Online Security Tips for Activists (and everyone else?)

A set up of tips that should allow most people to protect themselves against "targeted non-state attackers, ambient opportunistic state-level actors, and non-specialist law enforcement".

1. Get an iPhone and use it in preference to your computer.
2. Enable "code-generating" or "authenticator app" 2FA on all your accounts, particularly email (this is called "TOTP").
3. Disable SMS 2FA on any account wherever you’re using real 2FA.
4. Switch to Google Chrome, which is significantly more resilient against vulnerabilities than either Safari, Firefox, or IE.
5. Don’t use Dropbox.
6. Enable your OS’s built-in full-disk encryption (this is FileVault on a Mac, BitLocker on Windows).
7. Disable cloud-based keychain backups (OS X will ask you to opt-in when you configure your phone or laptop the first time; Windows will make you go out of your way to do it).
8. Install Signal and either WhatsApp or Wire on your iPhone. Use Signal when you can, and fall back to the less strict alternative app when you can’t.
9. Don’t use email to send sensitive information, full stop.
10. Install a password management application that doesn’t store your secrets in the cloud. I recommend 1Password. Better though to rely on 2FA than on a password manager.
11. Do not use antivirus software, other than Microsoft’s own antivirus software on Windows.
12. Turn off cloud photo backups and location sharing for your camera.
13. Don’t accept or click on email attachments, or allow your peers to send email attachments

via https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13516116.

Who are they kidding?

"Pack your bags to go explore the pearl of the gulf, daily flights from Sharjah to Kozhikode and Thiruvanathapuram"?

I might be drawing a hasty conclusion here, but I figure this flight is for one reason and one reason only and that’s to ship labour from India to the Gulf (and back).

Considering that, isn’t it curious that Indigo feels the need to promote it with a mail suggesting it would be a great tourist draw?

Blurry pujo

First time I managed to be in Kolkata over durga pujo. To say it’s a pretty big deal is a bit of a understatement. Christmas Lighting in shop windows have nothing on the pandals (the temporary structures built to house the gods) and thakurs (the idols of Durga and her children – Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik).

Apparently around 3,000 of these are built around Kolkata, and from a week spent spotting them in every street corner I have absolutely no reason to question that number.  Each neighbourhood has at least one, and there are famed ones with budgets counted in millions of rupees. This year one was 3D printed, another adorned with tens of millions worth of gold, another with diamonds and so on and so forth. There are prizes to be won from a wide range of newspapers, corporates, tv channels etc.

Durga Puja in Bengal is the celebration of the goddess Durga’s (wife of the in western circles more well-known Shiv) visit to her father (Himalaya). Visiting your parents after you’ve been married is of course joyous (can’t be much fun waiting on your husband and his family). Additionally, it’s celebrating Durga’s defeat of evil – in the form of a demon who has taken the shape of a buffalo.

The basic activity involves a) buying, gifting & wearing of new clothes and b) taking said clothes (and yourself) pandal-hopping across the city. While the festival can’t exactly be called secular (since well, you know, the Hindu pantheon and myths feature pretty heavily) for most people it seems to be more a festival/carnival type event rather than a heavily loaded religious one.

Finally, after five days of sweating, crowding, wearing new clothes, eating mishti and too much food the sad day of Durga’s departure from her father (to head back to her husband) comes and Durga (along with her children) is taken – with much ruckus – to the river in which she is then left to find her way back to Shiv in the Himalayas.

Philosophy of Software Development

In Work-Oriented Devlopment of Software Artifacts, Pelle Ehn describes his experiences on a series of projects that explored making software easier to use, more appropriate to its final use, and made by both programmers and end users. For me, the high point of the book was the way in which he considers software development in the context of four philosophers: Descartes, Marx, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein.

A person working in the style of Descartes considers there to be an external reality worth describing, and turns her efforts toward capturing that reality in requirements, in models, and in the code. The first half-century of software development is filled with the Cartesion work style.

A person working in the style of Marx first asks, “Whom does this new system benefit? What changes in the social power structure accrue from its deployment?” This is a good question to consider, whether or not you like Marx.

A person working in the style of Heidegger considers the system for its efficacy as a tool. Ideally, the user does not “see” the system at all, but rather, sees through the system to the task being performed. For example, when I am typing, I don’t “see” the word processor, I see the page growing text. An accomplished pianist sees the music being formed, not the piano; a good carpenter sees the nail going into the wood, not the hammering tool. Heidegger’s frame can help us produce systems more fit for use.

It is only the style of Wittgenstein that directly opposes the style of Descartes. A person working in this style views the unfolding of the software design as the unfolding of a language game, in which new words are added to the language over time.

via Pelle Ehn, Wittgensteins Language Game – Agile Software Development — www.e-reading.ws.

 

They never taught me this in university.

Protesters against rape arrested

Early in the morning today Thursday (13th June) there was a protest in the wake of the two latest gruesome gang-rapes and killing in West Bengal. They peacefully sang and held placards, an offense for which the police responded by brutally manhandling and arresting the protesters.

Early in the morning today Thursday (13th June) there was a protest in the wake of the two latest gruesome gang-rapes and killing in West Bengal. They peacefully sang and held placards, an offense for which the police responded by brutally manhandling and arresting the protesters.

If only my wall could talk

I’d like to have a wall, which at various random moments would either record a few minutes or so, or play back any previously stored recording. Playback with appropriate fade-in and maybe even a clearing of the throat for effect. Imagine after 30 years suddenly being interrupted by a conversation you had when you were half your age, oh joy.

Get me that, a dry erase wall and a round bed and I should be pretty much set for life.