Gig marketplaces (Fiverr being the largest and most significant) offer an interesting view at free-market microeconomics. Prices are a race to the bottom in nearly every market category. Sellers oftentimes prioritize the volume of sales over the quality of what they produce; buyers have to weed out hundreds of too-good-to-be-true offerings to find a service that meets their needs. Most potential buyers find gigs via the search engine, so gaming the search algorithm to appear higher in results is an important element of a successful seller strategy.
Disclaimer: If you've read a certain previous article of mine, you may have noticed that this opinion represents an almost-complete reversal on the one expressed there. Hang in there. I think this one is better.
Why is C still as popular as it is amongst free-software-hacker types? Why are command-line interfaces treated as the one true way to control a computer by many of these same people? Should IRC still be popular, despite missing lots of functionality that centralized chat platforms have had for years? Why am I writing this in Vim on the console? While there's certainly some logical reasoning behind choosing "simpler" technology (like escaping the hamster wheel of backwards incompatibility1), some of the reasons that people use for why they avoid anything that they believe is excessively complex are silly and potentially dangerous, holding back developers from the state of the art in computing.
Whenever you find yourself on a sketchy public WiFi hotspot or a heavily-filtered network, using a VPN is a relatively sure way to tunnel your traffic to a safe location. It's probably best not to trust a free provider, who will be selling your traffic information to advertisers, and why pay for a VPN when you can create one yourself with little to no bandwidth limitation and a trustworthy host? Setting up a VPN can be challenging, however, with a myriad of incompatible protocols and lots of outdated information. Most guides online are for either OpenVPN or PPTP, neither of which are supported on modern iOS (10+).
I've found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the recent pushes to get people to switch from Chrome to Firefox. Google keeps pulling dumb trick after dumb trick in an attempt to have more control over the web. It's hard not to think that this kind of behavior warrants quitting Chrome and other Google products. But taking a look at Firefox usage statistics, it's pretty obvious that the trend (looking at Monthly Active Users) is going in the wrong direction. This raises some questions: why is Firefox usage going down, and what does Mozilla need to do to bring it back up?
Earlier today, I decided I wanted to test a new web application of mine from the perspective of a Tor user. I figured that such a task wouldn't be the most difficult thing in the world---non-technical political activists and journalists are recommended to use Tor all the time to circumvent censorship. The process started in an unassuming manner: I cloned the Git repo from the Arch User Repository that contained the
tor-browser packaging scripts, skimmed the files to make sure there wasn't anything blatantly malicious, and started the
makepkg process on its way.