Do not track me - Warning for using web apps like MenuTab Pro for Facebook
Many of us are becoming more acutely aware of websites tracking us. Browsers are implementing features to help protect privacy, but many of these features are left up to the website and the honor system to implement.
Some applications that utilize web services on your desktop do not share the same protections as web browsers with the “do not track” option or plugins. The other day I noticed that MenuTab Pro for Facebook by FipLab connects me to every tracking site that Facebook uses, and potentially more if MenuTab is tracking me themselves. It’s a long list, including:
- nanigans.com, and
Wow… that’s a lot of tracking. If MenuTab really wanted to implement a value-add feature, they would block these sites from their app.
Using your cellphone and a DHCP server as a proximity sensor to detect when someone is home (or not)
A few weeks ago, I wrote a script that uses the DHCP Server package on my Synology to detect if my (or anyone else’s) cellphone is on the local network. The reason for this is simple, I wanted my home automation system to have this information, so that my house behavior could change. Examples:
- leaving the house sets the alarm
- leaving the house with the back door open triggers a notification sent to my cellphone
- arriving home turns off the alarm
- leaving the house sets the thermostat as away
- and many more…
Someone can accomplish this on just about any DHCP server that has a log file, it doesn’t have to be a Synology device. The way that it works is simple -
- The cellphone connects to your local network once you arrive home
- The DHCP server gives a IP address to the cellphone and places the record in the leases file
- My script polls the leases file and looks for the mac addresses of interest (each cellphone for the owners of the house)
- The device must renew the IP address according to the expiration time. I set this to the lowest setting possible to ensure the DHCP server has a accurate set of devices on the network.
Detecting when someone IS home is easy - the cellphone is on the network. Detecting when someone ISN’T home is harder. Sometimes, cellphones seemingly go into a sleep mode to save battery, and will not renew the IP address once it expires. I resolved this by setting a threshold of X consecutive times (configurable in the script) that the device was not on the network before reporting it. In general, it has worked well but takes 10-20 minutes to detect that you have left the house.
I’m happy to share the bash script if anyone in the indigo community also wanted to use it.