Internet Archive

Communicatios on St. Helena Island

I’ve always been fascinated by remote island communities, and few places are more remote and more island than St. Helena. They have a wonderful page about communications to, on, and from the island, and it’s delightful. However you connect, the Internet on St Helena is slow and expensive! For technical details and pricing information please contact Sure. Assuming you are a visitor you are best to access the Internet via your mobile (cell) Device. Otherwise you will not have a telephone account so will need to use one of the few Internet Kiosks, mostly in Jamestown, which are very expensive. If you are staying longer you can sign up for an Internet access package, billed on your telephone account (this should be available even if you are renting accommodation but check with your landlord). Broadband Internet was introduced in 2007, but be aware that data transfer speeds on St Helena are considerably slower than in most other countries and monthly data transfer limits are very low. None of the above will be surprising. There’s tons of information and history on this page, and it’s definitely worth a read.

GoSub browser: gateway to optimized searching and unlimited browsing

This repository is part of the GoSub browser project. Currently there is only a single component/repository (this one), but the idea will be that there are many other components that as a whole make up a full-fledged browser. Each of the components can probably function as something standalone (ie: html5 parser, css parser, etc). In the future, this component (html5 parser) will receive through an API a stream of bytes and will output a stream of events. The events will be consumed by the next component and so on, until we can display something in a window/user agent. This could very well be a text-mode browser, but the idea is to have a graphical browser. Any new browser project has a certain “madman” quality to it, and I’m sure GoSub is no different.

Servo improves WebGPU support, gets new browser UI

Servo, the Rust browser engine originally developed by Mozilla, has posted an update about the project’s progress over the past month, and there’s a lot of good stuff in there. While our WebGPU support is still very much experimental (--pref dom.webgpu.enabled), it now passes over 5000 more tests in the Conformance Test Suite, after an upgrade from wgpu 0.6 (2020) to 0.16 (2023) and the addition of GPUSupportedFeatures. A few WebGPU demos now run too, notably those that don’t require changing the width or height on the fly, such as the Conway’s Game of Life built in Your first WebGPU app. On the CSS front, floats and ‘white-space: nowrap’ were previously only supported in our legacy layout engine (--legacy-layout), but now they are supported again, and better than ever before! Floats in particular are one of the trickiest parts of CSS2, and our legacy version had many bugs that were essentially unfixable due to the legacy layout architecture. On top of this and other improvements, Servo’s reference browser now also comes with a new user interface, and it comes with a location bar! Keep in mind this is not supposed to be a full-fledged user interface comparable with Chrome or Firefox, so don’t expect the world as a user.

My little MillionDollarHomepage garden

Back around the time I convinced my family to switch from a 56 kb/s dial-up modem to ADSL, the website was launched, and quickly became an Internet phenomenon, selling pixels for advertising space on a 1000×1000 canvas. 18 years later, the homepage is still standing, proudly displaying the Internet billboard of 2005, frozen in time. Some time ago I bought one of the expired domain names the page points to, In this post I’m exploring this Internet garden. This whole thing was such a massive hype back then, but since it took place about a year before I became the news-post-person around here, I didn’t actually remember if OSNews covered it, and it seems we didn’t. It’s definitely a fun exercise to look back at these pixel links, and actually owning one of the original domains is amazing.

Breathing life back into a Minitel 1B with the Minimit

Regular readers will know that I have a lot of love for the French Minitel system and own a couple. In the past I’ve written about using a Minitel 1B as a terminal and replacing the EPROM in a Minitel 2 to run custom firmware. Today I’m going to blog about a project called Minimit. The Minimit is a small, Minitel-shaped box that attaches to the Minitel’s DIN port and brings the Minitel experience back to life. The box contains an ESP32 which talks to the DIN port outputting Minitel-compatible text and graphics. And the graphics and letters appear slowly just as they would have in the 1980s. Minitel is such a fascinating topic and technology – Teletext, but more versatile. I’m so glad people are keeping it alive like this.

Ichido is a ’90s search engine with interesting features

Ichido is a set of experimental search engines and software projects created by Anthony Mancini. The flagship project is the Ichido general purpose search engine, a classic search engine with its own independent index. Now, indexing the web is hard and this is in beta so the search results aren’t exactly what you’d call competitive, but I have to say – the user interface for this search engine is downright fantastic. It emulates that late ’90s look, and does a very interesting thing where it adds buttons for things like RSS feeds and social accounts for the pages it links to in the results. On top of that, it will list less desirable features of websites – trackers, ads, etc., as red warnings. No, this can’t replace DDG or Google – but I love the thought put into the UI.

Browsing the web with a WonderSwan in 2023

In the year 1999, Bandai announced the MobileWonderGate – a device which allowed connecting a WonderSwan to the Internet thanks to a collaboration with the mobile network NTT DoCoMo. This was primarily used by a selection games to provide downloadable content, as expected for this type of handheld attachment. … Oh, it also came with a web browser supporting a subset of HTML 3.2, tables, GIF images, reading Japanese websites, a bookmark system, and cookies. On a handheld competing with the Game Boy Color. Did i mention it also acted as an SMTP/POP3 e-mail client? However, this browser assumed you’re on NTT’s network; it utilized a special service called “mopera”, short for Mobile OPErator RAdio. Unfortunately, on the final day of 2004, this service was shut down. Since then, nobody could use a WonderSwan to browse the web, which naturally is the kind of injustice that just cannot be left uncontested. Hardware and software will never be buried by the sands of time as long as crazy people like these exist.

Stop using Brave Browser

The Brave web browser has carved out a niche over the past few years as an alternative to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other mainstream web browsers. Some of that has come from its marketing as a privacy-preserving web browser, and it has also been repeatedly evangelized by cryptocurrency enthusiasts. If someone recommends Brave to you, you should ignore them, because they are wrong. Brave Browser is a mess of a software project, and the company building it is even worse. Do not use Brave. It’s a Chrome skin from a slimy company peddling crypto schemes, building an ad network, hijacking the URLS you type to get affiliate money, ran by a homophobe. There are so many better and less sleazy alternatives. Use those instead.

Introduction to federated social media

The “enshittification” of social media started around 2016, but it reached new highs in 2023. All chronological feeds and hashtag importance have given way to narrow-AI algorithms and recommendation engines. The result was that reach has become impossible for the common user, and many art creatives lost their livelihoods. Enter the Fediverse. From Wikipedia: “The fediverse is an ensemble of federated (i.e. interconnected) servers that are used for web publishing (i.e. social networking, microblogging, blogging, or websites) and file hosting, which, while independently hosted, can communicate with each other.“ This system has some advantages: It is almost impossible for governments to shut down in its entirety. User load can be shared among different servers (“instances”). Different instances have different rules, so you join the one you agree best with. Generally no spam and fewer bots. A non-aggressive environment as users get along better. No telemetry or ads. Everything is chronological so there are equal chances to be seen, no weird recommendation engines here. As for the disadvantages: Some instance admins are too twitchy, and can block other servers on a dime (my main gripe with the system). Some users are too sensitive for some topics, and require you to self-censor. The system probably can’t sustain more than 10-20 million active users, because not many people have the expertise to run their own instance and pay for the financial costs before donations start rolling in. If your instance goes down, you’ll have to migrate and re-acquire all your followers from scratch. Your family and friends aren’t on it, and probably never will be. Here are the Fediverse alternatives to the classic options: Alternative to Twitter: Mastodon The biggest federated environment with over 2 million active users. Great for “toots”, and small-sized blogging. Very actively developed. While there’s an official app for it and a third party one called… Shitter, and FediLab, the best way to view it remains the web browser. Alternatives to Mastodon: Pleroma, Diaspora, Misskey/Calckey (they mostly interoperate anyway). Alternative to Reddit: Lemmy Since the latest Reddit shenanigans Lemmy has jumped to become the second most used fediverse service. Still under active development, but it works great and it has all major Reddit features. People there are much nicer too! Alternative to Lemmy: Kbin (they interoperate, so Kbin content is available on Lemmy, and vice versa). Apps: Jerboa, Lemming, LiftOff, Summit, Connect. Alternative to Instagram: Pixelfed A bit slow compared to the other fedi services, but it’s unique in getting the original Instagram experience. As an artist, I love it. PixelDroid is the mobile app for it. Alternative to Youtube: PeerTube Well, there’s TilVids, and then there’s everyone else. TilVids doesn’t want to federate with everyone else, but it does have the most interesting videos (particularly of Linux interest). Spectra.Video and Diode.Zone are also great options to move your videos at. Just note that bandwidth is limited in these free services, so it’s best to upload in 1080p instead of 4k. There are 3-4 mobile apps for it. Alternative to Medium/Wordpress/SubStack: WriteFreely Not much to say here, a very modern editor that acts as blogging and article publishing service. Secure Messaging and IRC/Discord alternatives: Matrix Matrix is secure messaging end-to-end with being the main provider. It can also act as a community messaging server. Nostr and Jami are the newest such services on the block, but they’re a little bit weird to get into, I still prefer Matrix. Alternative to TikTok: none Thank the Olympian gods! Finally, the best way to deal with some smaller instances going down and losing your account is to get 1-3 different accounts on different instances. I personally have 3 Mastodon accounts, 3 PeerTube ones, and 2 Lemmy/1 Kbin ones. I used an older $70 phone (Moto G5 Plus) where I have installed the free, and very private Murena /e/ OS. It’s a totally de-googled Android OS (more so than LineageOS) that uses the iOS UI paradigm. In it, I use three app stores that only carry open source apps: F-Droid, IzzyOnDroid, and Obtainium. I avoid as much as possible from installing from the Aurora or the included App Lounge app stores that use the Google Play Store. The OS uses the open source microG service to replace the Google Play Services. So, I have almost completely left behind the normal social media and moved on to the Fediverse (apart from FB messenger with my mom, and a couple of special-interest subreddits via my laptop). You see, after leaving OSNews 15+ years ago, I became an artist. And social media was the way to get sales back then. I started with Tumblr, and later Instagram and FB. Overall, I had amassed about 340,000 followers across all social media. Sales were good for a while. Then, the enshittification started. The biggest blow was Instagram removing the chronological feed and hashtag importance, and little by little only superstar accounts were pushed by the recommendation engines. By 2020, it was near-impossible to survive online selling your art. Now, I don’t have any illusions that the Fediverse can replace the golden era of social media (2010-2020). I have calculated that you need a minimum of 100 million active users for various niche business to survive under a fair social media system. And currently, the whole Fediverse only has about 14.5 million accounts, with only about 2.2 million being active. In fact, I don’t expect the fediverse to ever achieve more than 10 million active users… And yet, I prefer to stay on it. It’s simply a more fair system. It’s not a corporation that changes its policies at a whim, or sells your data. I rather use a “lesser” system in terms of reach and maintain my mental health, than battling Instagram’s algorithms all day long (“no, I don’t want to shoot useless vertical short videos”). So, come on and join us on the fediverse. The more the merrier! Note: OSNews is very active on the Fediverse. We have the main OSNews account which posts our stories,

Check out these beautiful retro Mastodon clients!

There’s a specter looming over the realm of Mastodon, and it’s the ghost of computing’s past. A loose group of retro computing hobbyists have taken it upon themselves to build Mastodon clients for various operating systems. Developing web clients using the technology of the 80’s and 90’s is a challenge, but the following projects have proven that their devs are up to the task! Should we find ourselves in the unlikely scenario where an apocalypse happens, people can still post to Mastodon using retro PCs. This is an impressive list, and demonstrates the skill and dedication you can find in the retrocomputing community.

Li-Fi, light-based networking standard released

Today, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has added 802.11bb as a standard for light-based wireless communications. The publishing of the standard has been welcomed by global Li-Fi businesses, as it will help speed the rollout and adoption of the  data-transmission technology standard. Where Li-Fi shines (pun intended) is not just in its purported speeds as fast as 224 GB/s. Fraunhofer’s Dominic Schulz points out that as it works in an exclusive optical spectrum, this ensures higher reliability and lower latency and jitter. Moreover “Light’s line-of-sight propagation enhances security by preventing wall penetration, reducing jamming and eavesdropping risks, and enabling centimetre-precision indoor navigation,” says Shultz. The technology can work using regular lighting points, but you won’t see any flicker or strobing, since it uses infrared. I honestly like the idea of every light fixture in your house being a network access point, but I’m also getting flashbacks to using IrDA to sync PDAs to PCs, and what would happen if you obstructed the line of sight.

A developer says Reddit could charge him $20 million a year to keep his app working

Apollo, the popular Reddit app for iOS, could face millions of dollars in fees as a result of Reddit’s new paid API model. According to an update posted by developer Christian Selig, Reddit could charge Apollo roughly $20 million per year if it continues operating at its current scale. Reddit announced changes to its API policy in April, which allows the platform to put limits on the number of API requests made by a third-party client like Apollo. But now, we have more details on what exactly this means: Selig says Reddit plans on charging about $12,000 per 50 million requests. Reddit looked at Twitter and thought now that’s how you run a business.

Social media can be a ‘profound risk’ to youth, surgeon general warns

The United States surgeon general, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, issued a public advisory on Tuesday warning of the risks of social media use to young people. In a 19-page report, Dr. Murthy noted that although the effects of social media on adolescent mental health were not fully understood, and that social media can be beneficial to some users, “there are ample indicators that social media can also have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” The surgeon general called on policymakers, tech companies, researchers and parents to “urgently take action” to safeguard against the potential risks. I don’t think anyone sane really needs to be convinced of the dangers of poorly-run and terribly moderated social media like Twitter and Facebook, but I do wonder why the supposed dangers stop at the age of 18? If we look at the past 10-15 years, it seems like to me the people who most easily fall prey to misinformation and targeted troll campaigns on social media are people of older generations, who then proceeded to to incredible damage to our societies in voting booths – something that can still get a lot worse in the coming years. I have no idea how to fix any of this – social media will always exist, and so will its dark side – but we better start thinking of something, fast, because I’m afraid the damage to our society we’ve seen so far from gullible idiots falling for obvious nonsense on social media is only going to get worse from here on out.

Modern HTML email (tables no longer required)

Outlook on Windows has very much been the Internet Explorer of email clients. The Outlook desktop app on Windows, along with the Windows Mail app, were the only reason developers had to continue building emails with HTML tables. (Outlook apps on macOS, iOS, and Android are unproblematic.) Tables within tables within tables… It’s well past time that Outlook got a proper update, and it’s finally here. The new Outlook switches rendering engines from Microsoft Word to Edge. Support for CSS features in the new Outlook application appears to be identical to that of, which is a great leap forward. I had to read that quite a few times before I really internalised that yes, Outlook for Windows used Microsoft Word to render HTML emails.

Chrome will support the WebGPU API by default—here’s why that’s important

Google announced today that it would enable WebGPU support in its Chrome browser by default starting in version 113, currently in beta. In development since 2017, WebGPU is a next-generation graphics API that aims to bring the benefits of low-overhead APIs like Microsoft’s Direct3D 12, Apple’s Metal, and Vulkan to web browsers and other apps. WebGPU support has been available but off by default in Chrome for a while now, because the API wasn’t finalized and things could break from update to update. Google says that Mozilla and Apple will eventually support WebGPU in Firefox and Safari, and browsers like Microsoft Edge and Opera that rely on the Chromium browser engine can presumably choose to switch it on just as Google has. Chrome 113 supports WebGPU on Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS to start, with “support for other platforms” like Linux and Android “coming later this year.” This browser version should roll out to all Chrome users sometime in May. I’ve never really needed any advanced 3D rendering in my day-to-day browsing, but that might just be a case of the chicken and the egg.

Google and Mozilla are working on iOS browsers that break current App Store rules

Companies like Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft have versions of their web browsers on Apple’s iOS and iPadOS App Stores, but these versions come with a big caveat: The App Store rules require them to use Safari’s WebKit rendering engine rather than the engines those browsers use in other operating systems. But that could be changing. According to The Register, Google and Mozilla have recently been spotted working on versions of Chromium and Firefox that use their normal Blink and Gecko rendering engines, respectively. This only makes sense. It’s very likely the rules around browser engines is going to go away, so I’m glad the competition is getting ready for this inevitability. If for some reason I’m ever forced at gunpoint to use iOS, I’d at least have access to real Firefox.

Do not use services that hate the internet

As you look around for a new social media platform, I implore you, only use one that is a part of the World Wide Web. If posts in a social media app do not have URLs that can be linked to and viewed in an unauthenticated browser, or if there is no way to make a new post from a browser, then that program is not a part of the World Wide Web in any meaningful way. Consign that app to oblivion. Yep.

Taking a look at Mastodon

Mastodon is interesting. On the surface it might just seem like a Twitter clone, but it’s based on a federated protocol called ‘ActivityPub’. What this means in practice is that there’s no central server. There’s many instances. Each of these instances is managed by different people, and many of them focus on specific interests. With email, it doesn’t matter which provider you go with Thanks to universal SMTP standards that every server uses, you can exchange messages with everyone else. This is the same with Mastodon. You’re not siloed into a single instance, and you can follow people from any other instance. Unlike email, it appears that with Mastodon you can actually migrate to different instances if you don’t like your current one. I’ve left Twitter behind, too, and am having a much better time on Mastodon ever since. I plan on setting up a proper OSNews account on Mastodon as well, but that requires some coordination with Adam (our admin) and David (OSNews’ owner) that I haven’t gotten round to yet. You can follow me here if you so desire.

The $300bn Google-Meta advertising duopoly is under attack

For the past decade there were two more or less universally acknowledged truths about digital advertising. First, the rapidly growing industry was largely impervious to the business cycle. Second, it was dominated by the duopoly of Google (in search ads) and Meta (in social media), which one jealous rival has compared to John Rockefeller’s hold on oil in the 19th century. Both of these verities are now being challenged simultaneously. Having giants like Google and Facebook checked and balanced by competition is always a plus, but one has to wonder if this is just going to accelerate the race to the bottom in the online ad business.