Customer

Good customer relation – Snipt

Some time ago, I signed up on Snipt, a website that allows you to store snippets. It was a free account, that I probably used once, to test the service (only because this was not something I needed).

But yesterday I received an email from them, announcing that they will move away from free accounts. This is a fair enough decision, I can understand the need for a stable income.

Lots of services start with free accounts, and then cancel them (see my recent post on DynDNS). But the email I received from Snipt was written to keep good relations with all users, the ones that will upgrade to a paying account, and the ones that don’t have the need or the will to do it:

I’m an existing user. What happens to my data?

Nothing. As an existing user, your snipts will remain intact and usable even if you decide not to upgrade. You can edit your existing snipts, delete, embed, etc. If you would like to create new Snipts, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid plan.

That’s a very good decision. You don’t lose anything that you’ve stored with them, you don’t need to save everything before it’s deleted… Other companies should have a look and learn something…

But what made my day was this part:

Can you suggest an alternative to Snipt?

Gist is an excellent alternative to Snipt.

For me, this is the sign that this company wants what’s best for its users. It’s not only about the money, it’s about allowing users to get the best service for what they’re ready to pay. “We could say that no free service is any good, but we won’t. We’re moving to paying accounts, but if you don’t want to, you can use this other good service.”

Thank you Snipt!

Photo: Customer, by 10ch via Flickr (CC BY)

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Core switch

DynDNS and No-IP

For a few years now, I’ve been using a DynDNS free account to access my personal server (at home), even though I have a dynamic IP address. This means that I’ve had a URL that would always point to my server, even when my IP would change.

But yesterday I’ve received an email from DynDNS:

For the last 15 years, all of us at Dyn have taken pride in offering you and millions of others a free version of our Dynamic DNS Pro product. What was originally a product built for a small group of users has blossomed into an exciting technology used around the world.
That is why with mixed emotions we are notifying you that in 30 days, we will be ending our free hostname program. This change in the business will allow us to invest in our customer support teams, Internet infrastructure, and platform security so that we can continue to strive to deliver an exceptional customer experience for our paying customers.
We would like to invite you to upgrade to VIP status for a 25% discounted rate, good for any package of Remote Access (formerly DynDNS Pro). By doing so, you’ll have access to customer support, additional hostnames, and more.

I’ve always been very happy with the service I’ve received from DynDNS, since I had a free account, and the only action required from me was to click on a link they sent me every month (I think) to keep my account active. But I don’t need this enough to pay for it.

So I’ve looked for a replacement for DynDNS, and I’ve found No-IP. It’s a very similar service, that has a free plan, and allows you to register up to 3 hosts. The inscription process is self-explanatory, and lets you register 1 host.

After registering (and validating your account), you need to install an update client on your host, which will regularly (by default every 30 minutes) contact the No-IP servers to update your mapping IP / URL. This way, your URL will always point to your host, with a maximum delay of 30 minutes (don’t use a free account if you need a good QOS with no or little “downtime”). The installation process of the client is very well explained on the knowledge base of No-IP: How to Install the Dynamic Update Client on Linux.

I’m now the proud owner of the URL http://remyg.no-ip.biz/, which allows me to access my personal server via SSH (or HTTP if I decide to use it to test my web projects). The total time spent for the registration, installation and configuration was less than 20 minutes, which shows how easy and well-explained the process is.

Photo: Core switch, by Seeweb via Flickr (CC BY-SA)

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GPG key

Yesterday, I’ve created my personal GPG key.

The description of GPG (or GnuPG) from the official website is:

GnuPG is the GNU project‘s complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC4880. GnuPG allows to encrypt and sign your data and communication, features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kinds of public key directories.

A really quick explanation of the process used by GPG can be found on the Wikipedia entry:

GnuPG encrypts messages using asymmetric keypairs individually generated by GnuPG users. The resulting public keys may be exchanged with other users in a variety of ways, such as Internet key servers. They must always be exchanged carefully to prevent identity spoofing by corrupting public key / “owner” identity correspondences. It is also possible to add a cryptographic digital signature to a message, so the message integrity and sender can be verified, if a particular correspondence relied upon has not been corrupted.

Basically, each GPG user create 2 paired keys: a public key and a private key. The public key is available on key servers to anyone, can be retrieved by its ID and verified with its fingerprint. When A wants to send an encrypted message to B, she uses B’s public key to encrypt the message. Then B can use her private key to decrypt the message. A can also sign her message, by using her private key. Then B can use A’s public key to check the integrity of the message. Yes I just re-explained the basics of asymmetric encryption. Also, I say “message”, but the encryption can of course be applied to all types of documents.

So, back to me. The issues of electronic surveillance these days are starting to worry me. Every few days, new revelations from Snowden/Greenwald make the news. The NSA is watching everything, recording everything. Or at least they can do it. And when a relatively secret organisation has the capacities to do something, we have to assume that they do it.

That’s why I’ve created a GPG key. My key details are:

  • email address: remy@remyg.fr
  • GPG key ID: 09AA30F2
  • GPG key fingerprint: 2933 37C4 175C 879C 6192 406A C4DA 3A6A 09AA 30F2

I’m not a hacktivist. Not a hacker. Not a whistle-blower. My life is not in danger if a government has access to my emails and personal data. But I still want to be able to protect my privacy against a generalised surveillance. I think everybody should do that. Even if this is a bit hypocritical, since I’m still using Google products, I think that every little step is an improvement.

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RSSReader 0.3

I’ve released a new version of my RSS reader.

You can find all the information about this release here.

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Reclaim Our Privacy

Thank you to La Quadrature du Net for making this video explaining why we need to reclaim our privacy and control over our private data. As usual with them, the video is released under CC BY-SA.

Source: La Quadrature du Net – Reclaim Our Privacy

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