We finally have a tool to flash Tasmota (and other .bin files) with a click of a mouse to Sonoff devices

Date Published: Wed, 26 Feb 2020 12:42:41 +0200

Do you remember the times when flashing ESP8285, ESP8266 or ESP32 was complicated? I have at least 2 tutorials that walk you through the process. It’s 2020 and we finally have a tool to flash Tasmota (and other .bin files) with a click of a mouse, with the minimal setup: Tasmotizer! And what a name (and logo) it comes with!

Yes we still have the hassle of the pin connections to the board, but I found once that was done and the software flashed, I could remotely flash further updates with Tasmota over the LAN so its not an effort that must be done every time.

See Flashing ESP with Tasmotizer is a dream come true - Not Enough TECH

#technology #homeautomation

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How to flash Tasmota on ESP devices with new Tasmotizer tool

So what happens when the internet vanishes? E-Mail, connection to cloud services, search, Whatsapp - it happened about 77 times in 2019

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 21:30:39 +0200

When all else fails there is ham radio... but seriously it is a point to ponder as we become more and more reliant on the Internet itself. Smaller businesses especially are ditching dedicated datalines for general connection over the Internet even for local connectivity to cloud services.

Digital rights group Access Now says: "It seems more and more countries are learning from one another and implementing the nuclear option of internet shutdowns to silence critics, or perpetrate other human rights violations with no oversight." It's important therefore especially in these countries that citizens do not use the large centrally hosted foreign Internet social media.

The risk is not so much accidental outages as its true that there are multiple redundant links, and breakages mostly affect gamers and response times rather than breaking services. The growing risk in many countries is the deliberate shut-down by their own governments mostly in the 3rd world countries. But 1st world countries have been known to do localised shut-downs to quell serious protects.

Russia is probably the only country that has tested the continuation of its in-country Internet services whilst cut-off from external DNS and other services (China works that way permanently, so they are probably least affected). So if country "X" decides it needs to cut off its Internet externally in future for whatever reason, such an action could well paralyse its own internal services. If their government is using Whatsapp for communications (based in USA), that also goes down the tubes and is dead. In some cases a particular centralised service gets blacked out (eg. Whatsapp, Twitter or Facebook).

It suggests to me more and more you must not lose your localised capabilities, you need to have access to your business data within your country, you want to ensure also you have two or three social networks that you have access to (even better if they are peer-to-peer or decentralised such as Scuttlebutt, Diaspora or Mastodon as these have no single domain to be blocked). I recently heard from someone in China who could talk about the Coronavirus as he was connecting out via Scuttlebutt.

So I'm mirroring my e-mail onsite again instead of just using GMail via webaccess and my next step is to look at firing up my e-mail via my own domain name and hosting service, so even if Google goes out of business my e-mail continues. A domain name is not expensive and as long as you renew it annually, you own it, and can move it to any hosting provider without changing your e-mail or website address.

See What happens when the internet vanishes?

#technology #censorship

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During a troublesome protest or tricky election, some countries just cut the online cord.

How to unroll a Twitter thread using the ThreadReaderApp bot

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 18:22:51 +0200

The beauty of Twitter is that every message is constrained to 280 characters and under, but sometimes you simply can’t get all your thoughts across in just a single tweet. Or perhaps you’re following a live news story and you need to follow the thread to read the news as it develops so there’s context for what happened earlier.

Whatever the reason, sometimes Twitter threads can get long, which can make them difficult to follow. Thankfully, there’s a bot that can help piece those tweets together into one piece of text without all the extra replies from anyone other than the person who originally started the thread. This is called “unrolling” a thread, and it’s created by a tool called @threadreaderapp, which lets you combine tweetstorms into one single post simply by using the keyword “unroll.”

See how to use it, and it's limitations, at How to unroll a Twitter thread

#technology #twitter

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A useful bot can help you piece long Twitter threads in one easy-to-read post.

ZX Spectrum Next - The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:53:12 +0200

Decades have come and gone and the Speccy is still alive and kicking. New games are being launched all the time, the demoscene carries on pushing the hardware limits to the unimaginable, artists keep on creating great 8-bit eyecandy and music with it. Alongside this there are thousands of awesome games in the back catalogue to play.

Meanwhile hardware hackers around the world have expanded the ZX Spectrum to support SD card storage, feature new and better video modes, pack more memory, faster processor... Problem is, these expansions can be difficult to get hold of, and without a standardised Spectrum, no one knows what to support or develop for.

Here is our answer: The Spectrum Next - an updated and enhanced version of the ZX Spectrum totally compatible with the original, featuring the major hardware developments of the past many years packed inside a simple (and beautiful) design by the original designer, Rick Dickinson, inspired by his seminal work at Sinclair Research.

As at 15 Feb 2020 there were 3,113 backers for this KickStarter crowd funding project.

See https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1835143999/zx-spectrum-next/description

#technology #hardware #retro

Leaked EU proposal reveals plan to make smartphone batteries easier to replace - We really all need this!

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 16:51:44 +0200

Replacing a dead battery on smartphones used to be quite easy not so long ago. It didn’t require any professional help and users could easily pop the back cover open to access the replaceable battery. And having a replaceable battery on your smartphone was more of a norm than an exception. These days, however, replacing a dead battery on your smartphone is a herculean task that requires specialized equipment and poses the risk of voiding the warranty. But this might change soon as the EU is currently mulling over a plan to make smartphone batteries easily replaceable once again.

According to a recent report from Dutch financial publication Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), the EU wants to force electronics manufacturers to facilitate easier battery replacements. Sustainability seems to be the core idea behind this proposal, as easier battery replacements will allow people to use their smartphones for a longer duration, thereby generating lesser electronic waste. A leaked draft for the proposal was recently procured by FD and it reveals that Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the ‘Green Deal’ at the European Commission, will be presenting it mid-March. The EU is reportedly adding the finishing touches to the proposal, which will reportedly enforce wider product recycling, re-use of raw material, and more sustainable production.

With the cost of smartphones easily exceeding $1,000 or more now, and batteries often being the weakness (and not insurable for wear and tear), we really need these measures. Imagine being able to just pop in a replacement battery into your iPhone (only joking, we all know Apple will not bow to this). I still sit with the bitter taste in my mouth over my failed Nexus 6P battery. It was a massive job to replace the non-replaceable battery and would have been so much easier to have been able to pop the back open and put a new battery in. These measures would certainly extend the useful life of these very expensive devices.

See Leaked EU proposal reveals plan to make smartphone batteries easier to replace

#technology #environment

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A leaked proposal suggests that the EU is planning to force manufacturers to make smartphone batteries easily replaceable.

Firefox turns controversial new encryption on by default in the US - DNS over HTTPS will be rolling out over the coming weeks

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 16:35:36 +0200

Starting today, Mozilla will turn on by default DNS over HTTPS (DoH) for Firefox users in the US, the company has announced. DoH is a new standard that encrypts a part of your internet traffic that’s typically sent over an unencrypted plain text connection, and which could allow others to see what websites you’re visiting, even when your communication with the website itself is encrypted using HTTPS. Mozilla says it is the first browser to support the new standard by default, and will be rolling it out gradually over the coming weeks in order to address any unforeseen issues.

Mozilla is motivated in part by ISPs who monitor customers’ web usage. US carriers like Verizon and AT&T are building massive ad-tracking networks. DoH won't stop the data collection but it’ll likely make it more difficult.

Although it’s much harder for others to see your DNS lookups with DoH enabled, the websites will still be visible to the DNS server your browser is connecting to. Thus, Mozilla says Firefox will offer a choice of two trusted DNS providers, Cloudflare and NextDNS, and that Cloudflare will be used as the default.

See Firefox turns controversial new encryption on by default in the US

#technology #privacy

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The technology has faced criticism from lawmakers.

Electric car charging stations have been growing at an exponential rate while the number of gas stations are declining

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 15:12:07 +0200

Electric car charging stations have been growing at an exponential rate. With every manufacturer planning to make the eventual transition towards electric vehicles, throwing up infrastructure has become a potentially lucrative investment. While the number of gas stations are declining, EV chargers continue to grow. EVAdoption points out that as of March 2019, there were over 63,000 level 2 and up charging stations in the US.

But the future of electric car charging stations isn’t just about quantity, there’s much to improve. For one, level two chargers are not ideal and have become quite dated. They provide just 70 miles of range in an hour. While fine for at home overnight charging, the speeds aren’t convenient during travel. That’s where DC fast charging comes into play. They typically provide up to an 80% charge in just 20-30 minutes. But the future of electric car charging stations isn’t just about quantity, there’s much to improve. For one, level two chargers are not ideal and have become quite dated. They provide just 70 miles of range in an hour. While fine for at home overnight charging, the speeds aren’t convenient during travel. That’s where DC fast charging comes into play. They typically provide up to an 80% charge in just 20-30 minutes.

More innovations are covered in Electric Car Charging Solutions Continue To Evolve but it certainly looks like the "point is starting to tip"....

#environment #EV

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Electric car charging stations have been growing at an exponential rate. With every manufacturer planning to make the eventual transition towards electric vehicles, throwing up infrastructure has become a potentially lucrative investment. While the number of gas stations are declining, EV chargers continue to grow. EVAdoption points out that as of March 2019, there were over 63,000 level 2 and up charging stations in the US.

Best Free and Open Source Slack Alternatives for Team Communication

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 15:00:02 +0200

Slack is one of the most popular team communication services for work. Some may call it a glorified IRC but that doesn’t impact its popularity. It is available for free with additional features offered in its paid plans. Though Slack can be installed on Linux thanks to an Electron app but it is not open source, neither the client nor the server.

A further issue with Slack is that you cannot install and manage it on your premises so your data sits in another country.

The linked article runs through the acknowledged best free alternatives such as Riot, Rocket Chat, Zulip Chat, Wire and Mattermost.

See Top 5 Open Source Slack Alternatives for Team Communication

#technology #collaboration #alternativesto

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Looking for an open source alternative to Slack? Here are some of the best open source team communication software you can try.

GIMP 2.10.18 Released, Includes New 3D Transform Tool and better .PSD support

Date Published: Tue, 25 Feb 2020 11:07:35 +0200

First off the bat is a major change to the toolbox, the left-hand panel used for switching between tools. Similar tools are now grouped together by default. This update also brings improved support for .PSD files.

GIMP 2.10.18 also sports a new 3D Transform tool. This addition makes it ridiculously easily to angle and move 2D layers on the X, Y, and Z axis (aka 3D space).

See GIMP 2.10.18 Released, Includes New 3D Transform Tool - OMG! Ubuntu!

#opensource #graphics

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GIMP 2.10.18 has been released. This version of the open source image editor adds a 3D transform tool, toolbox groups, and better Photoshop file support.

My video overview of Elgg - an open source drop-in social collaboration platform for any organisation

Date Published: Mon, 24 Feb 2020 21:45:46 +0200

Elgg is an award-winning open source social networking engine that provides a robust framework on which to build all kinds of social environments, from a campus wide social network for your university, school or college or an internal collaborative platform for your organisation through to a brand-building communications tool for your company and its clients.

It is easily installed for free as a self-hosted solution and in the video I give an overview of what it does and how easy it is to configure. The video tour will show you all its basic functionality and this will help you decide if something like Elgg could be suitable for your organisation.

Some of its functions:
* Group collaboration around documents, news, voting polls, events
* Basic event management
* Blogs, Bookmarks
* Static web pages
* Customised profiles and interactions with friends such as likes and commenting
* Powerful tagging and searching
* User management over notifications and abuse reporting
* Extended functionality through 3rd party plugins

Watch at Video overview of Elgg - an open source drop-in social collaboration platform for any organisation

#opensource #collaboration #technology

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Elgg is an award-winning open source social networking engine that provides a robust framework on which to build all kinds of social environments, from a cam...

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