Category: Freedom and Privacy

Why Ubuntu: A Bird’s Eye View

I have been a happy member of the Ubuntu community and user of the product for years now.  Today I decided to ask the internet ‘why’.  I had my own reasons why but I wondered what Mr. WWW was telling people.

I was surprised.  I couldn’t find any short summary.  It was all too product-based or too philosophy based but didn’t quite sum up the ‘big picture’ for someone who wanted a quick read.  I was tempted to call this post “Ubuntu: Why all the Hype?”

I remember Randall Ross saying somewhere… or writing somewhere something about ‘How Many P’s are there in ‘Ubuntu’?”  I searched his blog but was unable to find the P’s.  I’ll kindly request that Randall officially publish those or if someone could fire a link to these in the the comments below that will be much appreciated.  The P’s that I remember are Philosophy, People, Product which are the key things that got me moved over to Ubuntu and kept me there.  I think Privacy might have been one, too.

Even the official Why Use Ubuntu page on ubuntu.com wasn’t really that satisfying for me.

So without further adieu, my spew:

~philosophy~

  • it doesn’t cost you money, and therefore is not reserved for the elite.  A child in a poor country has the same rights to be involved as a rich man
  • it is built by the community and therefore for the community.  Instead of a boardroom of software execs deciding which new thing they can craft up that will keep the users in bondage to their business model, a grandpa alone in Moosejaw (that’s a real place, by the way) can, with the help of the community, suggest or even write a change to the system and watch it take place before their eyes.  They can do software instead of being done by software.
  • you remain in control of your hardware that you paid for.  Now that I’ve been an Ubuntu fanboy for a while, I find it disturbing to think that the operating system – the thing that has complete control over your hardware – could be shipped to you pre-installed without your consent.  The company could limit you from what you could do with that hardware you paid for, or they could give themselves power over it without your consent.  I no like.

~people~

  • you’re not alone.  There are people out there who are really excited about Ubuntu and they’ll help you.  They want to see you succeed because when you succeed so do they.  People are volunteering lots of their time to organize meetups, to write helpful material and to write code to improve everything.  You can join or start local groups and you can network online.  Instead of clicking aimlessly online you can talk to people.

~product~

  • it’s unified.  it is the only operating system to have unity (hence the name Unity) from a PC, to a laptop, to  a netbook, to a tablet, to a TV all the way down to a smart phone (search ‘Ubuntu Phone’).  Across all hardware, Ubuntu unites them.
  • it works.  Ubuntu never fails to amaze me.  Whenever I use it, everything just feels and works better.  I don’t get paralysing crashes, slow bootups, lag times, etc.  Its smooth and it works.
  • it’s fast.  On one occasion I was forced to use a big slow operating system.  For fun I decided to boot Ubuntu from a USB stick which should be slower than the native operating system since it’s running on the external drive.  To my surprise it was like someone handed me a new laptop – it was alive again and snappy fast.  The proof is in the pudding.
  • it’s safe.  I challenge you to find any virus written for Ubuntu and if you do, I challenge you to show me that it had any negative impact.  I have not so much as thought about viruses since I made the switch years ago.  Want the world to see everything you do on your hardware?  Do not use Ubuntu!
  • it’s both cool and creative.  I just love the way that every few months I have something to be excited about. I know that someone in the community has changed something for the better and that soon enough when I upgrade to the next release something will get cooler.  Compare that to my crippling and enslaving experience with big proprietary company’s updates when I dreaded the next release because I knew something I paid for in the past would no longer be supported and I would have to pay extra to get it working again.
  • it’s simple and easy.  My mom and dad are 74 years old and have been with Ubuntu for years.  They haven’t experienced any major problems and if they did the community was there to help get it resolved – for FREE
  • its growing.  Although I don’t have the reference here I was under the understanding that Ubuntu was the fastest growing operating system in the world (reference needed).  The point is is that it’s not dying like many other systems and seeing a downward curve.
  • its freakin’ awesome.  No further comments

~project~

I found another P in Ubuntu.

I hope that this has been helpful in converting you from darkness to light and from folly to wisdom.  The great part about having a free will is that no one will stop you from smashing your own head against a cement wall if you want to.  That’s your right.  No one  can take that from you (although they probably should).

Do what you choose but I strongly recommend doing your due diligence and doing the right thing wherever you can.  Imagine regaining your freedom and how sweet that would feel?  It’s empowering.

Join the Ubuntu Project today.

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Five Reasons Why I Already Hate My Iproduct

Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com, Sat, 07/16/2011 – 23:47

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I avoided Apple for a long time.  A very long time.  While everyone was running around snapping up their expensive, locked-down hardware for extreme prices, I enjoyed more open items like Ubuntu operating systems and Android mobile devices.

However, we didn’t have a touch device for home, more specifically, for my wife who periodically wishes to distract our daughter with it.  During a marriage-altering blowup, my precious throws in her lack of an IPhone or IPod Touch (or my vehement opposition to its purchase) as one reason why I suck.  So, I decide to give my blessings towards the purchase of an Ipod Touch because at least we won’t be stuck on some wackage-package from a cell provider…

My woes didn’t take long to surface.  Here they are as I discovered them:

1. You cannot expand the storage memory at all!  Like.. no SD slot.  Nothing.  Further, there isn’t a micro USB input! Could you be any more lame?

2. No wall, 110V outlet power charger.  Just the USB charger.  I would love to charge for 5 times longer than necessary so please make sure to not include that in the box.  🙁

3. They force you to synchronize with Itunes!!!  Like… you can’t seem to move files back and forth without the installation of Itunes.  I accepted that, but then I found out the real doozy – you can’t put Itunes on Linux!!  Now I’m just fuming.  Not only do they lock you out, but they also lock you in!  It’s like the jail of jails.  You Apple to get in, and you need Apple (or Windows) to get out.  So lame.  So, so, lame.

4. When I finally got Itunes downloaded and ready to install on my virtual machine in Ubuntu, I discovered yet another thing that sucks – Itunes is one of the biggest most annoying programs I have ever installed!  It took me like five years to finally get it installed. I think I saw 4 million registry files being edited 🙁

5. Now that you finally have your precious and highly-proprietary Itunes installed on your Windows (or Mac)(but not any other OS) system, you’ll be pleased to know that the pain is only just beginning.  Now you have to become an Apple-Man and get yourself a IAccount.  This requires submitting pretty much everything about yourself to Apple headquarters.  Apple finalized the deal, after getting all that info from me, with a request for a credit card or some kind of payment information.  I assumed that you’d probably have to submit this even if you wanted free apps because they probably have a payment-portal system set up regardless of whether it’s free or not.  I’ll find out about that soon.

So, my first two hours of Apple have been poop-lame-sucky. I hope the actual use of this device makes me forget how black my soul got this evening 🙁

PS. Any of you who think this was all ‘ok’ should seriously check yourselves in. I’m here to tell you that THERE IS A BETTER WAY.  Make your next device NOT Apple even if it’s just for the stuff I blogged.

And three more un-smilies for the road 🙁 🙁 🙁

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Diaspora – Social Media that Actually Excites Me

Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com at Sun, 10/02/2011 – 21:09

Finally.

After what seems like years, I got my invite to sign up at Diaspora. The coolest thing to me is that you probably don’t even know what it is yet. Don’t worry – people like me will spread the news quick. In a few words, it’s a dumbed down version of Facebook, Twitter and Google + (dumbed down is actually a good thing, by the way, if you didn’t know) and, get this –

YOU OWN YOUR OWN CONTENT! *

*if you want to set it up that way

Did you catch what I just wrote? This is the thing so many people have been waiting for. Why did I kill my Facebook account a year or so ago? Because I just didn’t like the way Facebook was starting to own our social lives. Like everyone else, I don’t mind actually posting about my life and seeing what everyone is up to, but I started to think about the trail this kind of stuff leaves. Then, I went to delete my account to find out that… it didn’t really seem to delete. In fact, I bet if I went there today and just tried to enter my old username and password that it would spring back to the condition before I ‘deleted’ my account. I haven’t tried that though, so I might be wrong. Point is this: If I start posting personal things I want to, as much as possible, be sure that I can erase that content forever and not leave some kind of ‘social trail’ behind me.

Diaspora is awesome. If I wanted to, I could set up a computer just for my family and install ‘my own social media website’ just for us. I could post photos of my daughter, my wife, even a picture of my gross farmer’s tan… and no one in the public would ever know (unless a hacker hacks in but that’s always a risk). It’s just… perfect. But, you don’t have to be that exclusive. You can set it up just like Google + (I kind of wonder if Google actually stole this concept from Diaspora…) with the ‘circles’ concept except they are called ‘aspects’ in Diaspora. You can stay pretty open about hooking up with people, and then just maintain your privacy via your ‘aspects’ and who you share your content with.

So, yeah. Remember when Facebook was pretty simple and didn’t have farm animals harassing you? It’s like that.

I know this isn’t a very cohesive blog but I just wanted to bang out a shout-out for the crew at Diaspora who has finally done something worth getting excited about. I’m already working with some local folk to set up our own pod. Here are some quick ideas I’ve already thought of where Diaspora might be useful:

1. A private way to network employees (large enterprises with high security)
2. Political party members (they want to discuss things totally off the public radar, I’m sure)
3. Family pod: a pod just for the family that will never host any other users other than actual family members so you can share extremely private information if need be without risk of content ending up in the wrong hands
etc
4. Education: teachers and students… somehow?

I mean check out their dumb-simple homepage:

https://diasp.org/

I love these guys.

If you want to join, you could ‘try’ to get an account here by filling out a request (it’s still Alpha release):

www.joindiaspora.com

…Or, you could beg me to send you an invite by following us on twitter @seymourblenz and I might find it in my heart.

See you in there…if you’re lucky

Oh yeah! One last thing: It works well.

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If you Care about Freedom, Ramp up your Ham

I think it’s interesting how most people who claim to care about freedom don’t have a ham radio (amateur radio) license, especially you folks in open source.

You reject and rebel against the Monopolists in Redmond and the Fruit Devices from Cupertino recognizing that they are dictating how you will and will not use the thing you are spending all your money on.

You recognize that it’s freaky and weird to give all the power of your privacy and information over to a company.

You think it’s insane that someone would participate in something where not paying a license fee could jeopardize a business or the functionality of someone’s day-to-day.

You relish and brag about your freedom – and rightfully so.

You are a warrior in the battle against the Man and the eyes of Big Brother.

Have I puffed you up enough?  Very well, then. Get ready to be brought low.

If you don’t have a ham radio license don’t come around calling yourself a man.  You are a pansy-boy, sissy-girl.  And if you’re already a girl, you’re a flaky fan-girl – a Barbie Doll at best.

Real men have hams.

Real women have call signs.

Real men speak to real women with their ham radios.

The service on your cell phone (except for a 911 call) is merely leased to you by likely one of a few mobile service monopolists.  If they had their way, they would also charge you for that 911 call.  Until the Ubuntu Phone was announced a couple of days ago, even the operating system on that smart phone that you pack with you is owned by someone else – and the data on it – don’t kid yourself.

So don’t tell me you love freedom that much.

“Oh, but I use a dumb phone,” you say.

Nice try.  Let’s see how well your dumb phone works during an earthquake or if you don’t pay your bill.  But really, nice try.

A ham radio requires a little studying, but once you get it, you’ve got yourself a ‘free cell phone forever’ – if you can find someone to talk to.  And that, in essence, is the root of the problem.

The only people who seem to have a ham radio are wearing Depends, on serious medication or are serious geeks – and I mean serious.  That’s why I always went alone.  I didn’t want anyone to find out that I hung out with these people and liked what they liked.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it.  It’s almost like the whole system we live in is Anti-Ham.  The test isn’t that hard… so why aren’t more people doing it?  In Canada you get free custom license plates for your car with your call sign! Isn’t that reason enough?  Nope.  Still no one does it. You can make a free call to your family if they have licenses – unlimited airtime – for free. Not good enough.  You can connect to the internet with it and speak to ham radios all around the world: you could speak to your ham-buddy climbing a mountain in South Korea from  just like he’s around the corner – for free.  Still not good enough.

It’s almost as if the entire system is Anti-Ham and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Ham radio gives power to the people – like Ubuntu, unions or voting.  To put it in perspective, you can take away my cell phone and I can still remain connected to the world – while mobile.  That’s a power I’m assuming the mobile service providers don’t want you to know or think about.  I’m assuming they are not rushing around trying to help promote ham radio.

My parents have a cabin where only one cellular network works.  Instead of taking my advice and getting licensed and throw a killer ham radio in their car and cabin (maybe $500-$750 capital investment?) they will likely spend well over $2400 over the next five years to get suited up with a monthly mobile plan on that network.

Hams own their own network!

Enough about this already.  You get the point.  Get licensed and track me down on the ham waves.

My call sign is VE7CAK (that’s Charlie Alpha Kilo” to you)

“Be a man.  Do da light fing.” – R. Peters

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