Do NOT Accept the Investigatory Powers Bill

Last year the ECJ stuck down the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which allowed the government to store communications metadata. This was because the government could access these records without a warrant or even the subject knowing, which is problematic because this means it is impossible to know whether you are being surveilled or not which creates a constant fear that it is going on and therefore creating a breach of your right to privacy.

Fast forwarding to today, Theresa May has announced her Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) which, yes, allows for more transparency, but essentially just legitimises the excessive and wide-sweeping surveillance already being carried out whilst also increasing the scope and power that the government has over your online activity and yet still causing the same problem as RIPA (and DRIP for that matter).

There are ton of things wrong with this bill, but I would like to address 3 in particular.
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Guerilla Open Access Manifesto – Free Our Information

After Netflix updated their catalogue yesterday to include The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, the first thing I did this morning was put it on and watch in sheer admiration. Aaron Swartz was an amazing person and a true pioneer of today’s internet.

The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto is something he and his fellow colleges wrote and is something I strongly believe in. It’s worth a read.

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How much should a student spend on a laptop

TL;DR – see the end section for a breakdown of what the numbers mean and what you should be looking for

I’ve spent a some time in the university library this year, unlike the first two years, and have noticed something that I suppose doesn’t really surprise me. A lot of people have bought laptops that cost far more than what they really need to be paying. I actually spoke to a guy who had a top-end MacBook Pro, the one with the i7 and 16GB or RAM, which costs around £1,700…he studies history. Now I’m not saying he doesn’t need an i7, maybe he’s a professional video editor on the side…

Anyway, what I’m saying is that people spend a lot of money on hardware that they don’t need. Regularly. The best non-tech analogy I can make is this: buying a £1.5k computer for Facebook, email, writing essays, watching movies and playing farmville is like buying a Nissan GTR and driving it like a Fiat Punto – you just don’t do it, it’s a waste!

So how much do I actually need to spend so that I can have a good computer that does what I need?

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Smartphones Allowed to stay Online During Flights in the EU

Regulations just passed will allow aircraft passengers in Europe to use their smartphones and tablets without being in airplane mode starting from today.

The European Commission has authorised 3G and 4G communications when aircraft is flying above 3,000m. This is one of the first steps to moving toward in-flight WiFi.

It should be noted that there was never any evidence that pertained to the fact that using mobile data during flight would affect the aircraft in any way. It was merely a safety precaution that was never removed even after it was proven that mobile signals would not interfere with any of the aircraft’s systems.

Though these regulations come into effect now, it is likely that carriers will take time to adjust their own regulations which I should probably mention you are required to abide by.

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Ubuntu: Additional Drivers for Wireless

If you are working from a Dell computer on Ubuntu, you might have noticed that you cannot connect to your internet wirelessly. This is because the driver for your network card has not been installed. Here are 3 steps to fix it: 1) Plug in an ethernet cable (a wired connection to the router). 2) Open a Terminal (Ctrl + Atl + T) 3) Type the following commands (hitting enter after each

sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree

sudo modprobe -r b43 && sudo modprobe b43

And your problem shall be solved. Hope this helps.

If that fails, this link should help.

Facebook privacy and why you should care about what you post online…even privately!

So I just did a Guess My Age test on this website and it got it perfectly right. However, giving the same answers when doing it through Tor (so it can’t see my Facebook account) it got it wrong, which to me is quite interesting and has led me to certain conclusions: it probably takes your data from Facebook without you knowing.

This can have very serious consequences, especially when I realise that my year of birth is hidden on Facebook. So it would appear that any website can access information about you that you have on Facebook, even if it is not public information.

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Steam Music Goes into Open Beta

Hardly makes news, but I thought I would mention it.

Yes, Steam have released an open beta for their in-app music player that can be accessed from the in-game overlay (the one you get when you press shift + tab).

IMHO this is pretty pointless for PC users who can easily have their standard media player – i.e. Spotify, iTunes etc. – running in the background and map some key bindings to it to control it without having to Alt+tab out of a game. If you don’t know how to do this by the way, check out Auto Hot Keys with a little patience you can map literally any command to a key binding. I will add my script for in another post. Continue reading