Nephestate Blog

Big Brother Is Always Watching, How Do You Minimize It?


Our world is rather complex with the way technology has advanced. Everything we use on a daily basis knows our location, tracks our usage, listens to everything we say, and tries to see what we are doing. This data is then sold or sent to governments, right under our noses. In our world, the user has become a product for studies and advertising businesses. My goal is to help you be aware of the most prolific method of this tracking and ways you can mitigate its effect, I may also cover some other methods to decrease your attack surface, especially for an emergency situation.

But First A Little History

The smartphone was a revolution for communication, but as is progressed it became a bit of a detriment. You can find people talking about the tracking capability of our greatest tool since before 2020. A very prominent example is Pokemon GO, it was a game for your smartphone that allows you to catch Pokemon in the real world, using your camera and GPS of course. It not only got more people outside than any government program could and got them talking to strangers and making friends, it also had people taking their phones out during conversations with other people and staring at their phone screen and gave camera data, as well.

This warranted attention from the NSA and from various people that advocate for privacy. The NSA gave the developers an award for their work on Pokemon GO and few months after all the activity with it. Youtubers, commentators and the like talked about the implications of the award from the NSA, but also addressed the privacy concerns the such a game creates.

In 2020, COVID-19 brought a lot of tracking systems to the forefront, namely contact tracing. People make more "private" contact tracing apps, but any way you spin it, it just isn't truely private. Google and Apple added system updates that allowed people to track whether they came in contact with people who had tested positive with COVID. These systems could track your location based on the smartphones of others in your vicinity, that left any of their radios on. This created many privacy questions for anyone that didn't want to stay in their basement for a whole year. Not only did you not know who had COVID, but you didn't know who was tracking you now. We could talk about the possible HIPAA violations, but that is not our topic.

Another prominent factor of 2020 were the BLM Riots. People could be tracked based on location data on where they were. Crowds of people were tracked using all that telemetry being sent in to Google and Apple, but also various Cell Service Providers. Riot organizers in some ways mitigated interception by using encrypted channels to organize, like Telegram (which can still read messages), but even that only goes so far when you still have your smartphone on your person. 2020 alone has given us a lot of information about how companies and government track people, and thing like COVID and the BLM Riots helped bring that out for everyone to see.

How Your Smartphone Betrays You, And Your First Baby Steps

The smartphone is truly a wonderful invention, I believe it, but it is also truly scary how much it can track you. I personally love privacy respecting tech, I have a smartwatch that doesn't sync to some cloud and lets me install any firmware I want on it. I got a Linux-based smartphone, that I don't use daily, that has hardware switches for things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, the microphone, and so on. I use Linux on the daily, but even still there are ways that companies track me. I went over all this history, not just to scare you, but to hopefully show you some context as to why people support privacy respecting tech and keep moving away from Google and Apple for all their services and tech.

A lot of people don't often think about how their smartphone gives people their information all the time. The first and most basic thing that gives people away is location services. I turn mine off because I like preserving battery, but those services interface with Apple or Google to help show where you are located, and show Google or Apple where you are. These databases often times use a combination of factors, the first one is cellphone towers, this location tracking method even works when location services are turned off. Cell phone towers can triangulate where you are based on how many are in your vicinity and signal strength. This method also lets your cell provider track you with even just one cell tower, cause again, it uses the tower your are connected to and signal strength. There are also GPS satellites in space, that have been up there for ages, that tell your phone where you are. Another interest method in router location, everyone has probably seen a Google Streetview Car at least once in their life, this car also goes around reading Wi-Fi signals, and since it roams every street, it can triangulate where your router is with the network name and that data is in a public database of two. This database is also often referenced in helping determine your location, when you have your Wi-Fi antenna on. The biggest way I can think to mitigate this tracking method is to just put your phone in a faraday cage, but the alternative is to only never turn on location services, or only have it on when you really need navigation help. Having location services turned off also saves battery, so there's a plus to it.

So, as noted having your Wi-Fi antenna turned on can help you get a more accurate location, but it provides another security risk. Everyone knows that right out of the box, a router will broadcast a network that people can connect to, with the name of it and whether it has a password or not. A smartphone can also be a router of sorts to allow you to use your phones mobile data whereever you are on your computer, but what happens when you aren't connected to your Wi-Fi or using it to share data with a computer? If left on your phone will simply spit out every network name you have ever connected to trying to find one that it knows. Some say that this is a security feature, but it provides a huge liability by allowing people to find your home, because again, that network may be on a database that Google contributes to. So, not only are you giving away your network names, but you could be giving away every location you have been to without intending to. Luckily, there are features on some versions of Android that let you automatically turn off you antennas automatically when your aren't connected to a known network for a certain period of time. This also doubles as a battery saver, because trying to search for a network to connect to can eat at your battery. This same quirk of phone Wi-Fi also applies to your laptop, so keep that in mind. And that means all that data can be sniffed right out of the air by bad actors.

Bluetooth is another convenience that, while not as wide as cell phone towers, GPS, or Wi-Fi can still be an attack vector for tracking. I'm not the best at this currently either, and just like Wi-Fi, it can be timed to turn off automatically. Bluetooth lets you determine the name of your device, shown to anyone listening. I cannot tell you the countless number of devices I can find at any given moment when I am out and about. At home it is far less, but I do use it for wireless earphones and my smartwatch. My recommendation is that if you use it, use it, but if not then turn it off, or at least you might try a MAC address spoofer. The MAC address is a device identifier that is unique to your device, which is what these contact tracing apps often used to determine who you were around. And yes, a Wi-Fi card has a MAC address, too. If you want to not be tracked as easily, there are apps that let you spoof that address, if you have root permissions.

A lot of the other methods are decently short to cover, NFC is something that requires someone to be much closer to read, which can be turned off on most phones. NFC is what is used for Google/Apple Pay. Microphones, ever seen someone talk to their phone "Hey Google" or "Hey Siri?" Yeah, that means their phone is always listening, same with those Amazon Echos people like, a constant wiretap. Cameras, yeah a lot of camera apps actually embed location and other data in the photo by default, but there are apps that take that out or alternate camera apps that leave that out. Also, depending on what you are running, sometimes the developers can just take a peak at your camera without you knowing, but most people are worried about something getting caught on a microphone than that some NSA agent saw their naked butt.

The smartphone is a wonderful invention as I said, but it comes with drawbacks. You can't get rid of all the tracking, but some of this should help you keep your phone under wraps. The perfect way to not get tracked, is to learn to not be dependant of your phone. Learn to forget your phone at home, because people already know your normal route, but if they have data on you that is misleading, then down the road it can lead to less tracking when things get really tough. I would also complement this with a phone that has a privacy respecting OS on it, you can easily get a Pixel phone and install something like CalyxOS or GrapheneOS on it, which focus on privacy and come without anything from Google installed. They do allow you to install MicroG, which is an implementation that interfaces with Google for some services to work, but sends in spoofed device data, so they don't know what device you actually have. That is the basics for smartphone mitigation, but these also apply to other smart devices in similar respects, depending on what they use for communication.

Other Concerns

As briefly mentioned, smartphones are not the only devices with these quirks. If you like to take a laptop with you, take into consideration Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but these can be put into a sniffer mode so that you are listening to traffic. A mobile workstation can be a great asset, but can also put a big target on you, if possible have hardware switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microphone, and the camera. If you go with a good laptop, my personal recommendation would be to try out Linux on it, not only will you learn something, but you can also have that system running for much longer. Having an old system that stays running can be an asset in an emergency situation when all your other tech is shot, even if that computer that is running is old. Learning to listen for signals from a computer helps you to track what is going on around you and can help you blend in.

One of the best ways to avoid being tracked is by blending in. In essence becoming a number that doesn't stick out, this is more applicable on the internet and browsing, by having your browser fingerprint being less unique. The fall of the tracking infrastructure is something that people have talked about going down, but the asset it is for governments is so big that, as time passes, I see it as something they will continue to keep up and functioning, even more reason to blend in. And again, this doesn't mean to go all in with Google or Apple, you can still take your mark off of their servers and decrease your footprint by a lot. This more applies to your cell providers and any other nefarious sniffers out in the wild.

Another thing I have heard brought up is the use of radios, yes, Amatuer Radio. This is a system that is unencrypted, but can be a great asset out in the middle of nowhere. It gives you a line of communication in emergencies when cell phones don't work, but lets you organize with those you know. S2 Underground has a lot of great videos on radio and other communication techniques, even for emergencies and to avoid being tracked. You can find their content here,


Minimizing your digital footprint isn't something that you do just when emergencies hit, it is a lifestyle you live to be ready for when it happens. If you don't live it, then suddenly drop, they still have data on your regular behavior. By stopping early, you can change through life and not have them knowing everything going on. It may feel painful at first, but you get used to it. You can have the knowledge for any skill in your head, but unless you practice in before hand and test it out, it will be meaningless when you get caught in an emergency or sticky situation.

Fri, 11 Nov 2022 20:54:07 -0700

Preparing Your Precious Technology For The SHTF


For many thinking about an SHTF situation involves making sure there is plenty of food storage and that they have plenty of guns and ammo. That is all important of course, but living in a highly technology-centric society means that much of what me do is digital. Living in a digital world like this means if an adversary wants to cripple us, they can just knock out our technology infrastructure and cause havok, think about what happened during Y2K, and if you're too young for it look it up. So, in order to be properly prepared we also need to think about the technology we have and how to prepare the data that we may not want to lose for such a situation. We do have a few options on how to do this and using more than one is very beneficial.

Hard Copies

Hard copies is probably one of the easier ways, but also very space intensive. This I would recommend for key documents; medical records, identification docs, even family pictures, and journals. It takes up paper and space, but this guarantees that if something like an EMP hits, you don't lose everything for your family history or for a medical emergency. This can also mean currency, since much of our transaction now happen electronically, but plenty of people have talked about having cash of hand in case of such situations.

In this category, I would also include reference materials for tools and vehicles. If you can't get to a shop to fix something and the internet is down, you'll be glad you had that book on you. Cuba is a great example of this, while under Fidel Castro, they had books and guides that helped them learn to fix the appliances they had. From such books they figured out how to repair fans and even recharge hearing aids. The skills you can learn from these books in priceless, especially when you can't just look it up online, I would also recommend at least reading through them once.

Also, add in fictional literature in here, since you'll have a lot of time to read. Your kindle or iPhone won't last long if you don't have a way to recharge it, or if you're keeping a low power profile. Having a few good books you know you will reread again or a few you haven't yet read will fill in down time and help ease your stress.

Safely Stored Backups

For situations where the grid doesn't completely go down, having backups stored away means you don't lose everything and you should take time to update backups as needed. There is plenty of software out there to automatically backup your data to an external storage device, but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about your EMP-proofed/buried backups. Luckily, this option has gotten much less space intensive with advances in technology. Also, as an added note, a situation where this would be viable is the more likely one, in my humble opinion, due to the usefulness of location tracking and how it is done today.

Our options for easy to obtain backup medium has expanded quite a bit with how prolific the smartphone has gotten during the 2010s. Many of our option can store hundreds of terabytes of data in a small box. Options like these are best:

Each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages.

Solid State Drives

Solid states drives (SSDs) are an improvement on the hard drive, they store data on chips much like flash drives and don't have any moving parts like a hard drive does. They are also typically smaller is size than a hard drive, meaning you could store away more of them in a lead box than you could hard drives. The disadvantage with them is, and the other options I've listed, is that electic shock can kill the data on them. Depending on whether you get an internal or external you could have a bulkier package, but the option for external SSDs means you can plug them into a USB port to access your data. They fit well in cargo pockets or backpack pockets generally, too, for those that wanna take their data on the go.

Flash Drives

Usually called a "Thumb Drive" due to their size normally being that of a thumb, they are quite easily pocketed and a favorite tool of pentetration testers as a social engineering exploit. With the advances of flash memory, as I have noted, these little drives have gotten much bigger from their 512MB sizes from over a decade ago. People often use them for school homework and some medical documents, now. This is an excellent option from having on your person or to squirrel away in your bags somewhere. They have the same advantage of an external SSD in that they can plug into a USB port easily, but they can be quite fragile if bumped just right. You should be able to easily find these drives in 1TB sizes and if not, 256GB is still quite common to find, and that will hold plenty of PDF docs.

Micro SD Cards

These ones and very much like flash drives, but are made with the intent or inserting in your smartphone of game console. They don't have a USB interface, so you need some sort of reader for them to access the data from your computer. They do have a huge advantage of being extra small in size however and are very easily concealed. That concealment factor is much more easily seen from S2 Underground's SERE Kit video. They do come in 1TB sizes as well, so you can stick quite a bit of info on them and partition them out so you can hold encrypted data on them. They can be pricey depending on the brand you pick up, but guaranteeing that you have the space you need can sometimes be a boon, so I highly recommend getting a reputable brand like SanDisk and making sure you have bought it from their store.

The interface on the SD cards does mean you can access the data from a smartphone that has a slot or from a portable device that does as well. Many more devices with full desktop computing functionality, like the Steam Deck, exist that allows you to access that important data whereever you are or to access the data of others. These devices also have much more power than even many smartphones, to allow for much quicker access to weakly encrypted data.

Accessing Your Data

Having data backed up is all fine and dandy, but what happens if someone takes your computer or smartphone? What if your computer gets fried? How do you access your backup data now? This takes a bit more preparation, but is quite easily done and has plenty of affordable (and expensive) options.

Raspberry Pis

The Raspberry Pi is a single board computer that has a low power footprint. It easily runs off of a USB power backup. Depending on the model you get, it has a number of USB ports and an HDMI port. It uses an SD Card for the main boot medium. These are quite available on amazon with entire kits for the hobbyist. On the SD Card you decide to use for the Operating System, I would recommend a version of Linux and occasionally taking time to make sure it is up to date. What is nice about the Pi is that it can easily store in a small box. Yes, you can put the Pi in a lead box with your precious data backups. Once, you boot up your Pi, however it is powered, you should be able to open a file browser and plug in your data backup to access your data. If you want to, you can backup your data directly to the SD Card you are booting from.

Old Computers

If you have been using computers for a while, you've probably bought a new up-to-date computer because software and hardware continuously improve. Those old computers can be used as backups or ways to access your backups. If you have old laptops, these make excellent ways to stow away data. Many laptops have SD Card slots, so you can plug one with your backups into it. Again, laptops and old desktop computers make great places to backup your data as well, if you buy a new SSD for them, they even get a new breath of air.

Now, what if your computer doesn't support the latest update of Windows? Scrap the idea of Windows on that old computer, install Linux, it runs quite well on old hardware, just ask any Thinkpad enthusiast. Again, much like a Raspberry Pi, I would recommend taking that computer out on ocassion and making sure your software is up-to-date. Linux has software to let you look at most if not all of your data.


Data is a precious resource, ask any big tech company. If you take the time to work out how to make sure your data is still available, it will benefit you and you won't feel lost or stressed. Also, if someone happens to "lose" your records, you still have them to make sure they have them. This can mean life and death in a world where you never know when you're the enemy.

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 14:53:47 -0600

On Audio and Accessories


So, I have been started on a journey for audio quality. It started with DankPods and has kinda spiraled to me buying headphones. It sounds better to about the same depending on what set I use and compare it to. I haven't quite tried some of the "higher" end ones that are more expensive just yet, nor has Raycon sent me a pair. I am going to just let you know what my kit looks like.


This is actually two sets of headphones. One is a standard over-the-ear set and the other are buds. They both sounded better than previous sets I have used and they were the first ones on this journey. The over-the-ear ones I used with my computer for the first bit and then went to use otherwise when I replaced them. The buds have mostly been used with my switch and the switch doesn't have the best DAC in it. One thing to keep in mind is that each of these cost $30.

So, the buds don't pick up the static background like some of my nicer headphones. That is a plus and they come with fins for keeping them in your ear and this definitely help. They have a need to fall out of your ear, even with a larger set of tips, but the fins help. They do have a burn in period for some reason, but they sound good.

The over-the-ears have been decent for my uses, with streaming, games, etc. I'm not quite sure about better quality as compared to the Sony ones I got from my brother. They did the job, that was the big part and they are braided. The cord is still intact in spite of the abuse since, with travel and wear.


This set serves double duty. They have a wire that lets you use it with non-bluetooth devices. This configuration needs no batteries, so you don't have to charge them when using them wired or turn them on for that matter. The wire plugged in does take over whatever you may have going over bluetooth. They do sound good this way, I'm pretty sure slightly better. I have only used the bluetooth a couple times.

The bluetooth on these ones are pretty standard. By default "noise canceling" is on, they really only have a noise passthrough setting, which works the way you think, with the mic. Mic is bluetooth, and has trying-to-listen-from-your-ear quality. The controls are physical, which is nice. It charges by micro USB.

Somewhere in this point is where DankPods really came in.


These are great for the price. They have mostly been used with my switch, but I had a lot of time with them at the IRS. They allowed me to enjoy my music somewhat better than wireless. They fit well in the pocket, after hearing more sound stage, though it does kind feel sad, but at $20, I did by another pair, which is the slightly upgraded model. The one big thing I like about this set is the wire is setup to loop over your ear, which means they can hang just outside of your ear, without losing them, which is why I got them. The wire does get in the way of glasses, though. I am messing with them on my computer currently, to see how buds feel again in this situation, plus full-sized headphones can be kinda bulky with limited desk space... Also, the problem of my switch creating background noise is prevalent. Impedance on these things are kinda low, and my volume settings using these things are low.

These headphones are also somewhat modular. You can replace the wire with other wires, such as balanced wires or different colored ones. They do use a special connector for it, so you have to look out for that. They do also sell a bluetooth wire that connects the two, but lets you use them wirelessly like some of the bluetooth sport earbuds. There are probably other options, too.

Get the best dirty buds


People have complained about the battery life in these buds, but I haven't noticed. My use case with them has mostly been one ear at a time, great way to stretch out usage when listening to an audiobook. They basically seem to be on par with the ZSN Pros and are True Wireless, so using one at a time doesn't require both out of the case like my unmentioned Skull Candies. I love them for when I need to work and don't wanna deal with wires while listening to audiobooks, podcasts and music. Also, keep in mind, this set cost only $30. The wireless reach is pretty good, but once you hit the edge, you get the odd cutting from what you are listening to and it doesn't autopause, like when they disconnect.

Get some wireless action

Samson SR 860

Basically, a recolored SR 850. This one changed me. After having listened to plently of Sabaton through the ZSN Pros I really got to know some of the music. This set is a refernce set, so more balanced, and I could hear things I didn't before. It amazed me to hear some of the higher end detail that I was missing in other sets, the pinephone does a decent job. So, as I mentioned earlier I do pick up white noise from my switch with them, but at $50 they work well for everything else. They do fit the SR 850 cups, too, so you can accesorize with those pads, but the velvet pads they came with feel nice. They also work better than the Sonys for it, in spite of those ones being (likely) $100... They don't need much more power compared to the ZSN Pros, either.

Get the phones


So, to finish things off. The last part of my eargasm journey has been the best part. I have included the links, yes affiliate, for the ones I recommend. They will serve you well, I promise.

Tue, 03 Aug 2021 13:51:34 -0600

State of the Web


I needed to update you all on things. Adding a couple things to the new stuff is just a perk.

Development continues in spite of the slowness, I am in 'recovery' from UPS. I do have IRS applications in the process of going through, hopefully I can get this other stuff moving. Then after (or before) that, I can fully focus on this.

I don't wanna be fully texty, so I'll just leave you with my long worded update.

Fri, 08 Jan 2021 20:57:32 -0700

The Blog is Sorta Back


I am back again, took long enough to migrate. Still using Luke Smith's blog script, though. Also had to migrate some of the CSS to make it work better.

I plan on being more regular with this. Especially with paid hosting, it makes sense to try to keep on top of this. Github pages was nice, but isn't the potato I prefer. I have more options with what I can do here, now, too.

I am still working on the site otherwise, too. Still gotta work those images in somehow. This is an inagural post for the blog migration and plus it has been over a year since my last one, and a lot has happened over that time...

Mon, 28 Dec 2020 10:53:32 -0700

Of Men and Not So Men


So, over the last little bit there has been a lot of turbulence on the internet. Whether political or videogames. I don't care which side of the bench you are on, but can we agree to disagree?

I know it feels like the opposition is only getting in the way of the life that everyone wants to live, that people are marginalized. How extreme are we really from each other? It honestly feels like people let trolls get under their skin and use it as an excuse to alienate them. Trolls use their alienation as an excuse to continue to troll them. People may hold up your marginalized status in politics, but for how long? When does it end? The Nazis were completely willing to allow Latter-Day Saints members of the party stay for the first little bit while they ripped out all the dissenters and Jews, but later on, they wouldn't permit an "American Religion" to live in their perfect Germany.

First I think I want thick skin as my subject. For those that don't know, thick skin is the ability to have people hurl words, insults and perjuratives at you without having to lash out violently against them. One bad example of this is Antifa, say something they don't like, they dox you and encourage harm on your family and yourself. A good example, I'm not gonna say Trump cause he bites back in bad ways many times. I think everyone can see Jesus as a person with thick skin. He was thrown insults and threats multiple times, but still stood his ground of faith. He died for what he preached, but that is another subject entirely. He didn't tell people to kill others over words they said, but told everyone to love each other. He talked with people who had lifestyles that he didn't agree with, too.

Developing thick skin doesn't happen over night either. It takes time and effort, most of that effort might be in forgiving and ignoring the opposition. There are plenty that will disagree with you that will give you the time of day if you are trying, though. I think sometimes people for get this. When you put yourself out there, people from both sides are gonna attack you for something you say on some level. You may say something someone may agree with you on and they praise you for it. You can then turn around and all of a sudden they are venomous to you. It is only human nature. I've honestly learned in my time on the internet, that people are gonna be jerks, when I run into people that are awesome it's a pleasantry. And honestly, I would prefer people throwing slurs at me over the internet than having them dox me and attacking me physically

Now, inorder for those trying to change to actually change, somebody needs to give them room to improve. This means forgiving them and accepting their best efforts. Some things do require punishment, but going back into their history back multiple years and holding something they did or said then against them now is no way of doing that. I've run into people that had no heart of looking at the good of someone because of something they saw as bad or hateful. This concept of love the person and not the action was something they didn't seem to grasp. There are a lot of people I associate with that I don't agree with on certain topics, but I still respect them. I can't stop them, but when they wrong me directly, I can still forgive them and let them know what they did so they can improve later on.

Now, in all honesty, I think these concepts will help you not be lashed to the ideology that may just toss you off to the side. I want the best for everyone, but sometimes we don't have all the facts and think that we know best. When we base our society on theories that haven't proven their salt, then we destroy the very things we have enjoyed for years.And no one wants to lose that.

If you have a though provoking thing or idea, let me know. If you have thought on the subject that might even help me form this idea better, be sure to let me know (dissenter is a great way to interact with this post).

Sun, 22 Sep 2019 18:29:46 -0600

Simplification and Nonsense


This week has been a riot with updates for a game or two. The thing that makes it crazy is the reaction of people and the reactions of people to those reactions. It make it interesting when people have opinion that clash (I'm trying to protect the identies of the sorta innocent, so I'm beating around the bush). It only creates problems for those around.

I'll start off with the nonsense, people without thick skins make the world more dramatic. It really boils down to being able to talk with people that have differing opinions and not just shutting them down. I've seen more than once people get banned or shut down for having an opinion that covers a sensitive topic. It soinds insensitive to say they need to just grow some thicker skin, but at the same time, it's true. They still have the agency to choose how they react and talk to someone. Just because someone believes different doesn't mean you have license to call them a clown, people that do this often complain when they get called names... If you want someone to listen to you, listen to someone else. It's how you learn.

This rant is one that really gets me each time, but the anger can go into something constructive, like peening the scythe blade. It's when we learn to sort it out for ourselves and peacefully deal with other opposing views that we lessen the divide between us. People complain about being inclusive and dividing everyone, but they go and get into their little echo chambers to be with themselves and their lackeys. I may be wrong, but hopefully, I've got things setup so that my little community isn't an echo chanber

Finally, in other news. I've finally setup qutebrowser to open my video watching in MPV. It removes the distraction of other things, but I still want to have my Discord functionality in the terminal, but that is still on hold...

Wed, 26 Jun 2019 01:27:41 -0600

Starting a Blog... Maybe...


So, if you or anyone you know has ever been on the internet, you probably heard of blogging. Yeah, this is one of those. I've tried before, decided to try again. This time, however, I get to use VIM for editing posts and simple scripts to manage it, then I 'git push' the updates.

This is just the first step, it should look pretty clean, but I hope you enjoy some more in depth adventures.

Fri, 14 Jun 2019 01:03:46 -0600