Thursday, 17 October 2013

skysail notes project

[originally published in skysail notes blog 29/9/2013; now moved to its parent blog]

One thing everybody seems to need is to handle notes.

What's in a note? Well, some text. And that's it - you make a note, and when you want to remember what's in that note, you search it, you find it, you read it, maybe  you act on it. Maybe you change it, and it starts all over.

Doesn't seem like a hard thing to do... I mean to create a program for.

Let's see... Unless you physically write a note and stick it to your refrigerator I mean, you will write it on your computer using some application. The question is, from where will your note be available in the future, after initial writing?

From your local machine only? The one you are sitting at right now, maybe? The one the hard drive of which will maybe fail in a couple of months? Well, maybe, why not, if the notes contents are not particularly valuable, why not. If you loose a recipe, the cell number of an old friend, maybe a license key, probably not much harm done, things can be restored or information regained somehow.

Of course, there's your fridge, your local PC or laptop, and there's "the cloud" (aka the internet).

So why not use one of the many services available to store your notes online (let's use "your notes" as a synonym for "your data" for now). Great, you get an account (easy!), you get started (easy again), you create your first notes (eas...), and, you can access it from everywhere, that's a big difference! You can even share your notes with someone if you want to! Your provider (hopefully) will care for backups, so you don't have to worry at all.

Your fridge is online, gets backuped, and you can share it, great.

But it is a potentially public fridge now. Your provider knows what's stuck on it, the NSA knows too (they seem to care), and if something goes wrong, somebody else might get access to it - or just see it, if you yourself make a mistake.

Ok, it's still the recipe, the cell number of your old friend, a couple of license keys, and, wait, some ideas about a new patent, the bank account number you don't really what your wife to know about, and that doctors number who dealt with something the insurance is not supposed to know about.

Hmm... Huston, we got a conflict.

What I am aiming at is, that people trade convenience over security. They will always, it seems. The better the offer is, the less resistance there will be.

And what about notes? After all, this here is only about notes ;)

The thing is not to pass everything to the big players, host the software yourself. Get somebody hosting it for you. Get some decent trusted open-source software and install it on your own server. It's not that hard. There are people willing to help you with that. Cryptography without back doors can be applied, it can be save. It's not even expansive. It's just a little little bit less convenient than the obvious alternatives.

Your fridge will be online, backuped, and ready to share with people you trust.

It's still your fridge, it's still your notes, - it's still your data.

It's just a little bit less convenient, sorry.

And there are some open source projects trying to achieve the things I just described, like skysail notes (the name you read in the title).

We are working on it (but already, there are solutions, you might have to search for them).