Paul Ciano https://paulciano.org Technophile, Contemplative, Raging Geek Tue, 28 Mar 2017 12:16:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Birthday Breather https://paulciano.org/2017/03/birthday-breather/ https://paulciano.org/2017/03/birthday-breather/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:00:55 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13834 It is that time of the year again. I have taken a few days off for my birthday and have some traveling coming up, so there will not be long form posts until April 18th. Until then, enjoy the links and I will be back soon. 🤓

The post Birthday Breather appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
It is that time of the year again. I have taken a few days off for my birthday and have some traveling coming up, so there will not be long form posts until April 18th. Until then, enjoy the links and I will be back soon. 🤓

Donkey Kong Birthday
Pretty much ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The post Birthday Breather appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/birthday-breather/feed/ 0
Let’s Encrypt 2016 In Review https://letsencrypt.org//2017/01/06/le-2016-in-review.html https://paulciano.org/2017/03/lets-encrypt-2016-in-review/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 11:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13658 Let’s Encrypt: At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt certificates had been available to the public for less than a month and we were supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 20,000,000 … Continue reading Let’s Encrypt 2016 In Review

The post Let’s Encrypt 2016 In Review appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Let’s Encrypt:

At the start of 2016, Let’s Encrypt certificates had been available to the public for less than a month and we were supporting approximately 240,000 active (unexpired) certificates. That seemed like a lot at the time! Now we’re frequently issuing that many new certificates in a single day while supporting more than 20,000,000 active certificates in total. We’ve issued more than a million certificates in a single day a few times recently. We’re currently serving an average of 6,700 OCSP responses per second. We’ve done a lot of optimization work, we’ve had to add some hardware, and there have been some long nights for our staff, but we’ve been able to keep up and we’re ready for another year of strong growth.

The post Let’s Encrypt 2016 In Review appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/lets-encrypt-2016-in-review/feed/ 0
Trying to Keep the Internet Safe From Warrantless NSA Surveillance https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/trying-keep-internet-safe-warrantless-nsa-surveillance https://paulciano.org/2017/03/trying-to-keep-the-internet-safe-from-warrantless-nsa-surveillance/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13662 ACLU: Upstream surveillance takes place in the internet “backbone” — the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that carries Americans’ domestic and international internet communications. The NSA has installed surveillance equipment at dozens of points along the internet backbone, allowing the government to copy and then search the contents of vast quantities of internet … Continue reading Trying to Keep the Internet Safe From Warrantless NSA Surveillance

The post Trying to Keep the Internet Safe From Warrantless NSA Surveillance appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
ACLU:

Upstream surveillance takes place in the internet “backbone” — the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that carries Americans’ domestic and international internet communications. The NSA has installed surveillance equipment at dozens of points along the internet backbone, allowing the government to copy and then search the contents of vast quantities of internet traffic as it flows past.

Upstream

The government claims that Upstream surveillance is authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That law allows the NSA to engage in warrantless surveillance of Americans when they are communicating with so-called “targets” abroad. But these targets can be virtually any foreigner overseas — including people who are not accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever, like journalists, lawyers, and human rights researchers. No judge signs off on the government’s individual targets. Instead, the NSA secretly vacuums up millions of communications under a single court order each year.

One of the most glaring problems with Upstream surveillance is that it is not targeted at all — at least not in any ordinary sense of the word. Instead, the government is systematically examining online communications in bulk, scanning their full contents to see which ones merely mention its targets.

Because of how it operates, Upstream surveillance represents a new surveillance paradigm, one in which computers constantly scan our communications for information of interest to the government. To use a non-digital analogy: It’s as if the NSA sent agents to the U.S. Postal Service’s major processing centers to conduct continuous searches of everyone’s international mail. The agents would open, copy, and read each letter, and would keep a copy of any letter that mentioned specific items of interest — despite the fact that the government had no reason to suspect the letter’s sender or recipient beforehand.

The post Trying to Keep the Internet Safe From Warrantless NSA Surveillance appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/trying-to-keep-the-internet-safe-from-warrantless-nsa-surveillance/feed/ 0
Injustice at the Border: How to Protect Your Data (Part 1) https://paulciano.org/2017/03/injustice-border-protect-data-part-1/ https://paulciano.org/2017/03/injustice-border-protect-data-part-1/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 11:00:26 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13820 If you follow this site, you most likely know that a large part of the content focuses on privacy and security. About 2 years ago, I said what I had to say on these subjects. From then on, I decided to simply continue linking to those who remained vigilant in these areas. However, current events … Continue reading Injustice at the Border: How to Protect Your Data (Part 1)

The post Injustice at the Border: How to Protect Your Data (Part 1) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
If you follow this site, you most likely know that a large part of the content focuses on privacy and security. About 2 years ago, I said what I had to say on these subjects. From then on, I decided to simply continue linking to those who remained vigilant in these areas.

However, current events compel me to speak up once more.

A Problem

Series

Index

For some time, it has become clear that our data is being used against us. A prime example is the social network. The creators of these networks manipulate users through what information they see (e.g., the type of content that is emphasized), ads, or straight-out psy-op experiments.

However, interest in your data extends beyond private industry. Government agencies (particularly law enforcement groups) around the world have expressed a desire to use this data for their own ends. Since there is much money to be made, a plethora of private, third-party companies have risen to offer software and services to present this data to law enforcement in an intelligible way (PDF links follow):

Boston Police cancels plan to buy $1.4 million social media surveillance system

Also, America's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has expressed interest in collecting the social media information of visitors from Visa Waiver countries. If you are an informed person that is paying attention to what is going on in the world, I don't think it would be hard to see that there is a strong, global trend towards conditioning human beings to be increasingly docile, distracted, and amenable.

Technology has only amplified this, and everyday people now have to defend their civil liberties against the immense amount of resources and inexorable greed that is at odds with them. It is in this context that I came across Sidd Bikkannavar's story.

Some highlights:

  • Sidd Bikkannavar (S.B.) is a U.S. citizen
  • S.B. is a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he has worked for 10 years
  • At the time of his incident, S.B. was enrolled in the Global Entry program
  • During his travels, S.B. did not visit any of the countries listed in the recent immigration ban
  • S.B. was detained by CBP, who demanded that he provide them with his smartphone and its PIN
  • No reason was given for S.B.'s treatment
  • S.B. was not able to leave detainment by CBP until he provided them with his smartphone's PIN
  • S.B. stated that his luggage was not touched

Go over these points again. Read the original story. Follow the related links. Then, think about it.

What CBP did was not necessarily illegal, which is a problem in and of itself. However, S.B. does not seem to have realized that, as an American citizen, he did not have to provide CBP with his smartphone's PIN, and while he may have been detained for an extended period of time, an American citizen cannot be barred from re-entering their country for refusing to provide passwords or unlock devices (although devices can be confiscated).

Foreigners and journalists have long had to deal with issues like this. Now, American citizens (regardless of their profession) are starting to get a taste of it, as well.

American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone

Retired North Carolina Police Chief Detained at JFK Airport

What is an American citizen supposed to do in this situation if they know their rights and do not yield their devices' PINs? If you are on a business trip and your employer supports your civil rights, perhaps they will have legal resources you can utilize.

For most people, I do not think this will be the case. What then? Probably, your best bet is to have some kind of legal assistance ready before your trip. This way, they can be contacted by family or friends, in case your loved ones do not hear from you shortly after you pass through security/customs.

If you do not have the resources to afford your own legal assistance, you may want to try reaching out to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to see if they will be interested in providing support.

A Plan

Regardless of where I am traveling in the world, I think asking for this kind of information (i.e., device/account credentials) is gratuitous. However, if a country's people have decided that this type of treatment of foreigners is acceptable, and I want to enter/leave their country, I can understand the need to acquiesce. After all, I am a guest in their country, and although every human being has basic rights, I do not expect to enjoy the same civil rights I have at home in other countries.

However, when I am returning to my own country, this type of treatment is unacceptable. As an Automattician, I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world and have never had to go through an experience like what Mr. Bikkannava did. That being said, if America starts doing this more, I think there is a high probability that other countries will reciprocate.

Even worse, we already know that government intelligence agencies skirt laws that limit their ability to surveil their own population. They have their partners in other countries do the data collection for them and share the information back (e.g., the Five Eyes).

US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to 'unmask' Britons' personal data

Revealed: Australian spy agency offered to share data about ordinary citizens

GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

Maybe organizations like the ACLU and EFF will fight in the courts to make sure that devices and credentials cannot be arbitrarily obtained at the U.S. border, but what about when you travel to a country that the U.S. has arrangements with? Maybe this information will just be obtained there and sent back to America.

This kind of possibility makes me uncomfortable with having access to personal data or accounts as I cross borders. There are ways to deal with this, and this outcome has long been on my mind. I never wanted it to come to this, but here we are.

I am not the only one that is re-examining this issue. Recently, a flood of articles have been published with tips on how to deal with traveling under these conditions.

Here are a few:

I do not necessarily recommend everything these posts suggest, but I do think it is important to start considering how we can deal with this problem. Ultimately, this is a civil rights issue and cannot be addressed via technical means. If this is not dealt with on a legal, social, and cultural level, it is only going to get worse.

Next

For now, deciding on what you are and are not comfortable with giving up, and adapting to the circumstances, is the best we can do. Personally, I have already worked out a system that will work well enough for me, and which I will outline soon.

However, what I have come up with is not preferable to having my basic rights respected, and is not something most people would find convenient, or even doable. It is no substitute for justice.

Stay tuned.

The post Injustice at the Border: How to Protect Your Data (Part 1) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/injustice-border-protect-data-part-1/feed/ 0
Feeling Safer Online With Firefox http://blog.astithas.com/2017/01/feeling-safer-online-with-firefox.html https://paulciano.org/2017/03/feeling-safer-online-with-firefox/#respond Sat, 18 Mar 2017 11:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13378 Good stuff. Panos Astithas: Firefox is the only browser that answers only to you, our users; so all of us who work on Firefox spend a lot of effort making your browsing experience more private and secure. We update Firefox every 6 weeks, and every new change ships to you as fast as we can … Continue reading Feeling Safer Online With Firefox

The post Feeling Safer Online With Firefox appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Good stuff.

Panos Astithas:

Firefox is the only browser that answers only to you, our users; so all of us who work on Firefox spend a lot of effort making your browsing experience more private and secure. We update Firefox every 6 weeks, and every new change ships to you as fast as we can make and verify it. For a few releases now, we have been landing bits and pieces of a broader set of privacy and security changes. This post will outline the big picture of all these changes.

The post Feeling Safer Online With Firefox appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/feeling-safer-online-with-firefox/feed/ 0
SiteGround Auto-Issues Let’s Encrypt Certificates for New Domains https://wptavern.com/siteground-auto-issues-lets-encrypt-certificates-for-new-domains https://paulciano.org/2017/03/siteground-auto-issues-lets-encrypt-certificates-for-new-domains/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 11:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13382 WP Tavern: SiteGround is now auto-issuing Let’s Encrypt certificates for every domain hosted on its shared servers. The company has also begun issuing and installing certificates on new accounts automatically after customers register domains or direct new domains to SiteGround’s servers. This also includes add-on domains added in cPanel. The certificates are also auto-renewed as … Continue reading SiteGround Auto-Issues Let’s Encrypt Certificates for New Domains

The post SiteGround Auto-Issues Let’s Encrypt Certificates for New Domains appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
WP Tavern:

SiteGround is now auto-issuing Let’s Encrypt certificates for every domain hosted on its shared servers. The company has also begun issuing and installing certificates on new accounts automatically after customers register domains or direct new domains to SiteGround’s servers. This also includes add-on domains added in cPanel. The certificates are also auto-renewed as long as the domains are pointed to the host’s servers.

The post SiteGround Auto-Issues Let’s Encrypt Certificates for New Domains appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
https://paulciano.org/2017/03/siteground-auto-issues-lets-encrypt-certificates-for-new-domains/feed/ 0
Going Home: An Italian American in Sicily (Part 4) https://paulciano.org/2017/03/going-home-italian-american-sicily-part-4/ Tue, 14 Mar 2017 11:00:55 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13737 In the last post of this series, I was about to enter my first Sicilian church. It was early in the morning, so I did not anticipate much activity. In a way, I was right, but I did encounter something unexpected. The Loquacious Lady Series Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Index The … Continue reading Going Home: An Italian American in Sicily (Part 4)

The post Going Home: An Italian American in Sicily (Part 4) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
In the last post of this series, I was about to enter my first Sicilian church. It was early in the morning, so I did not anticipate much activity. In a way, I was right, but I did encounter something unexpected.

The Loquacious Lady

When I entered the church, it was mostly empty, quiet, and was about what I imagined. Trapani is not a large city, so I did not expect a spectacle. The church seemed to reflect the comforting simplicity that I was beginning to associate with the town.

Near the entrance, there was an old woman whom I assumed was a member of the parish. She had a table with various prayer cards and beckoned me over. I obliged her and when she began to fluidly speak Italian, I did my best to communicate that I did not understand Italian and spoke English. She politely nodded and continued, in Italian.

Trapani Church

She talked…and talked…and talked, and I made sure to nod at her occasional pauses for breath and give her my full attention. She was so sweet and I could not just walk away. I did not understand what she was saying, but I believe that she was telling me the history of the church and its saint.

After about 20 minutes, she finished and gave me a prayer card. I said grazie, did a quick tour of the church, and went back outside. This was another moment where I regretted not being able to speak Italian. The church I left was one of the few I saw in Trapani, and the possibility that my great grandparents may have attended mass there had crossed my mind.

The Tree of Life
Lalbero Della Vita / The Tree of Life

As I headed towards the back of the church, I found that it had a small memorial, which was a great spot to rest. I loved the mosaic, and this place felt special.

Tour of the Town

Sea University 5 Sea University 6 Sea University 4 Sea University 2 Sea University 3 Sea University 1

I went further west until I reached the sea, then started moving north towards the border of the city. After some time, I came across what appeared to be a university. There didn't seem to be much going on, but I had to appreciate how it was built right next to the beach. I would find it hard to concentrate with the sound of the surf and the smell of the sea wafting through the classroom windows.

Apartments 2 Apartments 1 Apartments 3 Apartments 4

Once I walked far enough north, I cut back east towards the city's midline. This part of Trapani seemed to be mostly apartments. It was late morning, but I was still not running into many people. As an American, the thing that struck me most was how few cars there were (scooters seemed to be predominant), and when I did see cars, they were what most Americans would consider smart car size.

Town Border 2 Town Border 1

Where I am from, the suburban tank is considered normal, so it was nice to see people using reasonable-sized vehicles, or just walking. I kept heading east until I hit what seemed to be the city's main street, which ran all the way back down to the port and my lodgings.

Trapani 8 Trapani 9 Trapani 2 Trapani 3 Trapani 7 Trapani 6 Trapani 4 Trapani 1 Trapani 5

This part of Trapani seemed to be where most of the action was, with numerous stores, restaurants, and offices. Also, I was able to find a proper grocery store, which is always a priority for me when exploring new areas.

Home 1 Home 2

Even though I was a long way from home, I was able to find the familiar if I looked hard enough. Some things never change, no matter where you are.

Trees

I loved the trees lining the center of the avenue.

Apple Store

An official, Italian Apple store was far away, but in Trapani, there were still options for support.

As the day went on, I started to see more people. One thing I could not help noticing was that everyone looked nice. People (young, old, whatever) seemed to care about how they looked. By how they look, I don't just mean stylish. I mean that everyone looked healthy. I liked that.

By this time, it was starting to get pretty hot, and I was tired. After a quick stop at the grocery store, I headed back to my place for a rest.

Next

After I got back to my B&B, I had a bite to eat, took a nap, cleaned up, then decided where I wanted to go next. There really wasn't much to think about. I knew I had to head down to the sea.

The post Going Home: An Italian American in Sicily (Part 4) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
The New and Improved Privacy Badger 2.0 Is Here https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/12/new-and-improved-privacy-badger-20-here Sat, 11 Mar 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13405 EFF: With the 2.0 release, the Privacy Badger team remains as committed as ever to end non-consensual browser tracking and promote responsible advertising. Although Privacy Badger blocks many ads in practice, it is more a privacy tool than a strict ad blocker. Privacy Badger encourages advertisers to treat users respectfully and anonymously rather than follow … Continue reading The New and Improved Privacy Badger 2.0 Is Here

The post The New and Improved Privacy Badger 2.0 Is Here appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
EFF:

With the 2.0 release, the Privacy Badger team remains as committed as ever to end non-consensual browser tracking and promote responsible advertising. Although Privacy Badger blocks many ads in practice, it is more a privacy tool than a strict ad blocker. Privacy Badger encourages advertisers to treat users respectfully and anonymously rather than follow the industry status quo of online tracking. It does this by unblocking content from domains that respect our Do Not Track policy, which states that the participating site will not retain any information about users who have expressed that they do not want to be tracked.

Do Not Track and Privacy Badger 2.0 are here to help you block stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of your browsing history. Download Privacy Badger now to take a stand against tracking and join the movement to build a more privacy-friendly web.

The post The New and Improved Privacy Badger 2.0 Is Here appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Quick Tip: Batch resize images in Preview https://sixcolors.com/post/2016/11/quick-tip-batch-resize-images-in-preview/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13363 Dan Moren: I always think it’s a little silly to describe my job as a “writer” when I’ve spent so much time over the years working with not just the written word, but audio, video, and images as well. Even if those aren’t my forte, as time goes on, I’ve learned certain tricks to deal … Continue reading Quick Tip: Batch resize images in Preview

The post Quick Tip: Batch resize images in Preview appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Dan Moren:

I always think it’s a little silly to describe my job as a “writer” when I’ve spent so much time over the years working with not just the written word, but audio, video, and images as well. Even if those aren’t my forte, as time goes on, I’ve learned certain tricks to deal with common tasks, but it’s always fun when I find one that I didn’t know about.

The post Quick Tip: Batch resize images in Preview appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Podcatcher Polygamy: Overcast https://paulciano.org/2017/03/podcatcher-polygamy-overcast/ Tue, 07 Mar 2017 12:00:27 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13670 I walk about 11,000 steps a day. During these walks, Apple's AirPods and a solid lineup of podcasts are essential to me. I love podcasts, and for a long time, Shifty Jelly's Pocket Casts has been my go-to podcatcher solution. I still think it's a great app, but I know it is not the only … Continue reading Podcatcher Polygamy: Overcast

The post Podcatcher Polygamy: Overcast appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
I walk about 11,000 steps a day. During these walks, Apple's AirPods and a solid lineup of podcasts are essential to me. I love podcasts, and for a long time, Shifty Jelly's Pocket Casts has been my go-to podcatcher solution.

I still think it's a great app, but I know it is not the only great podcatcher out there. All this time, I have continued to hear praise for Marco Arment's Overcast. I spend an enormous amount of time listening to podcasts, so if there was a chance to improve this experience, I felt that I should check it out.

Here's what happened.

A Misunderstanding

Actually, I have tried out Overcast before. It was some time ago, and while there were many things to like, I had one serious issue with the app that sent me back to Pocket Casts. After giving Overcast another shot, I realized that what bothered me was not a bug, but a misunderstanding. Overcast reflected a design choice that resulted in default behavior that was different than what I was accustomed to.

I do not like old podcast episodes junking up my iPhone, so whenever I first set up a podcast app, I make sure that only the latest episodes are saved and that older episodes are automatically deleted. This keeps things nice and tidy, like I like it. Pocket Casts does this in a specific way.

Pocket Casts

In Settings > Storage & Data Use, you can set Auto Cleanup to Keep Latest Episode Only. For example, if I am in the middle of listening to an episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP) and a new episode is available, the past week's episode that I'm listening to will be deleted, and the most current episode will replace it.

I have become accustomed to this type of behavior and when I tried to replicate it in Overcast, I was unsuccessful. The most similar setting in Overcast I could find was Unlistened Episode Limits. However, when I set this to 1 and set Played Episodes to Delete When Finished, did not see the exact same behavior that I was used to in Pocket Casts.

For example, if I was in the middle of an episode of ATP and a new episode was available, both the episode I was listening to and the new episode was shown in the app. The past week's episode was only automatically deleted once I was done listening to it, regardless of whether a new episode was downloaded or not.

In some ways, this makes more sense. If you're in the middle of listening to an episode, you might want to finish it before moving on to new content. Pocket Casts is more aggressive and simply keeps only the latest episode. It doesn't care whether you were done with an older episode or not (i.e., when you've configured it to behave this way).

I assumed that Overcast worked like Pocket Casts, and did not give it the evaluation time it deserved. Now, I have a better appreciation for its design choices and have found it to be an excellent podcast solution.

Where It Excels

Summary

Overall, I find the aesthetics of Overcast preferable to Pocket Casts. Everything seems bigger and bolder, and my aging geek eyes appreciate this.

In particular, I love that the app caches podcast summary information. Often, on long hikes, I am not connected to the internet, and I like being able to read about an episode wherever I am (Pocket Casts just introduced this yesterday in version 6.5 of the app, but kudos to Arment for having it first, and for being able to introduce it without insulting his users).

Overcast's pioneering features like Smart Speed and Voice Boost are exemplary, and work just as good or better than the competitor's comparable offerings. For me, what really sets Overcast apart is its excellent playlist customization and Uploads feature.

Priority

I subscribe to a lot of podcasts, but I would not consider them all top tier. Every week, there are some podcasts that I feel must be listened to, while others are nice to have, in case I have extra time. Overcast makes it super easy to create a playlist where I can set some podcasts as priority, and even manually arrange which of these priority podcasts are at the top of my queue.

This feature works beautifully, and I never have to take my iPhone out of my pocket to find the next podcast to listen to. It's even smart enough to jump back to the top of the queue if a higher priority podcast was downloaded while I was listening to my current podcast.

Play Next

This ensures that I am always listening to the content that I most highly value and helps me optimize my limited podcast listening time. If there is ever a lower priority or non-priority podcast episode you want to hear next, you can always manually override your settings by utilizing the Play Next option, as well.

The other feature of Overcast that I love is Uploads. If you head to https://overcast.fm/uploads, you can manually upload audio content from your computing device, which will create a dedicated Uploads section in the Overcast app. Tools like Huffduffer are great, but sometimes, I need to get a podcast on my iPhone from my Mac, and a feature like this makes it that much easier. Previously, I was using Documents to do this with a sync folder, but Overcast is so much better than the audio player that Documents offers.

Overcast is ad-supported, but I recommend becoming an Overcast Premium member. This removes all ads and only costs $10 a year.

Where It Falls Short

The main issue I have with Overcast is that it still doesn't support video content. Video podcasts are basically my television, so I need to keep Pocket Casts around for this functionality. However, this is fine, as I can easily use both.

So, I removed all my audio podcast subscriptions from Pocket Casts and moved them over to Overcast. When I need video, I go to the Pocket Casts iOS app or use a web browser to stream them. For everything else, I use Overcast.

Bookmarks

Another minor complaint I have relates to the 3.0 re-design. For the most part, I think the changes work. However, I find the forwards and backwards buttons for bookmarks to be too small. I do not have particularly large fingers, yet I occasionally miss the tap areas because they're so diminutive.

If that row was about 50% bigger, I think it would be an improvement. There is plenty of room to expand into, so I do not think that would be much of an issue to address.

Conclusion

Overcast has reinvigorated my love of podcasts. If you love this type of content, too, there has never been a better time to be alive. It makes me happy to see that many people are able to make a living doing something that they love, and that there is such a demand for their content. Apps like Overcast make this time that much better.

The post Podcatcher Polygamy: Overcast appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/11/law-enforcements-secret-super-search-engine-amasses-trillions-phone-records Sat, 04 Mar 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13370 EFF: Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as “Google on Steroids” [pdf]. Hemisphere, which AT&T operates on behalf of federal, state, and local … Continue reading Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades

The post Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
EFF:

Although the government still hides too much information about a secret telephone records surveillance program known as Hemisphere, we have learned through EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits that police tout the massive database of private calls as “Google on Steroids” [pdf].

Hemisphere, which AT&T operates on behalf of federal, state, and local law enforcement, contains trillions of domestic and international phone call records dating back to 1987. AT&T adds roughly four billion phone records to Hemisphere each day [.pptx], including calls from non-AT&T customers that pass through the company’s switches.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other federal, state and local police use Hemisphere to not only track when and who someone is calling, but to perform complicated traffic analysis that can dynamically map people’s social networks and physical locations. This even includes knowing when someone changes their phone number.

And federal officials often do it without first getting permission from a judge.

The post Law Enforcement’s Secret “Super Search Engine” Amasses Trillions of Phone Records for Decades appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Apple, Let Us Choose the Apps We Want to Use in iOS http://www.macworld.com/article/3143721/ios/apple-let-us-choose-the-apps-we-want-to-use-in-ios.html Thu, 02 Mar 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13351 Macworld: Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems provide a full suite of applications that allow you to do most of what you want without downloading any additional apps. You can browse the web, send and receive email, manage calendars and contacts, and much more, all with the stock apps included in macOS and iOS. But … Continue reading Apple, Let Us Choose the Apps We Want to Use in iOS

The post Apple, Let Us Choose the Apps We Want to Use in iOS appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Macworld:

Apple’s desktop and mobile operating systems provide a full suite of applications that allow you to do most of what you want without downloading any additional apps. You can browse the web, send and receive email, manage calendars and contacts, and much more, all with the stock apps included in macOS and iOS.

But on macOS, you have the choice to not use those apps. Say you want to use Microsoft Outlook instead of Apple Mail; you can make this change, and when you click a link to send an email, Outlook will open. Or if you want to use Chrome instead of Safari, the same thing will happen: URLs you click will open in Google’s browser.

You can even change the default app to open any specific file type on the Mac. Say you work with plain text files, but have a text editor you prefer over Apple’s TextEdit. You can change this so every time you double-click a .txt file, it opens with your selected app. To do this, select a file, press Command-I, then expand the Open With section if it’s not already expanded. Click the popup menu and select the app you want to use, then click Change All.

But iOS offers no such option. If you tap a URL, it opens in Safari. If you tap a link to send an email, it opens in Mail. The default calendar is Apple’s Calendar app. And so on. You may not want to work that way and because Apple doesn’t give you any choice, you’re stuck with workarounds: using share sheets to open a web page in a different browser; copying an email link or address to create an email; and so on.

Via Viticci.

The post Apple, Let Us Choose the Apps We Want to Use in iOS appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
Hello Again: Mac Thoughts (Part 3) https://paulciano.org/2017/02/hello-mac-thoughts-part-3/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13586 In the previous part of this series, I outlined my concerns for the future of general purpose computing and began to imagine what my computing life would look like with a Linux-based machine. Now, I will share what I have found. Doubling Down Series Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Index Doubling Down Hardware Criteria … Continue reading Hello Again: Mac Thoughts (Part 3)

The post Hello Again: Mac Thoughts (Part 3) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
In the previous part of this series, I outlined my concerns for the future of general purpose computing and began to imagine what my computing life would look like with a Linux-based machine.

Now, I will share what I have found.

Doubling Down

I am continuing my Digging Deep With Linux series. However, I have also started seriously evaluating both hardware and software equivalents for my Mac and essential macOS applications, respectively. I have been happy to see that, since I started the series, there has been progress.

Hardware

When I think of a desirable general purpose computer, I have specific criteria in mind.

In regard to hardware, System76 still has decent offerings, but considering the price they are asking, their hardware appears generic and does not seem to offer the build quality or refinements that are hallmarks of great computers.

Update (03/06/2017): System76 has announced a new, 13-inch ultraportable called the Galago Pro. OMG! Ubuntu! has the lowdown, and based on their description, it seems like it might address most of my System76 concerns. Still, I’d like to hear about the build quality from hands-on impressions.

Criteria

First, my ideal computer has to be a laptop. For a long time, the laptop form factor (when properly customized) has been sufficient to meet my computing needs. When home, I can connect it to a large monitor and external peripherals, but when I need to go mobile, I can throw it in a bag and continue to enjoy a no compromises, computing experience.

Second, it must have a good screen (at least 1080p), keyboard, and touchpad. These are the primary interaction points for a laptop and have been places where Apple long ago established their dominance. Has anyone else come close? The truth is that Apple is probably still the best here (especially for the touchpad), but other manufacturers have improved their offerings enough so that their devices provide satisfying computing experiences.

Third, battery life. Here, most modern systems seem to be pretty good. I do not need crazy, 20 hour battery life. Seven to ten hours with normal usage (for me) should be fine.

Fourth, weight. The laptop should be light. Three and a half pounds or less is what I am looking for. I am not getting any younger and this is becoming an increasingly important factor for me.

Fifth, expandability. There was a time when most laptops were user-friendly in regards to upgradability. You could take off the bottom of the unit and update core components (e.g., RAM, disk drive/SSD, battery). Apple's obsession with thinness (and competitors' proclivity for imitating them) has mostly taken this ability away.

For many modern systems, RAM is now soldered onto the motherboard/logic board, the battery is not user-serviceable, and even the screws used on the bottom casing are non-standard, requiring a purchase from excellent, how-to sources like iFixit. Essentially, computers have become more like user-hostile, computing appliances that require the blessing of the manufacturer for customization or repair.

For my next computer purchase, I do not want a system like this, and I am more than willing to have a thicker laptop to get some expandability and customization. As long as the system is still light and not crazy thick, I will be good to go.

The Laptops

Note: At present, I have not decided on which of these laptops (if any) I am going to purchase, and I am not presenting them in any particular order.

I do not like to give my money to companies that have a bad track record of mistreating their customers or are just toxic forces in and of themselves. That said, outside of Apple, it is becoming increasingly hard to find companies with great customer service.

Lenovo PCs ship with man-in-the-middle adware that breaks HTTPS connections

Samsung Heir Faces Arrest on Charges of Bribing South Korea’s President

So, if I had to think of one company that does not seem to be marred by frequent bad behavior, it would probably be Dell. The first computer I purchased was a Dell, and, over the years, I have had mostly good experiences with them.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (Ubuntu)

Also, they just so happen to offer a sweet laptop that ships with Ubuntu on it. Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is a favorite among my coworkers, as well as among the good folks at TekThing, and appears to meet much of my criteria.

It looks like Dell even spent some time putting thought into the design of the power adapter, although the awkward placement of the camera gives me pause. Regardless, it is a fine machine (even Linus himself seems happy with it).

My main problem with this laptop is that the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and the battery is not designed to be user-serviceable. Also, the only way to get the Developer Edition with Ubuntu and 16GB of RAM is to spend over $1800. The lack of customization options, especially coming from Dell, is disappointing.

Finally, Dell's customer service is spotty, at best (see #DellHell).

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition review: A superb laptop—and it runs Linux

2017's best Linux laptop: The latest Dell XPS 13

The new Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition is the little Linux laptop that can

Note: A popular alternative to the Dell XPS 13 is Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but it's even more expensive.

I would really, really not want to give my money to Lenovo, but I have always liked the ThinkPad aesthetic, and although you cannot purchase their laptops with a GNU/Linux distribution installed (at least in America), they have always worked well with GNU/Linux, with minimal to no configuration required. Also, many geeks I respect rock ThinkPads and praise their durability/reliability. Also, the ThinkPad keyboard is probably the best on the market.

Traditionally, these laptops (as far as I can tell) have been weak when it comes to displays and touchpads, but it looks like enough progress has been made here for me to overlook these issues. Also, Lenovo does seem to have better customer support than Dell.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

The ThinkPad 13 is a relatively new entry in the ThinkPad line up. To me, it offers a very attractive mix of good build quality, specs, performance, and price. Furthermore, the hardware is very user friendly. After you pop off the bottom of the case, you can replace pretty much anything you want, including the battery, SSD, and RAM.

The 2017 version of this laptop brings, in my opinion, some much needed features, like a backlit keyboard option and an improved touchpad. After playing around with the configurations, I could get something that meets my needs for about $900, without tax and shipping.

That is a pretty great deal, considering that the XPS 13 is almost twice as much. The build quality might not be as great, but it still seems very good, and I do like how user-friendly the hardware is. Being able to buy RAM and an SSD from more affordable third parties and upgrading the laptop myself can save some serious money.

Also, if the RAM ever needs to be replaced, I don't have to replace the motherboard! Here are the reviews for the 2016 model. Hopefully, the 2017 version will address the issues that were raised.

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 review: A tough and affordable ultraportable workhorse

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 review: This ThinkPad is built tough for travel, but easy on the wallet

Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Next

At present, these two laptops are the closet I can find to something that I would want to spend my own money on for a true general purpose computer. However, there is another entrant that, while not quite ready for prime time, is definitely one to watch. The team over at Purism is doing interesting things with their Librem 13 laptop.

Purism Librem 13

If you have a moment, check out this excellent episode of Leo Laporte's The New Screen Savers. Purism's founder and CEO, Todd Weaver, chats with Leo and Aaron Newcomb about the company, their products, and their plans, going forward. I wish them the best of luck and hope that they are able to become another entrant in the Linux computer/phone space.

In the last part of this series, I am going to move onto my Linux software experience and describe how successful I was in finding Linux applications to meet my computing needs.

Further Reading

The post Hello Again: Mac Thoughts (Part 3) appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
macOS Security and Privacy Guide https://github.com/drduh/macOS-Security-and-Privacy-Guide Sat, 25 Feb 2017 12:00:00 +0000 https://paulciano.org/?p=13365 drduh: This is a collection of thoughts on securing a modern Apple Mac computer using macOS (formerly OS X) 10.12 “Sierra”, as well as steps to improving online privacy. This guide is targeted to “power users” who wish to adopt enterprise-standard security, but is also suitable for novice users with an interest in improving their … Continue reading macOS Security and Privacy Guide

The post macOS Security and Privacy Guide appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>
drduh:

This is a collection of thoughts on securing a modern Apple Mac computer using macOS (formerly OS X) 10.12 “Sierra”, as well as steps to improving online privacy.

This guide is targeted to “power users” who wish to adopt enterprise-standard security, but is also suitable for novice users with an interest in improving their privacy and security on a Mac.

The post macOS Security and Privacy Guide appeared first on Paul Ciano.

]]>