The future of the browser conference

I was very happy to take part in the future of the browser conference, along with my amazing colleague Jasmine. It was a different kind of conference and this was very clear from the introduction with Amber in the future! (amazing and well worth watching)

Each section started with a really different video from different artists. This was a great move with most conferences, generally starting with a keynote before the conference talks) This conference turned that on its head before jumping into number of deep dives around aspects of the future browser. All the videos are now up online, so go have a watch now.

Since the conference I have installed Brave on my Ubuntu machine now and also Puma on my mobile.

There was quite a few new developments I hadn’t really seen before.

Project fugu

Project Fugu is an effort to close gaps in the web’s capabilities enabling new classes of applications to run on the web. In short things like controlling Zigbee, USB and Bluetooth devices. I heard about this a while ago and thought Living room of the Future controlled via a browser.

Handshake

Handshake is a decentralized, permission-less naming protocol where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root DNS naming zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities and naming systems. Names on the internet (top level domains, social networking handles, etc.) ultimately rely upon centralized actors with full control over a system which are relied upon to be honest, as they are vulnerable to hacking, censorship, and corruption.
I think that says it all, something which many people have pointed out many times as a major problem with the DNS system.

Handshake is an experiment which seeks to explore those new ways in which the necessary tools to build a more decentralized internet. Services on the internet have become more centralized beginning in the 1990s, but do not fulfill the original decentralized vision of the internet. Email became Gmail, usenet became reddit, blog replies became facebook and Medium, pingbacks became twitter, squid became Cloudflare, even gnutella became The Pirate Bay. Centralization exists because there is a need to manage spam, griefing, and sockpuppet/sybil attacks.

Unlock protocol

As most of you know, I have webmontization enabled on this blog and also on my mixes site. But Unlock is aimed at subscriptions and memberships. This is great news, except its not a standard yet but looks promising.

The coming age of the 402

I had heard Matt talk previously during May’s Manchester Futurists. There is a lot of unexplored areas in the http status codes including 402, which could be used to do new and interesting things like WebMon, which was also covered in Manchester Futurists and the future of the browser.

Better ways to archive and save the page.

Saving the page has been a nightmare for a long while, and I found Webrecorder and ArchiveWeb.page quite interesting solutions. Its also interesting to think about the lengths we have gone through to stop people saving the page.

This is why I like these community driven conferences… Big thanks to @caseorganic, @anselm and all the speakers.

Plotting and harvesting Chia cryptocurrancy for a more green crypto future?

My Chia farming setup

I have admit over the last 2 months I setup a cryptocurrancy rig in my flat. Now when most people think about cryptocurrancy they think of bitcoin and the absolute insane amount of power going into mining bitcoins. This is why when I saw Bram Cohen (creator of BitTorrent) talk about creating something different (proof of space+time) I was always interested. To be fair I since BitTorrent I’ve been watching what he’s been up to, Bram is just one of those serial entrepreneur I keep an eye on.

After hearing about Chia, I downloaded the Linux app and got it up and running on a old laptop I use for bits and bobs. I would have used one of my my Raspberry PIs if I had Ubuntu installed. I plugged in a external USB to SATA SSD which I was using to run my old Dell XPS13 work laptop, when the internal drive got screwed up. Then plugged in a old USB to SATA caddy/docking bay with one of my old 2TB mechanical hard drives from my old server (pre NAS).

My Chia plot

Then left it plotting and harvesting my 1 single plot for a month or so.

At the time, the estimated time to win a Chia was 8 months. As I had the laptop on doing other things all the time, it wasn’t a big deal for me. Actually removing my server and replacing it with the NAS, 2x Raspberry Pis and this laptop  is actually less electricity than my single home made server with 7 drives and 4 fans. I hear most of you say wtf! I do have a lot of devices on in my flat and my electricity is high compared to typical single person but everything else (heating, water, etc) is low.

It was about 4-5 weeks when I was telling someone about Chia and noticed I had harvested 2 chia’s unbeknownst to me. To be clear I have 1 single 100gig plot and although I tried setting up 2 plots afterwards in parallel, I decided it was too much for my old laptop’s little quad core CPU and switched back to a single 100gig plot again (to be clear its more the parallel part which was the problem and CPU is only really used)

Chia CPU and Memory load in Htop

With all this in mind, I was introduced to the Reddit subthread for Chia, where I saw people building massive rigs to plot and harvest. Its quite insane and then hearing how Chia is being blamed for shortages in HDDs and SSDs. Of course why most people are interested in Chia (including myself) is the proof of space & time rather than proof of work. This realistically could be far more sustainable than proof of work models like Bitcoin. I say “could” because seeing these massive rigs seems to throw oil over the notion of Chia’s green attributes.

Although its tempted to add some more plots, I’m not going to change my setup because its sustainable for me. Little has changed on my network or on my physical desk. Getting in early was something very good but I got lucky with 2 Chia already.

Yesterday a friend mentioned Elon had tweeted about Tesla not taking Bitcoin for their electric cars.

I can’t say anything profound about Chia except I’m more than interested because its not just a speculated currency like Bitcoin. Although the price is super surprising for a new cryptocurrency. I said similar about Ethereum because of the smart contracts, NFTs and other things. The currency side is only slightly interesting while things like ChiaLisp for Identity spikes my interest.

1 month of trying web monetization

Web montization

I wrote last month how I was giving web monetization a try.

I decided to go with the option where people with the coil extension would pay a small fee but its still available to the public. There was a consideration that I could make certain posts such as my publicserviceinternet notes.

Its been surprising to see the money come through on uphold. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to stop uphold emailing me each time I got new money (seems to be an option which could be useful)

£3.48 for a month Over a month and a bit. I made £3.48 from having installed the coil extension. Not bad for a month, and its more than I was expecting. its certainly more than the changetip I had originally (I wouldn’t mind if it went straight into uphold as a cryptocurrancy rather than currency actually – Sure there is a way to do this but not found it yet).

Enough to buy a expensive pour over coffee in one of my favourite northern quarter coffee places. Not quite enough to cover the domain name but if things stay as they are, it will easily cover a few of my domain names renewals for a year.

So where do we go from here? Well I’ll leave it as it as it currently is set for now but I might give the option of coil only members a try on a post or two in the future.

Thanks to Cyberdees for connecting me with this, I like the non-tracking and if I was running other sites I would add coil to it. I may end up doing another post in 6 months to see what happens in the future. There is something good here.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2020)

Dark estonia
Photo by Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed watching the twitter hack fall out and the cult like increase in conspiracies theories.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with the new Estonian digital nomad visa and a steady drive of transparency questions levelled at Facebook.


Protocols, Not Platforms

Ian thinks: This paper really sets out the problems of the current mainstream internet. Platform building opposed to open protocols which everybody can use. Its well thought out and substantial in its arguments.

The growing changes in robot technology, iot and 3D printing

Ian thinks: I am impressed with the bio-mimicry in some of the robots. Its certainly the way to go, learning from nature. If only we could save it too.

Estonia launches a new type of visa for digital nomads

Ian thinks: Estonia was the first country with e-residency and they have flatten the world one more time with a new type of visa, allowing people to work for a remote company for up to 90 days.

If I earn a bitcoin everytime some asked me about the darkweb…

Ian thinks: Although the speaker doesn’t do himself any favours with a blurred out face, he crushes a lot of the typical questions I have been asked about the darkweb

Insight into the dark world of shadow brokers

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to hear about the unsolved puzzle of shadow brokers who sold NSA surveillance tools on the open market. Another reason why government encryption back-doors are such a bad idea.

What are the applications using blockchain technology right now?

Ian thinks: There is a lot of scepticism about crypto technology but I found this video from Crypto startup school, useful looking at the direction and focus of the actual applications which currently exist. The questions are pretty intruding too.

An atlas of surveillance

Ian thinks: Ok this is mainly American but its quite a unique database of different types of surveillance, how they are used and for what purpose. Good work by the EFF.

Emerging tech overview with Node

Ian thinks: Starting with drone delivery and ending with human assisted tech. Node is a great place for summaries on emerging open tech advancements.

Mozilla wants your advice on how to make the internet healther

Ian thinks: If you had only one question for Mozilla, what would it be? Well here is your chance to think and submit that one question.


Find the archive here

I’m giving web monetization a try

Recently I gave the web monetization a try thanks to the amazing CyberDees.

I was aware of the web monetisation project after reading about the amazing grant for the web. But generally I don’t really think about monetizing my blog because its generally a hassle, I can’t stand the ad tracking and I worry about random stuff which I don’t agree with in my space.

Currently I get about 8-10 emails a day asking to replace links with their own. I generally ignore them now but they never stop and they always ask if they could guest write a blog for me. So I’ve been thinking maybe I should find a way where I stay in control of everything?

Hence the interest in web monetisation and tipjars. Actually one of the first things I looked at was flattr a while ago. Theres a good comparison of the two here.

Setting it up was quite easy with some direction from Cyberdees.

The process involving signing up to Coil, installing a wordpress extension and then somewhere to store/exchange money (ILP-enabled digital wallet) which was Upheld.

Once its all setup, I just need to turn it on. This is where I am…

I could turn it on and block all access to my blog unless you have a web monetisation plugin. But thats not what I want to do. I noticed in the editor theres the options per post or page.

Web monitization

  • Monetized and Public (default) – Allow all visitors to see the content, get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member
  • Coil Members Only – Only allow Coil Members to see the content
  • No Monetization – Allow all visitors to see the content, don’t get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member

So I was considering maybe making certain posts monetised, for example I could make all the public service internet notes pay to read? Maybe I could write some exclusive posts even?

But right now, I’m going to turn on monetized and public for my blog as a kind of tip jar type of thing. I’ll do it for a bit and see how things turn out. I’m not looking to make a boat of money, if its enough to cover a year of a domain name that would be cool.

Think of it as a beta test… I’ll review in a couple of months if I don’t forget that its turned on. Do let me know if theres any problems accessing the site. I also guess the RSS will stay as it is right now, but there is people looking at how to add web monetization to rss/xml/atom feeds. One thing I’d like to see is something of a timer on the montisation, so it could switch on or off after a certain amount of hours/days/weeks.

My quick short view on Libra cryptocurrency

Facebook Libra

  • Facebook is full of crap and this privacy first play is just total bull. I don’t trust facebook, but to be fair I don’t trust my bank, however there business model isn’t completely at odds with my freedom as a digital citizen.
  • Cryptocurrency for the masses is not such a bad thing but theres so little information I can just imagine the headlines about being taken for their life savings.
  • A single global currency is a very very bad idea for many reasons not worth going into now.
  • I know Facebook is only spearheading the libra Association which is a not-for-profit organization but its FACEBOOK Remember! I don’t even really think the others are in it for anything more than a punt.
  • Calibra the tools facebook have built to work with Libra do not subscribe to the same ideas as the association and that might not be a bad thing in your book but it clearly points towards the endless dominance of facebook in this association.

Don’t get zuckered into this all, againglad others have push back hard.