Adding kill switches to protect your privacy is not as simple as you might think

The use of modern electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, smart phones, smart watches, smart speakers and autonomous vehicles are a growing threat to people’s privacy and security because these devices not only have the ability to collect massive amounts of very personal data, but they rely on a whole host of services from companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Tencent, Alibaba and Yandex which mine that personal data for profit, or companies like Samsung, Apple or Tesla, which are collecting that data to better train their AIs.

Governmental agencies like the US’s National Security Agency (NSA), Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), China’s Ministry of Public Security and India’s Central Monitoring System (CMS) love to get their hands on this information, as was shown by Edward Snowden’s revelations. The “five eyes” nations, which include the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, agreed in August 2018 to establish a mutual framework for dealing with the fact that the internet is “growing dark” because so much much of its traffic is being encrypted. As part of this framework, Australia passed an Assistance and Access Bill in December 2018, requiring tech companies to provide the government access to communication services under a warrant. The other “five eye” nations probably decided that they would face too much of a public backlash if they tried to pass similar laws, so instead they convened a two day meeting with Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Roblox, Snap and Twitter in late July to pressure them to provide back doors to their encrypted messaging services.

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Adventures in home maintenance in Bolivia

I’ve never owned a house or a car, so I rarely have to fix anything. When I moved into my new apartment, however, I found all sorts of things, that I needed fixing.

I love the wooden parquet floors, but the previous renters had put down flooring wax without first cleaning the floors, so I could see lots of spots on the floor. I started scrubbing off the wax to clean the spots and ended up scrubbing the floors for two whole days.

Unlike in the US, Bolivian parquet flooring doesn’t have grooves to fit together the wooden tiles and they are glued on top of cement, so after a decade or two of being walked on, the wooden tiles start to come loose. I found about 100 loose tiles, especially in the areas of the apartment there there as a lot of foot traffic, such as the threshold of doorways.

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Responding to a critic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Kim Iversen is a progressive YouTube commentator who I generally respect, but I profoundly disagree with one of her recent videos discussing why a number of progressives in the US House of Representatives, such as Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna and Ayanna Pressley, voted for a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel.

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La importancia del Purism Librem 5

El Purism Librem 5 será el primer celular en el mundo que funcionará con 100% software libre, que es una bandera proclamando nuestros derechos digitales. El diseño de la placa tiene una licencia de GPL 3.0+, entonces la placa es hardware libre también y es disponible en:
https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/dvk-mx8m-bsb

Purism Librem 5 Dev Kit visualizado en KiCAD 5.0:


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Aventuras en la actualización al Debian 10 (buster)

Quise ver las esquemas del Librem 5, que sera el primer celular de 100% software libre. Para abrir los archivos de circuitos del Librem 5, necesito la versión 5.0 de KiCAD, que no esta disponible en los repositorios de Debian 9 (stretch). En el mundo aburrido de Windows, puedo descargar la nueva versión sin tocar el sistema operativo, pero en Linux es mas fácil instalar todo un sistema operativo nuevo para conseguir la última versión de un programa que jugar con la configuración de repositorios y pinning.

Entonces, yo entregué el comando apt upgrade en mi compu y ahora estoy instalando Debian 10 (buster). Sólo tengo 1,7 GB más para descargar y ver que puedo romper en mi compu. ¡Software libre es mucho mas divertido!
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Why IBM buying Red Hat doesn’t matter

I found myself yawning as I read the news that IBM will be buying Red Hat for $34 billion and dumping a lot of its proprietary software on HCL, an Indian company. I stopped caring about Red Hat and IBM years ago. The fact that the fourth largest server company in the world is buying the leading Linux company should be big news, but I stopped caring in a personal way about these two companies years ago.

IBM in the 1950s – 1970s used to be the evil Goliath of the computer industry, but in my lifetime, IBM was the first tech giant to embrace free/open source software in a major way and help legitimize Linux. It was also the company that provided AMD and then Global Foundries with process tech to compete with Intel, and it was the company promoting the POWER architecture, which was the freest of the major CPU architectures (before RISC-V appeared on the scene and MIPS was recently open sourced). I should be celebrating that Big Blue is getting rid of lots of proprietary software and embracing open source in a major way, but IBM stopped being relevant to me years ago, when it sold its PC and then later its x86 server lines to Lenovo. IBM was the company which made Thinkpads into a durable line of laptops that was compatible with Linux and helped establish Linux as the OS for servers, but Big Blue has become largely irrelevant to me as the company sold off its hardware production to Lenovo and Global Foundries, and retreated into the niches of supercomputers, corporate middleware and data analysis.
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Responding to a climate change denier on Youtube

I recently ran across Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speech to a group of climate activists in the Sunrise Movement who are pressuring US politicians to support the Green New Deal.

As is typical with any Youtube video involving AOC and climate change, the comments to the video were filled with disparaging comments, insulting AOC’s intelligence and claiming that she was trying to deceive the public by promoting the “hoax” of climate change. I know that I shouldn’t feed the online trolls, I decided to respond a wag named “Trump Is Your President,” who posted:

We will all be dead in 12 years people. Hope you’re all ready. 👍

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