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Sean Walker

The internet sucks now; how to fix it

I’ve been a programmer since I was kid, I’m in a unique position, because I’m old enough to have seen the internet since it went commercial from the ARPANET in the early 90s and young enough to understand the appeal of things like tiktok. So that makes my advice ✨priceless ✨haha.

It’s grown into a monster since the 90s with things like javascript and the advertising economy. It’s definitely not the calm, curious, entertaining place it was once. If you’re old like me, you are not alone and you are not imagining things, it was better back in the day.

So, what can YOU do to make your internet experience better?

Over the years I’ve curated a finely tuned BS meter and a finely tuned sense of what software is good and which is bad. Come along with me on this journey and we’ll get you in control of the web, not the other way around.

Let’s start with

The browser

It’s 2020, I know your hacker nephew told you use to chrome back in 2008, because it was fast, clean and free of bloat. Fast forward 12 years and that is no longer the case. Chrome is a large part of what is wrong with the internet today. Switch (back) to Firefox or do what I do, go out, buy yourself an overpriced macbook pro and use Safari. It’s the best browsing experience today.

Don’t use extensions

No extensions. Period. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen a grammarly ad or whatever, NO EXTENSIONS. The sad truth is most programmers are poor as heck nowadays and they will sell off their extension to the highest bidder so they can keep their programming addiction alive. This has happened time and time again. NO EXTENSIONS, ever.

Good tab hygiene

Don’t leave tabs open forever. Websites are low trust. You should not trust the code that is running there. Javascript can do a lot, even in a browser like Safari. Do not leave tabs open longer than you need to. The point of websites is to load quickly and get out of your way.

Block ads

I know we all like free stuff, but ad tech has gone too far. Either set up an /etc/hosts file or use a service like NextDNS that lets you block ads and gives you really fast dns resolution. As for the free and open internet, it’s dying. Adtech is killing it. You’ll notice more and more people want to get paid for what they do directly instead of involving shady ad middlemen like google, facebook and data brokers. The truth is, while access to the internet costs money, it’s debatable how much money it should cost, but I know this, information does NOT want to be free, it never has. Quality information from sources you can trust is EXPENSIVE. It should be priced so.

Use a password manager

You don’t use the same key for a safe and your front door, don’t use the same key across online accounts either. Using the same email is fine, but not the same password. Use a password manager for your sanity. Generate unique, hard to guess passwords for every website you sign up for. It also doubles as a nice way to see all of your online accounts in one place too.

Also if you’re really lazy, if the online service you use offers google/apple sign in, use that instead.

Use two factor auth with authy not SMS

SMS is a trap

sms is a trap

It’s vulnerable to all kinds of things, the biggest of which is SIM swapping. If you don’t have a SIM pin on your phone, anyone can call your cell phone carrier and get access to your SIM, without your phone. And with that they get all of your text messages as well. Don’t use SMS, use Google Authenticator or Authy.

Stay away from big sites

Media sites (and social media sites/apps) are the pits. They represent everything that is wrong with the modern internet.

Only shop from sites you can trust

This will happen automatically, after you block a lot of ads, you’ll start to see certain links don’t work. Good. They shouldn’t work. Don’t buy from those places. Two of the services you should look out for when buying things:

  1. Shopify
  2. Stripe
  3. Maybe amazon if you want fake stuff

In the end

Ad tech is an industry that shouldn’t really exist.

It happened by accident and shady companies like google and facebook rose to power. Ad tech subverts the simplicity of capitalism, where I want something and I buy it from you, directly. The internet needs to get back to this simplicity.

I get that you don’t have $100/mo for ever tom, dick and harry out there, but imagine if we took a page from NASDAQ’s book and did fractional purchases, or micro transactions, you put in $10/mo for the web, like netflix, and then you get to view things like you normally do, and individual creators get paid automatically based on what you viewed. Could be blog posts, videos, whatever.

We don’t really need defi for that to happen, we just need a new kind of internet first bank that would allow pennies or fractions of pennies to be transferred between accounts without fees.

We can still bring the web back from the brink of death. I would hate to live in a world where every app goes through apple or google’s app stores.