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 Programming & Web Development

CSS3 columns in Internet Explorer and other unsupported browsers

CSS3 Columns

Recently I’ve been working on a project for a client that makes use of CSS3 columns in its layout design. The problem with CSS3 columns is that it’s not supported by any stable version of Internet Explorer so far (surprised? no? good!). At the time of this writing IE9 is the latest version.

Luckily there’s hope. The CSS3 Multi-column script helps render columns in browsers that do not have this capability. All you need to do is download the file and add it to your HTML after all your stylesheet declarations. It will read all your CSS3 column declarations and render the content accordingly.

The script uses some crossdomain ajax calls to work its magic, but IE8 does things differently. I’ve patched the library with the fixes needed for it to work correctly in IE8.

Download the patched CSS3 Multi-column script.

Thanks to Tobin Titus, Internet Explorer Performance Manager, who helped me track the bug down.

Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source Tutorials & Tips

Restore Samsung Galaxy S to Original ROM from Telcel Mexico

Flash Samsung Galaxy S with Odin

Two weeks ago, I messed up my Galaxy S phone. I was having trouble with the back key activating by itself without touching it. As I’ve said before, I use Darky’s ROM instead of the crappy Samsung/Telcel default one. So searching for a possible solution, I found out that you could update your touchkeys firmware.

Well, I went ahead and updated it. To my surprise, it completely disabled my touch keys (the back and menu buttons). So, if you have the same problem with you back button key, DO NOT upgrade your firmware if you’re using a custom or unofficial ROM…or keep reading… Now my problem was worse than before! I then searched for a solution on that, and the only answer was: return to the default ROM and upgrade the touchkeys again, then revert back to your custom ROM.

That’s when my long journey began. Back when I changed to Darky’s ROM, I used Clockwork Recovery to do so. And of course, I made a backup of my current ROM. Turns out that, to restore from a backup, you need to be on the original ROM (or the ROM that backup has). And well, I had no other place to get that, since I thought my backup would solve it all. So I ended up spending almost all saturday looking for the original Samsung Galaxy S ROM from Telcel Mexico, until I finally found it!

To flash your Android device, you’ll need a program called Odin which is a leaked Samsung application that unfortunately runs only on Windows machines. There’s an open source, cross platform flashing software called Heimdall, but I couldn’t get it to work correctly, there’s not much documentation, so I couldn’t figure out my problem. I hope that project grows and evolves into a more stable alternative to Odin. So, I had to borrow a Windows XP netbook from a co-worker for a day so I could use the Odin software to Flash my phone.

I wanted to share my finding with some friends who have asked me about the same problem. So follow this forum post if you need to revert back to the original ROM, or recover your phone from a backup and you have a Galaxy S from Telcel. The post makes reference to this unofficial guide to upgrade to Froyo in case you loose your 850Mhz band.

I hope this solves your problems and helps you save all the time I had to invest to get to this solution. Changing the original ROM on your Android device is a risky move, but I find it worth it.

Photo is Creative Commons by fraencko on Flickr.
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
Digital rights Law & Freedom GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source News

Chrome license makes Google more than the new Big Brother


Yesterday’s big news was that Google released their own “open source” browser called Google Chrome. They released only the binaries for Windows, and even thought they claim to be open source, I don’t see where I can get the source code yet.

But what really bothers me is the license agreements for Chrome:

11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

This means that if you publish a blog post, upload a photo or release a song or software, Google has the right to use it for whatever they want, royalty-free.
You're being spied on, by WeMeantDemocracy

Photo Creative Commons by WeMeantDemocracy

So this makes Google more than a Big Brother, which only watches your every move. This one can commercialize what you do as well.

I advice you, as always, to read your license agreements when you install software, or better yet, use free software.

I’ll stick with Mozilla Firefox, which besides of a good licence, has major benefits for me with all its extensions. I can forgive a few crashes in exchange of openness and in keeping my data mine.

Categories
Emacs GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

Identi.ca mode for Emacs

Status.net logo

Identi.ca is a free software microblogging service, similar to Twitter, based on the Status.net code base. I recently needed to update my status from Emacs, since its faster for me and easier. I’ve been using an an Emacs mode to update my Twitter account, but there was nothing to use for my Identi.ca account. And seeing there’s a Vim plugin, I thought someone, like me, needed an Emacs mode too.

So I forked the original twittering-mode to use it with the Identi.ca platform, using its Twitter compatible api.

System Requirements

  • GNU Emacs 22 or later
  • Linux, Mac OS X, BSD or any Unix based OS (requires wget)

Download

Download the latest stable release of Emacs Identica-mode

Or get the latest development code from the Git repository at
http://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/identica-mode.git

Installation

Copy the identica-mode.el file to your Emacs elisp files directory (.emacs.d/ in Ubuntu)
Then add the following to your .emacs (or your preferred customizations file)

;;; Identi.ca mode
(require 'identica-mode)
(setq identica-username "yourusername")

If you want to authenticate using simple authentication, create a file ~/.authinfo with the following contents:

machine servername login yourusername password yourpassword

Replace servername with your server (if connecting to Identica service, use identi.ca as server name), yourusername and yourpassword with your information.

You can also authenticate using OAuth, specially if you log in with an OpenID account which has no password. To use OAuth authentication (requires using oauth.el), add the following to your .emacs file:

(setq identica-auth-mode "oauth")

If you want to post from the minibufer without having identica buffer active, add the following global keybinding. Add this to send status updates

(global-set-key "\C-cip" 'identica-update-status-interactive)


Add this to send direct messages

(global-set-key "\C-cid" 'identica-direct-message-interactive)

Use

To start identica mode type:

M-x identica-mode


the buffer ‘*identica*’ will appear and you can see your friends timeline.

Press the “i” key to toggle icon mode to see user pictures.

Identica Emacs mode

To view your replies timeline

C-c C-r


To view the public timeline

C-c C-a


To view your friends timeline (the default timeline)

C-c C-f


To view a user’s timeline

C-c C-u


To view a group’s timeline

C-c C-g


To view a tag’s timeline

C-c C-t

To refresh the buffer’s timeline press “g”.

To post an update of your status, press

C-c C-s


type your message in the minibuffer, and hit Enter. You will see ‘Success: Post’ in minibuffer.

Identica mode for Emacs - Update status

To send a direct message to a user, press

C-c C-d


On the minibuffer, you will be prompted for the username, then for the message.

To repeat (re-dent) a message, press

C-c RET

while the cursor is on the message’s line.

To favor a message, press the “F” key (shift f) while the cursor is on the message’s line.

Additionally, you while typing your message you can press <F4> key while the cursor is over a URL to shorten it using any of the following URL shortening services: Ur1.ca, TightURL, Goo.gl, TinyURL, To.ly and Is.gd. To expand an short url in your timeline, position your cursor over the short url and press ‘e’ key, it will be replaced with the expanded version in a few seconds.

Hope it can be of use for anyone using Emacs for almost everything, like I try to do, and would like to hear some feedback.

Contribute

If you have any ideas for features, patches or bug fixes, please add them to the identica-mode bug tracking list.

You can also help out if you’ve liked Emacs identica-mode and have some spare change. It would be great to support this project by making any kind of donation on the “tip jar” in appreciation of the hours invested on its development and improvement.