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Journal: My privacy online

Journal by xonen

I decided recently to put some more effort in securing my online privacy, by using some standard tactics, like automagic clearing of cookies except for a whitelist, and by logging out from the big spysites like Facebook and Google. I also try to obfuscate my surfing even further by using different browsers, and even got more headroom if i'd install Opera or Safari as well, in an effort to sabotage browser fingerprinting.

The practical implications are more severe than i expected though. For example, when not logged on to a Google account, their search results seem a lot more irrelevant, up to the point i'd call it a 'shitty search engine', littering the top-10 results with rubbish. And before you say 'duh, of course personalized search results are better' - the same applies to subjects i'd normally never search for. Of course this is a subjective impression. Just as subjective as that certain sites seem to remember your history without being logged on anywhere. Clearing cookies largely helps, it seems. It's stunning though how visiting a single page easily leaves no less than 30 cookies on occasion - and that's with an ad blocker enabled. My conclusion here is that using an ad blocker might indeed block ads from displaying, it is in no way an effective means of getting tracked less.

All my effort seem in vein though, when i read the numbers on police queries. According to http://webwereld.nl/nieuws/109521/-politie-schendt-wet-met-bevragingen-ciot-database-.html , the dutch police queried personal data (name, address) belonging to a certain IP address, no less than 2.3 million times in 2011.

The most basic math would reveal that about 15% of the dutch population (around 16.6M) was queried. However, if you start counting the number of households (around 7M), or better: the account of households with broadband internet connection (around 5M), that number approaches 50%.

If you'd also factor in my internet usage which is surely a lot larger than the average (16/24 x 7/7, visiting a lot of websites, leaving comments left and right, likely on more delicate subjects), then it's almost a statistical certainty, with a sigma that the CERN would be proud of, that my IP address was queried at least once in 2011.

There's no privacy. If it's not an secured connection, it's even likely that all data is tapped. Not only the obliged info that's tapped for everyone (you know, emails, tcp connections) as by EU law, but also a full tap as in phone tap - holland tops the numbers there too.

To make matters worse. It can also not be excluded that even a secured connection is insecure. Apparently almost any certificate distributor is flawed, stamping thousands of fake certificates. There are even certificates that work on the 'top level domain'. Worse, there's no reason to believe they were not only used in Iran or so, as is officially claimed. Man-in-the-middle attacks are not only a theoretical concern.

There's only one conclusion: there's no privacy online. What the big companies do is only children's play compared to how the dutch gov operates. It's logged, filed and analyzed. Likely even this very message. I'm a suspect. A potentional rebel, hacker or terrorist. Just like 2.3 more dutch citizens.

So, next time you come to holland, better think twice before visiting our country filled with criminals. But rest assured you're watched, for the safety of us all. Because we all want a safe internet, don't we.

User Journal

Journal: First week without digital contrabande

Journal by xonen

It's the 10th day now, of the dutch censurship. A foreign website is blocked, by both DNS and IP. And despite earlier discussions that mostly revolved to 'easy to avoid', i can only come to the conclusion that it still s*cks. Big time.

I'm not such of a downloader. Occasionaly, when i hear something, on some radio stream, i might check out. Youtube first, probably. But sometimes, or quite often, it's simply not there. Too obscure, or whatever it is. So the next choice would be to find some copy - that's where file sharing comes in.

It's also still legal in our country. Downloading, for personal use, is legal. But one of the means to do so conveniently, is blocked.

I joked in advance 'Using TOR will give me that bit of holiday feeling - like i'm in China'. Unfortunately, it's true. Not that i feel in China. But i feel the hot breath of an almost fascist regime breathing in my neck. This regime feeling has nothing to do with file sharing though, more with the other means of control. Holland excels in telephone tapping, for example. Anything is trapped, analyzed. Every bit i send over the internet is weighted, scanned, duplicated and stored. The blocking is just a solid reminder on that.

I had a daydream, or more nightmare, vision, today. Of risking getting shot at street by a drone, because you said something wrong on the internet.

The pain is not in a technical filesharing thingy working no longer as intended. Well, that's a bit of pain too. It's not only the site that's down, it are important trackers that are down too. Even with the torrent, stuff seems to run a lot less smooth. But that's all irrelevant. By the feeling that i live in a regime, not a democracy.

I apologize to all out there in egypt, or syria, or whereever. Where i know the situation is really bad. Risking your lives is nothing compared to a spoiled file sharer. Therefore, i think, no-one really dares to complain. Because then we are spoiled.

Yet.. another step, to our big brother, big cyber brother, controlling us. Now, let me fill in facebook what i all did today else intelligence service will start to worry what i'm doing, i can't risk that.

User Journal

Journal: What's wrong with the moderator points 1

Journal by xonen

For years, i'v been getting mod points for, well, maybe once a year. Not that i ever really bothered - but all of the sudden (and my ./ browsing habits did not really change) - i get modpoints time after time.
Today, i hardly spend my last modpoint and bam - i got 5 new modpoints again. For the 5th time in 2 weeks time. What's wrong with it - is it horribly bugged, or are the odds of 'random' just teasing me?

User Journal

Journal: Are we over the the tipping point of technological growth

Journal by xonen

Are we over the the tipping point of technological growth

While numbers like Mooreâ(TM)s Law have kept amazing us for the past decades, and the number of scientific articles published each year almost exponentially explodes, my question is: are we really getting that most smarter? Is technology really growing that fast?

The 20th century, and the ones before, have been amazing. Cultural revolution in the 16, industrial revolution thereafter, and high-tech evolving with the coming of electricity in the 20th. However, sometimes we tend to over-estimate the latest inventions. No, the iPod is not the highest product that we could possible produce, itâ(TM)s more in the natural line of technology, such product with such specifications was expected to happen, sooner or later. Ask Moore. Well, there are other factors, battery industry, for example. But in general, the amateur engineers among us could predict such evolvements reasonable well for, say, a 10-15 year timescale period.

Our real technologies are a lot more fundamental to that. Take concrete and steel production. Concrete sure has been improved, but the concept of steel-inforced concrete is maybe one of the best inventions of modern architecture. And speaking of steel. The skills of hardening steel are even a lot older. Heating. Cooling. Re-heating, basically. Itâ(TM)s one of the fundamental technologies that we rely on daily.

Most modern alloys. Were already invented around the 1950â(TM)s. Same for most other technologies like atom craft, and semiconductors. The principals were quickly laid, and despite recent and future improvements the basics technology goes way back.

Itâ(TM)s quite obvious that the 20th centory has brought a lot of discoveries. But, to me, it appears we are loosing speed. We get more involved in political aspects, often rightfully, than that really new things are discovered. Optics? Yes, theyâ(TM)ll get improved. Quantum computers? The principal around a 100 years old by now, waiting for someone to make it just-works. Of course thereâ(TM)s a lot of theoretical research going on. Like at the LHC, the Large Hedron Collider. Yet, the principal of colliders is over 50 years old already, too. Itâ(TM)s just another evolving technology, like steel.

Astronomy, you might counter. Space expeditions. DNA research. Molecular biological research, whatever. Yes, sure itâ(TM)s steadily improving and thereâ(TM)s a lot of fundamental knowledge coming out of it. But, once, a popular saying among scientist was: âan answer raises more questions than it answersâ(TM). We seem to be beyond that point, we are directed looking for answers, within an context we already know or assume to know. Sudden new stuff still pops up, for sure, and will always be. Yet, the more we understand the less there is to discover.

But with all this knowledge. Did our engineers manage to make our life quality much improved. It more seems that economy did, not engineering in itself. Economy hired the engineers. And very interesting things were produced.

But in an ideal world. Weâ(TM)d not worry about pollution, cause we didnâ(TM)t make any. No plastic waste in oceans. No CO2 pollution. Better treatment for the elder. No continents with starvation issues. Good food for everyone. Etc. Itâ(TM)s all technologically perfectly feasible, yet we donâ(TM)t do it. Engineering canâ(TM)t solve everything thatâ(TM)s for sure true, itâ(TM)s society that need to solve it. Society, politics, industry.

If we look at the raw numbers, it is ridiculous that we have a food problem in certain countries. Scientist predict the earth is, with current technology, capable of maintaining about 35 billion people. Yet, we are only we 7 billion as we speak, so there is really no technological reason at all we shouldnâ(TM)t be able to produce enough food. Political situations like civilian wars taken out, thereâ(TM)s no reason at all why we shouldnâ(TM)t have excellent food production at _any_ place. We got the money, plenty of, even. Got any technology needed. Got the knowledge to scale up or down, you donâ(TM)t have to industrialize Africa instantly, you can grow the efforts with society. Really, seen from an engineering point of view there would be no problem at all.

We see political influence on technical issues grow everywhere. Internet being the most recent example. But also taxes like electricity tax. Or simply car speed limits. Of course politics need to draw the outer lines of what is acceptable, and must adapt to technological progress.

Iâ(TM)m sorry to lost topic a bit into politics, as i was really talking about science itself, mostly. My gut feel sais, our rate of improvement is slowly decaying. We manage to make more, of everything. but not necessarily better. We ignore fundamental problems like waste, pollution, or general wellbeing like traffic or sound hindrance, recreating, at the cost of âeconomyâ(TM) which basically involves a big marionette involving suits and ties and fuel-consuming smell engines. Eventually most office and social work nowadays is done behind the pc, so it shouldn't really matter where that pc is. Except for social purposes, technologically there is no need to go to office 9 to 5 on a daily basis per se, so thereâ(TM)s hardly any need for forensic car usage either.

Weâ(TM)r heading into a new middle age. We found our new witches, too. Terrorists. Extremists. We are scared of a terrorist killing 100 people. Yet our modern society sacrifices thousands of lifes daily. But we lost our vision. Cause we have no other goals. Thereâ(TM)s no renewed goal now âthat we got it allâ(TM). There is no higher goal to reach in current society, there is just âfearâ(TM) and âsurvivalâ(TM) which are both, practically, totally displaced emotions.

Our goal should be to reach this higher society. This Utopia we spoke about so long. Not debating about the last pennies for whatever, there really should be no need for nibbling on all such details, itâ(TM)s a decadent behavior. Decadent, yes. We float in luxury. All our problems are close to virtual. We make them to have one. Again, from an engineering point of view there is really no reason why we cannot live perfect lives. Have perfect health care. Etc.

Internet makes it possible i can write this and distribute this. Thatâ(TM)s why i like the internet. Please keep up the good ideas and let us all define some higher goals society should strive after. Cause despite extremists, i believe most people have just âcommon senseâ(TM) and like almost agrees on best possible solutions. Itâ(TM)s not the agreement thatâ(TM)s missing. Itâ(TM)s the flow of new fresh ideas. Idealists. Modern Voltaireâ(TM)s. Einsteins. We are more people than ever. So, where are they... Where are our thinkers.

User Journal

Journal: Why Paint.net sux

Journal by xonen

What started as a nice project a few years ago, has now become a pain.inthewherethesundontshine. The sheer arrogance of the developers combined with the fact that it is closed source, proves once again why open source is so important and here to stay.
    I'm ready to believe the developer had, and has, best intends. I'm also ready to accept his time is limited and that he can not comply to every wish by every user.
    Why the hassle you'll ask. Well, after - finally - being the proud owner of a pen tablet, you know, not those i/pat thingies, but the tablets you can use to draw, as digital pencil, i was happily playing with it using the various software i already posses. The Gimp, of course. Does excellent job but my second monitor broke down, so screen layout is a bit messy and intrusive. Paint.net then, the 'friendly light-weight but flexible editor'. Guess what, my pen wasn't working as intended. It was simulating a mouse, no more, no less and no sign of pressure sensivity. A quick google made me think i missed an option somewhere, as paint.net is actually recommended for tablet use. A consequent google learned the answer: pressure sensivity was removed (!) in 3.5. Without any reason in particular, it was just removed.
    Before barking at the forum, i figured to see what others already have barked against that tree, and indeed, i'm not alone. One wants to create a petition to get tablet support back in, the other asks for an older version please (any 3.5 has support for tablets, and are about as feature rich). The developer simply states it 'disappeared, won't come back, except maybe in the form of a plugin'.
So, summorizing facts:
* The support was removed in a mature version. 3 major version points have supported it, 3.5 and up no longer (will) support it.
* There are (intentionally) no older versions available (via the official channel)
* People that complain about this issue are accused of ranting, and told to (summarized) stfu
* There is currently no plugin for it
* Forum threads regarding the issue are closed.
* The installer will remove any existing installation of paint.net so there is no option to run or install 2 distinct versions simultaniously.

My conclusion is: 1. The development team is: A. Retarded. B. Arrogant C. shortsighted D. not interested in supporting other input devices E. not seriously interested into graphics at all. F. ignoring a large % of their user base. G. Giving Freeware a bad reputation.

This post is dedicated to the poor fellows before me already accused of ranting because of this very issue. I'm happy to waste a few more bytes to add another rant.

Keep up the good work. Vive La Gimp. Vive open source. Vive Liberte.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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