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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Claire Wolfe

I don’t know if this is a dumb question or not

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

You tell me.

I know that the right software and the right settings are key to electronic privacy on computers. But are there some computers (laptops, especially) that are inherently more private and secure due to their hardware?

I always buys used Lenovo laptops. They (and their predecessors from IBM) are the sturdiest beasties in the computer world. Mine have been knocked off tables by rambunctious dogs (or by me) dozens of times, and while various plastic bits may have cracked or broken off, the workings inside their titanium cases have just gone right on ticking.

Unfortunately the other day my main computer (ThinkPad T400) was sitting on a hassock next to a window when Ava spotted a cat. This time she didn’t knock the computer to the ground. That would have been fine. Nope. She stuck a claw into its screen.

Oh, it’s still working just fine. But when you spend as much time at the computer as I do, a dog-claw-sized hole in the middle of the display will drive you nuts. So I’m thinking about a new (used) laptop. It’s about time for one, anyhow.

But one of the things I like about this one is no built-in camera. It’s got a stupid fingerprint reader, but that’s totally ignorable. It worries me that the newer an electronic device, the more likely it is to arrive with hardware and pre-sets to communicate with Uber-Snoops. Shel reminded me of such unknown hazards when he posted this link in comments.

That’s not for me. But then, neither is the prospect of buying increasingly older laptops just to avoid creepazoids.

So tell me: how far off-base am I in thinking that I should be able to buy a recent, but used, laptop that isn’t designed and pre-set to betray its users to Our Robot Overlords?

And if I’m not off base, what are some good candidate laptops built in the last few years?

Claire Wolfe

Weekend links

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
  • Beaded guns. Yes, very, very weird.
  • Cops in Hawaii assert that they really, really, really need that law that allows them, and only them, to have sex with prostitutes.
  • So what exactly did Erdogan think would happen when he tried to ban Twitter? Didn’t somebody say something about “can’t stop the signal”?
  • I see the point. Larry Page would rather leave his billions to Elon Musk than to charity.
  • Dog names (per jed in comments). Belladonna Squishypup. Definitely beats Maggie. Or Max.
  • Okay, now I’ve gotten some fabulous deals at garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, rummage sales, or jumble sales as this article prefers to call them. But I must admit I’ve never just picked up some random little item for … $14,000??? Fourteen thousand dollars? At a junk sale? Are you kidding me? Still, if that’s your idea of a bargain, well, in this case, you’re amazingly correct.
Claire Wolfe

Tuesday links

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
Claire Wolfe

Weekend links

Sunday, February 9th, 2014
  • So you still don’t think Google Glass is creepy? Well how ’bout when New York City cops are testing it? (H/T MJR)
  • “The repentant informant.” This article on liberty’s former friend Stacy Litz was published last year. The reporter (whose name really, truly is Jason Nark) interviewed me but forgot to tell me when the story hit, which is why I’m late with the news. I’m not quoted, but he does reference the booklet the Commentariat collaborated on: Rats! So pat yourselves on the back. You’re famous. :-)
  • Cops do the usual no-knock dawn raid. On the usual word of a lying informant. Resident, believing he and his pregnant girlfriend are in danger, shoots and kills a deputy. Cops find pot. A grand jury refuses to indict. Even a blogger cop says it’s the right decision. And you thought there were no such things as miracles.
  • Unfortunately, the usual *&^%$ still goes on. But you know … credit card fraud was involved. And somebody in the house had a concealed carry permit. So of course any amount of coppish violence is totally, absolutely justified. If you don’t think so you must be a domestic terrorist or something.
  • Uh oh. Tricksy, buggy Adobe Flash now carries malware that can infect even Linux machines and Macs. Guess the good old days are truly over.
  • Here’s more on from MWD. For nerdstuff, this is pretty lucid. And he very kindly tells me he’s snagged me a clairewolfe.bit domain name just in case.
  • And never forget, no matter how weird the world gets, we can always enjoy the puppies. So here, via MLS, are big dogs who don’t realize they are.


Claire Wolfe

Midweek links

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Claire Wolfe

… grant me the serenity …

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

A few days ago, a friend sent me this article: “You don’t want your privacy: Disney and the meat-space data race.”

It’s by “data scientist” John Foreman (I put that in quotes only because I’m not sure what all “data science” might encompass), who says a) that the most egregious electronic privacy violations will be in our off-line lives and b) We’re going to cooperate happily and fully. Not going to cooperate. But are cooperating. Privacy — right now! — is as “over” as bustles and moustache wax.

Although Foreman recognizes the creepiness of omni-tracking, he embraces it with cheer — heading off to Disney World with his family, every member sporting an RFID bracelet that will know everywhere they’ve been, everything they’ve bought, every food item they’ve ordered — and even how long they’ll spend on one of Mickey’s toilets if something they ate gives them diarrhea.

My friend said he just couldn’t wait for the great blog I’d make of this. And he asked me to send his regards to Katherine Albrecht. A few years ago when Katherine and her associate Liz McIntyre wrote their book Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID, my friend scoffed at their predictions.

Now? Not so much scoffing going on.


I’m going to have to disappoint my friend, though. He was probably expecting a rant so passionate it would set BHM’s pixels on fire or maybe a tutorial on RFID hacking or RFID safety.


« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Monday links

Monday, January 20th, 2014
  • So, do you think Phil Zimmerman’s Blackphone will become the smartphone of smart people? Or …?
  • It could become a crime in Washington state to help the NSA. Government contractors or workers providing electricity or water to an agency violating the Fourth Amendment would be criminals. (They ought to do this in Utah, where that hellish data center gobbles millions of gallons of precious dry-state water.) H/T PT
  • Another of the many ways in which Obamacare is helping.
  • Clever or creepy? Yeah, depends on who (or which alphabet soupers) get their hands on these snake, worm, and otherwise creepy-crawly robots. (H/T O)
  • One might wish that the charming soul who monkeywrenched the ATF booth at last week’s SHOT Show had a better command of spelling. But his (her?) heart was certainly in the right place. View one. View two. (H/T JB)
  • Another Officer Friendly. Yes, another Beloved Hero in Blue, protecting and serving in the style that’s become so reliable lately. Why this creep isn’t a) in prison and b) on the sex-offender registry for the rest of its days is a wonder to me. Oh, but she was “disciplined.” I guess that makes it okay. (Corrected: There were two officers, both female, and both apparently “corrections officers,” not cops. Both were involved, though apparently only one did the worst deed. Personally, I’m still going with “Officer Friendly” because IMHO, there’s a distinction, but not much of a difference, between cops and COs. Thanks, G. for the heads up.)
  • Did hackers recently perform the first malicious act utilizing the “Internet of things”? That is, did they turn everything from “smart” refrigerators and home camera systems into a bot net? So said many reports. Borepatch doubts it.

There are five finalists in the Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” ad contest. “Cowboy Kid” is the clear winner. If any of the other four beat it, I’m suspecting bribery, collusion, and all manner of other evil. This may be one case where v*ting is okay. As long as you vote my way, of course. ;-)

Claire Wolfe

Do you sometimes feel obsolete?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

… because of your commitment to privacy? Or because you reject mainstream tech-enabled culture to follow your own path?

I’ve never feared technology and was for a long time an “early adopter.” I knew the moment I laid eyes on a PC that I had to have one. I was online years before the WWW was a thing. I met my former Significant Sweetie on a Fidonet bulletin board (gun-rights site) when meeting a partner online was unheard of.

These days, however, I shun most new tech. Even some of my granny-aged friends tote their smartphones everywhere they go, but I won’t have one; carrying an omni-surveillance device in my pocket is obvious folly. Yet that also means that quite an amazing array of useful apps — and even the operating systems they work on — are like a foreign language to me. It’s as if half the U.S. has suddenly started speaking Swedish and I’m still stubbornly insisting on talking “old-fashioned ‘Murrican.”

I quit TV 20 years ago (December 27, 1994) and my life is better for it. But there’s a whole range of common cultural experience I’m now distant from. And that’s true even now that anybody can catch Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad online.

I don’t regret my choices. If I did, I’d un-choose them. But the disconnect does worry me. As I get older I sometimes ask myself, “Is this still a matter of principle or are you just becoming a stuck-in-the-mud fogey, resisting change?”

Google’s just-announced acquisition of Nest got me mulling on this again. I love the idea of a household thermostat that learns my habits and adapts its settings to my activities. I loathe the notion of Google (and its bosom buddy the NSA) monitoring the transaction. Not only has Google become an information-gobbling monster; but I see no reason why such cool technologies can’t be made essentially private. They would be better private. Even if Google had good intentions (which it doesn’t), it’s obvious to me that inserting any third party between us and things we want to do is an ordinary, everyday, garden-variety hindrance, as well as a danger.

Or is that fogey talk?

I know a lot of you reject certain tech because it’s privacy-invasive or otherwise obnoxious. Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in? Do you worry that maybe you’re just getting crotchety and stubborn?

OTOH, I know some of you embrace “smart” tech. If so, how do you manage to be comfortable with it, even knowing it’s inherently surveillance tech?



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