DIY Internet: More on personal VPNs

A few followup thoughts regarding Monday’s post about setting up a personal VPN.

Self-Sufficient, DIY Internet

All the Facebook Cambridge Analytica nonsense has really emphasized how dependent we have become on third party services and social networks.

As I thought about it, the idea of being self-sufficient online has really started to appeal to me. I mean this blog has always been independent, fully controlled by me. As a web developer with fully-stack devops ninja experience, I have all the skill and experience I need to set up any sort of web service I want.

So when I thought about the reasons for using a VPN regularly and the likelihood that I’d have to pay for a decent service, I wanted to see if i could do it myself. On severs I own.

I think there are more opportunities to DIY online, to rely less on dubious third parties.

Peace of Mind

As I alluded to in my first post, the real world security threats associated with public wifi are only a minor concern. I’m not generally too concerned, most of the time.

That said this little icon next to my WiFi connection gives me such a massive sense of security and piece of mind. The fact that it auto-connects without me having to take an action is just the icing on the cake.


Streissand is an anti-censorship tool designed to bypass draconian government censorship like China’s Greatfirewall. You don’t live in China, do you really need do worry about censorship? Probably — and if you hang around the right subreddits — increasingly so.

Canada’s telcos are presently lobbying for a censorship regime. Perhaps the first draft targets content most of us would agree is “bad,” but who knows what the next version will look like.

Even if you’re less paranoid, there’s a good chance your workplace or school is filtering some content. Maybe it’s not content you bump in to very often. But if even if they are not filtering traffic, they’re almost certainly collecting your web traffic. That’s something I’ve never been too comfortable with.

A VPN allows you to take back your online freedom whenever you’re using a work, school or any other network that distrusts you.

Bypassing Geographic Restrictions

In case you missed, VPNs allow you to bypass geographic content restrictions. When you use a VPN, you traffic originates from the IP address of the VPN server. And since cloud providers host servers in many physical locations, you can easily bypass any geo restrictions based on IP address.

If you missed Monday’s post you can read it here:

How to: Set Up A Personal VPN


Ev Williams and the future of online publishing

Great piece on Ev Williams and the open web.

Yet his run near the top has been remarkably consistent. While other CEOs in his early-web cohort have left the industry, or have become writers or consultants, Williams has stuck around, leading companies. His startups have nearly all specialized in the same abstract medium: text boxes.

Ev Williams is The Forrest Gump of The Internet


I haven’t tweeted in a week

July 11, 2013 is the day I realized Twitter was turning me into a bad internet person.

I watched my Twitter stream flow by all day that day and I couldn’t think of a nice, polite, constructive response to any single one of the tweets flowing by. It’s not that the people I follow are terrible human beings who post mindless drivel. In fact, I’ve recently trimmed my followers down to a short list of quality tweeters.

I realized that I was becoming a snarky asshole. Every moment I spent looking at Twitter was a moment I spent forcing myself not to be a jerk in public.

In my previous post I wrote that I use Twitter as a “real news” source. But to be honest over the past week, I haven’t felt like I’m missing anything.

I doubt I’ll write another 13,367 tweets.

The larger question here is whether this is truly a “me problem” or a Twitter problem.


Blog First, Tweet Later

WordCamp Winnipeg was absolutely amazing! I’ve literally been waiting my career to see this calibre of event in Winnipeg.

David Pensato gave a really great talk about the future of social blogging. He made the keen observation that, with Facebook, Twitter and the like we are all blogging all the time.

As an experiment, I am going to challenge myself to write a blog post instead of a Facebook status update, or tweet. I’m already seeing some potential issues with this idea, more on that later.

Oh yeah, Peter Chester‘s talk on measuring WordPress performance was one of the best tech talks I’ve seen, ever!  Slides are here.


Twitter Conversation Observation

I started listening to podcasts right around the same time twitter was starting to gain a following among über -nerds. I can’t remember which came first. Doesn’t matter.

At the time, it was not uncommon for an every nerd podcast to be dominated by twitter talk, for weeks on end.

With twitter’s recent “new guideline” announcement, every single nerd podcast I subscribe to is once again dominated by twitter talk.

They’re doing something right.