Identification

It’s in the news today that the US government is looking into phasing out the use of Social Security Numbers for identification. This is after the massive Equifax security breach in which the data including Social Security Numbers of over 150 million Americans have been stolen. For any company or organization to require or even use a Social Security Number for clients or customers at this point is almost criminally negligent.

But this makes one think: What other form of identification can be used? What is the fundamental problem that the use of identification attempts to address in the first place, and is there any truly good, reliable, or secure way to implement a solution?

I was thinking for example of the use of biometrics such as fingerprints for ID. In fact my Thinkpad laptops and my Samsung Note phone all use fingerprints.

But let’s say that there’s a way for you to swipe your finger on a fingerprint reader on your phone and have it authenticate you for some service. The company or organization doing the authentication then has to have a record of your fingerprint, or else it has to trust that some intermediary, such as software on your computer, has successfully authenticated you via biometric authentication.

But all of this is also vulnerable. For example if a company was storing fingerprint data for millions of customers that data could also be stolen. A criminal could fake the authentication process and send what appears to be a valid authentication token to an organization.

Basically things can still be faked and/or stolen. So it’s an interesting problem because you still haven’t gotten around some of the issues that are happening now.

So how do you do it? What could be considered an acceptable form of identification or authorization that is practical, easy to implement, and simple to use?

We have this issue in society where different entities need to establish that someone is who they claim to be. But no matter what mechanisms are used to do so, they can be cheated in different ways, and the data can be stolen, whether it happens to be a 9 digit number, a fingerprint imprint, the scan of an iris, etc.

We also have another interesting issue is that we only want to have authentication for certain things, but for others we don’t want it. We value our freedom and our right to remain anonymous, so whatever technology we use to provide authentication has to be designed with certain limits as well.

There will have to be some acceptance of what is a reasonably satisfactory level of authentication and also ways to deal with what happens when it fails for any reason.

All systems are only as good as how they fail, and such a system will have to be well-designed with failure in mind.

Getting prepared for Firefox 57

You may have noticed the yellow boxes next to many add-ons in Firefox’s add-ons manager which say “Legacy”. As of November when Firefox version 57 is released those extensions will no longer work with the new Firefox engine called Quantum. There are literally thousands of plugins which will no longer work when the update occurs.

In order to make it less painful to transition I’m starting early with installing new compatible extensions with equivalent, sometimes better, and sometimes less functionality than legacy extensions. You can use this very useful online Extension Finder tool to search for extensions similar to legacy ones.

Here is my list of noteworthy new and existing Firefox extensions compatible with the upcoming version 57:

Cookie AutoDelete
Control your cookies! This WebExtension is inspired by Self Destructing Cookies. When a tab closes, any cookies not being used are automatically deleted. Whitelist the ones you trust while deleting the rest. Support for Container Tabs (Firefox 53+).
I love Self Destructing Cookies. It automatically deletes cookies from a site when its tab is closed. I then only whitelist certain sites that I trust. This plugin seems equal or better than Self Destructing Cookies.
Also available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

Flash Block (Plus)
Provides control over Flash content
Stop websites from cramming unwanted flash video content down your throat. It may be better to install YouTube no Buffer (no autoplay) below.
Also available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

Lastpass
LastPass, an award-winning password manager, saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device.
LastPass is not yet listed as being compatible with Firefox 57 but they are stating that a compatible version will be released on time.
Also available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

Open Tabs Next to Current
Open new tabs always to the right of the current one.
This extension does what it says. As of this writing this plugin seems to be a little odd. It works as intended but when a new tab is opened the tab bar jerks around as the new tab initially appears to get placed at the default last position on the tab bar, and then it immediately gets repositioned to next to the current tab. I’m also missing a the fine granularity tab tweaking options provided by Tab Mix Plus.

ScrollAnywhere
Grab and drag your scrollbar with your middle mouse button anywhere on the page.
Replaces functionality of the Grab and Drag extension which provides hand-tool functionality to the mouse. In order for this to work you have to enable the Grab and drag option in the extension’s settings. I also recommend disabling momentum. Is equal or better to the extension it replaces.
Also available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

Speed Dial (Lite)
Access to your favorite websites via an stylish speed dial!
Replaces functionality of legacy Speed Dial extension. Now is a good time to install this side-by-side with Speed Dial and start transferring dials over.
Available for Chrome and Vivaldi. On both of these I’m now using Speed Dial [FVD] which has more features.

Stylus
Redesign the web with Stylus, a user styles manager. Stylus allows you to easily install themes and skins for many popular sites.
Replaces functionality of the Stylish extension.
On Chrome and Vivaldi I still use Stylish.

Tab Center Redux
Move your tabs to the side of your browser window.
Considered as partially providing functionality similar to that with legacy Tab Mix Plus but not really the same.

Tampermonkey
Tampermonkey is the world’s most popular userscript manager.
I use this with the development release of YouTubeCenter. YouTubeCenter requires that YouTube be set to legacy mode which is a pain because it keeps reverting back to non-legacy mode and then the whole site stops working and you have to disable YouTubeCenter in Tampermonkey to get to the setting to re-enable legacy mode. But there are some other YouTube download Firefox 57-compatible extensions listed so maybe YouTubeCenter will not be necessary.
Available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

uBlock Origin
Finally, an efficient blocker. Easy on CPU and memory.
🙂
Also available for Chrome and Vivaldi including uBlock Origin Extra.

Undo Close Tab
Reopens the last closed tab.
Right-click and it displays a list of recently closed tabs which can be selected.

YouTube no Buffer (no autoplay)
Prevents YouTube HTML5 and Flash players from auto-buffering (auto-playing) videos
Available for Chrome and Vivaldi

Zoom Page WE
Zoom web pages (either per-site or per-tab) using full-page zoom, text-only zoom, automatic fit-to-width and minimum font size.
Suggested alternative to legacy Zoom Page extension. Equal or better functionality.
Note this is also available for Chrome and Vivaldi.

 

List of things to do:

1. Start copying your dials from legacy Speed Dial over to the new Speed Dial (Lite). You can have both extensions installed simultaneously. There is an icon on the toolbar which you can use to open Speed Dial (Lite).

2. Copy any user styles from legacy Stylish to Stylus.

3. Try to disable legacy extensions you really don’t need. Then try to disable even more. Think about the possibility of giving up the functionality of an extension if there’s no suitable replacement and ask yourself if you really need that functionality or if there might be a better way to do things.

4. Check out the new Compact Lite theme and Compact Dark themes included with Firefox. Very nice.

5. Be patient. A lot of people are involved in this process at many levels and most things should work out over time.

6. There’s a cool page devoted to Firefox CSS on Reddit which has useful info related to customizing Firefox 57.

7. Although a compatible update for Tab Mix Plus has not been released Firefox developers have indicated that “tab APIs are regarded as a very high priority for the add-on team”, so it really looks like a lot of the functionality provided by Tab Mix Plus will be appearing in the not-too-distant future.

Also see:
support.mozilla.org: Frequently asked questions – Firefox add-on technology is modernizing

Pelosi: Dreamers’ parents ‘did a great thing’ in sneaking them into U.S.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that illegal immigrant parents who brought their children to the U.S. in defiance of the law “did a great thing,” giving the country an infusion of successful young people.

washingtontimes.com: Pelosi: Dreamers’ parents ‘did a great thing’ in sneaking them into U.S.

If someone robs a bank and has a child with them it doesn’t mean they get to keep the money.

Pelosi is a nutcase. A member of the US Congress openly supporting illegal aliens. She needs to be expelled from Congress.

Family Safety

It makes me glad to see this. Unfortunately family safety or even family is generally not sufficiently well understood in the mainstream to have the meaning it should. And despite the legion of professors of psychology and sociology – actually in part because of them – our families – our family – is endangered as never before.

For this endangerment to exist requires the legion of professors of psychology and sociology at our institutions of “higher” education preoccupied not with true study of the spiritual sciences but rather with models of rats in mazes. Oblivious to the raging infection ravaging the society around them they dutifully carry on with their research on rat mazes. Not only oblivious to it – in many cases actively contributing towards it.

To see the above Control Panel entry confirms that there’s something kind of archetypal about it the concept of family safety. It’s significant enough to be considered an integral component of the information logos of a mainstream operating system.

Essential to note as well how many or most of those clamoring about supposed progressive ideals, “freedoms”, and “rights” are actually at the forefront of destroying families and endangering our safety.

I don’t mean what people do in their private lives but rather those who are pushing disease into kid’s souls, whether part of a sick deluded agenda, creepy power trips, out of greed, or malevolence. Because it’s not really about freedoms and rights unless offending and infecting others are considered freedoms and rights.

In the ultimate family safety people such as those responsible for things like MTV would be imprisoned.

I reiterate: It’s not about what people do in their private lives, it’s the sick fucks infecting children’s souls with disease. No wonder America is failing as a society and facing multiple catastrophes such as the opiod epidemic.

Were it only as simple as selecting and configuring a Control Panel item.

President Trump

Your people are dying.  They are being crushed.  They have been oppressed for so long that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be successful, to have dreams.  They are broken.

Hilary Clinton would not have saved them.  Nancy Pelosi certainly won’t.  The Democratic and Republican establishment won’t.  Corrupt city political machines won’t.

But you can.  You are the hope and the path to restore the lost power.

What was ours has been stolen over generations.  Our youth are destitute and dreamless.  They have no healthy models to look up to and inspire them.  The situation is grim and our country is weak.

Tech companies hire more foreign workers for engineering positions than Americans.  The education system has fallen far behind.

You are the hope and the path to restore the lost power.  Just like any true doctor they will fight you bitterly, tooth and nail, to stop you from curing America.

This is a contest of evil vs. light and I believe in you.

These guys are amazing

Winamp will always be amazing. I miss it.

I installed Winamp on a system today as a backup to play my white noise while being able to listen to other music through Media Monkey which is the main player I now use. Media Monkey is pretty good but still, after installing Winamp and applying a color theme to it, I’m still amazed.

Winamp reminds me of a better time, before the invasion. 

Setup Sendmail MTA in Cygwin (and basic Mutt tutorial)

This is a very quick guide to setting up the Sendmail mail transport agent in Cygwin.

Run the Cygwin setup-x86_64.exe program and install both sendmail and mutt.

Your machine has to have a domain name assigned to it for Sendmail to run. Most people name their computers without assigning a domain name. To assign a domain name open a Cygwin console as administrator (we are going to need this for the next couple steps) and enter:

cmd /c sysdm.cpl

Click the Change button to open the computer name change dialog and then click the More button to add a primary DNS suffix if you haven’t already assigned one. Here you add just the domain suffix in the form of mydomain.com. This will require a reboot of the computer.

After rebooting open a Cygwin administrative console again and enter:

sendmail-config install

This will prompt for the name and password of a dedicated system account for the Sendmail daemon. The suggested account name is root but you may want to change it to sendmail or something similar. When it prompts for a password be sure to create a really complex one. You will never be prompted for this password again.

Now you can open services.msc and start CYGWIN sendmail from there and set it to start automatically. You can also start Sendmail in the adminstrative console with /etc/rc.d/init.d/sendmail start

I also recommend to install the mutt mail client in Cygwin which you can then use to send and view mail sent via Sendmail. Here is a basic .muttrc file that you put in your home folder:

——————————————————————–

# mutt will prompt to create this if it doesn't exist
set folder=~/mail

set spoolfile=/var/spool/mail/$USER

# this only makes sense if folder is set to something useful
set record=+sent

set sort=reverse-date

set arrow_cursor=no

#Don't automatically advance to next message when modifying message
set resolve=no

set move=no

set markers=no

set askbcc=yes

set menu_scroll=yes

# pager will not move to the next message when at end of a message and invoke next-page function is invoked
set pager_stop

# map delete-char to a sane value
bind editor delete-char

bind pager previous-line
bind pager next-line

—————————————————————-
The first time you run mutt from a console window it will prompt to create the ~/mail folder if it doesn’t already exist. You can press enter to affirm the creation.

Now you can send a test mail to yourself. Type m to compose a new mail, enter your user name for the To: For Subject: enter whatever you want. After entering the subject you are in the Vim editor. Type a message and then press Esc shift z z (or Esc : w q) to write the message. Mutt will then show you the message ready to send. Type y to send the message.

Now close mutt by typing q and then restart it. You should see the message you just sent to yourself in the mailbox. Use the arrow keys of the keyboard to select messages from the list and press Enter to open them. While in a message press q to exit or r to reply. When viewing the mailbox press $ to refresh the list and see any new messages that may have arrived.

If you want to start retreiving mail from an account like Gmail with Mutt then look at the getmail package available in Cygwin and be sure to read Cygwin-specific documentation at /usr/share/doc/Cygwin/getmail.README

Check out procmail which is used to filter incoming mail and also the spambayes or spamoracle packages which are able to filter spam and read their corresponding Cygwin-specific documentation in /usr/share/doc/Cygwin/

For sending mail via Gmail or other service look at the ssmtp package and its documentation under /usr/share/doc/ssmtp/

How to download videos from YouTube

In most of my online courses there are videos which accompany our lessons which I need to download. Yes I could just try to watch the videos online, but that doesn’t realistically translate when being somewhere with unreliable Internet like a cafe using public wifi or somewhere where there’s no connection. Also I like to have the videos saved for reference purposes. They constitute part of the course materials which I consider it a priority to maintain in an organized fashion across my information appliances.

However downloading videos from YouTube is not that easy. But there is a way to do it that works well on Firefox, Chrome, Chrome-based browsers, or any other browsers which support user scripts. The project is on Github and is called YouTubeCenter. For YouTubeCenter to work you have to go to the main youtube.com landing page on click the settings icon in the upper right and choose legacy mode.

On the YouTubeCenter Github page there’s a link to the wiki page with installation instructions. The wiki page then says that they highly recommend using the dev builds. Finally on that page there are links to the user script and pre-packaged pluins for various browsers. Because of security many browsers will not let you install these plugins very easily, so the easiest thing to do is install a user script manager and then install the user script version of YouTubeCenter.

On Firefox you want to install either Greasemonkey or Tampermonkey user script managers. On Chrome or Chrome-based browsers such as Vivaldi you want to install the Tampermonkey extension.

When you have these installed and you simply click on the YouTubeCenter.user.js link on the YouTubeCenter developer version page you should be automatically prompted by the script manager to install the script.

The very first time you try to play a video in YouTube YouTubeCenter will display a settings dialog where you can tweak some preferences such as the default video resolution, player size, default video download resolution, and more.

After that you will notice an option below videos to download them.

Maybe technically this isn’t exactly supposed to be allowed or something but 95% of the time I only need this for educational videos. The other 5% of the time are videos which I want to save in case they get taken down which sometimes happens.
.

Skara Brae

So amazing. It’s always sad to me when stupid dramas or documentaries depict ancient peoples – our noble ancestors – as crude. Who knows, maybe their lives were far more advanced than ours in ways we simply can’t imagine because we’ve forgotten?

I found out about this while reading about the history of water supply and sanitation. If we lived in a healthy society people would be interested in things like this, not stupid “reality star” idiots, “professional” “sports”, or other garbage.

What got me interested in this topic was thinking about how throughout humans’ existence the relation to water played a significant role in how basic living was organized. Imagine someone living in a village in 18th century Germany and needing to pee in the middle of the night. What did that entail? What if they were thirsty? How did they get water? How was it stored? How did they wash dishes? Did they cleanse or rinse in the morning/evening? How did they go poo? How did different cities and villages around the world deal with sanitation? What about any kind of public place like a church, hall, or shopping district where people had to go poo or pee? Whose responsibility was it to deal with the sanitation in those places?

It’s kind of sad that we don’t even think of these things today, things which would have been a major part and parcel of daily existence until not very long ago. It almost seems wrong that we are unaware of this. I don’t think we can ever fully move forward if we simply forget the past.

UPDATE:

Here’s another amazing video about Skara Brae with none other than Iain Stewart himself:

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