packetcat reads 2022 Week 48 – The Flight of the Aphrodite by S.J Morden

Pages: 347
Purchased from: Kobo

A rather depressing hard sci-fi novel. This one definitely leant into the psychological horror aspects of hard-scifi. I am not sure just how realistic the mental breakdowns depicted are but it certainly was a book where there’s no respite from the onslaught of the terror of being in deep space far away from any help.

I only recommend this one if you are up for a psychologically grueling read.

packetcat’s Guide to Moderating in the Fediverse: The Basics

So you have decided to run a instance on the fediverse. Welcome! But also I’m so sorry.

Jokes aside this post is intended to be a guide to the basic principles I keep at the back of my head while moderating Ten Forward since 2017.

I have been meaning to write a post like this ever since the November 2022 wave of new users and fediverse admins started happening. Now more than ever there is a new wave of admins and moderators who may be completely new to moderating a social space where they do not personally know the people in it.

Yep, that means this guide is targeted towards multi-user instance administrators and moderators. Single-user instance folks, some of this stuff may apply to you but this isn’t meant for you!

So before we get into the details, I am going to break down this guide into a few key points:

  • Separation of concerns
  • Proactive vs Reactive moderation
  • Transparency. Accountability, and Responsibility

I intend to keep this post at a 101 high level overview level. Some of the things I mention can be entire topics of blog posts on their own and I may write more about specifics later but for now we stick to the basics.

Continue reading “packetcat’s Guide to Moderating in the Fediverse: The Basics”

packetcat reads 2022 Week 46 – The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

Pages: 391
Purchased from: Kobo

One of the review quotes for this book described it as a “powerfully disturbing space operas” and I agree with the disturbing bit but I don’t think I would describe it as powerful. To be quite honest I found most of it fairly tedious, especially the middle section of the book. The writer also seems obsessed with the concept of birthing in a way that felt just a tad bit weird (and not in a good way).

The premise/world of the book is interesting, the rest of it is…meh.

Anti-tracking tools on iOS devices

Reading this Ars Technica article about DuckDuckGo’s anti-tracking tool:

DuckDuckGo is positioning App Tracking Protection as something like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency for iOS devices, but “even more powerful.” Enabling the service in the DuckDuckGo app for Android (under the “More from DuckDuckGo” section) installs a local VPN service on your phone, which can then start automatically blocking trackers on DDG’s public blocklist. DuckDuckGo says this happens “without sending app data to DuckDuckGo or other remote servers.”

While comparing this tool to iOS’ App Tracking Transparency is a easy and free marketing win for DuckDuckGo, I would like to point out that equivalent tools do exist on iOS.

The closest equivalent to this on iOS would be the 1Blocker app which has a “firewall” functionality that blocks trackers within apps using DNS based blackholing. It does this by using iOS VPN APIs to set itself as a VPN that just provides a local DNS server. 1Blocker also provides browser ad-blocking using Safari’s content block APIs.

I don’t use 1Blocker’s DNS blackholing functionality as running a VPN can cause a significant/noticeable drain on my phone’s battery life. But otherwise it gets the job done. I am not 100% sure as I don’t use Android and cannot test this but the DuckDuckGo tool is also using Android’s VPN functionality and theoretically will see similar battery drain.

On my home wifi network, I rely on my local pi-hole setup to do DNS blackholing of trackers. When on cellular data or on other wifi networks I rely on NextDNS and its iOS app which uses iOS’ native DoH (DNS-over-HTTPS) functionality to send my DNS traffic to NextDNS. The app can be configured to turn itself off on certain wifi networks which is what I’ve done so I don’t end up inefficiently sending DNS traffic to NextDNS when I have a caching resolver on my LAN.

The above NextDNS method of blackholing has no discernible battery drain issues. The only downside here is sending your DNS query traffic to NextDNS which I’m fine with as I trust them to not be shady with said data.

It truly is depressing just how much data a lot of apps hoover up in the name of “analytics” or “telemetry”. I have long lost any trust on providing this kind of data to developers so I simply just block all of it. Sorry to the decent developers who do use telemetry in a privacy sensitive way.