~jonn/smog-archive

19c7f59daf9d0ad9560e764f172d0ee3208e7edd — Jonn 3 years ago
Problem: There's no git mirror of SMOG

Solution: Mirror the issues and investigate how does sourcehut render HTML.
A  => README.html +1 -0
@@ 1,1 @@
<h1>It works?</h1>

A  => gemini/Issue1.gmi +161 -0
@@ 1,161 @@
```
░██████╗███╗░░░███╗░█████╗░░██████╗░
██╔════╝████╗░████║██╔══██╗██╔════╝░
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██████╔╝██║░╚═╝░██║╚█████╔╝╚██████╔╝
╚═════╝ ╚═╝   ╚═╝ ╚════╝  ╚═════╝  ░
╔═════════════════════════════════╗░
║   News from the Free Internet   ║░
║   Issue 1,  December 19, 2020   ║░
╚═════════════════════════════════╝░
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```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: The Hardest Part of Any Journey
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Smog; An Independent E-Zine, by littlejohn
5. Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, and More, by littlejohn

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

> Wait are you serious did you really start an e-zine? In 2020?

I did but that has nothing to do with being serious!

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## The Hardest Part of Any Journey
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Good morning, dear readers, Gemini and Gopher fans, independent techies and non-techies alike!

You are reading the first issue of Smog: The Saturday MOrning Gemzine, the first Gemini e-zine of the Free Internet.

(I know it's not morning everywhere, that's just a figure of speech, you see!)

Smog is an independent, non-commercial e-zine that aims to be your companion through the surveillance-free, independent-minded Internet universe. It will include news, reviews, art, and every other sort of information about Gemini, Gopher, Unix, indie software development and many more.

It's no coincidence that Smog is published on Gemini. Smog is to the large tech websites as Gemini space is to the WWW. It's an independent, small zine, decoupled from the content mill of the modern web, devoid of SEO efforts, a magazine that attempts to build bridges among communities. Smog seeks to encourage its readers to make new things and tinker with old ones, rather than to monetize their lunch breaks and their I-can't-take-this-crap-anymore bouts of procrastination.

Smog is published (almost) every week on Saturday morning. The last issue of every month (except for December 2020, most likely) will be a larger issue, with original articles, tutorials, op-eds and other goodies!

The ephemeral nature of e-zines is well known so I will not make any promises on that front, but you know what they say: the hardest part of any journey is making it past the doorstep.

# IN THE NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace News

=> https://git.sr.ht/~julienxx/castor9 Castor 9: A plan9 Gemini browser

Julien Blanchard wrote a great Gemini browser for the Plan 9 operating system. I haven't tried it *yet* as I want to avoid the Plan 9 Black Hole of Free Time for a while but if any of you are sucked in already, you might as well check it out while you're there!

---

=> gemini://shit.cx/tech/meta/2020-12-11-announcing-a-gemini-monitoring-service/ Jon's Gemini Healthchecker

Jon wrote a very small, self-contained and elegant monitoring service for Gemini capsules.

---

=> gemini://gemini.bortzmeyer.org/software/lupa/ Lupa, a Gemini crawler

Stephane Bortzmeyer announced Lupa, a Gemini crawler that maps the Gemini space for research and statistics. Lupa is not a search engine -- it only stores metadata and its aims are altogether different. Its author is also publishing the stats that Lupa has gathered so far. The stats, I dare say, are even more interesting than the program!

---

=> https://github.com/LukeEmmet/SmolNetSharp

SmolNetSharp is a Gopher and Gemini client library for C#. It comes with a simple demo to help you get started. The library is very neat and easy to pick up. Yours truly hasn't written any C# code since back when C# 2.0 was fresh, and I got a client up and running in no time.

---

## 3. Tech News

=> https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/839397/75ee2f4ef14ad80f/ The Future of general-purpose computing

Jake Edge runs an excellent analysis of the recent Apple OCSP server failure kerfuffle. The real gem, though, is in Dave Heinemeier Hansson's tweet:

> The whole process of having Apple mix these “protections against malware” into a system that’s also a “protection of our business model” remains deeply problematic. [..] We need to remain vigilant, and resist these power grabs masquerading purely as benevolent security measures. Yes, there are security benefits. No, we don’t trust Apple to dictate whether our computers should be allowed to run a piece of software. We already lost that on iOS.

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201214201722if_/https://www.reuters.com/article/BigStory12/idUSKBN28N0PG Suspected Russian hackers spied on U.S. Treasury emails - sources

A supply chain attack whose initial target was SolarWinds' Orion platform enabled foreign agents to exploit what could be one of the most spectacular security breaches in recent history. The extent of the breach -- and the exact identity of those who exploited it -- are not known yet. The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) was definitely affected, as far as we know, but the extent of the hack is still being investigated.

=> https://web.archive.org/web/20201218113458if_/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-breach-idUSKBN28R2ZJ Just a few days later, Microsoft announced it was affected, too

This is an event that will have far-reaching consequences and it's very likely that this is not the last time you'll be reading about it in the Smog...

---

=> https://blog.gtk.org/2020/12/16/gtk-4-0/ GTK 4.0

The venerable GTK toolkit has reached its 4.0 version. Most of us would rather not remember the early days of the 3.x series. Here's hoping the early days of GTK 4.x will be of a completely different nature!

There's certainly a lot to be on the lookout for in GTK 4.0. Some of the interesting changes include:

=> https://blog.gtk.org/2020/10/21/accessibility-in-gtk-4/ A simplified accessibility model
=> https://blog.gtk.org/2020/09/30/gtk-3-99-2/ Improved shader support

---

=> https://blog.yossarian.net/2020/12/16/Static-calls-in-Linux-5-10 Static calls in Linux 5.10

William Woodruff has an exceptional analysis of the static calls mechanism introduced in Linux 5.10. Static calls are a replacement for global function pointers, intended to alleviate the performance impact of some Spectre mitigations. While the mechanism is certainly architecture-specific, I warmly encourage even those of you who don't really care about x86 anymore to have a look. The general principles may be of relevance well beyond Spectre.

---

# EDITOR'S CORNER

## 5. Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

### Have Something to Say?

I will gladly publish material from Smog's readers, as long as it's not illegal or offensive, and if you are willing to license it under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works. I suggest the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, which adds a few more restrictions on top of that, but I'm happy with whatever other license that allows non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

If English isn't your native language, or if you're afraid you're not a good writer, please don't worry about it. I will help you polish your article, and besides, this isn't The New York Times.

In-depth technical content is encouraged, as well as art that somehow takes advantage of Gemini's or Gopher's text-only nature -- ASCII art, good-quality fiction and so on. But I will gladly publish anything that might be of interest to the Free Internet community.

### Letters from readers

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org.

If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Your name and email address will not be published, and I will edit your letter to fix any obvious grammar or spelling errors that might make it easier to identify who sent them. But I will obviously respect your wishes if you don't want to see your letter published.

### Ads

Smog runs ads for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time.

I will generally say *yes* to any ad that's not illegal or offensive if:

* You're trying to raise funds for a charity or for a community project
* You're looking for work, or looking to hire someone
* You're selling a product or a service that may be of interest to the community
* You're looking to promote an open-source project that you wrote

I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in a random order. I can run an ad for up to 4 consecutive issues, and they will get shuffled each time. Donation calls for good causes are the only exception: they will always be published at the top of the ads section, and I can run them for as long as necessary.

Please note that ads will be printed in a section that starts with a big "no endorsement" fine print.

Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want -- as long as the result is no bigger than 72 lines x 8 columns. Links will have to be copy-pasted by your readers.

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

A  => gemini/Issue2.gmi +262 -0
@@ 1,262 @@
```
░██████╗███╗░░░███╗░█████╗░░██████╗░
██╔════╝████╗░████║██╔══██╗██╔════╝░
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██████╔╝██║░╚═╝░██║╚█████╔╝╚██████╔╝
╚═════╝ ╚═╝   ╚═╝ ╚════╝  ╚═════╝  ░
╔═════════════════════════════════╗░
║   News from the Free Internet   ║░
║   Issue 2,  December 26, 2020   ║░
╚═════════════════════════════════╝░
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```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: Blinkenlights, by littlejohn
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. The Free Internet, by littlejohn
5. Cyberspace Musings
6. Classifieds

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

> Gemini is a cool idea but what's the point?

Yes!

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## 1. Blinkenlights
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Smog has now reached issue 2, which if memory serves me right puts us right up there in the top 5% most long-lived e-zines ever published. Two issues isn't much, but a new year's resolution that says "publish 48 issues" sounds a lot more realistic when you write it down before issue #3, rather than before issue #1.

I was more than just a little surprised by how much attention Smog got. I honestly didn't expect it. It came as no surprise that the kind and enthusiastic Gemini community gave Smog a warm welcome. What surprised me was the magnitude. It feels like everyone who was ever on Gemini took the time to write me a message of encouragement, and I am not good enough at this, like, saying words *THING*, to tell you just how happy you've made me!

This has given me tremendous joy and inspiration, and not because it was about Smog per se. Smog is just an e-zine, and I'm not using the word "just" ironically. It's not Phrack of PoC || GTFO. It's barely a blip on the radar. But lots of people still reached out with more than just a token "cool, upvoting". I got questions and suggestions and even our first ad! That tells me people are *doing* things with Gemini. It's not just an attention mill. It's a small but lively community -- one of the small, lively communities that keep the hacker spirit going.

And it's *particularly* during times like these, when the blinkenlights of the Christmas trees briefly outshine the blinkenlights of the data centres, that the human quality of the online universe we all inhabit is worth remembering.

For the past year, "social interaction" on the Internet has come to mean Zoom meetings at work and customer calls. But for some us, its meaning has been completely different, for decades now.

Many of us have friends they've never seen in flesh and bones, whose voice they'd never heard and whose hand they'd never shook. BBS-es, IRC, ICQ, the plethora of IM programs that followed, web forums, the Fediverse -- and, like it or not, yep, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter -- have brought so many of us together, in ways that no other technology ever could.

And to some of us, this has been not just a fun pastime, but a refuge in times of loneliness, a place where everyone who'd ever been branded a misfit could, nonetheless, fit and find friends.

So here's to you, to all those who make the cyberspace a place of unbridled curiosity and hope. Enjoy your time with your family and your friends -- and if your life appears to be devoid of either, remember that you are *never* alone out here. Just because I don't know you by name doesn't mean I don't think of you.

Merry Blinkenlights Season, everyone!

# IN THE NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> gemini://soviet.circumlunar.space/ The Mare Crisium Soviet Socialist Regency
=> gopher://soviet.circumlunar.space:70/1 (Also available via Gopher)

The Mare Crisium Soviet Socialist Regency is the latest colony in circumlunar space. It joins its sister colonies, the Mare Serenitas Circumlunar Corporate Republic and the Mare Tranquillitatis People's Circumlunar Zaibatsu, as part of the flourishing Circumlunar project.

This is the first colony established after two years. Solderpunk's initial announcement can be found here:

=> gemini://gemini.circumlunar.space/~solderpunk/gemlog/a-new-circumlunar-colony.gmi A New Circumlunar Colony

Some of its members have already published a bunch of interesting things. For example, sejo has a cool atom feed generation script here:

=> gemini://soviet.circumlunar.space/sejo/gemawk.gmi sejo's gemawk page

and polaris, who some of you may know from thurk.org, has a constructed language that may not spark joy the way Toki Pona does, but still sounds very cool:

=> gemini://soviet.circumlunar.space/polaris/lakife/index.gmi Lakife language

I, for one, welcome our new Soviet In^H^HOverl^H^H^H^H^Hfriends!

---

=> https://fosstodon.org/@hyperrealgopher/105405426560043322 Hyperreal Gopher's gopherhole builder

Hyperreal Gopher is working on a Gopherhole builder in Haskell. It's not yet complete and, at the time of writing, the first release isn't out yet, but they are looking for feedback about what features people are looking for in such a builder. Something to keep an eye on!

---

=> https://git.sr.ht/~fkfd/sophon Sophon - a wiki server for Gemini

Sophon is a wiki engine written in Go that use a powerful and flexible diff algorithm. It's in its early stages of development, but it's already at the point where it's useful!

---

=> https://social.shadowfacts.net/objects/7a320501-dddd-47fe-9ba6-2893948d3a28 Rocketeer Gemini browser for iOS reaches public beta!

Arcturan Mega-Shadowfacts brings you a brand-new Gemini browser for iOS. Your friendly editor cannot attest to how well it works as all the Apple hardware he owns is of the vintage kind, but I hear good things about it!

---

=> https://github.com/pitr/gemini-ios Gemini for iOS

pitr's excellent open-source Gemini client was recently accepted into the App Store. It supports pretty much anything you could ever wish for -- bookmarks, tabs, full history, search, and more!

## 3. Tech News

=> https://xfce.org/about/news/?post=1608595200 ...XFCE 4.16 was released

Minor releases tend to be a bigger deal in XFCE land, a rock-solid, stable environment that publishes infrequent but well-adorned and well-tested releases. XFCE 4.16 includes a considerable number of bugfixes and improvements.

Somewhat related:

=> https://github.com/ice-wm/icewm/releases/tag/2.0.0 IceWM 2.0 has been released

IceWM and XFCE both hark from a very different era of free and open source desktop development. Many would call them obsolete, but they have a steady and silent user base that enjoys their stable, steady progress.

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201222172202/https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-18/microsoft-is-designing-its-own-chips-for-servers-surface-pcs Microsoft is investigating using custom ARM chips for servers

According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft is now working on a custom ARM design for the servers that power its cloud workloads. The same Bloomberg source reports that Microsoft is also exploring such a chip for its Surface line.

This is interesting news because it allows us a glimpse at Microsoft's priorities. Designing custom CPUs that compete with Intel's CPUs for intensive -- even if specialized! -- workloads is expensive and long-winded. Only business units with the Crown Jewel rating get to dump money into that. Clearly, Microsoft's crown jewel is Azure.

Not that we didn't know it already but it shows a certain level of commitment to that idea.

--

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201222223631/https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/21/22194183/intel-nvidia-cisco-government-infected-solarwinds-hack The SolarWinds Plot Thickens

Well, it's so thick you might as well use it for concrete now. It turns out Intel, Nvidia, Cisco, Belink, VMware, the US Treasury, Commerce, State, Energy, and Homeland Security departments, are only some of the organisations that have been affected by the SolarWinds breach. According to SolarWinds, "fewer than 18,000" organisations were affected which is certainly a relief, I was afraid they'd be like 20,000 of them but yeah, 18,000 is fine, it's barely a blip on the radar at this point.

If you think *that* could've been handled it better, just you wait:

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201218031603/https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/15/22176053/solarwinds-hack-client-list-russia-orion-it-compromised SolarWinds tried to hide the list of breached customers

That backfired the way you expect it to backfire. I'd say we're about three high-level breaches before we have major corporations joining the fight for the right to be forgotten. I'm a hopeless optimist!

SolarWinds apparently had a big target painted on its back:

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201219231804/https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-solarwinds/second-hacking-team-was-targeting-solarwinds-at-time-of-big-breach-idUSKBN28T0U1 A second hacking team was targeting SolarWinds at the time of the big breach

Told you we'd return to this story real soon!

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201224205941/https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-12-24/oracle-google-antitrust-lawsuits Oracle's hidden hand is behind the Google antitrust lawsuits

According to a story initial reported by Bloomberg, Oracle may have played a role in the recent flurry of antitrust suits brought against Google. This wouldn't be surprising -- but revealing that an evil rival is behind all this also sounds like a PR hand that Google would gladly play. Their public perception isn't great but they're still at a point where most people would say hey, at least they're not *Oracle*. That's something worth keeping in mind through it all. Whether Oracle brought it up or not isn't something that ought to be relevant when it comes to whether Google broke the law or not.

My knee-jerk reaction was to try to find something poetic about two evil empires devouring each other but I think that would be grandiloquent...

---

# EDITOR'S CORNER

4. The Free Internet
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Almost one week has passed since I announced the first issue of Smog on the Gemini mailing list. At the time, I mentioned that the first issue is devoid of grand statements of vision -- given the ephemeral nature of e-zines, I figured it was a good idea to save those for the second issue. Well, you're reading the second issue, so I figured it's as good a time as any to tell you what that "Free Internet" punchline is about.

```
 /**
  * The original slogan I came up with was "The Free Internet's Second-Favourite
  * e-zine" but I figured that was presumptuous...
  */
```

If I were to make two lists, one called "things I don't miss about the Internet of the '90s" and one with "things I miss about the Internet of the '90s", the former would definitely be longer. Do you remember ActiveX? The Flash plug-in? Dial-up? MIDI blaring out of your speakers after clicking the wrong link?

The list of things I do miss would porbably have just one item: creativity in plain sight.

This whole Internet thing was new to most of us, so we were uninhibited about "the right way" to do things. Needless to say, this consistently yielded "cool" results, but the engineering quality and the viability of business models was more hit-and-miss. The former, though, is inherent to any new technology, and the latter wasn't a problem in many cases: lots of things were there *just because we could*.

Many successful early projects, both community projects and commercial ventures, challenged some aspect of conventional wisdom in some way. IUMA, the Internet Underground Music Archive, is a good example. IUMA was born by grafting the ideals of music fans and small artists on top of a new distribution technology, yielding something that quacked like a record company, walked like a record company, but was a completely different species.

Of course, there were plenty of ventures that were nothing more than "just like X, BUT ONLINE" -- they flourished, briefly, and then died off, quite spectacularly, right after Y2K.

But there was no established wisdom on how to do things and, thus, no heresy to be committed. There was an ever-present feeling that some revolution was always just around the corner.

At some point -- and this is probably something that happens to all technologies when they "come of age" and find mass adoption among those who aren't tech enthusiasts -- we exchanged that mindframe for one that favoured conformance over usefulness and originality.

The design of a new application, sorry, I meant *app*, the way your homepage looks, the way the app's icon looks -- all of these things, and more, will be judged not by their intrinsic value or functionality, but by how they conform to some "right way".

The next revolution is still right around the corner, but it never comes. Conditioned by daily stand-ups, infinite-scrolling timelines with news about whatever Elon "Space Karen" Musk did this time, and tech publications that are by now largely indistinguishable from press release fractional distillation installations, the Internet community at large would stare revolution right in the eye and wonder what the big deal is, I mean, it doesn't even appear to be monetized. One of these days someone will come up with a holographic projector and hundreds of designers will say it's terrible because it's not flat enough.

But not everyone has adopted this mindframe. All around the world, some people are still doing things that seem every kind of wrong, but if you take the time to ask them why they are the way they are, *they kindda seem to have a point*.

Their projects have little or no big commercial backing, although they sometimes have the financial backing of their fans. They aren't grand, all-encompassing platforms with a unified design visions, but they *work*, and they get better every day, one impossible thing at a time.

Gemini is a good example, and the reason why Smog is published over this protocol. Sourcehut is another good example (and you can tell I like it because I am willing to mention it despite its creator's abhorrent preferences in terms of text editors).

I've taken to calling this community -- or, rather, this loose association of communities around Fediverse servers, pubnixes, various FOSS projects, and so on -- the Free Internet.

It's not free as in beer, or free as in it will lecture you about the danger of proprietary software (although some of its members will and it's okay, I still like you just the way you are!). It's free as in unfettered by the Internet's technological norms.

It's the Internet of creators and tinkerers of every kind, and I don't mean just in the *technical* sense. Have a look at mastodon.art: you'll find musicians, graphical artists, entertainers, writers, poets, and many, many more.

Many of these people herd Kubernetes containers, or wrangle with Node.js microservices that have 400 lines of code and 500 dependencies, or keep the Zoom call wheels spinning, or write hype-y landing pages, or fiddle with Excel sheets, all day. But they get home and, over dinner, they figure out there's *got* to be more to technology than that.

And they're right: their dreamy, bold minds are free in a way that's incompatible with Silicon Valley's status quo. They are the inhabitants, and the makers, of the Free Internet.

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 5. Cyberspace Musings

=> http://evrl.com/devops/cloud/2020/12/18/serverless.html Back to the '70s with Serverless by Cees de Groot

Cees de Groot has an extremely interesting personal analysis of the latest episode of "everything in tech happens in cycles" -- serverless. I share both the author's reverence for Smalltalk and their grim prediction for the next episode in that series. On the bright side, now that this field has been disrupted to death, it looks like it is now ripe for a new generation of consultants if you are into that!

---

=> https://github.com/magiblot/tvision A Modern Port of Turbo Vision

My prayers have been answered!

---

=> https://googleprojectzero.blogspot.com/2020/12/an-ios-hacker-tries-android.html An iOS hacker tries Android

Brandon Azad from Project Zero has a wonderful, in-depth story about the writing a kernel exploit for Android. It's a very interesting read, with a lot of details and -- something rare in the age of copy-paste tutorials -- a very careful explanation of the though process that went behind it.

## 6. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

---

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)


A  => gemini/Issue3.gmi +264 -0
@@ 1,264 @@
```
░██████╗███╗░░░███╗░█████╗░░██████╗░
██╔════╝████╗░████║██╔══██╗██╔════╝░
╚█████╗░██╔████╔██║██║░░██║██║░░██╗░
░╚═══██╗██║╚██╔╝██║██║░░██║██║░░╚██╗
██████╔╝██║░╚═╝░██║╚█████╔╝╚██████╔╝
╚═════╝ ╚═╝   ╚═╝ ╚════╝  ╚═════╝  ░
╔═════════════════════════════════╗░
║   News from the Free Internet   ║░
║   Issue 3,  January 2, 2021     ║░
╚═════════════════════════════════╝░
 ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: What Would Success Look Like, by littlejohn
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Cyberspace Musings
5. Letters From Our Readers
6. Classifieds

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

Best viewed under xterm.

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## 1. What Would Success Look Like?
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Happy New Year, everyone! 2020 just went out through the back door. Unfortunately, it hasn't picked up its thrash -- that's still up to us to do! -- but at least we have a good excuse to rejoice and be merry. After the year we've had, I'll take any excuse for that, thank you very much!

I've been fortunate enough to have *two* good reasons for that in the last couple of day. This week marked one of the happiest events in Smog's (so far short) life: its first mirror. Over a protocol other than Gemini. Finger, to be precise. No, really, check it out: finger smog@typed-hole.org.

This is a big deal for me. Not because it means more people will read Smog, although that's obviously something I'm happy about, but because it means it's prompted someone to try something new. I've barely been at it for three weeks, and someone already read Smog and thought okay, I'm going to do something fun with it.

How many readers a publication has is a success metric that's taken pretty much for granted. In and of itself, it's just a vanity metric. It's relevant because it gives you a base figure for other, "more important" things. How many people your message can read and influence. How many people see the ads you publish. More recently -- since, presumably, people won't spend too much time reading things they aren't interested in -- how big the targeted advertising base is and how much behavioural data you can siphon and cross-correlate.

Obviously, these are all moot points for Smog.

The overlap between "people interested in Gemini" and "people with malfunctioning corporate bullshit detectors" is probably negligible. Smog's is a skeptical audience that's disproportionately difficult to "influence", especially when you factor in how small it is anyway.

Smog runs ads, but it runs them for free. The size of Smog's reader base would constitute leverage, but *for what*? The price is the same whether it's two people seeing the ads or two million (hey, Gemini - HTTP gateways are a thing, yeah?)

As for personal data: first of all, Gemini lacks the means to gather enough of it to make it useful. But even if it develops it in the future, targeted advertising would never make it to Smog, not just because I *personally* think it's a parasitic piece of technology that I want to have no part in and no dealings with, but also because it would be a really stupid move. Being able to escape the content churning mill of the targeted advertising industry is one of the reasons why people are on Gemini in the first place. If someone attempted to exploit Smog's reader base through that, it would vanish in an instant. The fact that said reader base is probably a dozen people certainly helps, too :-).

So what would constitute success, then? If I were to sit here on January 1st 2022 and look back upon 2021, how would I know if it were a successful year for Smog?

I think the right measure of Smog's success would be inspiration. How many people did Smog nudge towards, or help, or inspired to try new things, to experiment with something, to hack something?

That's why Smog's finger mirror is a big deal for me. As far as I know, it's the first piece of tinkering that Smog inspired, and I hope many others will follow.

Needless to say, this isn't easy to measure, but I also have no stakeholders to hold me accountable for it. Nobody is going to demand inspiration metrics and gather six other suits in a room to discuss if I carried out our inspiration-driving objectives.

This belief, that the ultimate usefulness of a written publication is in disseminating ideas and inspiring others, rather than in the immediate profit it creates for its publishers, is what "fueled" many of the decisions behind Smog. It's why Smog is permissively-licensed (minus the commercial distribution catch, that I wrestled with for a while but eventually left in as a useful safeguard). It's why derivative work is not just allowed, but explicitly encouraged. It's why Smog run ads for free.

But this approach isn't (just) a cultural statement. I'm not a disgruntled, burnt-out journalist showing a middle finger to the rich publishing industry bosses (I'm not a journalist in the first place, and I'm not going to waste precious calories raising the middle finger to some rich publishing exec!) I actually think *this* is a good recipe for publishing something that people want to read.

If you build something specifically in order to facilitate the dissemination work of PR departments in the tech industry and to sell ads, you're going to come up with something that's not really good for anything else. Eventually, publications that optimize for that devolve to things that only people from the PR and advertising industries read, precisely so that they can see what other PR and ads people do.

If you build something specifically *in order to disseminate ideas*, you will inherently end up publishing things that are worth reading, assuming, of course, that you do it right. If you're also seeking some sort of profit, you can successfully piggyback ads on top of that, and you'll have the right-sized reader base.

So if you're reading Smog these days and want to do something neat, whether it involves Smog or not, why wait? Go do it, and drop me a line to tell me about it, too. I'm *always* going to be boastful about things Smog's readers do!

# IN THE NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> gemini://bearforceone.net/outpost Outpost: A Gemini Forum

John Lemme came up with a very neat messageboard/link aggregator with support for threaded comments -- sort of like Reddit, minus the "View this community in our app" pop-up, and you won't have to go to old.bearforceone.net/outpost to *actually use it*. Check it out!

---

=> gemini://warmedal.se/~bjorn/posts/making-geminispace-social.gmi Call For Ideas: Making Geminispace Social

As you've certainly seen countless times, many Gemlog posts are written in response to other Gemlog posts. But there is currently no standard way to embed that information in a post. Thus, you can't easily to do things like automatically "ping back" the original author, or find other posts made in response to the same original post.

ew0k, whom you may know from the Garden Gnome project, is investigating a way to preserve and augment the "social" ties behind Gemlog posts, and has a lot of interesting points to make!

---

=> https://www.autistici.org/interzona/tinmop.html Tinmop 0.4.0 released

Version 0.4.0 of the Tinmop Gemini and Pleroma client has just been released. This version includes several bugfixes, scripts, and new features.

---

=> gemini://gemini.thededem.de/lc19/ LC19 Gemini server

LC19, a simple Gemini server that follows the USCPI model, has just been made available by its author. It's a simple, clean tool written in a very Unix-y style.

---

=> gemini://directory.randomroad.net/ The Random Road Gemini Directory

The Random Road Gemini Directory is a manually curated directory of Gemini capsules. Its author mentions that it was inspired by the CommunityWiki 'Trunk' for Mastodon accounts, but for some of us it might be reminiscent of something else -- that long-lost gem called The Open Directory Project.

---

=> https://github.com/pgorman/gneto/ Gneto: a personal Gemini proxy

Gneto is a very neat tool that runs a Gemini <-> HTTP proxy on a local port. It's not meant to build a *public* gateway -- it runs a *local* proxy. Think ofit as a local instance of proxy.vulpes.one or portal.muzz.us, just for your own use. Check it out!

---

## 3. Tech News

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201231171033/https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/adobe-now-shows-alerts-in-windows-10-to-uninstall-flash-player/ Adobe Flash Player is now truly, finally, really, really, dead. For real.

The venerable Flash Player was officially EOL-ed on December 31st 2020, and running Flash content in the plug-in will be blocked after January 12th. It's been a long and wild ride.

Loathsome though this closed-source, bug-ridden, CVE museum plug-in may be, IMHO the HTML5 era hasn't yet produced anything that comes close to how accessible and flexible Flash was. The open technology behind modern web browsers is certainly a progress in technical terms, but replicating things that took a few hours to make in Flash is still a week-long CSS hacking effort that frequently produces disappointing results.

If it's the Flash games that you miss, you'll probably want to go here:

=> https://bluemaxima.org/flashpoint/ The Flashpoint webgame preservation project

---

=> http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/topics/20201225_samples/ Images of the Ryugu samples

Images of the samples from Ryugu have been posted on the Hayabusa2 project website. Yes, I know they're rocks, but they're not *just* rocks!

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201230231607/https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/29/apple-corellium-lawsuit/ Corellium wins lawsuit against Apple

The latest episode of "You Don't Need No Law Degree, Common Sense will Suffice" has Corellium, a security company that developed what is, essentially, an iPhone emulator, win a completely bollocks suit that Apple filled for reasons that aren't very easy to discern in the first place, but presumably have something to do with their failure to acquire Corellium back in 2018.

Apple, according to the Washington Post's excellent summary, argued that "Corellium's products could be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands because security flaws discovered by Corellium could be used to hack iPhones". That would be especially problematic, as "Corellium sells it product indiscriminately". Judge Rodeny Smith graciously called these claims "puzzling, if not disingenuous": the "virtual iPhones" meet the fair use definition, and it turned out that Corellium does, in fact, vet its customers, too.

"Puzzling, if not disingenuous" is, apparently, legalese for bullshit, and I intend to call it nothing but *that* from now on!

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201231202544/https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/12/activist-hedge-fund-advises-intel-to-outsource-cpu-manufacturing/ Intel urged to consider outsourcing CPU manufacturing

Spurred by the rather unsatisfying performance of Intel's shares, Third Point, who quite literally holds a billion-dollar stake in Intel, has very publicly urged Intel's CEO to consider a number of measures that ought to improve their increasingly difficult situation.

The most important suggestions mentioned in the letter are outsourcing the CPU manufacturing business and divesting "certain failed acquisitions" -- the letter doesn't mention which ones, but I'm just saying, have you heard about anything useful ever coming out of the Altera acquisition?

Intel's position is certainly unenviable. Its leading position in terms of manufacturing has slowly eroded until it gave way to Samsung and TSMC. AMD, its main competitor in the PC industry, directly benefits from this, as they contract TSMC for their manufacturing. Their CPUs are also being pushed off Apple's product line.

Whether this would help Intel or Third Point is, of course, a completely different matter. They might be on to something. Or it might just be some of the usual hedge fund, uh, puzzling, if not disingenuous talk.

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201230170926/https://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/third-points-full-letter-to-intel-911975/ You can read the full letter here.

---

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 4. Cyberspace Musings

=> https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2020/12/how-and-why-i-stopped-buying-new-laptops.html How and Why I Stopped Buying New Laptops

Your friendly editor was scatter-brained enough that he forgot to link to this wonderful nugget of environment-friendly information back when it was fresh. But it's worth reading it at any time!

---
=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201231181431/https://www.theregister.com/2020/12/31/as_uncle_sam_continues_to/ As Uncle Sam continues to clamp down on Big Tech, Apple pelted with more and more complaints from third-party App Store devs

The Register sums up the latest on Apple's ongoing AppStore trouble. As always, there are two sides to every story -- but since on of these sides is Apple's, there's a good chance that side is mostly puzzling, if not disingenuous.

---

=> https://mandreyel.github.io/posts/rust-bittorrent-engine/ Writing a Bittorrent engine in Rust

mandreyel has an interesting post on the basic architecture and implementation of crateorrent, a Bittorrent engine written in Rust. It's an interesting read whether you're fluent in Rust or not.

---

## 5. Letters From Our Readers

```
* * *
```

~aravk writes to tell us about mblaze:

> From: aravk <email redacted>
>
> Hi!  SMOG is very cool, and I wanted to share something that I found to
> be really helpful: `mblaze`, a suite of maildir manipulation utilities
> following the UNIX philosophy (disclaimer: no affiliation).  I've tried
> aerc, neomutt, and a bunch of web-based interfaces, but this is the only
> one that I've really liked.  I wrote a blog post about it, describing
> common (and cool) use cases with it.  I know that everybody has
> different opinions about mail and how to handle it, but this is
> something I found really effortless to use yet really powerful, which is
> why I wanted to share.
>
> => https://github.com/leahneukirchen/mblaze
> => gemini://gemini.ctrl-c.club/~aravk/blog/2020-12-29-mblaze.gmi
>
> ~aravk
>
> P.S: Loving how you're handling SMOG!

I haven't used mblaze (yet!) but I have used other tools written by Leah Neukirchen, and I think her work is nothing short of amazing. I imagine mblaze has to be really good, too.

And, of course, thank you very much for your kind words! Gemini is fueled primarily by reader satisfaction and curiosity -- given the sorry state of user tracking and profiling on Gemini, VC funding is pretty hard to come by.

(That is a very fortunate state of affairs if you ask me.)

## 6. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!

---

```
Garden Gnomes Unite!                       @
                                       @  /
  I know you've heard of Astrobotany,   \/ ,
  and of course you have a plant.       ||/
                                      ^^^^^^
  Take your engagement to the next level with
    gemini://gardengnome.ml
```

---

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

---

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)

A  => gemini/Issue4.gmi +259 -0
@@ 1,259 @@
```
   ________  ________ _____
  /  ___|  \/ o|  _  |@ __ \
  \*`--.|o.  . | | | | |  \/
   `--. \ |\/| | | | | | __
  /\__/ / |  | \ \_/o/ |_\ \
  \___o/\_|  |_/\___/ \____/

  News from the Free Internet
   Issue 4, January 9, 2021
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: You're Never Helpless, by littlejohn
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Cyberspace Musings
5. Letters From Our Readers
6. Classifieds

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

Don't you miss the GDPR cookie banner *at all*?

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## You're Never Helpless
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Today's Opening Thoughts was supposed to be about something else entirely but I have the attention span of a squirrel on caffeine.

Okay, my attention span isn't *that* bad, but I saw that "squirrels on caffeine" meme last week and I really wanted to use it somewhere. No, the reason why it's different has to do with someone's rant on Mastodon, which I realize is not helping with my attention span situation but the two really aren't connected, like, at all. My attention span is fine. OOOH SHINY OBJECT!

=> https://mastodon.social/@lrvick/105519326036686657 This is the thread that derailed my Opening Thoughts essay.

Lance R. Vick makes a point that many of us have tried to make, in various contexts, for a long time: that a closed technology cannot make any long-term guarantees with regards to protecting its users' interests.

That isn't inherently different for open technologies: openness counts towards resilience against being "confiscated" by a small faction, but it's not a guarantee. There is, however, a further difference that makes this resilience matter more than you think: you're never helpless.

The recent debacle about WhatsApp's privacy policy has caused a lot of people to talk about -- and move to -- Signal. For most people, this is far from the ideal outcome, but there's no third way. Either you admit that all your base are belong to Zuck, or you move all your base somewhere else.

What "third option" would there be? You can't set up your own server, can't write your own WhatsApp client, can't (easily) use other protocols over WhatsApp.

Facebook is the villain here because they're the ones who did it. But the game was rigged from the beginning: whether by the will of Lieutenant Commander Zuck or by someone else's, WhatsApp's user base was always ripe for the taking, because it depended on a service that had been *designed* so as not to allow any kind of user control.

Having things move in one direction when some users would like to have them move in *another* direction isn't unheard of in the open source world, either. But the game isn't rigged from the beginning. "The community" -- by which I mean, people who care that something isn't the way they want it to be enough to take some action -- can and often does step in. They aren't always successful, sure, but at least the game isn't lost before it even starts.

There are many ways to "close" a technology besides closed licensing and a centralized design. Large, complicated codebases, for example, are effectively closed *despite* their licensing. If the barrier of entry consists of a build farm and reverse-engineering twenty years' worth of undocumented code, the GPL header at the beginning of each file is meaningless. Nobody is going to be *able* to modify the damn thing, even if there are no lawyers to slap them over the fingers if they try to. That's why some of us advocate for simplicity and composability, even -- where feasible -- at the price of performance.

Does the community model always succeed? When I log on to the Mastodon instance at SDF, I'm tempted to think it does, but then I look at how much hand-holding my Linux machine requires in order to have a functional desktop and I realize the answer is obviously a no.

But the *chances* are better: for an open technology, a kind community and a team of responsible developers is all it takes. For a closed technology that's owned and operated by people other than those who use it or develop it, neither the people who use it, nor the people who write it matter much.

# IN THE NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> https://github.com/bhavanki/doppio/ Doppio Gemini server

Bill Havanki just announced Doppio, a GeminiServerFactoryFactory, I mean, uh, a Gemini server written in Java. In its author's own words, it "mostly passes gemini-diagnostics", but it's definitely useable at this point.

---

=> gemini://benaaron.dev/crates.io/ An unofficial gemini mirror of the crates.io registry

Ben Aaron is working on a Gemini mirror of Rust's crates.io . A preliminary (but already very neat!) version is available for your enjoyment.

---

=> gemini://idiomdrottning.org/schapcom Schapcom: a Gemini feed aggregator

Sandra Snan just announced a great tool call Schapcom. It's a feed aggregator, similar to CAPCOM with excellent support for following multiple curated fields. It's compatible with both Gemfeed and Gmisub feed formats and it's written in Chicken Scheme, which is enough to incite some interest from those of us who think sliced bread is the best thing since S-expressions :-).

---

=> https://fosdem.org/2021/schedule/track/retrocomputing/ Gemini at FOSDEM

Stéphane Bortzmeyer will be giving a talk about GEMINI at Fosdem, in the Retrocomputing room. Don't miss it!

---

## 3. Tech News

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210104154543/https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55528241 UK judge blocks Julian Assange's extradition to the US

In a remarkable, if sad, case of extra-judicial pressures backfiring in unexpected ways, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rules that "extradition would be oppressive by reason of mental harm", over concerns regarding Assange's mental health and the US prosecutors' inability to provide the protection, oversight, and medical care required for a fair trial. The Judge did *not* establish whether Assange is guilty of the charges brought to him or not. However, British extradition law requires British authorities to consider whether Assange would be treated humanely in case he were extradited -- and, based on this ruling, the conclusion is pretty obvious.

=> https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/usa-v-julian-assange/ The full text of the ruling can be consulted here.

---

=> https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/841664/0ba4265680b9dadf/ LibreSSL languishes on Linux

LibreSSL support is slowly being dropped among Linux distributions. Alpine used it as its primary TLS library for a while, but moved back to OpenSSL. Gentoo is preparing to drop LibreSSL support. There's been some debate about this in Void Linux circles for about a year now.

LibreSSL never really saw mass adoption in Linux land, although cross-platform support is one of the project's goals (and, indeed, bugfixes specific to non-OpenBSD platforms are regularly featured in the changelog). There's no word from OpenBSD land at the time of writing. Whether they'll eventually migrate back to OpenSSL is anyone's guess, but I wouldn't hold my breath for the time being...

---

=> https://lists.qt-project.org/pipermail/development/2021-January/040798.html QT 5.15 LTS commercial-only phase starts

After Qt 6.0's (rushed?) release, the Qt Company announced that the 5.15 LTS branch would be closed starting January 5th. The response from the community has been what you'd expect it would be, particularly since the 6.0 release is more like a 5.99 beta release (6.1 would break binary compatibility, making the 6.0 release somewhat less feasible).

A community fork of the 5.15 LTS branch, aptly name 5.15-free, has been announced:

=> https://bugreports.qt.io/browse/QTQAINFRA-4121  5.15-free ticket

The community aims to backport relevant fixes to this branch, but this outcome is, in David Edmundson's words, "not an ideal outcome".

---

=> https://github.com/mouse-reeve/bookwyrm Bookwyrm: A Federated Alternative to Goodreads

Mouse Reeve is working on a decentralized alternative to Goodreads, built on ActivityPub and which doesn't use Amazon. It's a neat project that I encourage you to check out.

And while we're at it can we please give a shout out to the most *awesomely*-named program in history, namely...

=> https://github.com/mouse-reeve/ozymandias ...ozymandias, by the same author.

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210107164300/https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/01/whatsapp-users-must-share-their-data-with-facebook-or-stop-using-the-app/ WhatsApp Will Require Users to Share Data With Facebook

In a move that surprises pretty much nobody, WhatsApp has begun requiring users to agree to a radically-revamped privacy policy which can be summarized as "if WhatsApp tracks it, Facebook and & friends will know about it".

Is this the beginning of a major policy change at Facebook? Only time will tell.

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210107065227/https://newsroom.intel.com/news/introducing-intel-realsense-id-facial-authentication/ Intel Introduces RealSense Facial authentication

Intel just announced an interesting, local-only, on-device facial recognition and authentication solution. Intel touts privacy and reliable operation even in the presence of some variability of facial features (such as facial hair or glasses) as big selling points.

---

=> https://asahilinux.org/ Asahi Linux Project

Asahi Linux is a crowdfounded project that seeks to bring Linux to Apple's M1 platform. The effort involved is certainly non-trivial: almost no documentation is available, so most of of the early bring-up effort essentially consists of reverse engineering.

---

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 4. Cyberspace Musings

=> https://rosenzweig.io/blog/asahi-gpu-part-1.html Dissecting the Apple M1 GPU, part I

Alyssa Rosenzweig (of Panfrost fame) shares some early results from her efforts of figuring out the architecture and inner workings of Apple's M1 GPU. In addition to the interesting insights in the blog post, Alyssa also published a simple disassembler that our more curious readers will probably want to check out as well!

## 5. Letters From Our Readers

---

```
From: Sean <email redacted>
  Why not?  The thought of this ad running just amuses me.  For context,
this was the "ad" on my blog:

        http://boston.conman.org/2019/01/12.2

as an example of adtertising being added to gopher.  I'm not sure the firm
advertised exists now---at the very least, it's no longer at the address
given.

  Anyway, print or not.  The dashed lines (with the little scissors icons)
are NOT part of the ad---they just delimit it.

  -spc

----[ 8< ]---------------------------------
                              TYPEWRITERS
        For SALE, HIRE, or EXCHANGE, at HALF the USUAL PRICES.

       MS. (Manuscripts) Typewritten from 10d. per 1,000 words.
                         100 Circulars for 4s

           TAYLOR'S, 74, Chancery Lane, London. (Est. 1884.)
     Telegrams: "Glossator," London.  Telephone No. 690, Holborn.
-----[ >8 ]--------------------------------

From: littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Hi, Sean,

I *knew* I remembered that from somewhere -- took me a little to piece
it all back to the Boston Diaries :-).

Unfortunately, I don't think I can publish that in the classifieds
section. It's not a problem that they're not at the address anymore,
what with all the COVID-19 restrictions and all, but I don't think
you'll get them on the phone if you call 690 in London anymore,
either, and I'm not sure how many people even know what a telegram is
anymore. I just don't see how you would drive engagement with this,
you know?

Also, I'm just sayin', their business model is very interesting but I
don't see how it would work. The OCR market is definitely ready for
disruption but I don't know if a mechanical approach is the way to do
it. We need something that's more like Uber for OCR.

What I *can* do is publish it in the Letters From Our Readers section
because honestly it's bloody hilarious and it made my morning, and I
want to make other people's morning, too :-D. It has a 1921 feeling to
it's that just *perfect* for publishing it in 2021. Would that be okay
with you?

Cheers,
LJ
```

---

## 6. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!

---

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

---

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)

A  => gemini/Issue5.gmi +219 -0
@@ 1,219 @@
```
   ________  ________ _____
  /  ___|  \/ o|  _  |@ __ \
  \*`--.|o.  . | | | | |  \/
   `--. \ |\/| | | | | | __
  /\__/ / |  | \ \_/o/ |_\ \
  \___o/\_|  |_/\___/ \____/

  News from the Free Internet
   Issue 5, January 16, 2021
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: Cyberspace is Oozing Into Meatspace
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Cyberspace Musings
5. Classifieds

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

You might not need jQuery!

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## 1. Cyberspace is Oozing Into Meatspace
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

While Issue 4 of Smog was still in the making, I struggled for a while with whether or not I ought to include any mention of that thing that *everyone* on the Internet is talking about these days. And by "that thing" I mean, of course, the latest events in the US.

On the one hand, history is a bit like a tractor engine -- when it roars right under your window, you can try to ignore it, but it'll keep roaring nonetheless. Besides, while I do want to keep Smog politics-free, tech companies were involved enough that it's hard to keep the politics out without leaving some very relevant tech out as well.

On the other hand, I have a personal rule that trumps (no pun intended!) all other interests: I don't express opinions about the politics of a country where I don't live. I'm wrong about things that happen in *my* country on a daily basis. I barely understand the many cultures of the United States, and their interaction, and the everyday problems US citizens face. To attempt to analyse them wouldn't just be rude, it would be outright stupid.

Nonetheless, during the last week, it's become obvious that how and why tech companies get involved in public discourse during public crises is a problem that has outgrown the events on January 6th. At this point, if you'll pardon my very awkward stretching of the metaphor, there's a very loud tractor engine noise coming from the server room, which is very much my territory, and about which I can talk without the fear of being rude to my friends from across the pond.

And when the tractor engine noise finally dies off, there will be a lot of hot questions that the tech industry will have to answer, and which the tech industry is not at all keen on answering too soon.

Chief among them is the question of responsibility and resources. Clearly, despite their many claims to the contrary, it seems that social media companies, cloud companies, and App Store wardens, do in fact have the means and the resources to police their communities, and remove content that they find objectionable.

So why is it a problem when it's not about politicians and political declarations, but about "regular" people, and about sexism, revenge pornography, or animal abuse? Why is it that, when politicians are involved, CEOs think problems can only be solved by taking an active and responsible stance *today* -- but when it's about people who don't hold an office, they can only be solved through self-regulation and clear moderation policies, and that it's, like, a *process*, man, you can't just solve it overnight? Why is active and permanent content moderation essential in some cases, but an unreasonable burden that would stifle tech progress in other cases?

Some leaders, like Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, have also woken up to the sudden realisation that it could've easily been them on the receiving end of the ban hammer. This has caused them to issue some very embarrassing platitudes, like this one: “the fact that a CEO can pull the plug on POTUS’s loudspeaker without any checks and balances is perplexing.” If I had to guess who came up with *that* nugget of wisdom, my first guess would have been a 10th grader with a bad attitude. (Look, we're not too proud of our officials on this side of the pond, either, okay?)

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210112124011/https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/01/11/problematic-and-perplexing-european-leaders-side-with-trump-over-twitter-ban/ (If you're into platitudes, you can read more of them here).

This still raises some interesting questions though. A CEO can, in fact, pull the plug on *anyone's* loudspeaker without any checks and balances. Just ask anyone who's had to put up with Youtube's moronic content moderation schemes, for example.

=> https://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/engelberg/news/2020-03-04-youtube-takedown Like these guys.

=> https://www.jwz.org/blog/2019/02/today-in-youtubes-joke-of-a-fair-use-appeal-process/ Or jwz.

This has always been the case -- why Breton waited until 2020 to be so perplexed is anyone's guess. But where do we go from here?

Should we enact some "checks and balances" for politicians' accounts? In that case, how is it fair to *everyone else*? Let's entertain, for a minute, the thought that this is, indeed, a problem of ensuring that speech remains free -- perhaps the long arm of private interest is now of a length comparable to that of the law, so speech should be protected from the interests of private enterprises as well as those of the government. In that case, why exactly should politicians' speech by "free"-er than that of others? Why should holding an office grant one a stronger voice than that of the citizens on whose payroll they are, and to whom they ultimately respond?

Should we enact some "checks and balances" for everyone, then? Who would get to enforce them, in that case? If governments were any good at enforcing checks and balances and ensuring everyone's voice is heard, social media wouldn't be the lucrative business it is today. On the other hand, if we exclude the state, we're left in a position that's no better than the one we're in today: real checks and balances are one bad quarter away from being replaced with a rubber-stamping script in order to cut operating costs.

I have no good answers to these questions, or in any case, none that I can present without breaking my "no talking about what politicians you can't vote for or against do" rule.

=> https://pluralistic.net/2021/01/09/the-old-crow-is-getting-slow/%20#deplatforming (Cory Doctorow might have a few good ones though.)

There is one thing that I am very certain of though: that, in the coming years, we will see sweeping changes in this field. In an uncanny twist of fate, it's not that the real world has caught up with cyberspace and is trying to police it. It's the other way 'round: cyberspace started oozing into the real world, and the real police and the Internet police are fighting over who has jurisdiction in the dirty areas.

For probably the first time in Western history, several companies have taken political sides in a way that even the most inept or technology-illiterate politicians can understand and quantify. Even the ones who happen to be on the side that the tech giants took realise it could have easily gone the other way.

This time, companies didn't take political sides by speaking for or against a proposed bill, or by donating to one of their foundations. These are declarations of principles, which weigh next to nothing in the world of politics, where politicians will passionately defend a principle today, and vote against it tomorrow, or vice-versa. They took political sides through direct action, in terms that everyone can understand.

If Twitter, Amazon, Apple or Google were cats, they wouldn't just be out of the bag right now -- their litter boxes would be filled with half-digested bits of the bag which they themselves tore, and enthusiastically chewed, just a few days ago. (Of course, they're not cats. Cats are cute and cuddly and little blobs of -- admittedly somewhat sociopathic -- fluffy love. Tech giants are nothing like that, except for the sociopathic part).

Let's see how they fare out of the bag now.

# NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> gemini://gemini.bortzmeyer.org/presto/ Solar storm alerts on Gemini

The neat hack of the week comes in the form of Presto, a Gemini app (HA!) that allows you to follow SIDC's alerts.

---

=> https://github.com/makeworld-the-better-one/amfora/pull/107#issuecomment-757994562 Amfora: Call for Testing

Amfora, one of the most popular Gemini clients around, needs testing for its beta branch. This is something that anyone who enjoys Gemini can do, regardless of how much programming experience -- or technical experience in general -- they have.

---

=> https://git.sr.ht/~bendb/twinq Twinq: a new Gemini browser

Twinq is a simple, light Gemini browser written in modern C++ using Qt. The project is still in its early stages and lots of features are missing, but it's taking off nicely, and the implementation is simple, straightforward, and easy to hack on.

---

=> gemini://perso.pw/blog/articles/vger-security.gmi Vger security analysis

Solène Rapenne, Vger's author, shares some of her insights regarding Vger's security model.

---

## 3. Tech News

=>  https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/842319/8adb13e08d0302bd/ Debian discusses vendoring -- again

The problem of "vendoring" -- packaging dependencies along with a particular packet, rather than packaging them separately -- is popping up on the Debian mailing lists again. This time, it was prompted by the depressing amount of effort involved in packaging greenbone-security-assistant.

=> https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/X9pReHUtn9LWBu+B@home.ouaza.com/ This mailing list thread tells the story

Certainly, this raises at least as many problems about Debian's packaging infrastructure and policies as it raises about the state of packaging software *in general*. Unsurprisingly, alternatives like Flatpak are frequently brought up, but sometimes it's hard to escape the question of whether that *solves* the problem, or just works around it...

---

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210113173730/https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/13/22228702/intel-ceo-bob-swan-pat-gelsinger-technical-financial Intel CEO Bob Swan is Stepping Down

It seems like it's just yesterday that we were talking about how Intel's fortunes have been changing, and that some of its shareholders are... less than happy about it. Turns out enough of them were unhappy enough that Intel will get a new CEO, in the person of Pat Gelsinger. Some of you may remember him as the co-author (together with John Crawford) of one of the thicker 386 programming books way back in the 1980s.

What this means for Intel remains to be seen. This isn't Gelsinger's first Intel rodeo, but Intel's position is not too enviable, and if you read the PR bull^H^H^H^H^H^H^H news, you kind of get the feeling that most of the steering effort is currently in the board room, rather than the helm.

Meanwhile, the semiconductor industry isn't standing still!

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20210113165033/https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/01/samsungs-next-exynos-soc-will-have-an-amd-gpu/ Samsung's next Exynos SoC will have an AMD GPU

---

=> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wikipedia20/ Celebrating 20 years of Wikipedia

Has it been 20 years already? Wikipedia is turning 20 this year! What started as a modest community project has outshined, and outlived, some of the most ambitious multimedia products of the 1990s (yes, Encarta, I'm looking at you!). The anniversary website has a trove of stories about how that happened, buried under the bland, enthusiastic-but-hopelessly-corporate facade that we've come to expect from the Wikimedia in the last few years.

---

=> https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2021/01/msg00002.html Debian Bullseye freeze started

It's official! The freeze period for Debian 11 has begun, starting January 12th, with the hard freeze expected to start on March 12th.

---

=> https://source.winehq.org/git/wine.git/blob/wine-6.0:/ANNOUNCE Wine 6.0 Released

The Wine team has just announced the release of Wine 6.0, which includes a bunch of fixes for copy protection mechanisms, an experimental Vulkan rendered for WineD3D, improved  raw input devices support, and may, many other goodies!

---

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 4. Cyberspace Musings

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201229191327/https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/12/lets-encrypt-comes-up-with-workaround-for-abandonware-android-devices/ Let’s Encrypt's workaround for old Android devices

One of our readers recently poked me about this very relevant piece of (slightly older) news which I haven't featured because my news filter is really just a randomly-wired, caffeine-battered bundle of neurons that are currently useless for any other purpose.

Let's Encrypt successfully tackled an interesting challenge: the IdenTrust certificate, which Let's Encrypt used for cross-signing back when it was young, is set to expire. Let's Encrypt has issued its own root certificate in the meantime, but lots of Android users stuck on old versions never got an update that includes that.

As our reader rightfully points out, this is "ammunition for [their] argument that not-valid-after is an inconsequential field (one of many) when validating certs TOFU style". It's also an exceptional reminder that encryption and privacy are not purely technical problems. There's a lot of organisational politics and negotiation involved in it, too -- which, despite the bad reputation these things get, tend work out when done in good faith.

=> https://lwn.net/ml/debian-devel/X9pReHUtn9LWBu+B@home.ouaza.com/ Is the Microphone mute button on Amazon Echo Flex for real?

After a quick exercise in reverse engineering it turns out that yes, the button is, most likely, "for real"!

=> https://mastodon.sdf.org/web/accounts/27646 Micro SF/F stories

O. Westin has a series of wonderful short -- *really* short -- stories that makes creative use of the limitations (and opportunities!) of Mastodon. But this is not just an experiment in writing. There's beauty and infinitely many riddles in these stories -- there's more to them than just being short enough to fit in a series of tweets. Check it out!

## 5. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!

---

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

```
Garden Gnomes Unite!                       @
                                       @  /
  I know you've heard of Astrobotany,   \/ ,
  and of course you have a plant.       ||/
                                      ^^^^^^
  Take your engagement to the next level with
    gemini://gardengnome.ml
```

---

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)

A  => gemini/Issue6.gmi +271 -0
@@ 1,271 @@
```
   ________  ________ _____
  /  ___|  \/ o|  _  |@ __ \
  \*`--.|o.  . | | | | |  \/
   `--. \ |\/| | | | | | __
  /\__/ / |  | \ \_/o/ |_\ \
  \___o/\_|  |_/\___/ \____/

  News from the Free Internet
   Issue 6, January 23, 2021
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: Beyond Lingua Franca, by littlejohn
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Cyberspace Musings
5. Letters from Our Readers
6. Classifieds
7. PSA: Sorry About Confusing Your Robots!

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

You appear to be browsing Smog in private mode and we can't do jack sh!t about it.

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## 1. Beyond Lingua Franca
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

Many, many years ago, back when Geocities was still a thing, me and a friend of mine went through the Directory Listing Ritual. We listed the website that we'd made -- mostly by copy-pasting things in CoffeeCup HTML Editor -- in a website directory. The process was pretty painless. You'd fill in a form and the webmaster would get back to you a few days later. Once it was clear you're not scamming anyone or distributing warez, you were good to go.

The webmaster did write back a few days later. He listed our website, but at the bottom of the section we asked for -- but, to make up for that, he also listed it in the "English" section of the directory.

You see, our website wasn't in English. And most websites on that directory weren't.

We both *spoke* English (as well as 6th graders who study English as a foreign language could speak it, of course) and we were already running another English-language website. It's not that we couldn't publish web pages in English, we just didn't want these ones to be in English.

This was pretty common back then. France, Germany, and to a remarkable degree, the Netherlands, hosted plenty of websites written in French, German, or Dutch.

Now, don't let these glasses of mine seem rose-tinted: I'm fairly sure that, for any given language, there's more content in that language on today's WWW than back in 2001. Back then I was happy that I could practice my French on a handful of French websites -- nowadays there are probably *thousands* of websites about learning French alone. This isn't about some lost paradise of linguistic diversity.

Quite the contrary: hosting a non-English website was a pretty difficult experience. This was back when plenty of people had not yet seen the UTF-8 light. On average, we got about one email a month about junk characters in our website's text. This was also way before Google Translate -- every once in a while, I'd get an email saying hi, I saw this snippet of code on your website and I speak Perl just fine but could you maybe give me the short version of all that text *around* the snippet?

The tech stack of the 2020s doesn't suffer from the same problems, or at least not at the same rate as the one we had way back in the late 90s and early 00s. And every day, I see more and more Gemini capsules, and even Gopherholes, from authors who use both English and whatever other language(s) they speak.

It's a great chance to go beyond "technicaL" English, the lingua franca of our Internet. Because, make no mistake about it, the soft, Corporatese-infused English that keeps a lot of international Internet communities going is its variety of English, one that is delightfully accessible and yet disappointingly bland half the time.

There is no irony in this encouragement being written in the same variety of English that I just called "bland". For better or for worse -- better, as far as I'm concerned -- English is a great language to know, and not just for technical communication. English-language literature is fantastic. And, owing to the popularity of English, there are many works that I've read in English because I don't speak the language they were originally written in, but they haven't been translated in my native language, either. My own gemlog is in English, for that matter.

But I think linguistic diversity is a basic ingredient of cultural diversity. You can't cultivate one without the other. And even if you don't think that more diversity is inherently better, I would posit that, at the very least, linguistic diversity is still worth pursuing for its intellectual value alone.

Gemini and Gopher are still small enough that "being heard" doesn't matter that much -- and being heard *a little* still matters a lot. Writing English will probably help you reach ten times more people than French, Czech, Swedish or Gaelic -- that is, it'll probably be read by 20-30 people instead of 2-3. Oh, the tragedy!

So if you're setting up your Gemini capsule or a gopherhole, or publishing something over Gemini, please consider writing *some* of it in whatever other language you speak, even if it's not your native language, and even if you're only doing it as an exercise. What do you have to lose?

# NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> gemini://kwiecien.us/efluo.gmi An Esperanto language aggregator on Gemini

E-Fluo is a very interesting project -- an aggregator for Esperanto-language Gemini capsules! Indeed, it seems that a lot of people in the Gemini community know Esperanto, but don't write in it, something that the author hopes to change.

Like Ben, I also hope this will encourage users of other languages to use them in writing, even if they don't do it all the time. Stefano Costa, for example, runs a capsule in Italian:

=> gemini://gemini.iosa.it/

---

=> https://github.com/luakit/luakit/pull/884/files Gopher support in luakit

A pull request adding Gopher support to luakit has just been opened and is currently under review. It is based on the earlier work of another developer whose pull request eventually remained unmerged. Here's hoping this one fares better!

---

## 3. Tech News

---

=> https://tucows.com/retired/ Tucows Downloads Has Been Retired

If you just ran out of excuses to take a walk on Nostalgia Blvd., fear not: Tucows has just retired Tucows Downloads, once *the* website for shareware and freeware on the WWW. 25 years later, the world has moved on -- for better or for worse -- and this, like all good things, has come to an end.

So long, and thanks for all fish!

---

=> https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvxpja/gigantic-asshole-ajit-pai-is-officially-gone-good-riddance-time-of-your-life Gigantic Asshole Ajit Pai Is Officially Gone. Good Riddance.

When something big happens in tech, *everyone* reports it. I usually try to link to "the best" one here -- chosen by my own, extremely subjective standards -- but there are always a lot of options.

How did I pick this one, you ask? It was really easy: this time, I just went with the one that had the best headline.

---

=> https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/technology/privacy-focused-search-engine-duckduckgo-grew-by-62-percent-in-2020/ DuckDuckGo grew by 62% in 2020

According to its own statements (so, you know, grain of salt and everything), DuckDuckGo has seen a 62% growth in average daily searches during last year. At this point, DuckDuckGo has surpassed both Yahoo and Bing (the search engine that Microsoft just won't shut up about already) in the US.

---

=> https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/22/google-says-it-will-remove-search-function-in-australia-if-media-code-becomes-law.html Google and Australian Government stand-off

After recently having had to agree to a similar agreement in France, Google is now threatening to remove the search function in Australia if the new media code -- which would require them to pay media companies for using their content -- becomes law.

The interesting part about this isn't really the ritual hissing and spitting involved in every high-level political negotiation, but the fact that it's the *search* functionality that plays a central role in it. It's a bold bluff, and it's usually a bad idea to involve an asset of vital importance in a bluff unless the stakes are outrageously high.

It's certainly likely that the stakes are very high. Or, then again, perhaps Google Search is to Alphabet as Windows is to Microsoft: an annoyingly-relevant piece of tech that's useful, but is slowly being displaced from the crown jewel spot.

---

=> https://twitter.com/spotfoss/status/1351624743510827015 Google Dropping Google-exclusive APIs from non-Chrome builds

Google has recently announced that it will be cutting off access to a number of APIs and features for Chromium builds. What started as a rumour was eventually confirmed on one of the project's mailing list by someone at Google. If you're curious, the whole discussion is public:

=> https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/g/embedder-dev/c/NXm7GIKTNTE/m/Qxcew5lfCAAJ You can read it here

(Disclaimer: much of it is in Standard Corporatese)

This further complicates the problem of packaging Chromium -- an already difficult endeavour, that has caused endless grief throughout the Linux world -- and some package maintainers are already considering dropping it altogether.

---

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 4. Cyberspace Musings

---

=> https://maya.land/monologues/2021/01/11/the-tragedy-of-gemini.html The Tragedy of Gemini

Maybe "tragedy" is too big a word for such a small protocol, but who's to say there is no room for tragedy here?

---

=> https://corellium.com/blog/linux-m1 How We Ported Linux to the M1

The name would suggest more to this story than there is in the article, but it's not a bad start. It lists the biggest hurdles that Corellium had to put up with when porting Linux to the M1 -- mind you, it essentially lists them by name, without much information. But knowing what to Google (so that you can give up and reverse engineer it because it's mostly undocumented...) is the hardest part of learning something new!

---

=> https://stratechery.com/2021/intel-problems/ Intel Problems

It looks like we've been running news about Intel for a few issues now. News about Intel *almost* made the cut this issue, too, except it was mostly in the form of rumours.

But this little article? While not news, it's a great summary of *why* Intel is struggling right now. And also very relevant for what's coming ahead. x86 cemented its position not only through software support and shady deals between Microsoft, IBM & co., but also through Intel's exceptional position in terms of manufacturing. Things have changed, though, and not only in that department.

---

## 5. Letters From Our Readers

```
From: <redacted>
To: littlejohn@sdf.org
Subject: good zine

I just discovered Smog, and I will be coming back for more as it comes
out. Thank you for putting this together, and I hope you keep it going!

Your article about oozing into meatspace was interesting to me. Nothing
good ever seems to happen when something starts oozing, does it.

From: littlejohn@sdf.org
To: <redacted>
Subject: RE: good zine

Thank you very much for writing me and for your kind words! I'm glad
to hear you're enjoying Smog!

> Your article about oozing into meatspace was interesting to me. Nothing
> good ever seems to happen when something starts oozing, does it.

I have very mixed feelings about all that. I don't quite know what to
think -- but, yeah, I'm not holding my breath for a good outcome, I
guess.

On the one hand, cyberspace finally being relevant IRL feels a ltitle
vindicating to those of us who grew up with the distinct feeling that
all that cyberpunk jazz is blown out of proportion, and that our virtual
realm is in fact irrelevant. On the other hand, I'm not sure how I feel
knowing that the ones who do the oozing, so to speak, aren't netizens in
general, but fancy-ass CEOs who have their left hand in politicians'
pockets, and their right hand in the datacentre. I'm not sure what I was
expecting though...

All the best,
LJ

```

---

Another one of our readers writes to tell us about a very neat setup they concocted for personal use. I like this, because it's small-scale and easy to share with others in a small circle of friends. Small protocols, with unpretentious tech stacks behind them, make this easy to do -- hopefully, for things way more useful than Smog, too:

```
From: <redacted>
To: littlejohn@sdf.org
Subject: HTTP Feed Proxy for Smog

Hi,

I don't know if this falls under mirrors but I wanted to share this is
how I've added smog to my feed reader and smog is usually cached there
so less load on the original server.

I run this at home so uptime is (hopefully) >95%.

It runs Gemini feed expander by celenher which is a proxy made
specifically for feeds. i.e. Gemini URLs are converted to feed content
before serving the feed.

=> gemini://celehner.com/proxy/

```

---

## 6. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!


```
Garden Gnomes Unite!                       @
                                       @  /
  I know you've heard of Astrobotany,   \/ ,
  and of course you have a plant.       ||/
                                      ^^^^^^
  Take your engagement to the next level with
    gemini://gardengnome.ml
```

---

## 7. PSA: Sorry About Confusing Your Robots!

One of our readers recently let me know that the server at gemini://gemini.trans-neptunian.space/ serves robots.txt with the wrong mediatype, which confuses at least one crawler.

In case you got weird entries in your crawler logs, sorry, folks, that's my fault!

Real life got in the way this week, and I had a bigger revamp of the server planned for, uh, when I get a bloody free afternoon? but I promise I'll have it fixed as soon as possible!

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)

A  => gemini/Issue7.gmi +248 -0
@@ 1,248 @@
```
   ________  ________ _____
  /  ___|  \/ o|  _  |@ __ \
  \*`--.|o.  . | | | | |  \/
   `--. \ |\/| | | | | | __
  /\__/ / |  | \ \_/o/ |_\ \
  \___o/\_|  |_/\___/ \____/

  News from the Free Internet
   Issue 7, January 30, 2021
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening Thoughts: The Right To Repair
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News
3. Tech News
4. Cyberspace Musings
5. Classifieds

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

Yeah, better redirect support would be nice, but what Gopher *really* needs is cookies!

# OPENING THOUGHTS

## 1. The Right to Repair Is Not Unsustainable
by littlejohn <littlejohn@sdf.org>

In the last couple of weeks, there's been a steady bubbling of the stories about the Right to Repair -- in the media, on forums all over the Internet and so on. The most recent example?

=> https://uspirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/right-repair-races-2021-14-active-states Right to Repair off to the races in 2021 with 14 active states

But that's not all. Back in November last year, the European Parliament voted on a resolution to grant consumers a "right to repair" by facilitating their access to repairing services. Specifically, by "making repairs more appealing, systematic, and cost-efficient, whether by extending guarantees, providing guarantees for replaced parts, or better access to information on repair and maintenance", and by "call[ing] for measures to tackle practices that shorten the lifetime of a product, and endorse[ing] sustainable production."

=> http://web.archive.org/web/20201221143559if_/https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20201120IPR92118/parliament-wants-to-grant-eu-consumers-a-right-to-repair You can read more about it here.

If you're not familiar with how European institutions work, let me ruin it for you a bit. This is the equivalent of the Guild of Snoozy Snails issuing a declaration of intent to look into the possibility of lodging a strongly-worded letter of protest with the Klingon Empire -- it's not as imaginary, but it will likely take as much time for something to happen as a result.

That being said, it was enough to trigger some PR alarms, and some of the ensuing propaganda slowly bubbled up through the news feeds.

Now, some of it is in the form of business strategy, which I readily admit to know nothing about and to be completely uninterested in. My strategy for keeping shareholders happy is basically "build quality things that run quality code". But many arguments are technical or, rather, pseudo-technical (as in "pseudo-scientific") and I think they are naive. These are very much on my turf, and I think they are bullshit.

The most common argument is that things are difficult to repair simply because they've reached such a level of miniaturisation and precision that they *cannot* be meaningfully repaired anymore. Making things more repairable would require using more discrete, bulky parts, which would result in increased cost, not to mention inferior technical quality.

*In general* this is not completely invalid. It's just a red herring. Well, it's actually a pair of red herrings.

Can miniaturisation make things harder to repair? Absolutely, a wire-wrapped computer backplane is usually easier to probe and repair compared to a modern-day computer mainboard. But does it have to make *all* repair procedures harder, or outright impossible? Not at all!

The most obvious example is a cracked screen, probably the most widespread kind of damage that phones, tablets and laptops suffer these days: making the screen easily replaceable requires some design effort, yes, but it barely makes a dent in the profit margin -- if it makes one at all -- especially in high-end devices that are already sold at tremendous margins. And miniaturisation has very little to do with it: the screen is one of the bulkiest components.

Making things "infinitely repairable" is unattainable, of course, and it's probably a bad idea, too. But making *some* types of repairs easy -- preferably, the ones that are most likely to be needed -- is a different story. Common repairs are hard to do today not as a result of the inevitable march of progress, but as a result of the fact that making things easy to repair has, at best, not been a design goal. In many cases, making things hard to repair has either been an explicit design goal, or just silently encouraged through the product management chain. I, for one, have only worked in one place where easy servicing was a deliberate design goal. It's a meager record.

The other red herring is that making things easy to repair and making them out of bulky, discrete parts go hand in hand -- the idea being that making devices "more repairable" would make them bulkier and heavier. That's not the case at all.

First, nobody is seriously suggesting that Apple should replace their A14 SoC with the equivalent discrete ICs, RAM and all. But that's hardly the obstacle, either. In fact, most attempts at repairing things are hindered by very different obstacles, such as lack of service manuals and schematics, or lack of replacement parts.

Second, and more importantly, *this is not just about high-end consumer electronics*. It's also about kitchen appliances and TVs and Bluetooth speakers and whatnot.

Most of these devices don't really feature high-density BGA chips that need expensive rework stations to fix -- a couple of screwdrivers, a hot air station, and a basic oscilloscope are enough for the most common breakage scenarios. But good luck getting replacements for the parts -- many of which are unmarked, undocumented, and only available, in bulk, to the manufacturer.

Another frequently-encountered frame is that, if people were to change their digital devices less often, the steady pace of innovation and progress would be reduced.

There is ample historical evidence to the contrary -- the field of computing did, in fact, progress by leaps and bounds back when the total market potential for computers was, notoriously, around five or so (fun fact: for what it's worth, though, Watson never *quite* said that).

But even if that weren't the case, this sort of prediction is very shabby. Whenever their exact scientific predictions turn out not to be quite right -- that is to say, pretty much all the time -- economists are quick to point out that economy isn't an exact science. Who knows: perhaps, if the threshold for buying a new device would be "the new one can do a lot more things" as opposed to "my hamster sat on the old one and now it's broken", manufacturers would have to put their R&D departments to even better use, and come up with even better tools faster than the comfortable pace of planned obsolescence allows them to do today.

I think an *improvement* to the state of repairability is, in fact, perfectly attainable at practically no cost -- in many cases, just by publishing some information, making some parts available, and not issuing cease & desist letters. It's perfectly sustainable, unless your goal is, quite literally, to make devices that are as bad as possible while still being allowed to sell them. In a healthy free market system, companies that do that should *theoretically* go under in no time.

A *radical* improvement -- this is a belief, this time, not an engineer's analysis -- is possible and affordable, and would have a tremendous impact over our lives. Not just in a way that 'dem dirty hippies would appreciate, happy sunshine and save-the-Planet and all, but in a way that even your average Silicon Valley sociopath would appreciate. It would make a big heap of money available for financing actual innovation, as opposed to spec-churning cheap plastic. It would lead to consumers demanding better and more advanced products, and sharpen competition.

It should come as no surprise that "the industry" doesn't want that. "The industry" doesn't want a lot of things, that's why we have anti-monopoly laws and antitrust laws and all sorts of other anti- things that are there *precisely* in order to keep the machine of competition well-oiled.

This one, I think, needs an oil change!

# NEWS

## 2. Gemini and Gopherspace news

=> https://tiny.tilde.website/@nihilazo/105627780797916762 Gemini on Kobo: First Steps!

@nihilazo@tiny.tilde.website is teasing us with a screenshot of what might *eventually* turn into a Gemini client for the Kobo e-reader!

---

=> gemini://caolan.uk/weather/ UK Weather Services over Gemini

Caolan McMahon built a very neat service that exposes UK weather forecasts over Gemini. It's a great little... Gemapp, I guess is the term? Seeing it in action feels very liberating for some reason.

=> gemini://caolan.uk:1965/cgi-bin/weather.py/wxfcs/351351 Check out the weather in my favouritest place ever!

(Spoiler alert: it's probably raining).

---

=> https://gem.ondollo.com/ Public HTTP proxy for Gemini space

Mansfield just announced a public HTTP proxy for Gemini space. It's a fast, neat service with a small browser footprint that makes browsing Gemini very easy and enjoyable.

---

## 3. Tech News

=> https://github.com/lenticularis39/axpbox/releases/tag/v1.0.0 AXPbox 1.0.0 release

The AXPbox, an open-source Alpha emulator forked from es40, just reached its 1.0 release. Among others, it runs OpenVMS 8.3 and 8.4 -- with plenty of caveats, but still!

---

=> https://pip.pypa.io/en/stable/news/#id1 pip drops support for Python 2

The latest release of pip has finally removed support for Python 2. It's one of the last plugs that hasn't yet been pulled and, while there is no shortage of unhappy users, this hasn't caused too many ripples. The writing had been on the wall for so long it was practically obscured by the time this announcement hit.

---

=> https://www.qualys.com/2021/01/26/cve-2021-3156/baron-samedit-heap-based-overflow-sudo.txt Heap-based buffer overflow in sudo

Qualys, whose recent security, ahem, exploits, are nothing short of fantastic, released an advisory regarding a vulnerability found in sudo. It appears to have been there for a long time -- almost ten years! -- but Qualys only recently discovered it.

The fixes have been published *very* quickly, a testament both to Qualys' work and to that of Todd Miller & co.. I warmly recommend you to read Qualys' write-up because it's very interesting.

---

=> https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/85.0/releasenotes/ Firefox 85 released

The latest version of Firefox, which is... 85? Does anyone still keep count anymore? Anyways! The latest version of Firefox was released this week, featuring better protection against supercookies, bookmark improvements, and a bunch of security fixes. It also -- *sad trumpet sound* -- dropped support for Adobe Flash.

---

=> https://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-announce/2021-January/002006.html i386 will be a Tier 2 architecture starting with FreeBSD 13.0

It's official: starting with the 13.0 release, i386 will be a Tier 2 architecture. That means it will still see major development, but it won't be supported by the security officer, release engineering, and port management teams.

---

# THE BACK PAGES

("Back" as in "All the cool kids sit in the back of the class")

## 4. Cyberspace Musings

=> https://rosenzweig.io/blog/asahi-gpu-part-2.html Dissecting the Apple M1 GPU, part II

A while back, we linked to Alyssa Rosenzweig's first jab at the Apple M1 GPU. In the meantime, she published part II, along with a bunch of code based on all the goodies she uncovered. Check it out!

---

=> https://www.infoq.com/news/2021/01/java-turns-25/ 25 Years Since The First Java Release

It feels like a lifetime ago: January 23rd marks the 25th anniversary of Java's 1.0 release. Loathed by many -- but used by many more -- Java is still of the most pervasive technologies of our days. It has evolved in ways we'd never envisioned at the time, and is powering devices that few, if any, could even think about -- a testament to its flexibility and resilience.

---

=> https://raymii.org/s/blog/The_Common_Desktop_Environment_CDE_is_still_developed_in_2021.html The Common Desktop Environment is still developed in 2021

Okay, well, for... certain values of "still developed", but it still is! I'm sure many of Smog's readers either already knew this, or will be pleasantly surprised to hear about it because nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

My own memories about CDE aren't... particularly fond, as CDE wasn't exactly the apex of Unix workstations desktops. They're also interspersed with memories about writing Motif code so I guess some of these memories are outright gruesome. But hey, at the very least, it's far better to think about the days when I had to worry about my parents' "be home by ten or else!" curfew, rather than the government's lockdown...

---

=> https://googleprojectzero.blogspot.com/2021/01/a-look-at-imessage-in-ios-14.html An old iOS exploit revisited

Almost one year ago, Google's Project Zero published a very cool zero-click exploit for the iOS. Project Zero takes another look at iMessage, in the light the new protection mechanisms that Apple introduced. It's not an easy read but it's worth skimming, at the very least. It discusses a few very relevant real-world mitigations in an application with a great deal of consumer exposure.

---

=> https://tanelpoder.com/posts/11m-iops-with-10-ssds-on-amd-threadripper-pro-workstation/ Achieving 11M IOPS & 66 GB/s IO on a Single ThreadRipper Workstation

Benchmarks notoriously tell only a small part of the story, and they tell it badly, but this article convincingly paints the picture of a very near future where the rule of thumb about how slow non-volatile, large scale storage is (on account of hard-disks being slow) will be far less relevant than it is today.

---

## 5. Letters From Our Readers

Did you know about Globish? After the last issue's Opening Thoughts on language diversity and Gemini, one of our readers writes to tell us about it!

```
From: <redacted>
To: littlejohn@sdf.org
Subject: SMOG 6 Re: language diversity

Dear John,

I have read /somewhere/, that there is even a term for this
particular English variant, which is not really English:

Globish

Native English speakers may have a hard time understanding it,
if they have never been exposed to it. Oh, I see, there is even
a wikipedia page:

=> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_English
```

## 6. Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor does not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below. However, I do not *not* endorse them, either!

```
Garden Gnomes Unite!                       @
                                       @  /
  I know you've heard of Astrobotany,   \/ ,
  and of course you have a plant.       ||/
                                      ^^^^^^
  Take your engagement to the next level with
    gemini://gardengnome.ml
```

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

---

## Editor's Notes: Get Published, Ads, And More!

### Your Ad Here

Smog runs ads on any topic for free and will never charge or accept money in exchange for publishing an ad. However, your friendly editor reserves the right to say no to an ad, or to stop running it at any time. That being said, I don't plan to say "no" to anything that's legal and civil.

Ads are published in random order, for up to 4 consecutive issues, re-shuffled each time. Ads will have to be no longer than 8 lines, wrapped at 72 columns, for a grand total of 576 characters. I encourage creative expression with ads though -- use ASCII art, sed one-liners, whatever you want!

If you'd like to see your ad here, drop me a line on littlejohn@sdf.org.

### Have Something Cool to Share With the World?

If I get interesting letters from my readers, I will publish them in the following issue. I encourage you to send your thoughts on your friendly editor's email address: littlejohn@sdf.org. If you would rather *not* get your letter published, please make a mention of it.

Want to see your writing in Smog? I will gladly publish or re-publish original articles, as long as they're not illegal or offensive, and if you're willing to license them under a license that does not prohibit free, non-commercial distribution and derivative works.

Please note that Smog is a non-commercial project with built-in SEO deterrence, an audience of maybe 12 people, and a business model that is best summed up by the word "nope", so all payment is in hipster points. If we are ever in the same pub, I will also buy you a beer (or a non-alcoholic equivalent!)

A  => gemini/Issue8.gmi +126 -0
@@ 1,126 @@
```
   ________  ________ _____
  /  ___|  \/ o|  _  |@ __ \
  \*`--.|o.  . | | | | |  \/
   `--. \ |\/| | | | | | __
  /\__/ / |  | \ \_/o/ |_\ \
  \___o/\_|  |_/\___/ \____/

  News from the Free Internet
   Issue 8, February 6, 2021
```

# TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Opening (and closing!) Thoughts: Clear Skies Ahead: No Smog Expected
2. Gemini and Gopherspace News

# THE FINE PRINT

Unless stated otherwise, the material here is shared under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

# THE FINER PRINT

Mirroring, copying, distribution, and derivative works are not only permitted, they are encouraged. If you wish to distribute Smog to your friends, I specifically encourage you to mirror it instead of linking to it. This will help keep hosting cost down and help Smog reach a wider audience.

# THE FINEST PRINT

It’s another Gemini capsule: now I shall have somebody to talk to.

# OPENING THOUGHTS
1, Clear Skies Ahead: No Smog Expected

Hi everyone!

This is, unepectedly, the last issue of Smog -- but I promise it's a good thing, please hear me out!

Back in the first issue's Opening Thoughts, I was joking about the nooriously low life expectancy of ezines. As you know, most of them barely made it to issue 2. Issue 8 was... almost unheard of.

I was expecting that Smog would be largely unnoticed. It would have maybe 6 or 7 issues before somebody would eventually write me, and after 20 or 30 issues, it would maybe have some regular readers who would send in ads, letters and the like.

That's not what happened. It turned out that the "smol Internet" community is so bloody amazing that now I get an email from someone pretty much every other day. Some of them get published. Many of you have written several times now.

Quite simply, I have, in just 8 issues, ticked *every box* on my "things I wanted for Smog" list, which I'd initially hoped would maybe happen after a year, if not more.

So why stop now? I mean, there's something to be said about quitting while you're ahead but what would be the point of *that*?

Quite simply, I think that what I've managed to do so far is the best that Smog can ever be. Mind you, it's not the best that Smog's readers deserve, or the best that we could achieve -- it's just the best that I can do!

Getting to "the next level", whatever that might be, requires the work, but especially the abilities, moral compass, and experience of someone who is an actual journalist. I lack all of those things, except maybe for the willingness to put in the work.

I'd imagined Smog would (generally) get better between issues 2 and 50, and that you'd get 48 more issues of increasingly better stuff. Instead, at this point, you'd just be getting 42 more issues of the same stuff, and I just don't think that's *enough*.

Don't get me wrong, it would be good, I just think I could be of more help to the community doing other things.

Some of the things that we *have* done, you and me, with Smog, include:

1. We've shown that a (largely) text-only environment with limited linking and imaging capabilities can effectively carry the kind of content a "serious" publication would have. We have ads and some art, too, and not by "working around" the capabilities of Gemini, but by employing them creatively.

2. We've shown that an independent, unaffiliated publication, created by volunteers, in their spare time, can be of interest to a diverse and enthusiastic community. Much of this publication did consist of *links* to content that doesn't quite match the independent or unaffiliated description, of course -- but I think that both those *and* publications like Smog have a place in this world. The point isn't that we should boycott Ars Technica & friends and replace them with Smog clones, just that there's an useful void that a community can (and often does!) fill.

3. We've shown that Gemini is an easy and effective protocol for distributing such content. Smog is served from a cheap VPS that I set up over two hours or so. (Badly, to some degree, I *promise* I'll fix the damn robots.txt thing this week!)

4. And, last but not least, we've shown -- I got emails in French, Spanish, Italian and Esperanto, and I'm really sorry that I speak the first two so badly and the last two, like, not at all! -- that good intentions and a ilttle modesty can cross language and cultural barriers more than anything else.

I haven't *lost interest* in Smog, quite the opposite. I just think it has quickly lived up to, and now exceeded its expectations of usefulness for the community, and it's time we thought of what comes next.

I want to thank all of you who've written me for all your kind words of encouragement. If I didn't get back to you, I apologize for that -- I probably just missed your letter and I'd be really happy if you could write me again! If you are Stephane's crawler, thank you very much for your patience with my sysadmin (in)abilities, and please tell your kind administrator that I haven't forgotten about fixing my config!

I wish all of you, humans and machines, tech enthusiasts and luddites, all the best, and I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you again in the Fediverse, over Gemini, Gopher, IRC, and wherever else our paths may cross.

And if you ever make another zine and are looking for contributors, drop me a line, okay?

Until our next cool hack,
Little John

# NEWS

2. Gemini and Gopherspace News

Well, this issue *almost* didn't have anything except for the opening thoughts, but!

Mjollna & Laërte wrote me to tell me about their project, Medusae. You *have* to check out Medusae. It's a Gemini directory, with excellent content and great design. You can find it here:

=> gemini://medusae.space medusae.space

# Classifieds

Smog and your friendly editor do not endorse any of the products, services, organisations, individuals or technologies mentioned below.

However, we really like them, otherwise they wouldn't be here, and it's only fitting that we would feature them all in this last issue!

If you think that sounds *a bit* like an endorsement, yeah, okay, you're a bit right!

```
> #CircusInPlace ---------------------------------------------------------
> The only jitsi call featuring legit theater clowns, hackers, and lovely
> weirdos from all over the world! Hang out with terrific people as they
> work on their passion projects, terrible puns, and circus skills. The
> chat starts at 8pm UTC-6 MWF, and runs late enough to wind down with
> friends overseas.
> Contact @russsharek@mastodon.art, or check #CircusInPlace on Mastodon.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
```

```
Garden Gnomes Unite!                       @
                                       @  /
  I know you've heard of Astrobotany,   \/ ,
  and of course you have a plant.       ||/
                                      ^^^^^^
  Take your engagement to the next level with
    gemini://gardengnome.ml
```

I hereby certify that I was not compelled, forced, or otherwise led to publish the following ad against my will. You can't see it but I'm also blinking twice.

```
271828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995957496696762772407663
035354759457138217852516642742746639193200305992181741359662904357290033
429526059563073813232862794349076323382988075319525101901157383418793070
215408914993488416750924476146066808226480016847741185374234544243710753
907774499206955170276183860626133138458300075204493382656029760673711320
070932870912744374704723069697720931014169283681902551510865746377211125
238978442505695369677078544996996794686445490598793163688923009879312773
617821542499922957635148220826989519366803 gemini://numbersstation.info/
```