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Quietnet: near-ultrasonic messaging service sends chat by chirps


Quietnet is a free/open Python program that uses your computer's speakers to encode text messages as near-ultrasonic chirps that can be received and interpreted by other, nearby computers. Its creator, Kate Murphy, notes, "Warning: May annoy some animals."

Quietnet (Thanks, Sulka!)

Filtered: free/open IMAP filter

Jeff writes, "Filtered is a new free/open source IMAP mail filtering application which provides automated routing of email based on per sender settings. You can train Filtered via its web UI or by dragging and dropping email to folders in your email account. Filtered can also learn from the contents of your existing folders."

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Ubuntu will get a torrent search-tool

Future versions of Ubuntu -- my preferred flavor of the GNU/Linux operating system -- will include a search tool for torrents that will include results from The Pirate Bay. The objective is help locate freely licensed material and to integrate "free culture into the Ubuntu user experience." Cory 3

Teen's free award-winning 2009 game "Sneaky Cards" redeveloped by fans and relaunched


Back in 2009, we partnered with Institute for the Future to hold a "Digital Open" contest for teens around the world. One of the winners was Harry Lee, a 16 year old from Melbourne, Australia, who created a game called "Sneaky Cards" that "spread the seeds of sneakiness and espionage into the unsuspecting pockets, math books, binders and bags and jackets of his schoolmates."

Over 300 people in the Sneaky Cards subreddit have worked to turn Sneaky Cards into a fully realized game, with new designs, decks and bonus packs. The game is free to download under a Creative Commons license. Harry Lee has blessed the revamp, headed up by a designer named Cody Borst.

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Stross on Unix religion

Unix history: a religious perspective. (I like the idea of Linux as a Protestant Reformation: "a new, freely copyable kernel that all the faithful could read with their own eyes") Cory 30

3D printer that draws pictures in jello shooters

Jeroen Domburg's friend was having a 25th birthday party at which jello shooters were to be served. Jeroen decided to liven these up by creating a 3D printer that inserted a needle into each shot and injected an ink made from banana liquor, food colouring and corn starch in 3D patterns like cubes and spirals. Even cooler: the main body of the electronics in the printer were harvested from superannuated DVD and CD drives, and the firmware for the printer is free software (TGZ) for your pleasure.

Jello 3d printer

Interactive version of EFF's NSA crossword

Here's a nice little Christmastime Creative Commons and free/open source software success story: yesterday, I posted the Electronic Frontier Foundation's NSA-themed crossword puzzle, which was CC licensed. Shortly after, TheDod posted an interactive version of the puzzle to Github, forking an interactive crossword program written by the Boston Globe's Jesse Weisbeck.

Interactive edition of EFF's Xmas 2013 NSA crossword puzzle (Thanks, Dave!)

GNU Privacy Guard crowdfunding for new infrastructure

GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) is the free/open version of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the gold standard in secure email and other kinds of eavesdropping-proof, authenticated, private storage and communication. The GPG project relies on donations and voluntary subscriptions to keep up-to-date and support new platforms. They're running a crowdfunding campaign that's shooting for €24,000, which they'll spend on rolling out an all-new site (with Tor access!), as well as GPG 2.1, tutorials, subscription management, material for people throwing Cryptoparties (security-training events) and many other laudable goals. I rely on GPG every day, so I've put in €100. I hope you'll give, too.

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Mandatory bug-bounties from major vendors

Brian Krebs proposes that software vendors should be forced to pay a bounty on all newly discovered vulnerabilities in their products at rates that exceed those paid by spy agencies and criminal gangs. He says that the bill for this would be substantially less than one percent of gross revenues, and that it would represent a massive overall savings when you factor in the cost to all the businesses and individuals who are harmed by security vulnerabilities. He doesn't explain what to do with popular, free/open software though. Cory 11

Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen discuss a post-Snowden Internet

Joly sez, "After Glenn Greenwald first received his stash of secret documents from Edward Snowden, one of the first people he consulted was security expert, cryptographer, and writer Bruce Schneier, who helped him review and digest the documents. A few weeks back we saw Bruce give a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, where he advised lawmakers to rein in the NSA, and the Internet community to pro-actively design countermeasures. On December 12 2013, as a follow up to his Snowden and the Future talk series Eben Moglen hosted A conversation with Bruce Schneier at Columbia Law School. They talked about what we can learn from the Snowden documents, the NSA's efforts to weaken global cryptography, and how we can keep free software tools from being subverted."

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Android gives you the ability to deny your sensitive data to apps

Android privacy just got a lot better. The 4.3 version of Google's mobile operating system now has hooks that allow you to override the permissions requested by the apps you install. So if you download a flashlight app that wants to harvest your location and phone ID, you can install it, and then use an app like AppOps Launcher to tell Android to withhold the information.

Peter Ecklersley, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has written up a good explanation of how this works, and he attributes the decision to competitive pressure from Ios, which allows users to deny location data to apps, even if they "require" it during the installation process.

I think that's right, but not the whole story: Android has also always labored under competitive pressure from its free/open forks, like Cyanogenmod.

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FreeBSD won't use Intel & Via's hardware random number generators, believes NSA has compromised them

The maintainers of the security-conscious FreeBSD operating system have declared that they will no longer rely on the random number generators in Intel and Via's chips, on the grounds that the NSA likely has weakened these opaque hardware systems in order to ease surveillance. The decision is tied to the revelations of the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL programs, wherein the NSA and GCHQ spend $250M/year sabotaging security in standards, operating systems, software, and networks.

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Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen, Dec 12, Columbia U/NYC

James writes, "Following on Eben Moglen's mind-warping series of talks about life after Snowden, the Software Freedom Law Center has invited Bruce Schneier to join Eben for a conversation informed by Bruce's own analysis of the leaked documents. Bruce is one of the smartest thinkers around when it comes to understanding how security and surveillance operate in the real world. And he is unsurpassed at presenting complicated security concepts even to people who lack his expertise. Between Moglen's sophisticated thoughts and Bruce's grounded approach, we're sure to learn a lot about where we stand and what we can do next!" Cory 3

Cyanogenmod adds encrypted SMS from WhisperSystems

The latest (unstable) build of Cyanogenmod (a free/open version of Android) incorporates a secure, encrypted SMS program called TextSecure, which was created by Open WhisperSystems. Open WhisperSystems's chief engineer is the respected cryptographer and privacy advocate Moxie Marlinspike, and the source for the Cyanogenmod integration is open and available for inspection and scrutiny. The new encrypted SMS is designed to be integrated with whatever SMS app you use on your phone, and allows for extremely private, interception- and surveillance-resistant messaging over the normally insecure SMS. It requires that both parties be using TextSecure, of course -- if you send a TextSecure message to someone without secure messaging, the message will fall back to unencrypted text.

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Free Software Foundation's holiday gift guide

K sez, "Many holiday gifts are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. Thankfully, the Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: the 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom." Cory 1