Managing your privacy online #3 – Google and your phone number

The easiest way to merge information about individuals is by having a common attribute that can be used to identify and then link information that shares a common feature – email address, phone number, social security number etc.

To limit how Google links data to your phone number go to

‘Help people connect with you’ should be renamed ‘Help Google link you to your contacts and networks’

In the ‘Help people connect with you’ section make sure these settings are turned off. If you want people to have a (slightly) harder task of finding you with your phone number you should also turn this setting off.

Managing your privacy online #2 – Chrome and contacts

Chrome has a very complicated data model that appears to offer you granular control of your data and how it is managed/saved by Google.

In reality, Chrome’s privacy settings are complicated by design to try and obscure how Google is collecting your data and to effectively limit how you are able to manage that data collection and what Google does with your data .

Go to

Do you really want Google to build a network of your friends and contacts?

Turn this OFF.

Managing your privacy online #1 – Chrome and activity tracking

Google makes money by ‘personalising’ your experience. In practice, this means Google aggregates as much of your online and offline activity as it can in order to profile you as accurately as it can. The more accurate the profile, the better it can personalise your experience, and the more accurate the ads Google can target you with… and the more $£€ Google makes (off of you).

Go to, and scroll down to the activity section to see what personalisation settings are active.

You will want to go to each of the three sections and pause ‘personalisation’ – fortunately they’re all actually on the same page at .

Working with excerpts in WordPress, or why isn’t this filter working?

Working with excerpts in WordPress, or why isn’t this filter working?

If you call get_the_excerpt() WordPress returns a string that looks like an excerpt – but it might not be . If your post doesn’t have a handcrafted excerpt, WordPress returns an automatically generated word-counted trimmed-down version of the full post content – and this may not be what you want. Here’s how I tweaked the code to get post excerpts as I wanted them.

Cross-posted from

Apple: Managing Screen Time on iOS12 - what I've learned

ScreenTime is Apple’s set of tools introduced in iOS12 to monitor/manage App usage – it’s usually used by parents to try and manage how their kids use Apple devices. At best it works poorly – at worst it doesn’t work at all.

Struggling to manage Screen Time?

Go to protectyoungeyes’s 12 ingenious screen time hacks – there are lots of useful tips for parents on specific issues in administering Screen Time. Also see How to Bypass Screen Time, or How Kids are Hacking Apple’s Control System for a list of steps you can take to make Screen Time more effective.

Of course you’re struggling – Screen Time is complicated.

Screen Time should let you manage app use, accounts, and Settings, and… just about everything. And it’s all lumped together in a very convoluted interface.

Solution: Google is your friend. Search for answers to find the settings you can manage.

Keep your Screen Time passcode safe

The easiest way to bypass Screen Time controls is to find out what the parental passcode is. Change the password frequently, and make sure you aren’t being watched or recorded when you enter your password.

Keep an eye on *your* devices

When your child asks for more screen time, that request is sent to all your iOS devices. If your children get your iPad they can approve their own Screen Time requests.

Screen Time doesn’t (really) work

You can set all the Screen Time settings that you can, but there are dozens of ways kids can get around them – and the older your child is, the more likely they are to either a) know people who know how to get around Screen Time restrictions, or b) search Google and find answers for themselves.

You need to regularly check their phone/app usage to see if they’re getting around your restrictions. When someone has a limit of 30 minutes of YouTube time but has spent 3 hours watching videos, then something’s not right.

Screen Time doesn’t (really) work if you’re using iOS13 and they’re using iOS12

If you’re using Screen Time on iOS13 to manage a device running iOS12 – e.g. if you’re using an iPhone 8 to manage a child with an iPhone 6 – then you’ll find that many of the settings that you toggle on your iOS13 device will not transfer to your child’s phone.

Solution: don’t change their ScreenTime settings on your phone – make them on the child’s phone.

Apple: Apple TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, and Apple TV+

Apple TV, Apple TV, Apple TV, and Apple TV+

Dustin Curtis has a wee review of just how confusing Apple TV (and associated apps/ecosystem) really is.

(After 8 paragraphs of spot-on analysis of how confusing the AppleTV ecosystem is…) Other than that, though, Apple TV is relatively straightforward.

I find Apple TV (i.e. the hardware) relentlessly confusing post recent updates. I see previews of films and don’t know what app they’re from – Netflix, iTunes? It’s prettier and looks flash but is confusing as hell. To me anyway. We just click away and hope for the best, which is frustrating.

People who say Apple software is easy to use – well, I don’t think they use it very often.

How to block ‘third-party’ cookies with Google Chrome

Google is getting very good at hiding some browser settings, and so much of the online advice on managing cookies is out of date. You could search the help in Chrome, but there are no results for ‘third-party’* and if you go to Clear, enable, and manage cookies in Chrome help page you’ll find several mentions of third-party cookies, but no instructions on how to mange them. So.

Go to Chrome’s cookie settings page – paste “chrome://settings/content/cookies” into the address bar in Chrome.



Click the toggle for ‘Block third-party cookies’.


*Third-party cookies are those set by advertisers, trackers, and other websites that have a financial interest in tracking your online behaviour.