Aug. 2, 2021

Each Episode's Project to Help You Opt Out

Introduction

This will be a place to simply track and combine all of the tools I recommend you take a look at each week with a simple description and some links.

Episode 1 - Matrix/Element

This week, I’d recommend you take a look at Matrix, a privacy-preserving, federated messaging protocol and platform. I’ve created a channel on Matrix for anyone who wants to chat more about the podcast, the topics discussed, or the guests we have on each episode, as Matrix allows for excellent encrypted chats. Matrix is a great step forward for group messaging and provides a strong privacy-preserving and censorship-resistant platform.

For beginners, I’d recommend you check out the Element application, available on all major platforms, and dive into a great take on group messaging. Matrix also uses end-to-end encrypted private messages by default along with end-to-end encrypted group chats, if desired. There are many clients available, though, so feel free to check out another one if Element isn’t a great fit for you!

For more advanced listeners, you can setup your own Matrix homeserver, called “Synapse”, to host your own rooms, communities, and chats while federating with any other homeservers you see fit.

Episode 2 - CalyxOS

While we've already talked about it a good bit today with k3tan, I wanted to circle back to CalyxOS as this week's project to help you Opt Out.

CalyxOS is a privacy-preserving Android mobile OS that allows you to reclaim your privacy while on the go. It comes without Google apps or tracking, but does allow you to run microG, an open-source connector for Google Play Service, something which many apps require to function properly.

I've been using CalyxOS for the past 3mo while loving the experience, and have written down more detailed thoughts along with app recommendations, a simple installation note, and more on my blog at sethsimmons.me.

Episode 3 - Standard Notes

For this week's project to help you Opt Out, I'd recommend you take a look at Standard Notes, an encrypted-by-default notes app that is free and open-source, but does offer subscriptions (while accepting Monero!) to Standard Notes Extended. For those that choose to support Standard Notes via a subscription, extensions add a lot of power features including encrypted attachment uploads to your own WebDav server, like Nextcloud, as well as many text editors..

However, the base free version is still extremely powerful, has great encryption defaults, and is an excellent choice for moving off of closed-source and surveilled solutions like Google Keep or Evernote.

Episode 4 - PeerTube

For this week's project to help you opt out, we're taking a look at PeerTube. PeerTube is a federated video platform that allows you to host your content free of trackers and Google's spyware, moderate your own content, and peer with other PeerTube instances as you see fit.

PeerTube is entirely free to run, quite easy to spin up, and I use it for hosting all the video content for Opt Out at videos.optoutpod.com. For those interested in merely consuming content on it, be sure to use a client like NewPipe or FreeTube to connect to your favorite PeerTube instances, or just browse directly to the instance and view through a browser.

Episode 5 - Bitwarden

While it's not necessarily a tool for privacy as much as security, this week's project to help you opt out is Bitwarden, an open-source password manager. Bitwarden greatly simplifies the process of keeping passwords unique and up to date across all of your accounts and identities online with excellent cross-platform apps and browser plugins to make saving and autofilling credentials very straightforward.

I hope many of you already are using a password manager, but if not, or if you are using something else, I'd highly recommend taking a look at Bitwarden. For those who are a bit more advanced, you can also run the back-end server yourself.

Episode 6 - Nitter

This week's project to help you opt out is Nitter, a privacy-preserving front-end for Twitter that allows you to view Tweets, search, and subscribe to users on Twitter via RSS without the tracking and bloat (particularly JavaScript) of native Twitter.

I use Nitter as the default when sharing Twitter links with people to protect their privacy, run an instance for personal usage and for family and friends, and subscribe to some of my favorite accounts via RSS.

If you haven't used it yet I'd highly recommend checking it out either via an "official" instance or Diverter's below and start to transition to using it whenever possible.

Episode 7 - NewPipe

If you're like me and consume a lot of content on YouTube, going without YouTube for privacy reasons can be a painful idea. Thankfully NewPipe is an incredible free open-source Android app that allows you to browse, watch, and download YouTube videos without ads, and requires no Google log-in. It even provides native ways to create playlists, import subscriptions directly from YouTube, and keep up to date with your latest channels.

NewPipe does all of this while helping to protect your privacy by removing all unnecessary queries to Google servers, blocking ads and trackers, and allowing you to maximize consumption off-line whenever possible.

They even have their own F-Droid repository for rapid updates for those using F-Droid. I highly recommend checking out NewPipe today if you're on Android and haven't yet, or if you already use and love their app, consider donating to help them keep up the good work!

Episode 8 - Threema

For this week's project to help you Opt Out, I'd recommend you take a look at an excellent messaging app in Threema. Threema has been around for quite a few years, but at the communities request open-sourced their messenger and have created an excellent messaging platform that is end-to-end encrypted by-default, exposes very little metadata, and supports both direct and group messaging. Threema also has built-in video/audio calls that are E2EE, so it's a great alternative to Signal in every way.

I have personally switched to using Threema for all non-family chats to help protect my privacy by not needing to share my phone number, as well as several large group chats that I have migrated from Signal or Matrix.

It's important to note that while Threema is FOSS, it is *not* free, and costs $5 for a license -- however, that can be a great thing, as it makes Threema sustainable and makes it easy to support what they are doing. I'd recommend purchasing Threema with Bitcoin, if possible, or reaching out to them to ask for Monero support, but they accept many different payment methods for the app.

If you're on CalyxOS or similar, you will need to get the APK directly from their web store, but if you're on normal Android or iOS you can get (and pay for) Threema directly within your app store.

Episode 9 - Monero

For this weeks project to help you Opt Out, I'd recommend you take a look at Monero, a privacy-preserving cryptocurrency that we talked about in today's episode.

Monero is a cryptocurrency that focuses on being digital cash, something that is private by default, directly peer-to-peer, and yet digital and decentralized. Monero is censorship-resistant and ensures that only you can see and control the way you earn, save, and spend your money.

The best way to learn more about Monero is to check out the official website at getmonero.org, and if you'd like to buy some Monero, I'd highly recommend you check out one of our sponsors, LocalMonero, and find a payment method you're comfortable using. Once you have some Monero, my recommended mobile wallet for storing and using your Monero is Cake Wallet, our other sponsor here at Opt Out. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me or jump into Matrix or IRC and chat with the vibrant Monero community.

Episode 10 - Teddit

This weeks project to help you opt out is Teddit, a privacy-preserving front-end for Reddit that is free and open-source.

Teddit allows you to browse Reddit and follow subreddits and users via RSS, all while avoiding JavaScript, ads, and direct connections to Reddit's servers at all. It's the default I try to use when sharing Reddit links, and I recommend you try it out by using my self-hosted public instance at teddit.sethforprivacy.com. You can also use the browser plugin "Privacy Redirect" to automatically redirect any Reddit links to a random (or specified) Teddit instance.

Episode 11 - Whoogle Search

This weeks tool to opt out is a simple one, Whoogle search. Whoogle is a privacy-preserving, javascript-free, self-hosted front-end for Google search that lets you make searches (preferrably over Tor) using public instances without any of the tracking or bloat present on Google itself. Search and the tracking around it by providers like Google and Bing are an important factor in the constant attack on privacy, and opting out of that system is a key step in the journey.

I run an instance that is available for public use at search.sethforprivacy.com, and have that link and how to set it as your primary search instance in the show notes. Feel free to test it out and use it if you enjoy it!

Episode 12 - Nextcloud

This week's project to help you opt out is Nextcloud, a comprehensive platform for file storage, mobile backups, notes, tasks, calendar, contacts, and much, much more.

Nextcloud can be an excellent way to migrate off of several services at once, as it can host so many tools that we normally rely on Google, Apple, or Microsoft for, and packages them up in a nice and coherent interface with excellent mobile apps. Nextcloud is entirely open-source, as are it's mobile apps, and it's mobile apps are also available via F-Droid. Note that if you're using CalyxOS you can also enable your SeedVault backups to go straight to your own Nextcloud instance, natively.

I, personally, use Nextcloud for all of my file storage, phone backups, contacts, calendar, and tracking all of the work that goes into making Opt Out a reality. It's the most used FOSS tool of mine, by far, and I highly recommend spinning it up for yourself. Check out the show notes for a few different ways to host it yourself this week.

Episode 13 - Cryptpad

This week's project to help you opt out is Cryptpad, a FOSS, encrypted by default storage and collaborative document editor. It's easy to spin up via Docker (among many methods), and provides a great alternative to Google Doc's that is privacy-preserving for all users.

I host a public instance that is free to use at cryptpad.sethforprivacy.com, so take a moment and check it out there if you have a need for collaborative document editing, Kanban boards, whiteboarding, or a bit of private storage. You can use it without an account if you want, or sign up without needing email or any other personal information to keep track of documents, share easily, and store up to 1 gig of files.

Check out the section in the show notes on Cryptpad for more info, including how to donate to them if you enjoy the service. Very thankful for excellent alternatives like Cryptpad, so be sure to show some support if you can!

Episode 14 - Pop_OS!

This weeks project to help you opt out is one I'm sure you're all familiar with, Pop_OS!. I've had several guests on who have mentioned it at length, but I wanted to highlight it again as it's been a huge breakthrough for me. Pop has enabled me to (much more easily than I expected) transition entirely to Linux on both my desktop and laptop, and entirely break free of Windows and macOS.

Pop integrates a very clean and optimized version of Gnome with many presets and custom apps and settings to make Gnome a much better overall experience. It also bundles their own GUI app store that simplifies the process of installing apps, whether natively or via Flatpaks, enabling a much easier process of installing all of the tools you're used to or want to switch to.

I've even been able to transition the little bit of PC gaming I do to Pop using Steam Play and Proton, which was a complete surprise to me but has been a pretty seamless experience for all but a few of the games in my library.

If you've been wanting to make the jump to Linux, I'd highly recommend checking out the links to Pop in the show notes, or listening in to my special episode with Jeremy Soller from System76 where we discussed both their hardware, open-source firmware, and Pop_OS! at length.