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This is both a wiki (a website editable by all) and a blog (an online diary about the stuff Alex Schroeder reads and does). If you’re a friend or relative, you might be interested in reading Life instead of this page. If you’ve come here from an RPG blog, you might want to head over to RPG. There are other similar categories to be found on the SiteMap.

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2018-05-27 Privacy Policies

I’ve been writing some privacy policy statements...

I will need a few more: Community Wiki, Campaign Wiki, etc. But they’ll all be basically copies of the Oddmuse Wiki Privacy Statement. I might have to adapt the markup but basically that’s it. From an admin perspective, they’re all set up the same way: they use the same software and the logs all use the same logrotate configuration.


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2018-05-27 Facebook

I need a new link collection, I think. It all started with a Mastodon thread by @paul talking about Facebook.

Facebook accused of conducting mass surveillance through its apps. «The lawsuit claims the ability to read text messages on Android phones was also partially disclosed, presented to users as a way to make logging in easier, but Facebook deployed it to collect a range of other messages and the associated metadata. [...] Facebook has not fully disclosed the manner in which it pre-processes photos on the iOS camera roll, meaning if a user has any Facebook app installed on their iPhone, then Facebook accesses and analyses the photos the user takes and/or stores on the iPhone, the complainant alleges.»

Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to 'weaponise' data, court case alleges. «A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg.»

These links concern the same case: «The company that has filed the case, a former startup called Six4Three, is now trying to stop Facebook from having the case thrown out and has submitted legal arguments that draw on thousands of emails, the details of which are currently redacted.» (ibid) This company does seem rather shady and I think it needs to be reiterated that all of this is alleged and not proven. «Six4Three lodged its original case in 2015 shortly after Facebook removed developers’ access to friends’ data. The company said it had invested $250,000 in developing an app called Pikinis that filtered users’ friends photos to find any of them in swimwear.»

Comment by @switchingsocial: «If this week’s allegations are true, FB’s income depends mostly on selling personal data to companies. Apparently FB technically avoid “selling it” by giving it away, but only give it away to companies that buy lots of ads. If it is true, then in effect they are exchanging personal data for ad revenue, and the ads themselves are irrelevant except as a payment method for data sales.»

Facebook Has Many Sins To Atone For, But 'Selling Data' To Cambridge Analytica Is Not One Of Them. «The real problem was in how all of this was hidden. It comes back to transparency. Facebook could argue that this information was all “public” – which, uh, okay, it was, but it was not public in a way that the average Facebook user (or even most “expert” Facebook users) truly understood. So if we’re going to bash Facebook here, it should be for the fact that none of this was clear to users.» I’d argue that transparency is not the goal. Ethical behavior is. Thus, we want to use transparency to enforce ethical behavior. That is why there is some extra bashing due after the bashing for a lack of transparency.

Facebook Knows How to Track You Using the Dust on Your Camera Lens. Summary by @switchingsocial: “They even patented a method for analysing dust/scratches on camera lenses, to identify the person taking the picture.”


Comments on 2018-05-27 Facebook

Thanks for gathering this all together!

(test commenting too)

– At PresGas at freeradical dot zone 2018-05-27 15:30 UTC

You’re welcome. 😀

– Alex Schroeder 2018-05-27 15:47 UTC

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2018-05-26 History Atlas

I’ve been reading through this talk by Tom Elliot, which he intended to (or did) present at the 19th International Congress of Classical Archaeology in Bonn: “The Pleiadic gaze: Looking at archaeology from the perspective of a digital gazetteer.” See Pleiadic Gaze.

I loved this part: «In thinking about a follow-on effort, we were influenced then in no small way by the recent emergence of the so-called “wiki way” […] It was clear by the turn of the century that a paper atlas and its twelve-hundred-page, two-volume companion directory could not adequately serve the users of new media and new computing tools.»

Links mentioned:

  • Pleiades, “a community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places” and the online replacement of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (2000).
  • Peripleo, “a search engine to data maintained by partners of Pelagios Commons, a Digital Humanities initative aiming to foster better linkages between online resources documenting the past.”


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2018-05-25 Robo Calls

People talking about Google assistants and how to automate voice calls underestimate the creepiness of it all. Case in point: @brainblasted got a call and writes about it, here:

I was talking to a bot and had no clue until they repeated it. It wasn’t like someone trying to repeat something to convince me - it was the exact same audio clip. That was my only clue.

Really unnerving. Also pissed becuase they have call bots spreading propaganda that front as humans. It held a conversation convincingly FFS, and recognized what I said.


Automated voice calls and automated dialers are already used by political parties and businesses. In the end telephony will be like email: a way to be spammed. We will hide our phone numbers and refuse to take calls from strangers. It’s what I already do.

Of course, spam callers have existed for a long time. Which is why I delisted and then cancelled my land line years ago and kept my mobile phone number unlisted since the very beginning. I am essentially already treating phone calls spam and I’m not alone. Improving automation in this regard will force more people to make the same decisions, I assume.

I keep hearing from people with land lines here in Switzerland how they get calls soliciting this or that, proposals to change healthcare insurance and what not. So right now, not everyone is ready to make the same decision. Not yet.


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2018-05-25 Libratone Speakers Privacy Policy

I own two Libratone Loop speakers. Libratone is a Danish company.

There is an app that comes along with them which you can use to set some speaker parameters. This used to be fine, I felt. Years ago, I suddenly had to register in order to use the app. I hated that.

With the GDPR I got many mails, including one by Libratone, linking to their Privacy Policy. At the very top:

One of the key features of the App is to connect you to personalized audio content based on your listening preferences and interactions with the App (which is described more fully below). If you are not interested in this feature, you should not sign up to use the App and you should delete the App from your device. This will not affect your ability to stream audio content to your Product via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or any other means of connectivity (connectivity options vary between models).

I guess I don’t get to use those speaker parameters. Let’s hope they didn’t make much of a difference.

Now I want to delete my account with them and I can’t find the link. Should I just send them mail? Wouldn’t that be great: a barrage of counter-spam for all the people out there.

At least all those emails must have alerted people all over the world that something regarding privacy was going on?


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2018-05-24 Feeds

I think I’m going to unsubscribe from all the blogs that don’t provide full articles in their feed. If they do that, I need to click through and open a browser. That makes me think people want to show me their ads and I’m doing my very best to block them. They probably don’t like me blocking the ads, and I don’t like seeing the ads, so it’s better to part ways, I think. And now I can use feh as the external browser for newsboat, I guess. (feh is a simple image viewer.)

Sometimes I guess the fault lies with the authors of tools and the defaults they picked. What were they thinking? Then again, the Oddmuse default feed (my own wiki and blog software) also defaults to showing the default instead of the full text. Gah.


  • default RSS feed, which works for a wiki but not for a blog
  • the preferred feed I manually added to the configuration of my site such that it gets picked up by tools people point at my site


Comments on 2018-05-24 Feeds

Another thing I noticed on your default feed is it includes comments (I like that!). Is there a way Oddmuse can combine the full feed with comments in full? Call it the “deluxe” feed, if you will!



– At PresGas at freeradical dot zone 2018-05-25 17:21 UTC

I noticed that my markup rule for Mastodon accounts assumes all lower case for account names. Heh. 😏

– Alex Schroeder 2018-05-25 22:20 UTC

I’ll have to investigate the full feed thing. It should be possible for sure.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-05-25 22:21 UTC

https://alexschroeder.ch/wiki?action=rss;full=1 Perhaps?

– Alex Schroeder 2018-05-25 22:22 UTC

Hey! I believe that does it. Trying it out on newsboat/newsbeuter (haven’t fully migrated my server to 18.04 Xubuntu) shortly, but Firefox’s view looks good

– At PresGas at freeradical dot zone 2018-05-26 02:12 UTC

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2018-05-24 Donations

Collecting donations for 2018. I’ll start with the regular stuff: I regularly donate $10/month to the EFF, $120/year to the FSF, and €180/year to the FSFE.

As for political associations in Switzerland: we are members of Mieterverband (for tenants) and VCS Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz (for sustainable mobility, unlike the Touring-Club, which is pro-cars).

I use Mastodon a lot and so I’ve set up a Liberapay account which pays 1€/week for the Mastodon project and 1€/week for my main instance, Octodon.

I donated 20€ to GnuPG.


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2018-05-24 Copyright Directive

Are you angry about copyright? Angry about the USA? Angry about attempts at copyright extensions in the USA? If not, you can read US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years. Or How The Recording Industry Hid Its Latest Attempt To Expand Copyright (And Why You Should Call Your Senator To Stop It), which is a continuation of Of Course The RIAA Would Find A Way To Screw Over The Public In 'Modernizing' Copyright.

Well, the Mourning Goose blog post is here to tell you that you can be angry about the European Union and copyright, too.

More about the Copyright Directive on Wikipedia. When I see the words “technological protection measures” my eyes glaze over and in my mind I see a burning pentagram of Mammon worshipping grey men waiting to suck me dry and smoke my life.

But remember, this is about the proposed changes to the Copyright Directive. Here’s another angry person: The EU's Proposed Copyright Directive Is Likely To Be A Wonderful Gift -- For US Internet Giants, Which is a continuation of EU Announces Absolutely Ridiculous Copyright Proposal That Will Chill Innovation, Harm Creativity. Or how about Forget The GDPR, The EU's New Copyright Proposal Will Be A Complete And Utter Disaster For The Internet.

I will need to drink a lot of green tea tonight after reading all that. 🍵

More links...

Forget The GDPR, The EU's New Copyright Proposal Will Be A Complete And Utter Disaster For The Internet

Julia Reda has an update: «Update from May 25th 2018, 13:37: Member State governments have today adopted their position on the copyright reform, with no significant changes to the upload filters and link tax provisions. It is now up to Parliament to stop them.»

Whenever I read about political decision making in parliaments where there are more than just two parties I want to know what parties acted against my best interest and who fought for it. Regarding the stupid new copyright proposal, check the section “Where the parties stand” in Julia Rede’s blog post.

Where the parties stand


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2018-05-24 Ads

About twenty something years ago I might I have said that ads are bad because they are so damn irrelevant to my life. I didn’t think it through. Now technology has made it possible to serve me relevant ads by going Big Brother on me and I still hate ads!

I find it hard enough these days to walk through the Zurich main station with all their moving ads distracting me left and right. I hate the noise so I wear headphones. I hate the ads so soon I will need to wear ad-blocking glasses! All ads do is add temptation to my life and if I then deny myself the indulgence, the ads add misery and unhappiness to my life where just moments ago I was happily ignorant and content.


Comments on 2018-05-24 Ads

Your writing is really good at connecting yourself with other human beings. We all are here to connect with each other. I ride the bus to “people watch” and maybe connect with a person or two. Try that out; focus on the humans around you and not the distractions. I know it is easier said than done.

It is funny as my kids tell me “You really know everyone, don’t you?!?” ...but that is me just not getting distracted from the crap marketing and other things and just being in the moment with the rest of us.

– At PresGas at freeradical dot zone 2018-05-25 02:52 UTC

I love people watching when I’m on holidays. I once spent days with a friend in Florence just watching the tourists. I guess I’m a Flâneur wanna-be: “the man of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street.” (Wikipedia) But also this: “to remain hidden from the world” (Baudelaire, quoted on that page). Such a wonderful article.

There’s also being in public early in the morning or late in the evening, tired, exhausted. Social contact, people talking to me, and ads trying to gain my attention seep my energy. I don’t mind as much when I’m happy and fit and full of energy. But during my commute, not so much.

Also, thanks for the kind words. :)

I guess you could just provide the URL to your Mastodon profile as the homepage URL below and it would link your name automatically. Mentioning Mastodon accounts works as well, e.g. @kensanata@octodon.social@kensanata.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-05-25 08:29 UTC

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2018-05-19 Security Focused Operating System


Most security folks know about Kali Linux, but there are quite a few alternative security-focused Linux distributions out there.

Parrot is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian and focused on Penetration Testing, Digital Forensics, Programming and Privacy protection.

You can download different spins (including an ARM version that can run on the RPi) and try it out for yourself.


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