What to Give: Tech Gadgets that Respect Our Freedom

“All I Want for Christmas is...” a device working as a tool for me, not as an agent for its maker

We love a new tech gadget. What will it be? It's all about “smart” these days, but when they say “smart” they usually mean “we're still in control of it”.

Learn how you can have a freedom-respecting

What do You Mean, “Freedom-Respecting”?

Today there's a huge gulf between the Big Business approach and the freedom-respecting approach.

What do I mean by “freedom respecting” and why would I care this much? After all, we might ask,

“Dear Julian, we know you love Open Source, and we know those Big Tech prorietary vendors are out to get us with their vendor lock-in, their advertising, and their data collection. Yes it's annoying but it's how things are in today's world. We put up with it because we just want something that's easy, that does what we want. They make that stuff, and it works. Why are you still getting so upset about it?”

For insight, read or listen to The Future of Computing and Why You Should Care and The Neighborhood and The Nursing Home.

For some of my personal recommendations, read on. There is a longer article linked to each one.

Smart Watch

There's an open source smart watch → the PineTime (main | shop | wiki) from Pine64

→ Read the full article: PineTime Smart Watch — Awesome Open Source

Smart Phone

“What's it to be: Android or iPhone?”

Actually, NO! Apple and Google both press us into their servitude with their extreme vendor lock-in, advertising and data mining. We don't have to accept it, once we learn there's an alternative.

What to buy:

Being freedom-software (open source), the maker guarantees your freedom to use the tools they provide or change to others. What does that mean in practice? For example, if you don't like the terms and conditions of the Murena cloud software suite, you can use a different one provided by someone else, be it an independent commercial provider, or run by your school or club, or at your best techie friend's home. And then you don't even need a Murena account.

→ Read the full article: Freedom-Respecting Smart Phone

Smart Home Automation

Automating our lights, security cameras, all the Things? We'll be needing some IoT Gadgets and a home automation system.

Recommendation for home automation control centre:

“Open source home automation that puts local control and privacy first”

There are different ways to run Home Assistant. For ordinary people looking for the simplest and most reliable way, I would recommend buying a tiny stand-alone hardware device with the software pre-installed, such as the “Home Assistant Green”. Alternatively, because Home Assistant is freedom software, it's open source so your best techie friend can set it up for you on more or less any old computer you have, if you prefer.

For lots of information about using Home Assistant, listen to The Self-Hosted Show podcast.

For recommendations on security cameras, also consult The Self-Hosted Show.

For your smart switches, plugs, lights, temperature sensors etc.: mylocalbytes.com (UK) or cloudfree.shop (USA).

→ Read the full article: A Freedom-Respecting Smart Home

Smart Soldering Iron — The Pinecil

A smart soldering iron? An open-source-hardware soldering iron?

Yes! The Pinecil by Pine64.

→ Read the full article: Pinecil — Smart Soldering Iron — Awesome Open Hardware

I Love the Feeling of Freedom

I have each of these gadgets, or some variation of them.

What brings me the freedom is not the hardware of the gadgets themselves. It's the ability to run software that does its job privately, for me, without being actively controlled by the company that supplied it. For example, by running an open-source phone operating system I have no Apple and no Google controlling what I can do with it. By using the standard Matrix protocol for my messaging needs, I can choose matrix-compatible apps and services from any supplier, and you can choose different ones and we can still talk. By using Home Assistant for my home automation, I can connect my IoT devices privately under my sole control without any company mediating. This is the freedom in my use of technology, and this is how to get it.

I love this feeling of freedom.

#fossGadgets #openHardware #awesomeFOSS

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