The Rabalder Blog

A blog about society, technology, internet, surveillance and other grievances. In this section I mostly write in Norwegian, but english posts can be found below.
The Rabalder Blog

Things that don't need javascript

The web browsers support for Javascript allows web developers to embed small (or large) programs into their websites. This can of course be a good thing that enhances the user interaction for the site, but over the past decade we have seen that Javascript has been used to replace existing functionality in the web browser.

Moreover the number of websites that require that you download and run these javascript programs to even function is growing. This is not a good thing.

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Are we up for anonymity?

The Berliner Gazette explores the negative stigma around anonymity, and asks what this means for a free press and privacy.

The dominant narrative of anonymity, as portrayed in popular media, is an unflattering one and its usage is associated with trolling, seedy transactions, harassment and terrorism. The conventional wisdom seems to be that online anonymity protects criminals and enables the hateful and toxic side of human nature. Such a negative reputation undermines an important practice with many legitimate uses. Anonymity can also offer vital protection to those who need it most.

Read the full article.

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Setting up Let's Encrypt with Ruby on Rails and FreeBSD

Let’s Encrypt logo.

I’ve been following Let’s Encrypt for a while, and the idea is as simple as it’s brilliant! Make it so easy to add a encryption to your webserver setup that there’s really no reson not to. Traditionally this has been both a cumbersome and potentially expensive investment. At least for smaller stuff like your average blog or community web site getting a certificate and setting it all up has been a hassle.

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Eagles of Death Metal back on stage in Paris

I can’t express how much respect these guys deserve for being back on stage in Paris less than a month after the horrible tragedy they and their fans had to endure. This is the way to fight terrorism! To stand up unafraid and show that we won’t let terrorists or powerhungry politicians dictate how we live our lives. Contrast this to the response by politicians both in France and the rest of europe calling for more violence, more oppression, and more propaganda to fuel fear and hate.

Rock’n’roll shows the way forward!

Respect dudes! Respect!

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Kalandra

Kalandra - Onto the fire

I discovered this wonderful band while attending the Fjell og Ord (Mountains and Words) festival at Finse 1222 this last weekend of september. Finse is located at the topmost point on the railway between Bergen and Oslo, and is an excellent base for walking in one of the most beautiful but harsh areas of the Norwegian mountains.

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Stop using noreply-addresses!

Ban noreply addresses!

Noreply-addresses are way to common in my inbox these days. These are usually emails from some company, a website or an automated system that wants to notify me about something. Sometimes it is notifications I want, sometimes not. The source of the email is for the most part irrelevant, the important thing is: I should be able to reply to any email!

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The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack

From The Intercept:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

This is one leak we could live without. I agree it’s important to expose lacking privacy/security in sites that claims more than they can deliver. Especially when charging for something that clearly has not been done. However, exposing private information about ordinary people is not the way to do this.

This is just moralistic self righteusness in a digital equivalent to the inquisition. I’m not impressed.

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GCHQ and me

A really great read from Duncan Campbell, the investigative reporter who exposed the Echelon program in 1988.

In my 40 years of reporting on mass surveillance, I have been raided three times; jailed once; had television programs I made or assisted making banned from airing under government pressure five times; seen tapes seized; faced being shoved out of a helicopter; had my phone tapped for at least a decade; and — with this arrest — been lined up to face up to 30 years imprisonment for alleged violations of secrecy laws. And why do I keep going? Because from the beginning, my investigations revealed a once-unimaginable scope of governmental surveillance, collusion, and concealment by the British and U.S. governments — practices that were always as much about domestic spying during times of peace as they were about keeping citizens safe from supposed foreign enemies, thus giving the British government the potential power to become, as our source that night had put it, a virtual “police state.”

Read the full article over at The Intercept.

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Some webcomics

Just the way the web has made distribution easier for independent musician, the same has happened for comics. I see a lot of fresh and interesting comics on the web these days, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites at the moment.

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The stench of corruption

From an article in the Intercept:

Senators, generals, ambassadors, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the owner of The Atlantic were in the roster of powerful voices who wrote to a federal judge to ask him to go easy on former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who admitted to giving classified information to his mistress and biographer.

There is a stark and terrible contrast between how people already in power is treated compared to the whistleblowers that does not have these powerful connections. Read the full article.

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How big is "Hello, world?"

Rust

I accidentally got an extra day off from work, so then I figured I could have a go at some initial dabblings in Rust. I haven’t had time to play with this language at all yet, but skimming through the tutorial online a while ago got me interested. So off I went and wrote the mandatory intro-program: “Hello, world!”

fn main() {
    println!("Hello, world!");
}
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A quick script to import data from my bank to GnuCash

Here’s a quick awk script I did to convert the bank statements from my bank to a format recognizable by GnuCash:

# A simple filter to mould the csv from nordea into
# something that can be swallowed by gnucash.

BEGIN {
    FS = ";";
    RS = "\n";
    OFS = ";";
    ORS = "\n";

    # Regex for matching a date
    DATE = /^[0-9]{4}\.[0-9]{2}\.[0-9]{2}$/;
}

# Only lines starting with a date should be printed
$2 ~ DATE {
    # Strip negative sign from withdraw column
    withdraw = gensub(/\-/, "", "g", $8);
    print $2,$4,$6,withdraw,$10;
}

It could probably be shorter. I could drop setting the RS/ORS, but I like to be explicit. In addition to fixing the polarity of the withdrawals column it strips away all the lines that don’t contain any transactions. I don’t need them, and this saves me from having to do it manually in GnuCash.

Not anything revolutionary, but thought I’d share it anyways.

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190 fascists marching in Oslo

Fascism is rearing it’s ugly head again. We need to crush it! (Illustration from here.)

A group trying to bring the PEGIDA crap to Oslo held it’s first march tonight. They managed to drum up 190 supporters, among them well-known figures from the 80’s and 90’s neo-nazi scene, as well as more recently active figures from the more recent anti-islam movement.

Far from overwhelming numbers, but by Norwegian standards it’s more than any of the other movements has been able to gather for a very long time. Let’s hope it is the last time we’ll have to endure such scum in our streets!

On the other hand, the counter demo counted some 500 people.

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Popcorn Time

The Popcorn Time mascot

Lately I’ve been trying out Popcorn Time. I know it’s hardly news anymore, but I’m one of those who like to pay for the movies I watch, so I’ve been looking a bit around for what alternatives I have. So far, given my prefered platforms and a requirement that the solution needs to be playable using Free and Open Source software, I’ve really only had one choice: Vimeo.