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  • Showing only topics with the tag "privacy". Back to normal view
    1. One month with Kagi search

      Toward the end of August, I signed up for a trial of Kagi -- a privacy-focused search engine. You get 50 free searches, and then, if you want to continue, you can convert to a paid account at $10...

      Toward the end of August, I signed up for a trial of Kagi -- a privacy-focused search engine.

      You get 50 free searches, and then, if you want to continue, you can convert to a paid account at $10 a month.

      I mentioned here that I wasn't planning on converting to paid, as $10/month felt very steep and I didn't think I could make it my default search on my iOS phone, but @pallas's comment here ultimately made me want to give it a try.

      Thus, I dropped the $10 bucks to turn the free trial into a paid one-month trial.

      I'm very glad that I did.

      The free trial itself was actually not very convincing to me. Knowing that I had limited searches and not wanting to run through them more than I needed, my searches were in the single digits each day. I was very judicious about what I searched and how I typed it. Furthermore, I kicked myself if I instinctively typed something like "imdb everything everywhere all at once" into Firefox's search bar instead of going to imdb.com and then typing in the movie title, as that meant I'd wasted 2% of my allotment on what wasn't technically a search but more of an internet navigation optimization.

      On the searches I did I felt like I got good results, but I wasn't sure if that was because of the quality of the service or if it was because I'd simply thought more about what I was actually typing in. Also, the trial made me way too aware that I was searching with limited queries to really make me feel at ease about actually using the service.

      Now that I've paid for a month, however, I've just used it as a stand-in for how I used to use DuckDuckGo -- "wikipedia steam deck"-style searches and all.

      Kagi doesn't track your search contents, but they do track your number of searches. I have completed roughly 400 searches this month, which Kagi says costs roughly $5.00 out of the $10.00 that I paid them. I don't know nearly enough about any of this to know whether this is an accurate accounting of actual costs or overstating things, but I will say that the $10 price that I initially felt was steep has looked a lot more worth spending after a month on the service.

      Kagi generally finds what I'm looking for within the first link. If it's not the top link, it's in the top 3. Furthermore, it seems to dredge up less junk. With DuckDuckGo, I loved that I wasn't being tracked for the purposes of advertising, but it felt like DDG had no problem serving me pages that were built specifically for that purpose. I'd often look up product reviews and get re-routed to sites that appeared to be nothing more than machine-generated lists of recommendations with Amazon affiliate links. I've had to deal with less of these while on Kagi. Some of them still come up, but they're either further down the rankings or they're put into their own "Listicles" section.

      Where Kagi really shines though, is local searches. Pretty much the only time I would bang through to Google from DDG was for local stuff. I don't know if it's my location in particular, but DDG is not great about giving me things that are specific to my area, often preferring to give me a smattering of things that are from similarly named locales from elsewhere around the world. Kagi, on the other hand, gives me the kind of local results I get from Google.

      Most local searches of that type tend to come from my phone, and this also helped me understand that better search on a phone matters WAY more than better search on desktop. The smaller screen and limited view means that it's significantly more important for the top result to be the one I want on my phone than it is on desktop. As such, Kagi is winning me over because it's made mobile searching frictionless -- something I couldn't say for DDG. That aspect alone is probably going to be what keeps me on the service. I'm planning on paying for at least another month, though after that I might go back to DDG for a month to see how I feel in comparison.

      I mentioned earlier that I didn't think I could make it a default search on iOS. I mistakenly thought Apple had that locked down? Turns out it's actually possible through an app. Also, Kagi apparently has an entire browser for macOS/iOS. I tried it out and it works quite nicely, though AdGuard+Safari seemed to do a bit better ad-blocking than the stuff they'd built into Orion, so I've stayed on Safari.

      There's actually a whole lot of cool looking power-user stuff on offer from Kagi (you can individually prioritize and de-prioritize specific domains across your searches, for example), but I'm not the kind of user that needs significant search depth, so I can't really speak to anything other than the standard search experience.

      What I can say is that I've been very happy with that experience so far.

      Also, it should hopefully go without saying, but this post isn't sponsored in any way nor was I requested to post it by Kagi. This is me choosing to give my own experiences with the service because I thought people here might be interested.

      26 votes
    2. I'm struggling with a potential ethical violation at work; feedback needed

      I have a work-related ethics question, and I thought the fine people here on tildes were perfect to give feedback. I'll try to be brief but still give all of the information. Background I work for...

      I have a work-related ethics question, and I thought the fine people here on tildes were perfect to give feedback. I'll try to be brief but still give all of the information.


      I work for an energy utility. This company isn't a charity, but it is a non-profit. We are owned by the people who buy power from us (called "members"). We don't profit off of the electricity we sell to our members, but we do generate extra electricity to sell to other utilities (mostly to for-profit ones). Any profit we make is either set aside for future use or is sent out to the members as a check. Yes, our members actually get a check each year. This cooperative was built to serve rural communities since at that point in history profit-driven companies weren't willing to spend the money to run electricity to these communities. We cover 90% (geographically) of our state, along with portions of a neighboring state. We generate using wind, hydro, solar, coal, and natural gas. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I believe roughly 30%-40% of our generation comes from renewables, and we now have a dedicated team researching nuclear power (SMNR) and energy storage (which would allow us to further shift to renewables).


      There is a PAC (an entity that throws money at politicians in exchange for votes) for rural electric cooperatives that we participate in. This PAC can only accept donations from our members or employees. While the stated purpose is to advocate for rural cooperatives in general, I personally think that largely translates into advocating for fossil fuels.

      Every year there is a 10-day period in August where they start asking us employees to donate. Anyone can donate at any time, this is just the time that they emphasize it. Leadership has REPEATEDLY emphasized that there is no pressure and that our supervisors can't see who has and hasn't donated. I've been here nearly five years, and they've said this each time. I know that under the previous CEO (he left ~10 years ago) there was pressure to donate, and that's probably why they emphasize this now.


      I've discovered however that the leadership CAN see information on who has donated and how much. PAC donations are public information, and the names and amounts can be easily seen online if you know where to look. I do believe that my division leader didn't know this, though I can't really know whether the other leadership did or didn't. There's no way to know if any supervisors have looked at this data or made decisions on it. After I brought it up to my division leader he thanked me and said he will send this new information out to our division.

      However, communicating this to the rest of the company is beyond his control. He's alerted the people who can do this but what they do is up to them. While my division doesn't really care who donates, I get the impression that other divisions feel differently. IT has a profoundly different culture than the rest of the company. Senior leaders say there's no pressure, but that's not neciserily the case for supervisors and managers. It's been implied to me that the teams that work in power production, transmission planning, etc still have expectations about donations.

      What to do?

      So here's the core ethics question: Is it unethical for senior leadership to withhold this new information about the visibility of donations from the rest of the company? The assurance of anonymity was intended to reassure us that there would be no retaliation for those who don't donate and that there would be no favoritism for those who do.

      Is this just a small thing that's not really important? If this is an issue, how significant is it? It's obviously not "dumping toxic waste in the river" bad, but it still feels like it must have some level (or potential level) of impact. If this is an issue, what actions would you personally take? How much would you be willing to risk taking action on this?

      Thanks in advance, I just want to do the right thing.

      16 votes