google

Anonymous Google Earth over Tor

I'm probably not the first one to notice this, but you can actually use Google Earth anonymously (upon first glance at least) over Tor. It seems all the traffic (downloads of maps and textures etc.) goes over port 80 (http) and 443 (https), which can easily be anonymized with Tor (read an older post of mine for details on Tor).

Just type

export http_proxy=http://127.0.0.1:8118/
export HTTP_PROXY=http://127.0.0.1:8118/

and set up Privoxy and Tor correctly, then start Google Earth in the same xterm and you're done. I haven't looked closely at the protocol Google Earth uses (any articles available on that?) but upon a quick glance in Ethereal / Wireshark all traffic is torified, not even DNS requests are leaked. Technical explanation: the Google Earth binary uses libcurl internally, which honors the http_proxy environment variable.

However, that's not a guarantee that you're 100% anonymous, as Goole Earth could send some unique identifier (e.g. MAC address, hard drive ID etc.) to their servers which would spoil your anonymity.

Btw, I actually discovered this accidentally because I have the above HTTP_PROXY lines in my .bashrc, so most of my HTTP traffic is anonymized by default...

Google Earth for Linux - Beta

OK, so Goole has finally released a first version of Google Earth for Linux (beta, of course).

Well, maybe this time they really mean it when they say "beta"...
Google Earth Linux 1 Google Earth Linux 2 Google Earth Linux 3
Here's some quick observations:

  • Of course, it's not open source, you basically get a bunch of *.so files and an executable.
  • It uses a bunch of open source software packages, though, e.g. libcurl, OpenSSL, libjpeg, libPNG, libtiff, libmng, zlib, Expat XML Parser, FreeImage, and a bunch of other things. All the licenses of those projects are contained in a README, though.
  • The installer seems to be (based on) the Loki installer, at least a ~/.loki directory is created with some stuff in it.
  • The maps cache, and some other files are stored in ~/.googleearth.
  • The ~/.googleearth/crashlogs directory contains log files which are generated when the application crashes, and sent to Google upon the next restart of the application automatically. The README says that you should basically chmod 000 ~/.googleearth/crashlogs if you don't want that. They say these files don't contain personal information. I haven't seen one yet (didn't crash, yet), so I cannot tell if that's true.
  • The EULA says that Google Earth will phone home (they call it "check for available updates to the Software"), and that you automatically agree to that when you use it: "By installing the Software, you agree to automatically request and receive Updates".
  • When I start Google Earth, I get a popup window which tells me to install Bitstream Vera Sans fonts or things might look strange. No idea which fonts extactly they mean, I've got the Debian packages ttf-bitstream-vera, and ttf-dejavu, but the warning still appears.
  • After Google Earth connects to the server(s) I get to see something resembling a globe, but not really what I (or Google possibly) expected. There's simply no textures for anything, I just see (broken) wireframes (see screenshot), but that's about it.

I'll have to play around with it a bit more, maybe it's an issue with the NVIDIA drivers or something. But as I don't have the source I can basically just make stupid guesses...

(via Golem, and a bunch of other sites)

Google Vim?

Google has hired Bram Moolenaar, author of vim.

I bet the next beta-service Google announces will be "Google Vim" ;-) Or maybe not...

(via digg.com)

Beagle 0.2.1 released - fancy desktop search tool for Linux

Beagle screenshot 1

Beagle 0.2.1 is out. Beagle is a very useful desktop search engine for GNOME (but you can use it with KDE, too, or even without any desktop environment like I do). Despite the low version number it is already quite stable and usable, and has lots of features.

It can index all kinds of files and information on your computer (txt, pdf, doc, emails, IM logs, IRC logs, source code, images, music, and whatnot) and provides a very nice (new) search interface (see screenshot).

Yes, Google Desktop Search and Spotlight do the same thing, but neither is available for Linux, and neither of them is Free Software. They can "phone home" without telling you and do other funny things. With Beagle you can easily check what it does (use the source, Luke!).

Oh, and Beagle can now also parse Ruby files, a simple filter I had written and submitted has been included in the latest release (well, actually it was there in 0.2.0 already, but I didn't tell anybody ;-)).

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