Technical Updates for Late February 2016

Consider the moral implications. Understanding the technology is one thing; knowing why and how it matters is another level entirely.

If your computer runs Win10 and you have some functional reason for preferring it over whatever was running before, but you still worry about all the snooping telemetry stuff, there are good safe tools to block that. Spybot Anti-beacon comes from a reputable source and will allow you to see all the options with some reasonable hope of grasping what they do. Be aware that shutting off the telemetry will break some common Windows functions.

Therein lies the real problem. I worry less about the snooping than the forced dependency. As I’ve stated often in the past: My primary reason for running Linux is control. I actually like the way Microsoft has managed to offer mostly sane defaults in how it anticipates typical computer user habits. Most of the things you are likely to want to do are often integrated into Windows and waiting for you, just a couple of pointer-clicks away. I could sincerely wish Linux UI designers would offer more restrained and utilitarian options for that kind of usage without all the senseless bling. What we get on the Linux desktop is almost uniformly designed to please developers and fanboys, nothing like us normal user folk. But I use Linux and accept some of the inconvenience because it allows me a level of control over things that really matter to me. Windows increasingly takes those things out of my hands.

We have no trouble figuring out why Linux developers do what they do and why they ignore our requests. They talk about it. Microsoft and the rest of the corporate world are not so forthcoming, and they have grown increasingly deaf to our complaints. They get away with it largely because the entire industry as a whole is moving in the same direction. That direction is toward handing more and more control over the machines and our data to folks who claim we can and should trust them to make it all convenient and profitable for us. I’ve been burned. I don’t trust them; these people have lied in the past. They’ve been caught lying and are unrepentant.

When I made so much noise here a month ago about wanting to move this virtual ministry more completely under my control, that had nothing to do with controlling people, but the data and the virtual interaction. Indeed, the whole point in taking a tighter hand on the technology is to offer you more individual freedom. I’m seeking to open myself and the data I control to your greater convenience, while protecting it from those who will inevitably seek to take that control from me and hinder my openness. We are doing something truly different here, and someone will eventually decide it’s a threat to their control over something. History is loaded with examples of that. Further, my heart warns me it’s coming and that’s the best guidance I have.

I took the time to investigate DD-WRT and other alternative router software. I’m now less worried about it being buggy, seeing the factory stock firmware is also buggy (and appears to be some kind of Linux itself). The real difference is that the former has more features, but the latter is much easier to use. I’d wrangle with the DD-WRT if it was needed, but after joining their forum and engaging in forthright discussion, I was advised it won’t help much in what we do. There may be a difference in security, but I assure you that’s something very hard to evaluate without it becoming an obsession that shoves everything else out of the way. I’m not turning this into a CompSec research station; that’s not my calling. I’ll trust God for the things He doesn’t put into my hands.

Right now the FTP service is working fine, so far as anyone has shown interest. I’ve also found out this router offers more DDNS options than I first thought, so that my be coming soon. In layman’s terms, that means my home network could become accessible in a more conventional way with an Internet domain name and reliable response. Should more services be needed, I’ll use the built-in port forwarding feature and run them from the workstation itself, not in the router. Again, in layman’s terms that means the router would hand off some of the workload while still providing a firewall for my computer. Meanwhile, no one has requested anything that calls for me to set up more services, nor do external conditions seem to require any changes just yet.

So right now I’m going to focus on the task of reformatting the materials on hand, rewriting a couple of things in the process, and continuing the daily posts of things that come to my attention. By all means, you should ask questions and request that I cover things you’ve been wondering about. Otherwise you are stuck with whatever rattles my cage.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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