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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Want to set up a Tor node in Mexico? Hardware available

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/29/2018 - 17:58

Hi friends,

Thanks to the work I have been carrying out with the "Derechos Digitales" NGO, I have received ten Raspberry Pi 3B computers, to help the growth of Tor nodes in Latin America.

The nodes can be intermediate (relays) or exit nodes. Most of us will only be able to connect relays, but if you have the possibility to set up an exit node, that's better than good!

Both can be set up in any non-filtered Internet connection that gives a publicly reachable IP address. I have to note that, although we haven't done a full ISP survey in Mexico (and it would be a very important thing to do — If you are interested in helping with that, please contact me!), I can tell you that connections via Telmex (be it via their home service, Infinitum, or their corporate brand, Uninet) are not good because the ISP filters most of the Tor Directory Authorities.

What do you need to do? Basically, mail me (gwolf@gwolf.org) sending a copy to Ignacio (ignacio@derechosdigitales.org), the person working at this NGO who managed to send me said computers. Oh, of course - And you have to be (physically) in Mexico.

I have ten computers ready to give out to whoever wants some. I am willing and even interested in giving you the needed tech support to do this. Who says "me"?

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Yes! I am going to...

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 06/24/2018 - 18:44

Having followed through some paperwork I was still missing...

I can finally say...

Dates

I’m going to DebCamp18! I should arrive at NCTU in the afternoon/evening of Tuesday, 2018-07-24.

I will spend a day prior to that in Tokio, visiting a friend and probably making micro-tourism.

My Agenda

Of course, DebCamp is not a vacation, so we expect people that take part of DebCamp to have at least a rough sketch of activities. There are many, many things I want to tackle, and experience shows there's only time for a fraction of what's planned. But lets try:

keyring-maint training
We want to add one more member to the keyring-maint group. There is a lot to prepare before any announcements, but I expect a good chunk of DebCamp to be spent explaining the details to a new team member.
DebConf organizing
While I'm no longer a core orga-team member, I am still quite attached to helping out during the conference. This year, I took the Content Team lead, and we will surely be ironing out details such as fixing schedule bugs.
Raspberry Pi images
I replied to Michael Stapelberg's call for adoption of the unofficial-but-blessed Raspberry Pi 3 disk images. I will surely be spending some time on that.
Key Signing Party Coordination
I just sent out the Call for keys for keysigning in Hsinchu, Taiwan. At that point, I expect very little work to be needed, but it will surely be on my radar.

Of course... I *do* want to spend some minutes outside NCTU and get to know a bit of Taiwan. This is my first time in East Asia, and don't know when, if ever, I will have the opportunity to be there again. So, I will try to have at least the time to enjoy a little bit of Taiwan!

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Demoting multi-factor authentication

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/18/2018 - 20:11

I started teaching at Facultad de Ingeniería, UNAM in January 2013. Back then, I was somewhat surprised (for good!) that the university required me to create a digital certificate for registering student grades at the end of the semester. The setup had some not-so-minor flaws (i.e. the private key was not generated at my computer but centrally, so there could be copies of it outside my control — Not only could, but I noted for a fact a copy was kept at the relevant office at my faculty, arguably to be able to timely help poor teachers if they lost their credentials or patience), but was decent...
Authentication was done via a Java applet, as there needs to be a verifiably(?)-secure way to ensure the certificate was properly checked at the client without transfering it over the network. Good thing!
But... Java applets grow out of favor. I don't think I have ever been able to register my grading from a Linux desktop (of course, I don't have a typical Linux desktop, so luck might smile to other people). But last semester and this semester I suffered even to get the grades registered from Windows — Seems that every browser has deprecated the extensions for the Java runtime, and applets are no longer a thing. I mean, I could get the Oracle site to congratulate me for having Java 8 installed, but it just would not run the university's applet!
So, after losing the better part of an already-busy evening... I got a mail. It says (partial translation mine):

Subject: Problems to electronically sign at UNAM

We are from the Advance Electronic Signature at UNAM. We are sending you this mail as we have detected you have problems to sign the grades, probably due to the usage of Java.

Currently, we have a new Electronic Signature system that does not use Java, we can migrate you to this system.
(...)

The certificate will thus be stored in the cloud, we will deposit it at signing time, you just have to enter the password you will have assigned.
(...)

Of course, I answered asking which kind of "cloud" was it, as we all know that the cloud does not exist, it's just other people's computers... And they decided to skip this question.

You can go see what is required for this implementation at https://www.fea.unam.mx/Prueba de la firma (Test your signature): It asks me for my CURP (publicly known number that identifies every Mexican resident). Then, it asks me for a password. And that's it. Yay :-Þ

Anyway I accepted, as losing so much time to grade is just too much. And... Yes, many people will be happy. Partly, I'm releieved by this (I have managed to hate Java for over 20 years). I am just saddened by the fact we have lost an almost-decent-enough electronic signature implementation and fallen back to just a user-password scheme. There are many ways to do crypto verification on the client side nowadays; I know JavaScript is sandboxed and cannot escape to touch my filesystem, but... It is amazing we are losing this simple and proven use case.

And it's amazing they are pulling it off as if it were a good thing.

«Understanding the Digital World» — By Brian Kernighan

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:07

I came across Kernighan's 2017 book, Understanding the Digital World — What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security. I picked it up thanks to a random recommendation I read somewhere I don't recall. And it's really a great read.
Of course, basically every reader that usually comes across this blog will be familiar with Kernighan. Be it because his most classic books from the 1970s, The Unix Programming Environment or The C Programming Language, or from the much more recent The Practice of Programming or The Go Programming Language, Kernighan is a world-renowned authority for technical content, for highly technical professionals at the time of their writing — And they tend to define the playing field later on.
But this book I read is... For the general public. And it is superb at that.
Kernighan states in his Preface that he teaches a very introductory course at Princeton (a title he admits to be too vague, Computers in our World) to people in the social sciences and humanities field. And this book shows how he explains all sorts of scary stuff to newcomers.
As it's easier than doing a full commentary on it, I'll just copy the table of contents (only to the section level, it gets just too long if I also list subsections). The list of contents is very thorough (and the book is only 238 pages long!), but take a look at basically every chapter... And picture explaining those topics to computing laymen. An admirable feat!

  • Part I: Hardware
    • 1. What's in a computer?
      • Logical construction
      • Physical construction
      • Moore's Law
      • Summary
    • 2. Bits, Bytes, and Representation of Information
      • Analog versus Digital
      • Analog-Digital Conversion
      • Bits, Bytes and Binary
      • Summary
    • 3. Inside the CPU
      • The Toy Computer
      • Real CPUs
      • Caching
      • Other Kinds of Computers
      • Summary

    Wrapup on Hardware

  • Part II: Software
    • 4. Algorithms
      • Linear Algorithms
      • Binary Search
      • Sorting
      • Hard Problems and Complexity
      • Summary
    • 5. Programming and Programming Languages
      • Assembly Language
      • High Level Languages
      • Software Development
      • Intellectual Property
      • Standards
      • Open Source
      • Summary
    • 6. Software Systems
      • Operating Systems
      • How an Operating System works
      • Other Operating Systems
      • File Systems
      • Applications
      • Layers of Software
      • Summary
    • 7. Learning to Program
      • Programming Language Concepts
      • A First JavaScript Example
      • A Second JavaScript Example
      • Loops
      • Conditionals
      • Libraries and Interfaces
      • How JavaScript Works
      • Summary

    Wrapup on Software

  • Part III: Communications
    • 8. Networks
      • Telephones and Modems
      • Cable and DSL
      • Local Area Networks and Ethernet
      • Wireless
      • Cell Phones
      • Bandwidth
      • Compression
      • Error Detection and Correction
      • Summary
    • The Internet
      • An Internet Overview
      • Domain Names and Addresses
      • Routing
      • TCP/IP protocols
      • Higher-Level Protocols
      • Copyright on the Internet
      • The Internet of Things
      • Summary
    • 10. The World Wide Web
      • How the Web works
      • HTML
      • Cookies
      • Active Content in Web Pages
      • Active Content Elsewhere
      • Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses
      • Web Security
      • Defending Yourself
      • Summary
    • 11. Data and Information
      • Search
      • Tracking
      • Social Networks
      • Data Mining and Aggregation
      • Cloud Computing
      • Summary
    • 12. Privacy and Security
      • Cryptography
      • Anonymity
      • Summary
    • 13. Wrapping up

I must say, I also very much enjoyed learning of my overall ideological alignment with Brian Kernighan. I am very opinionated, but I believe he didn't make me do a even mild scoffing — and he goes to many issues I have strong feelings about (free software, anonymity, the way the world works...)
So, maybe I enjoyed this book so much because I enjoy teaching, and it conveys great ways to teach the topics I'm most passionate about. But, anyway, I have felt for several days the urge to share this book with the group of people that come across my blog ☺

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15.010958904109589041

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 23:10

Gregor's post made me think...

And yes! On April 15, I passed the 15-year-mark as a Debian Developer.

So, today I am 15.010958904109589041 years old in the project, give or take some seconds.

And, quoting my dear and admired friend, I deeply feel I belong to this community. Being part of Debian has defined the way I have shaped my career, has brought me beautiful friendships I will surely keep for many many more years, has helped me decide in which direction I should push to improve the world. I feel welcome and very recognized among people I highly value and admire, and that's the best collective present I could get.

Debian has grown and matured tremendously since the time I decided to join, and I'm very proud to be a part of that process.

Thanks, and lets keep it going for the next decade.

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DRM, DRM, oh how I hate DRM...

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 23:43

I love flexibility. I love when the rules of engagement are not set in stone and allow us to lead a full, happy, simple life. (Apologies to Felipe and Marianne for using their very nice sculpture for this rant. At least I am not desperately carrying a brick! ☺)

I have been very, very happy after I switched to a Thinkpad X230. This is the first computer I have with an option for a cellular modem, so after thinking it a bit, I got myself one:

After waiting for a couple of weeks, it arrived in a nonexciting little envelope straight from Hong Kong. If you look closely, you can even appreciate there's a line (just below the smaller barcode) that reads "Lenovo"). I soon found how to open this laptop (kudos to Lenovo for a very sensible and easy opening process, great documentation... So far, it's the "openest" computer I have had!) and installed my new card!

The process was decently easy, and after patting myself in the back, I eagerly turned on my computer... Only to find the BIOS to halt with the following message:

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card (1199/6813).

System is halted

So... Got everything back to its original state. Stupid DRM in what I felt the openest laptop I have ever had. Gah.

Anyway... As you can see, I have a brand new cellular modem. I am willing to give it to the first person that offers me a nice beer in exchange, here in Mexico or wherever you happen to cross my path (just tell me so I bring the little bugger along!)

Of course, I even tried to get one of the nice volunteers to install Libreboot in my computer now that I was to Libreplanet, which would have solved the issue. But they informed me that Libreboot is supported only in the (quite a bit older) X200 machines, not in the X230.

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On the demise of Slack's IRC / XMPP gateways

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 03/09/2018 - 20:23

I have grudgingly joined three Slack workspaces , due to me being part of proejects that use it as a communications center for their participants. Why grudgingly? Because there is very little that it adds to well-established communications standards that we have had for long years decades.

On this topic, I must refer you to the talk and article presented by Megan Squire, one of the clear highlights of my participation last year at the 13th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS2017): «Considering the Use of Walled Gardens for FLOSS Project Communication». Please do have a good read of this article.

Thing is, after several years of playing open with probably the best integration gateway I have seen, Slack is joining the Embrace, Extend and Extinguish-minded companies. Of course, I strongly doubt they will manage to extinguish XMPP or IRC, but they want to strengthen the walls around their walled garden...

So, once they have established their presence among companies and developer groups alike, Slack is shutting down their gateways to XMPP and IRC, arguing it's impossible to achieve feature-parity via the gateway.

Of course, I guess all of us recognize and understand there has long not been feature parity. But that's a feature, not a bug! I expressly dislike the abuse of emojis and images inside what's supposed to be a work-enabling medium. Of course, connecting to Slack via IRC, I just don't see the content not meant for me.

The real motivation is they want to control the full user experience.

Well, they have lost me as a user. The day my IRC client fails to connect to Slack, I will delete my user account. They already had record of all of my interactions using their system. Maybe I won't be able to move any of the groups I am part of away from Slack – But many of us can help create a flood.

Say no to predatory tactics. Say no to Embrace, Extend and Extinguish. Say no to Slack.

# apt install yum

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 03/05/2018 - 13:16
# apt install yum

No, I'm not switching to Fedora or anything like that.

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Things that really matter

Submitted by gwolf on Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:34


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