by TheOuterLinux (https://theouterlinux.gitlab.io)
Last updated: 2023/09/12
Discussion URL (Reddit): https://www.reddit.com/r/TheOuterLinux/comments/o519o4/communication/.compact
Discussion URL (LinuxQuestions.org): https://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/blog/theouterlinux-1169710/communication-38606/#comments
The following is a list of ways to communicate with people. Some of them are obvious but for whatever reason, many refuse to leave their comfortable, privacy leaking, social-networking camps. So, let it be known that I at least tried. Is the following a bit "cynical?" Yep.
Go outside. Look forward. Look to your left. Look to your right. Did you notice any other person? Go talk to them. Talking is this thing in which you look someone in the eye, move your mouth a little bit and as the air passes through your vocal chords in combination with mouth movement, certain combinations of sound come out in which represent words. These combination of words lead to sentences. These sentences hopefully lead to complete and understandable sharing of thoughts and ideas. Did you know you could convey these thoughts and ideas to other humans within hearing distance as well as receive thoughts and ideas from others? Hmmmm....
Did you know that device in your pocket or setting to the side on your desk can do more than just download "apps" and browse the web? It can also do this thing called "calling" in which your voice can be "magically" transported over not just few miles, but thousands of them in just a fraction of a second. "Wow! What an amazing new technology!" Nope. A lot of really smart people got together one day and said "this would neat" and on March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell said "Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you." via "talking using electricity." I would also like to note that VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has been around since about 1995.
3. Text-messaging. Did you know that you do not actually need Facefarm, Goolag+, Snapshat, Bumblr, Shitter, etc. to send text-based messages, photos, or other multimedia to another person? Not only can your "smart"-phone do this without installing extra crap, but text- messaging has technically been around since the 1840's with the use of telegraph machines and the "Wheatstone A. B. C. telegraph" as being one of the first to go beyond Morse code and interpret actual letters.
"But golly gee wilickers Beave, what about the poop emoji?" To quote the great Wikipedia, "UTF-8 is capable of encoding all 1,112,064 valid character code points in Unicode using one to four one-byte (8-bit) code units." The dumbest of phones, also known as a "feature phone," all have UTF-8 support. Hell, even modern Japanese anime still to this day have their characters use flip phones.
Oracle is the main reason why there aren't more Java MIDlets and not just because everyone wants an Android or iPhone. Worse case scenario, learn to use the smiling emoji more; even old ANSI character sets for systems like DOS and C64 all have a variation of "😁". (Psst... how cool would it be if there actually were a FreeDOS or C64 phone? You know you would want one too.)
Unicode emojis: https://apps.timwhitlock.info/emoji/tables/unicode
And let's say you have a feature phone that does not have data (Internet) working but can still make calls and send/receive texts. You more than likely cannot send or receive multimedia messages like photos, video, and etc.. Do not let this discourage too much, especially if you are near a more modern computer most of the time. All you have to do in situations like this is use a pastebin site. Pastebin sites let you upload files temporarily to then send a URL to people for them to go to and a few of them have settings for things like when the upload expires and how many can access the URL until it is deleted. But, that also means that it is still possible for a stranger to stumble upon this links until they expire, so do not upload anything too important.
 "Chapter 2. General Structure". The Unicode Standard (6.0 ed.). Mountain View, California, US: The Unicode Consortium. ISBN 978-1-936213-01-6.
1970s: "To all feeding the bear, be careful. There's a fox in the hen house just before the taco stand and the bird dog is barking. 3s and 8s. Over." Now fast forward to 2021 and read your best friend's last text-message. It's either very boring or if actually spoken in real life, would be "hrribly confuzin. lol fam."
Radio communication for commercial use has been around since the 1890s. Your WiFi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Chromecast, remote controlled drone, etc. are all using radio signals. The only time you need a license to communicate using radios in most countries (research what your requirements are) is if you plan to use amateur bands above a certain frequency and high frequency (HF) bands. And you know what the funny thing about radio communication is? Other than electricity costs, as long as you are following your local laws, there's no "provider" and therefore no extra costs. Ever. They even make "walkie -talkies" (two-way radios) now that can go as far as 2 miles on an average day, some of them have encryption, and many of them have LCD screens and VOX (voice-activated transmission) features. As far as HAM radios go, that's a whole other thing I'm not getting into for this write-up.
You can also use radio to broadcast text-messages and files via programs like Flarq, Fldigi, flmsg, and Flrig. http://www.w1hkj.com/
For sending and receiving pictures, lookup "Slow Scan TV."
Internet Relay Chat. This is what powers old-school chat rooms and newer services like Twitch still use it. And if you are a fan of free and open-source software, many of the maintainers of said software or operating systems utilize IRC to address concerns. At the time of the write-up, the most popular service for IRC seems to either be "Freenode" or "Libera Chat" but I prefer "OFTC" as it much more friendly towards Tor users, or at least historically, but many of them regardless will enable/disable this if traffic gets too "robotic." There are SEVERAL IRC clients to choose from for just about any operating system you can think of and many people still use it, even if your AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) decided to no longer work, and that decision was made for as late as December 15, 2017.
More and more people are doing group video chats these days than ever. Video conferencing is not a new technology. Large business have been doing this since the 1980s, but the technology for it was first introduced at the 1968 World's Fair in New York, aka "Picturephone" from AT&T.
As far as what to use in 2021... Jitsi seems to be one of the best choices. It is a free and open-source platform that you can either use their servers or set one up yourself. There are clients for both Andriod and iOS, as well as the web client. All you have to do is start a room and then send people an E-Mail link and that is about it. You can video chat, audio chat, share your desktop, share files, and has etherpad support.
Why so far down the list? That's because unfortunately, unless you have realized just how stupid it is to have a GMail or Yahoo account, even though most people have one of these, E-Mail has been left to most as an "account manager" of sorts, something you only use to sign-up for services, track the occasional Amazon package, or for something stupid like Google Docs if you are a student. Your University probably didn't give you much of a choice in this regard and you may even have had an Office 365 E-Mail something or other forced onto you as well. But having that said, it is also sad how we all have this very powerful communication and file-sharing method that no one uses, many of which are probably out of privacy concerns, or the complete opposite as it is not "convenient" like other messaging "apps," to which most that use privacy as a sells- point is simply depending on ignorance. Just use ProtonMail and then maybe something like AbiWord's collaboration feature via an account through AbiCollab.net and heaven forbid if anyone needed to learn "git add .", "git commit -m '...'", and "git push" commands. Jee... That was hard -_-
Though popularly known as "snail mail," you can in fact send people messages on this substance called paper in which is placed in an envelope with with stamps on it, a sort of currency that post offices all around the world use, to then be sent to anyone with a mailing address, which if course is usually public information. People have been sending each other letters via carriers of some sort, be by walking, horse, camel, car, etc. since about 2400 BCE and possibly even earlier than that.
But what about privacy? Have you ever heard of a thing called encryption? Spartans were encrypting messages between battles around 600 BCE and so I think you could get a little creative too if needed. And even if you live in a country in which something like this is illegal, you still probably have laws protecting your snail mail, maybe even more so than electronic forms of communication. That seems to be something not a lot of people think about. For instance, a person can "accidentally" bump an office desk's computer mouse to reveal an opened E-Mail with no legal issue, or at least that I am aware of, but if someone opens your mail without your permission or a warrant, it is usually a felony, not to mention that if your mailbox is attached to your front door, someone has to be on your property to get to it in the first place. And if you use a mail-slot instead of a mailbox and the door was locked and some one other than you was caught digging around, then that is breaking and entering.
You have to remember something. We currently live in a time in which gaining physical access to a tangible item is either more difficult or unrealistic due to ignorance of the existence of said items, as long as you are not stupid with your social networking. There is also the dangers that come with attempting to obtain a physical item from a person's home (some people dial .357) or while in transit by federally protected transport than a digital version that was probably obtained in bulk by hackers that will honestly never get caught.
In other words, and for example, even though we have all of this encryption technology, you are still much more likely to have your credit card information stolen because of a web purchase using an insecure, log-hungry server than if you were to snail mail a credit card to a friend every day for a year and then cancel them as soon as they arrive for obvious reasons. Hopefully, you get the point.
Realistically, no one cares about your mail or even your E-mails and text messages (most of the time), but stealing a person's snail mail requires active human contact while the digital medium can be stolen using penetration software or perhaps even legally purchased because you did not read the terms and conditions, to which even if a messaging service does not sell your data, some countries allow the Internet provider themselves to sell whatever information they can collect. And if you are the sort of person that is doing legally questionable things, this also means that your IP is probably a snitch since why get a warrant when you can just buy-up an area's data and then run software to hunt for certain site visits or suspicious activity. Most services regarding the Internet that say they clean the data they sell to keep it from being personally identifiable usually end up being proved wrong one way or the other. And as far as I am aware, no one is going through the trouble of selling scanned copies of someone's "Hey Grandma" letters on the dark web.
In short, when is comes to snail mail, unless you are just trying to save trees, it seems as though time, money, and common sense are the only real issues.
Have you though it would be cool to turn on your TV and then use a remote to access lots of very useful information or play mini games? No, I am not talking about a "smart" TV. I am also not talking about your cable or satellite's TV guide channel. In the 1970s, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) release a service called "Ceefax" in which you hooked up a system to your TV as a go- between for the antenna and then used that system's remote to access "pages" of information that were being broadcasted over the air. You could quickly check the weather, sports, stocks, etc.. And you know what the crazy part is? This service was around until about 2008 in which all TV broadcasting was required to be digital and even so, you can still find teletext broadcasting in some countries in which that sort of broadcasting is much more reliable than the Internet. Matter of fact, while many sites were frozen during 9-11 due to heavy web traffic, teletext services temporarily became the best source for news updates in the UK and places around Europe.
Disclaimer: If you are reading this from TheOuterLinux website, you probably know what a BBS is. However, the younger visitors may not and that is why it is listed down here. Also, if comparing to IRC, most people know what IRC is or have used IRC without realizing it.
Once upon a time in about 1973 there was a system called "Computer Memory." Ooooh Aaaahhhh... This system ran on a very large main frame computer in Berkeley, California in which people could remotely access from several terminals placed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The early 1980s rolls around and similar systems start popping up and are being called "BBS's" except this time, if you had money, your family probably had a computer in their home to remotely access one of these BBS's and do all sorts of things like look up information, send messages, upload and download files, and run games. Yes. Your PS3, Xbox360, and/or Wii, although all are great gaming consoles, were not the first to have easy to use, online multiplayer capabilities and this, though much more crude, has been around since the 1970s. And, Bulletin Board Systems, though many of them use modern URL's instead of phone numbers to connect to them, are still alive and kicking and newer ones being created every once in a while. Visit https://www.telnetbbsguide.com/ for a directory list and you can either use the 'telnet [URL]' command or something that looks more authentic such as 'Netrunner' by MysticBBS (http://www.mysticbbs.com/downloads.html).
"What about WhatsApp? What about Telegram? What about Signal? According to whistle blower blah blah blah..." Hush for a second and hear me out. If the service or application has the ability to share content to another service or application, do not use it. If you see a "share" button, assume it has been compromised.
Tox is a peer-to-peer, encrypted communication protocol that uses a server to let friends know you are available to talk to and to connect people when someone decides to audio call, video chat (or screen-sharing), text, or send files to a friend. It does not store anything beyond perhaps an IP address temporarily. It also does not require any sign-up at all. No E-Mail. No phone numbers. Nothing.
The downside (or upside?) of a Tox client is that you cannot send a person a message if they are not also running their Tox client. There is also no group video chat, or as far as I am aware. Some clients have more features than others.
Tox clients: https://tox.chat/clients.html
There are more clients for Android and iOS, but for some reason, this site does not list them. Though to be fair, running FOSS on a proprietary, telemetry [spyware] infested, operating system is better than the alternative, but still kind of "sucky."
These sites have been popping-up all over the place within the last five or so year. Mastodon is a good Twitter alternative. PeerTube can be used to upload videos. Pixelfed instead of Instagram. Lemmy instead of Reddit. Gilgamesh instead of Twitch.
The point of a decentralized network is for example, if Twitter goes down or your account gets removed, there only other option would be to find an alternative or quit using Twitter. However, services like Mastodon have several servers with their own rules and such. If Mastodon.social went down, though if it did, something is horribly wrong, you can just migrate to another server. It will be a different address, but it is built using the same stuff and your followers, if on other servers, would still have copies of your posts. In other words, decentralized social networks are the ultimate free speech platforms.
However, do not get let these "free and open-source" platforms get jumbled up with logical fallacies like "privacy" and "security." Yes, anyone can look at and improve source code for most of these sites, but better security does not mean better privacy, though it so when put the other way around. For example, Mastodon has good security but privacy... maybe not. You can do things like try to make it so that only followers can see these your posts and even have it so that you have to approve people before they can follow you and hide your followers and who your are following from the general public, but the problem is if someone is following you using a different server (aka "instance") than the one you are using, than that instance's server gets a copy and now you not only have to trust the instance you signed up with but now potentially 20 or more of them if you have followers from all over the place. It is sort of like Blockchain in that a decentralized social network takes away your right to be forgotten and yet, you are only as strong as you weakest link. Free speech: yes. Privacy: sort of.
Though, it is still better than letting Shitter, Facefarm, or Goolag have your posts. The maintainers would sell their grandmother's data if they could; actually, you know what, they probably do. I really doubt anyone at Twitter hq said "Ok employees, give us a list of those whose data we cannot collect and sell." I doubt it very much.
You probably use this all the time in one variation or another and don't even realize it, even if you have a "dumb" phone.
Yeah... not a whole lot to say about this other than Pigeons crap everywhere and is a very unrealistic option. The homing pigeon can be used to send messages attached to their feet for up to about 1,100 miles in rare cases with about 600 miles as the top average at speeds of anywhere between 60-100 miles per hour and this "technology" has been used since about 3000 BCE. You basically raise a homing pigeon, which is usually a mix of domestic pigeons and rock doves, within a certain area. You then take a few with you within a cage to wherever you are traveling to and when you want to send a message back home, you release one of the pigeons with a message attached and they somehow know how to find their way back.
Ok, so we are getting to some ridiculous stuff at this point. But let's say you built a really huge and long wall to keep out an invasion. How in the world are you going to let everyone know about an approaching army? About every so many miles, you setup a fire pit of sorts that can be easily seen by the next person down the length of the wall and then everyone that sees a fire on the wall, lights theirs. You can even set it up so that different color smokes mean different things. Have you ever wondered where the idea of using glow sticks at airports came from? People have been using a pair torches to create messages over medium distances since about 150 BCE. Colored smoke is used to represent the selection of a new Pope. Special smoke grenades are used in combat to mark areas for airplanes and helicopters. Smoke is used in emergency situations to signal for help.
People have been blowing horns to signal all sorts of things since the beginning of time. Bells are typically used to signal some sort of church or royal event, as well as your classic homestead situation in which someone's mom is also screaming "SUPER IS READY!" Whistles are typically used in herding situations or by life guards and annoying referees. However, the bullroarer, which produces a much lower sound, is used to signal all sorts of things. Drums are usually used for ceremonial reasons, war, or more currently, for entertainment such as the great Neil Peart. Bagpipes, though also now essentially used as instruments, were actually originally designed to scare the crap out of enemies during battles. If you have never heard one in real life, they are MUCH louder than you think. If I saw a bunch of dudes running towards me with swords, skirts with no underwear, painted faces, and bagpipes, I would would be scared too.
Though I wouldn't condone actual vandalism, I am referring to things like cave paintings, carvings in trees, stacking stones, and things of that nature. And just because something looks like art doesn't necessarily mean that is all it is as it could be a form of steganography. This is when you conceal a message within another message. People typically do this on computers using JPEG images to embed another file. You can also use an image format like GIF that indexes its colors so that when changing one of the colors (typically black) to another, another image or message appears. But because most people only use GIF for animations (89a) instead of still images (87a) and are also using JPEG or PNG, hardly anyone outside of retro-computing thinks about color indexing anymore.
Bonus: If you've ever wondering how older console games could have animated waterfalls without taking up much space, all that was is the colors being indexed and then changed to give the appearance of an animation. The famous, 3D, bouncing Amiga ball uses this technique too.
Ummmm.... yeah.... no....
curl -X POST https://textbelt.com/text \ --data-urlencode phone='5555555555' \ --data-urlencode message='Hello world' \ -d key=textbelt
curl -X POST 'https://smallsms.app/text' \ -H 'Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded' \ --data-urlencode 'phone=4444444444' \ --data-urlencode 'message=Welcome to smallSMS!' \ --data-urlencode 'key=smallsms'
If just interested in command-line notes in general, feel free to check out https://gitlab.com/TheOuterLinux/Command-Line.