Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category.


I have been waiting oh-so-long for a piece of software to save me from Skype, and today I may have found my savior!

I’ve been reading about WebRTC for years. It’s been a while now since Chrome, Firefox, and Opera announced support for WebRTC. Since then, the implementations have matured and websites have started to pop up with support for it.

The result is that, today, I used to:

  • Video chat with my family across the country
  • With no registration and instant setup
  • With clear (but occasionally just a tad laggy) video and audio
  • Using nothing but free and open source software
  • Via web browsers that are most likely already installed on many people’s computers

I’d call that a victory for freedom!

Social media and the open Intenet

I successfully avoided the update to the new Facebook “timeline” user interface. Do you know how? I deleted my account!

It was about a year ago that I decided to start trimming my online presence. My main reasons were that I got tired of being the “product” of a business and that it was taking too much of my time. I don’t really miss it.

It took a while to convince myself to go so far as to delete my Facebook account. I pretty much only used it to chat with people (well, only a couple of people) and to let people know that I’d updated my personally-hosted blog. (just use RSS, gosh darn it!) Facebook doesn’t seem to be used by my friends nearly as much as it used to be, so I was pretty much checking it all the time hoping that someone would post something interesting.

Many of my friends have nice open-to-anyone blogs that I can follow anyway. I don’t plan on ever again joining a website that can only be viewed by people who are members.

I’m sure some day I’ll think back on this post and laugh. It’ll be something my future teenage children will tease me about. Facebook will be remembered like we remember MySpace and GeoCities.

One of my favorite things to teach people is that all websites eventually go away. I consider it to be one of the basic laws of the Internet. Don’t become too invested in any one, because some day it’s going to disappear.

On that note, have you made a personal backup of your posts recently?

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.


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.


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 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.

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 !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”.