[Freedom-misc] Mobile Devices Respecting Software Freedom (follow-up)

mcz at ruggedinbox.com mcz at ruggedinbox.com
Thu Sep 13 22:01:41 CEST 2018

What a shame. I'm spending some time in China, and I'm really feeling the  
lack of a handy, handheld device for maps, translation, checking the weather,  
reading the news while I'm using public transport, listening to music/ talks  
while I go for walks etc. Everyone uses WeChat for everything here, it's  
their texting/ Messenger, their Skype, their Twitter, their FarceBook Groups/  
GoogleGroupsm their MeetUp etc. It's bad enough being a total noob at the  
language, and suddenly being illiterate, without also lacking the main tool  
people use to connect with each other and make arrangements.
I'm tempted to go with a strategy I trialled back home with a 2nd hand  
Android device a friend gave me:
* have a dumbphone for texting and calling (still a tracking device via  
triangulation but I tried going without one when I first got here and ...).
* use an Android without a SIM card, using apps that work offline as much as  
possible, and seeking out wifi when I need a network connection. Turn it off  
whenever I'm not using it (same with wifi), and use a proper computer running  
GNU-Linux whenever possible.
If I go with that strategy, it becomes somewhat less important how purely  
freedom-respecting the device, but giving the sale to a social enterprise,  
rather than a synthetic psychopath (corporation) is still important to me.  
I'm thinking about something like the FairPhone, but it would have to be  
something I can buy in China or get delivered here:
What about a faraday cage/pouch?
It's not perfect (it is said that the signals comes through when passing  
close enough to a "triangulation antenna", whatever this is called).

So the separation of tasks between the dumb and smartphone is to keep apps  
data from communicating outside ?
But as soon as you use Wi-Fi, isn't the point potentially moot ?

- Weather, well you can check it before going out.
- News on public transport isn't vital either. It can wait a bit.
- Translation? you *could* get a real book version, or even an offline one  
(pdf, maybe a search by keyword is even possible).
- Music/talks, most phones can handle it. A dedicated player is another way.
- any good replacement app for what'sapp for example would be nice, but the  
harder part is suggesting it to all your contacts (I mean, them accepting to  
install it and use 2 apps).

Phone addiction is a thing. That's also why I like thinking of this in terms  
of having
1. a.
a telephone that can be put off the grid with a faraday cage/pouch  
(probably...). For calling/texting/emails/photography (for work).
When using it, I give away data : people I communicate with and the content  
of the communications, my physical locations etc.
It's most likely inevitable, even if the bulk of my communication might go  
through other means (home phone, emails).
If I want, I can "faraday" it. but then I'm unreachable. It's mostly OK  
actually. It can be enabled exclusively at work (and rarely anywhere else).

1. b.
Not using a phone is also an option, but not for work in my case. I'd need  
then to figure out strategies to still stay actively in touch with friends  
and family.

a lightweight replacement for a computer (offline).
I'm thinking of using a Replicant phone as a portable computer (note taking,  
offline maps...)
It could be helpful while travelling for example, and still remain private  

Handy tools to use, and not to be used by it? I feel I'm not that far from  
this goal.

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