Atom, World`s Smallest 4G Rugged Smartphone

NOTE: This article isn’t strictly about privacy. However, it is about a very small cell phone that should become popular and also works well with Zello, the privacy-oriented walkie-talkie app. Go to to see my previous articles about Zello.

A review in the Digital Trends web site says, “The Unihertz Atom won’t replace your smartphone, but it’s perfect for outdoors.”

While I haven’t yet had my hands on a Unihertz Atom cell phone, I suspect that description is accurate. It appears to be tiny, rugged, and resistant to water, mud, and all the other nasty stuff one finds in the great outdoors. I don’t think the Unihertz Atom is a good phone for everyone but it certainly will appeal to those who spend a lot of time outdoors, either for work or for pleasure or both.

One thing that appeals to me is the red push-to-talk button on the side of the Unihertz Atom phone. It works with the Zello push-to-talk walkie-talkie application, which is also pre-installed on the phone.

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ASUS Chromebox 3 is Now Shipping

Chromebook laptops have long had a reputation for being some of the most private and most secure computers available. For details, you might want to read my previous article at and the dozen or so other articles by other authors, starting with the list shown at What fascinates me is that these highly secure laptop computers are amongst the easiest-to-use computers and also are amongst the cheapest laptops available today. A number of manufacturers have had great success with Chromebooks, selling millions of them to schools, corporations, and private individuals alike. They are very popular amongst people who are not computer experts, including adolescents, senior citizens, and lots of adults who have never used computers successfully before.

By definition, a Chromebook is a laptop computer but a different version, called a Chromebox, is available as a desktop system. For some reason, Chromeboxes have never become as popular as Chromebooks. Now ASUS is trying to change that.

ASUS has produced Chromebox computers before but recently announced the Chromebox 3 series of desktop computers. Amongst other things, the announcement stated:

“ASUS Chromebox 3 is the latest addition to the ASUS Chromebox family and is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and DDR4-2400 memory for faster, smoother and more energy-efficient performance. It is equipped with a versatile USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port for fast data transfers, power delivery, and DisplayPort connectivity. ASUS Chromebox 3 will also support Google Play.”

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Hands On with the Aegis Secure Key 3z, a 100% Hardware-Based Flash Drive

Do you have some information, pictures, maps, databases, or other digital items that you would like to keep secret? Maybe it is your state lottery numbers that you play every week. Perhaps it is last year’s income tax return. Then again, you might have secret plans for your company’s new product that is under development. Perhaps it is the contact information for your bookie. Maybe you want to keep something secret when passing through Customs and Immigration at some country’s port of entry. How about the Christmas gifts you might purchase for your spouse?

Whatever the information, you can store it in encrypted files or folders on your computer’s hard drive. If you want the information to be portable so that you can access it from a computer at the office, a different computer at home, and from your laptop computer when traveling, storing the information on an encrypted flash drive might be a better solution.

Creating encrypted flash drives is not difficult. In fact, there are many different ways of doing that on Linux, Windows, or Macintosh computers. See for a list of articles describing encryption methods. The difficulty involved and the security of the encryption varies widely, depending upon which encryption product you use to create the encrypted files or folders.

Another method is to purchase a 100% hardware-based flash drive that has encryption capabilities already built-in. The phrase “100% hardware-based” means that the device is not dependent upon encryption software. Instead, the encryption method is built into the hardware of the device. These 100% hardware-based devices usually have built-in keypads or some similar method for entering encryption codes. The result is that they cannot be “cracked” by software alone in the method that most software-encrypted flash drives can be decoded. Most of the commercially-built, 100% hardware-based encrypted flash drives have very heavy-duty encryption that has passed high-level security audits.

In short, I trust the commercially-produced, special-purpose encrypted flash drives much more than I do a standard flash drive that has been encrypted by some off-the-shelf, general-purpose encryption software. A super-cautious person could even encrypt the secret files by using encryption software, then storing the encrypted files in a 100% hardware-based encrypted flash drive. The result is “suspenders and belt” encryption: everything is doubly encrypted for extreme security.

This week I purchased and started using an Aegis Secure Key 3z 100% hardware-based flash drive. I have only used it a few times so far, but I am very impressed with it.

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Why Do You Have Two Telephone Numbers? Use an Amazon Echo Instead.

According to a recently published U.S. Health Department report at, 50.8 percent of American homes don’t have a landline telephone. Instead, the residents use a cellphone as their only phone or use a computerized VoIP phone or other, alternative telephone device. The number of landlines in homes has declined in recent years and apparently will continue to fall. There’s simply no need to have both an old-fashioned wired home phone and a cellphone. Having duplicate phones is unnecessary and expensive.

Perhaps even worse is the difficulty of anyone trying to call you when you have two or more telephone numbers. If they know you well, perhaps they know to call one number during certain hours of the day and a different number at other times. If they don’t reach you on the first number (and they should be able to do so), the caller then has to know to call a second number.

I have been using a cell phone as my only telephone number for several years. However, I recently slid backwards: I added a second “phone” in my home. Admittedly, it is not a normal telephone. I use it mostly for outgoing calls, so my callers never need to be concerned with which number is needed to call me. The new “phone” provides high-quality audio, a built-in speakerphone, and, if appropriate hardware is used on both ends of the conversation, video calling. The new device also performs many other functions besides making telephone calls. Best of all, there is no need for telephone wires connected to the house nor for a monthly bill from the local telephone company. In fact, my new device provides free calls after the hardware has been purchased.

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Security, Privacy Focused Librem 5 Linux Smartphone Successfully Crowdfunded

Purism’s Librem 5 security and privacy-focused smartphone was successfully crowdfunded recently when it reached and even passed its goal of $1.5 million, with 13 days left. Librem 5 wants to be an open source and truly free mobile phone designed with security and privacy in mind, powered by a GNU/Linux operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux and running only Open Source software apps on top of a popular desktop environment like KDE Plasma Mobile or GNOME Shell. Featuring a 5-inch screen, Librem 5 is compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G, GSM, UMTS, and LTE mobile networks. Under the hood, it uses an i.MX 6 or i.MX 8 processor with separate baseband modem to offer you the protection you need in today’s communication challenges, where you’re being monitored by lots of government agencies.

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How to Become a Full-Blown Privacy Fanatic With Purism’s Librem Laptop

If you value your online privacy and if you have need for a laptop computer, you need to read an article by Dell Cameron in the Gizmodo web site at In the article, Cameron describes the $1399 Librem 13 manufactured by California-based Purism.

The laptop runs a modified version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The modified version is called PureOS, a simple and unique Linux-based system designed by Purism’s own team of specialized Debian developers. It includes an impressive list of features, all designed to protect your online privacy.

Dell Cameron writes:

“If you have any useful skills whatsoever beyond tying your own shoes, then I promise you already possess the faculties required to conquer Linux.”

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Bose Headphones Secretly Collected User Data

My headphones did what?

The audio maker Bose, whose wireless headphones sell for up to $350, uses an app to collect the listening habits of its customers and provide that information to third parties—all without the knowledge and permission of the users, according to a lawsuit filed in Chicago on Tuesday.

The complaint accuses Bose of violating the WireTap Act and a variety of state privacy laws, adding that a person’s audio history can include a window into a person’s life and views.

Details, and a video, are available in an article by Jeff John Roberts in the Fortune web site at: