Diverter joins me on the show to talk about our modern world of surveillance and reliance on third parties. We chat about learning to be a ‘digital sherpa’ for your family and friends. 

  • Dealing with “I don’t have anything to hide”
  • Password managers
  • Nextcloud
  • Yunohost
  • Self hosting
  • Bitcoin

Diverter links:

Sponsors: 

Stephan Livera links:

Podcast Transcript:

Stephan Livera:

Diverter welcome to the show.

Diverter:

How are you doing man? Glad to be here.

Stephan Livera:

So, Diverter. I’m a fan of some of your work I’ve been seeing. You have been writing and making some material to help. The Bitcoiners out there who are more interested in privacy sovereignty and just being a little bit more resilient. So tell us a little bit about yourself. Obviously only the things you are comfortable to dox that is.

Diverter:

Sure. I generally don’t, haven’t told a whole lot of my quote unquote Bitcoin story, just because it’s almost corny. The amount of the role that Bitcoin’s played in my life, but the truth is, when you’re growing up and you look at things and you’re seeing things around you, like in the government and the way things are run and the way that money is spent and you see all these problems. But whenever I was coming up and seeing all this stuff, I felt like there was no path forward. You know, it’s like, I can see the problems, but I don’t know what to do, what I can do about it. You feel helpless almost. And so, it leads you down some bad paths sometimes, you can kind of get lost.

Diverter:

And that’s what ended up happening with me, lost quite a few years of my life. You know, just basically due to that feeling. And then to finally come back around and in the late 2016 time is when I first bought Bitcoin was in 2016, had no idea what it was like, absolutely zero idea. I just thought it was a stock. I thought it was a company. You know, I literally, I like I had zero. I was just looking at charts, you know trying to make some money. And 2017 came around, bull run hits. I’m seeing this price go crazy. Of course I sold entirely too early because, again, I just thought it was a stock or something. And as I saw this thing, just go crazy. It kind of dawned on me. Like, there’s, there’s no way that this is like, everybody’s just buying this just to make some money. So I kind of started digging into it and, the rest is kind of history, but all of this stuff that we’re going to be talking about today and the stuff that I like to write about it all ties in with that general feeling of wanting to take more control of your own life and the things around you and what you can control and, minimizing the things that are done to you essentially.

Stephan Livera:

Excellent. And so was that part of your philosophy or the way you were thinking even before you got into Bitcoin? Or is this something that Bitcoin has also spurred within you?

Diverter:

Well, I grew up in I guess you would call it like a classical liberal sense, you know I guess you could describe my kind of political philosophy is “I just want to grill” party. I kinda just want to be left alone, to do my thing. And that’s kind of how I grew up. And I went and did military service in the United States. And that’s what was really when I came out from there, from my experience. A lot of people that you either come out extremely patriotic or quite disillusioned mine was the latter. I was, I was quite disillusioned with things that a lot of the things that I thought were true, I discovered weren’t true. And like I said, that’s what kind of led me down a path of not knowing how to go forward because it just didn’t seem like anything was viable at the time.

Diverter:

You know, what are you going to do? Go back to gold? You know, like it’s not coming back, it’s over. They’re not going to give that back. So it always seemed like that was that barrier. So it was there, but it had kind of gone away because like I said, I just didn’t see how to do it. When I found Bitcoin, it really reinvigorated my spirit of, of, this can actually be done, you know we actually have tools now that we can do some of the things that have been theorized for so long.

Stephan Livera:

So Diverter I’ve seen, you mention just recently and even on Twitter as well, for some time you’ve been using the phrase, “use the tools”. So for listeners out there, what does that mean?

Diverter:

Yeah, that is copyrighted, by the way, I just went through this Bitcoin qna so I’ll send you an address to pay me later. But yeah, it is exactly what it sounds like, it’s these little catchphrases and stuff. You know, of course they’re a little silly and it’s about branding or whatever, but it really is a sort of a mantra of mine, a mindset. I’m not a very technical user. I’m not very technically savvy. I’m not, I just never have been into that sort of thing. So I never really did learn it. What I do know how to do is kind of get some dirt under my fingernails, I just kind of get in there and use the tools. And when you do that, it really becomes crystal clear what you do need, what you don’t need. What’s better for you and what’s worse, you know? So all these questions that you can sit and think about theorize and talk with people about all you want a simple case of using the tools will solve a lot of those questions for you. Yeah.

Stephan Livera:

It reminds me of how people used to talk about — I don’t know whether you’ll relate to this exactly or not, but I recall back when people used to talk about StarCraft on forums, there was this saying, they’d say, Oh, stop theorycrafting, like actually do it in practice. Right. You’re just making up some strategy that you think kind of works, but like, you need to just like, get your hands dirty. And I think that’s probably very much aligned with what you’re saying. So in terms of tools, what sort of tools do you think people should be using? What kind of software or hardware are you looking at and writing about nowadays?

Diverter:

Right. The things that I’m most interested in are the things that are the easiest to use, and that don’t add a ton of friction to the process. I’m fond of saying that convenience is actually the biggest enemy of privacy and security. It’s not government agencies or spies or anything. It’s convenience. People will give up so much security and privacy for a little bit of convenience. So if you’re going to use a tool, again, it’s one of those things where you can make the coolest thing in the world, and it does all this neat stuff. But if you have to use command line to do it, you’re eliminating a huge, huge part of your audience and people that will actually get in there and use the tool. So I really like stuff that it is powerful enough that a power user can go in there and do what they want with it, but it also can be run in a way that it’s easy enough that anybody can do it.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. And as you are pointing out in the series as well, the article series Becoming Uncle Jim, it’s also about how do you bring people along with you on that journey? Because your family and friends, we love them. We care about them, but they don’t necessarily care about the same things we care about. So how do you approach that idea of trying to bring them down that pathway?

Diverter:

Sure. And, again, it really comes back down to the convenience aspect of it. It’s really hard to get people to use something different than what they’re already using. Even if the tool you’re proposing to them. I mean, it can be 10X improvement, but if they don’t really care the way that you care, then they don’t care. So they’re not, we can sit on here all day and, we’ll be on Twitter or telegram or wherever, and we’ll debate back and forth. You know, the cryptographic security between threema or signal, which one’s better and what she would do. Meanwhile, our friends and family are debating on whether or not they post this next thing to Facebook or Instagram, they don’t care. So it has to be something that doesn’t, it doesn’t add any friction. It needs to actually make us a difference in the way they use things. That’s why one of the things that I threw out was BitWarden, as a password manager, just something like that,thatcan actually add to the convenience. So any tool likethatyou can find that rides that balance between being convenient enough to use, but also as to your security and privacy, that’s where I want to head.

Stephan Livera:

Yes BitWarden is a great example. I think there are some friends who I know who they just have, very few passwords that they reuse across many different services and they have to memorize them. And obviously a password manager can help with that. So just for people who don’t know, or if they’re not familiar with using Bitwarden or password managers, what are they, how do they work?

Diverter:

Sure. Bitwarden. I really liked that one. It’s open source software. Essentially what it does is it takes a lot of the problem of passwords that we have around us. I mean, there are so many passwords that the average person needs to remember. I mean, every service that you use basically needs a password. And so what ends up happening the vast majority of the time is that people just use extremely weak passwords or the best case scenario usually is they may have one kind of hard password, but that’s their one password. And so they’re going to use this across every single site that they use, or at least three or four or five of them. So what Bitwarden and password managers in general do is they kind of take that away from you and they will be able to generate you a password that you can determine how long, what kind of characters you want in it, whether it’s a password or a passphrase, all this different stuff to where you can create really, really good, strong, secure passwords, but you don’t have to remember them.

Diverter:

They’re being held in your password manager. So when you navigate to a site, say, you’re are going to Facebook when you go onto Facebook and you go to log in, when you click on the the site, you’ll get a little pop-up if you’re on your phone or, if you have an extension on your desktop and it’s a one-click and then it, auto-populates your username and your password for you. So now you’ve used a strong and secure password that you don’t have to use anywhere else, and you’ve actually taken away some of the friction as opposed to adding it.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. And it can be difficult to get people over the line there, but I think if you can show them, Hey, this would actually make your experience a lot easier. And if you can explain that to them, and I’m sure there are probably listeners of the show who maybe they’re just holding Bitcoin and they, haven’t kind of gone to that level next of Oh, okay. Learning how to self custody. It’s kind of like one of those steps where you just have to learn how to get started with it. And I think in this case with password managers and Bitwarden, it’s about showing that person, Hey, currently, you’re having to recall, you’re having to remember that password and enter it multiple times. And have you ever noticed how there’s those times when you want to sign in, you’ve logged into something on your desktop, but now you need it because you’re out and about on your mobile. Now, if you have Bitwarden and it can actually remember that for you and it can generate far more secure passwords than what you will be able to memorise.

Diverter:

Exactly. And that was the reason why I kind of led off this series with a very, very, you know general article about Bitwarden, because I really do feel like password managers are a very good like entryway. They’re good first step for people because, as you just said, it actually makes your experience more convenient. You don’t have to remember anything. You don’t have to do any of that. And once you’re able to pull it up, on your device or whatever, and just show them, Hey, look, and go to whatever sites you want to go to. You see the little pop-up that pops up, it’s one click and boom, and it’s all filled. And you’ve got a 25, 30 character strong, secure password that would take, millions of years to crack, with the current computing software. So, it’s one of those things where if you can get this first step right here done I found, it really kind of opens up the door for them to accept this next recommendation.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. So it’s kind of like the gateway drug in your mind.

Diverter:

Precisely. It really is. Yeah.

Stephan Livera:

And the other interesting thing is there’s levels to all of these things, right? So for example, Bitwarden has the default setup, and you can also do the next level up, which has premium. And then maybe you can add a YubiKey, which is adding another level of security. And then from a self sovereignty point of view, you can also take that. And now self-host your Bitwarden. And so I know this is something you’re big on, my buddy Ketan, he’s big on that also. So can you tell us a little bit about the different levels and how you can progress through them to become more, either more private or more secure or more self-sovereign.

Diverter:

And Ketan a huge fan of the stuff that he and you guys are both doing over there. It’s important work. And he gives me a lot of goals to kind of shoot for as far as the self hosting goes, he’s taken it to know whole other levels. What I am kind of shooting for here is I’m kind of trying to be, again, this, I’m trying to be the gateway drug to Ketan. Okay. I’ve got, I’m just going to give people a little taste and then maybe I can get you on down the road. But yeah, just as you said, you can, you can progress through between whether you want to use it for free which is completely adequate. It will do the job just fine.

Diverter:

If you use the app that, if it’s using Bitwarden’s default servers they use encryption, you know so they try to keep your stuff as secure as possible on their servers. So that’s a good thing. But then, you can add in additional hardware, like the YubiKeys, you can just continue to level up and make cracking your passwords incrementally harder and incrementally harder. The one good thing that I really do like about Bitwarden is as you noted the ability to be fully self hosted. So you no longer have to trust that their encryption is working properly on their servers. Now Bitwarden is, like I said, it’s an open source, open source app. So it’s good to source codes out there. Everybody can see it, you can see what it does and when it doesn’t do but still being able to host that service on a server that you have control of that really makes it a lot easier, especially if you’re trying to remain more private as far as not having to worry quite so much about, IP addresses, where you’re connecting from all those things like that fall into there.

Diverter:

So it’s a really excellent service. I highly recommend it.

Stephan Livera:

And so now at this point, as we’re starting to get more technical, you might get some of the pushback from family and friends. So they might say, look, Diverter, I don’t have anything to hide. What would you say to them?

Diverter:

That’s the classic one, right? That’s the one that we always get nothing to hide. First of all, the entire framing sets you up immediately to be on the defensive, if you’re the privacy advocate, because now suddenly you have to defend allowing people to hide. But privacy is not about hiding. Privacy is about having the ability to selectively reveal yourself. You get to decide what information is revealed, and when that information is revealed. Now, somebody might argue that, technically when you click on, I accept on these huge, long terms and conditions, and in terms of service that these companies put out that there’s probably some fine print in there that says, yeah, you agree that, you’re giving over all of your data. Nobody reads that they just want to use the service.

Diverter:

So of course, everybody clicks through. I agree, what are you going to just say, no, you’re not going to use it. You know? So it’s not about the hiding part of it. It’s about keeping what belongs to you, belonging to you. There’s a reason that when we go to the bathroom, we shut the door behind us. Some things are not for public consumption. And your data is certainly one of those things in today’s day and age. Data has become the hottest commodity on the market. So I really try to approach it, that argument and kind of twist it and turn it away from this defense of hiding, because it’s really, it doesn’t need to be that.

Stephan Livera:

Yup. And then there’s also the aspect that laws can change. Things that were once legal and totally fine, might now not be acceptable. And in this world, obviously in the Bitcoin case, the things that are on the blockchain they’re going to be around for forever or for hundreds of years or whatever. And some of these things, you never know how much data they’re sucking up. And when that could come back to bite you years or decades down the line.

Diverter:

It’s so scary when you really sit down and think about it. When you, if you really start breaking down the amount of data that is probably out there about you and where that particular data resides. And then you think about the fact that these legislators and lawmakers can quite literally with the stroke of a pen, turn you into criminals overnight. And it, it,It’s happened before if you’re in any sort of community where freedom or the individual’s rights are emphasized in today’s day and age, I think it would be very hard for anybody to argue that those individual rights and freedoms are under attack virtually from all angles. It’s a full on assault right now, Samourai wallet are fond of using a term that, privacy is a human fight, not a human right. And I’m a firm believer in that, right now the fight is on. Now whether or not you want to realize that you’re in that fight, it’s irrelevant to the other party, because they’re just going to keep hitting you. They don’t care if you’re fighting or not, you’re fighting. So it’s just a matter of being able to properly defend oneself against anything that might change unexpectedly, or that might, a hack, a leak there’s so much that could go wrong.

Stephan Livera:

And so then that brings us to this whole theme of being the Digital Sherpa for family and friends, or this idea as our friend, Matt Odell would say becoming Uncle Jim. So this idea that you have, you might run the infrastructure as the more technical person in your family or in your group of friends. And then you’ve got your little nieces and nephews who are piggybacking off the infrastructure that you run. So why is that the setup in your mind?

Diverter:

Right. The short answer is honestly personal responsibility doesn’t really scale to be quite honest, a lot of people don’t really want this responsibility because taking control of your own finances, like through Bitcoin taking control of your own data, whether you’re hosting, Bitwarden or nextcloud or whatever you’re going to do, what that requires is for you to actually take full responsibility for all of this stuff, there is no customer service that’s coming to help you. If somebody gets your Bitcoin keys and they steal your Bitcoin, it’s gone, there is no FDIC, there’s none of that. And it’s quite scary to a lot of people, a lot of people just have no interest in accepting that level of responsibility. So what ends up happening is we pawn that responsibility off onto these huge big tech companies, they’ll take care of everything for you.

Diverter:

And if you run into a problem, though, they’ll do everything that they can to help you out with it. But the other side of that is you are paying for that service, whether or not it’s free, is irrelevant. You’re paying for it, either through your data. They’re going to be pushing advertisements on you that possibly even be scanning your data and looking for keywords and things that are in there again, to try to push another advertisement on you. So we end up trusting these third parties and, as we’re all quite aware, the great Nick Szabo line, trusted third parties are security holes that still holds true for uncle Jim. Your uncle Jim is still a trusted third party. However, it’s a trusted third party that you have a much more intimate relationship with. That really is somebody that you care about that cares about you, that you have a personal relationship with, and it’s not somebody that’s looking to monetize at any possible chance that they have.

Stephan Livera:

And so that’s, I guess, taking it now to be being able to run your own infrastructure. So many listeners of the show might themselves be Uncle Jim for their own family and friends. So what are some of the steps that they can take to get started on this journey either for themselves, or to help their family in terms of running infrastructure?

Diverter:

Right. You know, virtually all of us, we either are the quote unquote, the Bitcoin guy or the, the tech guy in our family and group of friends or we know the guy that is, and to become that person, it can take a whole lot of research and you have to really start understanding and networking and how things connect and where you leak data and where you don’t. And it’s very, very intimidating. So again, what I’m trying to look for here are programs and applications, anything that can make this transition as easy as possible from going from allowing, you know Facebook or Google or whoever to host all of your data for you to move into a more self sovereign that’s, it’s gotta be done as simply as possible. So I’ve become a huge fan of it’s an operating system application called YUNO host.

Diverter:

And I really, really like the service. This is not really a service for the quote unquote power user. All right. Ketan is not using, Yunohost. I mean, he might, but he has no need for Yuno host, host okay. He’s fully able to, spin up Docker containers and whatever he wants to do. Okay. And there may be some people out there listening that are able to do that for themselves right now. And that’s great. And that’s all good and fine. And, if you want to spin up your own stuff, you can do that. You can host plenty of good stuff like that. But I would say the majority of people would really benefit from having basically a one-click install to be able to start hosting all of this data and run different various applications without really having to learn a whole lot about the networking side and a whole lot about how Docker works and all this different stuff. It’s really kind of done in the background. And there’s a good GUI web application for it. It takes a lot of the work out of your hands and does the heavy lifting for you.

Stephan Livera:

So let’s talk a little bit about how that works. What’s the process of setting that up and, what are some of the options like, are we talking VPS virtual private server here, or are we talking on your own bare metal hardware, some hardware that you have in your home? What are some of the ways to think about, that first decision of which pathway to go down?

Diverter:

Yeah. The self hosting basically implies that you own a server. Now the word owning right there can mean several different things. It can mean that, as you said, you have your own actual hardware and equipment in your home. It doesn’t have to be very specialized equipment, raspberry pi or regular, you know x86 64, just regular computers will work. You can run things on virtual machine. And then there’s the option of the virtual private server where you are self hosting. Okay. But the way that it works is the server itself is partitioned off. And it’s a virtual server that’s partitioned away from everybody else’s. So essentially they cut out, you cut out your own little corner of this server and it’s yours, and you can install whatever operating system you want on it.

Diverter:

And you can do all kinds of things. Now, why you would go with one over the other, one of the main things is depends on what you really want to do with this thing. Now, if you’re going to host, like take for example we have, every now and then Twitter does something. It puts everybody all up in arms and we see a mass migration to Mastodon. Okay. So when you move over to Mastadon, you sign up on the big one Bitcoinhackers.org, right? The one that’s run by Novak. Okay. So now what you’ve, what you’ve really done is you’ve just shifted from, Twitter hosting to Novak, hosting it on the Bitcoinhackers.org. You’re able to host your own Mastodon instance in a very, very simple one-click fashion. But what that also means is if you’re going to open this up and have other people connecting, it’s going to be a public facing type of site.

Diverter:

That’s when you’re going to get into a situation where like your IP address is going to be exposed, people are going to be able to possibly find out your actual physical location. You have to start learning a lot of the networking ins and outs. So that’s when running it on your own hardware or at your house, it kind of becomes a little bit more difficult. So my very, very basic advice on these sort of things is if you’re going to host like a password manager for yourself and your friends and family, even a Nextcloud for your friends and family, then that’s completely and totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with you hosting it on your own hardware. It’s not going to be exposed to the public and other people aren’t going to be signing into it. It’s not going to be a target for hacks and anything that is on that other end, like a Mastadon or anything that you’re going to let, just anybody use like a Searx search engine and something like that. That’s when the easiest and the quickest way to get it done is going to be using a VPS or a virtual private server.

Stephan Livera:

And I think there might also be some interesting considerations there for people who are traveling. So there are some people out there who are more Bitcoin nomads, let’s say, and in that kind of use case, they may actually need a VPS because they may not have a permanent location. And so that’s probably one other consideration, but I think for most people who’ve just got a dedicated home. Then that’s where having just a dedicated box at home might make sense for them.

Diverter:

Sure. Absolutely. And yeah, you’re exactly right. In any situation where you’re going to be moving around a lot, all that stuff, using a VPS gives you a really good chance at having a good uptime. So it’s one of those things where you can go where you want do what you want to do. And it’s essentially just going to sit there and run, and it’s not going to eat up a lot of your computer space and your storage and all that stuff, but a raspberry pi sitting at your house, it will do the job just fine of hosting your password manager, your Nextcloud, all that stuff can be done way cheaper than what I think most people believe.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. So out of, just to give some context for our listeners, roughly how much would that cost be to set up the raspberry PI at home?

Diverter:

I mean, if you’re gonna really, the cost is in, just the hardware and the storage, but you’re probably looking if you’re going to go with an SSD and SD card and stuff, even if you go kind of high end, you’re still looking at $150, $200 maybe. I mean, you could get, stretch it up probably into the threes and fours, but you could probably also get it down to as cheap as like maybe 75 or even a hundred, because you don’t really need that much storage. As far as like your SSD storage, that’s where a lot of your prices are going to come in. So, getting an SSD storage, like, for example, on the Yunohost. So some of the things on the raspberry Pi what you need to have on it, like, what you must have is 16 gigabytes on a micro SD card. Okay. And so that’s it, you don’t need go out and splurge for a one terabyte SSD necessarily. Now if you’re going to host a ton of data on a Nextcloud or something, then okay, maybe, but for the, for the majority of people, you can, you could probably get by for, maybe a hundred, $150 a day.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. So certainly not an expensive commitment to just buy the parts and just give that a try. So diverter, how does it work then if you want to do the setup. So let’s say you want to use the Yunohost and you want to set up, let’s say a raspberry PI, or maybe you’ve just got an old box sitting around at home that you want to have that as your little personal server, what does it look like setting that up with, virtual box and so on?

Diverter:

Sure. many different ways you can do it. The good thing is the documentation on Yunohost, yunohost.org and the instructions and the installation guides and stuff there. They’re extremely simple because it’s an extremely simple program to run. So if you get a a raspberry PI that you’ve got, that you’re going to be able to run, essentially, all you’re going to do is you’re going to download the actual, Yunohost image. It is basically an operating system. Okay. You know, host is its own operating system. So once you install it, that’s, you’re going to be running, Yunohost as opposed to say, I’m running Ubuntu or I’m running Debian, you’re running Yunohost. So you download this image and you flash it on the micro SD card.

Diverter:

Once you do that and you power up the board, essentially, all you’re really going to need to do. If you have a screen is connected to it, you can do all this with a web application, through localhost, you can just visit yunohost.local on your hardware. And it will pull up a nice gooey that you can work through. Or you can just SSH in if you don’t have a monitor or anything. And there’s was just a very few extremely simple commands. It walks you through. What you need is a domain name. It helps if you have your own domain name that you’ve purchased, just because that gives you more control over the DNS record configuration. So you can do more with how that’s configured, but it’s not absolutely necessary because, Yunohost does provide default domain names that you can use to just spin it up without really having to have anything. But it’s just, it’s really, really easy to follow. A couple of little commands. You install the program, you create yourself as a user, and then you go through and pull up the application catalog. And there’s an extensive list of apps that you basically one-click install from that point.

Stephan Livera:

Cool. So basically the setup then is it’s, in some ways it’s similar to like setting up the myNode or an Umbrel, like you’re flashing this to a SD card and you’re.

Diverter:

very similar.

Stephan Livera:

booting it up and it then spins up its own little personal server or your personal server. And you can then SSH into that. So if you’re on Linux, you just fire up a terminal and you SSH you’re using that IP. Or if you’re on windows, you’re using something like Putty. And then you mentioned the aspect around the domain names as well. So that’s where you might have a custom domain name that you’ve purchased that you want to use that. And then that way your friends can in their Bitwarden, for example, they can point that to your instance.

Diverter:

Exactly. And like I said, it helps because you can, you can configure your DNS records, which basically just allows you to kind of prove that you own a site. Kind of configure how email works whether you’re going to be sending out emails and stuff from this site. So if you have purchased your own domain name, like from a place like Namecheap, for example, you can use Bitcoin to do that. Okay. If you’re looking to stay more pseudonymous, they do ask you for information to fill out for the registration for the domain name. But honestly, it’s kind of up to you how accurate you’d like that information to be now, you can run into problems if something were to happen and you were to need for some reason to prove ownership of that domain. Of course you can’t really do that. So you’re just kind of going to lose your money again, that’s a niche case. The vast majority of the time, you can basically put in what you want to put in buy your domain use Bitcoin. You can kind of keep yourself a more private spin up this Yunohost, configure your DNS records. It’s all, it’s all actually extremely simple. It’s very linear, easy to follow. And before, it you’ll be hosting your own stuff.

Stephan Livera:

Very cool. And so we’ve mentioned Nextcloud, but just for listeners who are not familiar, what is nextcloud?

Diverter:

Nextcloud is storage in the same vein as like a Google drive or a one drive. So it’s that place where say you go on vacation or wherever you go, and you take a bunch of pictures or, some family movies you haven’t seen in a long time. Some of this stuff is extremely important to us. It holds, essentially priceless value. It’s sentimental value. You can’t really put a price on. So if you only have those pictures of that data stored locally, or it’s only on your phone then if anything happens to that phone or to that information it’s gone. And there is no getting it back. So what Google drive and those companies do is they offered that hosting of your files and stuff for you. You upload stuff to Google drive.

Diverter:

Now, if your phone gets lost or stolen or whatever the case may be, you can always go into Google drive or one drive or whatever, and access that file. And re-download it locally. Well, what Nextcloud does is it provides that same service and a bunch of other things. If you would like, it’s quite a powerful application but it provides that and it takes that data and that information out of the hands of these big tech companies that when they get it, it’s very likely that some of this information is tried to use to manipulate advertisements your way at the very least if not more nefarious things. So you take that power out of their hands and you put it into your own hands, that way, anything that you want to keep in case you’re going to lose it, or that has extreme massive value to it. You can configure your device to automatically upload to Nextcloud whenever you snap a picture, for example, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah, that’s pretty cool. And just with the, with the Nextcloud, is there a way to do it through it through Tor? Or is this all not through Tor at all?

Diverter:

Basically I would imagine mostly all this. I haven’t actually tried myself to do Nextcloud to Tor, but I’m quite sure that there,therewouldn’t be that much problem with it. The reason that I haven’t really focused on Tor, even though, obviously if you’re in any sort of the privacy game Tor is kind of a big deal. It’s pretty ubiquitous. The reason that I’ve kind of stayed away from Tor which does help quite a bit with hosting stuff, because you don’t have to worry so much about your IP address and different things like that. The encryption is automatic, all that stuff is really good, but it’s still quite scary for people. Okay. And It’s still quite scary for your friends and family to access an onion site. And so I I’ve stayed away from it, but I would imagine the answer’s probably, yes, you probably, you should be able to spin one up.

Stephan Livera:

Got it. And also it’s not just the photos, but also applications. So as an example, you might want to collaborate on them with a document and that’s where Nextcloud can also come in too, right.

Diverter:

Oh, for sure. Yeah. anything, just as an example I migrated a couple of my phones. I installed Calyx operating system on as a Google pixel that I was a formerly running copperhead on. And what Nextcloud enabled me to do was back up all of that data from all of my applications. And whenever I got the Calyx OS operating system running, I was able to just access those backup files from my Nextcloud. And it made migrating all that data to my new phone extremely simple.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. That’s pretty cool. And so then you’ve also got this idea of searching and having that been done like that sounds like it would be like another whole level of self hosting and self sovereignty. Why go down this path?

Diverter:

I mean, on its face, sure. You know and you don’t, most people, you don’t really think about typing things into a search engine. I mean, just, you’re just searching for words, what’s the big deal, but the fact of the matter is this, the terms that you search for reveal quite a bit about you people generally, when you’re in your own home and you’re sitting behind this computer screen and there’s nobody else around you, that’s the times when you can search some of the things that you really want to search, never mind what you tell your friends and family or whatever this is when real you comes out and these big tech companies, they know that as well. I know, regardless of what you might say on Twitter or anywhere else, they know what you really searched for whenever nobody else, you think nobody else is looking, but there’s somebody else looking. Google’s search engine it accounts for over 92% of all search requests, all right.

Diverter:

That is a massive, massive monopoly on that amount of data. Okay. It is, outrageous. So what that opens up is the ability essentially for Google to determine what you get to see and what you don’t. They can censor your search search results. They can’t feed you what they think you really wanted to search, not what you actually searched. All that stuff comes into play. And what what a search engine like Searx, which is what I talked about and searching for uncle Jim. What Searx does is it’s basically just, it’s a search engine aggregator. So it takes all the various different search engines like Google, duck duck go, Bing all these other different, various search engines. And it pulls from each one of those. And you can configure which one it pulls from. But what that does is it allows for you to still be able to see the same quality search results as you do when you’re searching from a Google. But the difference is Google was not able to scrape that data from you because that search results, all the stuff that to do with Searx is stored locally on your device. So it’s just another way to take your data. And the thingsthatthese big tech companies know about you out of their hands and back into yours.

Stephan Livera:

That’s a really cool, very powerful sounding thing there. And it also strikes me that we are living in this world where there’s just all this crazy amount of data out there on all of us. And you never know what two pieces of info someone can just find and then tie it together to de-anonymize or find something out about you that maybe you didn’t even know about yourself or your own family. Yeah. And there’s that famous example? I think it’s now a couple of years old, maybe eight, seven or eight years old. I think it was target, or one of those US retailers, they had done some data analytics work, and basically they had sent this father, some marketing material in relation to like a pregnancy in the family. And he, it was like, literally they had figured out that his daughter was pregnant. His teenage daughter was pregnant without him even knowing, this is kind of the scary stuff that’s possible.

Diverter:

It’s unbelievable. And, I’ve thought of the argument back, people want to talk about quote unquote anonymized data. Okay, the problem with anonymized data is it inevitably leaves just enough breadcrumbs to de-anonymize all that data. What I wrote about in, in one of the pieces was I, one of the famous examples where AOL, it was his back in like 2006, they had, when they were doing a whole lot of searches and responsible for a lot of results. There were over 20 million supposedly anonymized search requests. They revealed this data to the world essentially as like an educational thing, for research purposes and stuff like that. Well, what ended up happening is that the New York times got this data and they started really scrutinizing it. And they were actually able to track down one individual woman off of this completely supposedly anonymized data.

Diverter:

And they literally walked up to her and asked her if these were her search results and they were and it’s because they were able to just go off of what she searched. You know, she starts for landscapers in Lilburn, Georgia, or wherever she’s from. Okay. And then she searched for some people with her same last name, and then she searched for a subdivision right next to her, and then she starts, so it just, all this stuff snowballs, and it builds up this entire file or folder on you. And basically Google knows you better than anyone else. It was just a scary thought.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah, it’s very concerning. And there are also from a financial point of view, as I understand, I’m not in the US but I know apps like Venmo are quite popular and it’s like, I don’t know if this is still a thing, but some of that data is still public. So people can like, see what they’re paying each other for and stuff. It’s just like really crazy when you think about it.

Diverter:

It really is. Absolutely. And, that’s one of the other things that often you’re running into in privacy arguments you hit the “I have nothing to hide” wall. And then the other one that you run into quite often is, well, there’s already so much out there about me. I mean, there’s really no point in trying now, which I can’t, urge strongly enough against that type of it’s just a defeatist mentality. You know, again, it really is a fight. This thing is all of this privacy and your security around yourself and your loved ones. It’s a fight for the most important things in your life. And to give companies, especially in this day and age where these large, big tech companies are really starting to accelerate the censorship on the narrative, pushing on a twisting of words and stories, and all this stuff is culminating right now. And it’s very, very important that as many people as possible are able to defend themselves. I mean, there’s just no better way really in today’s digital world to defend yourself than to pick up these type of tools to take your own digital life back into your own hands.

Stephan Livera:

Also on that theme of people who are being a bit defeatist about their privacy or their sovereignty, I think it’s also worthwhile remembering that after time information does go stale. So if some bank, or if, Google and Apple and so on, they’ve got some information on you, but if you’re able to start that process, at least take steps to improve your situation, that old information will go stale after a while.

Diverter:

Absolutely. And each step matters, each step really does matter. And even if it’s a small one, take baby steps, that’s totally fine, that’s basically what Yunohost is. I mean, it enables you to be able to take baby steps towards self hosting, which is what I really, really like about it. And it does that without you having to spend a whole lot of money. And it does that without you having to spend a whole lot of time and effort to really learn all the intricacies of this stuff.

Stephan Livera:

And in terms of other services or other software, what other things are you looking at that people should know about and just be thinking about using for their own journey of privacy and self-sovereignty?

Diverter:

There’s a ton of ton of good stuff that you can host it. It really is kind of an individual thing more, what are you into, what do you actually do? One of the things that, while, while we’re just on this topic anyway, is two factor authentication, not so much dealing with self hosting. But two factor authentication being able to enable that anywhere that you can and use one of the time-based services, not SMS that’s a really important step to kind of upping your security game, which, security and privacy, they’re inexorably tied together. But you can do anything from like you can run a service like invoice Ninja, and, if you run a small business or you’re selling some things out of your own home or whatever, you can set up your own self hosted invoice Ninja, which allows you to create invoices to do repeat billing, all the stuff that you would need to do from a small business standpoint, you can take care of there.

Diverter:

You can set up a docuwikis or things where you can take really, really detailed notes if that’s what you need to do. Or you can even host something as simple as Pastebin could come in really handy. And you need to jot down some notes, but you don’t, you don’t have anywhere necessarily to write it down. What are we going to go to like Google notes? You know, again, this is just one of those services where you can just take one more service out of the hands of a company like Google. So I would really encourage everybody to visit Yunohost.org and look at the applications that are readily available there. Like I said, they’re literally one click installs once you get it up and running, and they run the gamut from, internet of things and taking care of home automations, dimming lights, and things of that nature to writing a blog, whatever you want to do.

Stephan Livera:

Yeah. That’s pretty cool. So if running our own Bitcoin node, and whether that is, I mean, there’s so many, now you’ve got Umbrel, you’ve got myNode, Ronin Dojo, RaspiBlitz, others, I think Embassy, the start nine embassy, that’s like in the Bitcoin sense. And then now in the, not necessarily Bitcoin sense, there are other examples of things that you can do and you can run. So, Yunohost, I think the embassy one is probably another example there where the embassy the start nine embassy device also enables people to run their own services and their own things. And I think they’ve got Nextcloud on there as well. So I think those are a few directions people can look at. Have you got any other tips for people who are out there trying to learn about this stuff?

Diverter:

The main tip that I have for anybody that’s dipping their toes into this area is the KISS theory will go a long way, keep it simple, stupid, don’t attempt to overcomplicate things. What I’ve seen or noticed is a lot of times, even the more or sometimes even especially the more advanced technical users, what can end up happening very easily if you’re not careful is you get so caught up in the quote unquote coolness of a thing. And whether or not, I wonder if I can do this, I wonder if I can put it on Tor and then put it behind this other thing. I wonder if I, and so you end up going down all these basically unnecessary rabbit holes, and it can really lead to you forgetting to do the thing that you set out to do.

Diverter:

Now I’m not even hosting my own. I’m just seeing if I could spin up websites on Tor. And so simplicity is key. You mentioned the start 9 guys. I personally haven’t had any experience with the embassy just looking at the device and seeing all the stuff that they offer. Hearing some of the feedback from some of the people that have used it, it looks very, very interesting similar to the, Yunohost type thing where it’s essentially just plug and play. You download you plug it in and you take off. So a lot of different programs that are coming out right now. And there’s more of a push towards getting people off of these big tech platforms, as we see more and more everyday, another story comes out about the way that they’re tending to put their thumb on the scales socially more and more. So I would advise everybody, first of all, do it. Get out there, use the tools. Don’t have analysis paralysis, don’t get so caught up in worry and, Oh, I don’t know enough. I’ll never get it. I don’t know. Just dig your hands and get you, get a little dirt under your fingernails. It might be much easier than you think. And once you find that it is a lot easier, keep it that way.

Stephan Livera:

Fantastic. So Diverter, before we let you go, where can people find you online?

Diverter:

So I’m hanging around on Twitter every now and then I’m at @Diverter_noKYC. You could find me on telegram. I’m generally hanging around in the Samourai chat rooms, and some of the other places you can actually catch catch me in a couple of weeks, the guns and Bitcoin conference, bear arms and Bitcoin, 2021 is in Austin, Texas on April 10th and 11th. It’s going to be a blast. Samourai wallet is one of the sponsors for that place. We’ve got a lot of cool Bitcoiners and a lot of members from the 3d gun community are going to be meeting up in Austin, Texas, and seeing what kind of trouble we can get into. So you can catch me there if you want buy a ticket. And yeah, just know that if you want any help with anything, if you need any help with this one more little nudge to get, well, maybe I can do it. You can, and my DMs are open. All I will say is don’t DM me asking me about, the double HTTPS ratchet encryption. I don’t know.

Diverter:

I’m just going to tell you install YUNO host and give it a try.

Stephan Livera:

Excellent. Thank you, Diverter, for joining me.

Diverter:

Thank you, man. It has been a pleasure.

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