Notes from a 8-bit legal aid lawyer


| 8-bit #LegalAid Lawyer | Migrant Rights | Human Rights | Tea Drinking Vegan | "Preguntando caminamos" | Green | Chromie | #100days |

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Extension Review: Simplify Gmail

Simplify Gmail may just save Gmail for me. From the co-creator of Google Inbox, Michael Leggett, Simplify Gmail brings the beauty of Inbox to Gmail. Google has already introduced some of the tools and tricks of Inbox to Gmail, but it kept the goddamn awful looks of the original site. Also, the adverts.

My friends and family + my professional contacts already know to contact me via Protonmail. But as a Chromie, I need my Google account to access my Chromebook. It is also the account I use for mailing lists, social media, forums and other similar types of email.



Also check out another beautiful extension by Michael Leggett - New Tab Clock

New Year Resolutions 2019

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Learn Spanish.
  3. Code.
  4. Budget to save.
  5. Do more offline.
  6. Read more.
  7. Write more.
  8. Travel more.
  9. Think more.

Leonard Cohen's tear (or why I cannot write about music.)

I gave up writing about music when I realised that I couldn't write about music. It is a difficult task to interpret the vulnerability of another, and ultimately, with each review I wrote I was actually disclosing more about myself than the singer or the song.

Live music is especially difficult to cover because there are so many elements that contribute to a performance - the venue, the crowd, the alcohol, the music, and the musician.

I realised that I don't read music reviews. I couldn't tell you the last review I read because music is an experience. I can map out my life with the songs that I have played on repeat, with the YouTube playlists I've crafted and deleted, with the CDs I've hidden or given away. I have a library of over 5000 LPs, EPs and singles. All in digital format, backed up across various drives. Come the apocalypse and the digital meltdown, will I lose all this music? Probably. But the important songs, the albums that mean the world to me, those singers on the stage before me,I carry them with me always.

Two things I like to do at live shows when I am not watching the stage, I will watch the audience. Attempting to see the music through the faces of others. The lights reflecting off their faces, but the chords striking their hearts. Are they holding someone special, or just a pint? Smiles, or tears?

And, if I am not looking at faces, I am closing my eyes. I'm letting the music create something vivid, decorate my mindscape like a Goddess creating a world.

So I was and am unwilling to present this vulnerable side to the world. I cannot give an explanation for the works of the creative and I am not myself a creative. I am just a passenger, sitting in the corner of a room, drinking coffee and learning more about myself through the words of others than I am comfortable with.

The musical hangover that follows is enormous. And then, there's Leonard Cohen's tear.

'Shut up and write'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on identity and travelling with a Nigerian passport. If you don't know her books, change that ASAP.

Why I love Standard Notes

So I signed up for the Extended Package today and I wanted to write a few words about why I like Standard Notes. 

I am not an Evernote refugee. I've played with Google Keep but I've never been able to forget/forgive the Google Reader massacre. SimpleNote is lovely but I've always worried about privacy. So when BoingBoing mentioned Standard Notes in a blog post, I pocketed the article for later. After a few days of use, it became my go-to note app. 

Why do I love it? I love notes. I take notes all the time. I collect bits and pieces of information throughout the day. Sometimes, I see a useful paragraph in a case and want to keep it for future use. Other times, it's a cool Kickstarter gadget that I want to purchase later. Occasionally, I have an original idea that I need to capture before it disappears into the ether. And then there's the classic never-ending to-do list. But, ultimately, end-to-end encryption is key. 

It is nice to know that even the most pointless of note is protected. As a Chromebook user, despite my best efforts, I know that Google is always watching. Storing documents is Google Drive is a risky business. I don't mind them knowing that I own most of the Lana Del Ray albums, or seeing some of my more obscure art house movies ripped from DVD. But I don't want them to know my 2FA passcodes, or my deepest thoughts about the meaning of life, or how I am coping with existence. Some things are best-kept secret (or, at least, as secret as possible in this IT age of wonderment). Standard Notes blends in perfectly with my app collection. Alongside ProtonMail, Signal and Wire, Standard Notes ensures that my secrets are better protected. 

The other nice feature is the note sharing options. I can decrypt a note and share a private link with a friend or colleague. I've already done this with a standard paragraphs document that I used for work. Also, the link in my Twitter bio is a disclaimer note stating that my views are my own, a retweet isn't an endorsement, etc. Being able to share a note is nice. 

But blogging is better. I really didn't expect to like it so much, but the ability to jot down my thoughts and share them with the world in note format is awesome. I don't need to worry about making it all pretty. I can focus on the words. This is the most I've blogged in the last five years. It's nice. It doesn't matter if nobody reads this. I don't care about comments. Alongside my Twitter account, Standard Notes allows me to define my understanding of the world in a public forum. 

My notes are safe when necessary, and shared when I decide. That's pretty awesome.

Greater Manchester MPs - MPs or Border Guards?

So far the following Greater Manchester MPs have pledged to be MPs and not border guards:

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Labour)
Sir David Crausby, MP for Bolton North East (Labour)
Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East (Labour)
James Frith, MP for Bury North (Labour)
Joanna Platt, MP for Leigh (Labour)
Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield (Labour)

Not pledged:

Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West (Conservative)
Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne (Labour)
Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton (Labour)
Chris Green, MP for Bolton West (Conservative)
Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South (Labour)
Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle (Conservative)
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish (Labour)
William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove (Conservative)
Liz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton (Labour)
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central (Labour)
Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton (Labour)
Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington (Labour)
Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton (Labour)
Tony Lloyd, MP for Rochdale (Labour)
Rebecca Long Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles (Labour)
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde (Labour)
Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston (Labour)
Ann Coffey MP for Stockport (Labour)
Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan (Labour)
Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles (Labour)
Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Labour)

The MPs are taken from this list:

The Global Justice Now "MPs not border guards" pledge list is here:

Letter from Leonard Cohen to Marianne Ihlen

“Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

ChromeOS Setup

I like to reset my Chrome Sync and powerwash my Chromebook every so often and set it up fresh. It is more of a habit than for security reasons. It allows me to time to consider whether my current setup is working for me. I use all these extensions. Can I be more focused? This setup guide is for my own personal reference.

Importing Bookmarks

As I have reset my Chrome Sync, I've lost all my bookmarks. So I download my "Settings" folder from Google Drive. It contains a PDF version of this guide, a bookmarks.html folder, exported settings for my favourite apps and my go-to avatar photos.

Setting up the settings

Next up I tune my Chromebook settings, in line with the student guidance offered by EFF, as follows:

  1. Encrypt all synced data with own sync passphrase.
  2. Set DNS as follows:
    For IPv4: and
    For IPv6: 2606:4700:4700::1111 and 2606:4700:4700::1001
  3. Set DuckDuckGo as search engine.
  4. Require a pin to wake from sleep.
  5. Restrict User Sign In.
  6. Block third-party cookies and site data.
  7. Keep local data only until you quit your browser.
  8. Allow the appropriate cookies.
  9. Do not allow any site to track physical location.
  10. Block protected content.
  11. Add additional languages - Portuguese (Brasil), Spanish (Latin America)
  12. Set startup to “Open New Tab Page”

With the settings tightened, I move on to the extensions directly from the Chrome Web Store. And, yes, I used all of them - I wish I didn't. I haven't included the games here because I don't want to encourage fun.


I like to enable some of the flags relating to Casting, PWA and User Interface. You can find the flags here: chrome://flags. I like to have the freshest look so I always enable the 'use all upcoming UI features' flag.

Chrome Web Store Apps & Extensions

I install the following Apps and Extensions




I like to tweak the theme with Dark Theme v3.

Google Play Store Apps (Android)

I keep my application selection limited. One of the reasons that the ChromeOS is an ideal operating system is because it is so lightweight. Android apps can be a little heavy for me.

I'll always install Bitwarden, Pocket, ProtonMail, ProtonVPN and (now) Standard Notes. I also install a selection of games (see above regarding the encouraging fun).

Finally, I organise the extensions, launcher and shelf so it is both practical and pretty. And that's how I set up my Chromebook. It takes about an hour. But once it is done, it is done.

Progressive Web Apps (Optional)

I recommend installing Headspace, Messages, Spotify and Twitter as PWAs.

Linux Apps (Optional)

Here's Android Police's guide to installing Linux:  Now that I have install Linux, I install Atom and FreeCiv.

Atom's .deb:

sudo apt-get install freeciv