GCHQoogle: so much for "Don't be evil"

Using the Paris attacks as an excuse, governments around the world are clamping down on free speech, and the tools that make that speech possible in the digital age.

Cameron, who clearly read somewhere that it doesn’t matter what you say, so long as you sound decisive, has declared war on cryptography.

I talk a bit about this in a rant I recorded earlier:

A secure internet secures us all, and despite having never so much as got a parking ticket, I feel deeply uncomfortable in the UK – which is officially the most spied on country in the “free” world. Where every car journey is tracked, where people are recorded (both audio and video) in virtually every public space, where every text message, email, phone conversation and website is recorded and analysed.

Where, if Cameron has his way, it will soon be a crime to use tools to resist this ever watchful eye.

Not knowing if you’re being watched, and not knowing what conclusion some faceless spook or bureaucrat will make from the activity of your day to day life is stressful and socially damaging. People will always say “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, but really it’s all about context.

Granted, there are crazies out there, but the gunmen in the Paris attack were known, and they communicated openly with each other. Why weren’t they picked up? Well, the French already stated, that it is simple not possible to investigate every possible lead – so throwing the net wider and making the haystack bigger, while sounding good in an election campaign, can only make it less likely that you’ll spot the next attack.

Destroying freedom in order to protect it is not winning, Mr Cameron. We lived for decades under the threat of Christian terrorists, and the threat of US/USSR nuclear annihilation, without shredding the constitution.

Putting the whole country under surveillance in a modern reboot of East Germany is not going to protect us. Destroying the UK’s IT sector is not going protect us either.

Christian Payne and Cory Doctorow say this much much better that I did.

Perhaps trying to get to the reasons why so many poor people are angry and turning to religious fanaticism and violence might be a better idea?

But of course you won’t. You need to appear Tough. You need to Lead. To support your backers.

The Cheltenham eye of Sauron is being turned inwards, not to protect UK citizens from terrorists, but to protect the interests of your super rich friends from the dispossessed and increasingly angry poor, as you strip away their freedoms, education, healthcare, houses and livelihoods.

My blood is boiling again, so I think it’s time to sign off and go drink some herbal tea.

I’ll leave you with a video by Russell Brand. No matter what your personal views are on this guy, his video on the Charlie Hebdo massacre hits the nail absolutely on the head.


There are now many plugins for Known, a lot of them I’ve written, are available on Github.

Many people, myself included, like to install these plugins via a git submodule checkout – this simplifies deployment and makes updating installed plugins easier, however it can be problematic.

The problem is that either the repository contains the actual plugin in a subdirectory (e.g. my Github plugin is in the repo ‘KnownGithub‘, and the plugin is in a subdirectory ‘Github’), or if they don’t, the actual clone of the repository will default to an incompatible name (e.g. Known’s Facebook plugin is in a repo ‘facebook’, but the code wants it in a directory ‘Facebook’).

Both have their own issues, but both mean you can’t directly use them in a submodule git checkout (unless you use my symlink trick). It would be nice if you could use these repos directly, so I put together a patch (which has been accepted) that allows you to build your plugin repos in such a way that they can be used directly from a git clone.

Introducing the autoloader

The patch I submitted introduces the ability to provide a loader for your plugin in the root directory of your plugin repository. So, if your plugin is Foo in a directory inside your repository KnownFoo, you could create a special autoloader.php file in the root that will allow Known to load your plugin in the normal way, direct from a git clone into your IdnoPlugins directory.

To do this, create a file autoloader.php with the following code:

This code will automatically load your plugin classes from its “real name” subdirectory, and make it available to your plugin loader.

Have a look at my Github plugin for an example, have fun!


So, after I fixed the two screen problem I was having with my Ubuntu setup, I started getting an odd flickering.

This flickering didn’t affect the whole screen, rather it seemed to be something to do with window repainting, and it became even worse after I updated to 14.04.

I run a slightly non-traditional configuration, in that I run Gnome2 fallback rather than Gnome3 or Unity, therefore this probably won’t effect a lot of people, and is probably why it persists.

After a bit of digging, I discovered that this is actually a compiz issue. Here’s a summary of the fix:

Fixing the flicker

  • Install the compiz settings manager: apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  • Scroll down to “Workarounds” in the “Utility” section:


  • Select “Force full screen redraws (buffer swap) on repaint”:


Once this is done, your windows should repaint as normal.