A tweet was recently posted featuring an advert claiming Firefox is the better browser in terms of respect for privacy:

Sadly, this isn’t the case, as this Pale Moon update clearly describes:

https://forum.palemoon.org/viewtopic.php?t=16154&p=117375#p117375

So, if you use , best to expect information leakage back to anyway.  If you value your privacy and want a functional browser, check out Pale Moon!

#palemoon

Quoted

#CITIZENFOUR

For those who value freedom.

I was lucky to have spotted a recent social media post, alerting me to showings of CITIZENFOUR in London over the past weekend. CITIZENFOUR, in case you are not aware, is a film made by celebrated filmmaker Laura Poitras (Praxis Films), who accompanied journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill to Hong Kong to interview Edward Snowden in the summer of 2013.

My partner and I took a train to Wimbledon. It was an uncharacteristically warm day, summer-like in all regards except the browning of the leaves. The trees looked tired as we marched along to the station; we weren’t missing this film for anything.

In contrast to the anticipation building up inside of me, waiting to see this film, Wimbledon itself was very ordinary. People going about their normal lives. Appetizing whiffs of just-cooked food were wafting over from the market stalls. Traffic was permanently in a hurry with barely any regard for pedestrians’ safety. And the shoppers held an equally high regard for the traffic too, voluntarily stepping out in front of anything coming.

And the shoppers …
voluntarily stepping out in front of anything coming.

The matinée showing at the bijou HMV Curzon cinema was starting just after lunch. I wanted to get there early so that, in anticipation of the queues, we would be assured of a good seat. When picking up our tickets, we spoke to a member of staff behind the bar/counter about the expected numbers.

Staggeringly, four seats had been booked. Including ours. Citizens: four.

To my slight relief, more than four people eventually turned up and attended the showing. Twenty, maybe. Perhaps thirty, tops. In a 110-seat room. And they were comfortable seats too. The best you’d find in any cinema, with lots of leg room and deep, comfortable cushions.

A Tale of Two Cities

After reading Lawrence Lessig’s blog post of his recent cinema outing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with 500 movie-goers attending their picture house, I wondered how there could be such disparity across the pond. For us, there was no line to stand in before entering, and perhaps adding insult to injury, our tickets were not even checked by a member of staff when we walked in to pick our (unallocated) seats.

Perhaps it was the over-air-conditioned screen that turned people away. Considering that outside it was the very end of the British summer and we saw temperatures of 20 deg C, inside was another story altogether. We were lucky if it was more than 14. But I don’t think this was the reason for the poor turn-out; any evidence of forward-thinking would surely have improved the attendance?

What does this say about continued British apathy towards such fundamental issues?

A somewhat senior lady who attended the film, mentioned to me on her way out, “I don’t think I meant to come and see that. I thought it was something else.Citizen Kane, perhaps? I hope she wasn’t one of the original four who bought in advance…

Perhaps people felt it was a story already told. In some ways it was – but arguably, in many ways the whole story had not been told until now. A couple of reveals towards the end of the film were new information to me. Stuff I wasn’t aware of, from reading the Snowden book.

The Wombles

I am glad that a healthy number of people in the US are curious about this subject and decided to explore it further. You might expect this from the residents of Cambridge (Mass.), with its connection to Free Software and socio-political activism, and well done to them.

So, a quick glance at the population numbers of both areas provides some fairly meaningless stats on which to close.

Cambridge’s popn = 107,000 or so. Wimbledon’s: around 60,000.  Roughly speaking, for every 214 residents in Cambridge, one person attended Saturday’s matinée there. Only one person of every 3,040 in Wimbledon managed the same feat.  What does this say about continued British apathy towards such fundamental issues?

I am left feeling that provided Centre Court and strawberries are always available, Wimbledon won’t care much.  Unless, of course, someone personally has an infraction with the law, as a result authoritarian paranoia.  Then, perhaps, it might fill a column in page 7 of the local rag.  Residents might even chat about this at a local pub, in-between opinions on the state of the brew.

But to complain against wrongdoings is normal.  It’s human nature to focus on the oppressors rather than the oppressed. Luckily, for us, in respectable communities there still burns a glimmer of hope that sense may prevail.

If it hasn’t been said enough times already, let it be said once more: Emacs and org-mode are quite probably the best way ever to organise your personal life.

Emacs, for starters

Emacs as a text editor is rock solid. If you have a computer where you type in text and which:

  • is web based (e.g. a chromebook)
  • has any kind of touch interface (a tablet, phone)
  • is running a heavy GUI (graphical user interface)

.. then you are certain to observe a certain lag on input. It might be very slight, but it will likely be there. I know this to be the case for many devices out there, even those which purport to be “high-end”.

With Emacs, there seems to be a much more direct connection to the keyboard: you type, text appears. You type faster, text appears faster. In fact, text is capable of appearing much more quickly than you can possibly type. This makes blogging quick and painless.

org-mode, for main course

Life in Emacs simply came to be, through org-mode. Emacs itself is amazing; org-mode made organising data even better. A quick refresher:

  • org-mode creates everything in plain text, for maximum portability between systems
  • it is known as an “outline mode” enhancement for Emacs, meaning it helps to display semi-structured text effectively
  • it allows for the creation of lists – of projects, tasks, notes, links … you name it, anything that can be represented in text
  • it is portable, allowing for synchronisation with mobile devices
  • using Emacs, it is powerful – allowing org-mode notes to interact with other aspects of Emacs
image of org-mode
org-mode in action: showing a list of links

Org-mode also supports all sorts of fancy formatting and customisation, meaning text can look good and be easy to follow.

org2blog, for desert

What would all this power be for, unless blogging! 🙂

Actually, blogging is just one activity which benefits greatly from the power of org-mode, as org’s powerful and easy formatting options are seamlessly translated into HTML and published to a blog.

In my case, I’m using a WordPress site. I create a new post using the commands

M-x org2blog/wp-login
M-x org2blog/wp-new-entry

I then type in my post and save it to a local file, using

C-x C-s

and then post it to WordPress for subsequent tweaking, with

M-x org2blog/wp-post-buffer

I can then add some final polish and check the format in WordPress before final publishing.

As a demo and an indication of speed, this blog post took only 5 minutes to write, post, edit and publish.