“Bump” and your data go to the cloud

When investigating the design of the FreedomBox app to exchange keys and establish trust between two people I looked at how the Bump App for iPhone and Android solves the issue. From their FAQ:

Q: How does Bump work?

A: There are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on our servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair.

So, when you collide two phones with the same app, the data are encrypted and sent to their cloud for matching. No bluetooth, no complicated QRcode. Smart. I don’t think we can we use the same mechanism for FreedomBox, though.

via | Bump Technologies, Inc..

Get to know the FreedomBox project in San Francisco

Next Tuesday June 21st I’ll speak at Bay Area Linux Users Group (BALUG) about the FreedomBox project.

The FreedomBox is a generation of smart devices whose engineered purpose is to work together to facilitate free communication among people, safely and securely, beyond the ambition of the strongest power to penetrate, they can make freedom of thought and information a permanent, ineradicable feature of the net that holds our souls.

If you plan to attend please RSVP sending a note to rsvp@balug.org. The meeting will be held at  Four Seas Restaurant (directions) 731 Grant Ave (between Clay and Sacramento) starting around 6:30pm. There will also be dinner.

GNU Telephony working on a Skype replacement

Nathan Willis on LWN explains quite well the role of two GNU projects as Skype replacements: SIP Witch and GNU Free Call.

SIP Witch, the call server developed by the GNU Telephony project, made its stable 1.0 release in May. In conjunction with that milestone, GNU Telephony has also unveiled its next major project, GNU Free Call — a free, peer-to-peer routed voice calling network.

Read it all ($) GNU Telephony releases SIP Witch 1.0 and announces Free Call [LWN.net].

First code project for FreedomBox: the ‘bump’ challenge

Exchanging public keys and signing them is still a complicated matter for normal users. As part of the development of FreedomBox we are thinking of a simple way to establish trust and enable two people talk to each other through secure cryptographic means.

One possible scenario is the following: User Jane meets her friend Ken, they ‘bump’ their phones or scan QRcode and by doing so they exchange not only their private information (vcard, GPG keys) but also establish a high degree of digital identity trust. The updated status of ‘trust’ can be then transmitted back from the phone to their respective FreedomBoxes, securing future communication between Jane and Ken.

I’ve asked for comments and asked for participants on the FreedomBox discuss mailing list. Read the conversation on the archives and consider joining the effort.

Things I said on 2011-06-12

FSF highlights two projects that can replace Skype

GNU Free Call wants to help people easily connect with each other without relying on any one centralized network. To do that, they’re creating a peer-to-peer calling network, along with client software for traditional desktop computers and mobile devices. The project recently released stable call server software, GNU SIP Witch 1.0, and now the team is beginning to focus its efforts on building the client software.

WebRTC is coordinating an effort to let people call each other and hold videoconferences just by visiting a Web site.

via Two new projects can help free software replace Skype — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software.

Wii U is a step backward for Nintendo

Nintendo presented the new gaming console and a new business strategy. The first thing that struck me is the silly name: I don’t get it, sounds primitive, too many vowels. Try to say it out loud and tell me it sounds good.

Then I saw the controller and the demos: WOW! Not. The Wii was a masterpiece of human interaction design: simple and effective, it expanded gaming to a whole new set of gamers. Its simplicity was the distinctive feature that allowed Nintendo to stay in the market. Wii U’s controller instead seems hard, complex and confusing. Look at the picture below: which screen should you be watching? All those buttons… how should be holding that thing: flat? vertical?

More puzzling it’s the marketing choice to go back to the crowded space where the leaders are PS3 and Xbox. Why would Nintendo decide to leave its lucrative new niche and go back to fight directly against Sony and Microsoft?