I Tried Blocking Amazon From My Life | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 1
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I Tried Blocking Amazon From My Life | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 1


– [Kid yelling] – Where is the Echo? – That’s my doughter Alef.
She is not happy, that I disconnected out Alexa. Or
that she couldn’t watch the only three movies she loves
in the whole wide world. Coco, Monsters Inc. and the Incredibles. All of which we watch either
through Netflix or videos purchased via Amazon. – Coco, Coco, Coco. – So why did I purview this misery? Because I decided to
block the five tech giants from my life. One week at a time. Of course, that explanation means nothing to my one year old. The Big Five. Blocking The Tech Giants. Apple, Google, Facebook,
Amazon and Microsoft collectively make products that we love. Products that we hate,
but can’t stop using. Products that dictate
how we communicate and how we are seen. Their
devices and services make our lives both easier
than they’ve ever been before and more complicated in unforseen ways. – Oh man, not us bud. – They’re offering some replaced core functions of our brains.
– Here’s your reminder, Laura says the teething
ring is in the freezer. – And people are increasingly worried that it’s possible to get addicted
to these buttons, clicks, screens and scrolls as it
is to get hooked on nicotine or heroin. I wanted this to
be more than just a boycot. I wanted to cut these companies
from my life as completely as possible. Including all
the invisible ways in which I might interact with
them. For example if your are watching this on Gizmodo.com
right now, your device is invisibly interacting with
Amazon, Facebook and Google. As far as I know, this kind
of an experiment hasn’t been done before. And I
didn’t know how to do it. So I knew I would need to get help. – Hello, my name is Dhruv
Mehrotra, I am helping Kash build the back end
system that prevents her devices from reaching out
to all these tech giants. – Dhruv built a virtual
private network (VPN) for me. And I directed all of my
devices to send their internet traffic through it. It
was as if my devices were hanging out in a fancy club.
And Dhruv was the bouncer who decided which data got
to come mingle with them. When I’m blocking a particular tech giant, Dhruv turns away any
data from that company trying to get in. Even if my
devices have invited them. Dhruv was able to do this,
because all the tech giants publish lists of the internet
protocol addresses they own. Which is basically like a list
of directions to the servers they control. The VPN blocked my devices from talking to those servers.
It wasn’t a perfect blockade though, as some of the companies
basically had fake ID’s and managed to get into
the club and make moves on my devices. I’ll tell you
more about that later. Setting up the parameters
of the block alone gives you a sense of how
massive these companies are. And how much of the
internet they each control. Amazon controls twenty-three
million, two-hundred and nineteen thousand, ninehundred
and sixty-eight IP addresses. I started the experiment
out with the company, that I thought would be the hardest to cut out of my life. The everything store. – So it’s day one of my
month-long tech blockade. – We use a lot of Amazon
products in our house. We’ve got an Echo, an Echo dot,
two Kindles, two AmazonPrime credit cards, AmazonPrime
Video on our TV and two Prime accounts on Amazon.com itself. I know, I know, it’s kind of ridiculous, that both my husband and
I are paying a hundred nineteen a year for two prime accounts. This exercise made me look
back at how much I usually spend on Amazon. And I alone
am averaging about three thousand dollars a year. – I
get all my, usually I get all my birthday presents there,
all my Christmas presents there, anytime I need
anything, I basically go to Amazon first. And not
even Amazon.com, I just go to the Amazon App on my
phone. Yes, I have Amazon’s App on my phone. I’m so
addicted to this company. It’s insane. – And I’m not
alone. Amazon reportedly controls fifty percent of online
commerce. Which means half of all purchases made online
in America. Which is insane. And Amazons footprint is much bigger. If you think of all the
companies it operates, that don’t prominently display it’s logo. Including Amazon Web Services, or AWS, the vast server network that
provides the backbone for much of the internet.
There’s also Twitch.com the broadcasting behemoth,
that is the backbone of the online game industry.
And of course there’s Whole Foods. The organic
backbone of the yuppie diet. – I hear you have a degree in cheese. – I do I went to cheese school. – AWS is the internet’s
largest cloud provider. Generating almost seven
billion in revenue per quarter. Which is the primary driver
of Amazons profitability. Halfway through the week,
I started to wonder why so many sites that use AWS
were still working for me. For example, I was able
to do some searches for a thanks giving vacation
home on Airbnb. Despite it being a famed user of
Amazons hosting platform. That how Dhruv and I
discovered a major flaw in our blocking technique. Hey
Dhruv, how’s it going? – Hey, so this is
working, eh? That’s good. – We ran into some
situations where the blocker didn’t seem to be working 100%.
That there were some Amazon kind of base services
that were getting through. – And that’s I guess another
interesting part of this puzzle, it’s like, yeah
Amazon has published their IP addresses and
that’s what we’re using to block this stuff, but like sometimes things get through. Like Airbnb. – We were blocking IP
addresses that we knew Amazon, and thus AWS use, but it
turns out that a lot of sites, in addition to using a company
like AWS tend to employ a secondary service, called a content delivery network (CDN) to load their web pages faster. – For me the metaphor is
like whack-a-mole sometimes. Like, when I’m looking at your logs and I’m seeing traffic that
should not be going through going through, I like
spy on that IP address, and figure it out and figure out why it’s there and quickly make a block. – Think of AWS as the
central warehouse for a sites digital packets. The
CDN’s are the storefronts around the world, that
help people get the packets faster. So that their
visitors don’t have to wait for the packets to come all the way from the warehouse. Amazon
does run it’s own CDN called Cloudfront. But it
has fierce competition from CDN’s offered by other
companies, like Fastly and Cloudflare. If a website
used AWS in combination with a non-Amazon CDN, my blocker would see the CDN’s IP
addresses and let that AWS hosted content slip
through. This was a wrinkle on the experiment that we just
could not engineer around. – So I’m at the grocery store. Trying to buy size five diapers. – Some of the challenges
of life without Amazon are probably obvious. – So we
made it through the weekend without Amazon. We didn’t
watch TV, we didn’t watch movies. We spent
a lot of time outside and took our daughter to
the playground a lot and honestly it wasn’t that
bad. But we definitely screwed up. – One day my husband went to get lunch for us, and came back with sushi from whole foods. I’d already put a delicious piece of inari
in my mouth, before I remembered I was
consuming Amazon produced food. I wasn’t willing
to purge for the sake of the stunt. Another
time, I unintentionally patronized Amazon. It was
when I ordered a phone holder for my car. – Oh,
I ordered through eBay, like that should be pretty easy, there were a lot of choices there. I ordered one that was like 17 dollars, uhm, and it came and it came in this package. – Turns out the seller
uses fulfillment by Amazon. – But some challenges were unexpected. Like not being able to use the encrypted messaging app signal, to contact sources. And of course Slack. The
workplace communication platform which is basically
how I keep in touch with my colleagues on the other coast, since I work remotely. At my work, Slack has replaced meetings, phone calls, and definitely email. I
sent emails to colleagues but it seemed like most of them went into a black hole. Dhruv kept
track of all the times my devices tried to ping Amazon’s servers during the week. – Your devices collectively
reached out to Amazon close to threehundred thousand times. – Seems like a lot – Yeah, it’s a lot. – But so there’s many Amazon services that I use in a given week
that we didn’t capture. I just stopped using. –
Whatever was connected in your house, Amazon
still did find a way. Like over, you know at night you could see Amazon being pinged a few
times throughout the night. – Oh, hallo! [Laughing] – It was clear that a permanent Amazon ban would wall me off from crucial services and key websites, that I
just can’t function without for both personal and
professional reasons. – It seems like Amazon just runs the infrastructure of the
web. And there’s just, there’s like no alternative
when you block Amazon. – These companies are
following us around whether we know it or not. – Yeah. Like I don’t think I could
cut Amazon from my life. – Yeah – Bye. – Next week: Facebook.

39 thoughts on “I Tried Blocking Amazon From My Life | Blocking Tech Giants: Week 1

  1. amazon ran an ad for prime video during your video about blocking amazon from your life (it was through the lifehacker post on facebook)

  2. 0:32 It was soooooooooo easy to write that but of "code" wrapping the name properly…..

    <p id="demo"> name </p>

    It is easy to find it on the internet… and it's not like your audience is not techy enough to know…

  3. As a Network Engineer and Sys Admin this is a great breakdown to show to customers; in regards to granular blocking of websites.

  4. its a problem brought on by yourself for being too lazy to get off your ass and going to a real store, l have never used amazon and will never use it or its other products

  5. If she uses a computer with Apple of Microsoft based OS on it then 100% of what she is doing is a waste as they spy big time on you more than most other software going around.

  6. that shirt at 0:25 is more fucking feminist bullshit, dont get me wrong, the girl is cute, her shirt is not.

  7. Watch the rest here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGyEirsta_0&t=1s&index=3&list=PLx1XbvvfIlc4zQgE5ohJA9EJ2NCcGc2QQ

  8. This just isn't me. I admit, I'm pretty "plugged in" when it comes to Microsoft. I am an avid Xbox gamer and I do 99% of my internet stuffs on my Windows PC. I am however not on Facebook at all. I only go on Amazon to buy something about once every other month. And Google and its technology is non-existent in my life. I don't own any sort of talking surveillance machine. No smart watch. And I have a government phone I only use in case of an emergency. I also am a Firefox and Adblock user. I just don't understand how people are plugged in or even "addicted" to these technologies. And why do you and your husband have two different Amazon Prime accounts and credit cards??

  9. I'm a big person about privacy since I'm not even an adult. I disabled half of the windows 10 telemetry, turned on the kill switch for the microphone on my thinkpad, and have a pretty good antivirus. But that's just scratching the surface, the most thing I want to do is block Facebook since even though I don't use it I know they're "watching".

  10. I don't use any Amazon services at all, but i couldn't live without youtube. I only use Instragram from Facebook's services, but i could definitely live without it. I dont use any of Apples products

  11. let's be honest. The IP shown is what is shown, it is like onions, only they are onions with leeks, cross pollinating onions and
    hybrid onions. Splicing the onions and grafting onions…time to bleach my brain pan.

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