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    1. Privacy woes and autonomy, where do I go now?

      I'm very sorry, but this is going to be rant. One that may seem to come up almost daily, but I still feel the need to vent. Every day I feel like I'm jumping through hoops to keep a little bit of...

      I'm very sorry, but this is going to be rant. One that may seem to come up almost daily, but I still feel the need to vent.

      Every day I feel like I'm jumping through hoops to keep a little bit of privacy and autonomy, without ever winning. DuckDuckGo is my search engine, use a paid mail provider, I try to stay away from anything Google and Meta, use only Signal, ad blocking everywhere, hosting most services locally, etc. It seems, however, to make no difference in the long run. The user-profile-building just seems to enter the home faster than I can mitigate it. Kids install some new app or new hardware ends up listening in, privacy infringement is there.

      The reason I'm starting this post now is because I switched ISP and TV provider recently, but it has been on my mind for a long time. Finding one that isn't owned by one of huge 3 parent companies, is almost impossible here. After a year of deciding, I finally figured it was time to throw in the towel and just pick the least bad option. Yesterday was the day of switching and it has been such a frustrating process.

      The provided router doesn't allow me to turn off its WLAN. I live in a city, so the airwaves are already crowded enough as it is. No need to keep that antenna on, but screw me, that's not possible. Opened up the device to just remove the card, but everything is soldered on the board and disconnecting the antennas didn't do shit.
      It's possible to buy a modem/router myself, but it'll need to follow their requirements and will set me back $200. It would be okay if the rest of the service was great, but here comes the TV part!

      The device they use for TV is apparently Android TV. I assumed it would be IPTV with this subscription, but Android TV isn't that. Booting the device makes it immediately clear they are here to harvest data. It makes me so unhappy that a service I'm paying for, is also making money on the side by collecting data. To get a quick idea of what's being done, I routed the box through wireshark to sniff DNS traffic. It's riddled with domains used for data collection and ads. That combined with the features this box wants me to agree to (location, using the mic, access local network, sign into PlayStore, make a profile including real life information) does not make me trust this device. So I've decided to not play and will be sending it back.

      People around me are pretty conscious about what they do online, but compared to them I'm highly paranoid. Wherever I look, there are privacy issues. It seems impossible to escape from. How are other people dealing with this?

      UPDATE: I don't know if anybody is really interested, but I thought I would update anyway. I decided to listen to my gut and I cancelled the subscription. It feels like the best decision I've made in a long time. It's nice to feel like I'm still a little bit in charge, even though I know that's also just a false sense of autonomy. Suck it, Google! You're not the boss of me :-)

      32 votes
    2. The Slack controversy has opened a whole new can of worms

      So Slack has been in the news since last couple of days and after wondering what dastardly thing did they do this time to deserve the wrath of Internet Gods, I decided to Google and found that...

      So Slack has been in the news since last couple of days and after wondering what dastardly thing did they do this time to deserve the wrath of Internet Gods, I decided to Google and found that they used the folks' private chat data to train their AI models.

      But when I went through the discussions, some folks don't think of this as a big deal at all, some are actually defending Slack. They say, "So what, others like Microsoft and Google and Apple do this all the time with your and my data?". Do you agree with this line of thinking?

      At some point, I think this is going to be a privacy nightmare. Imagine Facebook doing something like this with WhatsApp chat data? I think there are some regulations in EU/US preventing Meta from combining the WhatsApp data with their other components but such regulations don't exist in all countries and nothing prevents Meta from exploiting data of users from those countries.

      What do you think about this? I think Slack needs to be called out more, not less. And something needs to be done to prevent this situation from happening again.

      29 votes
    3. "twitter.com" is now officially dead

      For some reason, I had always hoped against hope that at least the old domain name will always be retained by Elon's X team, at least as a reminder of their revolutionary beginnings in the form of...

      For some reason, I had always hoped against hope that at least the old domain name will always be retained by Elon's X team, at least as a reminder of their revolutionary beginnings in the form of "setting the bird free" or "liberating the free speech" as it was often called. But today, even that last vestige called twitter, that domain name on the back of which some of us used to mentally stay in the nostalgia, has also been broken - twitter.com is no more :-(

      As of now, the domain redirects to x.com, the new one.

      However, in our hearts and minds, it will always be "twitter" and we shall call it "twitter"! And there is one more place where the name twitter shall always find a place - the twitter bootstrap open source project which will keep telling the story of where it all began!

      48 votes
    4. Thoughts on the current state of discoverability and search

      I guess I'll post another thoughtful analysis rant on tech trends. It has been mentioned here in a few threads already but I simply wanted to try to start a focused discussion. Personally I first...

      I guess I'll post another thoughtful analysis rant on tech trends. It has been mentioned here in a few threads already but I simply wanted to try to start a focused discussion.

      Personally I first noticed significant degradation of search functionality around 2018 or so, while specifically Google was mentioned at least as far back as 2016. But it is not simply Google or even just general search engines. Any random site specific search functionality or discoverability algorithms on various sites share these trends too.

      It really seems that the focus is simply on delivering as many results as possible with actual quality or even relevance being somewhere on the tail end of priorities. It is not even just lack of(useful, consistent) search operators, lack of transparency, lack of structured search possibilities, lack of sorting options, lack of granularity - it is the simple disregard for the basic intent of the query with some implementations sometimes being actually more accurate with fewer keywords with no option to modify this behavior.

      It is especially damaging for(at least my) ability to research a topic. A decade and half ago I could go in with a topic I had no idea about and emerge two hours later with a very basic but likely mostly accurate and slightly in-depth overview by refining my searches. Now I'm lucky to get one single thoughtful blog post or discussion among dozens or tutorials, 10-bests and ads with the query being almost completely disregarded and keywords being straight up ignored to deliver this deluge of both low quality and mostly completely irrelevant results.

      Are there any projects, search engines or anything other that aim to deliver actually useful, steerable, user directed results?

      33 votes
    5. Is Nebula worth it?

      Is anyone here using https://nebula.tv? Multiple creators I watch are on there, and I'm considering getting a subscription, but I'm just not sure if it's really worth it. Most channels on there...

      Is anyone here using https://nebula.tv? Multiple creators I watch are on there, and I'm considering getting a subscription, but I'm just not sure if it's really worth it. Most channels on there don't seem to upload any exclusive content, so I'll basically just get the same videos but for $5/month instead of for free. I've also heard that the app and UX isn't that great.

      People who use the service, what makes it worth it for you? Is it just a way to support the creators more?

      61 votes
    6. Open-source self-hosted Google photos alternative

      Hello, every now and then I find myself looking for open-source "self-hosted" (VPS accepted) Google photos alternatives. I have searched every now and then but I have never found something I felt...

      Hello, every now and then I find myself looking for open-source "self-hosted" (VPS accepted) Google photos alternatives.

      I have searched every now and then but I have never found something I felt that suits my needs.

      I don't mind setting it up myself with command lines and stuff from an empty VPS as long as the monthly fees are pushed to a minimum.

      I do have a certain set of constraints and I was wondering what would be the best app to do it. Any app that I end up trying fail one of these somehow. Or it is an app that I couldn't test adequately on my 2GB RAM VPS. Should I be upgrading first and then testing them?

      Here are my constraints:

      I would like to be able to share photos privately to friends and family. Like maybe a secret link to share photos or albums with friends.

      I would like to be able to view photos on mobile, using Internet. I don't mind opening a mobile web app but I would like to be able to show it.

      I would like to have some privacy-respecting face recognition. This also opens up the question of what RAM of VPS I should be using.

      I would like to leave the file and folder structure untouched. I have already somehow arranged the files into albums by using folders so bonus points if the app figures that out. However, I would bite the bullet if there is a good solution that asks to "copy" the files into a new folder thereby doubling the storage needed. But I hope to avoid it.

      Any help towards the right direction would be appreciated!

      16 votes
    7. Two pizzas for me - What is this article trying to say?

      I just read this DailyWTF article and as a non-American, I'm quite intrigued. Is this some sort of dark humor, parody or do things really work like this in United States, especially in startup...

      I just read this DailyWTF article and as a non-American, I'm quite intrigued. Is this some sort of dark humor, parody or do things really work like this in United States, especially in startup companies?

      It seems to be a fictional tale of an IT Developer and her project manager who doesn't seem concerned at all about getting things done while the CEO is a "face time" dude who is more interested in presentation and polish than actual client servicing. And to top it, the programmer who actually codes is not only never seen in the office (non-existent?) but is actually "multiple people" at least on paper.

      How is this firm even on board or generating revenue, I just fail to understand!

      8 votes
    8. From Tildes to Reddit to Mastodon - the current state of "Text Rich" social networks on the Interwebs

      The nature of social networks is very dynamic in nature. About two decades ago, who would have thought that the leading "text rich" social network sites like Tildes, Mastodon, etc. would be so...

      The nature of social networks is very dynamic in nature. About two decades ago, who would have thought that the leading "text rich" social network sites like Tildes, Mastodon, etc. would be so popular today? Especially when Reddit had just taken some some baby steps and was mostly considered the hipster's town square sometime in late 2000s. What do you think will happen by the next decade?

      By "text rich" I mean networks where textual content is of the primary focus, other media formats like images and videos are usually secondary. Even with Reddit's flashy new interface and all, their main focus is still on text content which is good. I think one great thing about this kind of content is that it is refreshingly creative and original, and gives you an opportunity to have intellectually fulfilling discussions - which is quite rare on other kinds of networks.

      Summarily, below is a brief list of such networks which are doing a fabulous job in letting us exchange ideas and share useful information:

      Feel free to suggest more, we need more of them!

      47 votes