Thoughts about tech, politics, and more

Technology and Free Software in Tanzania

After two months in Tanzania and in the computer education centre I work every day I learnt a lot about the culture of the locals in terms of their viewpoint on information technology. And in the same way I had to accept that my initial mental image of the people’s behaviour was (at least in parts) very wrong. So in this article I try to explain how I see the situation of modern technologies and the usage and understanding of Free Software in the region of Tanzania where I live.

Erste Eindrücke aus Tansania

Pole pole – das ist die typisch tansanische Mentalität, alles etwas ruhiger und langsamer angehen zu lassen. Und wahrscheinlich ist das auch der Grund, warum ich erst einen Monat nach meiner Ankunft in Tansania dazu komme, einen ersten Blogeintrag über meine bisherigen Erfahrungen zu schreiben. Ich bin hier von Anfang März bis Ende Juli als Freiwilliger in einer Organisation tätig, die die Bildung von jungen Menschen und der ländlichen Bevölkerung durch Einsatz und Schulung von IT verbessern will.

In The End Freedom Is What Matters

Yesterday I’ve been asked by a good friend of mine why I am investing so much time in the FSFE (Free Software¹ Foundation Europe) instead of putting more energy in other organisations with more focus on privacy issues. The background of his question is that I’m quite concerned about governmental and commercial surveillance and the lack of really private ways to communicate with each other and the impact this has on our online and offline behaviour.

I love Taskwarrior, therefore I love Free Software

“It’s Valentine’s day and you’re writing a blog post? Are you nuts?” you might ask. Well, but it’s not only Valentine’s day but also I love Free Software day. This day is proclaimed every year on February 14 by the Free Software Foundation Europe to thank all developers and contributors of Free Software (software you can use for any purpose, which source code you or others can analyze, which can be modified and distributed).

Yourls URL Shortener for Turpial

Maybe you know Yourls, a pretty cool URL shortener which you can set up on your own server very easily. Link shorteners are nice to have because you can share long links with short urls and you can view and organise all links you ever shared (incl. statistics and so on). There are many alternatives like, and so on, but Yourls belongs to YOU and you don’t have to pay attention to ToS changes or the provider’s financial status.

Next station: Tanzania

As some of your already may know, I’m going to Tanzania for six months starting in March this year. In the city Moshi I’ll work as a volunteer computer teacher in a local institute for computer education. In the upcoming weeks and months you can hopefully see some updates and pictures on this blog. Until then I’d like to answer some frequently asked questions: Where the heck is Tanzania or Moshi?

Sharing is caring – my Git instance

Some days ago I noticed another time that I have far too little knowledge about Git. „Time to change that!“, I thought and set up my own Git instance and also installed gitweb for better usability. Upside 1: I can keep track of the many (mainly bash) scripts I wrote in the past and all the changes I will adopt in the future. Upside 2: You can hopefully benefit from using and reading my code.

Freie Kommunikation ist die Essenz des Menschseins

Im Folgenden werde ich – durch meinen Gemütszustand etwas angefeuert – darlegen, wieso digitale Kommunikationsüberwachung Gift für unsere Gesellschaft ist, weil sie nichts anderes als Millionen Abhörwanzen und Kameras in unseren privatesten Räumen ist. Seit einigen Monaten hat sich ein Grundkonflikt in den politischen Debatten verstärkt: Welche Kommunikation sollte überwacht werden dürfen und welche nicht? Ausschließlich inländische Kommunikation? Geschäftliche E-Mails? Telefongespräche über 20 Sekunden Dauer? Und parallel dazu bekomme ich seit mehreren Monaten regelmäßig Wutanfälle, nämlich wenn ich Kommentare von „Experten“ und Laien lese, die solche künstliche Trennungen von Kommunikation und deren unterschiedliche Bewertung immer noch ernsthaft in Erwägung ziehen.

My internship at FSFE

I recently saw that the Free Software Foundation Europe is offering a new and very interesting internship position. That’s a great opportunity for every student interested in Free Software and political activism — and for me to write about my internship I completed from October 2013 until end of March 2014. Here’s a report I wrote some time ago: Starting from October 2013 I was able to work 6 months as an intern for the Free Software Foundation Europe in Berlin.

Setting Openstreetmap as default in Thunderbird’s contacts

If you use Thunderbird and its contact functionality, you might already have stumbled over the „show on map“ feature. If you add addresses to your contacts (no matter if directly in Thunderbird or via CalDAV) there appears a button which enabled you to open a map with the contact’s location. The default search provider is Google Maps. If you don’t like this service and prefer free and open systems like me, you can also add openstreetmap.