1000 times this. I have a general problem with centralized, for-profit services based in countries with known surveillance offering "anonymous" services to begin with, but for the love of all things sane in this world, if you're gonna try that, at least be hyper-aware of every shred of data you incidentally collect or cause to go across the wire.
I actually find that Ghostery is quite nice.
As a geek, working in a technical job, with a liberal arts degree, I (and my various employers over the years), have found great value in the breadth of my experience, flexibility, and less specific-tool-oriented approach. I'm sure a CS degree will get you an immediate job hacking on code, but adding a second degree, or having a vibrant life outside the digital world adds value to not only your life, but your long-term career prospects.
Also, don't sweat your undergrad degree specifics. It's an amazing chance to learn a ton of disparate, crazy stuff that will enrich your life. Read Ulysses! Learn philosophy! Study physics! I think the only undergrad courses I've never really drawn on were the most quotidian "requirements" courses, and I've never felt "held back" due to a lack of "focus" in my undergrad. Grab a MA/MS or even a Ph.D. (or, you know, life experience) if you want to focus.
Do you live in the area? I do. The cabs here can suck. A cab in the middle of summer that smells of old smoke, with no AC, in 95F and 10% humidity in the middle of summer is a not good thing.
That said, there are some amazing cabs too - but it's a guessing game. I've been (illegally) kicked out of cabs because my destination was too far or too "dangerous". Cabs get very picky during peak hours on who they pick up and in what neighborhoods they pick up in. Only this year do DC cabs take credit cards reliably, and only because of much-hated and delayed regulation changes based on Uber entering the game.
Do I think Uber/Lyft/etc. need to join in to regulations? Sure. That's a good direction. But sorry D/M/V cab industry, maybe you should have upped your game a long time ago. I have much respect for a good cabbie, but not much for the industry.
As I said many, many times during OLPC's early years, they should have brought it to market globally as a secondary source of revenue and driver of innovation. Props to focusing on education products for the least-served, but the OLPC created the industry niche for netbooks (and arguably, then, tablets), and then after hyping it up, refused to enter the market. They quickly got lapped by hardware that wasn't as open or as rugged, but was available to anyone for a low price. Once the netbook market got churning with the usual for-profit entities, they rapidly blew the OLPC out of the water in almost every user-experienced feature.
I'm still sad about how that worked out.
"Papert and Negroponte distributed [computers] to school children in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal. The experience confirms one of Papert's central assumptions: children in remote, rural, and poor regions of the world take to computers as easily and naturally as children anywhere. These results will be validated in subsequent deployments in several countries, including Pakistan, Thailand, and Colombia. [...] Naturally, it failed. Nothing is that independent, especially an organization backed by a socialist government and staffed by highly individualistic industry visionaries from around the world. Besides, altruism has a credibility problem in an industry that thrives on intense commercial competition."
Oh, wait, wrong decade. That quote was from the 1992 attempt to do this with Apple II and Logo instead of OLPCs, Sugar, and Scratch.
At my previous place of employment, I had trouble writing out my "goodbye" letter to the team remaining, as most of the good stories involved people who not only weren't there, but no one left even knew them.
That might be a sign, btw, for any managerial types, to worry about your staff turnover. Just sayin.
At one level, you're toast, right? You need a burner phone you bought with cash, without using ID, and to activate it without linking it to your person. You need to never have it with you at your commons places to be (house, work, coffeeshop on the corner, etc.) - and once you start talking using apps on a smartphone, you've multiplied the complications here 1000x. If you care that much, you probably should just give up on cell phones.
But, there are a tons of ways to make your usage of cell phones safer and more secure. The Guardian Project is a great place to start - https://guardianproject.info/apps/ - you can get their apps from the Play store, from the F-Droid OSS repo, or as APKs directly. It brings Tor to your Android, OTR chatting, end-to-end encrypted VOIP calls, and even PGP email.
iOS is a bit further behind with all of this, for various reasons.
There was a great guide on this last year, but the site seems to have gone offline. Some intrepid data-rescuers have put the content up on github:
Ask Nicholas Merrill about that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Merrill . If he can do it, so can Verizon.
As mentioned, OTR is good for secure chat; and Jitsi (other other VOIP tools that implement OSTN, https://guardianproject.info/wiki/OSTN) can provide end-to-end encrypted voice and video as well as chat. Kinda like skype, but secure.
It's best to not piss off His Holiness, Jean-Malreaux I
If you get that reference, you're very, very geeky.
One great trick, I probably saw it on lifehacker or similar, is to phrase your decisions in terms of priorities - i.e., when choosing to do activity X (TV, long lunch, etc.) instead of Y (gym, run, etc.), consider that you're saying, "no, X is a higher priority for me than Y right now." It's cheesy, but it help keep you focused.
Yes - bringing a home-made lunch saves a ton of money, and is much easier to portion-control with. Don't eat snacks at work (supply yourself with healthy alternatives if need be).
Instead of an hour lunch break, take an hour gym break to a nearby gym, or work with your supervisor for a flex hour instead of a lunch break, show up an hour later (and use that to go to a gym on your way in). You'll be *amazed* at the increase in your afternoon productivity by going to a gym in the middle of the day, instead of stuffing yourself at the nearest lunch spot.
Walk/Run/Bike to or from work - only works if you have access to a shower facility or public transit for one-way commutes at work
Join a gym, *hire a trainer*, set a schedule. I went to the gym 3x/week for 2 years, slowly lost 5 pounds. Added a trainer, lost another 5 pounds
It sounds like the company cares about health, which is a great start - getting access to shower facilities at work really opens up a lot of possibilities, so investigate some options there.
b) Exit nodes don't matter for blocking purposes. Bridge nodes are discoverable, but Tor has made them difficult to discover the complete set, https://bridges.torproject.org/ (or, since that'll be blocked in most useful places, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the "get bridges" in the body) only gives out a few at a time with a captcha requirement, and only sends to https-enabled webmail hosts.
Tor also has an unknown number of private bridges people run and disseminate through their own channels to friends and family and so on. This, plus obfsproxy and related tricks like the flashproxy work from Stanford, make it really really difficult to discover and block enough bridges into the network.
...and Tor provides much higher privacy for the user, with related tools like leave-no-trace bootable-thumbdrives (TAILS) , and is much, much harder to block than a VPN (Iran just this week decided to restrict all VPN traffic).
Also, basing this off of Windows means that rapidly throwing up new servers is a bit more cost-prohibitive and licensing-restricted than flipping on an Amazon EC2 tor image (not using your free ec2 slot? go here: https://cloud.torproject.org/ ) , or hosting a tor server on a cheap VPS.
I value the guy's intentions, but question his supervisors approval of his field assessment sections.