08.28.22

Debian to Send Search Queries of Debian Users Worldwide to Microsoft Servers in Order to Get Brainwashed/Manipulated by Microsoft Bing (While Being Spied on by Microsoft and US Intelligence Agencies)

Posted in Debian, Deception, Microsoft, Search at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For those who are still not aware, DuckDuckGo is a Microsoft front

Debian and DuckDuckGo
So Microsoft gets to decide which pages GNU/Linux users see in their browsers?

Debian and DuckDuckGo
‘Sticking it’ to Google by promoting Microsoft?

Summary: The above looks particularly bad in light of the recent Debian "gift" from Microsoft. The culprits’ names are visible here and here. But adopting a presumption of innocent principle, maybe they’re just not aware of what’s going on or maybe, like Tor and EFF, they receive Microsoft bribes via its proxy (a Microsoft front hiding behind a Microsoft NDA).

07.06.22

YouTube Videos Over Gemini

Posted in Protocol, Search, Videos at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum a0c47f7919e3f9825add7c71ff032499
Gemini for GulagTube Videos
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: People who wish to watch (and find) YouTube videos can do so from their Gemini client; it gets rid of “social control media” aspects of YouTube (e.g. infinite scroll optimised for “addiction” and clickbait for “engagement”); the videos can be watched directly as files and changes were announced earlier today

As the image below shows, Gemini continues its steady growth and owing to this morning’s update I’ve found out that there’s now a YouTube video proxy in Geminispace. Its usage is demonstrated in the video above. A fairly large file is downloaded*. Some Gemini clients can be configured to send it directly to a media player of choice.

Aside from that, we’ve been super-busy the past 3 days due to a database incident (we have backups, so it’s OK) and we’re accelerating our move to another CMS, maybe we’ll write our own (details in IRC). Gemini is about keeping things simple while the Web becomes increasingly bloated, which leads to a multitude of databases (Techrights has 3) and potential, occasional breakage. “Web rot” will happen faster because “frameworks” are short-lived and unreliable. The death of Adobe Trash (Flash) was dress rehearsal; now a lot of the Web is one giant ‘Flash’ (mostly JavaScript and massive libraries, even proprietary fonts and DRM). More and more people realise this and say this out loud, so there’s reason for hope; people are encouraged to do something about it…

The Internet is mostly OK, the Web can be made leaner, but one cannot shield oneself from sites that do not follow such principles (they even intentionally obstruct users whose browser isn’t some Chromium derivative).

Lupa 2600
_____________
* There is a caveat though. Our associate notes: “The Gemini protocol still (AFAIK) has a bug which prevents handling of very large files and therefore Video over Gemini is not feasible. The protocol cannot handle large files, it might work sometimes, but is neither reliable nor accurate in that regard; anything other than small files is very strongly inadvisable. Something will download but it will not necessarily be either complete or accurate.”

05.22.22

Number of Working/Online Gemini Capsules, Known to Totally Legit Gemini Search (TLGS) and to Lupa, Exceeds 2,500

Posted in Search at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even a little more when one adds the list from geminispace.info

Magnifying glass

Summary: Assuming that Lupa reduced its crawling capacity (this graph seems to confirm this), we’ve decided to aggregate data from 3 sources and assess the size of Geminispace; Lupa says it can see 1,947 active capsules, but there are many more it has not kept track of

Knowing that Lupa slowed down a bit, I’ve taken the latest list of known hosts from Totally Legit Gemini Search (TLGS) and combined it with the list Lupa holds.

I’ve fused together the two lists (concatenation), sorting and removing trailing slashes along with protocol to make the format consistent, then:

working-capsules.txt | uniq | wc -l

2510

The uploaded list is the raw one, the combined one is possible to derive as above.

geminispace.info has a less consistent format, so one must compare only the first element in each line. For a combined_list we have:

cat combined_list | sort | cut -d ' ' -f 1 | uniq | wc -l

There are other ways to do this, but the total is similar: 2534

Lupa counts also inactive (historic) capsules, putting the tally at around 2,500. But that misses a lot of active capsules which have not been detected by Lupa (yet). Some got submitted to the search engines. They may be “islands”… for now.

10.18.21

How (Simple Technical Steps) to Convince Yourself That DuckDuckGo is Just Spyware Connected to Microsoft, Falsely Advertised as ‘Privacy’

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere | DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment | Why You Should Avoid DuckDuckGo (DDG) 2021 Edition, Now Microsoft-Hosted and With Extra Privacy Risks | The EFF Attacks Software Freedom and Promotes Fake Privacy Linked to Microsoft

DuckDuckGo scam
Read on here

Summary: In recent days we published or republished some bits and pieces about what DuckDuckGo really is; the above reader dropped by to enlighten us and demonstrate just how easy it is to see what DuckDuckGo does even at the client side (with JavaScript); more people need to confront DuckDuckGo over this and warn colleagues/friends/family (there’s more here)

10.16.21

EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 7:50 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

DDG meme

I’ve been writing lately about how DuckDuckGo is shady and their business is questionable.

It seems that some donations went the EFF’s way and now they plan on killing off HTTP Everywhere permanently.

$25,000 a year buys them the Tor Project and $150,000 keeps the EFF in their back pocket. But where does the money for this come from, and what does DuckDuckGo get from it?

No company gives out millions of dollars a year and expects to get back nothing.

Is it just DuckDuckGo’s own advertising paying for this?

DuckDuckGo pretends they’re a startup, but that’s not true. They admit that they have been profitable since 2014, have over 105 million searches a day sometimes, and are growing rapidly.

They’re not small. They have very close ties with Microsoft, which also dumps money into these sorts of organizations in order to corrupt them and shield itself from criticism.

(Relatively speaking, the chump change that Microsoft pays off the “Linux Foundation” with corrupted and silenced that organization too.)

In fact, the number one factor in DuckDuckGo’s search results is what Microsoft Bing returns to DuckDuckGo.

So I think it can fairly be said that DuckDuckGo is a way for Microsoft to gain market share with people for whom the Microsoft brand itself is toxic, due to their many decades of law breaking, bad software, spyware, advertising network, and corrupt business practices.

Microsoft itself tries to get away from its own brands too, but even though Edge is named differently than Internet Explorer, and uses a different rendering engine now, they haven’t had much luck in getting people, on Windows, to use it.

This despite malware tactics to steal back default settings and scream at the user that Firefox and Chrome and the others “aren’t safe” (Oh, but Edge is? Well, pardon the hell out of me!). Not that this has stopped their shills from recommending it to people on GNU/Linux, who actually have a choice about what’s on their computers. (Hey, and it ain’t gonna be Edge!)

Anyway, it seems the corruption (the intended effect of DuckDuckGo’s money, which is potentially gleaned from *cough* some other source), is convincing the EFF to shut down its own security applications and pitch DuckDuckGo’s products instead.

DuckDuckGo used to have an application for Android that merely let you search it from your Home screen.

Now, the only app they make for Android is an entire web browser, where DuckDuckGo is in a position to monitor everything you do in it. It’s also not particularly convenient because there’s no desktop version of it to sync with.

But just last year, it was caught tracking its users, and they had an explanation for the tracking when they got caught, like they always seem to. “Just a bug.” Was it?

DuckDuckGo also has a Chrome and Firefox extension called “Privacy Essentials”, and the EFF is also recommending users move from HTTPS Everywhere to DuckDuckGo’s extension.

As HTTPS Everywhere goes into “maintenance mode”, users will have the opportunity to move to DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials or use a browser that has HTTPS by default.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

But DuckDuckGo certainly isn’t a charity. They want all of this software on your computers for a reason, and if that reason was only to bolster their search engine, they’re already in every major web browser, and you can already use them for search that way.

They have other things to be gained from having more of a presence on your computer, or they wouldn’t be writing this stuff in the first place.

It would be better to have nothing of the sort installed on your computer than to replace HTTPS Everywhere with a DuckDuckGo application.

As the corrupt EFF itself points out, Chromium is moving in the direction of HTTPS by default, and Firefox today has an HTTPS-Only Mode (you can make exceptions), without stuffing this ducking nonsense into your computer and letting their “Whoops it’s another bug that lets us track you, but pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” position keep coming up.

(Note: I had to pull that Reddit post about Gabriel Weinberg out of the Internet Archive because Reddit, a platform for censorship from “Conde Nasty”, removed it. Reddit operates with bans and shadowbans and removes posts all the time.)

It’s unlikely that DuckDuckGo keeps getting caught violating their own privacy policy (and these are just the times they get caught) and that it’s “just bugs”. At this point, it is more likely that their privacy policy is bullshit and a lie.

The EFF has gone from being a good cause to not being worth a bag of beans in the span of a few short years.

10.15.21

DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

Posted in Deception, Google, Microsoft, Search at 5:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

When I was perusing DuckDuckGo’s corporate website for their explanation of a tracker that they use which my Web browsers block, I found their corporate headquarters address.

The tracker is called Improving DuckDuckGo, and of course they always have explanations for everything they do that’s creepy, and they get caught lying all of the time. And of course, Techrights has pointed out things like this before.

The most concerning facts are that they’re US-based (a Five Eyes country with no decent privacy laws at the state or federal levels), and can be compelled to track you by law enforcement, and that they host on Microsoft Azure and also scrape Bing for your search results. Thus, Microsoft would see your IP address on both transactions and can log your activities on DuckDuckGo quite easily, using nothing else, unless you’re on some sort of a VPN that millions of people use (like I am).

But I googled (to get a Street View image) their address, 20 Paoli Pike Paoli, PA 19301, and it’s basically a small building that they share with a dentist’s office.

Due to copyright restrictions on the images, I can’t reproduce them here, but you have to go see this. Just trust me.

The building is so small that it’s like a one bedroom apartment with some DuckDuckGo images on the side.

I mentioned this to Roy Schestowitz in #techrights on irc.techrights.org and he replied that they don’t have to have much of a physical presence considering that they use Microsoft web hosting and scrape Microsoft Bing (which isn’t a very good search engine, privacy aside).

It was creepy enough when they used Amazon AWS, and it’s creepier now that they use Microsoft for both ends of the transaction.

DuckDuckGo claims that they have their own web crawling bot and that they’re not just Bing with different artwork, but for the most part, if you search both side by side, you see very little difference in what comes back.

DuckDuckGo has recently been advertising heavily on Chicago radio stations, including the rock station saying “The DuckDuckGo for privacy traffic report.”.

I don’t think they’re very private. They may be a little bit better than Google on privacy, but a lot of that certainly isn’t by choice.

Google got as big as it is by dominating search and paying off everyone to default to it, and then propping up other projects with that cash until they stood on their own. Google’s the biggest ad network on the internet, and the only advantages, I think, that DuckDuckGo, gives you, in a major way, vs. that is that they don’t have the scale of Google to insert trackers all over the web and DuckDuckGo doesn’t require you to sign in, in order to use much of anything on it.

Years ago, Richard Stallman mentioned that signing into Google to search with it was a bad idea, and he’s right. One of the reasons Google starts popping up annoying CAPTCHA images if you use a VPN is so you will give up and sign in, and then whenever they put an ad or a beacon on another site, it associates itself with you and your search traffic.

I have a GMail account, but I don’t sign into Google in my browsers. My email clients support signing in via OAuth and then I can pull in my mail without signing in. I also block most of their third party stuff in my adblock settings, and I use a VPN.

But Google still tracks. They and Facebook and Microsoft figure out dozens of ways to track in case you block any of those methods, something will work.

10.12.21

Mozilla Firefox Takes Another Step in the Direction of Being Malware With “Firefox Suggest”

Posted in Deception, Search at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Opening: Yesterday I was surfing the web when I found out that LKML.org, a centralized place to see what’s going on in Linux kernel development, was attempting to load an ad script from a company called “BuySellAds dot com”.

When I investigated the company in more detail, I found that there was an entire page where they plot with some of the titans of the web industry to track and psychologically manipulate people.

One such partnership was Brave. Apparently, this company is pushing Brave’s “ethical ads” from behind the scenes, and another was Mozilla.

“One such partnership was Brave. Apparently, this company is pushing Brave’s “ethical ads” from behind the scenes, and another was Mozilla.”It said that they feed ads into “Pocket”, which is where the “Sponsored Content” (including from Big Oil companies like Exxon) keep popping up in the Firefox New Tab page, and now in your address bar if you live in the US (under the guise of Firefox Suggest).

Well, what I suggest is that Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker does with Firefox Suggest and Pocket is probably anatomically impossible, but that’s outside the scope of this post.

It sickens me, that a great piece of software that I used from its inception in 2002 (pre-releases), and even before that (as Mozilla Suite, and before Mozilla, as the proprietary Netscape suite) has gone and done this as a cash grab on the way down.

Each release, there’s more stuff to turn off, and you have to remember to do all of that every time you install it somewhere.

“Each release, there’s more stuff to turn off, and you have to remember to do all of that every time you install it somewhere.”There’s like 5 different settings (something like that) to fully disable DRM and keep it from coming back on or demanding it. That’s pretty bad when many of the sites using it are using it not for DRM, but as a fingerprinting attack.

Firefox ceased being Free and Open Source Software when distributed according to the Mozilla Trademark policies long ago, when they enabled Google DRM by default and pestered the user if they turned it off and then didn’t do some “about:config fu” to make sure it stayed off and disappeared from the GUI, but with Cloudflare DNS (a privacy hazard that OpenBSD patched to turn off!), Pocket’s Sponsored Crap, and Firefox Suggest, Firefox has not only straddled the line of what I consider to be “malware”, but has finally crossed it.

Perhaps there’s something very wrong with Debian for not going back to calling it “IceWeasel” and patching this stuff out of the source code so that it can’t come on. They are now in abeyance of their Debian Free Software Guidelines all so they can ship malware and call it Firefox.

You can perhaps forgive, under these circumstances, that some GNU/Linux distributions are throwing in the towel with Firefox, which doesn’t perform very well and uses gobs and gobs of RAM to perform the tasks, and are shipping some other browser.

Linux Mint spins are even putting in Vivaldi. And, if you frame it as a choice between Vivaldi and Firefox, I’d say Firefox is even worse than Vivaldi at this point, though Vivaldi doesn’t pretend to be open source like Firefox does, and they don’t beg for donations while they sell you down the river to adtechs like Mozilla does.

“Firefox ceased being Free and Open Source Software when distributed according to the Mozilla Trademark policies long ago, when they enabled Google DRM by default and pestered the user if they turned it off and then didn’t do some “about:config fu” to make sure it stayed off and disappeared from the GUI, but with Cloudflare DNS (a privacy hazard that OpenBSD patched to turn off!), Pocket’s Sponsored Crap, and Firefox Suggest, Firefox has not only straddled the line of what I consider to be “malware”, but has finally crossed it.”What Mozilla fails to understand, obviously, is that by pissing off users into leaving, they not only have less who will stay and drive “ad hits” for them, but they’ll see a further collapse in their search royalty value to Google, and incoming revenue will fall faster than had they just left it alone.

Furthermore, by letting this incompetent twit remain as CEO and firing the engineers while leaving a “Global Chief Diversity Officer” and other dead weight so that they can be a political party, development of the browser’s underpinnings lags while they fritter away valuable capital towards these nutjobs.

Well, enough was enough so….

I finally figured out the dependency matrix to get Debian to allow me to apt purge firefox-esr from my Debian 11 system without trying to take out GNOME metapackages and the X server.

It turns out that I had to give up on using the GNOME Web flatpak from FlatHub, because it collides with the Stable version from Debian. So I backed that out, and deleted its settings and cache under the .var folder hierarchy, and put the epiphany-browser package back in.

“…on a clean install, Firefox Suggest is on by default and doesn’t even ask whether the user wants ads or a keylogger malware in their address bar.”As long as that’s there, and those internationalization and LibreOffice Help Packs and foreign spell checkers and such that I removed the other day are gone, you can remove firefox-esr and the system won’t complain that you need a web browser.

It seems that Apt only wants to remove the gnome metapackages and xorg (Jean-Baptist…Emanuel….Zorg! Sorry.) if epiphany-browser is not already installed. If it is, it’ll shut up and let you get rid of Firefox.

Now you can also reclaim some disk space by removing .mozilla and all of the .mozilla and .firefox stuff under your Home folder (it’s all hidden but unhiding it with Ctrl+H and then using the finder is easy enough). In my case, I don’t use Thunderbird either, so I got rid of its stuff and now it’s just GNOME Web and Evolution.

Mozilla lies and says Firefox Suggest is off by default and that it is opt-in.

In the Bleeping Computer article about Firefox Suggest, which also notes Firefox’s dwindling market share (they went from being almost half of all web users at their peak to being only slightly more popular than Vivaldi, and still falling), they say that in their own tests and user reports, on a clean install, Firefox Suggest is on by default and doesn’t even ask whether the user wants ads or a keylogger malware in their address bar.

I installed the Firefox 93 Flatpak to find out myself. Mozilla even builds it and uploads the builds to Flathub, so they are official. Firefox Suggest was on by default, no message asking me if I wanted it.

When Ubuntu briefly implemented a keylogger that sent your Shell searches to Amazon in their now-abandoned Unity Shell, Richard Stallman called Ubuntu malware.

In its default configuration, Firefox not only sends everything you type into the address bar to Google (even though you can turn that off and split searches into a different box), but also to Mozilla, and Mozilla’s advertisers. This is certainly malware.

“How is it that Debian says the firmware to run my wifi, SSD, and graphics chip isn’t allowed (in the official image, which will lead some people to think Debian is broken and not bother figuring out why….while others have to know there’s a real installer that has firmware that is semi-hidden) but Widevine DRM blobs and a malicious keylogger in Firefox are fine?”How much longer will “Free” operating systems like Debian continue ignoring their own Free Software Guidelines to package this? It already had a grabber that’s on by default to download Google DRM blobs, and now this.

It’s bad enough that Fedora chucked its own Free Software policy out the door when IBM took them over, and started pushing Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Edge.

How is it that Debian says the firmware to run my wifi, SSD, and graphics chip isn’t allowed (in the official image, which will lead some people to think Debian is broken and not bother figuring out why….while others have to know there’s a real installer that has firmware that is semi-hidden) but Widevine DRM blobs and a malicious keylogger in Firefox are fine?

Sounds like someone at Debian should explain this.

As an aside, Mozilla is also considering changing the default search engine to Bing.

Every few years, they come in and decide which crappy privacy-violating mess with worse search results than Google to switch all their users to as part of a cynical ploy to ultimately get Google back to the table for more money.

Microsoft has never offered any browser vendor more money than Google, which is why Google is the default search engine on almost every browser, and the iPhone/Safari, even though Apple pretends they’re bitter enemies (over 60% of Apple iOS apps have Google tracking libraries in them).

I’m not a big fan of Google, but Bing is much worse. Instead of Google violating your privacy, it will be Microsoft, and then the search results often won’t even be usable.

When will Mozilla learn to stop manipulating its remaining users? Never?

04.25.21

Getting Reliable and Multi-Sourced News Summaries in RSS Readers With Multitude of Feeds

Posted in Search at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: It’s a lot better for the mind (reduced clutter) when RSS feeds are relied upon; it’s also a good way to combat censorship and tackle centralisation/monopolisation

THE Web is generally not a good source of information. Social control media is even worse as it doesn’t reward for accuracy, it lacks context, and it is designed to distract (it’s the business model). RSS feeds are the ‘vaccine’ in this situation; they help put people back in control and they weaken points of centralisation. That’s why large companies and especially Internet monopolies do not like RSS feeds and barely advertise the existence of such a thing anymore. They want everyone to just use their portals and “web apps” instead.

“The advantage of the ‘RSS approach’ is that it obliterates distraction, lowers the signal/noise ratio, and gives quick access to a plethora of different sources, not curated by a third party but determined by the list of sites chosen as trustworthy and worth subscribing to.”In the video above I spontaneously show or make a case for RSS readers (no scripting or preparation, but it worked out OK). I give the example of Ubuntu’s release and the University of Minnesota blunder. The advantage of the ‘RSS approach’ is that it obliterates distraction, lowers the signal/noise ratio, and gives quick access to a plethora of different sources, not curated by a third party but determined by the list of sites chosen as trustworthy and worth subscribing to. Yesterday we shared our list of about 460 RSS feeds that cover GNU/Linux and Free software (exclusively or some of the time).

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