If you’re trying to install enigmail and icedove on Debian, you might find that the enigmail and icedove package versions conflict. Never fear, just install enigmail all by itself. It will remove icedove if present but then install iceape, which contains iceape mail.
In the immediate aftermath of the initial NSA revelations (and there are more to come), some people are pushing for judicial or legislative restraints on further privacy violations. This is a noble effort, and I hope those people succeed. But let’s be real for a moment: those efforts are mostly symbolic.
Does anybody believe our government is going to stop spying on us just because it’s against the law? We already know PRISM is unconstitutional. If that isn’t enough to stop the Obama administration from spying on Americans, tinkering with the margins of the Patriot Act isn’t going to make a difference.
The problem isn’t the law. Fortunately, neither is the solution. Once we centralized all our communications and metadata on just a handful of servers, we made inevitable the use of that massive data trove by people who don’t share our interests or values. Today we know this includes the NSA, but it also includes the marketers, the insurance profilers, and your ex-future employers. It is impossible to centralize massive amounts of information and then dictate what that information is used for. Once you collect it, people are going to use it. And share it. And you have no control over what happens next.
The solution is to stop giving all your data to the same handful of services. Migrate off cloud services for things like email. Use old tech like IRC and email, which are too decentralized to spy on at mass scale. Build your own servers if you’re able. And when you do use cloud services, demand those services let you access them with your own clients that can encrypt your communication.
If we keep making giant piles of data, governments and corporations will continue to paw through our personal lives at will and for their own purposes. The conversations we have on Facebook and Google feel private, but they occur in public spaces. If we want privacy, we need to take those conversations to truly private infrastructure or encrypt them so the snoops have nothing to listen to.
I haven’t been a pen guy since I wasted too many hours spinning and flipping them in high school. Who really writes by hand anymore? But then I started pocketing these graph-ruled moleskine reporter notebooks and thus began the hunt for a pen that could perfect the notebook experience. A few months ago, I finally settled on Muji gel ink hex pens with 0.3mm tips.
I tried a lot of different pens while feeling out what my requirements for a little notebook pocket pen. This one meets almost all of them. For example, it skates across the page like a greased puck on ice. Some pens accomplish this by looding the page with ink, but I write small, especially in a tiny mileskine. I require a sharp, precise line. The Muji keeps a narrow, wet, gliding tip that dries fast and doesn’t bleed along the paper’s fibers.
Also, I lose pens faster than a politician can break your heart, so I can’t abide gold-plated pocket clips and heirloom rosewood barrels. These pens clock in at $3.75 apiece. When I lose them I mourn the lost pen, not the cash.
Because the pen is going to sit in my pocket, I want something light and not too thick. The Muji is like a pencil in weight and shape. It’s longer than I want in a pocket pen, but it works well enough. I might cut one down to see how short I can make it.
The downside to this pen is the cap. It sits snug on the barrel, and I’ve not lost one yet, but it nags at me when I stow it in my pocket. And the flimsy plastic in the pocket clip feels like it might break, so I don’t use it. I’m going to pick up the refillable click point version of these pens, although I think they’re a little ugly.
For a $3.75 pen I’m going to lose, I don’t fred durability, but one thing bears note: I dropped one and it fell perfectly straight down on the point. It never wrote smoothely after that, so I replaced it. I can’t tell yet whether this is an issue.
If you want to get fancy, the pen comes in a rainbow of colors. I’ve tried black, blue, red and purple. All show up vividly and contrast and coordinate nicely with each other. For a few bucks more, you can pick three colors and put them in a click pen. This is pricey at $7.50 and the 3-color pen is thicker than I’d like, but the convenience of having black plus two accent colors (I write action items in red) is hard to beat.
As a pocket pen for small notebook use, the Muji pen is great. This isn’t the pen for writing on a crumpled up paper bag or to letter a sign, but in the little private world formed by my head, my hand and my notebook, it’s just about perfect. My moleskine now gets constant rather than sporadic use, and that more than anything is what puts this pen in my pocket every day.
I just upgraded Planeteria to Python3. It took half an hour. I ran 2to3, upgraded some dependencies, ran 2to3 on a few manually and I was done. It just worked. Like magic.
Now to do some upgrades and deploy it.
A few months ago, Georgia Bullen and I spent a bunch of time trying to remember what company had the “travel squirrel”. Searching the web for “travel squirrel” didn’t help, and now the travel squirrel is a running joke in our office.
Fast forward to tonight, when I ran into Alexis Ohanian on Amtrak. We started talking about his work with Hipmunk, and he told me the key to capturing the big fat middle of the non-business travel market is to get that person who takes one trip a year to think of Hipmunk when they book. I told him about the travel squirrel and we decided that if people like me and Georgia can’t tell a squirrel from a chipmunk, we need to teach Google that when folks request the travel squirrel they really mean a different wandering rodent entirely.
Incidentally, Alexis drew the logo. He allowed that maybe it looks a little squirrely. It was kind of him.
Friends, I just backed a Kickstarter that I think you should know about. Seven years ago, Karl Fogel wrote a book that became the manual for doing open source software projects. He’s crowd funding the revision. As a community, we need this book to get updated. I invite you to contribute. Thanks.
Disclaimer: In various contexts, Karl is my boss, my co-worker, my employee, and my business partner. In all those contexts, he’s also my friend.
Come fly with us!
We’re going to spend a weekend building, flying, battling flying robots on a farm in the Catskills of New York. We’ll do some classes on DIY drone tech and discuss current political/social/legal issues. If we get the right mix, we can see about dog fights, obstacle courses, and skill tests. I’ve even recruited a friend as a willing human ground target.
Who: drone, security and freedom enthusiasts like you!
When: Memorial Day weekend 2013
Where: A private farm near Catskill, NY.
Why: to gather the dronesec community, get us talking and see what collaboration we get from a weekend of proximity.
I owe this idea entirely to James Losey, Katherine Maher, Jillian York and way too much bourbon. I don’t know if this event is an OpenITP thing or not yet. If you want to help make this event more awesome, ping james AT jamesvasile.com.
The Open Internet Tools Project has partnered with FreedomBox, InformSec and ISOC-NY to host a circumvention tools hackfest in NYC right before HOPE. We’ve got four days to plan, code and learn! If you want to hack on anti-censorship or anti-surveillance tools, bring your project, bring your skills and bring your friends. This event will be focused on writing code and solving design problems. We won’t have any long presentations (there will be enough of those at HOPE), though we will have lightning talks and will give away a door prize or two.
Where: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, 116th and Amsterdam
When: July 9 – 12, 10 am
Who: Privacy and free communication hackers like you
Please RSVP to kaurin at openitp.org and tell us what you plan to work on, what kind of projects and people you hope to meet, and which days you will join us.
Feel free to repost this invite or to link to it: http://openitp.org/?q=node/12
Some modest travel stipends are available for amazing projects. Email James Vasile (james at openitp.org) about those.
Some projects we know will attend: Commotion Wireless, Cryptocat, Guardian Project, Brave New Software and the Lantern Project, and Access.
Big thanks to our partners, all of whom are contributing crucial support and resources.
Wow, Amtrak Guest Rewards is an amazing cluster fail. To thank me, a business traveler who uses Amtrak weekly, for buying so many Acela tickets, they gave me Select status and some coupons for 10% off my next ticket purchase. But in order to redeem that coupon, I have to call or buy in person. I can’t use the website. And then when I call, I find out that I can’t just pick these tickets up at the automatic kiosk. I have to present the coupon to a ticket agent, which mean standing in line, which means getting to the station extra early for my six AM train.
Seriously, this is 2012. Magic pieces of paper? Every other web retailer has managed to figure out coupons, even one-time-use coupons. But to Amtrak, this is alien technology that mystifies them.
Also, mysteriously, they’ll take the coupons for my trip to DC, but not another one for the return. The person I spoke to on the phone had no idea why. And, finally, the coupon must be presented several days before you use it, so if I wasn’t taking an unrelated Amtrak trip this week, I’d have to schedule a special trip to the station. Frankly, the $24 I’m going to save on my ticket isn’t worth it.