Wed, 18 March, 2020

Of browsers and sausages

“Je weniger die Leute wissen, wie Würste und Gesetze gemacht werden, desto besser schlafen sie!” (the less people know how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep at night!) - Otto von Bismarck

Your web browser may be most complex piece of software on your computer. The original web browser to render html/txt from remote servers: pretty simple. That was 20 years ago. Think about what browsers can do today:

Sat, 14 March, 2020

Go private, go blockchain, or roll your own email

Email is an interesting beast. Many people, even those with considerable technical abilities shy away using anything but a big tech email provider. The majority people use Google - which its a classic gmail address, or with touch more configuration, set up their custom domain with Google. There are still more than a handful that go Hotmail or Yahoo. The last smattering goes to various other email providers.

Fri, 13 March, 2020

Esau’s Stew and Surveillance Capitalism

The parable of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob oddly echoes how many treat surveillance capitalism today. Here is a modern retelling of the parable:

Once day Esau saw Jacob sharing a cat gif online. He said to Jacob, “Let me have an account so I can do such things!"

Jacob replied, “Sure, just read these terms and conditions”

“Whatever,” Esau said, “Who reads these things anyway?”

Jacob said, “Yep, just make sure you agree to everything.” So Esau clicked accept, and gave away his birthright to Jacob.

Esau posted a few cat gifs, sent a few emails, and let the world know he existed.

So Esau despised his birthright.

In the original telling, Esau sold his birthright for some stew. I would imagine cat gifs would suffice for the modern equivalent.

Interestingly enough, the name Jacob may mean to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach) (less so, Esau means ‘Hairy’ but you can’t always fit everything into your parable!)

Fri, 13 March, 2020

Freeing your Mobile: GrapheneOS / Pixel 3a XL review

Until recently, there hasn’t been any variety to mobile phone operating systems; you either in the Apple IOS camp or Android. Android is heavily spying on everything you do on your mobile. A simple bike ride while you are on your mobile my land you in trouble with the law. IOS unfortunately doesn’t fare much better.

There are 2 leading alternatives to free and open mobile phone movement - GrapheneOS and Libre5. Both have different takes on how they define free and open. GrapheneOS is an open version of Android that is not bound to the Google Play store and other Google products. It can be installed in Pixel Phones, with the hopes of more phones coming in the future. It can support many apps on that were on Android, though some much better than others.

Wed, 04 March, 2020

Realme.govt.nz and Capital Surveillance

Realme is an NZ government project sponsored by the New Zealand government. While the initiative deserves credit, it has fallen short protections for complete privacy.