Category Archives: e-life

blogposts op over leven met en op internet (niet technisch)

Stephen Fry off the grid (but on Autoptimize)

Stephen Fry wrote an insightful critique about the what the web was and what it has become:

The real internet [as opposed to AOL] was that Wild West where anything went, shit in the streets and Bad Men abounding, no road-signs and no law, but ideas were freely exchanged, the view wasn’t ruined by advertising billboards and every moment was very very exciting.


I and millions of other early ‘netizens’ as we embarrassingly called ourselves, joined an online world that seemed to offer an alternative human space, to welcome in a friendly way (the word netiquette was used) all kinds of people with all kinds of views. We were outside the world of power and control. Politicians, advertisers, broadcasters, media moguls, corporates and journalists had absolutely zero understanding of the net and zero belief that it mattered. So we felt like an alternative culture; we were outsiders.

Those very politicians, advertisers, media moguls, corporates and journalists who thought the internet a passing fad have moved in and grabbed the land. They have all the reach, scope, power and ‘social bandwidth’ there is. Everyone else is squeezed out — given little hutches, plastic megaphones and a pretence of autonomy and connectivity. No wonder so many have become so rude, resentful, threatening and unkind. […]

The radical alternative now must be to jack out of the matrix, to go off the grid. […]

I live in a world without Facebook, and now without Twitter. I manage to survive too without Kiki, Snapchat, Viber, Telegram, Signal and the rest of them. I haven’t yet learned to cope without iMessage and SMS. I haven’t yet turned my back on email and the Cloud. I haven’t yet jacked out of the matrix and gone off the grid. Maybe I will pluck up the courage. After you …

While not off the grid yet, Stephen Fry blogs on WordPress and his blog uses my own little Autoptimize plugin. Let that be my proudest boast of the day. Sorry Stephen …

If it looks like a duck; ditching Google Search (again)

Let’s apply the duck-test to Google;

  1. They’re changing their privacy policy without offering users a true opt-out
  2. They severely limited access for Scroogle, the Google-scraper for privacy-nuts, to the point where it is effectively out of service (although apparently Google isn’t the only one to blame)
  3. They have been caught with their hands in your cookie jar, not only bypassing user’s cookie preferences in Safari but also in Internet Explorer

So if Google looks, swims and quacks like it doesn’t care about user privacy, it must be that it … doesn’t care about user privacy.

I on the other hand do care about my privacy, so I decided to put even less eggs in Google’s basket: I’ve switched my search-engine to, which is operated by a Dutch company (i.e. one which has to comply with stricter European privacy laws) and which guarantees privacy while being powered by Google.

Startpage’s only downside: they are blocked by our company internet-filter because they provide proxy-services, so as an alternative I also use the less powerful DuckDuckGo (I changed keyword.url in Firefox’ about:config to “”). And a nice bonus; DuckDuckGo also has a nice Android-app, which I have installed to replace Google Search on my Sammy SII as well.

Tomorrow’s anti-ACTA protests and beyond

Opposition to ACTA is to take to the European streets tomorrow, with protests planned in over 100 cities. But the mob that are the internet-proles  isn’t alone in objecting to ACTA. Here’s a non-exhaustive overview of the point of view of some organisations that will be, in the next few months leading up to the vote in the European Parliament, important parts of the broad anti-ACTA coalition:

If you want to join the anti-ACTA movement (you should), here’s what you can do:

Act up against ACTA

The European Parliament will soon vote on ACTA, an international trade agreement that might have a huge impact on the internet as we know it. The YouTube video below explains some of the ramifications (in a propaganda-esque kind of way, but still) and this Wikipedia-article provides some more objective information and contains links to -a lot- more detailed reviews and criticisms.

The bottom-line: if you’re European and you were supporting the great anti-SOPA-protests in the U.S., this is the time to act yourself! Spread the word and sign one or more of these petitions against ACTA:

The video:

Say NO to ACTA
Watch this video on YouTube.

Out with Google Plus, in with Yammer

I’m not a social network expert by any measure, but it seems to become clear that although the initial enthusiasm among the geek-crowd was big,  Google Plus isn’t cutting it in the real world. I don’t have a Plus-tab open in my browser any more and when I do go Plus, there isn’t a lot going on in my circles which I want to participate in.

Compare that to the way Yammer took off at the company I work for; in less than a months time 800+ colleagues (out of approx. 1500 employees) joined and we’re getting to know new colleagues, discussing more or less work-related topics (1500+ messages) in the open or in multiple interest-specific groups (15 at this moment). Good times!

I don’t know how Yammer is doing in other companies in Belgium (and Europe by extension), but to me is seems that Yammer succeeds where Google Plus is failing; bringing together a group of people (in a more or less “private” environment) that share a common context but who didn’t share a social network before and allowing them to engage and to create engagement.

Google Plus might be neat from a technology & privacy point of view, but it essentially was (and still is, I guess) a “me too” exercise, trying to occupy a market that has already very successfully been taken by Facebook & Twitter. And yes, Yammer does have an API.

Blij met oude brol en een toetsenbord

Aangezien ook dit jaar blijkbaar enkel de brave kindjes speelgoed van Sinterklaas kregen, heb ik mezelf afgelopen weekend dan maar een cadeautje gekocht; een n135 netbook van Samsung. Een beetje tegen de tablet-stroom in, ik weet het, maar ik ben zo tekst-georiënteerd. Geef mij een toetsenbord en ge hoort mij niet meer. En dan is er de kwestie van de prijs natuurlijk. Een 5 maand oud netbookje voor nog geen 200 Euro (met dank aan, daar hebt ge niet veel tablet voor, toch?

Soit, zondagnamiddag thuisgekomen pakte ik blij verrast mijn cadeautje uit om dan 5 minuten schaapachtig naar Windows 7 Starter te kijken. 2 minuten hadden kunnen volstaan, maar Windows 7 op een netbook, echt snel is dat toch niet. Maar zo wist ik dat ik Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition met een gerust hart kon installeren, die Windows zou ik niet missen. Over die installatie valt weinig spannends te vertellen, behalve misschien dat ik een beetje heb getwijfeld over de partitionering van de harde schijf. Uiteindelijk heb ik sda1 en sda2 laten staan, dat lijken de recovery-partities van Samsung (met oa de Windows 7 installatie-bestanden). Voor de rest: smooth sailing!

En op die manier zit ik nu op de trein met m’n netbookje (6 uur autonomie, geen schrik van vertragingen); stukje bloggen, m’n presentatie over website-performantie bijwerken, een eerste versie van een nieuwe WordPress-plugin (DoNotTrack) tweaken … Straks nog een mailtje naar Sinterklaas, beloven dat ik braaf zal zijn en of ik in Juli dan een HTC Desire Z (met toetsenbord) krijg.

Waarom Wikileaks uw steun nodig heeft

Wikileaks, de klokkenluider-site van Julian Assange, ligt zwaar onder vuur van enkele machtige regeringen, van al dan niet door geheime diensten gedirigeerde DDOS-aanvallen en van grote bedrijven als Amazon, EveryDNS en Paypal die al dan niet onder druk van de Amerikaanse regering hun diensten aan Wikileaks weigeren.


  • Wikileaks al enkele bijzonder vuile zaakjes aan het licht bracht
  • meer algemeen klokkenluiders een belangrijke rol hebben in het “accountable” houden van elke organisatie (en dus ook regeringen)
  • de rechtstreekse en onrechtstreekse pogingen tot censuur van Wikileaks één van de grootste bedreigingen voor onafhankelijke journalistiek en vrije meningsuiting op het web zijn

… daarom ben ik ervan overtuigd dat Wikileaks gesteund moet worden.

Wat ge kunt doen? Wikileaks financieel steunen, een mirror opzetten en Wikileaks liken op Facebook of followen op Twitter.  En hou uw vrienden en volgelingen vooral op de hoogte van de ontwikkelingen in deze onfrisse cyber-spionage zaak, want “The whole world is watching” is nog steeds een krachtig drukkingsmiddel!

Een paar interessante links voor wie meer wilt lezen: