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Get pushed by Gotify

Fri, 27 Mar 2020

Get pushed by Gotify!

One of the last things to get rid of regarding Google,

is the dependency on their Push Notification System called GCM.

Nearly every App relies on it to send Push Notifications.

For those of you who don't know, push notifications are a way to wake up a device (generally speaking a mobile phone) with a notification, without it having to listen all the time for incoming messages. This has many benefits, among it the reduced battery drain.

Some time ago I found out about Gotify, which is basically a Open Source Push Notification server. Although Apps don't use it directly, I was finally able to get rid of the last bit of Google on my Phone: GCM.

To make use of it, I simply wrote some python scripts, which work as a bridge between the Apps and the Gotify server.

I have one for Nextcloud notifications for instance. All it does is check for new notifications on Nextcloud and if it finds one that has not yet been pushed to the Gotify server, it pushes it and I get the notification.

You can find those scripts on my Github page https://github.com/mrchainman .

At the moment there is one for Nextcloud, Mastodon and Email.

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What is Linux

Mon, 24 Feb 2020

Today I will introduce you to GNU/Linux.

GNU/Linux is a operating system, which can be used as an alternative to Windows or Mac OS.

It consists of the so called Linux Kernel (the base of the system) and the user space written by GNU (basically all the programs on top of the system).

For the rest of this post I will refer to it simply as Linux.

So what is the difference between Linux and Windows or MacOS?

The main difference is that Linux is open source, meaning that anybody can look into the code and change or use it free of charge. This gives Linux many advantages:

  1. There are many different versions of Linux, as anyone can basically have his own spin on it. There are versions better suited for beginners and versions aimed towards advanced users. These versions are called distributions or distros.
  2. Linux is inherently more secure, because many people keep an eye on the code and it is built with a completely different structure than Windows or MacOS.
  3. Linux is highly customizable, meaning that you can discover you work flow and be highly efficient.
  4. As there are so many eyes on the code, you can be pretty sure that no data is collected, giving you more control over your privacy.

So now the we know what Linux is and why you should use it, how do you get started?

The easiest way is to create a so called "bootable stick", you can do that from Windows or Linux. This installs the Linux system onto a usb stick, which you can directly use. I recommend that you start with Ubuntu or Linux Mint, as they are very user friendly and easy to use. Just look online for "How to create a bootable Linux USB Stick" and you will find many tutorials.

Once you have created the stick, you can just reboot your pc with the stick inserted and you will be able to try Linux directly without having to install it onto your hard disk.

You may need to adjust some settings in your BIOS, but the tutorial you follow will probably cover that.

If you are convinced by it, you can than install it onto your system and start using it full-time.

Be sure to backup all your Files before installing it onto you hard disk, as the installation will delete everything on that disk.

One thing to keep in mind, is that Linux works differently than Windows or MacOS, it is not just a rip off.

You have other ways to install software, you have different software available, and you might be confused at first.

But give it time, get to know the system and I promise you, that you will like it.

I started using Linux 7 years ago and have never looked back since.

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Watch Youtube the right way

Sun, 23 Feb 2020

Youtube is notorious for collecting lots of data about you, while you watch videos. There is however a way to circumvent this:

Not watching the videos on Youtube.

There is an App called "Newpipe", which allows you to watch any Youtube video, without compromising your privacy. It is fully open source and available in the F-Droid Store. Many of you may already know about this App or equivalents, but only few know, that you can do the same thing in your browser. If you go to Invidio.us you can watch every Youtube video without having to go to Youtube. Invidio.us has also other advantages:

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Stop Ads and Tracking on your Computer

Sat, 22 Feb 2020

In this blogpost I will explain you, how you can stop ads and tracking while surfing.

Firs of all, why should you stop ads and tracking?

Well, they go hand in hand, as tracking is used for personalized advertising.

Through tracking, advertisers are able to gather data about you, which products you like, when you are likely to buy something, how often you buy stuff ...

This gives them the ability to generate a so called "Advertiser ID" for you, which basically lets them know, which ads they should show you, when you are online. There is a simple fix for this, which can be implemented by anyone.

Steven Black, wrote a program, which disables all those tracking sites.

To understand how this works, you first have to know what an "IP Address", a "Domain Name" and DNS are.

Now that we have it all together, we can understand how Stevens tool works. There is a special IP Address, also called the "Null Address" which is 0.0.0.0.

It doesn't point to any server or pc, in a certain sense it does not exist.

We can take advantage of that, by using DNS to point the domain names of trackers to this Null Address, thereby telling our PC to look for them at 0.0.0.0, which as we said doesn't point anywhere.

This can be achieved by editing the so called "Hosts File" on our PC, depending on your operating system the location of it may vary, so just go to DuckDuckGo ( Not Google ;) ) and search for "Windows 10 Hosts File" for example.

Now you can just copy the contents of the file listed at https://raw.githubusercontent.com/StevenBlack/hosts/master/hosts and paste them into your hosts file. Steven explains other methods here, but those are more advanced and I want to keep this as simple as possible.

In case you notice that you cannot reach a certain website, which you would like to be able to view, all you have to do is delete the corresponding entry in the hosts file. An entry is always of the form:

IP Address domain name

So for example it could be

0.0.0.0 ad.360in.com

I hope this little tutorial helped you to fight tracking and ads.

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Reduce Ads and Spam in your INBOX

Sat, 22 Feb 2020

Today I will explain you how you can reduce Spam and Ads in your INBOX.

Did you ever receive those annoying ads about booking a new flight or spam mails like "you have won ... blah blah"?

Me too, but it does not have to be this way. There is a concept called "Throwaway Mails" or "Burner Mails".

Basically this is a service, that offers you email addresses, which forward incoming mails to your real INBOX.

The advantage is, that you can delete these at any time, that way you can stop receiving spam or ads.

Some also offer features like whitelisting emails, or limiting the amount of emails that will be forwarded.

Personally, I use trashmail.com, which costs 20$ a year and you have basically unlimited email addresses.

You can head over to Trashmail and check it out.

They also offer a trial version, where the email addresses get autodeleted if you don't update them after a month.

That's it for now.

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How to stop Google from taking your data

Fri, 21 Feb 2020

So you are using Google and can't live without it. That's fair enough. But this doesn't necessarily mean that you can't have privacy.

At least in the case of Gmail and Google Drive Storage, you can circumvent it.

Let me introduce you to GnuPG, the GNU implementation of OpenPGP:

With GnuPG, aka GPG or "The GNU Privacy Guard", you can encrypt files and emails relatively easily.

They have clients for Linux, Android, Windows and I think also OSX and iOS, that you can easily install.

I won't go into detail about how to use them, as there are many tutorials out there, but I will explain how GPG works, and why you should use it.

Basically the concept is the following:

You generate a key pair, consisting of a public and a private key.

The public key is used only for encryption, meaning that it can't decrypt the files or emails.

The private key on the other hand, is what is used for decryption.

Now the concept is pretty easy to understand, first let's have a look at files:

  1. You Generate the public - private key pair
  2. You encrypt your files with the public key before uploading them to Google Drive
  3. When you need them, you just download them end decrypt them with your private key

In the case of emails the thing is a little bit trickier, because the person sending you emails will need your private key.

Remember: Your public key cannot decrypt anything, so it is save to hand it to others.

To achieve this, you could either send the key to every person who is likely to send you emails, or make use of a so called key server, whose only purpose is to store public keys, in order for people to easily find them.

Once the person sending you an email has your public key, all they have to do is encrypt the message with it before hitting send.

There are lots of tools out there to do this, but they all work the same.

You can then easily decrypt the message with your private key.

For many people this may seem like a lot of work, so I am happy to tell you, that I am working on a project, which will allow you to use my service, where all this stuff happens transparently in the background. Stick around for news about it.

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