The great lurch to freedom is now under way.
Linger one last time at the swamp then move on.
In large measure, civilisation has assumed its current form as a result of the technologies people have come to use. This guide introduces some free and simple tools for self-directed learning.
Getting inundated by ‘newsletters’ and ‘chip-in’ emails?
Then subscribe to news-feeds, not newsletters.
News-readers let you…
- quickly scan headlines – from selected websites *
- pick, search & sort items for detailed reading
- mark, tag, delete, save, categorise, archive items
- choose what to read at your leisure.
Learn more» What is RSS all about?
Web-based Readers are limited but straightforward.
Portable device [phones, tablets] news-readers require a user login account [e.g. gmail, facebook, etc.]. If you don’t mind their knowing your interests a big plus is the portability of this service. Digg Reader is a good starting point.
Bamboo Feed Reader is different. It’s an add-on for FireFox browser. It’s quick, easy and versatile. We recommend it as the preferred mobile reader.
Features: anonymous; fast; locates RSS-links inside site. Learn more»
Desktop Readers are installed as software on your computer.
Good for researchers who want to categorise, sort and archive lots of articles.
QuiteRSS Reader a relatively new, open-source, cross-platform RSS/Atom news reader. It is versatile, and has a full set of tools, and of social sharing options. Portable and installed versions are available. QuiteRSS is responsive and intuitive to learn, our favorite. Load time depends on the number of your feeds.
Here’s our collection of recommended news feed links – join this group if you’d like to add others: www.peasants.org.nz/groups/rss-feeds/
* Not all websites have an RSS feed, but always let your RSS-reader check the site if you can’t find a link.
2. Media Players
For Playing Movies we only recommend VLC Media Player
VLC – free, open-source, versatile, well-established. It requires very little configuration and can play media files of ANY format. Network-streaming was a key feature that ensured its early popularity.
What started as an engineering students’ project in the 80s, today continues to be developed by a community of volunteers. A great deal of deep functionality (Some tricks with VLC) and specialised enhancements have been added.
3. eBook Readers
E-books are written in html just like websites, although produced in various formats. This is important because some eReaders – e.g. Kindle – use encryption (Digital Management Rights), and will only accept a proprietary format. The most popular format is epub – it’s open-source. This is the only format the Film Club uses. No problem though if you already have a Kindle, Calibre can easily convert formats, (see below).
The 3 types of readers …
- Portable e-Readers:
The BEST way to read e-books. Get one with a back-light, (we recommend Kobo). You can easily manage multiple libraries with hundreds of e-books, and it can go weeks between recharges. The built-in dictionary is ideal for kids. Like to see reviews of different e-readers … try goodEreader.com.
The app Cool Reader (Android, open-source) is another approach that gets favourable reviews.
- Desktop e-Readers: Out of the lot Calibre is the only software e-book reader we recommend. It’s free (no premium extras), and is supported by an active developer community, always a healthy sign.
You get loads of functionality; and it supports all eReaders and mobile devices.
- Cross-format conversion: Calibre easily converts Kindle files to epub-format (Kobo, etc), and visa versa. In fact it converts any written format to any other – WATCH this VIDEO
- Cross-platform conversion: So you’ve bought books on Amazon but don’t have a Kindle ?
4. Video Downloads
Downloading videos directly from the internet is easy
Reasons to do this? – preserve controversial content; advert-fatigue; offline access.
Ways to do this? – in order of (our) preference …
1. Video DownloadHelper is for both Firefox and Chrome. Can be useful when the actual video link is hard to locate. It works way better on FireFox than with Chrome – e.g. Google prevents it from downloading off YouTube. (There is now an app to go with it which you will have to install: Video DownloadHelper Companion).
Important difference: Video Download Helper is a browser extension that secretly installs malware.
3. WinX Youtube Downloader is what we recommend for desktop beginners (best free). It’s simple, malware-clean and has plenty of flexibility.
4. KeepVid Pro is most recommended, easiest of all of the methods; has a built-in converter; can get you in behind many privacy settings; websites and through email links! … (Annual subscription).
5. P2P downloads
P2P is just a way to transfer stuff digitally online. Estimates suggest about one third of the internet is P2P traffic. It’s how Skype works, and will probably be the architecture of the next web, post-Google.
P2P is a friction point for differing opinions about how the world should be run. Copying content can be illegal, depending on the relevant international treaties. The entertainment industry in particular has large resources invested in policing copyright on music and entertainment products … 2-3 years post-release.
qBittorrent is our only recommended client. It is open-source, clean and easy to use, with a dedicated developer community ensuring it remains stable and leading edge. Although it works fine straight out of the box there are configuration improvements which should be tried.
As the software improves it has become easy to remain insignificant, though not anonymous. With a little more savvy and a few dollars it is now possible to become totally invisible. You should research your options.
The main risks from downloading files via torrents are from opening fake or malicious files. Mostly though they are not and with a bit of common sense it’s easy to avoid this.
The torrents that we make available are tested.
Tweaking the settings
- Setting up qBittorrent (left), covers options settings e.g. ‘Require encryption‘.
- qBittorrent also supports Anonymous Mode, please research the variables involved.
- Further anonymity can be afforded by using a proxy service, either paid or free.
P2P – Introduction (3 min.)
Setting up qBittorrent
The Options tab in this video is a bit out of date — it differs from the current version. Just follow along with the recommendations where possible.
Getting busted for downloading
7. Email Encryption
PGP and OpenPGP
PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption has a history of suppression by the USofA government: fortunately it was leaked beyond containment and has since evolved into a worldwide standard. The open source version OpenPGP ensures the permanent transparency and continued enhancement of the underlying code … see OpenPGP.com
How it works …
- In practise, when using encryption your input gets a filtered through a jumbling calculation with your public key. After transmission it is reassembled through a reversing calculation, using your private key. All encryption works this way.
- The security of this process depends upon; (a) how hard the key is to crack, (b) where along the transmission chain the jumbling procedure takes place, and (c) the recipient having access to the correct privacy key.
- If your recipients aren’t going to set up their browser to send back encrypted emails, then you should set up a free encrypted Contact Page during this set up stage. You’ll need to Add Device (current computer/ phone/ etc.)
NOTE: This content is presently under construction. Please come back later …
Getting started …
- for gMail on Brave browser:
- Before you start we recommend creating a private pass-phrase – a sentence or group of words as a password. Save a copy of it somewhere safe. Afterwards you can email it to yourself, encrypted, as a backup online.
- Open your browser and go to the chrome web store – FlowCrypt page and add the extension ( Add to Chrome )
- for gMail on Chrome browser: Follow the same instructions as above.
- for other webmail services: Check out your options HERE.