Updates from cqwww Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • cqwww 10:15 am on January 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Replacing Google 

    For years I’ve not used most of Google’s services, but today as I read an article from Google’s former head of International Relations, I was reminded to write an article for alternatives.

    In the article I re-read about programs I heard of, like DragonFly and Google’s AI office in Beijing, but I also learned of Absher, a program Google hosts for men in Saudi Arabia to track all of the women under their control through the male guardianship system. It’s also worth noting that Google has silently removed their “Don’t be evil” manta.

    Anyway, if you’re looking for alternatives to Google, here are my privacy centric alternative recommendations.


    There are several alternative search engines, such as searx and duckduckgo, but it’s really hard to create as effective results as Google has done, so my recommendation is startpage.com. They give you Google results, without providing your personal information to Google and/or their ad network. They have an additional awesome service that with each result they offer an “anonymous view” which means that if you click that, startpage themselves pulls that website into startpage, so your browser never even touches that remote webserver. This means whoever owns that website never knows you read that website, they only know someone at startpage read that website. If you want to transition to startpage or any alternative search engine, make sure you also configure it to be used in the URL bar of your browser.

    Gmail (Free email)

    There are three main alternatives to gmail, tutanota, mailfence, and protonmail. As of writing this, protonmail doesn’t take cryptocurrency payments where tutanota does, allowing anonymity in payments, but on the other hand, protonmail just launched an encrypted calendar to compete with google calendar and it also has an iOS client. If you’re willing to pay, posteo is quite popular at only one euro per month

    Chrome (Web browser)

    The most popular privacy based alternative to Chrome web browser is Mozilla’s Firefox, and the less popular but even more privacy centric version waterfox — but if you want real privacy you should be using tor browser. In terms of browsers, it’s worth noting that “privacy mode” or “private window” only protects your privacy from your spouse or parents, not your tracks on the internet, and it should also be noted that if you install a plugin in your browser, the developer of that plugin can log every website you visit with that browser, so trust them sparingly.

    Google Play Store (Android)

    If you use Android, Google play store collects and shares a lot of information, so you might want to try f-droid instead, which only allows open source applications. If you’re an advanced user who’s also rooted their Android phone, check out adaway and afwall+.


    While on the subject of Android, there are Android alternatives, but you likely need to be an advanced techy or know and trust one, to get these installed. Rattlesnake OS (if you have a Pixel), LineageOS, Replicant, and e, and sailfish are worth checking out.

    Google Maps

    This app is hard to beat, and obviously your location and travel patterns are incredibly valuable, so some alternatives worth trying are open street maps which has mobile apps (fdroid uses OSM and allows offline mode!), and here we go.

    Google Keep

    I’ve been very happy with Joplin.

    Google Hangouts

    While there are no chat clients I recommend more than Signal or Wire, Mattermost is showing some promise as a privacy centric Slack alternative, especially when integrated with idvpn.ca, and in terms of metadata resistance (which none of the above offer), it’s worth following the progress of cwtch.im.

    Google Docs and Drive

    One of the coolest apps out there right now is Nextcloud, it’s feature rich and offers an app store, but it requires advanced knowledge to self host. If you’re looking for a privacy centric host to host a copy for you, reach out to me through onedaywebsite.ca and I’ll see if I can’t sort you out.

    Google Home

    Rhasspy also requires advanced technical skill to use, but it’s great to see an open source, privacy centric alternative in this space.

    While there are a lot of other popular Google services that have privacy centric and open source alternatives, I think I’ve covered the most popular, and will update this article or reference it based on demand.

    • cqwww 11:58 pm on December 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

      Happy Solstice and Self-Care Week! 

      For a couple of years, there was a lot of propaganda about the war on Christmas, that still resonates with me. It makes me wonder about anyone who made such an argument, as it means they don’t study history and so likely shouldn’t be trusted.

      Modern Christmas is a crossover of the Christian attempt to take over the pagan solstice, and mixed with the capitalism funded by Coca-Cola. One of the most popular articles on this blog is that Christmas originally comes from a mushroom.

      What I’ve observed in modern Christmas, the idea of celebrating Jesus’ birthday (on a day known to not be his birthday) is by buying things, showing your capitalist allegiance, and that behaviour instigates depression in many, if not most, who are forced to endure this “holiday”.

      This week, I spent most of the week offering people a “Happy self-care week” and that seems to be really well received. I decided to stop the toxic co-dependant narrative that there’s a war on Christmas — there’s a war on prioritizing on yourself, and those that you love.

      If someone is arguing you should say Merry Christmas, ask them if they’re aware how the pagans were forced to celebrate Christmas even 130 years ago, and only within 3 generations we seem to think this is a “tradition” but it was brutally enforced and should not be celebrated unless you support totalitarianism.

      If you love Christmas, it brings your family legitimately together and not enforced, and you’re happy with your internal dialogue this year, go ahead and keep celebrating. No one is stopping you, and that’s what’s important. Christmas was created end enforced to stop the pagans from celebrating Solstice, and that’s the notable difference. The only war on Christmas was creating it.

      What I hope we can all agree on, is at the end of a year, as we enter a reflective state, we’re encouraged to prioritize on self care. We can take a day or two, but I suggest it’s best to suggest we take a week to do this in any way we find might work for us.

      It’s also a good reminder to be aware of what your friends and family celebrate, or if they do. It’s quite possible it’s overly traumatic and they’d rather not celebrate even if they are believers. Do you know what their preference is, are you assuming, or are they putting on a front for your convenience?

      Happy solstice, and self-care week.

      • cqwww 1:24 am on December 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

        Ideas Guy 

        For over a decade I’ve been identified as “the ideas guy”. This is mostly from founding ideasmeetings.org, which I ran for about 7 years in Victoria, BC, and then around 4 years in Vancouver, BC, every week, for about 3 hours per night. This is a public meetup, where anyone was welcome, to share any idea they had, with no filter on subject matter. I tried to ensure, and it was mostly supportive responses with a strong sprinkling of constructive criticism.

        I’ve wondered lately, if I’ve collaborated on more ideas than anyone.

        I don’t know if anyone else has made that claim, and if so, I’d love to meet them or know about them. I’m writing this with the intention to determine if it’s true, that I’ve heard more ideas than anyone.

        As distrust is common, I often took “minutes”, or loose notes that were discussed, or on a lucky night had someone else offer to do it for me. I have minutes from the Victoria chapter, and then two sections from Vancouver as we transitioned from mediawiki to github pages.

        Over the years, I’ve hosted ideasmeetings in other cities, and encouraged others to do the same. There have been meetings in Paris, Buenos Aires, Boston, Portsmouth, Seattle, and around the world, although there seems to be no minutes of those — and even close to my home town, I’ve been told the meetings in Toronto often pull in over 100 people yet I’ve never been.

        As a result, I think I’ve perhaps heard more ideas than anyone.

        I’m open to being proven wrong. If you know anyone that’s likely heard more ideas than me, let me know, I’ve not just listened and learned beyond Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours hypothesis, I’ve provided feedback throughout. This seems to me to be a unique and novel situation, and I’m open to being schooled by anyone who’s done better.

        If you’re considering starting an ideas meeting in your city, one thing I noticed is people with a high IQ and low EQ eagerly criticize what they perceive as bad ideas. Ensure this doesn’t happen, even constructive criticism should be limited. Challenge everyone to only support the ideas they hear. Even if an idea you hear is bad, challenge yourself to frame around the challenging parts to make it a good idea, or the best idea it could be considering the base idea — that is what I tried to do and I tried to challenge others to do this as well.

        • cqwww 11:23 pm on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

          Device-As-A-Service (DaaS) 

          I propose a vendor (Let’s call this DaaSVendor for today) that prioritizes on minimizing planned obsolesce through modular computing — a device-as-a-service (DaaS).

          From a user perspective, this would be a monthly service where you pay for your hardware and software. The software side is all of your data, which is encrypted and decentralized. You can go to any store, take out a new computer at your membership level, then using your idvpn.ca identity token, your data will be pulled down to the device as needed.

          If your computer breaks, has an issue, or you’re travelling and don’t want to bring your device, simply return your current device to the store and take out a new one there, or wait until you get to your new destination and take out your new computer there. Just like one chooses how fast you want your internet, one would choose how powerful they need their device (phone, laptop, or tablet). For example, a gamer would want a powerful GPU where most non-gamers don’t. When you’re done with that device for whatever reason, push a button and all of your data is removed from the device instantly, before you return it.

          Let’s use the travel example — if carrying your laptop, you have to take it out of your bag, then out of the laptop case, slowing everything down to have it individually tested on the scanner. You may also have your work intellectual property data on it, which might be a concern, especially for international travel. Imagine you live in Vancouver. Imagine you could leave your laptop at home, fly in to Seattle’s Sea-TAC, pick up a new laptop at your destination hotel or AirBnB, and once authenticated, your necessary files are brought down securely over the internet to that device.

          DaaSVendor is motivated to ensure stable and modular hardware to minimize costs of transition and upgrades.

          • cqwww 7:44 pm on December 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

            What type of entrepreneur are you? 

            To me, there seems to be three types of entrepreneurs — inventors, innovators, and iterators. Because we don’t distinguish between these very distinct types, the process for each one, and the personality type for each, is uniquely different. I’ll try to explain my observations with each of these three roles.

            The Inventor

            In my experience the true inventors are the builders, who are typically geniuses on the edge of sanity. They are some of my favourite types of people at ideasmeetings, as well as great friends who I feel are really changing the world in unexpected ways.

            I observe they are usually not very social, perhaps on the autism spectrum and introverts, who are happy reading, tinkering, learning, and experiment out of left field, with very little priority on the business drivers needed for financial success or even a desire to participate in capitalism. They likely rely on someone to help take their inventions to market, and would be happy with a little piece of the financial pie in the process.

            It takes a lot of money and or time to be an inventor, as the acquired knowledge base is usually decades. They may have second jobs that use their technical skills to pay the bills, to allow them to focus on their passion of inventing.

            I will guess that 1 in 1,000,000 true inventors reach financial independence from an invention they’ve created, but their priority isn’t driven economically anyways. Also, there are very few true inventors, or even really unique innovators.

            The Innovator

            This is where a lot of my self identifying “tech entrepreneur” social network lies. These are the people taking moonshots, or building out a tech / product / solution when there is little to no competition, with the hopes of “build it and they will come”. These entrepreneurs usually fail. In terms of product / market fit (business term) or UX (user experience, design term) they completely fail usually. Being an innovator is like having a lottery ticket as a career.

            In my observation, the innovators are usually not very social, likely autism spectrum or ADHD, and even less talked about, suffer from some type of mental health or addiction that prevents them from wanting to participate in the patriarchal dumpster fire of current late stage capitalism that we see today. There are many stats on how often entrepreneurs fail and how few succeed, and those are usually innovative entrepreneurs.

            It also takes a lot of privilege to be an innovator entrepreneur. You need a lot of time and/or money to build the minimum viable product or service, only to then take it to the market to see if there is demand, and usually the innovator is also not a closer (sales term), so they need to find someone with the skill set of marketing and sales — the capability of listening to the potential customer instead of proactively trying to sell to them.

            I’m going to guess at best 1 in 1,000 innovators will make it to the 5 year mark of their venture being financially viable. Just because you hear about the success stories on the news, it’s like lottery winning — don’t ignore the statistics of how many fail, and why.

            The Iterator

            If you insist on being an entrepreneur, this is where I recommend every wannapreneur start. It’s the least sexy of the three, but it’s the smartest strategy, and still has a lot of risk. This is simply looking at where the market already exists, and just improving on a product or service. Look at something that makes a lot of money that you can do, and find a way to make it better. Not 1x or 2x better, but at least 10x better. That could be 10x time savings to the customer (convenience), 10x cheaper for the customer, or some other 10x benefit that would be hard for a customer to ignore. It could also just be 10x closer — there’s nothing wrong with starting a well known restaurant franchise in an under-served area if the franchisor validates with you that there is need there.

            When I observe most of the accelerators or incubators in the various communities I’ve lived, they have wannapreneurs who need income in the next month or two who are trying to be innovators, and that’s going to fail 99.44% of the time. If you don’t have a year of runway at least, being an iterator is only closest you have to a responsible option — and get enough financial success from that under your belt that you can decide if you want to try the innovator approach on the next idea.

            It still takes money and time to be an iterator, but a lot less than the other two options. You might seek out your local business bank and get a loan to help you, as an example. The smartest iterator will have validated their business hypothesis with enough potential customers that are not friends or family who are willing to pay for the product or service upon hearing about it — never accept “that sounds like a good idea” or “Sure, I’d use that” — if you hear something along those lines, ask them if they’d pay today and listen to why not.

            It is irresponsible for an accelerator, incubator, or even yourself to take on invention or iteration if you don’t have the financial capability, or investment, to get your product to a working MVP. A someone who advises entrepreneurs, I hope we all start to reference these three distinctive roles and make sure we’re supporting them in the appropriate fashion.

            If you support entrepreneurs in some fashion, such as advising, be clear on which entrepreneurial roles you have the capabilities to support.

            The last thing I would advise any wannapreneurs reading this, apart from distinguishing which of the three resonates with you — is if you’re picking a mentor, advisor, incubator or accelerator, do a deep dive into who the mentor or advisor is. Are they an active entrepreneur running another successful business right now, or do they have a history of multiple, repeated success behind them? If so, that’s great. If they had a one-hit wonder over a decade ago, find someone who’s got recent, active experience as the industry is moving fast and furious. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential advisor of their recent successes, failures, and experience — and validate their assertions if you can.

            If you’re an active serial entrepreneur, consider the massive knowledge transfer gap right now, and find an entrepreneur right for you that you could mentor. I have access to many who are looking, so if this is you, don’t hesitate to reach out.

            Self-awareness is king in entrepreneurship — play to your strengths. The other really hard decision is re-prioritizing long-term friends from good friends — as Jim Rohn said,

            You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With

            • cqwww 4:15 pm on December 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

              Regenerative wearables 

              I’m exploring how we might make a fabric or wearable item that is regenerative.
              In the ideal, if it was left in a field, maybe it would grow. For example

              • Is there a way to embed seeds into a fabric/garment that could withstand a wash and the sun but still biodegrade?
              • Could we embed seeds into PLA to 3d print buttons?
              • What about Mycelium based fabrics?
              • What about integrating a fluorescent protein into something better than e.coli that the fabric could glow more over time?

              Do you know of any such products, or do you have any ideas that I should explore?

              • Nico 2:25 am on December 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply

                You can buy paper with seeds in it, from many packaging manufactures 🙂
                Done mycelium, and there is people who are working on mycelium fabric in the Netherlands. Some of the challanges if just the efficiency, and also visuals. Like it still will take 2-8 weeks for the mycelium to grow into a form.
                3. https://www.vollebak.com/product/black-squid-jacket/ – Big opportunities, if you can synthesize biology into something useful

                • cqwww 10:19 pm on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply

                  Thanks for the pointers! My friend has the black squid jacket, it’s pretty epic! Sounds like it’s time for me to go back to Open Science Network here in Vancouver and see what ideas they have. I know bioluminescence is common in thinkgs like e.coli, I wonder about things that could be made fabric, including mycelium. I wonder how Paul Staments makes his hats…

            • cqwww 11:55 pm on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply  


              Do any womxn want to take on the challenge of starting a wiki? A One Day Website customer has paid for https://www.womepedia.org/ and would love to see it run by a collective of non-cis-males as a reaction to the male dominated wikipedia.org. If you or anyone you know is interesting in joining the initial board/editorial team, let me know.

              Also, what would you like to see on such a website?

              • cqwww 1:13 pm on November 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

                Canadian Tax Tips 

                Where do you recommend one go for Canadian tax tips? I’ll post three here:

                • cqwww 1:33 pm on November 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

                  Budget Coffee 

                  This is the launch of “Budget Coffee” like founders coffee, where we meet 2x a month, and discuss budget things. As we’ll all have different techniques, it will be interesting to see what we learn from each other.

                  Consider is like a local version of Mr. Money Mustache in that we can a) share budgeting tips with each other, but also b) hold each other accountable. I’m curious about your thoughts on this.

                  One example is I did a spreadsheet of ISPs in BC over 5 years of service, and the gap is ~$880 between the cheapest and most expensive for ~30M broadband service! This savings alone could justify the cost of attending if people switch over.

                  We would share tips, tricks, and processes, such as credit card churning.

                  Is it worth under $250 in 2020 to get your personal budget in order, and optimized?

                  • cqwww 10:00 am on November 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

                    Great Minds Talk About Ideas 

                    There’s a famous quote:

                    Great Minds Discuss Ideas; Average Minds Discuss Events; Small Minds Discuss People

                    This quote is often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but it’s been suggested it was a less pretentious edit of Charles Stewart’s 1901 autobiography:

                    Men and women range themselves into three classes or orders of intelligence; you can tell the lowest class by their habit of always talking about persons; the next by the fact that their habit is always to converse about things; the highest by their preference for the discussion of ideas.

                    Let’s break each one of these down, starting by talking about people, or in other words, gossip. I recently had a friend inadvertently share a story about another person, which was quickly gossiped, and has created drama amongst several social networks. This was a powerful reminder to both of us, that most of our social network doesn’t gossip, or talk about people, and the drama that can unfold when one does.

                    If you do insist on talking about people, or gossiping, my friend Scott N pointed me to the Buddhist Rights Speech philosophy (part of the Noble Eightfold Path), which I enjoy as a reference when I want to bring up another person in conversation:

                    • It is timely
                    • It is true
                    • It is spoken affectionately, and of good will
                    • It has a benefit to being shared

                    If the answer isn’t a clear and obvious yes to all four of these, hold on to the thought and work through each of these four, or just drop it and move on to more beneficial conversation.

                    There is a short term benefit to gossip, you get an immediate boost of dopamine as both the sharer and the receiver. The sharer will also experience a release of oxytocin, and potentially even a release of serotonin. As these are the three chemicals that make up happiness, it’s no doubt that it’s physically and emotionally rewarding to gossip. It also improves bonding amongst those who seek out these chemicals, which are typically people who in my experience, lack self discipline.

                    Why they are referred to as small minds, is because scientifically there’s not enough stimulation in this process to create new neural pathways.

                    It is my experience that the smallest minds not only gossip, but they talk negatively about others. It takes a little self awareness and observation to notice that talking negative about others, or against the Buddhist Rights Speech mentioned above, hurts the originator more than anyone else, and that anyone doing so is not calm nor contented, and usually less successful than the person they are gossiping about. A gossiper would be better served improving themselves.

                    When you want to start to move into more objective conversation, you will start to talk about things, such as events. This is referenced in the quote as the level of conversation of an average mind. You will get some of the above chemicals as mentioned above, but less usually, but you’re also introducing a level of thought. The challenge is the thought is likely not much new information, but mostly information that is already known or experienced, so not many neurons are used.

                    What is likely obvious at this stage in the story is that when you start to express curiosity, or questioning, your brain activity is creating new neural pathways over time as you walk through this new learning. This means you’re actually becoming smarter — and in my experience people automatically think you’re really smart — which it doesn’t mean you are, but it is my recommendation there is no better position to be insatiably curious and perpetually improving your critical thinking skills.

                    If you’re wondering how you might do this, try to take a contrarian position on something you’re emotionally attached to. If you’re strongly a liberal, try to understand and take the honest position of a conservative. If you’re an atheist, argue how Islam is the correct religion.

                    It is my observation, or hypothesis, that those who identify as critical thinkers are less settled and less happy, so with everything, there’s a trade off.

                    The intent of this article isn’t to place a right or wrong on any of the three areas of conversations you usually find yourself in, but to think about which of the three you usually talk about — people, things/events, or ideas, and then to question how that is serving you.

                    While drafting this article, I came across a poem but I can’t find the original author so I’ll reference a medium post with it and share it here:

                    I once asked a very successful woman to share her secret with me. She smiled and said to me…
                    “I started succeeding when I started leaving small fights for small fighters.
                    I stopped fighting those who gossiped about me…
                    I stopped fighting with my in laws…
                    I stopped fighting for attention…
                    I stopped fighting to meet peoples expectation of me…
                    I stopped fighting for my rights with inconsiderate people..
                    I stopped fighting to please everyone…
                    I stopped fighting to prove they were wrong about me…
                    I left such fights for those who have nothing else to fight…
                    And I started fighting for my vision, my dreams, my ideas and my destiny.
                    The day I gave up on small fights is the day I started becoming successful & so much more content.”
                    Some fights are not worth your time … Choose what you fight for wisely.

                    • cqwww 9:57 pm on November 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

                      A Free One Day In-Kind Website 

                      As you may know, about 8 years ago I started One Day Website for my friends who either don’t want to figure out how to register a domain, setup web hosting, install and configure WordPress — or for those that do know how, they don’t want all of the invasive third party privacy trackers that come from the popular free/cheap hosting services out there.

                      As you also may know, I have helped and advised a lot of entrepreneurs and startups over the years, as I love helping people. This article is for those that even the $299 CAD fee of One Day Website is too much for you right now. What if someone could or would give you a break to launch that business you’ve been thinking about? Well, your time might be now. I’m offering to provide you the entire One Day Website package for free, what I ask for in exchange is double the rate, but in-kind for your product or service, whatever it is.

                      I have no limits on subject matter, but if you want to start your own graphic design business, Marie Kondo-esque cleaning service, coaching, meal prep, whatever has been on your mind — if you’ll offer me $598 worth of your services in exchange, I’ll setup all of the tech framework needed to have your website running within one business day, and hosting for a year. If I don’t want or can’t use your product or service, I’ll find someone else who can use it.

                      Email [email protected] if you’re interested, no judgement as to why you can’t afford to pay right now, we all need a break some times. Please don’t email me if you’re not ready to commit and dedicate the next year of your life, your free time, to getting this new business off the ground. If you are, please use “in-kind request” in the subject line and let’s get your new business website running in one day.

                      • cqwww 11:07 pm on October 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

                        Schitt’s Creek closets going on sale for charity 

                        If you watched Schitt’s Creek, this Thursday they have 800 items going up for auction from the “closets of the Rose family”. (Givenchy, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Dsquared2 etc)

                        Proceeds are going to GLSEN, a non-profit that aims to eliminate harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students in schools.

                        https://vspconsignment.com/password goes live on OCTOBER 3RD AT 12PM EST

                        compose new post
                        next post/next comment
                        previous post/previous comment
                        show/hide comments
                        go to top
                        go to login
                        show/hide help
                        shift + esc