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Technology That Empowers Me

Digital technology seems to be everywhere. In the past, someone might go to a library and check out a book to read. No one else could check out that copy until it was returned. With digital technology that's no longer an issue - there can be an inifinite number of copies - enough for everyone to read - without waiting for a copy to be returned.
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Commerical Use

Someone recently asked me "in what way the freedoms of the readers/spectators/... of an artistic work are harmed if that work cannot be commercially used?" This person is already supportive of free software. I decided to put my response here.
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Is Secrecy Impossible With The Internet?

Occasionally, entire print runs of publications, often thousands of copies, are recalled from bookstores before the public can get their hands on them. Sometimes the publishers do the recall after an eleventh hour threat of legal action by a party citing potential injury from alleged libelous or illegal content. Occasionally a government agency prevents publication, claiming some breach of secrecy or espionage laws. A famous example of this was the case in England in the 1980's of the book Spycatcher by former MI5 secret service officer Peter Wright.
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The GFDL

I've previously written about things that don't allow modification (aka "derivative works".) This can be implemented in various ways, among any license. One of them that has one particular implementation of this is the GNU Free Documentation License ("GFDL"), which calls them Invariant Sections. These sections can't be modified (or even removed.)
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It's Not Copyleft

Someone recently pointed me to Jonathan Riddell's blog post " In Defence for Permissive Licences; KDE licence policy update."
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My Mother Is On Facebook

This is not a happy time: My mother got her own Facebook account. I'm not on Facebook. Or am I? I can just imagine what she might be posting there. Information about her family, including tagging people such as myself in pictures. As a result I'm not on Facebook and yet I end up in Facebook anyway.
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Why Dial-Up Internet Is Better

Dial-up is considered a very obsolete and rather unfavorable way to connect to the internet simply due to its poor connection speed. Why would anybody in their right mind choose dial-up when cable, DSL, and other much faster internet connections are available? Not to mention there were no computers produced in the last number of years with dial-up modems in them. The modem issue is an easy fix: you can get an external USB dial-up modem from ThinkPenguin. There's also the problem of needing a landline phone connection - another thing that's going the way of the dinosaur as more people ditch wired phones in favor of cell phones. But even then, just having a landline doesn't cost very much per month either, even if you choose not to have a phone. That's the benefit of outdated technology/communication: it's cheap!
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Supporting Software Freedom Conservancy

Software Freedom Conservancy is trying to change to an individual-supported, instead of corproate-supported, model and is doing a fundraising campaign to that end. I'm a Supporter of them and wanted to say why.
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To Advance Free Software, Learn To Argue

I am sometimes asked how to convince somone to use free software. This article comes at the request of someone on how to do that well. (So yes - I do accept requests on topics. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to see something.) Doing that is not always easy, and the best method and stragegy varies from case to case but one thing that I think will always help is learning to argue. Indeed, those that see me on IRC will sometimes see me trying to make a good argument for a particular thing.
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Will you help us save WiFi?

or as long as the libreCMC and LibreWRT projects have existed, their core focus has been to bring Free Software to embedded devices, some of which have WiFi chipsets. While the project(s) core goals have not changed very much over the last few years, the landscape of WiFi enabled devices has exploded.
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VLC, VP9, Opus And WebVTT

I've begun maintaining an APT repository for VLC.
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No Derivative Works

A discussion on IRC inspired me to write about the problems with licenses that do not allow derivative works. The primary reason for allowing derivative works is because creative works contribute to our shared history and culture and rightly belong to the people of the world once published. There's a whole separate argument to be made there, which I won't do here. I'll just address the point that was raised in support of not allowing derivative works: Avoiding misrepresentation. The idea is that, if people can't change what you wrote, they can't make it seem like you're saying something different. This argument quickly falls apart when you examine it.
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How Star Trek Addressed the Issue of Racism

At LibrePlanet 2015, I agreed with someone by saying "Make it so." One of my friends pointed out, "Your Trekkie is showing." I've enjoyed Star Trek ever since I first watched it, due to the underlying messages. Disguised as a futuristic science fiction series, the classic Star Trek series boldly explored the issues prevalent in the 1960s. This included the most heated issue of the time: racism.
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Goodbye, Gitorious

I've been self-hosted since 1999, and always push that option when talking to people. I didn't always follow my own advice though and made an exception for public source code repos I put on Gitorious. The announcement of Gitorious's demise motivated me to change that policy so that the rug can't be pulled out from under me again. I spent some time reviewing options and wanted to share my own decisions and rationale.
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Spyware: Unethical Business Practice

Advertising has come a long way. With the advent of the internet, it became a big money maker. However, this has lead to a sinister turn of events where advertisers track people's progress across the internet in order to gain insight and make even better ads. To some extent this information is obtained through the use of spyware. It is common for people to be completely unaware that their privacy is being violated.
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Consistency

It's possible you're going to hear some anti-GPL stuff. I urge you to ignore it.
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Trademark Decisions

The United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as "words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods." This sounds easy enough but it can sometimes be difficult to identfy all of the trademarks someone might have. McDonald's is a good example: Its first trademark registration was in 1961 but their giant yellow "M" was not registered as a trademark until 1968.
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Supernova

It's been a few months since the last time travel expedition where I go dig up ancient game source code and then pull it forward in time so it can be compiled and run on modern systems, so I decided it was time for another.
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Beyond The Titanic

I realized that I never made a blog post on this topic to share the work done on pulling a classic game forward into the modern world, so here it is.

Originally published about 30 years ago, Apogee Software released the source code for Beyond The Titanic and a few other titles under the GPL back in 2009 but they could only be run in an emulator and couldn't be built from source on any modern system.
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Skein

Here's an implementation of version 1.3 of the Skein cryptographic hash function. (To aid in pronunciation the name rhymes with rain and Spain.) It uses the reference implementation provided by Bruce Schneier on his website.
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Upcoming GPG Key Transition

At the beginning of September I introduced my new GPG key and I've been slowly transitioning everything over to that new key. Now it's time for my Linux-libre APT repository to make the change.
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Crowdfunding In Freedom

Crowdfunding has become extremely popular over the last few years. I suspect that most people wanting to start a crowdfunding campaign think choosing a crowdfunding platform is a simple task and decide to go ahead with the well-known options such as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub, Crowdfunder, Crowd Supply, etc. All of these and many others cater to a broad range of projects. Kickstarter is perhaps the most recognizable of all and many people have run successful crowdfunding campaigns there for music albums, independent films, charities, software and lots of other things.
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How Crowdfunding Is Changing The World Of Publishing

The publishing world has always been somewhat ruthless on the aspirations of first time authors looking to get their first book or novel printed and onto the shelves of bookstores. The increasing interest in celebrity penned autobiographies and popular fiction has grown especially during these uncertain economic times. The advent of self-publishing gives authors the opportunity to put the publishing process into their own hands, but can be costly not to mention the time needed to market the finished book. However crowdfunding offers authors the opportunity to raise funds to meet the costs of getting the books published and enable effective marketing through the power of social media.
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Introducing Non-PAE

I received a few requests to provide non-PAE kernels and I'm happy to announce that they are now available. In case you don't know PAE is a feature where 32-bit computers can access more than 4GB of memory. Most modern CPUs support this but older computers don't necessarily do and are incompatible with PAE-enabled kernels.
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Trisquel Turns Ten

Although he tells me that he doesn't recall the exact date Rubén Rodríguez started the Trisquel GNU/Linux distribution in the Spring of 2004 which makes it ten year old this year. I've been using it for about four of those years now, when version 3.5 (codenamed Awen) was released in 2010. Trisquel versions are named after Celtic gods. The next release, version 7, is codenamed belenos after a Celtic sun god. A shining release seems perfectly named to coincide with Trisquel's tenth anniversary.
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Kickin' It Up A Notch

I predict that The Pirate Bay's announcement regarding their latest project in development will change the way the war on sharing, censorship, and surveillance is fought. Their new weapon won't end the war, but it will force the enemy to abandon their traditional weapons. Government censors, copyright maximalists, and the puppet ISPs that collaborate with them will find it's going to be much more difficult to restrict access to websites, stop people from sharing, and monitor what they're up to.
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Avoiding Surveillance

The NSA has been in the news a lot lately, and for all the wrong reasons. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that all of this is happening. It's been coming for years now and anyone had the ability to see it coming, if they were careful enough to pay attention. The question now becomes how to deal with it. It's a complex problem and, like many complex problems, requires a multi-pronged effort to address it.
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Debian Doubletalk

I was recently re-reading the Debian Project's Social Contract. It seems good, until you start thinking about it.
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Cisco & H.264

Cisco's announcement changes nothing about H.264. It's nothing more than a desperate attempt at grabbing straws. H.264 still patent encumbered. It's still problematic. Cisco doesn't even make an attempt to hide that their motivation is nothing less than getting a patent-encumbered codec selected for use in WebRTC. I urge everyone to ignore it and continue pushing for codecs that are not encumbered with patent problems.
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Password Generator

A recent conversation on identi.ca prompted me to share this. Instead of using a password manager to store your passwords, this eliminates the need to store passwords entirely.
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New GPG Key

For various reasons I have decided to retire my 1024D (SHA1) GPG keys. No attacks are known on them, and they are not compromised in any way (if they were, of course, I would immediately revoke them). Still, to be on the safe side, I am transitioning to stronger RSA keys.
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Stop The Hysteria

Back in December 2012, Richard Stallman wrote Ubuntu Spyware: What to Do?. In it he criticized Canonical collecting search queries from Ubuntu users. He rightly called that spyware.
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Increased Compatibility

With the release of Linux-libre 3.4.58 and 3.10.7 I am pleased to announce increased compatibility for my APT repository.
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Digits

This is definitely a thinking person's game!

Distantly related to the game Mastermind, you are given clues to help determine a random number combination. The object of the game is to guess the solution in as few tries as possible. Statistically, even when you are unlucky, the solution can be derived in no more than seven guesses with the default settings. You can also change the game settings for greater difficulty.
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Online Sharing: An Unstoppable Force

If numbers are to be believed, millions of people share file with each other. Everyone's sharing something these days, even the FBI, major record labels, the U.S. government, the Vatican, and even the Canadian police and government. In fact, research published by Jean-Paul Van Belle at the University of Cape Town, South Africa said that only 11% of respondents claimed to have never engaged in sharing with their friends. Even the RIAA admits there's an ocean of sharing going on and there's no end in sight.
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Grue Hunter

Grue Hunter is a text adventure game written in Perl. You must make your way through an underground cave system in search of the Grue. Can you capture it and get out alive?
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A Dystopic View Of The Future

Jeff was finishing up his undergraduate degree in history at the University. It was difficult to obtain research materials ever since the library closed. Chancellor Pankrat's declaration that all published works were to forever exist only in digital form and also be placed under perpetual and draconian copyright restrictions led to the systematic closing of all lending libraries, music conservatories, and bookbinding factories. Pankrat was not a huge fan of history in general, unless it was his private version of it. Whether they were books, music, movies or games, no one could access them unless they were government sanctioned digital copies encrypted for use with the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) system that was also mandated to be present on every electronic device used by the public. Pankrat used to work for the largest electronic book publisher in the world. This DRM system, not coincidentally, was developed by that company.
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Introducing Long-Term Support

I began maintaining an APT repository for Linux-libre, graciously hosted by the Free Software Foundation Latin America, in September 2011.
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COBOL Will Live Forever

The COBOL programming language is one of the oldest computer languages in existence, yet it's still widely used in extremely significant ways: The average person on the street has nearly a hundred interactions per week with things running COBOL. Even the New York Stock Exchange currently uses numerous mainframe computers running COBOL programs (although various efforts are presently underway to reduce that); and the number of daily COBOL transactions made around the world each day is actually greater than the number of hits all of the websites on the Internet receive.
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Tracking User Logins

usertracker.pl scans specified log files for information about logged-in users and adds the list of logged users to a file. I had a need to get this information for a system I was working on, couldn't find a program that worked exactly like I wanted, and came to the conclusion that it had to be made. I'm publishing it here just in case it might be helpful to someone else some day.
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How I Learned About Free Software

I've been using computers my entire life. My earliest memory of them involves a TRS-80 Model III while I was in either the second or third grade. I remember that it had an orange reset button in the upper right corner of the keyboard and that the teacher had told us to never press it. I sometimes joked with my classmates about pressing it but never did. Someone eventually did though.
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Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part five

Based on the previous parts I'm going to assume that you have the hardware you want to use for your server, have registered a domain name that is safe from being be seized, know whether your ISP has assigned you a static or dynamic IP address, and that if you're behind some type of device that hands out private IP addresses to the computers in your home, you have found the manual for your router so as to figure out how to configure it to assign a static private IP address to your server and open any ports htat may be needed.
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Outsourcing Your GPL Obligations

Version 3 of the GNU General Public License updated a free software license that was, at that point, sixteen years old since version 2 and 18 years since version 1.
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The Importance Of Free Firmware

I received a request to write something about why you should use free firmware (so yes — I do accept requests for topics) but firmware is really just software and the arguments I was going to make apply equally to all software. However, for the purposes of this article, I will focus on software in the form of firmware.
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Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part four

This is part four of a series. I'm going to assume that you've already the previous parts. If not they're linked to from the archive. I'll continue with the same theme as last time: Your internet connection.
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Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part three

This is part three of a series. I'm going to assume that you've already read the first and second parts. The next part to consider is your connection to the internet.
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What Can Be Copyrighted and What Can't

I've written about copyright before explaining how, in its default state, it's a restriction on society. In this I intend to discuss the scope of copyright restrictions.
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The Story Of An Ebook Reader

I recently learned of someone selling their ebook reader that ran proprietary software.
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The DMCA

Imagine a book store that sells you a book, but it's scrambled and cannot be read. Descrambling is a prerequisite to reading, but imagine there's a law making it illegal to do that.
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Project Glass

Google recently revealed its plan to develop Internet-connected eyeglasses that would combine normal vision with informational overlays. It has named the effort "Project Glass" and built a prototype.
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DRM And Free Expression

While not the only reason the former Soviet Union fell apart, samizdat certainly played a large role in this.

Citizens copied printed works of dissent and handed the papers out to like-minded friends and others. Samizdat undermined the ability of the repressive communist regime. While the crackdown on independent thinking eventually proved unsuccessful, totalitarian governments around the world continue to shut down independent thought and free expression.
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Will The War On Sharing Ever End?

While sharing seems to be in the media spotlight far more than ever before it is far from new. Without a doubt, advancements in technology have certainly made it easier but humans have been sharing with each other since the beginning of time. If statistics are to be believed, more and more people are sharing with each other.
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A Slice of Raspberry Pi, Anyone?

A new computer system has come out: the Raspberry Pi. It's a computer on a single circuit board. An all-in-one processor, graphics card and memory cache slapped on a board with a few I/O ports and a memory card slot. It won't win any design awards; but then, it's not intended to.
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An Empty Promise

I was reading about some new "promise" that Microsoft supposedly made, but in reading the details I see it as much ado about nothing. Here are the points they made:
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Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part two

You've got the computer you're going to use as your server, you've got your copy of Trisquel, you know why you're running your own server, and why it's important to do that with with free software. Now what?
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Your own privacy-aware, personally controlled server, part one

Why Run Your Own Server? There are lots of reasons why someone might want to run their own server, but I think the important ones boil down to freedom, privacy, and autonomy. If you're not sure why you should run your own server, Eben Moglen does an excellent job of explaining why everyone should. I recommend this recording to become familiar with the issues.
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Apple Launches Attack On Latin America

SAO PAULO, Brazil—December 13, 2011—Apple today announced the launch of their latest attack on human freedom by making their iTunes Store available to people various countries in Latin America.
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YaCy

The Internet was originally designed to be a peer-to-peer system where each person, or peer, was free to share what ever information that they desired and it was up to other peers to view it or not. In the original concept, each node on the internet was designed to be its own server and the information that was stored at another location could be accessed by each server.
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What Is Copyleft?

Copyleft is an idea. To understand it you first need to understand copyright.

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The Legacy Of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs didn't invent the computer, or the cell phone, or the portable music player, but he did help to make them popular. He wasn't the first to use software to turn those devices into a jail, but he was the first to make it cool to be in jail.
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APT Repository for Linux-libre

I've begun maintaining an APT repository for Linux-libre, graciously hosted by the Free Software Foundation Latin America.
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Mozilla's Trademark Policy Goes Too Far

I was recently reading the Mozilla Trademark Policy after a discussion on gnu-linux-libre raised questions about whether it makes Mozilla software proprietary.
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The (Lack) Of Cell Phone Freedom

I've been thinking about cell phones, and there is no cell phone out there that is 100% freedom-respecting.
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Calling All Patent Trolls

It seems that everything's going downhill in the patent world: The free software community didn't get the result we were hoping for out of the Bilski case, and the i4i case actually made it harder to invalidate patents. The patent system is already such a mess, and these court decisions only seem to make it worse, so I've come to the conclusion that we need more patent trolls.
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Free Software And GNU

You may have heard of "free" software before. One common belief is that it's free of cost. The majority of free software is available without cost, but "free" really refers to freedom not price. Specifically, the freedom to run, study, modify and distribute the software.
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DRM And Free Culture

I strongly believe in free culture and that all creative works everywhere should be free. Specifically, people should have:

  • the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it
  • the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it
  • the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression
  • the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works
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GNU Social And You

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets have literally revolutionized the way many people in the world communicate. But, is this communication really free? Can you expect that these services will be up and running and that you'll be able to use them, no matter the political climate of the time?
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