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Mob justice and extreme violence in Copilco Universidad — @Alcaldia_Coy @CopilcoUniv @CopilcoVecinos @manuelnegrete22

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 03/05/2019 - 01:03

Some days ago I read a piece of news that shocked me at different levels: Three blocks away from my home, and after being "unclearly" denounced for harassing a woman, a guy was beaten to death. Several sources for this: El Diario MX: Por acosar a mujer lo golpean hasta la muerte; El Siglo de Torreón: Asesinan a hombre por presuntamente acosar a mujer en Coyoacán; Zócalo: Matan a hombre en Coyoacán; Milenio: Por presuntamente acosar a mujer, golpean y matan a hombre en CU.

Of course, when anybody cries for help, it should be our natural response (everybody's!) to rush and try to help. However, stopping an aggression is a far cry from taking justice in our own hands and killing a guy.

Mob justice is usually associated with peri-urban or rural areas, with higher socioeconomic margination and less faith in authority. Usually, lynching mobs generate a very bad and persistent name to wherever said acts of brutality happened. While I don't want to say we are better than..., it shocks me even more to have found this kind of brutality in the midst of the Universitary neighbourhood, at a very busy pedestrian street, at all times (this happened somewhat after noon on Thursday) full of teachers and students.

Not only that. The guy who was attacked was allegedly a homeless guy, in his mid 20s. Some reports say that after the beating took place, he was still alive, but when the emergency services arrived (30 minutes later!) he had died. We are literally less than 200m away from Facultad de Medicina, and hundreds of students and teachers walk there. Was nobody able to help? Did nobody feel the urge to help?

If this guy was a homeless person, quite probably he was weak from malnutrition, maybe crossed with some addictions, and that's what precipitated his death. But, again — This raises other suspicions. Maybe he was pointed to by some of the store owners that wanted to drive him away from their premises? (he was attacked inside a commercial passageway, not in the open street)

Also... While there is not much information regarding this attack, I'm quite amazed almost no important local (or even national!) media have picked this up. We are less than 1Km away from the central offices of Grupo Imágen! This is no small issue. Remember the terrible circus raised around the Tláhuac lynches in ~2005 (and how Tláhuac still carries that memory almost 15 years later)? What is the difference here?

No attack on women should be tolerated quietly. But no lynchmob should be given a blind eye to. This deeply worries and saddens me.

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Debian on the Raspberryscape: Great news!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 02/15/2019 - 22:25

I already mentioned here having adopted and updated the Raspberry Pi 3 Debian Buster Unofficial Preview image generation project. As you might know, the hardware differences between the three families are quite deep — The original Raspberry Pi (models A and B), as well as the Zero and Zero W, are ARMv6 (which, in Debian-speak, belong to the armel architecture, a.k.a. EABI / Embedded ABI). Raspberry Pi 2 is an ARMv7 (so, we call it armhf or ARM hard-float, as it does support floating point instructions). Finally, the Raspberry Pi 3 is an ARMv8-A (in Debian it corresponds to the ARM64 architecture).

The machines are quite different, but being the CPUs provided by Broadcom, they all share a strange bootloader requirement, as the GPU must be initialized to kickstart the CPU (and only then can Linux be started), hence, they require non-free firmware

Anyway, the image project was targetted at model 3 Raspberries. However...

Thanks (again!) to Romain Perier, I got word that the "lesser" Raspberries can be made to boot from Debian proper, after they are initialized with this dirty, ugly firmware!

I rebuilt the project, targeting armhf instead of arm64. Dropped an extra devicetree blob on the image, to help Linux understand what is connected to the RPI2. Flashed it to my so-far-trusty SD. And... Behold! On the photo above, you can appreciate the Raspberry Pi 2 booting straight Debian, no Raspbian required!

As for the little guy, the Zero that sits atop them, I only have to upload a new version of raspberry3-firmware built also for armel. I will add to it the needed devicetree files. I have to check with the release-team members if it would be possible to rename the package to simply raspberry-firmware (as it's no longer v3-specific).

Why is this relevant? Well, the Raspberry Pi is by far the most popular ARM machine ever. It is a board people love playing with. It is the base for many, many, many projects. And now, finally, it can run with straight Debian! And, of course, if you don't trust me providing clean images, you can prepare them by yourself, trusting the same distribution you have come to trust and love over the years.

Wheee!

Spinning rust woes: Cowbuilder

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:37

Wow.
I use a traditional, spinning rust hard drive as my main volume:

  1. $ /dev/sda2 on / type btrfs (rw,relatime,compress=zlib:3,space_cache,subvolid=5,subvol=/)

I just adopted Lars' vmdb2. Of course, I was eager to build and upload my first version and... Hit a FTBFS bug due to missing dependencies... Bummer!
So I went to my good ol' cowbuilder (package cowdancer)to fix whatever needed fixing. But it took long! Do note that my /var/cache/pbuilder/base.cow was already set up and updated.
  1. # time cowbuilder --build /home/gwolf/vcs/build-area/vmdb2_0.13.2+git20190215-1.dsc
  2. (...)
  3. real 15m55.403s
  4. user 0m53.734s
  5. sys 0m23.138s

But... What if I take the spinning rust out of the equation?
  1. # mkdir /var/cache/pbuilder
  2. # mount none -t tmpfs /var/cache/pbuilder
  3. # time rsync -a /var/cache/pbuilderbk/* /var/cache/pbuilder
  4.  
  5. real 0m5.363s
  6. user 0m2.333s
  7. sys 0m0.709s
  8. # time cowbuilder --build /home/gwolf/vcs/build-area/vmdb2_0.13.2+git20190215-1.dsc
  9. (...)
  10. real 0m52.586s
  11. user 0m53.076s
  12. sys 0m8.277s

Close to ¹/₁₆th of the running time — Even including the copy of the base.cow!

OK, I cheated a bit before the rsync, as my cache was already warm... But still, convenient!

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Raspberry Pi 3 Debian Buster *unofficial preview* image update

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/06/2019 - 11:43

As I mentioned two months ago, I adopted the Debian Raspberry 3 build scripts, and am now building a clean Buster (Debian Testing) unofficial preview image. And there are some good news to tell!
Yesterday, I was prompted by Martin Zobel-Helas and Holger Levsen to prepare this image after the Buster Debian Installer (d-i) alpha release. While we don't use d-i to build the image, I pushed the build, and found that...
I did quite a bit of work together with Romain Perier, a soon-to-become Debian Maintainer, and he helped get the needed changes in the main Debian kernel, thanks to which we now finally have working wireless support!

Romain also told me he did some tests, building an image very much like this one, but built for armel instead of armhf, and apparently it works correctly on a Raspberry Pi Zero. That means that, if we do a small amount of changes (and tests, of course), we will be able to provide straight Debian images to boot unmodified on all of the Raspberry lineup!
So, as usual:
You can look at the instructions at the Debian Wiki page on RaspberryPi3. Or you can just jump to the downloads, at my people.debian.org:

Enjoy!

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Back to the teaching business!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/30/2019 - 23:29

Sometimes, life is measured in semesters.

This is the 13th semester I teach. I can no longer feel a newbie. I am still just a part-time teacher, but I know it's an activity I very much enjoy, and I hope I can at some point manage it to become full-time activity.

After three months of slumber (three weeks of which were the hard vacations, but then there's the intersemestral active period), our university came back to life and full occupation.

Due to one fellow teacher taking a sabbatical, I have the largest group that I have been assigned. 40 students does not seem an easy task! Lets see how it comes...

Anyway... I am happy!

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Finally, a sensible increase in participation for Tor in Mexico!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 01/09/2019 - 19:23

/Known fact: Latin America's share of participation in different aspects of the free software movement is very low.

There are many hypotheses for this, but all in all, it's mainly economics related: Only a tiny minority of us in this geographic region can spare the time, energy and money needed to donate part of our work and life to a project, no matter how much we agree with it. Of course, this cannot explain it wholly; there are many issues that further contribute with this low participation. Free software development is mostly carried out in English (much more so even than programming in general, although basically any programing language "reeks" of English).

In mid-2017, the Tor project acknowledged this and created the Global South Initiative. At first, I heard about it when the global-south@lists.torproject.org mailing list was started, and started interacting there right away. Roughly a month later, we started to plan for what is now our research/documentation project. We even managed to somehow attract the Tor community at large for the Tor Meeting last September/October in Mexico City (which was a *great* opportunity!)

One of the issues we have been pushing for, with marginal success rate until very recently, is to get more people involved running Tor relays or, if possible, exit nodes. Of course, when I asked officially for permission to set up an exit node at the university (I want to do things the right way), I was right away slammed and denied.

But... Patience, time, hardware donation by Derechos Digitales, and some determination have led us to the fact that... 18 months ago, we only had one or two active Tor relays. Now, the reality is finally changing!

Thanks to many individuals willing to donate their time and resources, we currently have eleven relays (eight of them which I can recognize by name and thank their respective owners — The linked page will probably give different results, as it varies over time).

As for the diversity this brings to the network, it's well summed up by the aggregated search:

Four autonomous systems; the only ISP that's usable for home users we have been able to identify is Axtel, with which we have five relays currently running; three at UNAM, the biggest university in the country; one in CINVESTAV, an important research facility; finally, one in Mega Cable, which surprises me, as Mega Cable does not provide a reachable IP for any of the subscribers we have probed! (Maybe it's run by corporate users or something like that?)

And, very notably: I have to recognize and thank our friends at Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), as they have set up our –so far– only exit node (via the Axtel ISP). Wow!

Ten relays, mind you, is still a tiny contribution. Due to the bandwidth we are currently able to offer (and many many many other factors I cannot go into details, as I don't even know them all), Mexico as a country is currently providing approximately 0.05% (that is, one out of each 2000) Tor connections as a guard (entry) node, a slightly higher amount as a middle node, and a slightly lower amount as an exit node. But it is steadily increasing, and that's great!

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Tecnicatura Universitaria en Software Libre: First bunch of graduates!

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 12/15/2018 - 16:32

December starts for our family in Argentina, and in our second day here, I was invited to Facultad de Ingeniería y Ciencias Hídricas (FICH) of Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL). FICH-UNL has a short (3 year), distance-learning career called Tecnicatura Universitaria en Software Libre (TUSL).

This career opened in 2015, and today we had the graduation exams for three of its students — It's no small feat for a recently created career to start graduating their first bunch! And we had one for each of TUSL's "exit tracks" (Administration, development and education).

The topics presented by the students were:

  1. An introductory manual for performing migrations and installations of free software-based systems
  2. Design and implementation of a steganography tool for end-users
  3. A Lego system implementation for AppBuilder
  4. The TUSL staff is quite well aligned to freedom, transparency and responsibilty, so it's basically a requirement for projects to be freely available. For the curious, here they are:

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New release of the Raspberry Pi 3 *unofficial Debian preview* image

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 12/04/2018 - 20:35

Back in June, Michael Stapelberg asked for somebody interested in adopting the unofficial Debian image for the Raspberry Pi 3 family. It didn't take me long to raise my hand.
What did take me long is to actually do it. I have adopted Raspberry3 image spec repository, with the recipes to build the image using Lars' great vmdb2, as well as the raspi3-firmware non-free Debian package.
After delaying this for too long, first in order to understand it better, and second because of the workload I had this last semester, I think we are ready to announce...

There is a new, updated preview image!

You can look at the instructions at the Debian Wiki page on RaspberryPi3. Or you can just jump to the downloads, at my people.debian.orgxzipped image (388MB, unzips to 1.5GB, and resizes to the capacity of your boot SD at first boot), verification sha256sum, and PGP-signed verification sha256sum.
There are still many things that can be improved, for sure. The main issues for me are:

  • No wireless support. Due to a bug in Linux kenel 4.18, wlan0 support is broken. It is reported, and we expect it to be fixed in the next kernel upload.
  • Hardcoded root password. This will be tackled later on — part of the issue is that I cannot ensure how this computer will be booted. I have some ideas to tackle this, though...

Other than that, what we have is a very minimal Debian system, ready for installing software!
At some point in the future, I plan to add build profiles for some common configurations. But lets go a step at a time.

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Chairing «Topics on Internet Censorship and Surveillance»

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 12/03/2018 - 13:07

I have been honored to be invited as a co-chair (together with Vasilis Ververis and Mario Isaakidis) for a Special Track called «Topics on Internet Censorship and Surveillance» (TICS), at the The Eighteenth International Conference on Networks, which will be held in Valencia, Spain, 2019.03.24–2019.03.28, and organized under IARIA's name and umbrella.

I am reproducing here the Call for Papers. Please do note that if you are interested in participating, the relevant dates are those publicized for the Special Track (submission by 2019.01.29; notification by 2019.02.18; registration and camera-ready by 2019.02.27), not those on ICN's site.

Over the past years there has been a greater demand for online censorship and surveillance, as an understandable reaction against hate speech, copyright violations, and other cases related to citizen compliance with civil laws and regulations by national authorities. Unfortunately, this is often accompanied by a tendency of extensively censoring online content and massively spying on citizens actions. Numerous whistleblower revelations, leaks from classified documents, and a vast amount of information released by activists, researchers and journalists, reveal evidence of government-sponsored infrastructure that either goes beyond the requirements and scope of the law, or operates without any effective regulations in place. In addition, this infrastructure often supports the interests of big private corporations, such as the companies that enforce online copyright control.

TICS is a special track the area of Internet censorship, surveillance and other adversarial burdens to technology that bring in danger; to a greater extent the safety (physical security and privacy) of its users.

Proposals for TICS 2019 should be situated within the field of Internet censorship, network measurements, information controls, surveillance and content moderation. Ideally topics should connect to the following , but not limited to:

  • Technical, social, political, and economical implications of Internet censorship and surveillance
  • Detection and analysis of network blocking and surveillance infrastructure (hardware or software)
  • Research on legal frameworks, regulations and policies that imply blocking or limitation of the availability of network services and online content
  • Online censorship circumvention and anti-surveillance practices
  • Network measurements methodologies to detect and categorize network interference
  • Research on the implications of automated or centralized user content regulation (such as for hate speech, copyright, or disinformation)

Please help me share this invitation with possible interested people!
Oh — And to make this more interesting and enticing for you, ICN will take place at the same city and just one week before the Internet Freedom Festival, the Global Unconference of the Internet Freedom Communities ☺

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Privacy and Anonymity Colloquium • Activity program announced!

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 17:07

It's only two weeks to the beginning of the privacy and anonymity colloquium we will be celebrating at the Engineering Faculty of my University. Of course, it's not by mere chance we are holding this colloquium starts just after the Tor Meeting, which will happen for the first time in Latin America (and in our city!)

So, even though changes are still prone to happen, I am happy to announce the activity program for the colloquium!

I know some people will ask, so — We don't have the infrastructure to commit to having a video feed from it. We will, though, record the presentations on video, and I have the committment to the university to produce a book from it within a year time. So, at some point in the future, I will be able to give you a full copy of the topics we will discuss!

But, if you are in Mexico City, no excuses: You shall come to the colloquium!

So it is settled: Thinkpad FTW!

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 09/07/2018 - 13:00

So, I hope this will help me go back to being more productive!

I ended up buying a Lenovo Thinkpad SK-8845 keyboard. As it was mentioned by Martin, jelly and Marcos on my previous blog post (hey! This is one of the rare ocasions where I must say Thanks Lazyweb!), it is not a new model, but it seems to be in mint shape... Plus, I got it for only MX$745 (that is, ≈US$37), shipped to my office and all!

My experiences so far? Mostly positive. Yes, I would prefer the trackpad to be a bit larger (it is approx 6×4cm). Most noticeably, I spent some time getting my setup working, as I had to remap my keys — I rely quite a bit on the Super and Multi keys (oh, are you not a Unix person? Super is Mod4, usually located at the Windows keys; I reconfigured the Menu key to be Multi or Compose, to be able to input §ṫℝ∀ℕĠ̣∃ symbols, even some useful ones from time to time). This keyboard has no Windows or Menu keys, so I was playing a bit with how my fingers accept Super being at CapsLock and Multi being and ScrollLock... Lets see!

Also, I am super-happy with my laptop's keyboard (Thinkpad as well, X230), and I thought not having different mental models for laptop and office keyboards would be a win... But this is the seven-row Thinkpad model, and the X230 has the six-row one. Not much changes to the finger memory, but I've found myself missing the Esc key (one row higher) and PgUp/PgDn (in the upper corner instead of around the cursor keys). Strangest, I initially thought I would be able to remap Super and Multi to the two keys where I expected PgUp and PgDn to be (what are their names?), but... Looking at the keycodes they send, it is just not possible — They are hardwired to send Alt + → or Alt + ←. Will come handy, I guess, and I will get used to them. But they are quite odd, I think. With all the people that complained loudly when Lenovo abandoned the seven-row in favor of the six-row layout... I guess I'm about to discover something good..?

Letter to UNAM's Rector regarding the facts of September 3rd; omission, complicity and impunity are also violence

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 13:09

Our university, among the largest in the world and among the most important in Latin America, had an unexpected and traumatic event last September 3rd: A group of students from one of the high schools our university operates, peacefully protesting, demanding mostly proper study conditions and better security for their area, were violently attacked by a large, organized group. Things are still very much in flux, and we have yet to see what this really meant, and what are its consequences.

But in the meantime, I cannot but take as mine the following words, by Comité Cerezo. I am sorry for not translating into English, interested people will be able to do so using automated services or human talent.

Original here: Carta al Rector de la UNAM por los hechos sucedidos el 3 de septiembre: la omisión, complicidad e impunidad también son violencia

Ciudad Universitaria 4 de septiembre de 2018

Enrique Luis Graue Wiechers
Rector de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Ante los hechos suscitados el día 3 de septiembre en la explanada de Rectoría de la UNAM y sus alrdedores, el Comité Cerezo México, cuyos integrantes en su mayoría formamos parte de la comunidad universitaria como egresados, estudiantes en activo, académicos y trabajadores, nos dirigimos a usted con el objetivo de manifestar que, como la gran mayoría de quienes se han pronunciado, repudiamos los hechos de violencia por medio de los cuales un grupo de sujetos atacaron violentamente a estudiantes que se manifestaban pacíficamente ejerciendo su derecho humano a la protesta. Sin embargo, consideramos que el repudio a la violencia y la promesa de investigación queda corta ante los hechos ocurridos. Por ello, maniestamos que:

1. Repudiamos con la misma fuerza la actitud omisa e indolente que en los distintos videos e imágenes se observa por parte del cuerpo Auxilio UNAM ante los hechos de violencia. Incluso nos preguntamos por qué elementos de esta corporación de seguridad se acercaron a los grupos de jóvenes que atacaban a los manifestantes e incluso los saludaron de mano en lugar de impedir que agredieran a los estudiantes.

2. Repudiamos el hecho de que, a priori, en algunos comunicados de las autoridades se afirmara que los agresores eran personas ajenas a la comunidad académica. De acuerdo a informaciones que circulan en redes sociales (y que por supuesto deben ser verificadas) algunos de los agresores forman parte de la comunidad estudiantil y de grupos que operan, al menos en CCH Azcapotzalco, CCH Naucalpan y CCH Vallejo. La condena a la violencia y la afirmación pronta de que los agresores no son integrantes de la comunidad es un acto incongruente con la promesa de investigar los hechos. En el mismo sentido afirmar que los hechos que se vivieron buscan enturbiar el ambiente sin tener una investigación clara de qué grupo operó, sin tener claridad en la cadena de mando y en la implicación de algunas autoridades no abona en nada a la resolución del conflicto.

3. Manifestamos nuestro extrañamiento por el hecho de que pese a que en los pronunciamientos de las autoridades se afirma que están abiertas al diálogo, no se haya mencionado que las demandas por las que los estudiantes se manifestaban en Rectoría serán atendidas y de qué modo.
Ante esto, exigimos a las autoridades responsables que a la brevedad:

a) Expliquen a la comunidad universitaria por qué el cuerpo de Auxilio UNAM, como en otros casos ya públicos, no detuvo a los agresores ni intentó contenerlos. Es necesario también que expliquen a la comunidad por qué un integrante de Auxilio UNAM afirmó ante un medio de comunicación en un video que “tenían órdenes de arriba de no actuar”. La comunidad universitaria exige claridad en la rendición de cuentas de cómo y por qué se operó de ese modo. Asimismo, deben aclarar quiénes eran los funcionarios que en los distintos videos están cerca o saludan al grupo de agresores y por qué en lugar de impedir los hechos se limitaron a mirar y en algunos casos a interactuar con estos grupos.

b) Que la investigación de los hechos así como sus avances se hagan públicos. Esa investigación implica una gran exhaustividad y claridad. Las autoridades deben explicar a todos ¿Quiénes eran los jóvenes, y muchos no tan jóvenes, agresores? ¿A qué grupo o grupos pertenecen? ¿Cómo se trasladaron a la Rectoría? Pero no basta con la aclaración de los hechos que componen el ataque, es necesario también que se investigue quién ordenó u orquestó tal ataque, la cadena de omisiones que lo hicieron posible así como la investigación de las autoridades involucradas o no en tales hechos, de tal manera que no sólo se investigue a los ejecutores de las agresiones sino a la cadena completa de mando que las planeó u ordenó.

c) Que se atienda y brinde todo el apoyo necesario para los alumnos atacados, sus familiares y amigos de manera integral y apoyándolos en todas las acciones que ellos necesiten no sólo en su atención médica y psicológica, sino en el acompañamiento jurídico en caso de que quieran proceder contra los agresores.

d) Que de inmediato se nombre un representante de Rectoría que se haga responsable de recibir a una comisión que presente el pliego petitorio o las demandas de los estudiantes y que de inmediato rinda cuentas de la manera en que se atenderán esas demandas. De lo contrario decir que el diálogo y la apertura es la solución sin establecer mecanismos concretos y claros de cómo se atenderán las demandas de los estudiantes es sólo una declaración que no alcanza a resolver el problema.

e) Vigilar que bajo ninguna circunstancia, los estudiantes que han decidido parar actividades y aquellos que están marchando y/o concentrándose en la explanada de Rectoría, como ejercicios del derecho humano a la protesta por los graves hechos ocurridos el 3 de septiembre en la Rectoría, sean intimidados, molestados, amenazados o agredidos por grupos porriles (ajenos o no a la comunidad universitaria) ni por autoridades o integrantes de la misma comunidad.

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As for useless keys...

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 10:27

After a long rant with a nice and most useful set of replies regarding my keyboard, yesterday I did the mistake –and I am sure it was the first times in five years– of touching my Power key.

Of course, my computer (which I never shut down) obliged and proceeded to shut itself down, no questions asked – Of course, probably because I don't use a desktopesque WM, so it exhibits the same behavior as the system's actual power switch. I was limited to powerelessly watch it cleanly shut down...

It didn't make me very happy. That key should not exist in a keyboard!

Desktop keyboards with a trackpad

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 08/31/2018 - 15:21

As most of my readers, I am a heavy keyboard user. Most of my computer usage is mediated through the keyboard, not the mouse as it seems to be the norm nowadays (and don't even get me started on touchscreens – When I talk about computers, I am not talking about phones. Ever.)

In the past, I suffered a lot of upper back pain. It has thankfully improved, but in big part due to changes in the way I interface with the world. Again, if I do most of my work sitting and in front of my computer, being comfortable is an important part of it!

Years ago, I found that after a long period (say, vacations) using a laptop, my back pain lessened. Why? Because I don't have to carry my right hand constantly ~30cm to the right just to move the mouse when I'm using the browser. I tried (and mostly failed) to use Mouseless Browsing. But, after some time, I decided to get myself a keyboard similar to a laptop's — In November 2013, I got an Adesso Win-Touch Pro USB Keyboard:

My opinion with that keyboard? An unconvinced "meh". The keys are not nice to touch, the trackpad is too small, it lacks a middle button which I had to map to one of the often-useless multimedia keys. Still, it's been my main keyboard for five years already.

But...

Time takes its toll. A mediocre keyboard easily becomes a shitty keyboard. So, I have several keys where the spring is just dead (mostly 'E', 'O', Enter, right-shift, right-control) that, while still work, have a somewhat inconsistent behavior.

In late 2017 I bought a would-be-replacement: A 1byone Ultra-Slim Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard:

And the results? Well... Clearly, I can take some sh*t, but it has a limit. I could not use it, not even for a full day.

It is basically the same with all keyboards in the tablet space. Function keys require pressing Fn. I am lacking some keys for a decent keyboard layout. Keys are less spaced than required for serious work. Besides, it's bluetooth only, USB works only for charging its battery (I have used keyboards that can be used both with USB and without).

Anyway, so I'm on the hunt again for a decent keyboard. My old Adesso model is available, but at US$49... Quite a premium price for a shitty keyboard. They have a cheaper keyboard, their Tru-form Ergonomic Touchpad keyboard:

However, I'm happy the world mostly moved on from such monstruosities which were the thing 15 years ago. And I guess they use the same crappy mechanism. There is a smaller ("Slim Touch") Adesso keyboard available (and locally, which is a plus!):

But it still has the same crappy trackpad and... I have no reason to believe the keys will be any better.

I found a very small offer from other companies. On one hand, I found a Perixx 11005 PERIBOARD-510H PLUS, but the layout seems too similar to my 1byone failure. Its reviews say keys are quite usable, but someone mentions they are too small. Am not risking for yet another micro-keys keyboard.

Poweradd 78 Keys Micro USB QWERTY Keyboard with Touch-pad seems quite good for some reviews, but filmsy on others. I don't like the feel of too-thin keyboards - there cannot be much key travel space if the keyboard is 2.5mm high!

E-SDS Waterproof Industrial Machine Keyboard looks like a potential winner, although the trackpad area is still quite limited. Still, being a "waterproof industrial" keyboard at least does not sound like it is a tablet keyboard, where weight and compactness are more important than usability. It is, though, among the most expensive (US$54.99 + $16.50 Shipping & Import Fees).

I don't understand why I cannot get a decent keyboard that is not a toy meant for tablets. I want to do real work, and I'd love it to be with me for several years. I have seen a desktop version of the great Thinkpad keyboard:

And it's even at a decent price... But while I love my Thinkpad, I don't feel comfortable with the TrackPoint, and I would hate to hate my new keyboard because of it.

So, dear lazyweb, some advice? Should I just give up and get the E-SDS?

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A very nice side-project that has come to fruition: Fresh from the 1960s, my father's travel memories

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 19:03

So... Everybody I've interacted with along the last couple of weeks knows I'm basically just too busy. If I'm not tied up with stuff regarding my privacy/anonymity project at the university, I am trying to get the DebConf scheduling, or trying to catch up with my perpetual enemy, mail backlog. Of course, there's also my dayjob — Yes, it's vacation time, but I'm a sysadmin, and it's not like I want to give software updates much of a vacation! Of course, my family goes to Argentina for a couple of weeks while I go to DebConf, so there's quite a bit of work in that sphere as well, and... And... And... Meh, many other things better left unaccounted for ☺
But there's one big extra I was working on, somewhat secretly, over the last two months. I didn't want to openly spill the beans on it until it was delivered in hand to its recipient.
Which happened this last weekend. So, here it is!

During the late 1960s, my father studied his PhD in Israel and had a posdoctoral stay in Sweden. During that time, he traveled through the world during his vacations as much as he could — This book collects his travels through Ethiopia (including what today is Eritrea), Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and India. As he took those trips, he wrote chronicles about them, and sent them to Mexico's then-most-important newspaper (Excélsior), which published each of them in four to six parts (except for the Czechoslovakia one, which is a single page, devoted to understanding Prague two years after the Soviet repression and occupation).

I did this work starting from the yellow-to-brown and quite brittle copies of the newspaper he kept stored in a set of folders. I had the help of a digitalization professional that often works for the University, but still did a couple of cleanup and QA reads (and still, found typos... In the first printed page, in the first title! :-/ ). The text? Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He wrote the chronicles being between 23 and 27 years old, but the text flows quick and easy, delightful, as if coming from a professional writer. If you can read Spanish, I am sure you will enjoy the read:

Chronicles of a backpacker in a more naïve world

Why am I publishing this now, amid the work craze I've run into? Because my father is turning 75 year old next weekend. We rushed the mini-party for him (including the book-as-a-present) as we wanted my kids to deliver the present, and they are now in a plane to South America.

The book run I did was quite limited — Just 30 items, to give away to family and close friends. I can, of course, print more on demand. But I want to take this work to a publisher — There are many reasons I believe these youth chronicles are of general interest.

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