With the recent news scandal about the NSA surveillance program code named PRISM more people is starting to question their use of cloud services thinking about their privacy. I’ve talked about free network services and ugly cloud stories but this is the ugliest of all stories going mainstream.
But in addition to that list, Peng Zhong created a web site called PRISM Break with a nice and easy to understand list of software, both desktop and web services to help protect your privacy.
I’ve already been using several of these programs and discovered new ones. It might be scary to run your own instances of web services or change the software you’ve always used, but freedom and privacy are worth a shot. I hope these list gets bigger with new software developments and current offerings get better as more people use them and get more attention.
I’ve seen many posts about alternative RSS feed readers out there. But when they talk about open source feed readers they refer to desktop clients, and when they don’t make the freedom distinction, they mention proprietary web services. But these days, with all the mobility and multiple devices, who wants a desktop feed reader?
If you are worried about another web service you love to use might go dark in the future, there is hope. Here are some good free and open web based RSS feed reader clients you can use as Google Reader alternatives and host them yourself.
A very nice looking site, with responsive design for mobile devices. You can also mute or feature certain articles based on tags found in the content. Written in Python using Django, Celery, RabbitMQ, MongoDB and PostgreSQL.
I know little about this one. The project’s web page is offline, but the code can be obtained from Debian repositories.
sudo aptitude install yocto-reader
Switching from Google Reader to another proprietary feed reader service makes little difference. It doesn’t solve the real issue, just solves the short term need before that other service decides to terminate the service as well or something weird happens. Hosting your own web based feed reader will provide you with the convenience of having your feeds available from any device anywhere, and be in control of your data and applications.
In my continuous attempts to free myself from proprietary webservices and run my own Free Network Services, I’ve finally set up my own GNU Mediagoblin instance. This is a multimedia gallery project to host, show and share several kinds of media files, like images, videos, ascii art, SVGs and even 3D models. From the Mediagoblin site it describes the project as:
MediaGoblin is a free software media publishing platform that anyone can run. You can think of it as a decentralized alternative to Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.
One thing I noticed was that the quality of the images was not good. I enhanced the quality of the image resizes done by default and the improvement was noticeable. It’s still not as sharp as Flickr’s quality yet (I don’t know how they do it) but it is cleaner and with no artifacts.
Also I’ve enhanced the way the EXIF info is presented. I added a camera settings section that shows key relevant info most photographers are interested in looking at: what camera was used, when the photo was taken, exposure, aperture, ISO and focal length. By clicking the “Additional Information” button you can now see all the EXIF information on the file that was previously being omitted.
I hope my patches get accepted upstream and I plan to continue working on the project as I find it very useful. The planned features for future releases I’m eagerly waiting for are the API and the multiple file upload. That way I can post more of my content easily and maybe write a script to import all photos from Flickr. That would be nice.
I had the opportunity to attend to LibrePlanet 2009, the annual Free Software Foundation members meeting that was held in Boston.
It was a great experience and I was very happy to meet lots of FSF members, something I don’t get to see very often here in Mexico. I met with Evan Prodromou, the creator of Identi.ca and he told me that soon laconi.ca will have OAuth authentication, so that OpenID users can access the API. That means that OpenID users can now use Emacs identica-mode to post and access their dents. There was a lot of talking about Free Network Services and hope that soon we’ll be seeing more of this kind of projects getting done.
Met with Matt Lee, Mako Hill, Rob Myers and many others. I also had the great opportunity to meet and chat with Richard Stallman. Not every day you get to chat with a person who has influenced your life.
Met with Alex Oliva from the FSF Latinamerica, and we talked about its current status. I’ll get involved to see if we can reactivate the organization and push it forward.
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the unconference day, had to catch my plane back home, but I’ll plan to go next year and stay for the whole event. Definately worth it.