The French Election in a Nutshell

Disclaimer: I do not claim that this article is an unbiased professional analysis of the French election.  I am just another dilettante in politics, my qualification? I read the news.

Originally, this is just a gathering of information that happened in chat. I added a few links for reference and tried to clarify a few things. The first round of the French presidential election is over at the time of this writing, the second is yet to come.

Why I care, and why you should, too

Continue reading “The French Election in a Nutshell”

Privacy – Why I care!

TL;DR: someone went through emails I thought were private collected the email addresses and sold them to linkedin who offered me these addresses as possible contacts I should Invite. Several of these people have passed away, I feel violated.

I think everyone should care about online privacy and so do others like the EFF. Which is why they collect #privacystorys on twitter.

Online privacy has mattered to me for a long time not only since watching Citizen Four or Democracy or reading Little Brother.

I started thinking that privacy must be important when bringing PGP outside the US was considered “munitions export without a license”  in the early 90s .  And every time someone wanted to forbid encryption after that. Just this week I wrote an article on how to improve online privacy. Oh the irony.

When I talk to people about why it is so important that they should care about their privacy, the most common reaction is:

“Why should I care? I have nothing to hide.”

And my answer is always the same also: “Everyone has something to hide.”

We all have secrets, we just don’t always realize what they are. And in this age of technology all of these secrets are constantly in danger of getting into the wrong hands.

Here’s just a few examples that have already happened to me this year. Read on to see all the stuff I thought wasn’t going to be a problem and now I wish I had protected my privacy better. Continue reading “Privacy – Why I care!”

We want Privacy – the 2017 edition

This started out as an email to a concerned friend, so it may not be complete or a bit unfocused. Please discuss, I welcome your thoughts and input on this.

A note to start. Privacy and security intersect so much on the internet that it is quite hard to see if a problem is more one or more the other. With the current state of things the biggest threat to the average user does not come from the state but rather from big corporations analyzing our data 1. The second biggest threat is not for our privacy but security … being hacked is much more likely to hurt us in some way than the [insert your favorite spook agency here].

So in my opinion one cannot ignore one or the other. They go hand in hand.

It helps to be aware of all the data you have, and that you want to protect and to know what you care to keep secret from whoever it may not concern. A possible list could include: passwords, emails, chats, contacts, calendars, photos …

  • To get started you may want to check out: privacytools.io
  • Also: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  • Another good starter is to read the Cory Doctorow book Little Brother and its sequel. He explains quite a few concepts much better than I ever could.
  • Don’t buy into privacy snakeoil, easy solutions or cheap VPNs are just as likely to hurt you as they are to help you
  • Never follow advice blindly – even this!
  • Open source software is often better to use because people (may!) have looked at the code and vouched for it, but OSS is not per definition secure or private
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket is a good strategy. It may seem tempting to use one service to rule them all … but don’t, just like you shouldn’t use the same password everywhere, diversification helps to protect you.

A few easy fixes: Continue reading “We want Privacy – the 2017 edition”

My Blog is back

My server on which I hosted my email, websites, code repositories and so much more crashed back in June. I didn’t even notice until much later, because the emails that were supposed to tell me that one of the hard drives had died went into the spam folders both on my mail server and on gmail. For some reason though I finally saw a mail that told me about the degraded array. First thing I did was to contact my hoster who changed the hard-drive before I could even finish pulling backups of … this blog for example. Or of my virtual machine that hosted my email server. Then I messed up integrating the new harddrive. Never done that before. And lost the whole server in the process. (Despite the gracious and generous help of others)

Ever since then my digital life has been … not quite dead but not alive either. At first I tried to reclaim the server and tried setting up email through a docker container. It worked somewhat. But I never managed to configure it the way I needed and I never learned docker sufficiently to feel “back in control”. So I was not getting all my emails. Worse or not: some emails were even bouncing f.e. To services like kickstarter. That’s how I noticed something was wrong in the first place, so probably good.

Over the summer I didn’t have time to fix the situation. I noticed how dependent I was on all these services and how much time it had taken to set it up and how little to destroy it. A few weeks ago I decided, to stuff my personal paranoia somewhere and move away from hosting stuff myself. I moved one of my mail domains to gmail and my blog to wordpress. And here I am typing away my first blogpost in months. 

And as of next week I am finally back to working on the Novel (yes capitalized) … full time. 

Cylon Writing

The Cassandra Project Cover
Preliminary Cover
Like the Cylons I finally have a plan. The project I am working on which was originally titled “Mind Bleed” and was started in October/November 2014 for the NaNoWriMo is still not finished. I had too little time to plan and that fact has come back twice to bite me. The original November draft came to about 53k words. In my ‘deleted scenes’ folder I have another 20k. The current draft begun as the first rewrite. It is now titled “The Cassandra Project” and I am just shy of crossing the 100k mark. But I am labeling the current version as the second rewrite or third draft, because when I got to about the same mark as the original draft I got stuck again. Why? The ending. What I had in mind just didn’t make any sense. And I couldn’t find a way to get there.
Continue reading “Cylon Writing”

State of Writing

I just noticed that I didn’t update since finishing NaNoWriMo.

Well, besides a six week trip to South-East Asia, I haven’t been idling. I spent a bit of time writing a few flash pieces on WriteOn. But for some reason I dropped out of that community. I let myself get too involved, and it started taking too much time. And I felt I had to concentrate on starting the second draft of Mind Bleed. Because I never finished the first draft of my NaNo novel. I made it to 55k words but not to the end of the story. I got stuck somewhere around two thirds.

So I spent some time traveling. Then some time thinking of what I did wrong the first time around. I found I had done too little planning of characters, plot and setting? So basically everything was missing. I tried to fix that with a month of planning.

It didn’t turn out easy.

I am now just 700 words shy of 60k on the second draft, and I got stuck yet again around the two thirds mark. I could recycle next to nothing from the original draft. I rewrote everything and it became a new story. But somehow I ended up in a different corner with the same result: stuck. A couple of days ago, I unstuck myself by deciding to write the prologue. In my timeline, I have a very well defined set of events that lead up to the current story. It suddenly became easy again to write 2k words a day where before I was struggling to get even a 1000.

Why do I have such a hard time writing the end of my stories?

I am optimistic concerning the prologue. And I believe with that part of the story in place, I can finally fix my main character’s arc. The project also suffers from being too ambitious. I have three viewpoint characters (plus two in an interlude). I am estimating that the prologue-part of the story will take another 6-8k words, and the wrapping up of the story will need another 15-20k.

So lots more to write.

NaNoWriMo: the final stretch

I finished the 50k on Friday. It was a back-breaking – quite nearly literally – day of writing. I wrote about 4k words that day. I just wanted to be able to take a break on Saturday. Here are my final diary entries from the writing marathon that is NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMoDay21

I expect to have to write between 15k and 25k more words to finish the story. Since I haven’t written a word except for blog-posts, emails and the week-end-write-in, I doubt I’ll finish the story in November.
Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: the final stretch”