I have been trying to find a balance between: the reality that at some level my information must be transmitted online in order to participate in modern life, and that information not going further or to anyone more than it needs to. Some of what I have done are: setting up a PiHole, moved almost all accounts over to Hide My Email, started putting in as much fake data as I can get away with on forms (surprisingly, a lot!), spend a lot of time connected to Private Internet Access VPN, and lastly, switching from Chrome to Firefox.

Outstanding problems:

For someone that is trying to find a balance, I am not yet sure how I will tackle these. I am yet to figure out whether privacy is something that is all or nothing. Is any effort worth it if you are still going to leak something, somewhere? All it takes is a few pieces of metadata to link a myriad of disparate datasets to you.

So, a technical person who does not need convincing about the importance of privacy is himself trying to find a balance, wondering if it is fully worth it. You can imagine the uphill battle trying to convince those uninterested.

What I liked about the idea of a PiHole and switching to Firefox is that I figured I would not think about them, hoping the benefits would silently tick along in the background. The PiHole lived up to this. A 750,000 strong block list, with an average of 12% of traffic blocked per day, and I never think about it. But sadly Firefox did not. On my M3 MacBook Pro, it takes up a significant amount of RAM, websites would commonly break or exhibit strange behaviour. And lastly, for web development work, I have to keep Chrome around as the development tools are light years ahead. All this to say, it did not fade into the background, it was very much at the forefront.

When evaluating a better privacy option, a part of my assessment is “could I get my Mum to switch to this without countless IT Support calls?”.

That is where Brave comes in. Brave is a privacy-first browser that out of the box can block adverts, tracking, nuisance pop ups and much more. After a month of usage I have become bullish on Brave, as it ticks so many of my specific privacy wants. Brave is powered by the underlying, open source, technology that powers Chrome. If you use Chrome you will feel at home with Brave.

The issue however is that I desperately want to evangelise to friends and family, but, I configured it such that if they were to just install Brave and go, it would not be the Brave I am enjoying.

So, here is my living document of all current and future changes to Brave that I make that I can hopefully use to get more people onboard. To avoid redesigns invalidating them, I will describe the changes through text only, no images. Anything omitted implies the default setting is retained.

Get Started

Install the Brave browser and go to brave://settings/getStarted.



Social media blocking

Privacy and security


Search engine



Payment methods

Addresses and more




Head to brave://flags/.

And you’re done. For five minutes of set up, you now have a balance between privacy and convenience in your browsing. One that is performant, highly compatible in the ever growing mono-Chromium ecosystem and has everything you need for web development.

If you wish to go all in, Brave is also available on mobile, and has been an equally great experience (if not more due to the amount of nuisance adverts/popups on mobile). The configuration for that is nearly identical to what is outlined above for desktop, albeit it with less options available.


I also have installed uBlock Origin. I honestly am not sure this if is necessary given Brave’s built-in blocker.

We switched on the maximum amount of privacy which can come at the expensive of a select few websites breaking. So far the only issue I have had are some payment providers that trigger two factor authentication (think: using American Express, and SafeKey triggers, requiring a redirect and iFrame embedding). For these situations, I click the Brave icon in the and change “Aggressively block fingerprinting” down to “Block fingerprinting” just for that website. If that does not work, I temporarily take the Shield down completely until I am done.

This is so simple to do however, that it still passes my Mum-tech-support needs. Something went wrong? Click the lion and press this toggle (thanks iOS for teaching that UX pattern).

Excalidraw has a cool pop up when it detects you are using aggressive finger print blocking, as it blocks some of the functionality. This was really thoughtful (and probably reduced GitHub issues)!

Lastly, this is sadly one more inch towards total Chromium domination. Discussing that is a post in and of itself, but is something that is on my mind.