Escape From Facebookistan - Can a public sphere worth living in ever be built online?

Posted on: Mon, 2018-05-21 - 21:22 By: admin

Escape From Facebookistan - Can a public sphere worth living in ever be built online?

I remember not too long ago myself punting that a business really just needs Facebook Page and no longer needs to create and run their own website.... That was because assumptions were made that everyone was on Facebook (or would be), our SMS messages and friends contacts were not being invaded, and there were no shady background companies harvesting all sorts of data from it for profit.

Some takeaways from the linked article are:

"Although the social networking platform, which was then only three years old, was already an online powerhouse, ranking eleventh in annual web traffic, politicians knew very little about it, other than a vague notion that Facebook would help them reach young people"

"With 68 percent of Americans currently using Facebook, it has become the nation’s de facto digital public square, at least in part because the country’s political leaders lacked the civic imagination to insist on a public alternative. With their tacit approval, Facebook built a giant garden for its users, walled off from the open internet. And then, taking advantage of its popularity, Facebook started copying and replacing older public forms of civic engagement with new ones that only live inside its platform. "

"Think about it: To participate in a politician’s Facebook group or a Facebook town hall meeting with an elected representative, you have to be a member of Facebook. Imagine being told that to attend a public meeting of your school board or to join a local community organization, you had to agree to let a private corporation amass a dossier about you."

"It’s a problem because democracy cannot function inside a surveillance machine. Even if you aren’t on Facebook, your world is being powerfully warped by its dominance, to the point where Americans now have trouble imagining a civic life that exists outside its systems."

"The Internet was originally a public good, built with taxpayer dollars that supported the early research that created its protocols and the nonprofit communications backbone that allowed millions of people to start connecting to it. "

"So instead of protecting this new “federal park” from commercialization, America’s leaders gave the job of stewarding the internet to private corporations and invited them to build it as a hub for commerce. "

And is there any solution? Well, partly and one would think the ideal is for a government in the interests of its citizens to provide a more neutral open platform... but unfortunately governments also seem intent on knowing specifically what their citizens are up to.... We probably need to think a bit broader as even the voluntary federated networks are probably not grabbing the buy-in it was thought they would do (and how would they scale to a billion or more users?):

"How can we even begin to tackle such a big problem? Government agencies and elected officials can take the lead by shutting down their Facebook presences, at least until the company radically changes how it handles user data. The large civil society organizations that use Facebook, such as PETA and the AARP, can step up to demand more of the company, too. But if Americans truly want a digital public forum centered on the needs of the citizenry, it has to be built and maintained the same way they’ve built and maintained America’s national parks—as public goods open to all."



Reclaiming the Internet
In the ’90s, American politicians sold off what was once a public good. Can a decent digital forum ever be built again?
Posted on: Mon, 2018-05-21 - 20:08 By: admin

A Shaving review of a 50+ year old Gillette Slim Adjustable Razor

Wow 50+ years later, after seeing decades of use, this razor still shaves fine. Wondering if today's Gillette Fusion razors will be able to say the same in 2065 (no of course not, as Gillette won't be making the same proprietary cartridge blades)?

I inherited my dad's old Gillette Fatboy razor which is very similar to this one (slightly shorter handle and fatter head) also from the same era, and after cleaning it up it also worked fine (and you can still get perfectly fitting blades for it worldwide).

There is a bit more info about this Slim variant at

Watch the video at

#traditionalwetshaving #safetyrazor

Posted on: Sun, 2018-05-20 - 19:14 By: admin

Gas Stations Will Adapt To Benefit From Electric Vehicles

If you think Big Oil is oblivious to the threat that electric vehicles pose to industry profits, think again. BP has forecast that oil demand will peak in the 2030s as EVs enter the mainstream. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell has said the next car he purchases will be an EV, and the CEO of Total says he’s already driving one. At the recent CERAWeek conference in Houston, an annual gathering of players in the oil and gas fields, one of the hottest tickets was a seminar on batteries.

While some in the oil and auto industries still have their heads firmly ensconced in the sand (or perhaps another, more malodorous metaphorical location), others, notably the leaders of Europe-based oil conglomerates, are taking concrete steps to prepare for a future with fewer gas-burning vehicles.

Ironically, one of those moves could be investing more in “downstream” operations such as retail gas stations. Betting that oil demand will continue to grow in developing countries for some time, even as it shrinks in the wealthy world, Shell plans to expand its global network of gas stations and convenience stores, mostly in China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico. According to BusinessDay, Shell and rivals such as BP see retail as a way to secure demand for the fuels they refine as overall global demand heads towards a peak.


Prince Harry drove his new bride to the wedding reception in a converted 1968 electric powered Jaguar... admin Sun, 2018-05-20 - 17:52

Prince Harry drove his new bride to the wedding reception in a converted 1968 electric powered Jaguar E-Type

Prince Harry drove his new bride, wearing a Stella McCartney dress, from Windsor Castle to nearby Frogmore House in a silver blue Jaguar E-Type, originally built in 1968 but recently converted to electric power. Its number plate bore the date of Saturday's wedding -- E190518.

Jaguar launched the service to restore and convert existing E-Types to electric power -- the ultimate in upcycling -- last year as Concept Zero, but with a cost of at least $400,000 you'll need a king's ransom to afford it.
The green supercar driven by Prince Harry is based on a Series 1.5 E-Type, once described by Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car in the world," with its original gas-guzzling 3.8-liter XK engine replaced by a 295-horsepower electric motor.


'Eco E-Type': Royal newly-weds stun crowds with electrifying style
After a royal wedding unlike any seen before in Britain, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a suitably unconventional choice of vehicle in which to travel to their evening reception.
Posted on: Sun, 2018-05-20 - 16:38 By: admin

Mighty - Plays your Spotify Premium music on-the-go without a phone or Internet connection

Mighty is a simpler way to listen to your Spotify music on-the-go. Enjoy life's adventures without worrying about fragile phones, data overages, and battery drain. Disconnect from digital distractions and be one with your music for a healthier and more mindful life.

- Use your Android or iOS phone to set it up
- Works with Bluetooth & wired headphones
- Stores more than 1,000 tracks offline
- Up to five hours of listening time
- Wireless syncing through mobile app
- Playlist names spoken for easy navigation
- Drop proof & water resistant


#spotify #mighty #ipod

How Mighty Works
Joplin - and very good open source note taking and to-do application alternative to Evernote admin Sun, 2018-05-20 - 12:49

Joplin - and very good open source note taking and to-do application alternative to Evernote

This app ticks many of the boxes for most people who want something independent of Evernote:
* Can sync to OneNote, Dropbox, NextCloud, or another WebDAV network drive
* End-to-End encryption can be enabled (if for example, you are syncing outside of your own hosted storage)
* Can import from an Evernote file
* Can attach images or files to notes
* Support for extra features such as math notation and checkboxes
* Can create a tickable todo list
* Uses commonly used Github-flavoured Markdown editing
* Can create multiple notebooks and sub-notebooks
* Can tag notes
* Mobile app can save geolocation as well
* Has clients for LInux, MacOS, Windows (including portable version for USB stick), Android and iOS
* Can work from a terminal too
* Sort notes by multiple criteria - title, updated time, etc
* Support for alarms (notifications) in mobile and desktop applications
* Can work in offline mode
* Supports multiple languages (15 currently)

Yes, it won't do everything that Evernote does but this does give you maximum freedom as well as security (along with convenience). It is free and open source too so no suddenly finding Evernote has sold up and you have nowhere to put your notes.

Just take note if you want to use NextCloud read the instructions first about creating the extra folder and use the WebDAV settings. Joplin does not create the sub-folder automatically for you although it does do so with OneDrive and Dropbox.


#notes #joplin

Joplin - an open source note taking and to-do application with synchronisation capabilities
Joplin is a free, open source note taking and to-do application, which can handle a large number of notes organised into notebooks. The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor. The notes are in Markdown format.

Mapillary is a service for crowdsourcing map photos and street view

Posted on: Sat, 2018-05-19 - 20:50 By: admin

Mapillary is a service for crowdsourcing map photos and street view

Using simple tools like smartphones or action cameras anyone can collect photos that are combined into street view. Computer vision on the server-side automatically matches and combines photos across time and across users. Photos are processed with privacy-preserving blurring using face detection and license plate detection, and also extracts data from traffic signs.

Mapillary provides apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, together with tools for using action cameras like GoPro and Garmin Virb. The website shows collected public street view images with a viewed that anyone can embed. Mapillary also provides a set of APIs so that others can build solutions using the data extracted and the photos.

Capture your drives, walks, and bike rides. All images are available to improve OpenStreetMap.

For businesses, there are commercial API options as well as private repositories. With this, any organization can have the full Mapillary service in a closed environment where only users given permission may use and access the service.


#streetview #mapping

Map data from street-level imagery, powered by collaboration and computer vision
Mapillary is a collaborative street-level imagery platform for extracting map data at scale using computer vision.

Saiy is a Fully Customizable Voice Assistant that Works Offline

Posted on: Sat, 2018-05-19 - 16:56 By: admin

Saiy is a Fully Customizable Voice Assistant that Works Offline

From the time you launch the app you are reminded that this is an Open Source Project which is community driven. Brandall, the developer of the app, openly encourages your bug reports and suggestions. If you remember and loved Utter you are going to love Saiy!

Many voice command assistants have the learning curve hurdle, meaning you actually have to learn what commands are accepted and how to use them. Saiy walks you through the process with a built-in audio tutorial. During the tutorial, you will personalize the experience by telling Saiy your name and learn how to fully customize your assistant.

Customization has to be the best part of Saiy. Not only can you set up custom commands, but you can actually set up Saiy to respond with sound effects and sound clips that you load into the app. You can have Saiy respond to certain commands or questions with long, articulate, brilliant responses hand typed by you. This is sure to impress your friends.

Saiy doesn’t require a user interface and runs in the background. It’s super lightweight and totally customizable. Its functions are available no matter what screen you happen to be on at any given time. In other words, you won’t need to tap a special button or squeeze the sides of your phone to launch Saiy. It’s just sitting there ready to work. You won’t even need to launch a separate application to get the commands rolling.


Saiy is a Fully Customizable Voice Assistant that Works Offline
Saiy is an open source voice assistant that can work offline. It was originally launched in 2012 as "Utter," but now development is back in action.

US Citizens want more clean energy. Here's what they're actually willing to do to get it

Posted on: Fri, 2018-05-18 - 22:42 By: admin

US Citizens want more clean energy. Here's what they're actually willing to do to get it

Americans (US Citizens I assume) have long supported the idea of clean power. The question has always been how much effort they're willing to expend to make a green energy future a reality.

A new survey from global auditing and consulting firm Deloitte suggests the gap between environmental concern and consumer action may be shrinking. The pillars helping to bridge the divide include falling prices for solar power, higher awareness of clean energy options, growing concern about climate change and the inclinations of millennials.

"In addition to expressing broad support for renewables, residential consumers are generally striving to do more to become greener at a personal level," the report authors wrote.

In this year's Deloitte Resources Study, 68 percent of electric power buyers said they are very concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint. That's the highest percentage ever recorded in the study, topping the previous record of 65 percent in 2016. The survey found that 74 percent of respondents believe climate change is caused by human actions, up 5 points from 2017. Just 37 percent said environmental concerns are overblown, down 8 points from last year.

So despite what official US policy may say (or does not say) it is good to see actual citizens are as concerned as the rest of the world's population and are doing what they can on a personal and business level. It's just as good to see the upswing in employment figures recently in the renewable energy sector.

Another interesting factor (which could explain a lot about the official policy - which usually determined by the "older generation") is that it is the younger generation that stands out as supporters of cleaner energy and environments.


Americans want more clean energy. Here's what they'll do to get it
The gap between environmental concern and consumer action is shrinking as millennials make greener choices at home, a Deloitte study suggests.

Hardcoded Password Found in Cisco Enterprise Software, Again!

Posted on: Fri, 2018-05-18 - 19:43 By: admin

Hardcoded Password Found in Cisco Enterprise Software, Again!

Which is why, once and for all, we need to stop thinking proprietary software is any more secure than open source software. This is not the first time for Cisco and Microsoft XP was caught out a few years back with a similar issue. And the US government can stop being smug about Huawei as there is a long history of this across various brands - My best suggestion is to find good open source route software that you can audit and flash it yourself to whatever router hardware you want to use (if you want to be secure).

Cisco released 16 security advisories yesterday, including alerts for three vulnerabilities rated "Critical" and which received a maximum of 10 out of 10 on the CVSSv3 severity score.

The three vulnerabilities include a backdoor account and two bypasses of the authentication system for Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Center.

The Cisco DNA Center is a piece of software that's aimed at enterprise clients and which provides a central system for designing and deploying device configurations (aka provisioning) across a large network.

This is, arguably, a pretty complex piece of software, and according to Cisco, a recent internal audit has yielded some pretty bad results.


#cisco #backdoor

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