GadgeteerZA

I blog about #technology #gadgets #opensource #FOSS #greentech #traditionalwetshaving #LCHF #health #alternativeto #hamradio (ZS1OSS) #southafrica - see my blog at https://gadgeteer.co.za/blog

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Cake day: Sep 26, 2022

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Ideas can come from all sorts of places, and inspiration can hit in a flash—think of Archimedes supposedly yelling “Eureka! Eureka!” in the bath when he realized that irregular items could be accurately measured through water displacement. But sometimes, it’s fiction, not reality, that provides the spark of inspiration. There are sci-fi tales, for example, that have gone beyond predicting technological advancements to directly inspiring scientific progress, from robotics to rocketry and everything in between. Here are 11 advancements inspired by works of science fiction to read up on while we wait for teleportation beyond the quantum level. Actually, though, HG Wells does precede Arthur C. Clarke's book that included the global interconnected telephone network. In Men Like Gods (1923), Wells invites readers to a futuristic utopia that's essentially Earth after thousands of years of progress. In this alternate reality, people communicate exclusively with wireless systems that employ a kind of co-mingling of voicemail and email-like properties. See https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/many-futuristic-predictions-hg-wells-came-true-180960546/ #technology #SciFi #science #inventions #inspiration

Germany's federal and state data protection authorities (DSK) have raised concerns about the compatibility of Microsoft 365 with data protection laws in Germany and the wider European Union. Under the GDPR, children below the age of 13 are incapable of consenting to their data being collected, while consent may be given by those with parental responsibility for those under 16 but not younger than 13. When platforms do store data on adults, those customers are meant to be able to request the deletion of their records. Microsoft has denied that its assessment : "We ensure that our M365 products not only meet, but often exceed, the strict EU data protection laws. Our customers in Germany and throughout the EU can continue to use M365 products without hesitation and in a legally secure manner." That statement is not actually a categorical and clear denial of what Germany alleges. But actually my opinion is, if there is concern about any age group using this software for educational purposes, all the concepts (and use) can also be taught using open source LibreOffice and then there is no issue like this. Schools should anyway be teaching concepts and principles, that there are options out there, and to innovate around experimentation, adapting software, etc. See https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/30/office_365_faces_more_gdpr/ #technology #GDPR #privacy #M365 #Germany

These days, social media gets all the attention, but the Bulletin Board System (BBS), a relic from a kinder, gentler time in computer communications, persists. Each BBS is its own retro-flavored community with messages, text-based games, and files you can download. And you can still connect to one today. A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer-based electronic community on which its members can read and write messages, play text-based games, and download files. They originated in 1978 in Chicago, and their popularity peaked around 1995, just as the internet began to go mainstream. Back then, this was the Internet for most people. Today, because dial-up phone lines are scarce, and we have the internet, most BBSes utilize the Telnet protocol for connections (although some dial-up BBSes still exist). Today, the number of BBSes is rising due to a growing nostalgia for the past. The Telnet BBS Guide lists almost 800 currently active BBSes, which is more than double the amount around in 2016. Sure, you can just jump on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit to find a community. But if you want a blast from the past, you should try a BBS. Each BBS is a cultural pocket that’s usually insulated from the reach of Google’s indexing or viral intrusions from social media. You can’t get to a BBS through a web browser without logging in through a terminal emulator. This means, generally, you can’t reach the resources of a BBS openly from a website (although exceptions do exist). As a result, each BBS feels like a private club that reflects the personality of the administrator, or Sysop (system operator). Each BBS is its own community. People leave messages for each other, play against each other in text-based games, and (less commonly, now) share files that are only available on that particular BBS. See https://www.howtogeek.com/686600/remember-bbses-heres-how-you-can-visit-one-today/ #technology #retro #BBS #bulletinboard #Telnet

Sort of renders whistleblowing also illegal, as often it is about revealing secret or confidential documents. It creates a major problem if corporations conduct crimes behind a veil of secrecy. That is not what secrecy was intended for.


The device, nicknamed Wi-Peep, can fly near a building and then use the inhabitants' Wi-Fi network to identify and locate all Wi-Fi-enabled devices inside in a matter of seconds. The Wi-Peep exploits a loophole the researchers call polite Wi-Fi. Even if a network is password protected, smart devices will automatically respond to contact attempts from any device within range. The Wi-Peep sends several messages to a device as it flies and then measures the response time on each, enabling it to identify the device's location to within a meter. "The Wi-Peep devices are like lights in the visible spectrum, and the walls are like glass," Abedi said. "Using similar technology, one could track the movements of security guards inside a bank by following the location of their phones or smartwatches. Likewise, a thief could identify the location and type of smart devices in a home, including security cameras, laptops, and smart TVs, to find a good candidate for a break-in. In addition, the device's operation via drone means that it can be used quickly and remotely without much chance of the user being detected." This vulnerability relates to the location and type of devices, so is not about any access to your devices or network. It's great from thieves for example to see where your smart TVs are located in a home, and where the human's phone devices are presently. But it's also great for hostage rescuers to see where hostages are grouped in a bank vs others moving around. As it is hardware related, there is no possible software patch, and we'll need to wait for newer Wi-Fi hardware devices to be rolled out. See https://techxplore.com/news/2022-11-loophole-wi-fi-walls.html #technology #security #privacy #wipeep #vulnerability

Keyoxide is a privacy-friendly open source tool to create and verify decentralized online identities using a cryptography-based approach to bidirectional linking
Just like passports for real life identities, Keyoxide can be used to verify the online identity of people to make sure one is interacting with whom they are supposed to be and not imposters. Unlike real life passports, Keyoxide works with online identities or "personas", meaning these identities can be anonymous and one can have multiple separate personas to protect their privacy, both online and in real life. Keyoxide allows you to prove "ownership" or rather "hold" of accounts on websites, domain names, instant messaging, etc., regardless of your username. You create, or use and existing, cryptographic signature (or OpenPGP key) which acts as your digital passport to link to the various services. I used my existing key with this, and just added the notation claims per service, with my proof placed in the profile of each service I control. Whilst Keybase is still alive, since its takeover by Zoom, it has been a lot quieter. Keyoxide also allows you to self-host the service, and seems to have a lot of flexibility for the services it links to. That said, I got a good 10 of my various services linked and verified, except I've had endless issues to get my IRC and XMPP accounts verified. See https://keyoxide.org/ #technology #identity #keyoxide #opensource

One reason for browsers getting sluggish is having too many extensions open, which just consumes extra RAM. Sometimes, too, they can interfere with each other. Even though my computer has 32GB of RAM, using a lot more than is needed, certainly increases the browser start up time a lot. I used to have just over 60 tabs open across my two browsers, and with reducing that now to just over 50 (eradicating the multiple GMail ones, and the RSS one) and also being able to turn off many of the browser extensions, I've saved a good many Gigabytes of RAM, and both my browsers are lot more responsive. The beauty with Extensity is that you can have most extensions disabled, as it is very quick to just toggle an extension on when needed, and quickly toggle it off again. The only extensions I keep active are really those doing script blocking, dark mode, spell checking, tab snoozing, and those of a similar nature. See https://github.com/sergiokas/Extensity #technology #browsers #opensource #extensity

One Utility Tool for Everything on MS Windows
Chris Titus has done a video about this awesome open source tool he has built to install various common applications, do global software updates (yes I also can't believe Windows does not yet do that), various system tweaks, and config settings. It is well worth watching his video as he explains what all the different options do, with some big cautions as well (as you can some irreversible stuff). The video is further down on the linked article page. See https://christitus.com/one-tool-for-everything/ #technology #Windows #opensource #utility

Well I can answer that because I just read about it today and thought it was quite interesting. So many still don’t know about it hence the post.


Converting Your Twitter Archive to Markdown, and t.co links to original URL
Once your archive is on your machine, you will have a browsable HTML archive of your tweets, direct messages, and moments including media like images, videos, and GIFs. This is nice, but it also has a few flaws. For one, you can’t easily copy your Tweets somewhere else, for example, into your website because they are stored in a complex JSON structure. But even more dangerous: your links are all still t.co links. This hides the original URL you shared and redirects all traffic over Twitter’s servers. But this is not only inconvenient, it is also dangerous. Just imagine what happens when t.co ever goes down: all URLs you ever shared are now irretrievable. And then, there are the images: all images in your archive are much smaller than the ones you originally shared, and when you click to expand them, you are taken to the Twitter website once again. So, your Twitter archive is far from being a safe, independent backup in case you want to delete your account or if Twitter ever dies completely. But luckily, there is help in the form of a Python script called Twitter Archive Parser, a project started by Tim Hutton. See https://matthiasott.com/notes/converting-your-twitter-archive-to-markdown #technology #twittermigration #twitterarchive #twitter

You can append to your existing e-mail address in various ways, and this could be pretty useful for seeing who leaked your e-mail address to spammers. For example, for your bank, give them the address myaddress+banking@gamil.com. Then, if spammers send to that address, you can quickly see where they got the e-mail address from! I've tested it with Proton Mail, and it works in exactly the same way. See https://lifehacker.com/your-gmail-account-has-unlimited-addresses-1849809691 #technology #email #antispam #privacy

I've happily been using self-hosted web-based FreshRSS for a while now. I chose it mainly because it suited my needs, and when I travelled regularly, I could work from the same shared source of articles. But the last while I've noticed some feeds lag really slowly with fetching the feed content (it may be my slowish hosting at home where I have 10 other services running), and with the addition of Full Text RSS to retrieve full text where feeds only contain snippets, this was pushing my server over its memory resources. Seeing I work permanently from home now, I thought I should look again at desktop based RSS readers. Well there are a lot of choices, but I was after full text retrieval in reader mode, without adverts. So I got down to Liferea (really feature packed), RSS Guard, and QuiteRSS. All retrieved full text articles with ad blocking etc. But these all have similar interfaces with minor differences, and all still have that older look and feel. They worked, but something felt sticky with the reading flow. I scan a good 500 articles per day, and my initial scanning is quite important to me. I had ignored Fluent Reader initially as it is Electron based. But I thought today I'll just try it and see. Yes, with Electron it obviously has the more modern feel to it, but this became really apparent with the intermediate view that I so need (and which I used in FreshRSS). My favourite view is a post headline, with some short snippet of text along with an image. So immediately I saw Fluent Reader has this (Magazine view), as well as a few other viewer options. Out of the box it has all the basics I'd use, it has no detailed stats like FreshRSS has, nor the depth of options that Liferea, QuiteRSS and RSS Guard have (nor the integration with the desktop OS; and it's Electron!). But it has great workflow and can produce a full text reader view. But it is fast and helps me do what I want to do really quickly and easily. Liferea for example uses only 145 MB of memory, whilst Fluent Reader has 7 processes running and which consume a total of 264 MB. Both use 0% CPU when not fetching feeds. It is open source and will install on Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. But as there are so many options out there, and everyone's needs are different, it is always best to first take stock of what you really need as far as features go, and then narrow your choices down from there. A good RSS reader allows you to consume vast amounts of information in a focussed and efficient way, so getting your own choice right, can really help you. You can easily export, and import, your feed sources list between applications, so it is not difficult to do hand-on comparisons. See https://github.com/yang991178/fluent-reader #technology #RSS #RSSreader #news #FluentReader #opensource

Open source Five Filters Full Text RSS can be self-hosted in a Docker container to retrieve full text from RSS articles
Chris did a nice breakdown of how this can work in conjunction with a self-hosted Fresh RSS reader (same as I'm using). It solves that issue with some RSS feeds only showing a short snippet of the content. I've also shared my own docker-compose file for this solution at https://pastebin.com/ARnUCpND where I've noted a workaround which I had to do, to get it to work on my server. See https://christitus.com/why-we-dont-browse-the-internet-anymore/ #technology #RSS #FullTextRSS #opensource #selfhosted


It is really odd as generics have been available for a while and that normally brings the prices down quite sharply. But the USA is way higher than any other country, even Australia and New Zealand, and not just by 10% or 20% - https://www.3axisadvisors.com/s/MPZ_FINAL_2021_11_09-rrpp.pdf.


And those people should know Mastodon is pretty public… if they want privacy they should be on Matrix, XMPP, etc ;-)


Of active daily users yes, but supposedly total registered accounts rose from 4.x million to 5.x million.




For those who don't even trust a zero trust online service like Bitwarden, there is this option... This project takes the now well-explored USB gadget feature of the Pi Zero, integrates it into a Bitwarden-backed password management toolkit to make a local-network-connected password storage, and makes a tutorial simple enough that anybody can follow it to build their own. Overall, such a device helps you carry your passwords with you wherever you need them, you can build this even if your Raspberry Pi skills are minimal so far, and it’s guaranteed to provide you with a feeling that only a self-built pocket gadget with a clear purpose can give you! See https://hackaday.com/2022/10/31/an-easy-to-make-pi-powered-pocket-password-pal/ #technology #opensource #selfhosted #raspberrypi #bitwarden

Yes it federated using ActivityPub protocol. It was only in alpha release though when I last used it, and it broke with one of the upgrades. I’m wondering if it has matured yet to a V1 and if others are finding it stable now?


Professor Kathleen Booth, one of the last of the early British computing pioneers, has died. She was 100. In 1950, Kathleen and Andrew married, the same year that she got a PhD in applied mathematics, again from the University of London. To secure further funding for their work, the Booths again went to the Rockefeller Foundation, which provided it on condition that the APE(C)X worked with human languages as well as just mathematics. The result was a demonstration of machine translation in November 1955. As well as building the hardware for the first machines, she wrote all the software for the ARC2 and SEC machines, in the process inventing what she called "Contracted Notation" and would later be known as assembly language. See https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/29/kathleen_booth_obit/ #technology #programming #assemblylanguage #KathleenBooth

Yes, progress with Bluesky has been super slow (a bit like Tim Berners-Lee's Solid) but at least we now know what protocol it will use, which will help explain a bit more about what could be expected. The AT Protocol website is still fairly sparse, but it offers three reasons the decentralized future of social might be the right one: “federated social,” which allows users to use many apps on top of one service; “algorithmic choice,” which lets them decide how that information is presented; and “portable accounts,” meaning you could move your stuff from one app to another without losing your content or social graph. Don’t hold your breath for the app and protocol to hit your social sphere, though. Bluesky continues to move fairly slowly and is trying to do its work publicly. As Dorsey said when the project launched, “The work must be done transparently in the open, not owned by any single private corporation, furthering the open & decentralized principles of the internet.” See https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/19/23412482/bluesky-at-protocol-decentralized-twitter-social-networks-app #technology #Bluesky #Twitter #decentralisation #federation

An interesting read at the linked article below. Whilst it is a given that eSIMs (and their successor) are going to happen, there are clearly some rough edges that need to be worked on. What was going to be greater freedom to switch SIMs, could end up being a bit of a lock-in with an existing eSIM ;-) I've switched more than once between an iPhone and an Android phone, and even moved a SIM card from a mobile hotspot into a second SIM slot on an Android phone. And yes, some of these things may not be easily possible yet with eSIMs. As the author pointed out, they ended up with two phones and no cellular service at all. See https://www.theverge.com/23412033/esim-phone-plan-device-switch-ios-android #technology #eSIM #SIM #mobile

Those are not the only either/or options though, so it depends on your pension plan. I opted to retire 5 years early with a 20% penalty, but I got a lump sum, and a monthly payment for life, with an annual cost of living adjustment. It is really about having a good look at what your specific options are, and playing the scenarios out.


I also thought there was one (based on actual link maybe), but I’ve got into the habit now of just doing a quick search to check.



Well I’m hoping at least the likes of Authy, Bitwarden, etc come to the party otherwise they may find themselves dead…


It’s bigger than just Google as Passkey is being implemented by them, Apple, and other Big Tech, and it is all separate. Problems are you may not be able to switch between services, and it may force users choosing one of the Big Tech’s to use. Let’s hope more cross-platform providers like Bitwarden, Authy, etc come up with their version.


Big Tech wants to kill the password, with "Passkeys" being the hot, new password replacement standard on the block. Passkeys are backed by Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the FIDO Alliance, so expect to see them everywhere soon. iOS picked up the standard in version 16, and now Google is launching passkey betas on Chrome and Android. The Passkey standard just trades cryptographic keys with the website directly. There's no need for a human to tell a password manager to generate, store, and recall a secret—that will all happen automatically, with way better secrets than what the old text box supported, and with uniqueness enforced. The downside is that, while every browser in the world supports showing that old text box, passkey support will need to be added to every web browser, every password manager, and every website. It's going to be a long journey. Not only that, there is also talk of it being locked to a mobile device, and what about those who move across all platforms like me having an Android as well as iPhone, and a Linux and Windows desktop? I make use of apps such as Authy and Bitwarden that sync and work across all my devices. I can't use Apple's Passkey as that only works on Apple devices, and Android's one is not going to help me on Linux. I just get this queezy feeling that Big Tech has been out to grab land as quickly as it could here for itself, and has not tried to really work openly with each other, and others, to create a truly portable solution. I want to make use of a solution that does not belong to any platform owner, and which I can use anywhere. Problem is, Big Tech owns platforms and they end up being the majority voice. I really would have preferred cross-platform players to have had a louder voice. See https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/10/google-rolls-out-beta-passkey-support-for-chrome-and-android/ #technology #passkey #passwords #authentication #BigTech


In the words of the American writer Susan Sontag, “To collect photographs is to collect the world.” And to see the world as it was, from dramatic historical events to the quirks of everyday life, there’s no better place to begin than a photo archive. Newspapers – whose photojournalists capture everything from grand state ceremonies to dog-grooming competitions – provide us with some of our most important archives. The Daily Herald Archive has more than three million photographs of life in Britain during the 20th century. Founded in 1912, the Daily Herald was in print for 52 years, spanning two World Wars, the postwar era and the swinging ‘60s. Today, the archive provides a unique portrait of a country undergoing great change, while also documenting local eccentricities and everyday life. Now held at the National Science Media Museum in Bradford, the Daily Herald Archive is the Science Museum Group’s largest collection. I'd really hope that the tons of history and records at all newspapers can find a living home like this. The same goes for so many long standing organisations as it is tragic when decades of history just go "missing". See https://artsandculture.google.com/project/daily-herald-archive #technology #dailyherald #newspaper #archive #history

I should add in my own case though although it was technically one company (unbroken pension contributions) I did a variety of different things, and when I went into IT I started at desktop support, then network admin, then programming, then quality assurance, and ended at client management. So I suppose can work for one company and get a variety of different experience and even move between branches in different cities. So I switched roles every 3 to 4 years apart from the last stint.


Which is why I never bought another pair after the early ones. It’s ridiculous paying that much for something that you must dispose of just after two years, without any option to repair. I opted to rather buy a very cheap pair of alternatives that still paired with my phone, and they have actually lasted longer than the AirPods.


True, it’s how I could afford to go on early retirement at 55 and not work again. I have no idea how my daughter one day is going to do that, as gone are the days of working for one employer and relying on actually getting a pension. I suppose there will be some companies doing that, but then it has to be a more traditional business that is able to survive for decades too…


Yes including, I just exclude temp files. But yes /home folders do pick up a lot of crud over time and is worth going through a bit and removing stuff. I also run ‘ncdu’ to find the biggest wasters of space. It’s that 20% that wastes 80% of the space.


Yes there is some hit on performance mainly due to the way it writes, and I was about to start thinking of reverting back to ext4, but am having a rethink now if I can use this tool to better take advantage of some of the pro’s with Btrfs.


Just noticed this really useful GUI tool that was not around a year ago or so when I switched my Home folder partition to Btrfs. It seems to cover all the generally used type of Btrfs features you'd use including running and monitoring scrubs or balance operations, and even viewing and browsing snapshots, with options to restore individual files. See https://gitlab.com/btrfs-assistant/btrfs-assistant #technology #opensource #Linux #btrfs #BtrfsAssistant

Google Camera and its post-processing algorithms undoubtedly changed the game in terms of what we expect from smartphone cameras, elevating the Google Pixels to some of the best Android phones you can buy for the camera. That’s the exact reason why Google Camera ports are so highly requested for non-Google devices. With the appropriate ported Google Camera app, you can use Google’s superior HDR+ optimization as well as their Portrait Mode on virtually any smartphone that supports the Camera2API. See if your phone is listed for Camera2API at https://www.xda-developers.com/google-camera-port-hub/ #technology #mobile #camera #photography #googlecameraport

Blood glucose monitoring is touted to be the next big breakthrough for wearable devices like the Apple Watch. However, the hardware is yet to be seen on a commercially available, mass-market device. That might change soon. A team from Georgia’s Kennesaw State University claims to have developed a noninvasive system of blood glucose level measurement, thanks to a device called GlucoCheck. It follows the same fundamental approach as the oxygen-level analysis sensor on smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 8 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5. Team lead Maria Valero, an assistant professor at the institution’s College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE), notes that the device delivers 90% accuracy in analyzing glucose concentration in blood samples Blood glucose monitoring via a generally available wearable device is going to be the next big driver of wearable sales, mainly because so many people globally have an issue with this (known and unknown). It would be even better if it could work across devices and platforms, but we probably won't see anything generally available for a while yet. See https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/non-invasive-blood-glucose-measurement-wearables-breakthrough #technology #health #wearables #bloodglucose #diabetes