not all change is progress
August 8, 2016
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
00:55:11 FOSS Talk Live
Take three Luddites, add some liquid lubrication and an engaged if sceptical audience, and you’ve the perfect recipe for our outing at the first UK FOSS Talk Live event. Listen on after the news and feedback to see if we managed to convince anyone that the simpler computing technology of yore was more empowering than the complex black boxes we all carry with us everywhere today.00:01:03 News
Seymour Papert, 88, Dies; Saw Education’s Future in
Lenovo to ship laptops with Endless OS in Mexico
Hacker Compromises Fosshub to Distribute MBR-Hijacking Malware
GNOME Maps Is Back On Track Thanks to Mapbox
Cyanogen Inc and CyanogenMod
Cyanogen CEO denies pivot to apps and emphasizes ‘open Android’ mission… using an iPhone
Motorola confirms that it will not commit to monthly security patches
ITU Facts and Figure 2016
Google’s Instant Articles competitor is about to take over mobile search
Google’s AMP project: Better than Facebook, or just a different walled garden?
BlackBerry makes its Hub software available for all Android Marshmallow devices
Kickstarter’s Impact on the Creative Economy
€1.2 Million for Open Source Projects
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We kicked off the feedback by bringing you a couple of sad bits of community news: there definitely won’t be an OggCamp this year, and the hosts of the Pi Podcast have hung up their mics.
Rob Landley noted that the main reason that Google flags up firmware changes on mobile devices is to somewhat ameliorate the ‘Evil Butler’ problem. And, moving to the question of an advocacy void, Rob pointed us towards a blogpost from Eben Moglen that talked about the role of the Linux Foundation. Also pitching in on this topic were Robert Horn and Will — thanks all.
Jezra wondered why Jesse doesn’t rate Thunderbird, and Brian offered a potential homebrew PBX solution to move us away from Skype. Wrapping things up, Jim Salter made the case that Internet access should be seen as a human right as its absence would (at least in the developed world) exclude us from participating in everyday private and civic interactions.
00:55:11 FOSS Talk Live
Breaking with tradition, we ditched our virtual pints and sat down with real ones, on stage, in front of a crowd of Linux enthusiasts at the inaugural FOSS Talk Live event. For our topic we decided to discuss whether computer technology, once so empowering for the end-user, can nowadays be considered emasculating?
As ever, we’d welcome your feedback about the show either here on our website, via a mail to show@, on Twitter @linuxluddites, or over at our Google Plus and Facebook Community pages.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks guys, really enjoyed this weeks show. Biggest take away for me was that real pints prove to be more entertaining than virtual pints!
Assuming GNOME Maps doesn’t insert a unique identifier into each user’s requests, the use of the proxy just shifts the privacy question from MapBox to GNOME. I don’t know anything about Mapbox that indicates it should not be trusted, but I would guess most GNOME Maps users would rather share their tile request information with GNOME than with Mapbox.
Jesse’s comments on Thunderbird (I don’t recall the original comment from the previous episode) seemed un-Luddite to me. Email is pretty well established, so I’m not sure Thunderbird needs a lot of new features or updates beyond security updates. Thunderbird has been ticking along for years without development from Mozilla. Mozilla provides hosting and build services and their developers provide help with making sure updates for Firefox don’t break Thunderbird. I think Jesse should have just stuck to “having a declining user base” as his definition of not doing well rather than calling it dead or questioning whether the developers can maintain it (I have some doubts as well but they done okay so far) because I am sure fewer and fewer people use a desktop email client over webmail and that is a primary motivation for Mozilla not wanting to support it any more.
I used to like Thunderbird a lot. However, over the years it developed bloat and turned into a real bandwidth hog. Some features designed to make it easier to use really got in the way e.g. if you run your own mail server and just want to enter all the information by hand, the current incarnation of TB makes this almost impossible.
I have used mutt for years, but it’s not really designed for non geeks. I have finally got my wife to use the Roundcube web client, rather than TB. In the process I replaced her Intel NUC with a Chromebook connected to a big monitor with usb keyboard and mouse. She hasn’t realised yet that she is now using a Chromebook!
Thunderbird has many more features than I use or need. That is part of why I said that I have my doubts about its long term maintainability. I also have doubts just from the fact that it is an old, open source project that has had a lot of contributors over the years leading to s somewhat sprawling and muddled code base. That said, I have never had any problems using it to connect to several accounts and maintain local copies of email.
I like mutt, but I also like being to view image attachments inline with emails. I use the muttator extension for Thunderbird.
I’m interested in self hosting email and using a self hosted webmail client like Roundcube, but it seems like a lot of work (especially ensuring that your mail gets delivered), so I haven’t done that so far. What set up do you use?
It’s quite a lot of work to get it setup, but virtually maintenance free once it’s working. I keep my mail in Unix Maildir format, which is basically plain text. Delivering mail isn’t too hard. You need to make sure that your ip address resolves to a real domain name and you have your spf records in your dns server properly configured.
I wrote a HOWTO at http://ianbarton.net/posts/2011/Oct/31/archlinux-mail-server/ It needs some updating, but should give you a good idea of what’s involved.
Very nice HOWTO, thanks. Mentioning maildir reminded me of another example of Thunderbird collapsing under its technical debt. For a few years, I have wanted to store my email in maildir instead of mbox because with the backup system I use right now it would be easier to copy just the new message files rather than the entire mbox file (I know there are diff backup systems that could fix this problem as well), but Thunderbird’s support for maildir still seems experimental and I doubt it will ever be solid. It seems like a combination of too much technical debt in the code base and lack of developer resources prevent Thunderbird from implementing structural changes like this. I still think they have the resources they need to maintain Thunderbird for quite a while, but I don’t expect any major new features.
How come Joe is the only one who looks good in our FOSStalk show pic in the notes?? I need to get my leg lean on!
I can’t speak for Thunderbird, but Kmail is still being actively updated, though, admittedly, the Akonadi transition has been rough but since the edges have been smoothed out, it works really well lately. I am also a big fan of the KDEPIM so the integration of Kmail into Kontact kind of made it an automatic for me.
A side note, as a user of the Google ecosystem for personal and work related functions, it is my opinion that the way mail is managed in Gmail, is not ideal and I think it is unfortunate that so many people have moved away from the desktop email client. There is just so much more functionality to be had in a client.
I stopped using kmail because of the bundling. It used to be a standalone program, then it was bundled in with a half-dozen other programs (nntp reader and rss feeds and some other stuff in some weird tabbed interface), and finally when I switched from KDE to Xfce: oops, it was bundled into the whole desktop.
It wasn’t just that installing it installed 2 dozen packages and launcing it launched a bunch of daemons, but you had to install and launch KDE’s Konfigurator to change font sizes or switch the web browser association for email links because it was stored in KDE desktop settings.
Pity. It was a nice email client. But it wasn’t worth the baggage.
Interestingly, the integration of the calendar, RSS aggregation, contacts and such is the reason why I am such a fan of Kmail but I can see your frustration with it if you are using the Xfce Desktop Environment.
Thank you for reporting the death of Seymour Papert. His understanding that coding could be a place for kids at play and not merely a place for dour careerists helped make the world a bit more fun. I still enjoy playing with the programming language, Logo, of which he was one of the pioneers. I find writing programs in FMS Logo (via WINE, of course) to generate multi-colored complex geometric string art more a more satisfying airline flight pastime than filling out the crossword puzzle. Mr. Papert will be missed. The world needs more Logo and less passive-consumer gaming.
The argument about proprietary vs open is pretty simple. If you don’t publish your results for peer review, what you’re doing is not science. If you’re going to call it “computer science” rather than teaching “the computer arts” at Hogwart’s, it has to be open source.
I treat proprietary software as an end-of-lifed component that cannot be replaced, produced by a lost art from a vendor that’s long gone. Maybe you can find another instance of it on e-bay, there might be roving third-party consultants supporting the existing systems, someone may even stumble across a whole box of them in a dusty warehouse, but it is impossible to reproduce this component from scratch on demand. Spec your parts accordingly.
The question about open-source vs closed in firmware was framed backwardly. It is not about empowerment, but disempowerment — ie: closed-source is used to take power/control/choice from people. Moving applications from local to networked is the same thing — retaining control and power. Like the elections in the US, one is welcome to choose from these two selections (of 100 million) that have been decided upon for you.
The question we should be insisting on from companies and programmers is “What justifies my vulnerability to your interests and your competence? What are you trying to hide? What ethical decisions are you making on my behalf?”
In a time where a USB controller firmware can be used to permanently pwn your computer, anything hidden by complex organizations with economic and political interests must be suspected.
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