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Senior Web Engineer. Open web / music. Remote DJ. Tall Dutch guy. #3million

svandragt This is easily fixed: let us specify a login background in the preferences.


Taking back control

Recently, I've come to the conclusion that it's the nature of realtime social media to cause drama and upset. In the search for ever increasing thirst for gossip, instant reactions are stimulated so heavily that  there is no time to research or read about the context of a story, and open discussion isn't possible when group mentality means we must be outraged or be part of the problem.

At the same time, people have never engaged so little with web content, being the metaphorical frogs in the pressure cooker of Facebook and Twitter that is modern society. We are the product that is monetised by the advertising dollars that demand page views in a broken system of inflatable viewership figures.

In the music scene, the illusion of hyper promotion and like-networking results in a feed of people and content I have little interest in following, in the hope that they will listen to what I have to say.

Pointless and bad for my health. So therefore I'm distancing myself more from social media now.

If you want to follow what I have to say about technology, read If you are interested in my music visit They will soon have a mailinglist and RSS feeds without advertising and like buttons.


A People Centred Web

Have you ever tried to leave a social network? Want to be free to move web platforms because your needs have changed? Perhaps you might no longer agree with the business practices employed by the service provider, or no longer see the value in paying for having content monetised.

Currently, this means you have to build up new social connections and can't move over your friends as they might not be on the new network. This is a dark pattern employed by the investor-heavy digital media giants to keep people siloed, making it easy to move in but burdensome to move out.

Social networks can then add messages and events on top, keeping the money making engine oiled with an persuasive analytics layer. Other places like media hosting providers where it seems a subscription fee supports the music uploaded to the system but causes artists to lose control over their fan base.

The silo is responsive and cushy yes, but ultimately the users are at the whims of the platform. I have accounts on hundreds of websites because every site wants to identify their users. Sites start their own network; to build things on top off.

It seems to me that it is very wasteful to keep building social graphs and user account systems when we can do so much better. Instead, have the person be in control of the people they interact with, and manage the information that is displayed to them!

Imagine launching a dashboard app that sits on your computer and is independent from any information sources. It's free of tracking and open source to us all and doesn't do too many things. It doesn't belong to anybody but yourself. It's just a window where information from friends can be shown in a timeline. It can connect to a friend's dashboard so you can stay in touch. Hey what's new? It manages who you follow.

Web services you visit can ask permission to add information on your dashboard. Want to see when concert tickets are available for your favourite artist? Allow them to display that. Allow the event provider to display dates of the next group meeting, and the music hoster to add in new tracks from that producer you follow.

Never again be stuck in a silo. Disconnect a source and attach another. A social reader for the new generation.


More Private Browsing

If you visit this site you will know what browser cookies are and that they are used to store information about you across visits to that website. A typical website will store a few to a few hundred cookies on your computer.

Each cookie has an expiry date for when they are no longer valid and then automatically deleted by the browser. Did you know the lifetime of some of these cookies are several decades in the future and that they are routinely used by data brokers and analytics companies to gather data on you?

That's why I've recommended installing a plugin like PrivacyBadger, to prevent these tracking cookies from being passed back to websites that track you across websites.

But you can also override the maximum lifespan of these cookies. I've experimented and 10-14 days seems to be a good medium between having to login to all your websites all the time and maintaining privacy.

Update: 2019-08-29 - the following no longer works on recent Firefox releases:

On Firefox, open about:config and search for network.cookie.lifetime, you will find network.cookie.lifetime.days (set this to 14) and network.cookie.lifetimePolicy (set this to 3 to override the default behaviour or letting the website decide).

On Chrome or Vivaldi (update: and now Firefox) browsers it's possible to set these values by installing my FreshCookies addon, which does not contain any tracking itself.


Embedding a video by pasting the URL into a WordPress post means the whole video loads (33mb!) on pageload! Great videos, bad service.<p>#status </p>


We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

We're building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren't even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us -- and what we can do in response.

This is why I run PrivacyBadger to block tracking, not ads.


How to install pip and pipenv properly on Ubuntu 17.10

Ubuntu 17.10 comes with python3 3.6.3 installed by default but not pip and pipenv. We can install install pip systemwide and pipenv into the user local bin so we can use all the convenience when working with our python projects:

wget -O /tmp/
sudo python3 /tmp/
pip3 install --user pipenv
echo "PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.profile
source ~/.profile

Sources: Installing Python 3 on Linux; pip installation; Installing pipenv; How to permanently set PATH on Linux

Update 9 Nov 2017: replaced curl with wget, thanks Peter


Banning the "Ban Crypto" Agenda

Cory Doctorow over at writes:

Theresa May says there should be no "means of communication" which "we cannot read" -- and no doubt many in her party will agree with her, politically. But if they understood the technology, they would be shocked to their boots.

Perhaps we should no longer assume that politicians 'do not understand the internet' and assume they are asking for changes in the full understanding that they don't achieve the goal for which they're introduced.

As long as the situation that's being created is more favourable for them than the current one it's a net benefit.

Short-term politics is the biggest threat to UK society at the moment and the current government is particularly good at it.


Just Walk Out technology

Amazon Go, shopping without checkouts:

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go!

With the amount of recorded prior art they will find it difficult to pantent the Just Walk Out technology  ;-)


How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit

I think we have stumbled upon the reason why there are no new Macs. Apple was wasting resources on the car.

Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.


Zadesky handed the reins to his boss, Dan Riccio, adding to responsibilities that already included engineering annual iPhone, iPad, and Mac refreshes.

Source: How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit - Bloomberg


Dropbox Modifies TCC.db to Give Itself Accessibility Access

Dropbox was using a sql attack on the tcc database to circumvent Apple’s authorization policy

Another issue like this and a lot of people will switch to iCloud Drive.


Trusting the government

The UK government had setup the Independent Commision on Freedom of Information with an eye to review the Freedom Of Information Act:

Last year, the government set up a commission to review the law, composed mostly of people who had expressed scepticism or concern about the scope of the FOIA, and with a clear brief to add restrictions to its workings.

Not my definition of independent.


Ad tech is killing the online experience

Apple blogger John Gruber started off a new debate about these issues recently, when he noted that a 537-word text post on the website weighed in at 14 megabytes. (Fourteen megabytes of text should correspond to about 7m words, or about 10 times the combined length of the Old and New Testaments.)

Gruber blamed, but really it’s not the website’s fault, since to a very large degree the owner of the website you’re visiting doesn’t actually control what you see, when you see it, how you see it, or even whether you see it. Instead, there are dozens of links in the advertising-technology chain, and every single one of them is optimising for financial value, rather than low-bandwidth user experience. Many pages, if you’re on a slow connection, simply time out; they never load at all.

When you are a website owner, you are responsible for all the content on your site. If you don't have any control over the ads, then that's a process issue that should be addressed.

Why not band together with a few large sites and create a standardised ad submission and review system that advertisers can integrate into their content tools and websites can set criteria about ads on their sites.

Maybe the bigger problem is that those websites cannot afford to reject ads.


Security through insecurity

Schneier explained how, initially, NSA Director General Keith Alexander claimed in 2013 that he had disrupted 54 terrorists plots. A few months later, this was revised down to 13, and then to "one or two." Eventually, the only success that the NSA could point to was the prevention of a San Diego man sending $8,500 to support a Somali militant group.

Doesn't sound like a worthy trade-off.


Modern technology

Today’s experience of trying to watch the formula 1 race at Silverstone was a frustration of modern technology and drm issues:

  • the Virgin media box only recorded the first hour of the BBC Broadcast. Disappointed.
  • I then navigated to the Virgin media version of BBC iPlayer. However it does not list Formula 1 races, due to licensing restrictions. sigh annoying.
  • I loaded up the iPhone version of the BBC iPlayer. It has the race but it visually it looks like an amateur YouTube video. Connecting it to the HDTV with the Av cable might tell the app to switch to an Hd stream, but alas the picture is twice as muddy. Frustrating.
  • Booted up the laptop to view the web version, which is as blurry as the iPhone version. Let’s download it perhaps it’s higher quality? Hopeful.
  • iPlayer desktop is installed then crashes. Typical.
  • Adobe Air wants to be updated which happens as the programming preventing the update just crashed. Really?
  • iPlayer desktop loads but does not let you browse any shows. Losing interest fast.
  • Downloading Formula one British Gran… 2.3Gb this is looking good. No streaming? I’ll start watching on the iPhone in the meantime. Tolerating.
  • 11 minutes later the abbreviated title expands to ’d prix qualifying’. Getting pissed.
  • downloading the actual grand prix. Watching more on the iPhone. Maybe this is as good as it gets?
  • connecting the laptop over HDMI. Download is finished! Turns out visuals are better but framerate is choppy. Can’t be arsed anymore. I’ll watch it on the laptop.

Does it have to be this hard, Virgin, BBC, Acer, Toshiba, Apple?


Rupert Murdoch facing BSkyB defeat as parties unite in call to drop takeover

Rupert Murdoch will today face the humiliation of the Commons issuing a unanimous all-party call for his scandal-ridden News Corporation to withdraw its £8bn bid for BSkyB, the great commercial prize he has been pursuing to cement his dominance of the British media landscape.

In an extraordinary volte-face, David Cameron will disown the media tycoon by leading his party through the lobbies to urge him to drop the bid. Murdoch can defy parliament and press ahead with the bid, prompting a Competition Commission inquiry, but he risks finding himself ostracised by a political class that once scrambled to bend to his wishes.

I'm sure it has nothing to do with MPs no longer wishing to be associated with a news organisation that might give them certain favours. I still have yet to find a convincing argument on BSkyB being related to the phone hacking scandal. Until then there must be other, presently unknown, reasons for this change in direction.

via The Guardian.



Mark Zuckerberg is TIME Magazine's Person of the Year? Where's the "dislike" button?

Facebook's users are not connecting directly with each other. They are speaking to Mr. Zuckerberg, who first writes down and files away everything said, and then maybe relays it to the intended destination, if it suits him.

Mark Zuckerberg is TIME Magazine's Person of the Year? Where's the "dislike" button?


Quote of the week

I'd post the other two examples, but I wouldn't want to take all the fun out of reading the manual.



Letter to Ministry of Sound

Dear sir/madam,
I am writing you to complain about the new ministry of sound website and the lack of data protection with regards to your users.

Earlier today I received an email notification about the new MoS website. The email also notified me that a new password was issued to use on the website. These are two characteristics of a phishing mail - in this case launching a new website and sending out new passwords, they could easily have been sent from a malicious source wanting me to login to their MoS-lookalike website and take my credit card details. You shouldn't send out a new password unless someone requests it on your website, because email can be forged. You also sent out my password in plain text email rather than on a secure part of your website. Anyone can read it and login to my account and purchase orders.

Also to my surprise while investigating the source of the mail, several of the links point to a domain (update: this domain name no longer exists!), the name doesn't help to improve the trust in your email. To my astonishment the link led to a webpage with the html email, again with my password in plain sight. Have a look (link removed), I changed my password already. Let's wait for Google to index it so that anyone can search for my account information. They already found other newsletters.

Finally, I used to buy my mp3s online. This site no longer works as an error comes up when it tries to redirect, due to a configuration error. My order history is gone, most of my profile is gone.

I'm very disappointed with your lack of security and care for your customers and unfortunately have come to the conclusion that I won't be using your service again, and I will recommend my friends and family to do the same, due to these trust issues.