#tips

Firefox Relay vs DuckDuckGo email

I signed up for DuckDuckGo’s privacy relay email service (https://duckduckgo.com/email) as soon as i could. Aside from their little dust up about them sending some of your info to Microsoft (https://thenextweb.com/news/duckduckgo-microsoft-tracking-sparks-backlash) they’ve got a good track record re: privacy. I signed up for some CNet and PCMag newsletters and found that DuckDuckGo removed a few trackers from every email they sent. Yay DuckDuckGo! But one of the things I don’t like is they don’t provide a dashboard – I can’t see what duck aliases I’ve created and used.

So, I signed up for a paid Firefox Relay account cuz they do have a dashboard! What’s more, you can associate each email with the website or service you’ve used it with! Major yay! I signed up new Relay email addresses for CNet and PCMag newsletters and began comparing the duck emails with the relay emails. Relay isn’t removing ANY trackers!?! I emailed Relay support and got a fairly prompt response however it wasn’t terribly satisfying. The relay folks are being very responsible and making sure that the trackers they remove don’t break the email – yay them! I’m continuing to correspond with Relay’s support on this topic. In the meantime, I suggest you go with the free DuckDuckGo email relay service if you want a little more privacy in your newsletter traffic, dashboard notwithstanding.

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Proton has a Google Drive alternative

It’s been in beta since 2020 but they’ve finally made it available to the rest of us. Android app and web app available now, the rest is coming. As with all Proton products it’s open source, privacy focused. 1GB for free, 200GB for $4/month or the whole package (mail, calendar, drive, and VPN) for $10/month. Read about Drive at https://www.howtogeek.com/835660/proton-drive-is-a-privacy-first-google-drive-alternative/

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Buh-bye Google Keep, OneNote, Evernote!

Open source Notesnook (https://github.com/streetwriters/notesnook) aims to be THE replacement for all your note taking needs. Fully encrypted on your device before storing on their cloud service (self-hosted option coming), it’s a zero knowledge service meaning they can’t decrypt your notes. With a web app (https://app.notesnook.com) and apps for iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, and Linux you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to use it wherever you need or want with full synchronization across all platforms. It’s still in its relative infancy and updates generally make it to the web app before other platforms. Roadmap at https://notesnook.com/roadmap/

Buh-bye Google Keep, OneNote, Evernote! Read More »

An SSH tunnel as a system service?

I came across this today and it’s an interesting idea! While I’m not sure I endorse creating and maintaining a tunnel, especially as root, I’m sure there are use cases where it makes sense. If nothing else, defining the config files and their contents to create a service is worth seeing. All the details, including how to make it run after reboot are at https://medium.com/linuxstories/linux-how-to-create-an-ssh-tunnel-as-a-systemd-service-73e6e0fff19b

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More SSH? Yes, please!

My local server died a little over a week ago (more about that in a future post) so I bought a new mini PC (love those little things – got one with an 11th gen Intel Celeron, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD for $280). In setting it up I opted to keep my VNC sessions local to the new machine accessing them via SSH tunnels. In researching various ways to establish and maintain the tunnel I came across https://gist.github.com/scy/6781836 and (re)learned quite a few things but the really interesting bits are in the comments! From the use of -M to establish a “master” mode for connection sharing and how to use it, to some basic scripts to make it easier to use, to autossh (https://www.harding.motd.ca/autossh/), to a nice little script called (in the comments) ssh-fp.sh. I’ve adapted and adopted several for my own use and I recommend the article!

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Tailscale for your Docker containers!

At DockerCon, Tailscale announced and launched their Docker extension. What does this mean? You can put your containers on your Tailscale VPN! Yeah, that’s a BIG deal! The announcement is at https://tailscale.com/blog/docker/ and the instructions to install and use it are at https://tailscale.com/kb/1184/docker-desktop/. While the documentation only addresses Docker Desktop, https://docs.docker.com/desktop/extensions-sdk/dev/cli/build-test-install-extension/ gives instructions for installing extensions through the CLI, and downloads are at https://github.com/docker/extensions-sdk/releases/tag/v0.2.4, which is currently in beta.

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Those Linux apps on your Chromebook …

I mean the ones that appear in the launcher. There are files in your Linux container that specify the icon, the program to launch and a number of other things. Where are they located? Launch your terminal (or your favorite Linux file browser) and navigate to ~/.local/share/applications/ and/or /usr/share/applications/ and there you should find a number of files ending in .desktop. These are text files that contain the specifications for the applications that will be shown in the launcher (it is, in fact, a standard across Linux that is defined in https://specifications.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/desktop-entry-spec-latest.html). You can modify them, add, or delete them but I find it useful just to look through the files to see what’s executed and the other various parameters associated with launching an program by way of its icon.

Those Linux apps on your Chromebook … Read More »

Finally, a point-to-point VPN!

I’ve set up a VPN at home and, honestly, in my config, it’s a PAIN! I have 3 routers that need to have ports opened and then I need to make sure that certificates and passwords are all secure.

Then I found Tailscale.com! What a breath of fresh air. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Create an account on tailscale.com then install the tailscale service on the machine you want to be a part of the VPN and run it. The service connects to the tailscale server and it becomes an immediately available VPN target, complete with its own hostname (which you can change) and its VPN IP address. If you enable their “MagicDNS” in your settings then the hostnames all resolve to their VPN IP addresses (i.e. the hostname is first checked against the hostnames on the VPN before being checked against other DNS resolvers). Voila! No config, no ports to open, no firewall rules to manage! Now, when you’re away from home, you can get to your home server with confidence.

It’s free for a single hobby/personal user. There are a few restrictions as to how many subnets you have available but, honestly, if you’re a home user, the restrictions probably won’t bother you. It’s multi-platform with binaries for Android, MacOS, iOS, Windows, and Linux so you can connect just about anything you want. They’re on github at https://github.com/tailscale and a place to discuss it at https://forum.tailscale.com/. And, yes, you can use tailscale to act as a subnet router – https://tailscale.com/kb/1019/subnets/ – to get to those devices (e.g. printers) on which you can’t install tailscale.

Apologies for the delay between postings but I prefer to try the things before I post about them and tailscale took a while.

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IPTV? Yes – Television over the Internet

It dates back to the mid-90s.Yeah! And it’s still going today. All those “free” channels you can get on SelectTV and similar providers? Well, you can get them yourself, without anything other than an Internet connection and a video player. It’s a lot like streaming music or your favorite radio station. Does your local TV station have a “live” section where you can stream their current program? That’s likely done with IPTV. WABC in New York City? Hit https://content.uplynk.com/channel/ext/72750b711f704e4a94b5cfe6dc99f5e1/wabc_24x7_news.m3u8 and watch it, live and free. WGN in Chicago? http://trn03.tulix.tv/teleup-mBm5MQ50rA/playlist.m3u8. CNN International UK? https://cnn-cnninternational-1-gb.samsung.wurl.com/manifest/playlist.m3u8. And that’s not all – movies, weather, shopping (QVC, HSN). And, yes, there are program guides, too, so you can find out what’s on, when.

A good collection of information is at https://github.com/iptv-org/awesome-iptv#channel-data-sources and a pretty concise list of stations at https://github.com/iptv-org/iptv.

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Getting set up with Chrome OS

I’ve had chromebooks for quite a while but it’s only within the last year or so that I’ve thought it was ready to be my primary tool. My Acer Spin 713 has an 11th gen Intel i5 with 8GB RAM and 256GB disk and it’s quite fast and capable! I run a Debian Linux and have a number of Android apps installed. It’s my “daily driver” as some call it – the machine I reach for and use far more than any other. And I got it on sale for less than $500.

It can be a chore getting set up for the first time but I came across https://github.com/mikeroyal/Chrome-OS-Guide which has some good information to get set up. And if you’re interested in doing more than just getting set up, it has some useful info on expanding your Linux environment and preparing to develop. I recommend it.

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