Pi-Hole

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If you’ve got a bit of computer knowledge, a Raspberry Pi (or other means of running a server), and a little time of your hands, and want to block many of the ad servers and trackers which watch your browsing without installing anything on your devices, take a look at Pi-Hole:

https://pi-hole.net

Unlike some other tracker blockers, this runs as a machine on your network, so you do not need to install software or configure apps on each end device, but obviously at the cost of needing to run your own server.

Neil adds: it was very easy to set up, but the default DNS settings were a bit surprising. I’d suggest setting its own DNS to your main DNS server, not just localhost, and I’d set your router’s DHCP config to fall back to your main DNS server if the Pi-Hole box falls over, for reliability purposes. Other than these oddities, I’m impressed with it so far.

Thanks to Neil.

The battle over ‘net neutrality’

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Net neutrality is the principle that an internet service provider (ISP) should give consumers equal access to all legal content regardless of its source.

To put it another way, if the networks which form the bedrock of the internet were a motorway, then under net neutrality, there wouldn’t be fast lanes for cars and slow lanes for lorries. Motorists wouldn’t be able to pay to use a faster route. All data regardless of its size, is on a level playing field.

In practice what this means is that ISPs – the biggest ones in the US include Comcast, Charter and AT&T – cannot block content, speed up or slow down data from particular websites because they have been paid to do so. And they can’t give preferential treatment to their own content at the expense of their competitors… More at the BBC.

Even more divisive that ad-tracking is net neutrality. The above article is slightly out of date, but the image says it all really.

SoundCloud running out of time

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Exiting team members wanted to know why they weren’t warned, while those who survived the cuts wanted assurance that the cost reductions would keep the company afloat for the long-run.

But as security ominously filed into SoundCloud’s meeting rooms at its offices around the world during the all-hands video conference broadcast from its Berlin headquarters, the startup’s staff discovered they wouldn’t be getting the answers they wanted. Instead, sources at SoundCloud tell TechCrunch that founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss confessed the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway “until Q4” — which begins in just 50 days… More at TC.

I can see no way back from here. Such a shame, but the competition is just too fierce.

Online Harassment

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Pew Research asked respondents about six different forms of online harassment. Those who witnessed harassment said they had seen at least one of the following occur to others online:

60% of internet users said they had witnessed someone being called offensive names
53% had seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone
25% had seen someone being physically threatened
24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time
19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed
18% said they had seen someone be stalked

The full report is here and is sadly not surprising.

Send Me SFMOMA

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Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, a color, or even an emoji and you’ll receive a related artwork image and caption via text message. For example “send me the ocean” might get you Pirkle Jones’ Breaking Wave, Golden Gate; “send me something blue” could result in Éponge (SE180) by Yves Klein; and “send me 💐” might return Yasumasa Morimura’s An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo (Collar of Thorns). Each text message triggers a query to the SFMOMA collection API, which then responds with an artwork matching your request… More here.

Can’t work out if there are any costs associated with this.

All I Got Was This New SIM Card

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Once I returned home I checked my email and saw two new emails. The first is from Google with a security reset code. I did a quick phishing check and the URLs were legitimate.

The second email I see was from PayPal stating that $200 AUD was transferred from my bank (which is an obscure / small bank) to another person. Again, checked for phishing just on the off chance that someone figured out who my bank was to craft an elaborate password fetching scheme. It’s valid… More here.

Read the whole story. Nothing less secure than people.

56 New Emoji

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That’s right, USA TODAY reported yesterday that there will be as many as 56 new ways to show your true feelings over text. And the geniuses behind emoji really stepped up their game this round, from including more cultures (there’s a woman in a hijab this round), to ones that the public has been dreaming of forever (THERE’S A MERMAID)… More at Esquire.

You can never have too many emoji.