Shorter URLs with free software: lilURL

Using shorter URLs in http://identi.ca can be crucial in order to fit the message into the 140 character limit. Out of the many URL shortening choices, I have settled on http://ur1.ca based on http://lilurl.sourceforge.net, a free/open source clone of Tiny URL.

Here is an address to an article explaining how to create a bookmarklet for ur1.ca:

http://skullbochs.com/2009/06/17/lilurl-bookmarklet/

Sending messages to Skype contacts without Skype - using Jabber

Skype is a particularly difficult piece of malware software to replace. There are no alternative free software clients, and the protocol itself is non-free.

However, now, thanks to http://jabbim.com, everybody can make a first step away from MS Skype.

Jabbim.com has been around for years providing a Jabber server with a large number of additional services. Most of them are free, while some require "VIP membership", approx. 7 € a year.

Changing from Twitter to Identi.ca

I have always avoided Facebook, for obvious reasons. At the same time, Twitter seemed harmless and more geeky.

However, if you want to keep your data under control, Twitter is a blind alley to be avoided. Not only for its stance on censorship (http://notyourdata.net/twitter-now-ready-for-censorship), but also for its treatment of users and usernames, as exemplified by this story: http://zine.openrightsgroup.org/comment/2011/who-owns-your-twitter-username

In few words, Twitter owns your username, and one day they can notify you that a change was done to your username (with whatever excuse).

Leaving Gmail without regrets

When Google announced the new privacy policy, I decided to stop using Gmail and to "delete" the whole Google account.

I say "delete" because whatever data you have placed in the hands of Google (or any other "big money" service) ceases to be your data and you have no verifiable knowledge on its whereabouts and its (ab)use. By this I mean that even if you decide to delete your account, in reality your data may still be kept by the companies, legally or not. There is no easy way to find out.

Ein policy, ein Google

Few weeks ago Google announced its new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service (http://www.google.com/policies/). This has prompted a request from politicians in the US and EU to explain the changes, a lawsuit by EPIC against the FTC to stop Google from introducing the policies (http://epic.org/2012/02/epic-sues-federal-trade-commis-1.html) and hopefully, it will also bring an exodus of users escaping from the Google reich.

Good article on the FSFE wiki on how to free your Android phone!

I just discovered a good article on the FSFE wiki at https://wiki.fsfe.org/Android on how to free your Android phone – by using an alternative Android distribution such as Replicant OS (http://replicant.us/) or CyanogenMod (http://www.cyanogenmod.com/). For some users this might not be an option, as each distribution supports only a limited number of Android smartphones.

Twitter now ready for censorship

Good news for all oppressive regimes of the world. Twitter can now censor tweets by country, and ‘reactively withhold content from users in a specific country. [...] the removed content would be available to the rest of the world.’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16753729

So on top of sponsored tweets, here comes another “feature” we can all live without. Using Identi.ca (https://identi.ca) or any other microblogging site was never before so attractive.

Right to be forgotten - and delete your data

Exceptionally, something reasonable comes out of EU politicians. It seems that the «Right to be forgotten» proposal could be one of these rare moments of lucidity, announced at a conference with a rather disturbing title: «Digital Life Design»...

In few words, the proposal means that people should have the right to ask for their data on social networks to be deleted, and companies will have the obligation to comply, ‘unless there are “legitimate” grounds to retain it’. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16677370)

Google+ now obligatory for new Google accounts

This was to be expected: as Google wants to transition from a search engine company to a social network (after being overtaken by Facebook in the late 2000s), it terminates all the “unsocial” services, and integrates everything into or with Google+.

And makes Google+ accounts compulsory, according to http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-google-accounts-require-gma...

One more reason to drop your Google account.

Replacing Google Reader with Tiny Tiny RSS

No more Starred items for me; it’s “game over” for Google Reader.

After looking for replacements and finding many people in a similar situation (albeit for various reasons, mostly changes Google introduced in connection with Google+), I found inspiration here: http://decafbad.com/blog/2011/11/01/readerpocalypse

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