Tik Tok's Fingerprinting Methods

What a thread! Matthias Eberl has detailed all of the ingenious methods that Tik Tok is using to identify users of the service, from generating unique images and audio based on available features, to piggy backing on Akamai's fingerprinting tech.

Flatpak to Enable Paid and Authenticated Applications

Michael Larabel:

On the protected applications / download authentication support, it goes with what was announced earlier this month at the Linux App Summit 2019 around the GNOME Foundation backing a "pay what you like" model for Flathub where users could donate to the software projects. The GNOME Foundation would be the legal entity behind this donation-based app store. Publishers could set suggested donation amounts and potentially a minimum donation amount in the future.

Great addition. Helps incentivize developers to create open-source software, Gnome is a trustworthy organization to facilitate payments and there's the option for free (as in beer) software to remain just that, which is important for citizens of the “Global South” to have access to high quality software. Seems like a win all-around.

Safari Broke Transforms on iOS 13

I came across this post from Chris Coyier today, effectively showing how some changes in Safari on iOS 13 have changed some styling behaviour to behave unexpectedly. First, unprefixed styles (i.e., transform vs. -webkit-transform) should not change their behaviour. No developer would ever expect that standard to change without some kind of indication or spec change.

So, I'd echo Chrisʼ final word:

I'd like to raise my hand for un-breaking this. If we don't watchdog for the web, everything will suffer.

Please Safari team, help us out. And, if youʼre listening to random pleas across the Internet, then could you consider opening up a bit more about how you are integrating new/proposed web standards?

RotPunkt

A full-length climbing documentary following Alex Megos on his career and first ascent of Perfecto Mundo, released for free on YouTube for free by Patagonia. If you're into hard climbing or watching people push the envelope of human capability, then this is 100% recommended watching.

November 14, 2019

A Quick BSD Update

BSD has been a bit of a trip. It's a bit backwards, in that you're meant to install first, then check if everything works. Maybe this behaviour is just a convention, but most BSDs I've tried follow that pattern. With the exception of more recent projects, like NomadBSD, GhostBSD and FuryBSD.

So many things are exactly as I would expect as a Linux and MacOS user, but so many things are different. No judgement there either, it's not terrible or difficult, it just requires more research on my part.

For instance, when I booted up NomadBSD on a little thumb drive attached to my ThinkPad, the wireless wouldn't resolve. I could probe the hardware, so I just needed to set it up and authenticate on my network using wpa_suplicant. But FreeBSD doesn't use systemd, so that's another rabbit whole I needed to jump down.

I'll continue to plug away at it, perhaps not as publicly until I get a system I'm happy using. It's fun but like most things, it's taking longer than I expected.

Third Party

Jeremy Keith:

I’d love to see the rejection of third-party JavaScript normalised in the same way. I know that it would make my life as a developer harder. But that’s of lesser importance. It would be better for the web.

I agree with this wisdom wholeheartedly. The current design of this website serves fonts and external JS libraries, their tracking scripts and who knows what else; I should spend some time realigning the design and assets to my values on privacy and performance.

While agree with Jeremy personally on this point, would it not be just as true that without these particular keys to the kingdom that cross-site tracking might find new methods of doing just that? Perhaps baked into your favourite WordPress extension, or into your hosting provider's platform. There are clear societal goods from making surveillance and tracking more difficult, I'm not arguing otherwise, but it's not clear to me that the motivation to track is going away, either. I mean how else is the vast majority of the open Internet being funded?

I also wonder if that future is already evolving into view as more people are introduced to privacy focused browsers and blocking scripts. “Necessity” is after all the mother of all invention.

Does cross-site tracking move deeper into the stack? Say into a network of WordPress plugins? Or into your hosting provider's platform? Do tracking companies subsidise your website hosting bill in return for a bit of user data?

Gruber on the New 16-Inch MacBook Pro First Impressions

It's amazing that I care so deeply about the fixes and improvements to a product I have never and will never own. I guess that's the kind of nerd I am 😋

I couldn't miss the opportunity to clip this tiny quote from the story:

[Apple's engineering team] recognized how important the Escape key is to developers — they even mentioned Vim by name during a developer tool demo.

FuryBSD

Whoa, what a lucky duck I am today. I found not one, but two lightweight, desktop-oriented BSD projects based on FreeBSD. FuryBSD appears to be quite new, features XFCE as the desktop environment and can be used portably, not unlike NomadBSD. Well, I know what's next in line if NomadBSD doesn't work out for me.

NomadBSD

I stumbled across NomadBSD and apart from having a sweet name, it is also purpose built to be portable and used off a thumb drive, though it can be installed directly to an internal drive. I thought this looks like a cool, rolling option to test out BSD across a bunch of different hardware.

November 11, 2019

VirtualBox Graphical Issues

I thought to myself, you know what would be clever? Installing GhostBSD into a virtual machine so I can get a hang of any differences without wiping my laptop. That felt pretty responsible, but here's the rub: I downloaded, installed and booted up my fresh, new virtual machine and the whole window was transparent!

White text above an image? I can still hear my poor pupils dilating. Depending on where I moved the window, different sections would become visible against my desktop wallpaper. The entire experience has me flummoxed. I thought at first, it might be the install of GhostBSD (maybe I choose the wrong graphics settings at boot? The option marked “VirtualBox” made sense to me) but I'm going to look into trying an alternative to VirtualBox, something like Gnome Boxes.

I figure if that shares the same issue, it may just be the settings I chose in GhostBSD. Perhaps I'll go in with the defaults just to check. Though I'll cross that bridge when I get there.