Lockdown – privacy app for iOS

I was sure I saw a link to this from Daringfireball, but can’t seem to find it again. Anyway. I’ve been running Lockdown on my phone for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been working great. It’s an app that integrates with the VPN feature in iOS, so all network requests get pushed through the app for filtering. It doesn’t actually do a VPN, but uses that as a hook to block domains that are requested in any app. There are app-specific tools like Firefox Focus, or Safari-tools like Better Blocker. But Lockdown should work in for any app because it runs at the VPN network level (so it could do things like blocking embedded marketing trackers that report when you’ve viewed an email in Mail, etc…).

It’s open source and free (for now?), but I haven’t gone through the code on GitHub (or, for that matter, have any way to verify that the code on GitHub is the code that’s compiled into the app). For all I know, it could be doing some nefarious stuff with my network requests. There’s no way to really tell. But it claims to work, and it blocks all kinds of privacy-invading adware, and other network-ne’er-do-wellers.

Lockdown’s privacy policy looks pretty clear, and states that nothing leaves the phone and all filtering happens locally. I’d feel a bit more comfortable if there was a third-party audit of the app, to know if it’s doing what it claims to be doing (and only what it claims to be doing). Handing an app VPN-level access to my phone is a rather big act of faith…

That’s all there is. Turn it on. Let it run. Assume it’s not being evil…

Pick the stuff you want to block and/or add your own filters…

It tracks the stuff it claims to have blocked. This is what came up after loading a few websites in Safari.

I’ll try running it for awhile longer – it seems to do a great job in stamping out the domains that are associated with internet crapware and privacy invasion. It feels a bit like the shared killfile in William Gibson’s Idoru

moving my digital notestuff to Notes

I’ve been using digital notebooks for many, many years. Everything was in Evernote, until it wasn’t. Then I used Noteshelf for the great ink. Then I used OneNote for the organization and even better ink. All along, I’ve kept a series of paper notebooks, which I’ve found myself using more often in the last couple of years1. And, our campus IT had been making somewhat-arbitrary changes to configuration involving OneDrive (and therefore OneNote) that made me uncomfortable continuing to keep The Sum of My Digital Notes™ in one basket that was configured by people with a track record of changing things without consultation2. I’ve moved my OneNote notebooks to my personal account, and am starting fresh in Notes. I’ve been using Notes (mostly on my phone) for trivial notes-in-passing for years, but the app has been improved a lot in the last year or so, with many more improvements about to drop.

I’ve organized my notes into folders and subfolders (using numbers to force sort order in some cases because it uses alpha sort with no manual override). So far, I’ve been able to get it set up the way I think I’ll use it, and have been using it a bunch for health stuff this summer. I’ll know more about how it works in heavy usage when I’m back in the office in a couple of weeks.

The simplicity of Notes was originally something that made me use it for the trivial notes-in-passing stuff (names and numbers to remember, places to try, quick notes to remember during conversations), but I’m finding the lack of overhead is liberating. No Ribbon™ to deal with. No editing modes. Just type (or write).

Yes, Apple could do something stupid, but that hasn’t happened yet, and the iCloud sync feature has been absolutely 100% rock solid, which is more than I can say for any other sync platform I use…

Anyway. It was time to declare bankruptcy on my previous digital notebooks, start fresh, simplify and streamline.

  1. I prefer using paper notebooks during meetings so I don’t have a screen up between myself and whoever I’m working with, and there are no notifications or apps or distractions in a paper notebook []
  2. I’d moved my digital notes into OneDrive to try to be a good steward of my notes – they are FOIP-able in a campus-managed platform, and backed up in a way that campus could access them if needed, but those aren’t worth the risk of losing the notes entirely due to something outside of my control []