Storj: A p2p decentralised storage model

Storj: Decentralizing Cloud Storage from Storj on Vimeo.

Storj is an open-source, decentralized, cloud storage platform. It is based on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s (BTC) blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols. The Storj network uses its own cryptocurrency, Storjcoin X (SJCX), while its front-end software supports the use of other digital currencies such as Bitcoin and more traditional forms of payment like the dollar. Unlike traditional cloud storage providers, Storj keeps data spread across a decentralized network eliminating the problem of having a single point of failure. It also encrypts all data making it impossible for anyone, including Storj, to snoop on users’ files without having a user’s private encryption key. In return for offering storage space to the network, users are paid cryptocurrency.

Imagine storing all your private data across other peoples drives in encrypted form? Imagine getting paid to store this encrypted data?

Well this is Storj and its frankly quite an amazing concept whoses time as come.

This is a very attractve setup for someone like me with many terabytes of storage and hyperfast broadband. Unlike the risks of running an Tor exit node, everything is strongly encrypted and the host has zero knowledge of whats being stored or transfered.

I already have an account as I’d be interested to see how it works. First heard on Steal this show, how the swarm will beat the cloud.

Are you happy with the state of the mainstream net?

Pirate Markets & Guerrilla Libraries, with Balázs Bodó

I was listening to the Steal this show podcast season 2 episode 8 with Balázs Bodó and Jamie King. They were talking about how we have kind of gotten use to the way the net is and they are wondering where the innovation is coming from or going to.

It tweaked my interest as I have always got a interest in technology uses for legal and illegal purposes. Its that classic cat/cops and mouse/robbers scenario, I’m not saying technology is neutral, but the same technology can be used to liberate and enslave. I thought it might be nice to share some of the stuff I’ve got in my tabs/task list to look at…

Most of the good stuff I’ve recently been looking at is all about privacy and security, which has required me to get a lot more serious about my digital keys.

  • Asemica
    I have always been interested in Steganography, especially in clear view where you wouldn’t normally expect it. Securebook always interested me and I’m slightly responsible for inspiring the developer of that. But its not been update in a while and I always thought why can’t I use something else to generate the text required in a way which is clearly still readable?
    Because of this I’ve been looking for something like Asemica.
  • Zeronet
    I was originally looking at Zeronet for my decentralised dating idea but have always been interested in things like freenet from a long long way back. Its pretty neat and certainly ticks all the buzz words but has a solid idea built on open tech.
  • Keybase
    I can’t quite work this one out but I signed up to the alpha and have been trying it out for the last few months at least. I haven’t sent any GPG messages yet but getting my head around it all. The keybase file system is much more like a distributed dropbox and it doesn’t take a lot of thinking to imagine the possibilities.
  • ZeroTier
    This is what I’m using as a VPN for all my devices and its quite simple but effective. Its quite neat as it works like Hamachi and I have configured my server at home to bridge networks, allowing me to access my 1gig connection in the UK from anywhere. I haven’t played with accessing other networks yet but its in my tasklist to bounce around the world if needed.
  • TOR (the onion router)
    Does this one really need any explaining? So many people instantly think of the dark web and buying drugs, porn or worst. Well theres a lot more to the dark web than this and I’m seeing some seriously credible technology solutions built on top of TOR. Of course TOR project really lend its self to huge amounts of data bandwidth, but have you recently looked at the TOR Stem or TOR messenger?
    Theres other things I’ve seen which I’d rather not talk about which does the connection over TOR then switches to IPv6 afterwards for the bulk bandwidth.
  • Signal
    Remember that instant messenger system Snowdon used? Well its end to end encrypted messaging by open whisper systems and theres apps for most platforms including Linux and Android. Its pretty neat but if used in a careless way can’t really help you much. Some would say whats the point now Facebook/Whatsapp are doing the same? Well actually they are using Open whisper’s library, so clearly superior.
    Signal is starting to get a lot of people now and although it won’t be as popular as whatsapp, facebook messenger or even google allo; its pretty neat and bots are coming.
    I’d like to see shared identities, so both my mobile phone numbers (work & personal) combined. I could choose to message from either of them but also see both. A master identity of some kind?
  • Bitmask
    Encrypted VPN and Email, looking at it I thought it was a bit too good to be true. So I checked out and found its actually an implementation of the LEAP Encryption Access Project, which had a number of interesting projects including TorBirdy (TOR+Mozilla Thunderbird).

Less about privacy and security but still on my task list

Plex and Emby
Streaming your own media anywhere and everywhere is very attractive especially when you have a fast home connection. I have Plex installed but I’m certainly looking at Emby which seems to be the new kid on the block. Looking at it, Emby might play nicer with things like Kodi & VPNs maybe?

There’s many things out there if your curious and look around for better; for example I have on my task list hacking my Chromecast, which I seen someone has put the Plex client on a chromecast, got screen mirroring without wifi and even a DNLA client. Lets not forget EZcast and Miracast alternatives.

 

 

 

Open collaborative recipes for everyone?

Cooking!
Imagine if you took GNOME Recipes, A open collaborative cookbook whose cuisine is curated by people; and made its core object based like in BBC R&D’s Cook along kitchen experience aka (CAKE)

You could write tools and editors to make the recipes have everything needed to fit with the cooks skill level, ingredients, time, allergies, preferences, party size, etc… I mean who wouldn’t want to describe every aspect of their special dish? (I’m avoiding the copyright/licensing questions for now)

Now that would be something, Clasen? And what better community to kick start such a thing? Dare I bring up the BBC recipe headlines only 6 months ago.

Seems like a no brainier to me?

The time traveling web

memento

I read about W3C’s project Memento a while ago but its become a reality recently.

The Memento protocol is a straightforward extension of HTTP that adds a time dimension to the Web. It supports integrating live web resources, resources in versioning systems, and archived resources in web archives into an interoperable, distributed, machine-accessible versioning system for the entire web. W3C finds Memento work with online reversion history extremely useful for the Web in general and practical application on its own standards to be able to illustrate how they evolve over time

Its smart, simple and great because it works on top of http, instead of creating a whole different way of doing the same thing.

I can already imagine memento powered twitter service or memento powered BBC redux service.

This is what disruption of online dating looks like?

202. Girl
Be on the lookout, distruption could be around the corner

Elisa of queekd.com recently challenging me about my thoughts on online dating, especially after watching my TedXManchester talk about the same subject.
I concluded that the dating industry needed a serious kick up the backside and the only way this is going to happen is if you change the model. I then mentioned what P2P protocols did to media sharing. Instead of centralisation, you can have a more decentralised and even a distributed approach to online dating.

Easily said, but what do I mean?

I was trying to find examples of what I meant but it’s very difficult googling for them as they get lost in a sea of other stuff, some of it very weird.

There was a period when a whole bunch of sites with domain names like…

youshoulddatejo.com, smartandhandsomeian.com and samwantstodateyou.com etc… (not real sites of course) Were the rage for a short while, they would pop up now and then. These people without knowing it could have changed the dating field. They all seemed to contain similar elements and it wouldn’t take long for someone or myself to modify microformat hresume into a hDating microformat (I’m not going to talk about Microdata or RDF/A as its outside the scope of this post, but yes to both). semantically rich data published on the web as way to bring a distribution model to online dating.

Steven Pemberton @ TWAB2010
Why you should have a website

I am always reminded of Steven Pemberton‘s XTech 2008 talk, Why you should have a Web Site.

The nice man from the BBC filmed it and put it online. “Provocative and contentious” said one reviewer, who later said “I should never have doubted Steven Pemberton” and “Steven Pemberton was right”. Another said “The crowd completely disagreed. In hindsight he could not have been more correct.” and “grows more relevant with each passing year”. Text of the talk here.

Steven was talking about the advantages of machine-readable Web Pages and his point knocks right at door of the walled gardens of the social networks. Swap social networks of facebook, instagram, etc for Match.com, EHarmony, OkCupid, etc’s walled gardens… and you got the same problem and same solutions?

Online dating has taken all its bad habits from social networks and to be fair most of the social networks have learned from online dating in the same way. I once talked about dataportability in online dating and to be fair everybody laughed.

But imagine if profiles were part of the public internet? When I mean public, I mean not hidden away behind a walled garden (hidden/private web). Because really what are you paying for, if you are paying at all?

I can hear you panic or even laugh… Here’s questions which might be crossing your mind

Friend of a Friend project (FOAF)
Think FoaF for dating
  • I don’t want my profile to be public!
    This is fine, I understand some rather not be so open about their status. It doesn’t have to be connected with the rest of your online profiles by the way (this is down to you)
    It doesn’t necessarily need your name or even a public photo of you (there are many ways to verify someone without such information, think about what PGP, GPGP Escrow services, Ebay, Airbnb, etc do). Also like FoaF you can even hash or encrypt parts to avoid spam, catfishers, stalkers, etc. Maybe hide parts of your dating identity till its required. Theres endless possibilities, which I haven’t even explored.
  • How do I message or email someone, and what happens if things go south?
    South meaning, things start breaking up or you want to stop them messaging you. This is a partly solved problem. There no need to have you’re real email address. Services can step in and provide emails or instant messaging solutions which expire or forward on transparency. It could also be done with a standard protocol and encrypted for further privacy. Off the Record already does this, for goodness sake lets not build new protocols (badly or jokey) to do already solved stuff! (Yes this is what most dating sites are doing now)
  • How do I trust what I am seeing or reading?
    The same is true of most dating sites now, how do you know the picture isn’t a catfish, they really are the body shape they say or show? How do you know the picture isn’t 10 years ago? All the dating site/service is really offering you is access to single people (not that is always true of course)
    This is where the idea of a blockchain for online dating could come in quite useful, to verify with reputation, but if you don’t trust the technology. You can opt for something else… or even build your own! You only have to look at the people who have hacked OkCupid (Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay’s). Imagine what they could do if not restricted to the wall garden and the systems they could write for the rest of us.
  • But its easier to pay the money and sit safely within the closed garden?
    Safely…? Total illusions. But yes its easier, but you are limited by how much you are willing to pay. The open way you can have access to many more profiles, better ways to filter them and theoretically better solutions which you can share with friends.
    This way also puts more emphasis on you to do work, but I can imagine systems and services like wordpress, medium, squarespace, etc doing the heavy lifting for you.
  • How would I search?
    You don’t think some startup will jump into this arena? If not one of the big search giants?! The beauty is if you feel one is better than the other, you can easily switch. No rubbish claims, which can’t be verified. Just imagine when gocompare/money supermarket get involved to show you the best sites to find what you seek. Or imagine crowd sourcing this all.
  • But dating site x’s algorithm is great
    Don’t worry there will be multiple services jumping over each other for your money, data or other things to prove they are the one you should use. Some will be highly manual, some will be heavily automated. Currently there is no urgency to fix, innovate or try something different. Its not all bad news for dating services, they can run their magic algorithms on the public data set.
  • But my dating service offers X, Y and Z.
    Thats nice but have you thought how effective X, Y and Z actually are? Are they a distraction or actually making dating life better? Regardless… there is the perfect opportunity to have a ecosystems of services blossom and offer unique services on top of the open, machine readable profile network.
Future of Fabrication
Distributed models are sustainable?

Think about the way search engines innovated on the structured data and offered better matches as a result. The important part is, if you don’t like what a certain service is doing  or how they treat you, you can just move elsewhere without the fear of loosing access to that person still.

Interestingly OkCupid allows you to make your profile public (very few do), so you could see it without logging in. For example, https://www2.okcupid.com/profile/beach-s?cf=regular. I have considered making my profile public before but theres not quite enough benefit to me currently. OkCupid use it as a marketing tool and there’s little you can do once you view it. Its clear OkCupid was setup to break some of the legacy behind online dating but when they sold to the Match group, that drive to change things changed focus.

Me with Canvas
Ownership?

What I’m suggesting is similar but on your terms. There are other advantages such as having access to the biggest market of daters, personalised choice, better tools than one dating site can/want to create, bespoke advice and guidance from people who really give crap. This could issue in a new era in the art of match making!

But it doesn’t stop there, oh I’ve just scratched the surface. I feel a lot of the endemic corruption in online dating is due the centralised model.

Imagine if you could aggregate that profile into the legacy dating services. Almost a IFTTT recipe or Atomkeep? to update parts of your legacy profile on a schedule or manual push.

You could allow tinder to use one photo, OkCupid to upload 4-6 photos and a deeper description, Match.com only my photos marked professional and the deeper description.

What I’m talking about is Vender relationship management applied directly on to online dating, putting the users in control.

All is possible if you rethink the current setup. unfortunately the controlling companies (MATCH group currently own 27% plus of the online dating market and they own, OkCupid, POF, Tinder and many more) have zero interest in changing much. On top of that daters seem quite lazy and less interested in working for dates?

As you can imagine, there isn’t much in this area but I did find fermat. Its a p2p matching platform. I have yet to really look and see if its doing things how I would imagine

A little assistance please?

Everybody on slack recently got a message from Slack about using Slack bots for reminders, to-do lists, etc. It’s a small thing but interesting to see more and more of the thoughts in the famous article Tim Burners-Lee wrote in Scientific America (so popular it actually costs money to read it!) about the Semantic web. (The closes we’ve got to that reality is Google now, which is highly propitery of course.)

It also reminds me of Matt’s post about bots being like plants. which I mentioned previously.

Theres been a long running task on my todo list to take advantage of telegram bots in leui of jabber/xmpp bots, it’s hardly surprising as they are very useful and who wouldn’t turn down some assistance now and there?

Is Medium doing what WordPress dreamed about?

Always wondered if WordPress is missing out to Medium.

Medium is becoming the preferred social platform for thoughtful commentary, provocative essays, and blockbuster enterprise journalism from independent and commercial publishers seeking to instigate meaningful conversations on topics of substance, interest, and import. Here, these conversations push thinking forward where it matters and drive real impact in the world.

Distributed conversations is something I thought WordPress was up to a long while ago. Its certainly easier when you own the platform and can make sweeping changes. Have a look at the way twitter closed off API access to 3rd party apps and services because they wanted to monetize there (literately) platform.

Its what makes me suspect of sinking time and my own thoughts into platforms like Medium and Slack. Yes they can do things which others can’t do currently…

…But I remember platforms like Medium and Slack are not open (even with the XMPP and IRC gateways) and there is a very bad side to this. Chris Messina tweeted recently about a new wordpress move in the middle of the slack fall out

Unfortunately I can’t install Calypso as its OSX only at the moment but its open and theres a hope someone will create a Linux client or even a Chrome/Firefox app?

Maybe WordPress will ultimately show Medium how to do distributed conversations, but in a open way, after all.

As for Slack… I’m still not sure, but I am using it via XMPP instead.

#MancQS What to do with all that data? Monday 6th July

BBC Dashboard

The theme for the July Quantified Self Manchester is What to do with all that QS data?

Talks are welcomed around this including.

• What do you do with the data?

• How do you import/export your data?

• What are data dashboards?

• Which data dashboard are worth using?

• What other uses of your data are there?

Be a great time to come along, meet other self trackers and discover whats possible with quantified data.

Google reaches deeply into the app data

There is something special about the experience of Google now and now something extremely magical about Google now on tap.

I’ve just gotten a chance to play around with an early build of Now on Tap, Google’s wild new feature that, in essence, does Google searches inside apps automatically. It works like this: when you’re in an app — any app — you hold down the home button. Android then figures out what is on the screen and does a Google Now search against it. A Now search is slightly different from your usual Google search, because it brings back cards that are full of structured data and actions, not just a list of links.

When I first watched the keynote, I thought of the Tim Burners-Lee Semantic Web vision (paid pdf only now).

The real power of the Semantic Web will be realized when people create many programs that collect Web content from diverse sources, process the information and exchange the results with other programs. The effectiveness of such software agents will increase exponentially as more machine-readable Web content and automated services (including other agents) become available.

Its not the semantic web thats for sure, the problem is that its amazing and the user experience is magical but its all within Googles own stack. This rather bothers (even) me for many of the ethics of data reasons. I’m sure app developers may be a little miffed too?

Following my thought, Wired had a intriguing headline Google’s Ingenious Plan to Make Apps Obsolete.

What makes Google Now’s pull away from apps even more compelling is that it was joined at I/O by a series of gentle pushes in the same direction. Google’s doing everything it can to get us all back to the web.

Now if I think the Wired piece is interesting but they are shouting down from the wrong tree. Google are climbing another tree somewhere else. Ok enough with the analogies what do I mean?

If I saw Google on tap working in the browser instead of on top of apps I would be extremely impressed and be really making solid ties between Tim Berners-Lee’s agents in the semantic web. But instead we are left with something slightly disappointing, like a parlour trick of sorts.

Don’t get me wrong its impressive but its not the big deal which I first thought it was. I’m sure the Chrome team are already working on ways to surface semi structured data to Google now, and when they do… wow!

What happened to attribution friendly Xpointer?

xpointer use for attribution

I was thinking while writing the last blog post. What happened to the Xpointer standard?

XPointer (the XML Pointer language) allows hyperlinks to point to specific parts (fragments) of XML documents.

I guess in the rush to move away from XHTML in favour of HTML5, the whole idea of compound documents got shuffled into a back alley and stabbed to death by the XHTML haters. So even if browsers supported Xpointer, it simply wouldn’t parse and therefore work.

Interestingly HTML 5.0 has embed but its not the same solution as Xpointer was solving. For example here’s wordpress creating a iframe which twitter (the 3rd party) can choose to put what they link in. I think originally it was oembed but got changed

I’m already slightly over the concern that one day my blog will be full of ads, spam, malware, tracking cookies and worst. The day that happens, I’ll be removing all iframes using XSL or a wordpress plugin.

Its a crying shame because attribution is the lifeblood of the creative industry and without it, were pretty much screwed. Its seems crazy that I can’t easily traceback my steps to how I found quotes, blog posts, etc. Right now this whole thing is broken, bookmarking isn’t the solution. It needs to be at the word level. Personal annotation style?

I have to favourite things on twitter, look through my play history and search my emails to find who actually recommended something to me. Maybe this can only be solved by the quantified self and lifestreams but I think there’s unexplored ways which xpointer was leaning towards.

Blip.tv does good on its promise to archive

Mike Hudack of Blip.tv

A long while ago I talked about why I used Blip.TV over Youtube, Vimeo and other video uploading sites.

  • Upload video of any length
  • Download the archived original
  • Use there non branded flash player anywhere you like
  • Add a creative commons licence
  • Automatically add content to Internet Archive
  • Add advertising to your video (start or end)
  • Add alternative formats of the same clip

Although most of these features are now supported by the others, blip.tv was promising this in 2006!

It was a shame last year when I saw the message in my email saying blip.tv was removing my videos. I did try and download most of them, but remembered the promise of uploading everything to archive.org.

…If Blip.tv ever pulled a Yahoo/Flickr thing on its users. You could pipe them all to Archive.org and remove them from Blip. Metadata and all..

Well they didn’t exactly do a Yahoo/Flickr thing on us, but their business models changed when they got bought. But they nicely honoured their word and dumped everything requested on to archive.org. I was having a hard time finding stuff (archive.org’s search isn’t the best) but I found everything using this search. Including classics like Mike Arrington thinks the BBC should be dissolved. Remember the firestorm which came from that video and his lack of ignorant comment. Finally it was followed by this.

The only disappointment is the links around the web are now broken as redirection of blip links never happened… Maybe I should contact mike (if he’s still in CEO) to remind him, wonder if he remembers me?

Dataportability for the win…!

Data portability and uber

With all the recent stories about the already dubious (or maybe  devious would be more fitting) Uber. Even I am starting to question how much I can really ignore, especially the God mode (yes I was aware via friends but balancing out how much benefit it brought to myself)

Helen Keegan reminds me of what I have been ignoring (I added the links by the way)…

How about throwing their dodgy off-shore tax dealings and encouraging sub-prime loans to drivers for a shiny new car without guaranteeing any work or taking any responsibility? Or maybe the lack of insurance and vetting of drivers? I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things too. And they’re not the only big tech company behaving like this mind.

Shes right, theres a lot of black marks. To be fair it was Mr Sparks which highlighted the attitude as it was being trialled in Manchester. However if you don’t like what Uber is doing, best look at what most of the silicon valley tech companies are doing. Ok so say I wanted to leave because I am sick to the back teeth of what their CEO is doing (I left Godaddy for this reason to be fair) what happens now?

Uber Lux in Amsterdam

Delete the app fine, but what about the account, data deletion and where next? I have to start again at Hailo? Why can’t I take my  reputation with me?

Theres no way to kill the account in the app, so people have asked them to kill the account. Maybe you can trust, Uber will delete the data (haven’t looked at the Eula recently to see their policy around this).

Unless specified otherwise in this Privacy and Cookie Policy, we will retain your information until you cancel your Uber account, or until your Uber account has been inactive for a year. If you wish to cancel your Uber account or request that we no longer use your information to provide you services, please contact us at support@uber.com. Upon expiry of the one year period of inactivity, we will alert you and give you two weeks to re-activate your Uber account or retrieve any personal information you want to keep. After deletion of your account we will anonymize your data, unless these data are necessary to comply with a legal obligation or resolve disputes.

Ideally you should be able to take you’re trip data and give it to another company. Dataportability please! I’ve been in a similar position before. At the same time it should shutdown the account.

My only hope is Uber upped the game of the other taxi companies out there…

Don’t be Evil Uber indeed…!

Client side development now?


As they say, Serenity now? Insanity later?

A couple blogs which sum up the current state of front end development it would seem…

Tim’s software in 2014 and Chris’ what sucks about frontend development.

First Tim,

The client-side mess · Things are bad. You have to build everything three times: Web, iOS, Android. We’re talent-starved, this is egregious waste, and it’s really hurting us.

JavaScript is horrible.
> [5, 10, 1].sort();
[ 1, 10, 5 ]

Et cetera. Thus Coffeescript and Dart and other efforts to route around TheElephantInTheRoom.js.

The browser APIs suck too. Sufficiently so that jQuery (or equivalent) is regarded as the lowest level that any sane person would program to; in effect, the new Web assembler.

And from Chris

managing JavaScript dependencies still sucks, and Bower has fundamental flaws that limits it’s utility

table designs are bad, so why are we re-implementing them with non-semantic class names? We should use our CSS frameworks to have only abstract classes that we make concrete by extending them with semantic class names. Also, progressive enhancement isn’t dead and still has value.

…I only feel these issues because I’m comparing it directly to other parts of the software stack rather than considering the front-end in isolation, but front-end development still feels very immature and like the wild west, rather than the engineering discipline we’re striving to be. We need to make it better.

I will admit its been a while since I’ve done any front end development but to be fair I’m also wondering if developers are taking full advantage of whats available to them? For example in my twitter stream I saw someone link to a post about SVG and DOM manipulation for icons. And finally…

More or less everything is expected to talk HTTP, and it’s really easy to make things talk HTTP.
Its easy to under-estimate how great this is, specially as we move towards coding for the mobile, offline, internet of things and exotic screens/devices. REST won out and who was stupid enough to bet against this? Oh yes… where are they now? Dead! Good riddens SOAP and other craziness…

Linked data on youtube?

Triples on youtube?

I thought I’d try writing some RDF/Turtle as I see it on youtube.

<http://youtu.be/jP6kzKygaOs>
dc:title "Jason Silva on London Real talks about Vanilla Sky";
dc:publisher "London Real";
dc:subject [
  dc:subject "Vanilla Sky"
  dc:type "Film" imdb:homepage <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259711/>
  tmdb:homepage <http://www.themoviedb.org/movie/1903-vanilla-sky>
  ]
cities:city "London".

Kind of reminds me of when people started hacking Triples into Flickr by using Machine tags. Still its interesting to see Youtube adding the ability to add a triple in a nice clean way (if its a well used ontology of course)

The first Manchester Quantified Self Meetup

Life logging

I can happily tell the world that Manchester’s first Quantified Self Meetup will be Friday 5th July at MadLab.

Madlab will update their calendar real soon but you can sign up using Meetup.com for free.

I will be giving a talk about my work time, foodfeed.us blog and fitbit to kick start discussions. Of course we’re looking for other speakers to join me and talk about there own experiences in quantified self.

When:
Friday, July 5, 2013 – 6:30 – 8:30PM
Where:
Mad Lab: 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester, United Kingdom

Details:
Manchester QS meetup consists of Show & Tell where people present or simply talk for 10-15 mins about their experience and experiments with self-tracking, quantifying and self-hacking whether it involves devices, applications or not.

This part lasts till about 8:30pm. We then move next door to Terrance or Common, which is an essential and integral part of the meetup, as important as the first part the ‘Show & Tell’. If you can join us, I encourage you to do so. Not only it’s always good fun, the conversations are equally interesting.