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Technology

How can I get better at using Google search?

Michael struggles to find the search results he’s looking for, and would like some tips for better Googling

Last week’s column mentioned search skills. I’m sometimes on the third page of results before I get to what I was really looking for. I’m sure a few simple tips would find these results on page 1. All advice welcome. Michael

Google achieved its amazing popularity by de-skilling search. Suddenly, people who were not very good at searching – which is almost everyone – could get good results without entering long, complex searches. Partly this was because Google knew which pages were most important, based on its PageRank algorithm, and it knew which pages were most effective, because users quickly bounced back from websites that didn’t deliver what they wanted.

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Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?

The alternative search engine markets itself on protecting users’ privacy, but is it worth using?

So is DuckDuckGo no good? Surprised you did not mention it. Murray

Following last week’s article about privacy and surveillance capitalism, several readers wrote in about the absence of DuckDuckGo, and it was mentioned a dozen times in the comments. I have suggested this privacy-oriented search engine a few times since 2012, and I think it’s worth a go. However, I’m answering Murray’s earlier query along the same lines because I can use his email verbatim rather than cobbling together a joint question from multiple sources.

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How do I protect my online privacy from 'surveillance capitalism'?

Chris wants to better protect his privacy. What can he easily do besides de-Googling his online life

Having read Edward Snowden’s revelations in the Guardian and in his book, I would like to protect myself from both the surveillance state and surveillance capitalism. I already use a VPN, and I am in the process of removing Google from my online life. What else should I be doing that’s reasonable for a home environment? Chris

Great timing! On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a 17,000-word report on this topic. Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance, by Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart, covers both online privacy problems and the growth of real-word surveillance.

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What sort of security software and backups do I need for a home business?

Allen wants to set up a small company working from home, and would like some advice

I’m looking to set up a small business working from home, and would like some advice on back up and security measures. I have an Office 365 account so my main directory for saving documents will be OneDrive. I was looking to back up on a Synology NAS drive, perhaps to two separate hard drives as a precaution. Also, I currently just use Windows’ built-in security, but wondered whether I should look for something else.

Initially, it would just be me, but if things go well then I may have another two or three people helping. I’m assuming I can just scale up any security measures as the need arises. Allen

Technology manufacturers cater to two very large markets with different needs: home users and businesses. You’re about to enter the SoHo (small office, home office) market where home technologies dominate because most single traders don’t need proper business systems with all the extra costs and complications involved.

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Home alarm systems: how can I improve my security?

Peter has to move from his very secure high-rise flat and wants to avoid being burgled

I currently live in a high-rise flat, which is very secure, with CCTV, fob-controlled access and so on. Unfortunately, due to Grenfell, our block is being emptied for refurbishment. I don’t know what type of property I will be offered, but I will have to provide my own home security system. Cost is not a major issue, because I will get a disturbance grant for the enforced move. But, as a pensioner, I wouldn’t like to be saddled with a high monthly premium for monitoring. Any suggestions would be very welcome.Peter

Technology companies are selling a lot of new gadgets to increase home security, including smart locks, motion detectors, window sensors and digital cameras. Many are part of the trend towards “smart homes” with internet-connected doorbells, lighting, voice assistants and so on. Most of this stuff comes under the general tech-industry label of the internet of things (IoT).

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