Update August 2021: Summer

Gemini version of this post

Hello! It’s been a while since my last update in March, but not much has really happened since then. I’ve been absent from the Geminispace, but now I’m back.

Remember I was complaining about my school laziness? I was doing terrible in school, indeed, but somehow I managed not to fail any subject. I did just as good as in previous semesters. I even made a nearly perfect long final report using Org Mode and LaTeX in two days for a subject, that I handed in one day before the end of the semester. I still haven’t failed a single subject in my whole career!

I had a lot of things planned for the summer. I was going to read stuff, learn stuff, create cool stuff, contribute to stuff, etc. But so far, I haven’t done much of that. I have done other stuff, though. I’ll return to school later this month: I’m running out of time!

New phone!

First, I finally switched my phone! My Mom has a new phone, so she gave me her old phone to me. It’s a Huawei P20 Lite, and fortunately, there was a recent enough LineageOS version that supported it. The problem was unlocking the bootloader: I needed the key! Unfortunately, Huawei stopped providing unlock keys since a while ago, and a bunch of people rushed to download them all, so now you have to pay them for each code (20-50 USD). I’m kinda poor right now, and I didn’t want to pay for the privilege of unlocking my own phone, so I looked for another way, and found it: PotatoNV.

PotatoNV is a free software (GPLv3) tool that allows you to load a new bootloader with a custom (randomly generated) unlock code into Huawei phones with some Kirin SoCs, including the one of my phone. It was a bit manual, as I had to open the phone to ground the “testpoint”. It worked! Then, I was able to load TWRP into memory in order to flash LineageOS 16.

Of course, I didn’t install OpenGApps nor microG, so now I have a privacy respecting and fully de-Googled phone. Not 100% free software, as it contains a lot of proprietary firmware; but it’s as free as I could get with the available resources. Nowadays, it’s impossible to get phones that work 100% with only free firmware; not even the PinePhone or Librem 5 do!

New music!

I’ve been listening music a lot this summer. I discovered some new bands/artists and music: Vampire Weekend, Technicolor Fabrics (Mexican indie rock/pop band), SOPHIE, Soccer Mommy, etc. I stopped using Spotify entirely. I’m now using my iPod Nano 5G for offline music listening and Gtkpod (free software) for managing it. I have a local MPD synced with the one in Ávalos' Indie Server 2, for offline listening in my laptop.

New achievements and plans!

One of Parabola’s main devs, Bill (thanks!), assisted me in learning how to maintain and patch packages, so now I’m able to volunteer for maintenance and fixes. Many packages require “freedom patches” to remove dependency or recommendations of nonfree software. Now I can remake (and have remade) patches for new package releases. I’m so proud of that! I think it’s a small step towards becoming proficient in “hacking” and contributing directly to free software. I’m starting to unleash my inner hacker! I’m starting to lose fear on reading and messing with code.

I also bought the code for Traccar client on Ionic’s Marketplace, and I’m doing several improvements to it, as well as a rebrand. It was the first time I pay directly to free software, and I’m excited about it! It seems as a great business model to me, and no strings are attached to the code: it was licensed under the Apache License 2.0. I’m also planning to do some improvements and modifications to Traccar, so I can sell it as a service.

I would really like to create a free, distributed and easy-to-use IoT platform that competes with Big Tech’s privacy-invading IoT services. Devices of any kind would connect to the platform using an simple, open, peer-to-peer and end-to-end encrypted protocol that would allow them to announce their functions to an app, so users can remotely control the device. It has to be something very simple, but flexible, scalable and reliable. I don’t know of anything similar. If anyone is interested in working on it with me, please let me know! It has to be fully free software, without proprietary dependencies.

I finished reading “Free Software, Free Society”, a collection of essays written by Stallman. I learned a lot about software patents and copyright law. I definitely recommend it! Now, I’m planning to read Profit Over People, written by well-known linguist and anarchist, Noam Chomsky, because I want to learn more about neoliberalism and why it is bad. I also planning to read Reverse Engineering For Beginners, but I didn’t even start, because I got distracted with something else.

I offered myself to be in charge of the development of Barinsta, the free app for Instagram. Recently, the developer was intimidated by Facebook’s lawyers, and he took town the repos. I’ll be taking care of the project if the community allows me. I’m not afraid of Facebook’s lawyers, and the cease and desist letter was bullshit anyway. As much as I hate Facebook products, this app makes it possible to use Instagram with a bit more of freedom, privacy and self-agency, so I think it’s very important for this project to exist. I don’t care about violating Facebook’s terms of conditions, if they don’t want me to, they can always delete my account easily and I’m fine with it; no need for lawyers and stupid letters.

New age!

Later this month, I’m finally turning 18, which means I will have adult privileges and responsibilities (18 is the legal age in Mexico). I will finally be able to vote, have my own bank account, travel to other countries without my parents' permission, create my own non-profit, drink alcohol and smoke tobacco (although I won’t!) and be put in regular prison. Things are probably going to be more difficult. Society will suddenly expect me to behave as an adult and do adult things, many of which I will probably refuse to do. It’s going to be weird, and maybe sad.

New friends!

I met a girl at a friend’s birthday party, and I’ve been talking to her for a while. She’s really nice and cheerful, I really like her. She’s not into tech, but that’s totally fine. I haven’t met her in person since that party (in June), but we’ve been texting each other for a while. She’s the only person I currently talk to in a regular basis.

I will also possibly interact with people my age at school, finally! I’ve been waiting for this moment three years. It’s been a long while since I interact with people my age. I will possibly come across old friends and ex-classmates, and it will feel kinda weird to me, like, to see them as freshmen while I’m already a junior.

On the internet, I haven’t made a lot of new friends. I’d like to! But sometimes I lose social energy and stop talking to them for a long time.

New more!

There are probably a lot more of things I forgot to mention, but I need to actually finish this update or else I will get distracted and forget about it. Hope you’re all fine!