Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Privacy Unions: an idea

August 7, 2013

I have been kicking this around for a few months now.  The idea is to use a federation of software that controls  what information is shared about a user  (Ad-block, No-Script, Firefox, Tor) in combination with some sort of higher level group or organization of people that sign up-and-in by installing the software package in their browser. Lets call this a “Privacy Union.”

In rough, hand-waving terms you could use this concept/software package to strike a deal between the union and one of the many corporate entities that are interested in mining your data. There could be levels of tiered access, so that if you give away more data you would get more from the company.

What could you get? What could you possibly demand from a Google? Well for one thing you could ask them for your profile. Yeah google, tell me what you’ve got on me. Show me the “me model.” This might actually be good for something like Google, especially if you enable some kind of interactivity where the user can edit the profile to express their actual interests.

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I have recently discovered that Mozilla Labs seems to be pursuing a project that would let users share specific interests with websites. http://goo.gl/b8XqKQ

This idea is in that same direction, except it would take back some of what is already shared by users instead of giving out more. Privacy unions could be a valve on the outflow of information about you, your habits, and interests. I suppose you could volunteer more information (similar to above) to sweeten the pot.

To start (as part of the install) you could use something like Vortex a gamified tool to scramble your information http://goo.gl/UWaqvH

You could also potentially add email aliasing to the mix. The union provides you with “unlimited” email aliases that you can use to sign up for different services, make purchases etc. So when emails come back to you via that alias you know who sold your information. (not sure exactly how to work this last part in)

Browsing history, search profiles, purchase history, contacts, posts, etc. This information, in aggregate, is worth a lot of money. And most people are giving it away for free.

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Awesome HTPC

May 13, 2009

I recently built an HTPC, media PC, media center, or what ever you want to call it. For a fairly low price I was able to put together a system that has been able to handle all my “under the TV” needs.
Around the holidays quite a few friends and family inevitably ask “What do you want for the holidays?” i.e. “What should I buy you?” This year I decided to put the parts list for my HTPC on Kaboodle and send the list around. Kaboodle works like your own personal wedding registry (replacing your spouse-to-be with that little voice that says “you NEED this”).

In coming up with the parts list I consulted several sites that specialize in media PC junk: We got served, HDTunerInfo, AVS forum, Channel8, and DesktopReview. The system I came up with actually ended up being fairly close to one that later won an award in some NewEgg competition.

AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz Socket AM2 45W Dual-Core Processor $60

ASUS M3A78-EM AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $65

Western Digital Caviar SE16  500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s  $60

CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) $35 w/ rebate

Antec New Solution Series NSK2480 Chassis $90 w/ free shipping (Splurge)

LG Black LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA Model $90

TV TUNER SILICONDUST|HDHOMERUN NET $135

VGA SAPPHIRE 100255L HD4670 512M RT $82

That comes to a grand total of $617. Some of the parts were not strictly necessary but I had the benefit of acquiring many of them as gifts. The ATI HD4670 was not needed since the ASUS had an onboard ATI card, but the performance gain is tremendous over an integrated card and I have since learned that I can connect FOUR monitors to the machine using ATI’s SurroundView (using both mobo and discrete ports). The Antec case ended up being a bit bigger than I had imagined (yes the dimensions were posted). I didn’t take into account the room required to connect a butt load of cables to the back. The HDHomeRun tuner has worked well. The only hiccup I have had with it so far is that I can’t record a show if my router is “taking a break.” This has only happened once and I think it is neat to be able to watch TV on any computer via the network (though I haven’t used this yet). The HDHomeRun also has good support and compatibility with several Linux distros. I really like the way this computer ended up. If you use an old case, and cut out the Blu-Ray and extra video card, the core build of this computer ends up being alot of bang for the buck.