your purchase of a computer is not registered with the police. Pay cash and it’s not registered with VISA/MasterCard either.

      3. If one runs a “live” Linux distribution from a DVD it runs completely separate from the hard-drive. This is good for PRIVACY since nothing is changed or logged on the computer and the write-only nature of DVD prevents any persistence between sessions. This does nothing for SECURITY, however, since that would be an independent concern, which he is mitigating by use of a VPN.

      3b. A “live USB” can be configured to have “persistence” so you can save files and such between sessions. When creating the live image, this persistence can be set to ZERO and so the #3 scenario with the DVD is the same.

      4. Encryption is no protection against warrants here in these U.S.A. It is now common that a court order can compel a defendant to release a password for encrypted material confiscated under warrant. Encryption is only good for the NSA or malicious attackers spying on you without a warrant.

      It sounds to me like a live Linux system would fit the bill here. It wouldn’t matter what computer was used because there would be no persistence. His only concern would be security over the internet. The VPN only does so much, and there is no technical solution to defeat good, old-fashioned police legwork and investigation. However, it sounds to me like Father is not doing anything at all illegal to protect himself against; only things that he wants to keep PRIVATE from his peers and superiors. If he is doing something that could be considered counter-revolutionary or politically-incorrect in his home country then he must use Tor exclusively. If this is the case he needs to download Tails (https://tails.boum.org/), which is a live Linux system pre-configured for Tor anonymity. Tails gives all the privacy benefits of “no persistence” from #3, as well as anonymity and security over the internet. Keep in mind that using Tor in and of itself would be considered an act of insurgency in a repressive political climate such as Cuba or China.

    • Many thanks!

      Would Tor be very slow?
      If it is slow in the West, how much more slow in Cuba, or Vietnam?

      And another question for understanding: If I have a word document saved on the hard drive and run the computer with the live usb system, is it possible for anyone to spy the document whilst I am using the usb drive and get the information? Am I right, that in this case encryption would be a valid defence against the nosy journalist?

      I say this because Father might save on his hard drive his (anonymous) email adresses and passwords. Not something that would be used to know who is he is in real life, but “who he is on the internet”, besides hacking the blog. I am also not clear whether the operating system plays a role here. For example: is the computer running on Linux “blind” to *everything* that runs under another operating system, like windows, on the same computer? Or would the hacker be able to read all there is on the computer once he has gone inside?

      As to encrypted USB, I see wild price differences. What must one look for?

      Thanks again!


    • Would Tor be very slow? Possibly. The speed of the Onion network varies according to current conditions. I cannot imagine that this slowness, however, will be much of an issue simply to manage a blog, considering the security and privacy one gains by using it. The trade-off is well worth it. If he’s worried about malicious attackers at all points from the blog website to his own keyboard, Tails (with Tor) is his best bet, and any other comparable configuration would require Father to become a digital security/forensics expert.

      The amount of “cross contamination”, so to speak, between what happens on a “live” operating system run from read-only media (like a DVD) and the OS on the computer’s hard drive is relative to the user’s activity. To wit: the user running a “live” system can access the computer’s hard drive and save files or whatever. If the user never does anything like this, and never accesses the hard drive at all (i.e. does not “mount” it), then the Windows system on the hard drive is absolutely “blind” to anything happening when the computer is running the “live” system.

      Now that I’m getting a sense of what is going on here, I will recommend some specifics:

      1. Father should look for a cheap laptop, if cost is an issue. He can check on http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/ to see if there are any known (and recent) issues with the laptop he wants running Linux. Be warned, the website is not exhaustive and not always up to date! Compatibility is less and less a concern as Linux’s native support for hardware is always improving. Wireless networking used to be a perennial problem under Linux, but that is also less and less true.

      2. Father should download Tails (which is a distribution of Linux), as mentioned before, and run it from a DVD.

      3. Father should buy an IronKey (http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/encrypted-storage-drives/d80.html) and use that exclusively to save and store any data or information. IronKey is user-friendly and has very good support for Linux (and Mac and Windows for that matter). Do not use the computer’s hard drive.

      So, in summary, Father would always run Tails from a DVD as a “live” system on his laptop. The IronKey encrypted USB drive would be attached as well, and this would be the exclusive place to store anything and everything. In this way there is nothing persistent about his blogging activities on his machine, his online activity is always anonymous and obfuscated because it goes through the Tor network and is encrypted, and anything saved on his IronKey is encrypted and as safe as possible from anyone without a court order.

      Most importantly, no matter what technical solutions we throw at this problem, it will all be for naught if Father does not practice good Operational Security. He needs to read and read about these issues and understand the best practices in the current climate, and keep abreast of any changes, new information, or vulnerabilities.

      I’d be happy to discuss these issues outside of this comment thread and in a more private environment, but to be honest, Mundabor, I don’t know how we would even connect in such a way since we both value our anonymity! Is there a way we can trade messages using our WordPress accounts?

    • Many thanks, Nobalance!

      Just be sure I have understood: if Father never touches the hard drive, it can be irrelevant to him whether the computer is new or used? As I understand it, the only requisites would be a DVD driver, a USB port, and a wifi connection. This is, I think, particularly useful for all those (not my case, but many others’) who must pay attention whether they spend $200 or $400.

      I will tell Father about the need to keep abreast, but I doubt he will become a geek in these matters. However, what can be followed by a priest of good will and some time at his disposal, he will surely follow. Once he is properly informed that this is the price to pay if he wants to blog with a certain assurance of nonymity, that’s not much else he can do. Other people, like me, might find these things, actually, fascinating.

      As to communication, one of the next issues Father Nemo will discuss with me is, in fact, anonymous email. Perhaps, this would be a way how Father Nemo can have limited interactions with the outer world.


  11. I agree, Linux has come a long way. For browsing the web and writing a WordPress blog you can be up and running just about as easily as with Windows, maybe even easier because of Windows 8. Also, if he chose, father could run it clean off of the CD-ROM drive, no hard drive necessary. I would be sure to connect to the blog using an SSL connection, preferably through a proxy server.

  12. Agree with the commenters above about Linux. Rather than throw away my Windows XP computers, I installed Linux, Lubuntu, a lighter, simpler version of Ubuntu. For blogging on the internet it has all you need. In fact, I’ve found it does just about everything I needed Windows XP to do, and much faster. Simple word processing and spreadsheet programs come pre-installed, as does Mozilla Firefox. Installing additional programs is very easy through the Ubuntu software center.

  13. A story:

    Nemo decided to continue using his same computer, but now using Linux off a removable memory card to do his blogging with. Everywhere he went, every site noted his monitor size in pixels, using simple javascript (i.e., screen.width and screen.height properties). Nearly every site also allows evil google to spy on the site’s visitors by including javascript from google. That is, almost every visitor’s browser also ‘visits’ addresses such as google.com, ajax.google.com, jquery.google.com or other “helpful” aids that google provides for free. When Nemo goes to nemo.wordpress.com to write a new blog article, google sees his screen size, regardless of whether Nemo uses a VPN to hide his IP address or not.

    Sometimes Nemo goes to youtube as his regular self, with no VPN and no Linux. Sometimes he watches a Remnant video, or other Catholic videos. He has even blogged about a few of the videos.

    One day, a radical liberal bigot who works at google (i.e., 95% of google employees) decides that he hates Nemo and hates Catholicism so much that he must act. He sets about doing a simple database correlation: which person has watched Catholic youtube videos, and has the same screen size as Nemo has. Since there are not a whole lot of hits on those videos (not thousands or millions, sometimes just a few dozen), it turns out that there is only one that fits. So now the liberal knows Nemo’s true IP – and very likely his neighborhood and maybe even his street address. (Google has lots of neighborhood IPs from all the simpletons who cheerfully use gmail, has more IPs from mapmobile spying, and so on.) Now the liberal can search using screen size AND IP with wildcards (say 123.45.12xx).

    More and more gets known. Nemo buys something online, maybe they get his name. Nemo maybe commented on his local newspaper’s website, using Disqus which unexplainably requires allowing google before you can log in. More and more about location is accrued. His real world and his blogging world are conjoined by the common screen size together with other accrued factors.

    Did Nemo use an identifiable email address to sign up with evil google years ago? Oops – being years ago doesn’t matter, everything is forever.

    Finally, one day a crowd of angry homos and journalists and government officials (all carrying pitchforks and torches) are gathering outside of Nemo’s apartment near the university. Nemo is quietly sitting at his keyboard, unaware of what is about to happen.

    The End.

    • Excellently said, Bigfred.

      Father Nemos’ all over the world thank you and get the message: a computer related only to blogging activity, and with a different screen size. A cheap laptop, say.

      I will tell Father Nemo to ban evil Google from his internet household. It seems to me for Google preying on your personal information is just a way of being.

      The next lesson for Father Nemo is: *all* activity related to Catholicism must be under vpn protection: his blog, other blogs, videos, everything.


    • …noting that “different screen size” is in pixels. Two 15.6″ laptops might have different screen resolutions. The 15.6″ is the most common size, so you blend with the herd.

      Using a separate computer also makes things much more according to the need: Nemo wants blog, not become a tech geek. [e.g., Tor browser lets a person change what his screen size gets reported to google et al. — but Tor is more of a pain. Though i use it every day and wish everyone would, Nemo probably won’t be thrilled with it.]

      The IronKey? If the same, I recall from ~8-10 yrs ago when it was new. The name (and price) derives from how you can drive a car over it and it still works – not an ability needed by Nemo. Does any USB key need encryption? Opinions will vary but I would say “no”. The program TrueCrypt is free, but I never use it anymore. It’s not likely the police or anyone else would be busting down Nemo’s door. Besides under the schema we are discussing, most everything ends up in public on the blog anyway (except for passwords).

      It’s human nature to slack off on secrecy matters. Everything I’m suggesting is tailored to that (blogging not geeking!), plus low cost as much as possible. If someone uses Linux and doesn’t pay money to Microsoft, that’s doubly good. You should download and try some Linux for yourself, just to see how it goes before any computer gets bought.

    • The problem for me – and for nemo; most of them, anyway – is that a new laptop at £200 or so seems a better value proposition than a used one at 120 or 150, of uncertain quality and duration. As you say, both I and most Father Nemos want thing to be effective and simple. Things we know, and know how to use, and work from the box; investign the time for what is necessary, not to learn things Windows can also do just as well.

      I must talk again with Father Nemo. But I think he would say that you rtypical anonymous European priest can work with this schema:

      1. a new laptop, with operating system that does not need to give away anonymity. Windows is simplest. £200 to £220.
      2. A separate USB key, for password, photos, things like that. Might be encrypted with an extra software, but again perhaps no real need. Computer is used only for blogging, so no issue of data leaking.
      Further posts to follow for other components.
      Many thanks, and stay tuned!

  14. P.S. I retract my objection to used computers, that is probably being too paranoid. But the browser fingerprinting, as above in the story, is very real.

  15. Ixquick and Startpage for private internet searches. Startmail for private email facility – https://live.startmail.com/

    • I use Ixquick a lot.
      But I can’t imagine it gives a level of security comparable with a VPN?
      Particularly for people actually posting documents on an internet site?
      Or am I wrong?

    • I also use those two for websearches, Lynda. I find that Startpage is usually better for finding images.

      For free encrypted email, there is Hushmail to try, which works with Tor. It’s sister site 9Y doesn’t work with Tor anymore, but maybe does with a VPN. As usual with these matters, there is more complexity if desired (using your own key).

      Then there are “disposable” email services, used e.g. for registering with Disqus.

    • Bigfred,
      what about Yandex?
      Russian, I think?
      I think you are a fan? 😉

  16. Mundabor said: “The next lesson for Father Nemo is: *all* activity related to Catholicism must be under vpn protection: his blog, other blogs, videos, everything.”

    That gets into another discussion stage — VPN (and logging) versus Tor, as well as what are the threats particular to a Catholic blogger.

  17. I don’t know anything about VPN, Mundabor.

  18. Yes, I use Yandex now for the resistance, but there is nothing that goes through it that is sensitive. I wouldn’t send or receive anything identifying through there. It’s quick to signup there, and it can be used without any javascript.

    I intend to check out the new, privacy oriented webmail at https://tutanota.de

    which is in Germany (better privacy laws there), but it’s name is in a language that you will instantly recognize. They promise complete privacy, even from NSA — but immediately it was discovered they had a software security hole: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/11/tutanota/

    So nothing is ever 100% safe, despite promises made. If you sign up there soon to test it, then you should abandon that eventually and start a new one for real use.

    Still, maybe it’s better for Nemo to never use email to contact other priests. But then, if the main aim is to avoid homo activists and his own bishop, then how much security is really necessary? I don’t know the answer.

    P.S. Lynda’s link points out the danger of DNS leaks. I will mention that evil google runs free DNS servers, to be “helpful” to people, of course. The stupidest of humans will actually use google’s DNS servers – and google’s aim might be to one day spend a small fraction of their megabucks to dominate the whole system.

    What is DNS? It’s like calling a telephone operator to get someone’s phone number.

    When you use your browser to go to example.com, you are really going to a numbered IP address. Your computer first checks with a DNS server to ask, “what is the IP address of example.com?” The DNS server then replies with the IP address, say Next, your browser goes to

    In this way, the DNS server knows where you intend to go – and even anyone eavesdropping on the internet conversation between you and the DNS server knows where you are going.

    The term “DNS leak” means your computer mistakenly talked to the DNS server in the clear, not through the encrypted VPN.

    • Thanks, very useful!

      A question: if the anonymous email address is used exclusively from that famous laptop in which no data is stored, why would father Nemo see a problem in it? What’s there to leak? Of course he would never, ever reveal his identity to anyone with whom he is talking…

      As to the anonymity, I think the point comes where for Father Nemo is a mixture of necessity, freedom fight and… mere fun. But still, to think in these terms “trains” one in the value of preservation of freedom.


  19. “why would father Nemo see a problem in it? What’s there to leak?”

    I was thinking of the content of any emails which might inadvertently give out info to possible hackers about Nemo *or* about Nemo’s chatty correspondents. E.g., I live in Texas and might mention tornadoes, which gives indication of my locale.

    Yes, it is fun and that is quite necessary for morale in these dark times 🙂

    Yes, it is also training, Besides, everyone *will* make a mistake sometime. it’s best to earn from mistakes now and also, as you say, get accustomed to the right way of thinking now. Freedom is under attack more than ever.

    The dedicated notebook should probably always be run with VPN enabled and never run with VPN disabled.

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