• Amazon Blocks FLoC across most sites

    Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) isn't exactly noted for it's popularity.

    The company claims that FLoC will improve privacy, though various researchers disagree (and there are issues that have remained unaddressed for years).

    For those who're not up to date: the stated aim of FLoC is to replace tracking via 3rd party cookies with an engine within the browser that profiles your browsing habits and adds you into a cohort of users with similar behaviour - advertisers then advertise to you based on your cohort ID (I wonder why the idea of a browser tracking your habits for advertising purposes hasn't won hearts and minds in the way they wanted...).

    News has broken (via Digiday) that Amazon have blocked FLoC from operating on (most of) their domains - the exception seems to be Abebooks.

    Because it's driven by a HTTP response header, we can trivially confirm for individual domains:

    curl -v -o/dev/null https://www.amazon.co.uk 2>&1 | grep permis
    < permissions-policy: interest-cohort=()
    

  • Implementing Encrypted Incremental Backups with S3cmd

    I've previously detailed howto use S3cmd to backup your data from a Linux machine. Unfortunately, because of the way that s3cmd works, if you want an incremental backup (i.e. using 'sync') you cannot use the built in encryption.

    In this documentation I'll be detailing a simple way to implement an encrypted incremental backup using s3cmd, as well as a workaround if you're unable to install GPG - instead using OpenSSL to encrypt the data. Obviously we'll also be exploring how to decrypt the data when the backups are required

    It's assumed that you've already got s3cmd installed and configured to access your S3 account (see my earlier documentation if not

  • Republished: Amazon Kindle DRM Broken

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 23 December 2009

    Amazons Kindle DRM has been broken by an Israeli guy. Quite what will happen next isn't clear though, will Amazon learn the lesson that Apple learnt after DVD Jon cracked the ironically named Fairplay? Or will they move to update and 'improve' their Digital Restrictions Management?

  • Syncing your files with an S3 account on Linux

    Amazon's cloud is incredibly useful for a number of things, including backup. I don't, as a rule, trust much to 'the cloud' but it does provide a nice easy way to achieve off-site backups at a reasonable cost.

    This documentation explains one of the many ways to achieve automated backup to your S3 account (set one up here).

     

  • The Importance of Provider Redundancy

    Icon made by Smashicons from flaticon

    Back in the days before cloud computing, it used to be accepted (if somewhat resented) by management types that having redundant systems in place was important if you cared - even a little - about uptime.

    In today's industry, those same management types generally understand that it's still important to have multi-region availability, with instances running in completely distinct provider regions, so that an outage in one area doesn't impact your ability to do business.

    What doesn't seem to be quite so widely understood, or accepted, though is the importance of ensuring that systems have redundancy across providers. It's not just management types who are making this mistake either, we've all encountered techies who are seemingly blind to the risk and view it as an un-necessary additional cost/hassle.

    Rather than typing "the provider" throughout this post, I'm going to pick on AWS, but the argument applies to all Cloud providers.

  • Why I won't have an Amazon Echo

    I was recently asked to explain in a bit more depth why I'm not willing to have an Amazon Echo (or, more specifically - Alexa), so I thought I'd write an answer down too.

    Although the question was specifically about Alexa (being the best-known), the answer applies to alternatives like Google Home (now Google Assistant), Microsoft's Cortana and Sonos One.