Is BeReal as ethical as it says?

I am super skeptical of any new social network claiming to be more ethical.

These days social media seems to be full of pictures that have been filtered, photoshopped or altered in some other way. But that’s not the case with BeReal, which is all about sharing an unaltered snapshot of your life in real time.

That means no filters, no editing, just an authentic look at what users are doing at any given moment. Wrinkles, messy hair, smudged makeup (assuming you’re wearing any at all) is all on show for your followers to see. The real you, in other words.

Its a interesting idea but I do wondering about the public shaming and nudging part of the app to get you to post on the app’s schedule. Something to consider…

Beeper makes Matrix bridges into a business model

After the long wait and some wonder if anything was going to happen. On Monday I got my invite to join a very small number of people on Beeper.

I am impressed…

I thought I had a blog post about Beeper but I didn’t write one. So in short this picture sums up Beeper in one go.

Beeper bridges

Imagine if you could use one client to access all these different networks, but unlike pidgin or trillian which needs software plugins to connect to them all. Beeper is actually a Matrix client which connects to specific Matrix bridges (server based, instead of client based) to other messaging networks.

Its one of the thing which blew me away when I saw Matrix at Mozfest 2017.

Matrix is open source and you can run it on your own infrastructure (we will get back to that soon). You can even install your own bridges.

In short Beeper is the Matrix dream in a managed service which you pay $10 a month. You can self host it and its something I may do after a while but right now I’m happy to give some money to get use to things

First thing I did is install the appimage for Linux, set it up using the code I had received via email. Then setup a few networks. Within a few minutes I was replying to friends

I tested Slack using Storyteller United and was quite impressed, although I ended up disabling it due to the amount of channels and how busy the slack can be.

I may enable it again for a few slacks I am part of but don’t want the whole of slack on. Currently I have the Slack app on my laptop and work phone but I like the idea of the messaging parts without the heavy slack app.

I noticed you can input Gifs, emoji’s, attachments, etc in almost every single message in a unified way. I haven’t hooked up my SMS yet (mainly because there is no RCS bridge yet which I would miss). I also would like to see scheduling as I’m so use to it now.

Of course the phone interface for beeper is similar, Gif and all. You can use the unified inbox which puts everything in one timeline. The spaces cuts everything by network.

To be frank, Beeper is impressive and if I could change a few things they would be.the ability to have multiple accounts. For example I would love to be able to finally have one client for the multiple Signal accounts (I have one for my personal and work mobiles). This might be a limitation of Signal, but it would be great if I could spin up 2 bridges. I say this as I added 2 slack accounts and could add more with ease.

Right now Beeper is very much work in progress, but its got most of the key features.  I don’t feel like I have fully added the networks yet as I hold on to apps like Android messages due to RCS and scheduled messages. I could add Twitter and Discord but I’m quite happy with my Mastodon clients and cross posting to Twitter. Although I might hook up my ianforrester account on twitter just to see what its like in beeper. I even consider setting up Telegram, i-message, etc accounts just because I can now without the stress.

I forgot, Beeper doesn’t replace the existing messaging systems, meaning when I finally hooked up Android messages, I can still send scheduled messages and RCS from the app. But reply and send general messages from Beeper.

The network diagram at the very top is actually slight wrong because Beeper sits within the Matrix network and once I understood this via the support channel. It became clear I could easily share things between all my mobiles and laptop with ease. Bit like how I use Signal’s personal space/notes to yourself. I haven’t tried connecting to any of the Matrix systems I’m part of like publicspaces, sdeps or redecentralise. But I’ll give it a try over the next few days.

I like Beeper, but do long to setup my own bridges in a docker container or rasberrypi in the near future. Is 10$ a month quite a bit expensive for this? Maybe but only because I am still getting use to it and not fully using it. I think if I was using it for everything, 10$ a month would great value. Its a good business model, as most won’t or can’t run their own bridge server. (I have already looked to see if Yuno host has support or not)

I look forward to the regular updates and seeing it mature into something unique.



Funny enough I heard Beeper on Twit.TV’s all about android too. The person who wrote in didn’t blur any of his conversations and contacts which I would say is super brave or not thinking things fully through? However its interesting to see someone else also using Beeper and the reaction to it from people not fully aware of

Facebook removed iCal feeds quietly

Facebook Dislike

The other day a good friend mentioned a birthday invite to me. I was confused, I knew it was their birthday but it wasn’t clear what they were talking about as I asked what they were going to do in UK lockdown number 3.

I looked into what happened and realised the new Facebook redesign removed ical feeds. This was further backed up by google support and  Reddit. Worst still the facebook help page doesn’t actually exist any more.

The key seems to be getting access to the old facebook page, which I have tried and tried to get access to, but can not get anymore.

This means all my friends who invited me to events and all my volleyball events will no longer appear on my calendar, unless I see it then export it as a ical. I always thought of Facebook as a massive walled garden but this is getting stupid.

The reasons to be on Facebook just got a lot closer to zero!

BarCampManchester 10 went virtual

Obviously in the middle of a pandemic, it would be a awful idea to bring together a bunch of people from different households to spend 2 days and a night together. Lucky as we all are, we have the internet.

The bright sparks running BarCampManchester decided it could work online and they made it happen with some custom coding for the session wall and a clever setup of Discord.

I haven’t been a fan of discord but was surprised once I downloaded the Flatpak version for Linux, how effective it was. Before long I was barcamp as usual. Except I had some things I needed to do in the morning. I left a note saying save me a spot on the session wall, knowing how they fill up in the afternoon. Chris pointed out, its all virtual, it would be trivial to create another space/room. Of course I mistakenly was thinking with my physical brain, welcome to the virtual. It was like Eames in inception to Arthur

Dream a little bigger

You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Once back I threw myself in with a number of other people not just from Manchester but around the UK. Why limit yourself to just Manchester right? Old friends showed up and we had a good old natter. The sessions were good and even ran a couple myself (one about adaptive podcasting and the other about my gratitude habit).

Of course at the end after the end talk, some diabolo time, some food and a catch up with my family. There was still enough people to play werewolf on werewolv.es with discord.

I got to say it was all good, ok its not going to beat a physical in person barcamp but once I got use to discord it worked quite well. I enjoyed it and as potentially we are looking at another 12-18 months of this pandemic, this could potentially be a good community way to run barcamp.

There was talk about a BarCampManchester11 during winter and if there was, I certainly would get a ticket and make sure theres nothing clashing. Its tricky for sponsorship but I was thinking maybe if people paid between £2-10 maybe that could really help if you were able to get upwards of 50-100 people? This could be done with Eventbrite too, making things less friction.

Could you run a conference this way? Potentially but it would depend on what kind of conference. Good luck getting the public to install discord I would think.

Mastodon shows, social data-portability the way it should be

https://mas.to/@cubicgarden/104231400255269868

I recently moved from Mastodon.cloud to Mas.to. My main reason was for some (political?) reason mastodon.cloud was no longer accepted as part of the crossposter accepted domains.

I looked into hosting my own crossposter but decided there might be a reason why mastodon.cloud isn’t supported anymore? I had a look around the fediverse and read quite a few of the terms for each instance/domain. Mas.to looked good.

The actual moving was easily done as per the instructions here.

So easy and quick, if only it was always like this…?

Do I agree to Google’s new privacy terms?

Google's new privacy termsGoogle is making some changes to its privacy terms and is urging us to read them.

We know it’s tempting to skip these Terms of Service, but it’s important to establish what you can expect from us as you use Google services, and what we expect from you.

I’m slowly making my way through the terms but one thing I’m certainly going to do is related to the location of my data in googles data centres.

I’m not down with this part… I understand why they would do it but in the same way I voted to stay within a block of countries with harden data privacy laws. I need to personally do something.

Because of this I’m switching away from Gmail and deleting lots of archived emails. I’m also going to start using encryption more with google drive. I have been a bit lazy with this all, weighing up the balance of convenience and effort. Google provide a lot of useful things to me, but I think its time to move some more critical parts way, starting with email.

So I’m torn between Protonmail and Tutanota but also been looking at others.

Why one client is a bad idea

 

I recently saw this in my email and elsewhere…

We recently fixed a vulnerability within Twitter for Android that could allow a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account (i.e., send Tweets or Direct Messages). Prior to the fix, through a complicated process involving the insertion of malicious code into restricted storage areas of the Twitter app, it may have been possible for a bad actor to access information (e.g., Direct Messages, protected Tweets, location information) from the app.

We don’t have evidence that malicious code was inserted into the app or that this vulnerability was exploited, but we can’t be completely sure so we are taking extra caution.

We have taken steps to fix this issue and are directly notifying people who could have been exposed to this vulnerability either through the Twitter app or by email with specific instructions to keep them safe. These instructions vary based on what versions of Android and Twitter for Android people are using. We recommend that people follow these instructions as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what to do, update to the latest version of Twitter for Android. This issue did not impact Twitter for iOS.

We’re sorry this happened and will keep working to keep your information secure on Twitter. You can reach out to our Office of Data Protection through this form to request information regarding your account security.

Its clear to me, twitter’s plan to restrict API access to limit the clients and ultimately force people into using their own appis and always was a bad idea!

Jack talks a good game about a decentralised twitter but lets be honest, its not going to truly happen. Their company interests are too tightly wound up in this all. Of course theres already standards for this, just that twitter refuse to support micropub, activitypub, etc… Rosemary mentions this on a twit recently.

 

Mozilla festival’s 10th anniversary, get your ticket before they are gone!

Mozfest 2015

The word is out… its very likely the last Mozilla festival in London and the UK. Although sad to see, it will go on to be even bigger

After 10 incredible years, 9 of which were in London, MozFest is asking Where to next?

As a community, we have so much to celebrate for this 10th festival. As we reflect on all we have learnt and built together, we invite you to join us in imagining what the next 10 years of growth and experiences for the MozFest community could be — in a new location.

But wait!

Its not over yet! The next Mozilla Festival for 2019 is on for the week of Monday 20th October – Sunday 27th October. Yes a whole week of celebrations for the festival which set the conversation involving tech, policy, law, design and media. It was 2010 when Mozilla created the book Mozilla Learning, Freedom and the Web, which lead the way to the yearly Internet heath report.

For the week of the Mozilla Festival you are going to want to block out your schedule for some great events in the RSA London during the week (especially the Public spaces / private data event). By the end of the week you will be fired up for the start of the last Mozilla festival in London. Then get stuck in for 2 days of incredible sessions given by people from all over the world. The diversity of the talks will blow you away but all based around Mozilla’s internet health report. Quick plug for my two sessions you don’t want to miss… 3D’s – Dating, Deception and Dataportability (GDPR edition) and The Dyslexic advantage 

Of course there’s amazing parties every evening and I expect each one will be incredible being the 10th Mozfest and the last one in the UK. After the success of last years werewolf, I’ll be running another space for those who fancy a break free for the full moon. By Sunday who knows I might even get a chance to throw some tunes down on the pacemaker device?

Its a full on week but well worth it and you can like the organisers relaxed on Monday afternoon.

Global Village at Mozfest

Get your tickets now, and notice 10 pound discount if you attend one of the free Mozhouse events.

Twitter is now somewhat back for me… for how long?

cawbird on linux

I pretty much stopped using twitter after the change to their streaming API which broke my Linux client Corebird, meaning the only way to refresh the timeline is to close the app and start it again. Yeah crazy stuff!

On top of this my client on Android, Plume only gets direct messages a few times a day and there’s other messed up things happen which just cause all types of problems.

I refuse to install the twitter app because I’m pretty peed off about Twitter and to be frank I was using Mastodon to connect to twitter in the Indieweb POSSE way.

Then today I saw there is a fork of Corebird called Cawbird. I installed it and its working (currently). However I don’t trust Twitter to not mess with things making it impossible for such a linux app to work without constant changes.

Facebook tries to claw its self back

Screenshot_2019-09-01 (1) Islington Wharf

I noticed Facebook seems to be integrating Instagram into the Facebook web. I don’t have Instagram and refuse to use it due to their terms of use. But I assume their terms match Facebooks? I find the whole thing annoying to be honest but it feels like a very desperate way to claw back users attention.

Screenshot_2019-09-01 (1) Facebook

Talking about desperate, I happened to see this in my newsfeed. I usually don’t look at my newsfeed at all but something has happened with a friend which means I had to browse a bit (don’t worry it won’t become a habit).

Facebook is so full of crap, and stuff like this confirms it to me. Facebook couldn’t give a flying crap about me spending time with friends and family. I was so insulted by this notice I almost laughed out loud.

I almost wanted to look around to see what other treats (nonsense) they had planned for a user who gets in and gets out; only looking at a few groups for events. But theres so much more important things to get angry about right now.

My Motiv activity ring

My Motiv ring on my hand

Finally the Motiv ring came

Motiv Ring pack

Nicely packaged and simple to setup although I did find the pairing with my Google Pixel 2 took a long time. I hooked it up to Google Fit but haven’t setup 2 factor auth yet but I just need to get the barcodes for some of my services and create my gesture. Kept meaning to save the barcodes in my password manager.

I did also pair it with my Ubuntu laptop but I’m unsure how to do anything with it except using Bluetooth unlock. The fit is good and the ring feels super light to me.

Motiv USB power charger

My only worry is I can’t seem to find another USB power unit for it, as I’d like to have one at home and one I can carry with me when away. I checked Amazon but I can’t find similar. Also not sure I can get another one separately unless I buy the USB Magnetic Charging Dock Keychain and Charging Dock?

So far so good…

If you are using whatsapp… update now and consider swapping to Signal!

Whatsapp on a mobile phone

Whatsapp, never used it never will. But I know many many of my friends do – please do update! Or even better dump it and use Signal messenger.

A security flaw in WhatsApp can be, and has been, exploited to inject spyware into victims’ smartphones: all a snoop needs to do is make a booby-trapped voice call to a target’s number, and they’re in. The victim doesn’t need to do a thing other than leave their phone on.

The Facebook-owned software suffers from a classic buffer overflow weakness. This means a successful hacker can hijack the application to run malicious code that pores over encrypted chats, eavesdrops on calls, turns on the microphone and camera, accesses photos, contacts, and other information on a handheld, and potentially further compromises the device. Call logs can be altered, too, to hide the method of infection.

The issue affects WhatsApp for Android prior to v2.19.134, WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44, WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp Business for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp for Windows Phone prior to v2.18.348, and WhatsApp for Tizen prior to v2.18.15.

Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem – You telling me?

Airbnb monitoring warning
You would never guess it was a listening device from the picture

I was reading a piece in the Atlantic about Airbnb and the camera problem.

Of course this has super relevance to me after my experience of a Airbnb in Barcelona last year.

Airbnb’s rules allow cameras outdoors and in living rooms and common areas, but never in bathrooms or anywhere guests plan to sleep, including rooms with foldout beds. Starting in early 2018, Airbnb added another layer of disclosure: If hosts indicate they have cameras anywhere on their property, guests receive a pop-up informing them where the cameras are located and where they are aimed. To book the property, the guests must click “agree,” indicating that they’re aware of the cameras and consent to being filmed.

I do find it really interesting because Airbnb class listening devices such as Amazon Alexa as cameras too. I did think this would be very difficult to police. The transparency is welcomed, as before you had to search pictures for anything which looked suspicious.

In January, Bigham discovered cameras in his rental that he says were never disclosed. After he reached out to the Trust & Safety team, representatives told him he and his family had in fact consented to the cameras because they were visibly displayed in photos on the listing. After Bigham’s blog post on the ordeal went viral, Airbnb apologized and refunded his money.

But Bigham says customer-service representatives for Airbnb twice sided against him before reversing their original decision, and only after his blog post was widely shared online.

“No one really seems to know what they’re doing,” Bigham said in an email. “And it seems like it’s only going to get worse.”

In a statement, Airbnb said: “We have apologized to Mr. Bigham and fully refunded him for his stay. We require hosts to clearly disclose any security cameras in writing on their listings and we have strict standards governing surveillance devices in listings. This host has been removed from our community.”

As usual the public stink causes Airbnb to actually do something. I wonder how many complaints get shoved under the carpet?