Apple and their form of privacy

Apple's smug new iPhone ad says privacy matters, just ...

Ummmm right…

I get Apple are more private about data than others like Google (which pings Android phones so much people are suing for data charges) but there is something about misplaced trust with Apple which always bugs me. These latest adverts and recent news stories say it all.

Downloads outage down issues which is all around Apples Gatekeeper privacy and Apple’s latest OS update Big sur network traffic bypass.

Of course this is all clear reasons why I’m very much in the open source camp. Maybe I won’t understand the code, but someone will and can inspect it or track down the issue without signing an NDA. I urge for people to not blindly trust. Always look out for open code, zero-knowledge security, no logging, transparency, etc

Signal or Threema or how about both?

I have been a fan and person encouraging the use of signal over the likes of whatsapp. Its been good to me but like every piece of software there are things I would change about them. For example the whole pin code thing is not only concerning but also a real challenge for casual users.

The pin code thing and phone number thing is not that much of a concern for most but I’ve been keeping an eye on others coming into the space. Threema is one such messaging app which seems to have all the privacy and security needed backed with its strong European base in Switzerland.

I wrote it off in my mind because it didn’t have a open code base for security  experts to view openly. However that recently changed with them opensourcing the code base.

Because of this change I’m relooking at the Threema, although I don’t think I’ll be dumping Signal as a result but rather using both?

Trying Indigenous social timeline app

IndieWeb ecosystem
When I first saw this last year, I instantly thought about small pieces loosely joined

Last year I went to IndieWebCampBerlin, I learned a lot and really enjoyed it. One of the things I found most interesting is the indieweb ecosystem and in the indieweb way, how people were creating parts of the ecosystem. This is quite a different to the way existing social networks are built, dare I mentioned protocols not platforms again.

There was an app which was mentioned a few times as a example of how it could work. Indigenous, which supports micropub (publishing) and microsub (subscription) across the different pub/sub supporting services. It was neat but I couldn’t get it working on my Android phone. Mainly down to the Indieauth which didn’t work well with this blog. So I kinda left it till this week.

Indigenous allows you to engage with the internet as you do on social media sites, and post on your IndieWeb powered website or a federated instance like Mastodon, Pleroma or Pixelfed

Using Indigenous on Android

Unlike last time, there is a better more user-friendly introduction to the app. It seems to set up a default user for you and allows you add other accounts to it. I assume once you finally add a indieweb account it will release the default user and move the added accounts.

I added my Mastodon and Pixelfed account did a test post using Mastodon in Indigenous.

I did try and post it via Pixelfed but it didn’t seem to work, so I used Mastodon instead. So far so good, but I hoped to still get IndieAuth working but still no dice unfortunately.

It was only a day ago when I realised there was a desktop version, a electron app for Linux, so I gave it a try.

Its a bit different but I recognise parts. Although I couldn’t find the account part s wasn’t able to try the indieauth.

Expect more posting as I explore more, of course if anyone has pointers…? Do jump into the comments/web mentions or drop me something on Mastodon or Twitter.

Imagine a public service video conference service

Its pretty disheartening to hear about people who seeking/getting help for addiction being trolled. Business insider’s article about Trolls breaking into AA meetings held on Zoom and harassing recovering alcoholics. Speaks volumes about where we currently are with our technology and society.

Its easy to blame the people who would troll people who are seeking help and support. Yes but also Zoom are to blame? Well thats a very easy target and they are not doing themselves any favors although they recently seem to be sorting themselves out. The problem with default settings is a well known problem and the easy thing to do is switch to another platform right?

Looking at the list in the Guardian, its clear the amount which are profit making businesses just like zoom. Its not exactly their fault, the scenario of the public using your service for to run a help group wasn’t in the business plan.

Maybe its time there was a business which did have that in their plans? Maybe not a business at all? Maybe an organisation with public interest & benefit at the centre of its remit?

This is something I was thinking through with Herb the other day, as we talked through the problems with Zoom. Could an organisation like for example the BBC run a video conferencing system for the benefit of the public?

Wouldn’t this conflict with existing commercial businesses and be a problem? Nope not if done correctly. I used healthcare when talking with Herb.

The NHS is a catch all and provide baseline health care. If you want to pay for better/quicker healthcare you can pay BUPA or someone else. In the same way, could the BBC or others provide baseline video conferencing aimed to give everybody a free platform which is  basic but focused on important things like privacy, security, anonymity, etc. This means no custom backgrounds, no filters, no full HD, etc. Thats the realm of the  commercial providers.

I know its a thin line but we can’t such important public services be hostage to commercial factors/models.

There is another aspect to this, the public sector could finally double down on services which preserve privacy and security of the public with software which is audit-able, has levels of transparency and is decentralised & distributed in nature.  For example I was checking out Jitsi with its webRTC support. Jitsi meet might struggling if everybody is hitting the main site but as its self installable, suits a more decentralised model. A public company could easily set it up and run it for under-served audiences?

Thoughts?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2019)

Carole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye's deep dive into the great hackCarole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye's deep dive into the great hack

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless twitter fighting.

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 Matt Mullenweg’s comments about a open and diverse web after buying tumblr.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

 

Watching the labrats scurrying away

Ian thinks: Recently read Labrats book after seeing Dan Lyons at Thinking Digital. Its quite a raw insider view on silicon valley culture, the laughable and the horrific sides in equal lashings.

The Great Hack Workshop from Mydata 2019

Ian thinks: This was one of the highlights of Mydata 2019. Carole Cadwalladr & Paul-Olivier Dehaye’s deep dive into the build up to the great hack was fascinating. Lots of useful resources were revealed.

Are Boris Johnson’s PR People Manipulating Google Search?

Ian thinks: True or not, our dependence on a single search engine/service makes any potential manipulating even more impactful.

Ted Nelson on Hypertext, Douglas Englebart and Xanadu

Ian thinks: Its always amazing to see pioneers who narrowly missed out pushing concepts which were too early, but could come back.

Look out here comes the hyperledgers

Ian thinks: More ledger/blockchain projects to power your projects than you can shake a stick at. Very happy at least some are open-source.

ReasonTV’s look at the Decentralised web

Ian thinks: I was expecting something light touch but having Cory Doctorow mainly interviewed means its got some depth.

Etiquette and privacy in the age of IoT

Ian thinks: Etiquette tends to be forgotten in the advancement of  technology. I don’t consider it rude to shut off a Alexa, I’m sure others will disagree.

Tipping etiquette set by user interface

Ian thinks: Talking about etiquette, very interesting to see norms set by user interface design decisions. Obviously set to benefit the company but its stuck now.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?

Ian thinks: Curious tale, but it does raise a question about digital access and backups. Least we forget about power and when things go technically wrong.

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!

I thought WebOS was going Opensource?

Bypassing a Palm Pre Activation

Me and David were arguing like old times about the state of the industry and we got around to the mobile industry… We talked about mobile operating systems and got around to Firefox OS and Ubuntu. David said remember WebOS, look how that ended…

I reminded him that it was going Opensource, however today David pointed me at this

Electronics giant HP is selling off the code, staff and technology involved in its WebOS software to Korean firm LG.

HP acquired the WebOS operating system when it bought veteran gadget maker Palm in 2011 for $1.2bn (£789m).

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed but HP is not thought to have recouped much of the money it paid for Palm.

LG said the WebOS code would be used to power its next-generation smart TV technology.

The WebOS was created to run smartphones, tablets and other devices developed by Palm that, in its early days, pioneered the handheld gadget industry. However, Palm’s influence has diminished as Apple, Google’s Android and RIM’s Blackberry have come to dominate the smartphone and tablet markets.

In the deal, LG gets WebOS source code, engineers working on it, documentation and the websites that promote it. HP is holding on to patents underlying WebOS as well as technology that helps it connect to web-based services.

It looks like the deal doesn’t effect the code? maybe? who knows?

So much for going Opensource?, I had thought it was going to be like the BeOS of the mobile operating systems.

There’s a open life in the Pacemaker yet

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_07

Just when I was starting to wonder if I was going to have to switch back to using a laptop to dj… I receive a email message from the new Pacemaker community

As you probably know we were trying to get hold of the Pacemaker source
code so we could see a future for the Pacemaker.

We have now had contact (has joined our forum) from Jonas who was to
original inventor of the Pacemaker and founded Tonium. He has purchased the
rights to the Pacemaker design & software back, and intends to take this
project forware again!

Not only that he has already offered that the GPL’d source code WILL be
made available on Sourceforge.

We are yet to find out Jonas’ intentions, but this is exciting news for all
us Pacemaker users. Keep checking our forum for any updates.

Jonas posted a message on the forum

Dear PMD users, I invented Pacemaker back in 2005 and founded Tonium later that year. It makes me very happy that PMD is still alive and being used, despite the lack of support and hardship that I know you have gone through. I even recognise some of you from the good old Pacemaker.net days – Sox, Migzy, Regis and many more, you are all remembered.

Developing Pacemaker was among the most exciting things I have ever done. It was a project that came out of a pure passion for music and a feeling that it had to be possible to create a DJ system in the size of an iPod. Developing Pacemaker was also the toughest thing I have ever done. Starting from scratch with nothing but an idea for a hardware device. Luckily, I was very naive and did not foresee the challenges lying ahead.Following the launch and our expansion in the spring of 2008, I was exhausted. We had basically expanded from two people to more than thirty in just a little bit over one year, while developing PMD, PME and Pacemaker.net. Honestly, I was a little bit over my head in managing the kind of company Tonium had become. Therefore I stepped down as the CEO in May 2008. That proved to be a mistake. I was not too impressed with how the company was managed going forwards. But that said, it was not easy for the new management, they were in for a great challenge given the global economy crisis, the smartphone revolution and new disruptive music services popping up. And now, as you all know, Tonium have ceased its operations.

But! I have some news for all of you. On Thursday January 12, it will finally be official that my new company 100 Milligrams have purchased the intellectual property rights for Pacemaker, something I have been trying to do for years. Taking part in this venture is my long time friend Daniel Wallner, co-founder of Tonium and the engineering genius behind Pacemaker®. I am also happy to say that we have added a fresh face and a third member to our core team, Olof Berglof, an innovative designer and marketeer. We have also been able to get a little bit of funding and the three of us are now working day and night to transform Pacemaker into the new music and technology landscape.

We would also like to help supporting PMD users in the best kind of way. Your forum is fantastic and we will point people in your direction as well as trying to be here ourselves as much as possible. When it comes to hardware problems, we will try to be as helpful as we can by providing component information, schematics etc. Unfortunately we cannot promise new firmware versions, at least not for some time. We just do not have the necessary manpower. However, we will in time make sure the auto upgrade from Pacemaker® Editor is working and the GPL source code from Pacemaker Device will be available on SourceForge.

I will personally update you on the progress of the New Pacemaker Project and let me know if you have any questions or ideas.

Cheers,

Jonas (@jonorberg)

How awesome is that!!!
Can’t wait to see what comes next… Open is the way forward, open hardware, open software, open idles…

End of the zune, ipod and the pacemaker?

The Pacemaker in use

I think we can pretty much say its the end of the road for the Mpeg3 players.

Microsoft pretty much ported the zune software to their new Microsoft Phone 7 operating system, Apple have done the same and look to be killing the ipod range finally. The single purpose music player is pretty much out for the count.

So what about the Tonium Pacemaker?

Well Tonium went bust a while ago… and the thread is tonium alive? charts the disastrous mistakes which were made over time…

Now everyones trying to get the source code, so we can try and extend the life of such a great product…

Can’t believe I’ve owned the product for over 3 years now, I was one of the first to get it. A whole year before Engadget even. I really hope the community can get the source code because besides the poor battery life and dodgy recording of mixes on the device. There’s already people hacking in SSDs into the Pacemaker, so there’s plenty of people up for compiling and hacking around.

Interesting segway – we’re finally setting a challenge for the next evolution or even revolution in djing at the Mozilla festival later this year…

Opinionated software

It is opinionated vision-driven software

37signals say Agnostic software is bull

Some people argue software should be agnostic. They say it’s arrogant for developers to limit features or ignore feature requests. They say software should always be as flexible as possible.

We think that’s bullshit. The best software has a vision. The best software takes sides. When someone uses software, they’re not just looking for features, they’re looking for an approach. They’re looking for a vision. Decide what your vision is and run with it.

To be honest I’d never really heard the term till David Eastman said it on Techgrumps recently

We were using it in the context of Ubuntu 11.04 but it equally applies to iOS and many other operating systems and software.

Is it a good thing or bad thing? Hard to say, but to be honest I’ve not really seen much advantages to opinionated software right now…

Hacked Kinect, welcome to the future

Hacked kinect brings futuristic user interface Found via Tdobson on twitter,

Microsoft’s Kinect is a marvelous piece of technology. However with Microsoft trying to lock it with only the Xbox while there could be several amazing uses for it, Adafruit announced a bounty for anyone who develop an opensource driver for it.

Hector Martin developed the driver and won the bounty. He also released the driver as libfreenect. Now we have the first application which use libfreenect to use Kinect as an input device.

Interesting stuffs await!

Amazing!!! Kudos to the hackers, I can’t wait to hear what’s next…

Using Inkscape for presentations

For ages now I have been seeking a better way to do certain presentations. I tend to spend a lot of time in Inkscape mapping out ideas but I don’t really want to put slides on different layers.

I bought a copy of dan roam’s the back of a napkin a while ago and I’ve been influenced by the idea of using white boards, mood boards, etc to explain ideas. The problem is that once you put the effort in to putting down the idea on to the canvas, you then have to re-adapt it to a presentation with Open Office. Its why I kind of like the idea of the unlimited canvas.

Prezi was talked about and overused to death a while ago, now you hardly see it. I blogged about it a while ago and decided that there must be a better more open way to do the same.

I have been thinking maybe some enterprising group of people could take the SVG specification and build a tool which generates these exact same presentations. So first up you can use scripts on every element including the viewpoint attribute. There seems to be a load of things you can do with the Canvas coordinate system. SVG 1.1 has the ability to embed certain multimedia but SVG Foreign Object could be used to place a browser or a complete video within a SVG.

You could imagine a specially made tool which worked like Prezi but wouldn’t need to be propitery and locked in. They could even create and sell a player and editor backed with its online space, so the business model isn’t totally shattered. Even if a rival tried to create the same, OpenPrezi as I’m coining it would be first to the market and have a wealth of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Even a track record might go down well. So in my mind, there’s no way I will be using Prezi till its a lot more open. I’m sure even I could with a bit of time construct something using the SVG methods I mentioned. I’m not questioning the method or even the concept, it actually reminds me of mood boards. Its the implementation which winds me up.

Well my questions have been answered by some enterprising group of people.

Jessyink is the answer…

JessyInk, an open-source extension to the open-source SVG editor InkScape.

Perfect, so once I’ve created my master piece, its hopefully going to take a few more moments to turn it into something presentable. I’m not the only person to realise the power of this setup. Prezi vs JessyInk

The first time I heard about Prezi, I started looking for a possible equivalent in SVG, and I discovered that JessyInk was a pretty good candidate: it combines a Javascript library that deals with enabling simple navigation through a SVG document according to some conventions, with an extension to the fantastic InkScape SVG editor to make it possible to integrate effects, transitions and views from the editor itself.

But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I got confirmation that JessyInk now provides the tools needed to build Prezi-like effects, and so, when I was invited to talk on “W3C and the Social Web” at the 10th anniversary of the W3C Italian office I decided to give it a try to build my presentation.

The resulting “slides” were OK, but they clearly remain much more “slide-based” than what I would have done with Prezi.

A big reason for that is that JessyInk still uses slide as the basic unit for its operations – slides are based on Inkscape layers across which you can have transitions. This doesn’t encourage working on a completely 2D-based presentation, even though it allows fairly easily to zoom in and out in a particular slide.

So it looks like JessyInk might have a bright future in front of it. The presentations are not quite as free flowing as Prezi, but to be fair its a good compromise. Open source comes up with the goods, and what a true test of the power of Open source! Fantastic, where do I start!

Some nice cool things happening on a ubuntu box near you now

This is the new look Ubuntu or rather the new default theme in Ubuntu 10.04. I’m not totally convinced, I prefer my own sand and jade themes but its good to see the brown theme will go away.

Ubuntu seems to be one step closer to a semantic desktop with the use of Gnome Zeitgeist is Gnome Activity Journal, zeitgeist-filesystem and other bits…

Zeitgeist is a service which logs the users’s activities and events (files opened, websites visites, conversations hold with other people, etc.) and makes relevant information available to other applications. It is able to establish relationships between items based on similarity and usage patterns.

Nice (check out this great video) but can I get the thing working? Well I got the engine running but I can’t get the activity journal working. Luckily it looks like it will make its way into Gnome 3.0 (which we will have to wait for 10.10). If your a KDE user don’t worry there’s also a Semantic desktop strand coming your way.

Me menu is like a idea I had a long time ago. I always wondered why you couldn’t set your status in one application and for the others to also pick that up. So from memory the picture I mocked up was me editing my status in Gwibber and it automatically updated my Skype and Pidgin statuses too. Well now Me menu pretty much does that. Oh and did you see the next generation of Gwibber? Kind of looks like Tweetdeck but not.

Inkscape is simply great software

Inkscape logo

I would just love to say, I upgraded my inkscape the other day because I needed to do something using vectors. In my younger days I would instantly use Adobe Illustrator but I really don't feel the need to any more. Inkscape 4.3 is as stable as a brick house (honestly never crashed ever, like previous versions) and although not quite working quite like illustrator. I'm really getting into the way it works now. I also felt so happy about Inkscape, that I decided to add my core but simple illustration to the openclipart project. You can see the whole thing here, till they move it. I provided the object under a public domain licence, so anyone can do what they like to it. I was tempted to do a whole range for XML, XSD, CSS, etc. But thought I'd leave it for now. But maybe one day soon I'll do it. It feel so good to beable to do this with opensource software.

You can't help but feel the tables are turning and there will be enough openclipart and applications like Inkscape to do everything in a opensource environment. Oh whoops, of course there already is. But these new crop like Inkscape, Firefox, Thunderbird, VLC, Koffice, Scribus, Openoffice, Gimp, etc really are getting the basics right and win market and mindshare. The google code thing has got me thinking that actually its time I started working with SVG a lot more like I use to. I mean there are people who can see it now and its growing as more browsers come out supporting SVG. Expect to see more inline SVG on this blog as time goes on. I dropped a SVG in this page just for testing purposes. Hey and what a great name for software? Inkscape. What more can I say, oh did I say how great the connector tool is? OMNIGrapple? Don't need it, I got Inkscape thank you very much.

The new Connector tool was used for a preliminary design of these flowcharts, when it was critical to keep items connected all the time while looking for the best layout. The flowchart lines were then edited with the Node tool.Diagrammers everywhere will find this tool invaluable. Connectors stay attached and automatically route to avoid marked objects as the drawing is updated. After the layout work is finished, connectors can be adjusted with the node tool.

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