Conversations is an Open Source & Secure Jabber/XMPP Client for Android
If someone signs up for a WhatsApp account, they also have to agree to Facebook’s user license agreement. It’s generally understood that you trade in your privacy to use these convenient services. Although WhatsApp developers implemented end-to-end encryption as a standard feature, the app itself isn’t fully open source so it comes down to blind trust whether you believe that Whatsapp can’t collect data on you.
For a smooth messaging experience, all of the major instant messaging apps rely on Android’ss native message transfer implementation called Google Cloud Messaging (GCM). The message gets into touch with business interests before it even reaches the server. Most users aren’t willing or able to verify if the service they are using keeps its promises, and even experts can only guess if WhatsApp still fulfils certain security standards after the application has been updated. Every update requires an independent security audit which requires the cooperation of the provider—in this case Facebook.
Independence is the key here, which leads us to Conversations Messenger. It is a fully open source instant messaging app which avoids using GCM by using the XMPP protocol instead—giving control to the user. Conversations allows you to run multiple accounts simultaneously and you can even use a different account for each contact. While other messengers don’t visibly mention which server the given information is uploaded, Conversations lets the user decide which Jabber server deserves their trust. Or, you could even just use your own server. Conversations also offers a server optimized for its requirements, and the first 6 months of server use are free.
Choice separates Conversations from the crowd. The application supports switching between encryption algorithms on the fly and you can choose from three encryption algorithms: PGP, OTR, and OMEMO. While PGP and OTR are well trusted algorithms, OMEMO pushes it further. OTR was never suitable for a majority of users simply because both communication partners had to be online at the same time for message delivery. OMEMO solves this major drawback of OTR; message delivery doesn’t require both users to be online simultaneously.
Conversations is available on the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. Although the app store versions aren’t free, the application is open source so you can compile it for yourself or grab it from F-Droid.
See more info and a FAQ at http://bit.ly/2iPXa0p
Globe: World clock and time zone converter with easy 'slide to find best time'
Globe lets you track the time of any city in the world, and keep your favorites saved to your main screen. Give your locations custom names so you can easily keep track of everything. You can use the slider at the bottom of the app screen to visibly find the best time that suites multiple cities to video chat or phone each other. The app is free for up to three cities at a time.
Germany has come up with the best solution to single-use coffee cups
The German city Freiburg has taken it upon themselves to provide citizens with an easy reusable cup system. Rather than expecting its residents to bring their own, or buy a brand new one on the spot, Freiburg has created the Freiburg Cup, a hard plastic to-go cup with a disposable lid that customers can obtain with a €1 deposit and return to any one of the 100 participating businesses across the city.
Participating stores have an identifying green sticker in the window. When you return the cup, these stores will disinfect and reuse the cups, which can be reused up to 400 times.
This reusable cup option is particularly relevant in Germany where approximately 300,000 cups of coffee are consumed per hour, using 2.8 billion coffee cups a year, all of which are used for an average of 13 minutes before being tossed out.
Coal plant closures continue even as U.S. ends 'Clean Power Plan'
U.S. power firm Vistra Energy Corp said in October 2017 that it would shut two coal-fired plants for economic reasons, as closures in the industry continue apace despite the environment regulator saying this week he wanted to end the “war on coal.”
But the new closures show regulation is not the only pressure on coal. Cheap gas from record shale production over the past decade has made some older coal plants uneconomic, especially those that require costly upgrades to meet increasingly strict environmental rules, often imposed by states.
EPA officials had no immediate comment.
Coal served as the primary fuel source for U.S. power plants for a century, but its use has been declining since a peak in 2007, around the same time drillers started pulling gas out of shale formations.
Gas became the leading power plant fuel in 2016 when the amount of coal used to produce electricity fell to its lowest level since 1982, according to federal data.
Interview with Dame Patricia Routledge from 'Keeping Up Appearances'
'Keeping Up Appearances' is an absolute classic of British Comedy (think of Porridge, Thin Blue Line, Mr Bean and so many more) and I still enjoy rewatching all the episodes. And of course, the series revolves around Mrs Hyacinth Bucket. Dame Patricia Routledge looks back on her 65-year career, which includes a lot more than just Keeping Up Appearances.
She became a Dame in 2017 and I did not know she was an accomplished opera singer too.
Why waves could be the solution to powering our world
About a mile offshore from Kaneohe Bay on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, a yellow, doughnut-shaped contraption bobs up and down with the motion of the ocean. The hulking device, as wide as a school bus is long, looks a bit like a massive buoy or life raft. In fact, it’s a wave energy converter — one example of a new renewable energy technology that transforms ocean waves into electrical power.
The Lifesaver, as the device is known, is full of gears, cables, and sophisticated electronics. But while other renewable energy devices (like wind turbines and solar panels) are relatively mature technologies, wave energy converters represent a nascent technology. If wind energy has a graduate degree, says Luis Vega, manager of the Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center that’s testing the Lifesaver, “wave energy is still in the first grade.”
But Vega and other experts see big things for wave energy. If they’re right, arrays of wave energy converters moored along coastal regions of the U.S. will be providing power to millions of homes in coming decades.
Like solar and wind power, wave power harnesses energy that comes ultimately from the sun. Solar radiation causes air pressure gradients that cause wind, and wind gives its momentum to the ocean surface, producing waves. As Alam puts it, “Wave power is a very dense form of solar power.”
Just how dense? Every square meter of a solar panel receives 0.2 to 0.3 kilowatts of solar energy, Alam says, and every square meter of a wind tower absorbs 2 to 3 kilowatts. Every meter of the California coast receives 30 kilowatts of wave energy.
Wave energy has another advantage over solar and wind. Waves are easy to forecast, Brekken says. And unlike solar, which works only in daylight hours, wave energy can be harnessed 24/7.
When Waze Won't Help, Palestinians Make Their Own Maps using Maps.Me and OpenStreetMaps
When you pass from Israel into the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian Territories, Waze’s directions simply end. To keep going, you need to change your setting to allow access to “high risk” areas. Even then, GPS coverage tends to be limited.
If you’re set on crossing the often invisible dividing line between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, your best option is to close Waze and open Maps.Me. The Belarus born, now Russian owned navigation app pulls from open source mapping and can be downloaded for offline use, a crucial feature in the Territories, where there’s no 3G for Palestinian providers.
Maps.Me is more than a source of directions. It’s a database of roads, schools, squares, shops, and other landmarks that programmers have plotted through open source mapping (a Wikipedia–like system, where anyone can add their knowledge), places that otherwise would have been left largely off the radar.
Maps.me started in 2011 in Belarus, and now has around 80 million downloads, says co-founder Alexander Boresk. The company, which moved to Moscow after a Russian internet company acquired it at the end of 2014, operates on a simple premise. It takes the open source information available through http://bit.ly/2iLvw4H — a free crowd-sourced mapping service — and uses its software to operate its own map and navigation tools with the data.
The real point though is that this app draws from open source mapping, so there is a lot more control and influence that locals have got over updating and improving the maps.
See https://www.wired.com/story/palestine-jerusalem-mapping/ and you can download the mobile apps for iOS and Android from http://bit.ly/2kMSbBL.
Google Maps to Give Real-Time Notifications Soon during Transit Journeys
The objective of the update is to give an individual real-time alert when he/she is on their transit journey. This update would come in the Google Maps application and would most significantly appear on the Android lock screen.
As per the understanding, Google Maps would also be reminding one to get off the bus or train upon getting closer to the target. This would be beneficial especially when one is travelling somewhere new or sleepy. The notifications would be appearing on the locked screen which is again something novel. The most attractive feature is that the update is interactive, so one can scroll right via the journey’s steps.
Manjaro Linux – One Of The Finest Linux Distros
Yes nothing evokes as much emotion and debate in the Linux world amongst Linux users as their choice of distro and desktop UI… Everyone is right though as everyone's needs are different and there are so many good choices to choose from. So we often run (and switch) different distros and desktops but we all use the Linux kernel and most of the same apps run on all distros (they just install a bit differently).
That said I'm very happy with Majaro Linux (I run the KDE flavour) and yes it is probably now good enough for first-time users. The installation may lack some of the Mint and Ubuntu polish but for example, it is quite seamless when it comes to Nvidia cards. It is probably as easy (maybe easier without having to install Nvidia drivers separately) than even Windows to run Steam games. Apart from CSX Heavy Haul Train Sim I've got a great selection of games that run under Steam on Linux.
See the review at http://bit.ly/2iN1wW8
Euro Truck Sim 2 map expansion – Italia has just been released
You'd have to watch this video very carefully to realise this is a sim and not real life! Over 11,000km of new roads throughout Italy with all the Italian detail you'd expect to see.
Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=136&v=6Q9WzdSfOLs or the announcement at http://blog.scssoft.com/2017/12/italia-fan-made-videos-reviews.html which contains links to more videos.