Heavy users of Flatpak apps will appreciate Flatseal, a new GTK app that makes managing Flatpak permissions a lot easier

Date Published: Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:42:45 +0200

As a sandboxed app format, Flatpak apps have to request individual permission to access different parts of your system or your configured hardware. e.g., permission to access the network, permission to show notifications, permission to read files in you ~/Downloads folder.

As of GNOME 3.32 it’s possible to manage Flatpak app permissions on a per-app basis using the “Applications” section in System Settings.

Flatseal offers very similar features to those natively available, but within a slightly more efficient overview.

See Flatseal Makes it Easy to Manage Flatpak Permissions - OMG! Ubuntu!

#opensource #flatpak #linux

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Flatseal is a GUI app that makes it easy to manage Flatpak app permissions on a per-app basis. Free software, Flatseal is available to install from Flathub.

Top hacks for the YaCy peer-to-peer open source search engine

Date Published: Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:38:48 +0200

One of the most exciting things about YaCy, however, is the fact that it's a local client. Each user owns and operates a node in a globally distributed search engine infrastructure, which means each user is in full control of how they navigate and experience the World Wide Web.

For instance, Google used to provide the URL google.com/linux as a shortcut to filter searches for Linux-related topics. It was a small feature that many people found useful, but topical shortcuts were dropped in 2011.

YaCy makes it possible to customize your search experience.

See Top hacks for the YaCy open source search engine

#opensource #p2p

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In my article about getting started with YaCy, I explained how to install and start using the YaCy peer-to-peer search engine. One of the most exciting things about YaCy, however, is the fact that it's a local client. Each user owns and operates a node in a globally distributed search engine infrastructure, which means each user is in full control of how they navigate and experience the World Wide Web.

New South African Lithium-Ion Cell Mega-Factory, Plans For 32 GWh/Year By 2028 - Hopes To Put Southern Africa On Path To Battery Manufacturing Self Sufficiency

Date Published: Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:32:50 +0200

The battery storage market in South Africa is expected to grow significantly going forward as companies and homes look to cushion themselves from ongoing electricity blackouts. Eskom, the stated-owned utility company, has been battling to keep the lights on during peak demand hours. Electricity blackouts are expected for at least another 18 months according to some reports.

One company plans to take South Africa’s battery manufacturing a step further by manufacturing the Li-ion cells locally. The Megamillion Energy Company outlined its plans at the Batteries and Electric Vehicles Conference recently hosted by the uYilo eMobility Programme.

This does look very promising too with the coming EV revolution but I really hope this announcement is going to go the same way as the recently launched cellphone manufacturing plant. As long as politics stays well out of it, it should be fine.

See New South African Lithium-Ion Cell Mega-Factory, Plans For 32 GWh/Year By 2028

#environment

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The battery storage market in South Africa is expected to grow significantly going forward as companies and homes look to cushion themselves from ongoing electricity blackouts. Eskom, the stated-owned utility company, has been battling to keep the lights on during peak demand hours. Electricity blackouts are expected for at least another 18 months according to some reports.

Open source vs. proprietary: What's the difference? These are more practical differences than usually seen

Date Published: Sun, 9 Feb 2020 14:11:42 +0200

Key reasons:
1. Data ownership - apart from being able to export your data (you should have the right to export your data) but can you use that exported data in any other place, and do you have the right to decide how your data can be exchanged with any other 3rd party platform or application (or are you locked into using it within the primary application only?).
2. Working for yourself (and your Community) or for the company - who gains from improvements you suggest or submit code for? Everyone or just a private company selling their software? Will you have to pay for future version upgrades... forever?
3. The right NOT to upgrade - are you forced into changes that break the work flow that you are used to? Can you opt to say no, I want o carry on with exactly what I have?  Can you go back say 10 years from today and re-install software you used back then, or is it just no longer available?
4. Do you have independence of open collaboration and sharing with others (or must they purchase first in order to share and collaborate with you - certainly not something any government or non-profit would want).

See Open source vs. proprietary: What's the difference?

#opensource

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There's a lot to be learned from open source projects. After all, managing hundreds of disparate, asynchronous commits and bugs doesn't happen by accident. Someone or something has to coordinate releases, and keep all the code and project roadmaps organized. It's a lot like life. You have lots of tasks demanding your attention, and you have to tend to each in turn. To ensure everything gets done before its deadline, you try to stay organized and focused.

What is WireGuard? Why Linux Users Going Crazy Over it? It's Lean Code, Cross-Platform, Latest Cryptography, and will be embedded in the Linux Kernel

Date Published: Sun, 9 Feb 2020 10:58:26 +0200

Apart from being a cross-platform, one of the biggest plus point for WireGuard is the ease of deployment. Configuring and deploying WireGuard is as easy as configuring and using SSH.

Look at WireGuard set up guide. You install WireGuard, generate public and private keys (like SSH), set up firewall rules and start the service. Now compare it to the OpenVPN set up guide. There are way too many things to do here.

Another good thing about WireGuard is that it has a lean codebase with just 4000 lines of code. Compare it to 100,000 lines of code of OpenVPN (another popular open source VPN). It is clearly easier to debug WireGuard.

Don’t go by its simplicity. WireGuard supports all the state-of-the-art cryptography like like the Noise protocol framework, Curve25519, ChaCha20, Poly1305, BLAKE2, SipHash24, HKDF, and secure trusted constructions.

See What is WireGuard? Why Linux Users Going Crazy Over it?

#opensource #security #cryptography

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From normal Linux users to Linux creator Linus Torvalds, everyone is in awe of WireGuard. What is WireGuard and what makes it so special?

Hong Kong Protestors Using Bridgefy (iOS and Android) Messaging App China Can't Block

Date Published: Sun, 9 Feb 2020 08:47:00 +0200

How do you communicate when the government censors the internet? With a peer-to-peer mesh broadcasting network that doesn't use the internet. That's exactly what Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have been doing, thanks to San Francisco startup Bridgefy's Bluetooth-based messaging app. The protesters can communicate with each other — and the public — using no persistent managed network.

This is very similar to how Aether and Scuttlebutt P2P is working over the Internet, and in fact the Manyverse mobile app for Scuttlebutt works in the same way - either over the Internet, Bluetooth or Wifi, and using the other peers it connects to, to pass the messaging on. It really does work and you can work in offline mode and once it connects to a peer it picks up new messages and passes on any messages you have composed.

Which is why as governments are clamping down more and more, more citizens around the world are moving to decentralised and peer-to-peer social networks. I'm seeing a constant uptake with new members joining daily from around the world. Interesting thing is the countries I see most often are Europe, USA, New Zealand  and Australia (based on new member welcomes).

See Hong Kong Protestors Using Mesh Messaging App China Can't Block: Usage Up 3685%

#socialnetworks #protests #privacy

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Mesh networking: how you communicate when China censors the internet.

Hamnet Western Cape Assists With Emergency Communications At the 99er 2020 Cycle Race In Durbanville, Cape Town

Date Published: Sat, 8 Feb 2020 21:46:12 +0200
Dave Reece operating the radio

It was my first venture as a volunteer radio ham to work with Hamnet WC. Hamnet itself has done many such events over the years for many of the major public sporting events including cycling, road running and car rallies. Hamnet is comprised of dedicated licensed radio amateurs who volunteer their time to assist the various emergency services with extending and coordinating their communications especially into rural and more hard to reach areas where emergency services do not have the use of high site repeaters or mobile repeaters / digipeaters that radio hams can deploy in the field. Our APRS system is designed to operate completely independently of the Internet (for wilderness operations) so although some of it can be seen on the global APRS map, we are not using that map for field operations, and our map also translates the radio callsigns into the designations we are using for the operation such as AMB1, R1, M1 for ambulances, rovers and marshals.

For this event we had two main focus areas:

1. Making use of the APRS system requires the use of a licensed ham radio frequency (144.800MHz) where Hamnet supplied APRS tracking devices to ambulances, marshals, front/back markers and to Rover vehicles so that we could monitor in real-time where all the vehicles were as well as the front and back of both races. Because of the hilly terrain we also deployed one mobile digipeater at a farm to cover the APRS signal for some normally blind areas. We could provide this monitoring on a map to Metro Emergency Medical Services who was located alongside us at the Joint Operations Control (JOC). Metro EMS used this to deploy their ambulances to where they were needed.

2. We also provided 7 of our private vehicles with our own radios and trackers to act as Rovers moving up and down different sections of the race to call in for the necessary assistance from the JOC when required. The vehicles were able to use our nearest high-site repeater for comms but we also had a simplex channel ready for use for relaying between vehicles if one of them could not use the repeater.

The planning started a few weeks back with Dave Reece our Hamnet Information Officer attending the pre-briefings with the organisers and then doing all his ops planning which is distributed to the volunteers who met during last week to finalise all the finer details. The day itself started at 04:30 already with setting up all the equipment and getting trackers installed. My chief role was to record the radio log of events at the JOC which kept me full time busy as the longest break between transmissions was about 2 to 3 minutes, and we only started packing up by 13:30 when the temperature was hitting 32 degrees Celsius.

Luckily there were no serious incidents and it was mostly broken bicycles and dehydration cases. It is an event that allows radio amateurs to exercise their coordination with other emergency services and also to practice their own radio skills.

Pictured below is Dave Reece ZS1DFR busy on the APRS computer with the mapping. To his left is the radio log computer, and on his right is the Go-Box with the two main radios at the top (for repeaters) and one below it for receiving the APRS signals. A Go-Box is a box ready to be picked up as-is and deployed in the field.

Although Hamnet operates much behind the scenes it fulfils a vital communication link function due to its members not only having access to a variety of radio equipment and frequencies, but you'll see a tremendous amount of skill regarding making a plan to get things to work technically - experimentation is second nature to many radio hams. Hamnet also prepares itself for work without cellphone or Internet communications during disasters (like their counterparts all around the world). For reason, it has very close ties with Provincial Disaster Management and in fact usually uses their venue for monthly meetings.

"When everything else fails, amateur radio will still be there"

#hamnet #amateurradio #hamradio

Open source takes on managing and securing the electrical grid to securely collect data and monitor, control, and manage smart devices on the grid

Date Published: Sat, 8 Feb 2020 21:35:34 +0200

Dutch distribution system operator Alliander created it as an Open Smart Grid Platform (OSGP). GXF is a scalable and technology-agnostic Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform. It enables grid operators to securely collect data and monitor, control, and manage smart devices on the grid.

The purpose of GXF is to decrease the overall complexity and associated maintenance costs of accessing these devices by creating a single generic method of abstracting data access. In short, this is a way of bringing system integration to the electrical grid. GXF also comes with a set of security recommendations to keep the hackers from turning off your lights.

Electrical grids are critical in today's world with most things being powered by electrically, even down to sewerage systems. Unfortunately, like motor vehicles, grids are playing catch-up to modern technology, but they need to for two reasons: Apart from hacker vulnerabilities there is also now distributed renewable energy which requires far smarter grids.

See Open source takes on managing and securing the electrical grid | ZDNet

#opensource #utilities

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LF Energy and Alliander Announce a program -- GXF -- to securely manage the modern electrical grid's Industrial Internet of Things.

7 Best Safety Razor Blades That Provide a Perfect Shave - Sharpest Is Not Always Best

Date Published: Sat, 8 Feb 2020 20:41:53 +0200

I'd certainly also recommend the same Astra Platinum as a good all-rounder. They are smooth and long-lasting for most razors. Super sharp blades like the Feathers are fine for many people in a less aggressive razor but I find they can nick a bit if you are in a hurry and the razor is more aggressive.

It's always a good idea to try a few different blades out as razors and skin differs. There is simply no "single best" blade for everyone.

See 7 Best Safety Razor Blades That Provide a Perfect Shave 2020

#traditionalshaving #wetshaving

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A safety razor is only as good as its blade. Here's our review (and guide) of the 7 best safety razor blades 2020.

DarQ enables per-app forced dark mode on Android 10 without root

Date Published: Sat, 8 Feb 2020 15:23:28 +0200

The system-wide dark mode feature was one that users had been requesting for years, and they finally got their wish in Android 10. However, there is still room for improvement. While Google added a developer option to force all apps to turn on dark mode (even those that hadn’t been specifically updated with the feature), there is no way in stock Android to enable a forced dark mode on a per-app basis. As expected, the XDA community came to the rescue. XDA Recognized Developer Quinny899 released the DarQ app in June, letting users enable per-app forced dark mode.

It does this by using an ADB script, which has to be downloaded separately. The app now requires the user to grant it ADB shell-level permissions so that it can run the same command of the forced dark mode option without needing root.

See DarQ enables per-app forced dark mode on Android 10 without root

#technology #android

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DarQ is an app that lets users enable a forced dark mode on a per-app basis on Android 10. It now works without root thanks to the use of an ADB script.

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