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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Julia Reda is a member of the European Parlement. In a recent publication she writes about an important subject that has just become part of a recommendation by the European Commission: “automated upload filters” should be used, according to the Commission, to stop illegal uploads and copyright infringement.

Click to read the full communication by Julia Reda

Julia Reda first clearly states what that means:

Installing censorship infrastructure that surveils everything people upload and letting algorithms make judgement calls about what we all can and cannot say online is an attack on our fundamental rights.

I agree with that: in a democracy, there is no place for preemptive censorship.

In addition, she gives 9 clear reasons why it is silly to think that that automated filters will be able to achieve what the Commission wants: those filters don’t work very well. Unless you think cats can sing pop songs, or unless you’re OK with the voice of war victims in Syria being stifled, etc…

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At least 17,723 Syrians have died in custody, according to Amnesty International. Since 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Not by the hands of Daesh, mind you. No, he was killed by the hands of the Syrian regime (or what’s left of it). Wired published the story of one of those victims, Bassel Khartabil, in an article titled “How One Syrian Fought To The Death For A Free Internet“.

Bassel Khartabil said “…a phone with a camera is a hundred times more powerful than a gun“. Clearly, a dictatorial regime must believe that, or they wouldn’t have executed him when he was barely 34 years old. No one seems to know for sure, but it probably happened on or about October 5, 2015.

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Just so I don’t forget it myself: I’m using Grive2 to backup a few hundred files to Google Drive from the little Asus portable. Why? Because I finally took the time to automate the daily readout of our solar panels on that little Linux machine, and I don’t want to lose that information (one little file every day!) should anything happen to the portable.

I found the instructions on how to install and use Grive2 here: “How to sync your Google Cloud on Linux with Grive2“. Basic stuff, easy to execute: ideal for an eternal beginner like myself ;-)

I had to change the crontab entry, because the line in the example wasn’t working for me. I replaced the ‘grive -path /home/wouter/somedirectory‘ part of the crontab entry with ‘cd /home/wouter/somedirectory && grive‘. And that did the trick.

There are other solutions, of course, but this was sufficient for me, at least for now.

PS. Yes, I really should replace that machine with a Raspberry Pi… but that will have to wait until later.

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I discovered Scott Helme’s blog only recently, but I’m glad I did. Scott knows much more about HTTPS and certificates than I do, and he succeeds in explaining the subject in a very understandable way. The post that pointed me to his blog explains how certificate “Revocation is broken“. And that subject has some surprising aspects, by the way. Earlier posts on his blog will let you discover what SSL means, how you can install certificates, what to look out for, and more.

Let’s face it: I’m happy to blog here on the WordPress site, which takes care of all the SSL stuff for this blog (and probably does it better than I could do myself at this moment). But if I want to continue to help build and run other websites, I’ll have to get my hands dirty on this subject! We may all be waiting for the days when “buying” a domain name will include the corresponding SSL certificates, but as long as that isn’t the case, you and I will have to do it ourselves. That’s where people like Scott can be a big help.

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The language isn’t new: Kotlin was created more than 5 years ago by JetBrains engineers. A preview version was released in 2011. Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Being crude, you could say that it’s “just another” enhancement of the Java language, just like Groovy or Scala. Nice, but hardly indispensable.

But Kotlin made a name for itself in May 2017, when Google announced “that it is making Kotlin […] a first-class language for writing Android apps” (in the words of Frederic Lardinois on TechCrunch). The Wired website has a bit more info on why the language was developed and why it is so “hot” these days. And the article concludes:

And its applications extend well beyond Google’s platform. Like Java, it can be used to write apps that run on desktops and servers as well. Plus, JetBrains has released tools for translating Kotlin code into code that can run on iOS or even in web browsers. All of which is to say, you can expect to find yourself using apps written in Kotlin more and more often in the coming months and years.

I have not yet written a line of Kotlin, but perhaps I should try that sooner rather than later. Since I’m also looking at Apple’s Swift language, the combination of learning both could be beneficial… or problematic, since someone asserts that both are quite similar (but not the same, of course): see “Swift is like Kotlin” for details.

I still would like to know how the name “Kotlin” was chosen…

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I have used the Signal – Private Messenger app for a long time – I even remember that it was originally called ‘TextSecure’.

Luckily for me, the app also includes support for ‘normal’ (unsecure!) SMS messages, because only a very limited number of friends and acquaintances were willing to follow me. Perhaps this news will change their minds:

Without any fanfare, the Senate Sergeant at Arms recently told Senate staffers that Signal, widely considered by security researchers and experts to be the most secure encrypted messaging app, has been approved for use.

Source: ZDNet

So the US Senate is allowed to use this app – will the Open Whisper Systems crew be proud and see this as a compliment?

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Last weekend, I spotted two old BMW motorcycles on the road in the port of Antwerp (Belgium). I had my camera in my hands, so I managed a few badly-framed photos Рyou can see them on Flickr.

By chance, I also spotted an advertisement for a similar bike. I don’t pretend to be a specialist on the subject, but I haven’t seen many BMW R50/2’s in this color scheme (not even on Google Images), and I find this combination quite flattering!

A fine-looking oldie, as seen in one
of the last advertisements on Kapaza

When I said I found this “zoekertje” by chance, I meant that I just had a quick look at the Kapaza website, because¬†the site announced just last week that it will be closing down in a few days. I have visited that site, with its thousands of advertisements for second-hand stuff in many categories, while on the prowl for say another bike or a special lens for my camera. Kapaza is (was) one of the few big Belgian websites that used ColdFusion for at least parts of its site, and that made me pay a bit more attention to it also. This is one more website that won’t last half a century and more, unlike the motorcycle shown here!

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