Paul Sutton


Online and remote learning : Lets not forget privacy.

This is an excellent article by the Free software foundation on the importance of maintaing user / learner privacy while they are learning online.

Some interesting points being raised and some serious concerns about privacy, use of webcams and monitoring of students during tests etc.

Learners need to ask questions and not just accept this as the new normal.


I have decided to join Mastodon social network. So will blog about this here, in order to help others.

Firstly you need to go to join mastodon where you will be presented with the following:-


Clicking on Get Started actually takes further down the page to:-


Where you can select from one of the many instances available, your choice may be influenced by:-

  • Geographical location
  • Interests
  • Number of users on a particular instance

Or some other reason.

I decided to go for as this is a STEM related instance. So clicking on the signup link.


Filled in the credentials. After which I am asked to confirm. You will be asked to agree to some terms and conditions too.


Once confirmed you are taken to a set of 3 intro pages:




Then you are presented with


Where you can now set up your profile etc.

— Finding people to follow.

Enter their fediverse id in to the search box.


Usually this takes the form of


You can follow me on the above server by clicking this link.

In order for you to see items from my blog in your feed you need to take the following step in your profile settings.

Which is pretty easy to do, clearly this gives you a lot of control over what is then fed in to your feed.


Very easy sign up process, which is great, it looks like this instance also supports inline $\LaTeX$ which is cool too. I have now subscribed to this blog from mastodon.

Not quite ready to #deletetwitter yet, I have some contacts. Compared to the sign-up process on more old fashioned social media this is a breeze.



You can find me on Friendica at

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Licenced under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Adult filters – Compensation

A bbc report on 24th Jan 2020, covers the continuing problem of trying to protect young people from accessing adult material while using the Internet.

This scheme has been dropped, and the companies trying to develop the solution, spending millions, quite rightly want compensation.

This policy seems to have been doomed from the start, firstly it seems no one actually knows how to do this, the UK government also failed to inform the EU, so the implementation was delayed by six months, and industry experts were not convinced the policy would even work as users would find a way to circumvent the filters.

In addition to this, uploading of passports and other ID information raises serious privacy concerns.

There is wide acknowledgement something has to be done, but no one seems to have come up with a solution yet.

The solution(s) may have nothing to do with technology. It is about education, educate people properly on how to behave, how to treat others, equality and making everyone feel valued. This starts at home and is enforced in schools. Of course adults really need to set the example. Not sure how that is going to happen when you get vile trolling of people.

We have many laws, surely we need to start enforcing them. We should also hold parent / guardians responsible, perhaps the prospect of actual jail and a long term criminal record will result in action.

We need a gender diverse workforce in schools too, as that way we can have positive male AND female role models, Some schools hardly have any male staff, why is this, esp in 2020 when we are meant to have the equality act.

Another bbc article yesterday 25/2/2020 Facebook and YouTube moderators sign PTSD disclosure really does highlight the issue. Something is clearly NOT working,

#bbc, #news, #technology, #UK, #filters, #privacy, #compensation, #adult, #material

You can find me on Friendica at

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Licenced under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


mastodon logo

Over the past few months, the social network Mastodon, has seen a big increase in the number of new users joining.

Mostly people from networks Twitter, unhappy, mostly with censorship. In late 2019 there was a big migration from users in India.

Unlike with current mainstream (or should we just say old fashioned) social media. Mastodon is decentralised, so what does this mean?

In essence, there is no central control, just a development model. Mastodon is a network made up on independently owned server instances. These can all communicate with each other, thanks to a protocol called Activity Pub.

Mastodon, forms part of what is called the Fediverse. This numerous other social media instances such as Friendica ( which I am on), that also communicate with each other. The clever part is that the different social networks can communicate with each other.

With the Fediverse, privacy is important, you won't find:

  • User tracking
  • Tracking of Likes and shares
  • Data collection
  • Data sale, abuse and misuse of personal information
  • Suggestions of friends based on interest
  • Advertising

The fediverse, is what the community make it. Users post content, others, who find it interesting will comment, and contribute to the conversation.

During the UK general election campaign, the mainstream news media was taken over by election news. Social media played a big part in campaigning as politicians tried to convince the electorate they were the people to vote for.

Politics has not caught up yet. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

You can find topics of interest by searching for tags, which accompany posts.

If you think it is time to #DeleteFacebook or #DeleteTwitter then feel free to come over to a better way of doing things. There are alternatives to other services too, such as Google, Youtube, Instagram. All these alternatives federated so content can be shared on the Fediverse too.


#mastodon, #social, #network, #migration, #exodus, #decentralised, #privacy,

You can find me on Friendica at

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Licenced under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

I found this on Twitter and decided to share here.

Septor Linux is a operating system that provides users with a perfect computing environment for surfing the Internet anonymously.

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#debian, #kde, #linux, #tor, #privacy, #anonymously, #Onion, #septorLinux

You can find me on Friendica at

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Licenced under Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Free Culture

Free culture is about advocating user freedom on the Internet and promoting those services that respect users freedom and privacy.


Free software is defined here by the four freedoms set out by the Free Software Foundation.

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Source GNU.ORG


By media I am referring here to digital media this includes

  • Pictures
  • Photos
  • Music
  • Video
  • Documents

These media types can be covered under a Creative Commons (CC) license of which there are many. However Free Culture refers to two main Licenses here

  • creative commons zero : cc-0
  • creative commons attribution : cc-by
  • creative commons attribution share alike : cc-by-sa

These licences are also a way to counter DRM (Digtal Right Management).

Open Standards

Open standards are important for helping users collaborate and preserve documents for future references. It provides an Open standard such Open Document Format (odf).

The Document Foundation advocates the use of these open standards through software such as Libreoffice which as this is also free software any software derivatives can also work with these documents.

Open standards also frees users from vendor lock. This is discussed further by The Document Liberation Project

Plain Text

Of course the best open document format, is probably plain text. this can be opened by any text editor on any platform.

These documents can be enhanced further with markdown or formatting software such as $\LaTeX$ but ultimately the document is plain text. The software for building $\LaTeX$ is also free software.

The internet is built on these ideas as HTML, CSS and Java Script are all simply plain text documents.

User Privacy

By finding alternatives to the Big Tech companies we can start to take control of our privacy. Services such as Disroot offer a wide range of services, such as e-mail and cloud storage. They even offer a diaspora instance.

The free software foundation also advocate the use of gnu privacy guard. This can be used to:

  • Encrypt e-mails
  • Sign e-mails

However unless you really need to (as in sending something confidential) I don't see a reason to encrypt, however digitally signing e-mails does allow a web of trust to be built up, so that a recipient knows tht e-mail is really from you.

Services such as Telegram and Signal offer end to end encrypted messaging services. Rather controversial in some respects as these services get blamed for helping criminals and terrorists. Nevertheless your private conversations remain that way.

Social Media

The rise of centralised social media and subsequent concerns raised about user privacy and how data is collected, sold and possibly open to abuse. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal has exposed some of this, and the influences of social media on Elections, especially the US election of 2016 and the EU Referendum in the UK has also been exposed.

Decentralised social media

There are now alternatives to all the above centralised control of social media. Decentralisation allows people to run and control their own social media instance, or if you don't feel confident in running your own, you can join an existing group (known as an instance).

As each instance is independent with its own set of rules, a way to allow these to communicate is needed. Protocols such as Activity pub allow instances of the decentralised social media network to share posts and user content.

But it goes beyond this, Services such as Friendica and Diaspora offer an alternative to Facebook, other services such as Mastodon offer an alternative to Twitter, Peertube and Pixelfed offer alternatives to Youtube and Instagram. By having all these different services run Activity pub (and other protocols) all these services can talk to each other. Without the user having to worry too much on how this works.

Wordpress also has an ActivityPub plugin to facilitate this and decentralised services such as personal Journal have this built in.

The Negative side of these social networks.

Of course with all this independent control, comes a negative side, such as groups supporting far right views. The same protocol that allows instances to communicate can also allow instances to be blocked.

Sites such as:-

Are both non tracking and privacy aware. SearchX goes a step further in that you can include the software on your website and make search decentralised.


You can find me on Friendica at

Further reading

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#linux, #latex, #science, #freebsd,#debian