Category Archives: society

join the EFF summer security reboot and get some cool dice

DSC01217The Electronic Frontier Foundation is on the fore-front when it comes to defending our digital rights. Even as a European I think they are doing important work even though they are mostly US centric. This because whatever happens in the US ripples over the pond and affects Europe and the rest of the world anyway. That means that next to larger fast-food portions increased digital surveillance is on its way to the EU as well.
Next to protecting our digital rights they are the author of a number of awesome security plugins and tools like the HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger browser plugins and a driving force behind the Let’s Encrypt free web site certificate tool set.

Next to a lot of security tools and tips (see the site & newsletter) they now have a Summer Security Reboot fund drive where you can get a cool geeky secure-password generating dice set for a mere $20 membership until the 20th of July.

So if you like what they are doing for a secure and free internet in the future, go check them out and get yourself some cool dice in the process.

If you feel more like donating to a EU centric counterpart of EFF, you can check out EDRI.org instead (no dice there though).

Photo by Violet Blue, cc-licensed.

reset the net

On´n´Off - Going into standby mode

It’s on!

If you want to kick some NSA buttocks and claim your privacy then get yourself this reset the net pack and install some super-duper encryption for your PC, Mac and phone(s).

There ain’t that much on there really, but if you scroll down to the Other Resources section there’s links there like the Prism Break one I mentioned before, which contain tons of (more techy) tools and software for all your stealthy encryption needs.

Photo by Sven Seiler, cc-licensed.

don’t let the EU censor your internet: stop ACTA

ACTA infographic

You might have heard that SOPA got stopped (for now) in the USA, a bill to censor the internet and limit online freedom for everyone. An even worse deal is going down on our EU-side of the globe unfortunately, where ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has already been signed, but not yet approved (luckily).

ACTA – a global treaty – could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties — even prison sentences — against people they say have harmed their business.
avaaz.org

So it’s about time to do something about this before this bill gets voted in the EU Parliament and gets adopted globally.
First you can start by reading about ACTA, find out what’s wrong with it, sign the petition and act against it.

For those in the US, you can go sign the White House petition. Do it, because this deal is worse than SOPA, as it spans beyond the internet and deals even with regulations on medication and food.

The oppressively strict regulations could mean people everywhere are punished for simple acts such as sharing a newspaper article or uploading a video of a party where copyrighted music is played. Sold as a trade agreement to protect copyrights, ACTA could also ban lifesaving generic drugs and threaten local farmers’ access to the seeds they need. And, amazingly, t he ACTA committee will have carte blanche to change its own rules and sanctions with no democratic scrutiny.
avaaz.org

Spread the word, sign the petition, just do something so this is stopped just like SOPA was.

Afterwards, you can get back to your memes and lolcats. :)

 

break out of the search bubble

This is relevant to my interests

Did you know that when you search on the popular search engines these days you’re actually doing that from inside a “search bubble”? Google, Bing and Yahoo all do it, to give you more tailored and “relevant to your interest” results.

Let’s take Google for example, since most people are using that one anyway. They are tracking your searches and clicks, if you’re logged in or not. They do this to compose a profile on you so that they can give you more specific search results the next time you look for something. They try to determine your sex, age and location (just like on IRC) to feed you the search results your are probably looking for. They are filtering the information based on a profile they’ve created on you.

The damn thing is that this actually works quite well. As a software developer I search a lot for technical, programming related topics. Google knows this and will give me those before any other possible hits. But what are you missing? What links are not included in your personal bubble just because Mr Google finds them irrelevant for you?

So how do you bust out of this bubble? You could use a browser with privacy mode but as long as you’re still using Google to search, or Chrome, you can’t be sure.

Another way is to use a different search engine. I know! A different search engine. It’s been ages since that happened right?

Enter DuckDuckGo. Beside the funny name and the mascot (A duck! Who would have guessed!) this one doesn’t put you in a bubble, doesn’t track your info and uses SSL by default.
Give it a try, and you’ll see that your results are quite different from Google’s. I have to be honest here and say that in some cases, the Google results are “better”. But that’s the bubble at work here.

DuckDuckGo also has a ton of specific search goodies like a built-in calculator and conversion engine, some specific tech goodies (whois queries, md5 hashes etc) and the !bang searches which allow you to search sites and topics directly.

As you can see, there’s plenty of reasons to try this new duck on the block out and burst out of your search bubble. The goodies alone make it worth checking out imo.

watching #egypt

I don’t know if you are following this as much as I am, but I can’t keep from checking out the news rolling in on the #Egypt feed on twitter.
It doesn’t get any more real than that with live pictures and video’s being blogged and tweeted first hand. Paper.li on #Egypt proves great for high-speed streams of tweets and links like this to filter the most interesting bits. The English site of Al Jazeera also turn out to be a great resource for first hand info. This seems to do for them what the first Gulf War did for CNN. I’m seeing a lot of Al Jazeera links fly by everywhere and only little CNN, BBC or other major media channels.

I’m just hoping this’ll turn out alright in the end for the Egyptian people.

refactoring the government

code.close()

The Belgian politicians are having a bit of a problem forming a new government since the last elections. This caused folks to organise a demonstration in Brussels on Sunday to make it clear that it’s time those politicians get back to work and form a government pronto.

While talking about this the whole thing somehow reminds me of refactoring software. Software that’s been having bugs and problems for years which where mended by applying patch after patch after patch, but where the code which is the actual root of the problem is never touched. In the end these patches cause more problems when the problem code has to be refactored, because those patches are fixing symptoms where they occur, causing even more issues at other locations.

So this is what I see happening now with the current formation of the government. To get through this, the patches applied over the years are causing additional difficulties and have to be cleared together with the actual problem. Reforming a country as difficultly organised as Belgium takes time. I’m just hoping that all this time won’t be for nothing in the end by forming a hasty government with (again) a half-assed solution to the problem which has been dragging on for years already.

Let’s just be a bit more patient shall we and let them do their job as they should for once, and clear up this mess created by the maintenance programmers, euhm,.. politicians.

Photo by ruiwen, cc-licensed

the lazyweb is back

I always liked the idea of the Lazyweb. You could ask a question in a blog post starting with “Dear Lazyweb” and then some bot would pick it up and post in on the lazyweb aggregation site for other people to answer or help. The idea is to post not too easy to solve questions of course (nothing you can just find with a single Google search) but you can try and tap into that vast network of organic grey cells out there and let that do the thinking for you.

The whole idea stranded due to spam at some point (bloody spammers, makes you hate them even more right?) but now it seems to have a revive on twitter. Using the hashtag #lazyweb (or simply mentioning the lazyweb keyword) might be all it takes to get that enlightening answer from someone watching the lazyweb feed. The amount of replies you get isn’t that great yet but I guess it still needs to pick up a bit, and it all depends on the questions of course.  There’s already a neato website called Lazytweet that picks up on it and joins the question and answer threads together and even gives you lazyweb points for participating. How cool is that? I have 16 points already I noticed. Sweet!

So, if you have one of those questions you just don’t know an answer too, but you have this distinct feeling someone out there probably knows exactly what you are looking for… try the lazyweb. It’s only a tweet away.

Photo by ~Jetta Girl~, cc-licensed.