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”

What I wrote in 1993

In 1993 I was in highschool and taking a creative writing class. Today I discovered a piece of that writing and it made me laugh and cry at the same time. Here’s an excerpt:

It is the year 2013 in the United states of Europe. […]

Al: “I haven’t seen [Ralph] for a long time. He just sent me a message over the network yesterday that he needed help with a project or so and I thought it would be nice to have him over.”  […]

Al to Ralph: “So how are you? What did you do all these years since the Big Hack?” 

Ralph: “I was traveling through Europe from one Network to another, I worked for one of the big spacetravelagencies (1) for a while.” […]

Ralph: “All right, listen! I told you that I needed help. I didn’t tell you though what I needed help for. I have had some problems with the SNC – the Secret Network Control (2) – recently and I need to leave Europe as fast as possible. […] It was quite a shock for me, too, to find out the government was watching me night and day. I came to your backdoor because I thought they might have followed me here […]  they are want to arrest me because I wrote some articles they didn’t like and I managed to publish them in popular magazines. This government is so corrupt and no one even notices but I made them notice.” […]

[… follows a discussion how they can help Ralph escape …]

Al: “Come on there must be a way. The government can’t control everything, there is something like privacy and DataProtection in this country. And the police can’t be in every little network just because they suspect somebody of doing something.”

Ralph:  “If you think so, please. But I tell you, I know what I am speaking of. ” (3)

(1) yeah right I was wrong about the space travel agencies … so what 😉

(2) how could I know they would call it Prism?

(3) the piece does not have a happy ending!

Really 2013! It would be even more fitting if I’d named the character Julian or Edward.

So today I finally found a way to encrypt email conversations in gmail. Check out mailvelope. I didn’t think it was – but it is! – possible to encrypt mails in a comfortable way when using a webmail UI! (For the Thunderbird users there’s always been enigmail so there really is no excuse!)

Even if you think you don’t have anything to hide, it’s still not ok for the government (or whoever really controls these agencies) to read your private stuff! (read this)

But I can’t encrypt my email if you don’t have a key, too. So please get one!

Here’s mine.

 

Neue Gizmos: Tablets

image

Als selbstverantwortlicher Androidentwickler braucht man schon auch das ein oder andere Testgeraet. Somit habe ich diese Woche ein Galaxy Tab 10.1 erstanden. Nicht in Deutschland natuerlich. Aber in England darf es ja noch verkauft werden. Fuer ca. 550€ ihr wollt es ja eh wissen.

Der Preis fuer so ein Geraet ist happig. Erst recht noch wenn man es mit umts haben wollte. Ich habe mich mit WiFi begnuegt.

Wofuer ich das brauche? In erster Linie zum entwickeln. Es ist zwar ein nettes Spielzeug aber zwischen Desktop Computer, Laptop(s), Kindle und Smartphone bin ich eigentlich versorgt.

Wofuer kann man es sonst benutzen? Zum bequemen News lesen oder schauen. Fotografieren bzw. Im Urlaub auch mal als Bildspeicher fuer die Kamera allerdings sind – nicht erweiterbare – 32gb nicht so viel. Es ist kompakter als selbst ein Netbook und somit noch reisetauglicher. Als ebook Reader bevorzuge ich den wesentlich leichteren Kindle. Ansonsten als Reisebrettspielersatz: ich habe mir die Carcassonne App geleistet. Siedler von Catan ist in Entwicklung fuer Tablets. Smallworld gibt es leider nur fuer ipads. Insgesamt gibt es einfach noch zu wenig Android Tablet Apps 🙂

Fuer immer dabei ist ein10″ Tablet leider ein wenig zu gross oder meine Handtasche zu klein. Ich werde sehen wie es sich im naechsten Urlaub als Laptop Ersatz schlaegt.

Allen Nicht-Entwicklern wuerde ich raten noch 1-2 Generationen abzuwarten. Die Hardware ist zwar schon sehr cool, aber noch sehr teuer. Es kommt ja noch das Usb Kit dazu fuer 50 € damit ich die Kamera ueberhaupt anschliessen kann und eine Schutzhuelle fuer ebensoviel. Vor allem duerften ja die meisten bereits mit diversen anderen mobilen Devices versorgt sein und wirklich brauchen tun wir die Dinger nicht. Cool sind sie trotzdem.

Fazit: Schoenes Spielzeug.

Alle Tippfehler sind Schuld vom Onscreen Keyboard!

Delusions Bi-Quarterly Update

Somehow I manage not to write here very often. This time I have a good reason or so. I’ve been spending my time over at my new blog: work reloaded.

Screenshot of my first app I’ve just announced my first android app which is soon going into beta:

The app is not completely finished. I expect to finish a beta towards the end of the month. My backlog still has a couple of Prio A and B items I just cannot publish without. Still you can see I’ve come a bit further than “Hello World” by now.

While not writing code or blog posts, I’ve been doing the usual stuff:

  • eating good food,
  • going on the usual skiing vacation with the usual suspects,
  • going to the movies with friends (Tron Legacy, Green Hornet, Kookowääh, Black Swan and the Kill Bill Double Feature),
  • watching the superbowl (until half time when Fergie butchered Guns’n’Roses),
  • playing games: Civilization V (rocks!!!) and Plants vs Zombies (can’t stop!).

Spielemesse 2010

Smallworld
Smallworld Spielplan

Wir haben es, dank der netten Einladung aus Mülheim, auch in diesem Jahr wieder zur SPIEL nach Essen geschafft und haben den Samstag und Sonntag dazu genutzt uns viele coole Spiele anzusehen und eine ganze Reihe davon auszuprobieren. Gekauft haben wir allerdings nur ein einziges Spiel.

Auf Flickr habe ich ein paar Photos von der SPIEL 2010 hochgeladen mit den Spielen, die wir gespielt haben und jeweils einer kurzen Bewertung.

Gespielt haben wir insgesamt 7 Spiele:

Wie jedes Jahr waren Kosmos, Schmidt, Gold Sieber & Co total überlaufen, so dass wir für einige Spiele, die uns noch interessiert hätten keine Zeit fanden: Säulen von Venedig, Shenshi, Schwarzer Freitag, Dungeonquest, “dieses Safrandings”, The Adventurers, Glen More & Der Pate . Dixit kennen wir ja schon 😉 Am DSA Stand gabs leider auch keine neue Beute zu machen und auf weitere Würfel haben wir dieses Jahr auch verzichtet. Somit haben wir es das erste mal geschafft ohne kaputten Rücken und wehe Füsse aus den Messehallen zu laufen statt zu wanken 😉

Back to Root

The install is fresh and there is still a Windows installation on the hard drive, but – as you can read on my WoW blog – I am back to using Linux at home. I needed a re-install of Windows and ended up downloading Ubuntu.

I had been putting off installing Windows forever – once I decided to give Linux gaming a chance it took me one day to motivate myself and it paid off: installing Ubuntu has become trivial. I was very impressed with the ease of everything. Gone are the days of cryptic installers where you have to be an expert for hardware and software specifics to get a nice system running.

The most impressive is that booting the Live CD (aka USB drive in my case) is quick and easy and then you just have to click the “Install” button and while you watch the Installer do it’s thing you can surf the web. I had assumed the browser was only for show but when I started it and entered the guild’s forum url … I started laughing, because it isn’t for show.

I have already solved several of the remaining “problems” I had with my gaming keyboard and the games. Fun – windows-less – times ahead!

Spore & SecuROM

Amazon is too fast. The game was ordered and only hours later we found out that it is one of the games that infects your computer with the malware that is SecuROM. By that time it was already sent out and we could not cancel the order anymore. On Amazon.de and Amazon.com the game is getting tons of 1-star reviews because of this. As I write the number of negative reviews nears the 2k mark on Amazon.com.

While I think that the negative reviews are much better than not buying a game, I am not willing to have a DRM-Rootkit on my computer. Thanks no. I’ve always been a paying customer for all you DRM industries out there. This game I am returning. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just some DRM but SecuROM is really just too much.

Drama

I was once of the opinion that drama was typical of my social adventuring in World of Warcraft guilds.

I was naive to think it wouldn’t happen elsewhere. I am noticing that writing emails or answering questions is taking longer and longer. Only this time … I am one of the people involved in the discussions and not the neutral referee or moderator .. or so someone noticed today 😛

Well don’t feed the trolls they say.

But WoW is only a game and as such expendable. It is not so with some other things.