How I Got my Username

It all started from Scratch. Pun intended! The humble beginnings of scratch.mit.edu my first social network! 2016: 5 years ago I decided to sign up for a scratch account to share the programs I made locally using ‘Scratch 2.0’. If I recall correctly it was — an Adobe AIR App that ran locally, and you could share your scratch projects online after you setup a username and password. Yep, flash used to be popular in those days....

Big Break

I’m preparing for competitive entrance-exams Around 1.2 million students write the JEE exam each-year. It’s really tough to get a good rank: this is not like your school exams where you study for a subject and get graded periodically at school. There’s months & years worth of practice as you’re no longer competing locally. You’d need to be in the top 99.5%(ile) to qualify for a CSE course at Government colleges....

Phones Make Me Counter Productive

This post is a reflection on Digital Minimalism on my Phone (FOSS) I wrote exactly a year ago A year ago I yeeted all my apps, disabled notifications, started using FOSS apps in the hope that I spend my time efficiently. After the initial few weeks the ‘FOSS’ and ‘Ad Free’ apps get just as much addictive as the mainstream ones. Although it’s not as toxic / invasive of your privacy....

The Apple Illusion ~ On Privacy & Freedom

iPhones & MacBooks are beautiful, powerful pieces of hardware That you can rent from Apple — that’s about it Why did I specifically use the word ‘rent’? Sorry for triggering any Apple fanbois: the only thing you ever buy from Apple is their marketing. All Apple devices — natively run their proprietary operating systems and are entirely owned by Apple. They can shut down your device, track you using their own proprietary technology, using a mesh network botnet of other Apple devices around you, all while sugarcoating it under the Apple brand....

Cold Turkey 2021

2021 is the year I complete my general-schooling, plan ahead, catch-up on my backlogs Because 2020 has taught us that anything can happen at times when we are the least prepared Covid was the highlight of the year, but let’s hope for the better. I’m sure we have all heard-of ‘New Year resolutions’ — this post about that, but I am writing this two weeks before new-years, I plan to dive head first, cold-turkey, whatever you want to call it, taking on’ 2021 with a fresh-mind....

Archiving Google

Google is probably your search engine. Chrome your web-browser? Google flavoured Android + your OEM skin, the OS your phone runs on I’m talking about — Xiaomi’s MIUI, OnePlus/Oppo/Vivo’s Oxygen OS, Color OS, Samsung’s OneUI, literally anything other than iPhones probably run Android + proprietary Google software. YouTube? — it’s the 2nd biggest search engine after Google Often the only source of video hosting at such a cheap, subsidized rate. Not to mention censorship 😷 / corporate gaslighting....

Firefox a mess by Mozilla

“I trust Mozilla more than Google; but Mozilla trusts Google more than you” Google is the default search engine on Firefox. All their app store screenshots feature Google Search. No self hosted F-Droid repo. It’s again Google Play. Google is their primary & only ‘real’ source of income. Ironically their only real competitor. Do they want to promote privacy friendly social media? I see no PeerTube or Mastodon accounts to follow; it’s again Twitter & YouTube....

How I do my computing on GNU/Linux

Whaat? you use Linux? aRe yOu sOme hAcKeR? No, that’s not how I perceive it. People & the media - have confused us with the term hacker. I mean hacking as in a hacksmith someone who is playfully clever. Tinkering stuff, not just computers, hacking as in life-hacks, not breaching security as such, they too are hackers but not the only ones :0 A musician has total control over their guitar, an artist over the paintbrush 🖌 me & (hopefully) you over our computers The flexible/tinker-able nature of GNU+Linux is one of the reasons I use this over Windows, iOS or MacOS....

Hardening Signal Messenger for Privacy

If you’ve searched for privacy oriented messaging apps Signal is probably on that list. By now you’ve probably heard about Signal the centralized, navy blue, metadata resistant messaging app, now anchored by an ex WhatsApp co-founder. Signal out of the box still lacks a bit of polish. When compared to competition like Telegram or Element/Matrix (As of 2020-10-20) No usernames, hiding phone number visibility. Unsending messages with no trace. End to end group calls on the desktop, signup via the desktop app and better group management....

Instant Messengers

Unless you’re from the USA (the land of free SMS) you probably use a messaging app like WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal Why? You get cross-device-sync, better features, ditch phone numbers as – identifiers, huge privacy gains, stickers & share media in an instant! SMS is costly, outside of the US. At least in India — I don’t think I have ever used SMS other than receiving OTP codes, when signing up for some services....