Two incident over the last month have reinforced my views on free speech, end-to-end encrypted private messaging and hatred of bullies. Growing up as foreign-accented mouthy kid in prairie Canada, I saw a lot of the latter first-hand.
The first incident was in a coffee shop just before Christmas. A staff member seemingly wanted to talk to a customer but was literally shouted down by another employee. The offender let off a endless verbal barrage intended to purge the room of any other speech. I can’t imagine what they thought justified the behaviour or the motivations behind it but reactions in the room varied from uncomfortable to outright horrified.
The second was a article released today by The Guardian: Woman jailed for record 43 years for insulting Thai monarchy. I thought I misread the headline at first. It’s sad to think governments are so repressive (and “the west” is not immune. Business use SLAPP tactics to silence criticism, governments give themselves permission to assassinate their own citizens and reporters are routinely murdered worldwide.)
While the scales are vastly different, both of the examples above were intended to end discourse.
To prevent constructive (edit: changed from “free” in light of recent events) speech and suppress any further attempts.
Objecting to something on legitimate grounds is something to be encouraged. To discuss an issue in an open and fair manner. The matter may never result in agreement, but to prevent the conversation in the first place is:
Well, that didn’t work out. Previously, I’d started “dog-fooding” Ubuntu Touch on the Pinephone. Not quite ready, had some issues with connectivity, both wi-fi and cellular. Almost there but receiving messages reliably is a must.
Just flashed Mobian. It’s not only reported to be the most mature of the options, but it’s also presently shipping as a special edition of the Pinephone (I’d say “get one, it’s only $150 USD”, but expect a bit of nerding over the next few months).
Round #2. Let’s see how it goes…
After WhatsApp’s recently announced policy changes (now “delayed” three months), a lot of folks are trying to switch to Signal. Which is awesome. But Signal is struggling with the influx of users at the moment (read: it’s down).
Another option, one I use, is Matrix. It’s easy to get going, just install one of the many Matrix Apps on your device and there is usually a wizard to step you through signing up. You may get a choice of servers to use and there are… thousands. Do the research or just accept the default. They are all independent but communicate with each other. It’ll be fine.
Matrix is arguably more powerful than Signal, and is also IP based (so you need a data plan or WiFi). No need to hand out your phone number thou (umm, don’t), in fact most logins just require an e-mail address for verification and password resets etc.
ping me @email@example.com if you do sign up.
“Dog Fooding” is a strange term I only heard a couple of years ago. In this context it refers to using a technology full-time while still in development. Bugs and all. Beta testing full-time.
My old phone had died (well before it’s time, grrrrr!) so I’d purchased a used Google Nexus 5 and flashed it with a series of alternative operating systems. Ended up on one called “Ubuntu Touch”, a version of linux for mobile devices originally created by Canonical then taken over by the “Ubports Foundation”. It’s been great. But the phone itself is growing old now and the battery isn’t lasting long. Not being an easily replaceable part (also grrrrr!), the next step had to be researched.
Enter the PinePhone. A device created by Pine64, a non-profit collective, for the express purpose of open-source operating system development (“build the hardware and they will come”). I bought in early with an edition simply known as “Braveheart”. There was no shipped OS but several were in development, none yet ready to be a used on a daily basis. Over the last year over half a dozen usable operating systems have appeared. Later versions of the device had updated hardware so this Braveheart version only runs a couple of projects well. One of them being the same OS, Ubuntu Touch.
Switched the SIM card over today. While not yet ready for the general public, it’s good enough for my day-to-day use. Let’s call it “quirky” at the moment. The camera isn’t presently reliable but otherwise it seems to work fine. I often carry a Panasonic G85 about anyway (it goes in a small sling bag with a couple of lenses).
And will order the motherboard update so it can run some of the other projects built for later Pinephone versions. Oh, did I mention? The Pinephone (and indeed most of what Pine64 creates) is entirely user repairable and up-gradable. They even guarantee part availability for five years. The later version will also work as a (low power, albeit) desktop computer if you connect it to a available dock, keyboard and monitor. That’s called “convergence”.
Listening to: Tom Tom Club - Genius of Live Photo: Home on a Sunny Day (built around 1913)
The CBC has an opinion piece posted “Digital privacy law is being updated for the first time in decades, and it’s imperative we get it right” about the upcoming digital privacy bill C-11. It’s important.
People’s lives are their own and they should have control on who has access to the details of it. Let’s not let the corporate mono/duopolyies decide.
Listening to: Lisa Mitchell - Coin Laundry (Video).
One week until Facebook (finally) deletes my account. It’s only been used once or twice during the last year so there is no need to keep a big database of personal information online. Instagram has been deleted for awhile as have many other commercial services. Google is mostly detached, I just need to transfer some final online account contacts to my personal e-mail first (which is hosted by Protonmail).
Instead, a few of us are talking about starting our own local social network, probably something based on Mastodon. The intent is to provide a private place for marginalised local communities to communicate safely. DIY bands could promote without the platform artificially restricting their audience (because $$). Conversations about what kind of privacy model to use are ongoing but the tech groundwork has started. I posted before about Fosstodon’s Code of Conduct being a good model, and perhaps it’s one to adopt. There’s also talk of our own video streaming server. That’d be fun. Anything to do with encoders and codecs makes makes me wiggly (hey, judge not lest ye be…).
First up on my personal list is a Matrix instance to use for messaging. Given the recent news that WhatsApp is forcing users to quit or have their data sent to parent Facebook,
I suspect most won’t care some local folks may want a privacy-respecting alternative. Especially those in marginalised communities. It’s super easy to use with apps for every platform.
There is an argument to be made that some of this comes off a little paranoid. Perhaps. But it also means I get to do a lot of learning while regaining control over aspects of my life. In a increasingly globalised world
that seems to be spiralling out of control, one could argue it’s may even be good for one’s mental health.
Naw, it’s about the dorking.
Listening to: Kate Bush - Live at Hammersmith Odeon (video)
RSS readers. I just spoke to somebody who didn’t know what one was and said I’d write it up (hi there!).
An app which pulls in an overview of articles recent posted from any number of sites. Saves a bucketload of time as you can just click open the full text of interesting items to read and skip the chaff. Podcast apps use a similar structure.
Many sites, especially personal blogs like this, will have a square icon with three curves in it (mine is over on the navigation box). Clicking will open up a page of dork code or what looks like garbage text (it’s really called XML). Entering that page URL into a RSS Reader will give you content and update it every time you open your app, looking for new posts. That’s the manual method, each platform and app will have it’s own style. Some organisations even have a nice index page of all feeds by subject https://www.cbc.ca/rss/ and clicking on one will automatically add it to some readers.
It’s common software for any platform and I’m sure a quick search will turn up a few for whatever you’re running. There are also sites which act as portals for your feed (read the fine print). I’ve never found a need to pay for one, but use open-source software. Your call. If you do go free or open source, perhaps kick beer money to the developer if you’re flush. They like that.
Sometimes a site will “lose” the link to the feed, taking the icon off the site. It doesn’t mean the feed isn’t being generated, but that somebody
thought it didn’t make enough money screwed up the coding. If you look in “common places” you’ll often find it there anyway. /index.xml, /rss/, /feed/ etc. Some search engines will pull the direct URL up as well.
Many big sites have eliminated them despite almost every CMS (content management system) supporting the feed structure. Reasons vary, but many want you to surf the site so they can monetise your visit with ads or by selling the personal data you generate.
More info: Wikipedia RSS Entry
Listening to: XTC - Drums and Wireless - BBC Radio Sessions 77-89
It started four or five years ago. I’d been having increasing problems with much of mainstream society, especially some forms of accepted behaviour. From trolling on the internet to some really shitty people ruining what were otherwise awesome occasions (dance night, parties, gigs, workplaces etc). Their behaviour was often normalised and very difficult to do anything about. But leave.
Alternatives were found. I started going back to my roots and hanging out in the DIY music scene. Ya, this unit was a bit older, but there were a few others of similar vintage about and after a bit of time, enough people warmed up that it became “home”. I eventually ended up joining a collective and it’s been a great experience with some wonderful people from every walk of life. Not that it wasn’t without challenges, I had some of my preconceptions blown away and bad habits are still being corrected. A constant learning process.
Common social media was eventually dumped. Other options were also found here. The main one being Fosstodon. A respectful, privacy-centric non-profit community of like-minded souls. While not a free speech platform, there is little censorship, relying on the community to make any needed corrections, hopefully before the admins need to get involved. From the ever present “caterday” pics to conversations with paleobiologists about their work. It’s been awesome.
Which brings us to a direct comparison of the two groups mentioned above. Their “Codes of Conduct”. While the application is different, the two documents are remarkably similar in tone. Red Gate’s is pictured, while Fosstodon’s is here. I just wish the rest of the world worked this way.