Halcyon 2.4.0 adds sharing and more

Yesterday we've released #Halcyon version 2.4.0 which is a bit bigger than usual updates so it's time for a blog post once again.
The biggest and most important thing is that every Halcyon instance has a share page now at /intent/toot where you can link to from your website.
We already have a small script and a documentation page for using the share button,see here
It looks pretty much the same as Twitters share page and also allows writing without being logged in and then login when sending just like they do.
To make a redirect easy,we kept the API similar to #Twitter - You can simply rewrite twitter.com/intent/tweet to your-instance.com/intent/toot
Additionally we're planning a #Firefox extension which should automatically replace all Tweet buttons with Toot buttons so that you can use the share feature also on bigger sites which don't care about the fediverse.
Another thing that changed in version 2.4.0 is that there are small overlays when hovering a mention now.
#Mastodon does not have such a feature but Twitter has it and it's quite useful so we decided to add it to Halcyon.
When hovering over a mention,it will now show some basic information about the user like display name,about me and count of toots,followers and followings.
One of the bugfixes is that Pleroma users weren't able to add new accounts to lists caused by Pleromas change of the user ID format what wasn't fixed in Halcyon at this point.
Another bugfix is that Halcyon does now keep your scroll position when you aren't on top of the timeline and there are new posts appearing.
We're proud to announce that our language support still keeps growing.
There's an Arabic translation now which is unfortunately incomplete but we added it anyway.
This means that Halcyon does now support 13 different languages and we expect this number to grow even more in future.
If you want to help with translating Halcyon,you can do that on our Pootle instance.
Your help is also needed for existing languages as we added new strings for translation with this version.
We hope that you like what we're doing.
Feel free to give us feedback as comment to this post,as NotABug issue or as mention to @halcyon@social.csswg.org
We're always happy about constructive feedback,feature requests and bug reports.

Searx App for KaiOS: First version released!

We're proud to announce that we've finished our first mobile app and it's a search app made for feature phones running #KaiOS and released under AGPL 3.0.
It makes use of the Searx API which is also free and open source software and can be used on many public servers.
#Searx can ask many big search engines which can be selected by the user in the background anonymously and combines them into one big results page.
Some people may not know what KaiOS is so here is a short summary:

KaiOS is a operating system for smart feature phones like the Nokia 8110 or the JioPhone.
Phones with KaiOS have WiFi and the ability to install and run apps but they have keys instead of a touchscreen. KaiOS is based on the abandoned #FirefoxOS open source project and all of its native apps are written in HTML, CSS and Javascript. That makes it easy to write apps for it - You only need #Palemoon or an older #Firefox version and a USB cable to make your apps run on the phone.

The reason why we chose Searx as backend is quite simple: It offers a public API without the need to register for a token and without being dependent on a single provider.
As long as we don't experience a outage of the whole internet, that should make our app fail-safe.
To give users as much freedom as possible, you have full control over the Searx instances you want to use - You can select one out of currently five from our list or add other instances and delete predefined ones.
We try to offer as much customization opportunities as possible:

  • You can select the language you want to get results in
  • You can select the source of the autocomplete (or turn it off)
  • You can select the mode for safe search (off/moderate/strict)
  • You can select the search engines you want to use in the different categories

The app is able to search in all categories offered by the Searx API.
Image search allows you to easily download images from the results by pressing the left button.
Like always we try to offer our software in as many languages as possible - Currently only English and German but help in translating is always welcome.
You can translate the project on our Pootle instance or by forking the project and submitting a properties file using a pull request.
The source code of the app is available on NotABug.
There is no information website about the app currently and there is no Mastodon project account.
If you have feature requests or bug reports, please use the NotABug issues or comment on this blog post.
Currently the app is not available in the official KaiOS Appstore because their seems to be a bug at their publishing platform but you can install is manually by downloading the ZIP from NotABug and installing it using WebIDE (Palemoon/Firefox).

Cloud Firewall - A content blocker for Firefox

We took over the #CloudFirewall add-on for #Firefox which allows you to block six of the biggest cloud providers in a easy way.
Cloud Firewall supports blocking #Google , #Amazon , #Apple , #Facebook , #Microsoft and #CloudFlare by switching just a single toggle.
Unlike other blockers, CloudFirewall doesn't only rely on domains but checks the IP addresses of websites so that it doesn't only block websites which belong to those cloud providers but also all websites which rent their servers there but may be unrelated otherwise.
It was created as a research project by Gokulakrishna Sudharsan earlier this year but unfortunately he abandoned the project and also removed it from the #Mozilla add-ons store.
As many of these big cloud companies are known for collecting user-data, we found it useful for protecting your privacy and protecting your right to choose where you want to see content from, too and so we decided that the development of this add-on must continue.
Now Cloud Firewall is already available on the Mozilla add-ons store again and the source code is available under GPL 3.0 at #NotABug
The biggest change we did for the first version was adding a detailed and user-friendly page with information about which content was blocked on the website currently opened.
It was already possible to copy this information to the clipboard in many formats before (and still is) and you could paste it into a text editor but it wasn't as good to read as it is now.
Other changes are fixes of some well-known false positives like FuckOffGoogle.de or NoMoreGoogle which were blocked when block Google was checked while, in fact, they aren't hosted at Google or the problem that the popup had a design glitch when the domain name was too long, for example at Onion V3 domains.
We did also change the links for the repository and the credits and changed the cloud order to GAFAM(+C).
As the priority was going online again as soon as possible, that's all we've done for now but there are plans for turning on or off each cloud provider per domain and support translating the interface into different languages by accepting translations from the community.
Another important thing we have to do is checking if the plugin also works with forks of Firefox such as #IceCat , #Waterfox , #TorBrowser or #Fennec
You can download Cloud Firewall for free from addons.mozilla.org/addon/cloud-firewall.
The source code is available on NotABug at nipos/cloud-firewall.
If you find any problems, want a new feature or have any question, you can comment here or create a issue on NotABug.


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CloudFirewall 2.0.0 and what we've done to get there

About one month ago we released the first very big update for our #CloudFirewall #Firefox add-on.
We decided to wait some time with writing this post as many sad things happened with Firefox in recent times and we have to respond to that somehow,more on that later.
The biggest change with the new Cloud Firewall version is that it does now support translations into multiple languages. Very big thanks to @pixelcode@social.tchncs.de for implementing all code needed for supporting translations as well as writing the first translation.
With version 2.0.0 Cloud Firewall already supports the languages English,German and French and we're sure that there will be even more in future versions.
You can help translating Cloud Firewall on our translations platform - If your language isn't available,just contact us anywhere and we'll add it.
The previous Cloud Firewall version unfortunately had some bugs which we didn't notice for a quite long time - That's now all fixed.
It wasn't possible to change the settings in the last version: While the page was displayed correctly,the Javascript event listener which should have listened on user input wasn't setup correctly so no changes were stored and after reloading the page,everything was reset to the default values.
The only thing which could be changed was which cloud providers should be blocked as global default.
Another problematic thing was that predefined rules for well-known sites were ignored.
Normally pages get blocked based on the owner of their IP address which will be detected correctly even if the predefined rules don't work and you'll see no wrong behavior here.
Unfortunately some pages are a special case,for example Discord which rents their origin servers at Google Cloud but proxies every request through CloudFlares network.
So Discord should be blocked for both Google Cloud and CloudFlare as they're using both services.
Unluckily the IP detection code will block it only for CloudFlare as the origin servers are hidden and no Google IP is ever seen but we know that they're using it from their status page.
Similar things happen for example for Instagram: It belongs to the Facebook company but the servers are hosted on Amazon - The IP detection would only block it for Amazon but it should be blocked for Facebook,too.
You see that the missing predefined rules lead to a lot of false-negatives which resulted in less privacy and we're very sorry that that happened.
A non-privacy-related but still annoying bug was that you couldn't set exceptions for pages if they are directly affected and not only their subressources.
I don't have any idea how I should explain the reason as the internal logic of Cloud Firewall is very complicated but it's fixed now.
Let's have a quick look on the next version
Thanks to a contribution by @pixelcode@social.tchncs.de the next version will get a completely new design.
It will work without Bootstrap and therefore reduce the size of the add-on.
Along with that we'll try to heavily improve the structure of the pages to make it easier to understand and look less buggy.
There will be many small optimizations which should lead to a cleaner overall experience.
We don't have any date planned for the next release and it may take some weeks or even a few months as there's much to do in other projects and the current Cloud Firewall version does its job pretty good.
What the hell happened with Mozilla?!?!
Maybe that's what many of you thought when reading about mass layoffs at #Mozilla and no,we don't have a answer to that question,too.
Other alarming developments in the Firefox world are the lack of a working extension support in the new Firefox for #Android and a new big deal with #Google ,the worlds largest threat against privacy.
There are many reasons why we find it important to expand support for Cloud Firewall to other browsers while,of course,still maintaining Firefox support as main priority.
Maybe the current version 2.0.0 will already arrive in some other browsers.
We'll have a look at what needs to be done to support Firefox forks like #Waterfox which already support the modern #WebExtensions and how much we'll have to rewrite to support Firefox forks on a older code base which stick to the old extension format like #PaleMoon or #Basilisk
The latter will be harder to support but if it's not impossible,we'll think about the question if it's worth it as these browsers are a important contributor to diversity in a browser-world where nearly everything runs on top of the same code base written by the worlds biggest privacy threat.
And for those who prefer browsers based on #Chromium we even see a chance of bringing Cloud Firewall to the #Opera add-ons store which would effectively make it available to every user of Opera and #YandexBrowser
This won't be so easy as the API which is responsible for the core functionality of Cloud Firewall is only available on Firefox but maybe we can workaround that somehow by directly throwing HTTPS requests to any DoH (DNS over HTTPS) server but we'll have to see how much of an impact this will have to performance.
My personal guess is that it will be much slower than using the native DNS API in Firefox.
On the other hand,Yandex Browser for Android still has unlimited support for extensions while the new Firefox hasn't so that might be the only chance to continue Cloud Firewall support on the Android platform.
Developing decent support for multiple browsers will be one of the hardest changes that can be done to Cloud Firewall but we feel that it's needed so we'll look what can be done as soon as possible.