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An Independence Isolate?

ScotEur flag

[This article is released and provided under a CC-BY-ND 4.0 license – re-publish it as you wish, but please give credit anywhere you post this :-) ; quoting excerpts is allowed, so long as you link back here, or include the full text in appendix]

Several prominent figures in Europe – if not the elected leaders themselves – have expressed support for welcoming an independent Scotland into the EU.

This brings me hope on the one hand of continued European identity and membership, but also gives me some dread as to how the political and national landscapes will transform in the very near future.

On the one hand, as a British-national, Scottish-dwelling, French-educated, Polish-named, multi-cultural, bilingual, Eastern-blooded individual, I welcome with delight these encouraging messages, and if we further hear from state leaders themselves their firm intentions of working to speedily include Scotland into the EU on the basis of our former ties and goodwill to all Europeans, then I would certainly vote Yes in a second Independence referendum.

I did however vote “No” in the first.

Back then, we did not have such warm or even active support from the EU council or leaders, and the discussion was framed in the light of “departure”, not unification.

An independent Scotland would need to be in some trade bloc, no matter how small or limited in scope, to ensure it could rely on the weight of supporting equals when facing larger rival allegiances. Be that the UK, the Nordic Council, or the EU, we do not have the negotiating power to strive fully alone, not least because as a country, we have never operated such without the additional power of the UK, nor much to offer that others cannot already provide.

If we do have the expressed support of the EU this time around however, the discussion would specifically be framed in the context of ensuring our coexistence in a larger union of countries – not a smaller one. We would be voting Yes to joining a larger venture, as opposed to voting No to a wholesale reduction of our prospects.

And this is where I am most concerned:

The far right movements of a number of countries across Europe – and a certain prominent American – have become emboldened by the UK’s decision to leave and “take back” their country. Such movements towards independence are expressed in isolationist terms – a mentality of “we fare better alone” – the very sentiment I voted No to myself in 2014.

I would urge, beyond my right and remit, that those other European countries seriously consider what is happening in Britain: the European Union needn’t be harsh to the United Kingdom during the upcoming negotiations at all, as the punishment still would be that it would be solely dealing with the United Kingdom of England and Wales alone, whilst the EU welcomes with satisfaction the arrival of a proud, and in pockets smug, independent Scotland; and perhaps too a Greater Ireland, at the cost of the no-longer so great Britain.

Splintering is an extremely hefty price for any country to pay.

So I’m looking at France, with its Basques, Bretons and Corsicans; at Spain, with its Basques, Catalonians, and Galicians; at Belgium, with its Flemmish and its Walloons; and all other EU countries with its independence-yearning nations – consider very carefully what you do next, and how you phrase your stances.

Strive to be part of something – and not a lone voice in a see of Others. We will always be different from one another, but we must always try to find common ground and camaraderie. Even being united in adversity is better than alone against the entire world.

And to those Basques, Bretons, Catalonians, Corsicans, Flemmish, Galicians, Walloons and the rest – you too need to think carefully how you navigate these murky waters, and hold to account those larger nations you are embedded in.

Scotland is receiving a good deal of heartfelt praise, but who knows how long this will last, and even how it will truly play out in the end. Even within our country here there are reports of increasingly overt xenonphobia where once it was merely latent. Nationalism is not a thing to handle lightly, and (for it to be productive and beneficial to all) should be called upon only to look outward at the world, as a goal to aspire to, not as a place to cut away from.

Above all, I would caution: we are better off with more friends and more allies — Independence should not be the standard-bearer of Isolationism.

[This article is released and provided under a CC-BY-ND 4.0 license – re-publish it as you wish, but please give credit anywhere you post this :-) ; quoting excerpts is allowed, so long as you link back here, or include the full text in appendix]

I Won’t Go Back to Buying Mac

mac_keyboard

Here’s a little topic I wanted to explore in written form – why I have used Mac for so long, why I still have a Mac as my main desktop…. and why despite this I won’t buy Mac again.

I Used to Love the Mac

My first computers were of course not mine – they were my dad’s. I have a vague recollection of us having a PC with 8” floppy drives and having to type commands… this was probably in 1987 or so. But that memory never really took hold, for very soon after, my dad bought a Mac: an LC II that I think is still in the cellar due to me insisting on not throwing it out.

It was graphical, it was friendly. It supported 16 colours (and not just 8 colours like many PCs still shipped with as standard). There was no command line, you could just click for everything. It was a revolution in home computing and we were on the cutting edge.

We were continually treated, with Macs, to the newest and greatest home technology: stable systems to run months without a single application crash (System 7.5.1 I particularly single out), advanced graphical UIs (Mac OS 9 was great comfort to the eye at the time), easily automated applications via AppleScript, including a fully scriptable Netscape Navigator; the first laptops and desktops with built-in Wifi, the first LCD desktops where the entire computer was hardly wider than the screen, the advent of UNIX-based systems on the home computer. Every Mac shipped with a full productivity suite included (what would become iWork), as well as a full media editing suite (photo editing, video sequencing, and audio production, which collectively would become iLife), and a couple of well-designed, full-on 3D games to boot. There was hardly anything you couldn’t do with a Mac I thought…. except perhaps write programs for Windows.

When the time came for me to go to university, I believed I would have to get a Windows PC to allow me to do some proper programming, not knowing that we’d be using many different and equally (even more so) viable systems for programming on. It was a mistake I do not regret, as it had great learning benefits to me, and gave me the ability to understand the Windows paradigm so many people endure, and the ability to operate in the average workplace; but after that laptop died (in a literal puff of smoke after an ill-fated attempt to “repair” it), I was back to buying a Mac in 2007.

Even in 2011 I was agonizing over whether or not to spend hard-earned cash on a new MacBook Pro or not. I drew up my list of pros and cons, and decided, over a solitary steak and pint, that yes, I did want that Mac after all.

It would be the last Mac I would ever personally buy.

The Mac – the good

The year is 2015. I still have that MacBook Pro. And it still serves as my main workhorse for spinning up Linux virtual machines. 4 years on, and it’s still the most powerful computer in my home.

It has a quad-core i7 hyper-threaded processor at 2.2 GHz, effectively¬† showing up as 8 cores – it’s the same processor family as found on entry-level business servers. I’ve upped the RAM to 16 GB. It has a 500 GB HDD.

Most computers even today ship with 4 GB RAM and a lesser i5 processor clocked at 1.7 GHz and not hyper-threaded, and still a 500 GB drive.

Needless to say, that Mac was a fantastic investment, as it remains still more powerful than an equivalently priced Windows PC on today’s market.

So why will I never buy Mac again? Put simply: Apple has chosen to go where I will not follow.

Apple – the Bad

Even back in 2011, the Apple Genius who was trying to sell to me was extolling the benefits of the new MacBooks with no CD/DVD drive: “who uses CDs these days anyway?” Well I do, for one. I experiment with computing, and in doing so sometimes break my systems. I need to reinstall the system sometimes. The one time I needed to reinstall OSX, I had to purchase a brand new copy. Gone are the days of providing a free re-installation DVD. These days, you’re lucky if you can connect anything at all.

I don’t tie up my bandwidth with movies and music I have to wait for and download, online, every time I want to consume them. I still buy DVDs and CDs because, in case you haven’t noticed, online “purchase” does not allow you to own a copy – just the license to watch, if it’s still available on the provider’s website (remember mycokemusic.com?). We do not own “our” online movies and music – only the permission to watch them, which can be revoked at any time – with no refunds.

I have become a near-full Linux convert. I use Linux for my personal machines at work, my secondary and tertiary laptops run Linux, and my private cloud servers all run Linux.

Only my Mac doesn’t run Linux, and that only because when I tried to install Linux on it, the graphics card and wireless card decided to throw a hissy fit. Apple’s choice of highly-proprietary components meant that despite the best efforts of open source developers, Apple held on closely to the proprietary mantra: the machine is Ours, you only have a license to use it. You can’t even “own” something as rustic as a tractor these days.

I feel I am not in control of my Mac because I have been told what I can and cannot run on it. I own the machine, but not the software. If it breaks, I just get to keep the pieces – not the ability to tweak and fix.

My hardware today

My preferred computer for “getting things done” nowadays, the one I am currently typing away on, is a Lenovo Flex 15. Lenovo do very good hardware, its pro line, the ThinkPads, are durable business machines much like the MacBook Pros in quality.

They’re also generally highly compatible with open source drivers and mainstream Linux distributions. Where I’d hesitate before buying a Dell or HP laptop as to whether I think Linux will work on them, I have virtually no qualms when buying a Lenovo laptop, knowing it will likely take the erasure of Windows just fine. Not that this necessarily won’t change in the future.

Open Source – Freedom and Privacy

Lenovo was in the news recently for a piece of advertising software called Superfish they had included in new laptops and desktops for a few months in their Windows deployments. This particular set of software and configurations meant that not only were users seeing even more advertising in the web browsing experience, but implementing the advertising solution was also breaking the very core security mechanisms that keep all other parts of the system secure. Lenovo makes great hardware, but they aren’t immune to woefully bad decisions.

Thankfully, they reverted their decision to include this software as soon as their technical analysts realized what had happened, and issued fixes, but it has damaged the company’s reputation.

Persons like myself who chose to erase Windows completely were not affected.

This is why I use Open Source Free Software: to maintain control over my own digital assets, and freedom in my digital life. I am fully aware that my digital identity is tightly woven into my real-world identity, whether I want it to be or not.

I now run Linux on nearly everything – more specifically, I run Ubuntu on my laptops, and a mix of Ubuntu and CentOS on my servers.

I can choose what software is on it. I can choose what software is not on it (have you not yet noticed how there is some software on Windows that you cannot get rid of for neither love nor money… pestering you for upgrades at best, selling you out at worst). I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it either.

What’s more, I remain in control of my data. Not only on my computer, but also in the Cloud. Windows will try to shove you onto SkyDrive and Office 365 Online. Apple is shoe-horning you into iCloud services (yeah, sync your photos all over the place, you can trust Apple… hmmm)… Google is trying to get into both spaces of storing all your photos “for” you and getting up in the online office suite as well. You can’t get an offline Adobe Creative Suite anymore – just keep up the eternal payments if you want to continue being able to access your Photoshop and Illustrator projects. At least they didn’t discontinue their editing suite altogther like Apple did with Aperture. Gone is your investment.

If I ever stopped paying once for any of these applications or services, or if the service is suddenly discontinued, I would stand to lose all my data – everything I’ve purchased, everything I’ve created, either because I no longer have the software to read the files, or because the files themselves have been whisked away to an online vault “for my convenience”. That’s why there’s hardly any storage on Chromebooks. Surrender your data to the Cloud.

I am staying firmly on Linux and virtual private servers that I control and can pull data off of as I wish. I can fully program the computer to make it do what I want – and stop if from doing things I don’t want it to do (granted, some tasks are easier than others, but at least it’s actually possible in the first place.)

One Linux distribution in particular, Ubuntu (the very same I use!), tried to follow the Big Boys like Apple, Google and Microsoft: Canonical announced a partnership with Amazon in the form of search functionality, where any keywords used for a file search was also sent to Amazon, and other online providers. Thankfully, it was easy to purge from the system the minute I heard of it. You cannot defenestrate such “features” with the other Big Three.

Building Trust

I use open source software from centralized trusted software repositories (which were the spiritual precursors to app stores) – I don’t need to hunt around on the Internet to find some software whose source I do not know. On Windows, I constantly need to fret before installing an app: Does it have a virus? Does it have a trojan? Will it send all my purchasing, credit card details, photos and other identity to some unknown third party?

What I get from the centralized repositories constitutes my base web of trust –¬† and that base web offers a collection of software so large and varied that I know I can get a tool for any job, be it office, media, programming, scientific or leisure, and more.

No piracy = no legal troubles AND no viruses.

Or at least, a vastly reduced risk compared to downloading anything willy-nilly from random websites. And personally, I expand that web of trust with informed decisions.

I use LibreOffice which allows me to read and save in Microsoft’s document format if I need to, but I mainly use the Open Document Format to ensure I can still edit them in decades to come, and that I can share documents with anybody who does not want to shell out for Office Pro, Office 365 or GoogleDocs.

I use ownCloud for my file synchronization so that I can keep control over what is stored, and where. It replaces services such as DropBox, Google Drive, Sky Drive and iCloud without trying to force me to store online-only and forgo local copies. If my account is terminated on the latter services, there’s no guarantee I’ll also still have the data that it ran away with. ownCloud is in my control, and I know I have the copies locally too.

I use Krita and the GNU Image Manipulator instead of PhotoShop, InkScape instead of Illustrator, Scribus instead of InDesign, digiKam instead of Lightroom. I don’t need to be online to do any of this.

I choose freedom.

In the words of Richard Stallman and the Free Software movement: “Free Software is is a matter of Freedom, not price.

Piracy might make things surreptitiously free (as in “a free lunch”), but still ties you to the control systems and spyware that is rife on the Internet.

Apple, like so many other computer manufacturers and software licensors, has taken a route I cannot go down, one I will not follow. It has taken a route that specifically makes it difficult for me to remain free. It has taken a route that stifles experimentation and learning. It has taken a route that privileges perpetually tying-in my spending on one side, as well as the monetization of my identity on the other, whilst at the same time denying me ownership both of what I purchase and what I create, and where the only solutions are either piracy… or just leaving altogether.

forget-piracy(… graphic of my creation, released under CC 4.0 Attribution Share-Alike. Anyone who wants to make a better derivative is most welcome…!!)

About that: Thalys’s response to All out

Thalys, a French national train operator, suffered recently from a backlash from an All Out campaign after a member of Thalys’s partner staff reprimanded a lesbian couple for kissing on the platform , denouncing the activity as “intolerable.”

Thalys yesterday released a French language press release, which I have opted to translate below.

Please note that this translation has not been performed from a professional standpoint, and that only Thalys’s original official press release is relevant for further quoting.

Read more

What Cameron Doesn’t Realize: Encryption Keeps Us SAFER

To Mr David Cameron, Prime Minister and person responsible for our (lack of) safety.

This is war – and you know it. A defensive war against those who would, and do, assail us. War against those who seek to undermine our values. War against those who attack us, day after day, relentlessly, on our streets and in our homes.

And amidst this ongoing conflict, you would have us break down the walls of the only fortress protecting us so as to better see our enemies charging.

You call for the private encryption of our personal messages to be undermined, and even qualify it as thoroughly undesirable – for the purpose, you say, of facilitated public protection, and the promise of a safer Britain. It will be none such, but the contrary, should your stance prevail.

The rogues who attacked Charlie Hebdo, the London buses and 9/11 were all already known to Intelligence. You have more means than the mere electronic surveillance of their messages. You are the govenrment. You can access airport records at will. You have CCTV on every major street and transport link. You intercept physical mail. You can bug our hardware. You impose police checks and searches anywhere and anywhen. You monitor bank transfers. You have the legal mandate to pry open or seize property of any private enterprise, and through international agreements, the power to reach even overseas.

I do not doubt that a government can carry out surveillance, nor that it will. Even non-governmental groups can crack highly secure networks, given sufficient determination. Just ask any computer security expert – the first thing they ever teach us is that no system is 100% “unhackable”.

Were I sufficiently deluded I would demand that you stop such mass trawling. But I see no point in such advocacy on my behalf. It will happen whether I wish it or not, with my knowledge or without. For the government to demand that private communications cease to exist outright, in reality, makes it marginally easier for your intelligence services to reap information.

However it makes an unfathomable differece to any others who would (and already try to) get control of us or those we hold dear, whilst driving the poster-criminals away from surveillance’s reach.

You say you want to better monitor terrorists and violent criminals. Would the most dangerous use your government-sanctioned communication tools to operate? No – they would simply switch to other channels of communication and “go dark” once more. Years of your agencies’ efforts to best mine the Internet and otherwise secure communications would surely go to waste – for none but the most incapable “terrorists” would be there anymore, and your agencies will have to play catch up in an entirely new arena. It is astounding that they are there at all, which in fact is a benefit to you.

In the mean time, the rest of us will be fed to the wolves.

In reality, encryption has never protected us from government spying. It has only ever protected us from non-government spying.

The holes already opened up by GCHQ and the NSA (and other lower-profile national security agencies) are already letting in criminal hackers – known in the trade as “crackers.” Computer systems will always have issues, as every computer scientist, engineer and technician knows from day one. We work hard to plug them as soon as we – or others – find them. And yet you bore more holes behind our backs.

The attacks on Sony and the leaks of celebrity photos from Apple demonstrate how easily compromised computer systems can be, even when dutifully guarded.

With mass policy of non-encryption, we open ourselves to ills no government could guard against, no matter how otherwise benevolent it were.

We already have open networks in the form of free Wireless in airports, hotels and cafes, ready to testify to the dangerous absurdity of not encrypting one’s communications. Any computer enthusiast with a modicum of technological education and a standard laptop can snoop the details of anything unencrypted. One needn’t even look underground or seek to circumvent anything for such tools: this is what was shown with the FireSheep debacle that proved that websites badly needed encryption – not to save us from the government, but from simply unscrupulous other network users.

Our devices connect automatically to these networks because we let them: rather than have to remember passwords and type them in conscientiously. We are all ripe for picking. And anyone can setup a network to trick our devices. Making better technology will not solve our desire for convenience, and crackers will always be ahead of the game – it’s what makes them such formidable foes.

Cracks employed by News of the World were already unsophisticated, but without the safeguards and encryptions there would be no need for them – all our communications would be laid bare to anyone who so much as desired to listen in.

Who would be listening? Crooks out for a quick buck perhaps. Set up a little device and listen in to rich investors’ casual discussions face to face or over some “pravate” chatting channel. At the club house, or in a restaurant, or in a hotel bar or elsewhere the likes… Some people wonder how crackers get information on certain transactions… It’s easier than Hollywood lets on…

Who else would be listening? Oh nobody but insurers and marketers, eager to have the first word in negotiations. They know who’s depressive and who’s terminally ill. Up the premiums. And crooks too. They’ll know who’s bought the latest PC, which model from which store. Let’s call them and impersonate a Customer Service representative to con them.

Who else would be listening? Only the local thugs who know how to use the government tapping loopholes to get onto some family’s network – cause their bills to skyrocket by hacking their smart energy metres, cause their fridges to turn off over holidays and everything to spoil, overheat ill-secured sensors and cause fire even as they sleep, browse private files to dig up dirt, monitor their childrens’ movements… and hold the home owner to ransom.

Lovely house and family they had there…. pity if anything were to happen to it.

Who else would be listening? Not to sound alarmist, an an open, unencrypted network would be a boon for predatory paedophiles and other sex offenders who could operate all the more efficiently. For every one paedophile who would no longer be sharing vile pictures through the Internet, a thousand more could spy on any one family out and about one sunny afternoon. Photos of our children shared with our loved ones would be available for anyone to intercept and recorgnize (see how quickly the Chinese “human flesh search engine” can identify a person from casual shots). Our daily habits and patterns would be open to anyone to see, analyze and mine. The kids get home at this time. The parents get back at that time. The parents are out to dinner on Tuesday evening. Interesting information on that couple we spied on in the cafe last Sunday. And if the paedophiles were the ones supplying the laptops and phones… what then? (Yes, we’ve already seen something like this happen.)

Who else would be listening? Maybe the disgruntled neighbour. Maybe the local bullies. Maybe some sect that really has it in for you. Maybe some ill-advised political activist hell-bent on attacking a candidate and any of their supporters.

Mr Cameron, I can’t comment on the rest of your political decisions. I disagree with your policies, but I am not an expert in any of those matters. I don’t like what you’ve done to welfare, I don’t like the Conservatives’ privatization of what I believe to be national infrastructure such as the NHS, I don’t like your government’s stance on immigration, nor how they are undermining education, and I am disappointed that I feel my vote to stay with the Union this past November seems to have come back to bite me. And so forth. Frankly I have not educated myself enough in those areas to properly comment on them. Suffice to say I disagree, and will need to leave it at that.

But I am competent in computing, as can be anybody studious enough. You seem to think cracking is only the capability of those grimly determined – but it is at the grasp of even the most puerile of pranksters. All you have shown is that you persist in ignorance and lack of judgement, from a stance of power and authority – a very dangerous combination.

You would feed us to the wolves to gauge just how hungry they were; and take a cannon your own castle out of spite.

Read more:

[1] Cameron wants nobody to have privacy. http://readwrite.com/2015/01/13/david-cameron-encryption-messaging-apps-imessage-whatsapp-snapchat

[2] Encryption makes us safer. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2010/10/25/firesheep-why-you-may-never-want-to-use-an-open-wi-fi-network-again/

[3] The surveillance state made corporate (and private) espionage worse. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/nsa-said-to-have-used-heartbleed-bug-exposing-consumers.html

[4] Letting companies have a know about their users tends to backfire. http://theweek.com/articles/441995/uber-growing-threat-corporate-surveillance

[5] There are people you trust spying on your children in their own bedrooms. http://www.macworld.com/article/1146666/macbook_spycam.html

[6] Why privacy matters. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20130818120421175

Protect your privacy and freedom

EFF.org

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/

Technical Support as a Career

“I work in technical support” is probably one of the less impressive admissions at a sociable meetup, and to be fair, it’s not ever been glamourous, nor will it ever be. The most admiration you’ll probably get is “Oh wow; hey I have this computer problem actually, you see it …. (badly summarized problem in absence of broken thing…) … do you think it’s a virus?”

However it is a viable career (with its admitted share of dead ends), with training on offer in the right companies, and plenty of potential for exposure to the core of businesses and some Real Computing (TM).

The following is a quick profile description of the most common configurations, if you were ever curious, or looking to move into IT – and one or two profiles to avoid as much as you can. Read more

About that: Is TAILS an essential distro or just an added tinfoil hat?

A tech blogger put up a piece I came across on Tux Machines, asking whether TAILS, a security-oriented Linux distro designed to afford the user anonymity, was just another tinfoil hat for the over-imaginative conspiracy theorists.

It was stronger than me to let this be, as I believe that TAILS is actually very legitimately useful to certain people and professions – namely journalists, students and activists – and that the article was likely to gain page views over time. Below is my own answer.

Original article is http://openbytes.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/tails-an-essential-distro-or-an-accessory-to-compliment-a-tin-foil-hat-for-the-average-user/

For the TLDR – TAILS is not aimed at the average home user, but at non-technical users who actually do need to take their online safety into serious consideration.

…. it’s a bit of a straw man attack …

The real question is – where is the merit in deriding the approach and considerations TAILS addresses?

Read more

Call it “Open Source Free Software”

Freedom and Open Fields

I ranted previously about my annoyance at the name “Free Software,” wherein the name is too easily misconstrued to mean freebie (but still proprietary) software like Dropbox, or the Yahoo toolbar. Further thinking about the naming issue, I ended up deciding to call it “Open Source Free Software” instead.

There are two adjective groups in the name: “Open Source” and “Free”, with the latter being interpretable in two ways: freedom and freebie.

Due to the way adjectives apply in English, “Free [Open Source Software]” sounds like it is in opposition to a futile notion of “Proprietary Open Source Software.” More popularly, with the emphasis on “Free”, we end up with the same issue of looking like we could be talking about sketchy downloads.

“Open Source [Free Software]” on the other hand moves the emphasis to the openness, and is in opposition only to “closed source proprietary software,” since “closed source libre software” makes no sense. Even if the listener misunderstands “Free,” they can still understand that it is open to tinkering – which is the freedom we want anyhow.

Open Source
Free(dom) code is open, software promotes user freedom
Free(bies) code is open but copyrighted – we can study it to make a Free(dom) version

Thus we focus on openness as a vehicle for software freedom, instead of leaving potentially damaging emphasis on an ambiguous word.

Varying “Free” on its interpretation against openness/closedness, we get:

Open Source Closed source
Free(dom) code is open, software promotes user freedom Makes no sense
Free(bies) code is open but copyrighted – we can study it to make a Free(dom) version code is closed and copyrighted – the kind of software the FSF are against

There is still a question about whether to include blobs or not in the open source project, since doing so would disqualify it from being Free. This would still have been discussed anyhow however.

The point is, emphasising openness more easily leads to a discussion on freedom. Emphasising “Free-ness” just makes people shy away – not because of the implications of “freedom” but because of the warning flags around “freebies.”

The Kingdom of Prosol and the Village of Fresol

A little allegorical tale about Proprietary, Free and Open Source :-)

If you’re looking for a tale to introduce the concept of freedom of software to younger generations, or people who just “don’t get computers,” take this one and run (with) it :-)

I’ve tried to maintain as many parallels as possible to the story of Free Software, for the fun of it, but also to be able to enable points of discussion. I’ve deliberately kept to generic characters and actions so as to remain general, and allowing anyone else to build upon the story. On that note…

Unlike a bard of olde, I have at my disposal two extra tools: the Internet, and Copyright Law. Regarding the latter:

I release this text under the Creative Commons License 4.0 Attribution-ShareAlike

You may copy, adapt and redistribute the work, even commercially, PROVIDED you grant this same license to the derivative work.

You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

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About that: Cracking down on sites like Ask.fm

A petition landed in my inbox today: “Shut down cyberbullying website, Ask.fm, in memory of Izzy Dix & 12 other teens globally

This is, alas, another misunderstanding of how websites work, but most importantly how social interactions, in general, work. I’m not saying that anyone is at moral fault in these cases; what I am concerned about is that the petition spreads the idea that any one site should be targeted for crackdown. Politicians can jump at this easily, scapegoat easily, and look like progress is being made. This is shortsighted, and ultimately leads us to rest on laurels until the next, identical, scandal arises.

(TLDR:) In brief, it’s not a crackdown on websites we need, but action on a large scale. We must be in control of the message that society projects to young people, the message must be on every wall a young person will see, and the message must be:

If you are a victim of BULLYING, it is never your fault, and you must always SPEAK UP immediately.

Read more for details. Read more