Email = Publishing

While reading about Groklaw shutting down, Lavabit and Silent Circle cancelling their secure email services, I was thinking that we should all stop thinking about email as a private correspondence tool.

To be honest anyone who had ever been exposed to the inner working of email servers has always known that unencrypted email is not really private. The fact that a majority of users has always been under the impression that there was some significant level of privacy might very well be part of a general scheme to have access to their private information.

Maybe it’s time to change the way people think about email, and start considering it a publishing medium. After all since the beginning email has been used to publish stuff, mail lists predate the web by several years.

Whenever we send an email message we are in all effects publishing a message (i.e. making it public). It might not be immediately accessible to everyone, and by adding some addresses to the “to” field we might even have a some degree of control on who will be reading the message first, but that’s about it.

Maybe once a majority of people will start considering all email public, there will be an improvement in the quality of what lands in our mailboxes.

With the email problem solved, all we have to do now is finding another communication tool designed to be truly private.


Snails #vscocam

Every summer is different. Since we moved to the countryside, every summer is owned by another creature.

This summer it’s snails. Big ones, small ones, slugs, thousands of them. Small ones climb on the North face of many vertical surfaces and jus stay there and dry out.

New google maps font problems

I’m a huge fan of maps, so I was eager to experiment with the new version of Google Maps. I did for a while, I don’t like it. Mostly it’s because I can’t easily access some of my favorite features (such as shortened URL to share a map, or terrain view).

But the worst problem is that at many zoom levels I could not read street names like in the old version. After some digging and experiments I got to this totally useless point (using the latest version of Chrome).

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 18.30.04

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Spies Like Us

Since we started getting weekly revelations about the NSA, it appears that one of the main justifications from the US administration is “we are not spying US citizens“.

Not being a US citizen I find this slightly annoying, but I wonder if this should not be troubling also for them. If all countries would adopt the same approach, it would mean that we would all be spied by approximately 200 different countries BUT ours.

If I could choose, I’d rather be spied by my own country and not others. Better than being spied by a bloody trash bin anyway.

Keep it short

Euan has some very good advice for “That first CEO blog post“.

I would add: keep it short. It doesn’t have to be an assay. One thought, one paragraph. Come back tomorrow for more. Before Twitter and all the other social media (especially for those of us coming from the Scripting News school of weblogging) most blog post were one liners.

Instagram bots

When I started using the excellent app from vsco to edit photos on my iPhone, I noticed that my posts on Instagram were liked by a significantly larger number of users, usually by people I don’t know.

IMG_3051The thing is that these likes were appearing a little too automatically, and a little too soon after the image was uploaded. I also tried uploading a black square, and I still got a couple of likes within seconds.

After some digging, it turns out that there’s a whole bunch of Instagram bots out there, that users can set up to automatically like images tagged with popular tags (and clearly #vsco is one of them). The theory is that randomly liking images will get you more followers. Given the number of followers that these people have, it might also be true.

While it looks like nobody is hurting anybody in this game, it’s yet another example of stupid behaviour triggered by the quantitive approach to social media.

Link pain

This tip for website that want links passed on is very good.

Now, still with the Economist, here’s what not to do.

Reading the Economist on my iPad (disclaimer: I think that reading the Economist is one of the best things I do on my iPad) I found an article I wanted to share with my friends on Facebook.


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Fixing things

At 5am of Monday morning, the heart (compressor) of our beloved refrigerator ceased to beat. What a sad moment! The poor thing was shorted, just plugging it in the wall socket would trigger the circuit breaker.

We moved all the frozen stuff to my parents’ refrigerator (luckily they live next door), we called the official REX/Electrolux service number, and started waiting for the repairmen.

He couldn’t come on Monday, showed up on Tuesday. Stated that the compressor was bust, and needed to be replaced. The problem is that our refrigerator is the largest he has ever seen (!), and that who knows if they can find a replacement (!!), and that the cost of the operation will be at least 250 Euros (sigh).

We waited Tuesday afternoon, and then all day Wednesday, no visit, no call.

Quite desperate in the evening I decided to apply my engineering experience to the problem… and just plugged it back in the wall. Instead of leaving us in the dark, it started purring again.

So yes, turning stuff off and then back works with refrigerators. Just wait 24 hours.

PS: the refrigerator has not been this clean since we got it ;-)