Archive for September 2010

Social networking privacy

I, like many people, have accounts on many different social networking websites. I, also, like some, am very unhappy with the terms of service and lack of privacy on them.

Privacy

The way I see it, there are two issues in regards to privacy. First, there is the issue of who sees my content. Even if I post photos to a website such as Shutterfly and password protect them, I still don’t know what Shutterfly is doing with them. (for the record, I’ve had a fine experience using Shutterfly) Also, even though Shutterfly offers unlimited image uploads of unlimited resolution, I found out they still reduce the file size by lowering image quality. Boo.

Second, there is the issue of who controls my content. When I post a blog entry to a website such as Blogger, I don’t even know what I agreed to let Blogger do with it. I assume it is being scanned for information to increase advertisement revenue for them. Also, whether it be images or blogs, once the website goes down (and all websites eventually go down) then all of my content goes down with it. I can’t imagine too many people save a local copy of their long (emotional, personal, thought provoking…) blog entries, and I think many people are beginning to not even save a local copy of many of the images they post. (such as from mobile phones) All of that will be lost.

As long as I’m ranting, I also think it’s ridiculous that so many people post photos on Facebook when Facebook saves them at such an incredibly low resolution and quality. Yuck.

I was excited to hear about projects such as Diaspora, but was very disappointed at their lack of quality and progress.

I give up

I gave up. I decided to do something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I setup my own website from my personal computer using my regular DSL internet connection.

I had never done anything like this before. I started with the simple instructions for setting up my router and , and signed up for a free domain name with DynDNS and ddclient. That took a couple of hours one morning. I then spent a few hours in the afternoon and followed the simple instructions on the Arch Linux wiki for setting up a LAMP server. Then I installed the AUR packages for Zenphoto and WordPress. I put a simple password on Zenphoto as a way to simply control who sees our family photos, and may or may not do the same on WordPress. I also haven’t decided if I’ll host my own WikiMedia site.

Conclusion

I don’t plan on using Shutterfly, Blogger, Myspace, or LiveJournal anymore. I still plan on using Facebook, but simply as a way to keep in contact with many people easily. I might not move my Archlinux.me posts to my own website, since I don’t think my wife appreciates my nerdy rants.

So, I now have a beautiful website for blogging and posting photos that has no EULA, no privacy concerns, no size or quality limits, and no advertisements. It uses free and open source software, and didn’t cost any extra money to setup and run. I own my content, and I can share it with whomever I want and do with it whatever I want.

Free music

I really dislike the RIAA, the major music industry in the United States. I decided to stop buying music from them.

About two years ago I decided to completely stop listening to music from the RIAA. I deleted all of the music I had from them. I now only download (and pretty much listen to) music that is available for free by the artist. Also, I’m not against paying an artist for music, as long as they are not associated with the RIAA. Here are some of my favorite websites.

ccMixter

Not only does all of this music cost no money, but you are also free to do (almost) anything you want with it, including adding it to a movie soundtrack or making a new song with it.

muzie

This is a website for Japanese musicians. It is easy to navigate and there are many different styles of music. There is music of MANY different styles available. I contacted some of the artists and thanked them for their work.

OverClocked ReMix

This website hosts tons of video game music remixes. If you don’t know where to start, try downloading some of the albums they have produced.

Magnatune

Magnatune hosts many different types of music from around the world. It is possible to find free music to download from them. Most of the music there can be purchased and is inexpensive, and much of the profit goes to the artists.

If you are interested in removing any RIAA material from your music collection, you can use the RIAA Radar.

At first I was worried about if listening to only free music would work. It’s been a great experience. I don’t feel like I have any shortage of good music to listen to.

Duck Duck Go

Thanks to the Arch Linux forums, I learned about the internet search engine Duck Duck Go. I have replaced it as my default search engine at home and at work. I’ve been using it for six months now. It’s been a good experience. Here are some of my favorite features:

Cleaner and better results – The information I’m looking for is often automatically displayed at the top of the page. If it isn’t, it’s usually one of the first few links. In my experience, if Duck Duck Go doesn’t find what I’m looking for, Google doesn’t either.

Automatic new results – There are no “pages”. Instead, the results appear as you scroll.

Privacy – There is better privacy compared to Google. (as far as I know)

Bang commands – “Arch Linux !images” or “tile based game !sourceforge” or “drcouzelis !google” or “Terminator !wiki”. I usually can guess a new bang command without looking it up.

The only thing I don’t like about it is that, compared to Google, the site-search functionality seems a little weak. So instead I usually do something like “drcouzelis site:bbs.archlinux.org !google”.

I haven’t figured out how to use Duck Duck Go as a verb yet. (“Try googling it” vs “Try duckduckgoing it”) Instead, I just say “Try doing an internet search”.

Somebody already made that!

I wanna write an application for Haiku, but every time I think of something to make and begin writing down ideas for it, I find out it already exists!

I was all excited to start working on a personal finance and budget application when I found out about BeFinancial. Recently it’s even been released as open source software.

With Linux I think of it as normal to have many different applications that have very similar functionality, but with Haiku that just doesn’t seem to happen as much. Reasons that happen with Linux include:

Different toolkits – On Linux there is GTK+, Qt, FLTK, Fox, GNUStep, and on and on. On Haiku there is one standard toolkit.

GUI vs CLI – Haiku was designed from the beginning to have a fast and easy GUI, although it is still simple to a terminal window with BASH.

Heavy vs light – Haiku applications feel fast and light, even when they are “heavy”. Haiku applications are written to use functionality provided elsewhere as much as possible. For example, emails are saved simply as files in a folder.

Maybe I should think simpler. Maybe I should think, “What do I want to use my computer for that could be made easier and faster by having a special application?”

Stable, pretty, convenient GUI

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to find a simple, nicely pre-configured graphical user interface for Linux.

I’m used to spending a lot of time setting up things on Linux. I’ve done it for years. It’s been a fun hobby. I remember the first time I started using my mom’s new iMac, many years ago. I remember thinking it was so boring. There was nothing to setup or configure. It didn’t bother me, though, because I thought the default configuration and appearance was really nice.

I want something like that for Linux. I want a GUI that:

…has attractive default settings.

…includes complete window management functionality.

…has only one way to do everything.

…requires little configuration and maintenance.

…does not look like Windows 95.

I really want to like KDE.The recent 4.5 release behaves a little strangely with my video card, but it works. I’ll probably stick with it for now.

I’m also a big fan of Window Maker, but I always end up “using” it too much instead of “doing” stuff with it.

As for other operating systems, Haiku meets the requirements of the kind of GUI I’m looking for. Maybe instead of trying to find the perfect GUI in Linux, it would be easier to write all of the software I need for Haiku and use that.