I joined Wire… slightly under peer pressure

Wire on Linux

I looked at Wire a while ago but stuck with Signal. Some friends think I’m insane when I say I’m not using Whatsapp, but I have many reasons.

Herb asked me why I use Signal and not Wire, then a few people at Thinking Digital put the final shot in the social cannon. So I re-looked at it again and installed it alongside Signal.

They are quite different, for example Signal is very tied to a phone number while Wire is but isn’t (well you can only register one phone number which is a shame). I can login with the email across devices and it doesn’t seem to offer its self as a sms/mms client. While Signal does offer to be a sms/mms client if you accept it. But you can’t run Signal on multiple phones as it locks to that phone number.

I originally didn’t see the 64bit Ubuntu/Debian package, so ran it through Wavebox which makes websites act like native apps. But today I saw the deb.

Generally I’m thinking of Wire as something more like Ubuntu, while Signal is more raw like Debian. I’m sure some will hate that comparison but I look forward to seeing where they both go next, both are secure, open and run across all platforms.

Whisper disappearing messages

But as they move forward with features, will they keep the same data ethics (privacy, security, data ownership, identity, permission) in mind? I really hope so..

Updated

Old friend Gabby has been talking to me on Wire and pointed me at this blog post which pretty much sums up the difference I found with Wire & Signal.

Wire vs other intant messeagersOne of the biggest differences compared to other secure messengers like WhatsApp or Signal, is that Wire does not require a phone number to sign up. Anyone can register with an email on desktop or tablet and then decide if they want to use the same account on their phone or not.

I joined mastodon microbloging service, not the rock band!

mastodonI have always been a big fan of Jabber, Laconi.ca and Status.net. All are federated services which go well beyond the centralised and even decentralised ideas. But they all were second fiddle to the centralised services like Twitter mainly down to user experience.

So I’m wondering if Mastondon will be any different? Of course theres only one way to find out, and thats to try it out.

So I am… but what is it?

Mastodon is a fast-growing Twitter-like social network that seeks to re-create the service’s best parts while eliminating its whale-sized problems. The distributed, open-source platform offers better tools for privacy and fighting harassment than Twitter does, but it also comes with a learning curve. Mastodon’s federated nature means there’s no single website to use, and learning how to wade through its timeline of tweets (which it calls toots) takes some time to adjust to.

But for anyone who misses “the old Twitter” — the days of purely chronological timelines, no ads, and an inescapable flood of harassment — Mastodon can feel like a haven

Old twitter was great I’ll be honest but its not that I long for the old days of twitter. Its just I can feel the their business model imposed from their backers/investors infringing on why I originally used twitter. There is a blog drafted which is all about how business models imposed by VC/backers/etc ruins services/products. For example Pebble, Evernote, Twitter, etc.

So I’m cubicgarden on mastodon.cloud, which should federate across to other Mastondon server instances. Feel free to say hi…

Mozfest retreat in Tallinn?

Tallinn Mozretreat

Mozfest the festival I have been in involved with for the last 6 years; is a collaborative event and of course there is some overhead to the collaboration. But Mozilla have ways to work through the usual issues with collaboration; be it collaborative tools first or subverting github to manage the open calls. Its quite amazing…

But sometimes you need to bring people together across the many different timezones we inhabit. 2 years ago it was Scotland, last year it was Berlin and this year its Tallinn.

Of course I was wondering like many others. I heard some great things about the place but it wasn’t hot on my list of places to go. But some more research has turned up some great stuff including the e-resident which I first heard about from Alex DS.

Ahead of Brexit, statistics reveal that almost 1,000 Brits have now applied to be e-residents of Estonia. Applications from the UK are being made twice as frequently as before the referendum, following an initial surge from three to 51 applications per week. More than half of all applications from the UK, 534, have arrived since the vote, while 231 arrived in the same period beforehand. Based on current trends, it is likely the 1,000th British application for e-residency will arrive this week, as Article 50 is due to be triggered.

Elsewhere, a website has been set up by the e-residency programme for British entrepreneurs called howtostayin.eu which explains how startups, established businesses and freelancers can use Estonian e-residency to continue their operations in the EU without leaving the UK.

I wish I had done it earlier, as I’ll be doing this for sure now

Interestingly I also found the p0rnhub insights for estonia while searching, which was fancinating but slightly #nsfw, so you were warned! I was going to send it around to some of the Mozfest orginaisers but couldn’t find a way to explain why it was interesting or relavent.

Host your own RSS aggregator?

hosting Tiny Tiny RSS

It started with me getting fed up with Feedly trying to up-sell me to their premium subscription. I mean I get it but $5/month to host a simple RSS aggregator? This seems quite a hefty price (even with all the extras it provides, which I never really use).

So I first looked for alternatives to Feedly and found quite a lot. The main thing for me was having a Sync API, so I’m not reading the same stuff across my different devices. My thought was with a standard API, it wouldn’t matter what client or platform I use (although I’m using Linux and Android mainly). Standard I thought… boy was I dreaming.

After a lot of looking and reading I said screw this, I’m self hosting my own copy of tiny tiny rss, which seems very popular with people like myself trying to do the same thing. It seemed quite straight forward and I decided it was time to give rkt or docker a try as there was a docker image for it.

In a evening I had it setup, running and working with my exported feedly OPML file, while watching a film and cooking. Its currently only available to my network but I’ll likely make it externally available (without my VPN) once I got it setup with a SSL cert and 2 factor auth. I did notice my fav RSS reader on Android did support ttrss then somewhere along the line they pulled support for it. So I’ll try out the android app created by the author of ttrss, but the comments are… well.. interesting?

Zoosk data breach? Or something else?

Sell the data?

I recently got a message from you’ve been pwned, suggesting that its likely some of my personal data has been leaked via dating site Zoosk.

In approximately 2011, an alleged breach of the dating website Zoosk began circulating. Comprised of almost 53 million records, the data contained email addresses and plain text passwords. However, during extensive verification in May 2016 no evidence could be found that the data was indeed sourced from the dating service. This breach has consequently been flagged as fabricated; it’s highly unlikely the data was sourced from Zoosk.

I had a idea what fabricated meant, but I had a little read…

What is a “fabricated” breach?

Some breaches may be flagged as “fabricated”. In these cases, it is highly unlikely that the breach contains legitimate data sourced from the alleged site but it may still be sold or traded under the auspices of legitimacy. Often these incidents are comprised of data aggregated from other locations (or may be entirely fabricated), yet still contain actual email addresses of unbeknownst to the account holder. Fabricated breaches are still included in the system because regardless of their legitimacy, they still contain personal information about individuals who want to understand their exposure on the web. Further background on unverified breaches can be found in the blog post titled Introducing “fabricated” breaches to Have I been pwned.

Sold or traded!

People laughed ages ago about the idea of selling user data but lets say dating site z had lost a lot of the market due to new players in the space. They needed to stay a float, prove to their investors they are still profitable? User data would be a useful resource for revenue… Of course this is illegal but you would cover your tracks… right! Make it look like “hackers!”

The example Tony Hunt uses is Justdate.com as a example

There’s a whole other discussion to be had about what causes a bundle of data to be fabricated and called a breach in the first place. Attempts to monetise the data by selling the alleged breach, extortion of the company involved or just simple big-noting by individuals seeking notoriety are all feasible explanations for many of the fabricated breaches I see. For now, the important thing is that if your data is circulating in one of these dumps, there’s now a way to know about it.

To be clear I’m not saying Zoosk is doing this, but someone is certainly pointing the finger.

Dark data experiments?

Untitled - man in the dark
I have a lot of curiosity and one of the things which has consistently got me curious, is the challenges of the hidden. Hidden being the trick, the data, the technique, the place or the knowledge. This is why I’m very interested in Hacker House (it was almost added to my new years resolutions for 2017 even).

Currently data is the hidden which intrugued me the moment, hence my massive interest in data ethics. There’s been 3 experiments which have really got me jumping up and down about this all… thought I’d share while I eat cheese and drink wine on Christmas day

  • Click Click Click
    A perfect and fun demonstration of mouse tracking on websites using just JavaScript. This is the data the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc use to track users dwell time and implicit actions on the website. Found via some folks on our BBC R&D internal slack.
  • I know what you downloaded (…last summer or even last Christmas)
    This site collects IPs from public torrent swarms by parsing torrent sites and listening to the DHT network. They have more than 500.000 torrents which where classified and have data on peers sharing habits. The slightly twisted feature is the ability to share a link and see what people have been sharing. I promise not to do this but highlights the problem with shortern urls and long query strings you can’t be bother to read or don’t understand how they work (knowledge). Found via Torrentfreak
  • Find my phone
    Man’s smartphone is stolen in Amsterdam, so the same man decides to root another phone and deliberately track the phone. Along with the person who stole it! The results are turned into a video which you can watch on youtube.
    Found via Schneier

A new bitcoin wallet needed

Bitcoin

I caught wind of ChangeTip closing down Reddit. Then later today received this email.

As you may have heard, ChangeTip will be discontinuing services soon 🙁

You are receiving this email because you have money in your wallet, and we want you to get it back before we close our doors.

BTC balance: *************
USD balance: $************

Please login to your account and withdraw your funds. If you like, you may also log in and donate remaining funds to charity when you close your account.

I heard they were changing things up but this news is a shame. So I’m looking for somewhere to move my bitcoins. Bitcoin wallet looks popular and well I don’t know how long ChangeTip will enable the feature to transfer bitcoins (thank goodness for Dataportability eh?)

I found the micropayment side interesting and its a shame its gone of course there are others which I’ll check out in the future.

Replacing Instapaper with Wallabag

WallabagI’ve been meaning to switch from Instapaper to Wallabag a long while ago but been so busy. Originally I was going to install it on my own server using Docker as a container then looked into Rkt after a talk with Jack from work. Lofty goals but I did install Rkt and installed the Docker app via Rkt. But thats as far as I got…

Then I tried using framabag.org server but couldn’t get it to connect to any of my clients because its version 1.x it seems. Then I saw a email about app.wallabag.it.

I joined, ported all my instapaper archives over and paid.

Now I have Wallabag on my Eink Android tablet, Nexus 5x, Nexus 7 and Chrome. The only problem I’ve had is getting the Firefox add-on to work with it. Theres some really nice features like the ability to add automatic tags on the fly, custom RSS feeds, 2 factor auth and a kind of Oauth for new clients.

Generally I’m pretty pleased. I would like to see IFTTT support (although RSS helps with this), Gnome shell support and federated server support. I haven’t quite killed my instapaper account but I’m pretty close now. Give it a few days and its goodbye!

Smithsonian nonsense, instapaper spam?

instapaper-spam-from-smithsonian

When instapaper got bought by Pinterest, I always wondered what would change. The first thing was the end of preminum subscriptions. I got my email telling me I had a refund and the paypal subscription was now terminated. But I also noticed I seemed to be getting a lot of spam or ads in my instapaper.

Some may say, well you accidently clicked something or you got some external thing making this happen. Very unlikely, especially since each one links to a different page.

As you can see above I’m getting a lot of Smithsonian links. Of course I never added it myself, never even heard of the site and if you search you will find 408 results in my instapaper! Interestingly my public profile doesn’t show of them and to be fair its not got a lot the stuff I’ve shared with instapaper. But I did actually go through deleting a load of them on my instapaper app and they are back!

This is why I don’t have a good feeling about what Instapaper has done. I got a good mind to read the End User licence agreement to see what the difference is between the previous preminum one and freenium one (which is the only option now).

I know correlation does not imply causation but this is so weird, I can’t seem to find anyone else with the same problem but I’m seeing lots of questions about instapaper spam.

Its not about change Tony, its about forcing the users into a corner against their original intention. This is why I have to leave instapaper and now I invested in a Android epaper tablet, there really is no need for instapaper anymore.

Goodbye instapaper it was good but now its not.

Pokemon Go: Return of the ARG?

Looking out my window watching small groups of people playing Pokemon Go and listening to yet another podcast talking about it. I started thinking does the mainstream success of Pokemon Go, indicate it would be time for alternative reality gaming (ARG) to make a come back?

I mean there’s been a whole ton of successful ARGs in the past and the dynamics got watered/broken down into transmedia (which isn’t meant in disrespect, but a must read from Dan Hon); but they are quite different beasts (pun intended). Looking back at previous ARGs they didn’t take advantage of mobile. Mobile data was expensive and was quite unreliable back in the early days. This is before you even look at many of the other things mobile can give you.

Of course there’s a lot of debate if Pokemon Go is augmented realty or location based gaming. The later would put it in the same ball park of Google’s Ingress and many others. But does it matter? There will always be privacy concerns (here’s a fix for those early adopters) and those who seek to take advantage for their own gain; but it’s certainly getting people out and about, for now at least.

If I was to design a ARG say for example We Dream The City (swear I wrote about it somewhere, but maybe I haven’t yet? findery.com is close);  I would be using the phone and building in functionality which brings groups together into little adhoc clouds like Firechat. Pokemon go shows there is appetite for these types of games and the technology can scale to this extent. Now’s a good time to build these systems and hopefully think about what useful things we could do for local community and society, not just collecting virtual goods?

My photo used in Seattle and Ride Sharing article

Uber Lux in Amsterdam

Ben Metcalfe sent me a link to my photo which was used in a article about ride sharing in Seattle. from when I used Uber in Amsterdam,. Of course theres no problem with it because I mark most of my photos creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharealike.

Match, OkCupid, Tinder and now POF?

Swallow your fish

Big news on the online dating scene… The picture above sums it up

The Match Group, the global operator of digital dating products such as Match, Tinder, OkCupid and Meetic), and a subsidiary of IAC, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase PlentyOfFish for US$575 million in cash.

Yes if you didn’t already know IAC own Match, Okcupid, Tinder and now Plenty of Fish.

Plenty of fish has had its ups and downs… but $575 million isn’t bad for a dating service which was independently run and managed. Remember Instagram was sold to Facebook for just under double that at $1billion, which goes to show.  The community aspects certainly made it stand out from the rest and this was emulated by some of the others. While the freenium approach back then was quite unique.

Cheers Chris for the heads up

What happens when your dog is no longer serviceable?

Aibo meets Nabaztag: first meeting

The Aibo went the way of the Nabaztag

When Rob told me about Sony shutting down the last one of its service centre for Aibo robotic dogs, I instantly thought about the consequences of a locked down iot device. This is going to be bad

Back in 1999, Sony released a robotic dog called Aibo, a canine companion that didn’t crap everywhere and only ate electricity. It sold pretty well — 150,000 units, despite the $2,000 price tag. Some owners became remarkably attached, which makes it even more sad that Sony has stopped repairing Aibo. Slowly but surely, they’re all dying.

It was bad in my mind but then I watched the NYtimes video and remembered how the Japanese think of most things having a soul/spirit of some kind.

The New York Times has recorded the plight of current-day Aibo owners in a completely heartbreaking video. They interviewed a series of owners, whose Aibos are a central part of their lives, but are slowly having to come to the fact that their dogs have a life expectancy.

What you are left with is something which is kind of heart breaking to watch. Seriously, especially having experience the culture first hand, I can just imagine. I liked my Aibo but nothing like the Japanese love theirs.

Still remember the first time I saw a Aibo in real life. It was at the ICA in London and some guy kicked it off the stage to the outrage of half the audience. Just to make a point about humans attaching human emotion to artificial objects or robots. Fascinating in the face of UK remake of Humans on Channel4.

Social Media’s Common ground

Commonground

Social media cafe Manchester was a diamond in Manchester’s tech scene for a long while. It was inspired  on Loyd Daves’ Tuttle club which was in turn inspired by my own Geekdinners. Who says you can inspire, eh?

Started in 2008 Social Media Cafe became an institution. Meeting regularly on the first Tuesday of the month, it ran for over 5 years bringing an eclectic and sometimes bizarre selection of topics to discuss. From emoji madness and a requiem for Ceefax to more grounded subjects. Through #smc_mcr, Manchester kicked off its open data journey and became a stopping off place for people passing through, who had projects and passions to share. Most importantly #smc_mcr was a place where anyone with a passion could pitch up and propose a topic that they wanted to share with others – either to inform or to find help. Because of this #smc_mcr developed an unConference format that allowed multiple subjects to be discussed at the same time.

Fast forward to November last year in the snug of the Briton’s Protection a group of ex-#smc_mcr types came together to discuss how this venerable event could be reinstated. So Common Ground was born, an event with the same #smc_mcr goodness with a more pronouncable name.

Common Ground Launch Event – On the Cluetrain

To kick off Common Ground we look at The Cluetrain and the enigmatic release of new clues after 15 years.

The Cluetrain manifesto was written in an age before social media, when user generated content was but a tiny fraction activity banded around by a tiny number of people. The Cluetrain manifesto went beyond the current day thinking of the dot com boom – 1999 and the catastrophic bust – 2001. It rewrote the rules for a hyperconnected world and it could be argued, is as relevant today as it was then.

The new clues attempt to do the same, taking our thinking into the next 10 years. The event will discuss the new clues and asks if they will have the same impact as the original clues have now. Did Doc Searls and David Weinburger, undermine or add another chapter to the brilliance of the Cluetrain?

Join us

Why the need for another event in Manchester? Its similar to the problem of why Manchester Technights started. The current selection of events are too narrow. Don’t get me wrong its great if you are really into that thing but if you want to get a variety of ideas and thoughts, then you are stuck. I bang on about diversity and how critical it is, this also starts to answer the problem of the filter bubble. You should join us and invite friends…

Event link

Welcome to the MMU Shed

The first event is Tuesday 17th February at its new home, the shed.  The Shed is a new space by MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University)  just opposite where the old BBC just off  Oxford Road on Chester Street.

Its a great space with a lot of potential for all types events and can hold between 2 and 200 people depending on the event and space you require. This does mean there are lots of spaces, so you could go back to the original unconference style of social media cafe. Theres also plenty of room, so noise won’t be a massive issue.

To be fair its a great space and just right for a barcamp, but I’m not doing those anymore (of course).

So whats the first commonground?

The first one on the 17th Feb, will centre around the Cluetrain manifesto. Julian one of the key organisers asked me for a quick summary and I sent this via my phone.

On the Cluetrain

The cluetrain manifesto was written in a age before social media, when user generated content was but a tiny fraction banded around by a tiny number of people. The cluetrain manifesto went beyond the current day thinking of the dot com boom – 1999 and the catastrophic bust – 2001. It rewrote the rules for a hyperconnected world and I would argue is as relevant as it was then as it is today.
The new clues attempts to do the same and in some case does a great job taking our thinking into the next 10 years. The event will discuss the newclues and asks if they will have the same impact as the original clues have now. Did Doc Searls and David Weinburger, undermine or add another chapter to the brilliance of the cluetrain?

Ello and welcome to no pesky ads

inspired by ello, the network

Been keeping my eye on the move to create ethical social networks which don’t take the living piss with our data. Things like Tent.io, Known and now Ello are gathering some momentum…

We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.

Ello recently got quite serious about its non-ad and no selling of personal data.

Ad-free

Ello doesn’t sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties.

Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You’re the product that’s being bought and sold.

Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a “free” service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.

We also think ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we’re better without them.

To be fair its way off being something massive, but thats what makes it interesting I feel. I’m now on the network, so if you are interested in a invite and we are friends, drop me a email or tweet…