Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

PRISM Break: A list of resources for privacy and freedom

Unchained

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.

The autonomo.us group was focused in producing free network services and established the “definition” of what makes a free network service with the Franklin Street Statement. There is also a big list of self-hosted software you can use to replace most of the popular web based applications and services.

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.

Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

Free & Open source web based Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader logo

Google has announced that they are terminating the Google Reader application. I’ve written before about the risks of depending on web services, and well, for those users of this service, it is time to look out for options. At least they play nice and thanks to the Data Liberation Front you can export all your data for other services.

Google Reader will not be available after July 1, 2013

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.

Newsblur

Newsblur

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.

Lilina

Lilina

A PHP 5.2 based web reader with a simple interface. You can run it easily on any cheap shared hosting service.

Tiny Tiny RSS

Tiny Tiny RSS

It has a user interface very similar to Google Reader. It supports Authentication for reading protected feeds. Written in PHP 5.3 and supports MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

Open WebReader

Open Web Reader

This is another PHP 5 based feed reader, with a little more elaborated user interface. Supports multiple users and the developers seem proud of their code being OOP and using the MVC pattern.

Yocto Reader

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

Conclusion

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.

Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

My Mediagoblin instance with better image quality & EXIF data

GNU Mediagoblin logo

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.

Mediagoblin thumbnail quality before
Thumbnail quality before

Mediagoblin thumbnail quality after
Thumbnail quality after

Mediagoblin Full image before
Full image before. You can notice lack of sharpness and some artifacts around the guy’s hat
Mediagoblin Full image after
Full image after, much cleaner and sharper image

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.

Mediagoblin camera info panel
Mediagoblin camera info panel on the right

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.

Categories
personal

A website visitor tracking statistics free open source alternative to Google Analytics

Web Analytics software

Everyone that wants to know how his/her website’s traffic is doing has a form of “visitor counter” or web traffic analytics software. By what I’ve seen, the most popular one is Google Analytics.

There’s a free and open source web alternative to Google Analytics and its called Piwik.

I’ve been using this software for several months now and its been great. You can get your visitor data right away, instead of waiting about 24 hours for Google Analytics to give you its results.

Piwik interface screenshot

Here are some of the features Piwik offers:

  • A quick and simple installer. All you need is PHP on your webserver and a database
  • A highly configurable user interface
  • A plugin system to add more functionality
  • An API to integrate your site’s statistics to any web enabled application
  • Last visits graph
  • Average time on site
  • List of referrers and search engines
  • List of keywords that people used to find your site
  • A graph that shows at the times your visitors came
  • List of countries where your visitors come from
  • A record of your visited pages and even downloads

And there’s a bunch of more things you can track.

So quit depending on third parties to get your site’s traffic information and use Piwik.

Statistics image via Flickr by Michael Balzer.
Piwik screenshot via Flickr by Louis Volant
Categories
Events GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source personal

LibrePlanet 2009 at Boston

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.

my photo with Richard Stallman

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.