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Do you really want to live longer?

I recently started reading Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. And at the beginning of the book, he starts talking about how the world would look like if the average lifespan was around 150.

While it may seem like not much would change, I can guarantee you the world would be radically different.

  • We would need to make of the Mars colonization a priority, because there would just be too much people on Earth.

  • Murderers would be able to actually get out of prison, even with a 100-year sentence.

  • Wealth gaps would be even larger, as Warren Buffet would only be a bit over the first half of his life. He would still have more than 60 years to continue accumulating more money.

  • You would know your grand-grand-grand-fathers and mothers. Because of that, family gatherings would be absolutely gigantic, as you would need to invite tens of people just to cover your "close" family.

  • I'm pretty sure there would also be many more suicides. Just the thought of having to live 130 more years when you are 20 and poor in an under-developed country, is not really motivating if I may say it like that.

  • You would also have to regularly go back to your studies, as instead of having an average career of around 40 years, most people would now be working twice, if not three times as much. Career shifts would be a really big thing.

  • Family-ran companies would also be big thing. And some exceptionally talented entrepreneurial beings would create absolute empires in our capitalistic society (Amazon, but 10 times worse).

  • With the inflation, 1$ at the beginning of your lifetime, would at the end of your lifetime, have lost 99% of its real value.

  • Wars would be even more destructive, by killing people who could have contributed during tens (if not hundred) of more years to society.

So I'm not sure it would actually be a good idea to live longer. And certainly not to reach immortality.

The fact that you know there will eventually be an end to your life, is precisely what's motivating to take action in my opinion, and to enjoy it as much as possible.

But if you are immortal, why go climbing the Kilimanjaro? You will still be there tomorrow to do it.

Though, with immortality, I mean that the healthcare sector could find a solution to "cure" aging. But if you would get hit by a car, you would still die.

So immortal people would be living an incredibly anxious life, and would certainly avoid creating bucket lists with insane things on it, like climbing the Kilimanjaro, simply because it's too dangerous.

Coming back to the 150-year lifespan scenario, if you are 20, would you still risk your life by skiing in an unauthorized area? I doubt it. You would literally be risking 130 more years of life.

Do you still want to reach immortality now? I'm leaning more towards the "no" side.

You shouldn't be taking holidays

A lot of people, in fact, the majority of people, take holidays in our Western societies. It's considered normal.

But what is normal? Simply put, something is normal when everyone does it.

But it's not because everyone does something, that you should do it too. And this is especially the case regarding holidays.

In our current society, holidays are used by the global population as a way of escaping their reality. A pocket of oxygen, giving them some short-term pleasure, and motivation to work again a whole year to afford their next trip. This is something I truly don't understand.

But first, let's ask ourselves why people want (or need) to obtain this pocket of air. It's pretty simple. Working every single day from 9 to 5 isn't what we humans were made for. Your dog doesn't work from 9 to 5. He lives his life. That's how simple it is. His days are incredibly simple: he eats, he sleeps, he plays, and he walks. That's it. Nothing more. He hasn't any schedule. He hasn't someone he works for. And most importantly, he is living, not surviving like most humans do. And guess what? He doesn't need holidays.

Your dog isn't taking holidays, mainly because he isn't smart enough to figure out how to take a plane, but also, simply because he is living the life he is supposed to live. Which means he doesn't need these holidays. He doesn't need this pocket of oxygen, because he has plenty of it every day.

You aren't made for your 9-to-5 job. You are made to live.

But how can we live?

The first, and most important step, is to become financially independent. You don't want to be dependent on your 9-to-5 job. You don't want to live from paycheck-to-paycheck.

A lot of people believe they are free because they are living in a democracy. And yes, democracies are a first step towards this freedom. However, there are still a lot of other steps which follow it.

If you have debt, you aren't free. If you have a 9-to-5 job, you aren't free. If you need to save money for something, you aren't free. If you need to please someone, you aren't free. If you need to lose weight, you aren't free. If you need to wake up at a certain hour, you aren't free.

Simply put, if you need to adapt your natural, human behaviour because of something, you aren't free.

Laws limit freedom. Which is why we should be seeking a minimal amount of laws, and make them as simple as possible.

To come back to the initial part of this blog post, this holiday-mania reflects in my opinion how unfree the majority of the population is.

Holidays represent this glimps into the freedom people would like to have, but haven't.

You shouldn't need to take holidays, because your everyday life should be fulfulling enough.

Oh, and if you are truly free, you don't need to take "a break".

Running an Ethereum validator as your primary investment vehicule in the cryptocurrency world.

With Ethereum's 2.0 Phase 0 launch, I think it's the right time to start talking about running a validator as your main investment vehicule in crypto.

But first, let's cover a bit more the background here. I'm pretty young, and I'm insanely bullish on ETH, and Ethereum in general. In fact, I'm so bullish on it, that I'm willing to lock-up nearly all the gains I have made in my 3 modest years in crypto, to be able to run an Ethereum validator for the next 10 years. It's a risky bet. Very risky actually. But I'm confident that this will allow me to become much earlier financially independent than 99% of most people do, which is around 65 years old.

To be able to run a validator, you need 32 ether. This is, at the time of writing this, already a decent amount of money. Some may ask me why would running a validator be better than, simply lending it through a lending marketplace like Aave or Compound. The reason is pretty simple. Aave and Compound are simply start-ups trying to leverage the financial capabilities of Ethereum. That's all, nothing more. But by lending money on Aave or Compound, you are taking quite a lot of risks. First, you are taking a risk regarding Ethereum. No one knows what can happen in the future with it. Second, you are taking a big risk regarding the platform itself, Aave or Compound in this case. Third, you are taking a big risk regarding the cryptocurrency you are using to lend money. And finally, this is not a risk, but you are paying a fee to the tokenholders of LEND or COMP. To summarize, there are 3 pretty major risks, and one very annoying problem.

So there are quite a few reasons why you would not want to use a lending marketplace as your primary investment vehicule in the cryptocurrency world for something you want to hold for the next 10 years.

Running a validator has a few advantages. First, you are actively supporting the network you are bullish on. Second, you generate revenues on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure some people will even be able to live without working thanks to their validators. Third, once its setup, there is not a lot to do. In the beginning, you may struggle a bit with setting up the servers, but once it's running, it's running. And finally, there is no fee, you are actually the one charging the fee. However, there is a certain fee (which can be substantial), in the sense that you will likely need to pay for servers to be able to run the validator, unless you have a supercomputer at home of course.

Let's cover the economic aspects of running a validator.

With 100m ether staked, validators will be earning around 1.88% on a yearly basis. If less is staked, they will earn more. I'm guessing on a 10-year period, on average, validators will be making around 2.25% yearly returns on their staked ETH.
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2.25% yearly, that's 24.92% or nearly 25% of returns on a 10-year period. 25% may seem like something pretty little to you, I can guarantee you it's gigantic. Where I live, banks will give you a 0.11% interest on a yearly basis. On a 10-year period, that's only 1.1% of returns.

But let's not forget that on top of that, I'm insanely bullish on ETH. Let's speculate a bit here, by saying that ETH will 50x in the 10 following years. Running an ETH validator currently costs around 12800$, so assuming ETH indeed 50x's in 10 years, that means you will have around 640000$ by then. But wait! You still have 25% on top of that which you gained through the interest. This makes it 800000$. You literally 62.5x'ed in 10 years time, while the market in general "only" 50x'ed.

Now as I'm pretty young as I said earlier in this blog post, I don't have 12800$ laying under my bed. However, I have little bag of ETH I will be staking, along with people I know. And together, we will have enough to cover all the 32 ETH necessary to create the validator.

So no excuses guys. Even if you don't have as much as 32 ETH to stake, you can always form groups with other people. Because together, you are stronger.

On Universal Basic Income (UBI).

UBI is one of those very futuristic, but actually quite realistic subjects which I like to think about. But until recently, I hadn't figured out for myself the right way of doing things regarding a UBI program. In this blog post, I will first be clarifying what the problems are with the "standard" UBI model, and later, I will present my own model of UBI, which I genuinely think is much better.

The standard model of UBI, is basically saying: let's give a 1000 dollars (or more, or less) to each citizen every month through inflation. The government essentially creates more money every month, which is given to each citizen so they can at least "survive".

There are a few major problems with this system. First, in terms of economic competition, this is really bad. Like, really bad. The reason being that you don't want your inflation to be higher than those of your competitors. You want it to stay just below the ones of your neighbours, so you can ensure that you stay competitive. And that's the major problem here. There would be an instant massive inflation.

Second, by giving away money, without any rules, or guidelines, there is 0 guarantee that the money will actually be used to "survive". In most cases, people will use it for things which they actually don't need. An iPhone for example. That's not essential for their survival. Besides, with the "standard" UBI model, Jeff Bezos would also receive a 1000 dollars a month. But our friend Jeff has already 180 billion dollars. So, giving him a thousand dollars every month is ridiculous, especially when this amount of money can save someone else.

Third, this UBI would also benefit the neighbour countries, which would result in the main countries losing market shares. Why? Well, if you receive a 1000$ a month, and you buy an iPhone while not living in the US, you are directly supporting the US.

To summarize, there are a couple of problems with the "standard" UBI model: 1. it's competitively bad, 2. people will use it for other things than "surviving", 3. Jeff Bezos would also receive a 1000 dollars, which is absolutely ridiculous, and 4. the country could lose market shares due to its population paying for services and products based outside of the country.

I called my model of UBI "SUBI", for "Smart Universal Basic Income". The idea behind it is instead of making UBI something which will "hurt" the country economically speaking, something that will actually contribute to the country's growth. The idea is to score multiple goals at once, instead of not scoring goals at all like with the standard model of UBI.

The first important thing with SUBI, is the payments aren't made in cash. They are made in cheques. The use of these cheques is limited in time. The limit could be a year for example. This pushes people to actually use this money, as the goal here is to make sure that the economy goes forward.

Besides, these cheques are only usable for a specific group of products. So you can't buy everything with these cheques. First, these products need to meet certain climate-friendly criterias. This way, the SUBI system incentivizes ecological consumer behaviour. On top of that, the products need to be healthy. So the SUBI cheques can't be used to buy alcohol for example. Again, the goal here is to incentivize healthy consumer behaviour. Finally, the companies behind the products which you can buy with these cheques must all be based in the country itself. This is to avoid a scenario where the UBI system benefits the other countries more than the country itself.

To conclude, with this SUBI system, the government would be scoring multiple goals at once: 1. it will likely only be used by people who really need it, as Jeff Bezos is likely not going to buy products at his local supermarket, which means he will not benefit from the cheques, 2. these products respect our planet, and don't make the ecological situation worse, 3. the health level of the population would dramatically go up, as these would be the only products which could be bought with these cheques, 4. these SUBI cheques support the local economy as only companies based in the country itself can participate in the SUBI program.

Making bold bets

I have been making a couple of, quite contrarian investments recently. Just after the crash in March, I decided to heavily invest in MakerDAO. Later, I decided to invest in 0x, while everyone was saying that it was overvalued. A final example was an investment I made in Numeraire early November 2019 if I'm not mistaken, while it was incredibly undervalued.

While these are indeed risky bets, as there was nothing guaranteeing that Maker would survive the March crash, there was nothing guaranteeing that the price of 0x would increase after it had meaningfully decreased, and there was nothing guaranteeing that Numeraire would ever be worth something. But at the end of the day, if you want to make a decent amount of money when investing, you need to invest boldly, and take risks when other won't take these risks.

Regarding these examples, they have all proven to be incredibly profitable. Really. And this shows that sometimes, you need to trust yourself, and do something, even if everyone else is saying the opposite.

And this is the case for essentially everything in life. If you want to succeed without taking risks, well, everyone can not take risks, which means that anyone can surpass you. However, if you are willing to take risks, and make bold bets on the future, you will be part of the little amount of people willing to take these risks, which means that if your bets are right, you will win the jackpot.

The Ultimate Privacy Guide (with a great user experience) [Long-form]

Introduction

I have been interested in privacy since quite a long time now. Not caring about privacy, is in my opinion certainly one of the biggest mistakes one can make. Especially in a future made of AI algorithms fed with data.

As the world evolves, data is going to become increasingly important. While it's already very valuable, data is step by step becoming the 21st century's oil.

Our AI-powered society isn't here yet, but your data (already) matters. Hundreds of companies have a data-based business model.

While I haven't anything against these companies, they are literally stealing your data. Online shops are tracking your behaviour to determine what your interests are, and to determine who you are.

Chances are that if you are looking for a stroller, and shortly after for pregnancy clothes, our dear friend Jeff Bezos will know thanks to Amazon's algorithms that you are a women, you are pregnant, you are likely in your 20s and 30s, and that you are going to have a baby pretty soon. This means that in a few months, they are going to make a ton of money by placing diapers on the front screen of your Amazon webpage, which you obviously will need.

If this currently already the case, what will it be when our society will mostly only rely on AI algorithms to move forward? This shows the need for modern, user-friendly privacy solutions. And this precisely what you will find in this blog post.

Because some will still not be convinced by the need for online privacy, I'm going to ask you the following questions: Would you be willing to reveal everything you do when you are at home? Would you be willing to reveal all your discussions with your friends, family, and partner? Would you be willing to reveal what you did last Saturday, when you left your home for a few hours?

I don't think so. So why would you want that online?

Though, your online privacy will never perfect, because that's simply impossible. There will always be a way to find you. The goal, is to make this as complicated as possible.

Some will think that this is only achievable using the Tor Browser 24/7, paying with cash, and using encrypted letters.

This is definitely not the case, and after having read this guide, you will learn how you can have a private life online, while still using the websites you love, and while not destroying the awesome user experience you have come to expect.

Threat model

In the privacy community, you will often hear people speaking about their threat model. The threat model, is against what you want to protect yourself.

I want to protect my data from being exploited by companies for example. That's my threat model.

While I feel uncomfortable knowing that my data is in the hands of the NSA, I'm realistic, and being able to escape the NSA (or the CIA in that regard), is nearly impossible, even if you were neglect the user experience.

This is why I mostly focus on protecting my digital identity from big companies, because that's entirely possible. On top of that, you can still have a great user experience while doing it.

1.0 Privacy on your computer

1.1 Operating systems

In terms of privacy, Linux distributions are by far the best. Of course, it depends on which one you use, but your online privacy will already be enhanced by simply using one. However, most of them lack one thing: a great user experience.

When you take a look at Ubuntu for example, one of the most used Linux distributions, it feels quite old. The interface doesn't feel "fresh", and while they do a great job at presenting you a lot of known and widely used apps once the installation of Ubuntu is complete on your machine, there are still a decent amount of tools which you simply can't find on Linux.

Besides, Linux has the advantage/disadvantage, that knowledge regarding how the Terminal works, and how to use it properly, is required. While this is awesome for experienced users, as you can configure nearly everything through the Terminal, it's really not for new users, who aren't familiar with the Terminal.

I'm personally using Fedora, a Linux distribution, and I really love it. Though, I must also say that I have some knowledge regarding how the Terminal works, and I'm clearly the kind of person who is able to spend hours to find a fix for something! But not everyone is like that.

And this precisely the main reason why I recommend the use of macOS to those who share my threat model (protecting my data from being exploited by companies), but who haven't the necessary technical knowledge or enough time to setup a Linux distribution.

While Apple is of course using your data for analytics, and improving their products to sell even more of them, Apple would never take the risk to sell your data, as they wouldn't be able to recover from it. Apple is all about marketing, and marketing is all about trust. Trust is something which takes ages to build, but which can be destroyed in a fraction of a second.

Speaking about marketing, a funny thing about Apple, is that they position themselves as caring about your privacy, but in the meantime, they are removing the VPN option for Chinese users, and even moving iCloud keys to Chinese state-owned datacenters. While this is just the case for Chinese Apple users, it just demonstrates that their "privacy focus", is nothing more than a marketing trick. But they would never do something like that with the data of European, or US users, as their reputation would simply be... well, they wouldn't even have a reputation anymore.

And yes, macOS is clearly not ideal in terms of privacy, but it has the advantage of being by default pretty secure, especially when compared to Microsoft's Windows. And again, Apple is there to protect your data from being exploited by companies.

If you are using a Windows computer, I would strongly suggest to install Ubuntu (Ubuntu is pretty accessible for beginners), or any other easy-to-use Linux distribution out there (Fedora is great too by the way). Because you really don't want to use Microsoft Windows. Alternatively, you can try installing macOS on your laptop, by making it a hackintosh.

1.2 Browsers

Your browser is incredibly important. I would even argue that it's more important than your OS. This is because you want to use as much as possible your browser, instead of installing an app on your laptop, or on your phone.

Websites have the advantage of not being able to access your computer's data. This is not the case when using an app.

There are some debates about whether or not you should be using a Chromium based browser (like Google Chrome for example), or Mozilla's Firefox. But the easiest way of doing things, is to simply rely on Firefox, as its default version respects much more your privacy then Chrome's default version..

Though, there are a couple of things which need to be configured inside of Firefox, to ensure that as much data as possible remains private while you browse the internet.

First, you don't want to use the default Firefox configuration. Here (to download it, simply click on "Raw") is the Firefox configuration file we will be using and here is how to install it. If you want more info about this configuration, you can read a Reddit post introducing it here. Though, please keep in mind that you will likely need to change some things in the code, as there are a few things which can be annoying when using this version of Firefox.

Now you have installed it, you will see that there are a couple of changes we can already see when starting it. First, the websites are resized. This is to prevent websites from being able to track you, through the size of your screen. Second, you will see that it's sometimes slower, and sometimes less responsive than you are used to with a "normal" browser, however, it should work perfectly fine overall. And it's actually quite smooth for such a hardened way of using Firefox.

Now, let's add some add-ons to our browser.

1.21 Add-ons

When using a browser, the less add-ons you use, the better. This is mainly because websites can track which add-ons you are using, and the more add-ons you use, the more you are becoming unique, in the sense that the less people will have the same amount, and the same add-ons you have.

Simply put, you want to keep the amount of add-ons you use as low as possible.

uBlock Origin

uBlock is a highly effective ad-blocker, which does much more than block ads, as it allows you to filter third-party scripts, connected domains to the websites you are using,...

Decentraleyes

Decentraleyes protects you against services tracking you through content delivery networks (CDN), as it emulates them locally by intercepting requests, finding the required resource, and injecting it into the environment.

HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS Everywhere is an add-on which encrypts automatically your connection in HTTPS.

ClearURLs

ClearURLs does only one thing, but does it incredibly well: removing trackers from URLs.

Firefox Multi-Account Containers

Firefox Multi-Account Containers is certainly one of the most useful add-ons in this list, as it allows to keep all the data of one website, in one container.

If you have a container for Facebook, and another one for YouTube, Facebook will not be able to know that you are using YouTube, as it's in another container.

To make it effective, you will need to create a container for every website you use regularly.

1.22 Search engines

There are multiple privacy focused search engines out there, but there is one which really stands out.

The search engine I recommend is StartPage. Based in the Netherlands, StartPage is fully private, and has the advantage of using Google search results. This makes it really awesome, especially when compared to DuckDuckGo, SearX and Qwant for example, where the search results are simply terrible.

1.3 VPNs

There is a lot of controversy in the privacy community on whether or not VPNs should be used, and on whether or not the Tor Browser is a better solution.

Let's face it, Tor is 10x better for your privacy then a VPN. Though, it's also 10x worse in terms of user experience. Besides, the use of add-ons dramatically decreases the advantages of Tor, which makes it really not a good idea to use it with a password manager as an extension for example, because your identity will become unique because of that, even if your IP is "hidden" thanks to the Tor network.

And this is precisely the reason why, even if it's clearly not ideal, I would strongly recommend the use of a VPN. Using a VPN is always better than not using one, and you are much more likely to stick to using a VPN, than to stick to using Tor.

There are multiple VPNs out there, but what matters the most, is that you trust your VPN provider. This is essential, because your VPN is going to receive all your data. You don't want to use highly commercial VPNs, because these often lack explanations regarding what happens behind the scenes, and suffer from regular data breaches. You especially don't want to use a VPN wgich starts with "Nord" and ends with "VPN" for example.

Mullvad

Mullvad is an affordable, and impressively fast VPN. Based in Sweden, Mullvad is one of the most transparent VPNs regarding what happens with your data. You can find their (very) easy-to-read privacy policy here. Besides, Mullvad doesn't even require an e-mail to start using it.

ProtonVPN

Made by Proton, the company behind the popular privacy-focused e-mail provider ProtonMail (which I will cover later in this post), ProtonVPN offers a free offer, and is based in Switzerland.

IVPN

IVPN is a Gibraltar-based VPN. An audit has proven they aren't logging your data, and their apps are fully open-source. Though, IVPN is quite expensive, as their pricing plan starts at 5$/month, and it only gives you access to only two devices.

1.4 E-mail, contact, and calendar providers

There are two main e-mail providers focusing on privacy. What's great is that these are also offering contact apps, and calendars.

ProtonMail

Made by Proton, the company behind ProtonVPN which I presented earlier in this blog post, ProtonMail is an e-mail service focused on privacy, security, encryption, while still having a relatively decent user-experience.

Tutanota

Based in Germany, Tutanota is by far the strongest competitor of ProtonMail. Like ProtonMail, they focus mainly on privacy, and security, while also having a decent user-experience.

1.5 Note apps

There aren't a lot of encrypted note-taking apps unfortunately. The two major privacy-focused note-taking apps are Joplin and Standard Notes.

While Joplin is great, its user-experience is not. Besides, it lacks the ability to protect the app through the use of a password, or a PIN.

This is why I strongly recommend the use of Standard Notes, which has an awesome user-experience, and has a transparent Mullvad-like privacy policy.

1.6 Cloud providers

By default, cloud providers are definitely not a good idea, as you are literally giving them your data, and on top of that, you are paying for it. The best way of doing things, when using a cloud storage provider, is simply to use a tool like Crytpomator, which will encrypt your files before they access the cloud. This way, you will ensure that, even if your cloud provider isn't "safe", you will still not suffer from data breaches.

Because of the fact that Cryptomator is needed, if you want to privately store data in a cloud storage, some may think that there is no point of using privacy-focused cloud providers, and that they would better use things like Google Drive, OneDrive,... Though, these people have to keep in mind that, by doing that, they are support companies who are openly not respecting your privacy. Because of that, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the cloud providers below, who offer at least some privacy, and security "guarantees" (even if we can never be a 100% of that).

Self-hosting Nextcloud

Nextcloud is an open-source cloud platform which is entirely free to use. The major disadvantage, is that you need to host it yourself, or rely on third-parties, but this really destroys the point of using Nextcloud.

Sync

Sync is a Canadian cloud provider, focused on privacy and secured. Being impressively affordable, Sync is clearly a cloud provider to consider.

Tresorit

Based in Switzerland, Tresorit is a fully encrypted cloud provider. It's quite expensive, as you only get 500GB of storage, while paying the same price as you would when using Sync.

Jottacloud

Jottacloud is a Norvegian secure cloud provider. They are insanely cheap compared to Sync and Tresorit, as they offer "unlimited" cloud storage, for 7.50$/month. However, after having uploaded 5 TB to your cloud storage, the upload speed will progressively go down.

ProtonDrive (not live yet)

Being developed by the company behind ProtonMail and ProtonVPN, ProtonDrive is an upcoming cloud storage provider. It should be coming by the end of 2020.

1.7 Password managers

Bitwarden

Bitwarden is a fully open source password manager, which has the advantage of being incredibly easy to use. Bitwarden allows you to self-host it, or to use their free cloud-based service.

LessPass

Like Bitwarden, LessPass has a great user experience, and is also fully open source.

1.8 Replacing YouTube, Twitter,...

There are a few ways to bypass the use of YouTube, Twitter,... I'm not going to cover social medias such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or even TikTok, because I think that it's ridiculous to use them if you care about your privacy. There is no point of doing all of this, if you are still using these social medias. Besides, none of them (except Instagram with Bibliogram), have privacy-focused front-end alternatives.

Replacing most content platforms: MiniFlux

MiniFlux is a privacy-focused, and minimalistic RSS reader. You can host it yourself, or pay a cheap yearly subscription, your RSS reader will then be hosted on the servers of the app creator. Using a privacy-focused RSS reader like Miniflux, is the best way of doing things in my opinion, as it removes the ability for the websites to directly track you.

I see an RSS reader as a kind of tunnel, where the websites can't see the other side of the tunnel. The advantage of RSS readers, is that you can use them for nearly everything, whether it's having a Twitter feed, following your favorite blogs, or watching videos of the YouTubers you like.

Replacing Twitter: Nitter

Nitter is a free and open source alternative to Twitter, focused on privacy. Javascript is removed by default, and the client never talks to Twitter.

There are a few ways to use Twitter, one of them is to create a list, which you can do by adding usernames after "nitter.com".

Example: "https://nitter.net/elonmusk,BarackObama" will give you a feed of Elon's, and Obama's tweets. You can bookmark the link in your browser for example, which allows you to directly have a Twitter feed, but without using Twitter.

Replacing YouTube: Invidious

Invidious is front-end alternative to YouTube, which protects your privacy. It can sometimes be quite slow, but is overall reliable.

Replacing YouTube: YouTube

I personally don't like the interface of Individious, which is the reason why I still use YouTube, without going through any front-end alternative. Though, there are a couple of things to take into consideration.

First, I don't log into my Google account when going on YouTube, and I have created a specific container for YouTube. Second, all my browser history, cookies,... is deleted when I quit Firefox/when I shutdown my computer.

As I close Firefox everytime I have done what I needed to do, and in the evening, when I'm done for the day, YouTube really can't create a profile of me on a long-term perspective. Finally, as I use a (very) hardened version of Firefox, with a custom user.js profile which I introduced earlier in this article, I'm doing pretty well in terms of privacy, even if I use YouTube.

Replacing Reddit: Old Reddit

There aren't any front-end alternatives that I'm aware of for Reddit. The best way of doing things, is simply to use the old version of Reddit. Though, I must admit that the interface just looks horrible. So I personally still use the latest version of reddit. Besides, I have a Reddit account, but I just use it when I want to post something, otherwise, I'm not logged into my account. I have bookmarked the subreddits which I like. And finally, I have obviously created a container specifically for Reddit.

I just found this tool actually, which allows you to browse Reddit through your Terminal. Though, it's sometimes a bit tricky to use, and as pictures don't load directly in the terminal, it's not that good in terms of user experience.

Alternatively, you can also use Reddit through an RSS feed. Though, to view the comments, you will still need to access Reddit, which isn't ideal.

2.0 Privacy on your phone

There are several options regarding your phone. The best way of doing things, is to simply have a flip phone. It's simple, it doesn't track you, and it's just what you need at the end of the day.

Though, I know that as our society is evolving, we will more and more need a smartphone. Ideally, you would buy a Google Pixel (ironic, right?), and install Graphene OS. Though, most people don't have a Google Pixel, nor have the required funds to buy one. This is why I will not be covering that in this blog post.

Besides, there is also LineageOS. LineageOS has the advantage of being compatible with much more devices than Graphene is, however, it suffers from some security issues. On top of that, there are still plenty of devices not compatible with LineageOS. This is why I will not be covering that in this blog post.

On the contrary, I'm going to cover things that work for every Android-based smartphone, including ways to remove Google bloatware from your smartphone, isolating apps which you don't trust, and introducing you to a set amount of apps which could be useful, all of this, without rooting it.

2.1 IOS VS Android

First, before going into the following parts of this guide, I think it's quite important to take a look at the IOS vs Android debate.

On one side, you got IOS. IOS, made by Apple, is supposed to protect your privacy. While IOS is actually not that bad at protecting it, it's definitely not ideal. The problem with IOS, like it's the case with nearly all Apple products (but IOS in particular), is that you can only do what Apple wants you to do. If you have an iPhone, there is no way of configuring it extensively. And there is no way to remove system apps, which is pretty annoying.

Besides, most privacy and open-source initiatives in the smartphone landscape, are made for Android. If you want to only use open-source apps for example, you will need to use F-Droid, which you can only access them from Android.

2.2 Removing bloatware through Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

One of the great things about Android, is that nearly everything is configurable. You don't like this pre-installed app? You can remove it. But sometimes, your phone will not like that, and will disable the possibility of doing things. This is where ADB comes in the spotlight. ADB is a tool which allows you to quickly remove packages (apps essentially), through your computer's terminal.

Here are three guides on how to do this. This the first one, here is the second one, and finally the third one.

2.3 Installing some apps

There are a couple of must-have apps for Android.

Hermit

Hermit is an app which allows you to create web-apps. If you are planning to use social medias on your smartphone, I strongly suggest to use them as web-apps through Hermit. For most of them, the experience is really similar, and the advantage is that they can't access your data stored on your phone.

Additionally, you can create a web-app for MiniFlux for example, or Nitter. This way, you can simply access your RSS feed, and have directly access to your Twitter account.

Shelter

Shelter is an app which is using your work-profile on your phone, in order to isolate specific apps. If you absolutely need to use WhatsApp for example, make sure to isolate it through Shelter.

Signal

Signal is an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, which focuses on security and privacy. It has honestly a much better user experience than it's non-encrypted competitors (WhatsApp for example), which is not always the case for these types of apps.

Tor Browser

As the configuration possibilities of browsers on smartphones are quite limited, I strongly recommend the use of the Tor Browser, to still have some protection online.

F-Droid

F-Droid is a catalogue of free and open-source apps. Through the F-Droid app, you can easily install, update, and manage your favorite FOSS apps.

Simple Keyboard

Simple Keyboard, is just a simple keyboard. That's it. It doesn't track you, and it just does what a keyboard is supposed to.

3.0 Additional stuff

A lot of people in the privacy community give a lot of attention to online privacy, but just a few also give attention to their "In Real Life" (IRL) privacy. And it's ridiculous to create a guide for privacy, if you don't cover this.

3.1 Pictures

Never, ever, let someone publish a picture online of you. This is fundamental. If it's required for your job, simply post an old picture of yourself, but never an up-to-date one. Another way of doing things, is to pay an artist to draw a portrait (or do it yourself if you have some skills), and use that as your profile picture.

3.2 Names

Avoid as much as possible giving your name to websites when asked. Some will require it for legal reasons, which is fine, as long as your profile on that website isn't public, and that you always use on other websites a nickname.

You don't want these websites to be able to link your name with these other websites.

3.3 E-mails

Avoid the use of one e-mail for all your services. ProtonMail and Tutanota offer, when using respectively Plus and Premium for Protonmail and Tutanota, the possibility of having up to 5 aliases. ideally, you want to use one alias for work, another one for shopping,...

Alternatively, you can of course also use services like AnonAddy or SimpleLogin.

3.4 Phone number

Avoid as much as possible to give your phone number to websites asking for it. If you haven't any choice, do it, but just keep in mind that the use of a phone number is an incredibly efficient way to track you across the internet.

Otherwise, you can still pay for a prepaid sim card of course, but that's going to cost some money.

Conclusion

I'm a firm believer that our online privacy is as valuable as our IRL privacy is. I think that a lot of people underestimate the importance that data is going to have (and already has), in a future made of AIs, blockchains,...

Always remember that it's never too late.

0xtardigrade's Privacy Table

Items aren't ranked in a particular order. These are all privacy-friendly apps and services, which also all have a great user experience. If you have a particular app/tool/service/... which you like, which is 1. privacy-focused, and 2. user-friendly, you can send me an anonymous message through my Guestbook and I will make sure to add it.

Though, please keep in mind that if your favorite privacy-focused service isn't in this list, it's most likely because it hasn't a good user experience.

1 2 3 4 5
Desktop OS Fedora Workstation Ubuntu Linux Mint Manjaro Linux macOS
Browser Firefox (Hardened)
Add-ons uBlock Origin Decentraleyes HTTPS Everywhere ClearURLs Firefox Multi-Account Containers
Search Engine StartPage
VPN Mullvad ProtonVPN IVPN
E-mail,... ProtonMail Tutanota
Notes Standard Notes
Cloud Self-hosting Nextcloud Sync Tresorit Jottacloud ProtonDrive (not live yet)
Password Manager Bitwarden LessPass
RSS Feed MiniFlux
Twitter Nitter
Youtube Invidious YouTube [2]
Reddit Reddit [1]
Android OS Graphene OS LineageOS IOS Android
Android Apps Hermit Shelter Signal Tor Browser F-Droid
Android Keyboard Simple Keyboard

[1] Use it with a container, and only log into your account when you want to post something. For those who are really paranoid, you can always setup a virtual machine in Fedora in just a few clicks (with "Boxes" which is pre-installed on Fedora), and solely use it to browse Reddit. But that's really the ultimate level of paranoia.

[2] See section 1.8 for YouTube.

AI isn't that scary.

Most of my thoughts in this blog post come from a book called "AI Superpowers" by Kai-Fu Lee. I encourage you to read it as it's fairly accessible and it contains a ton of knowledge around AI.

While it's true that AI, on a 10 year perspective, has the capability to replace around 40% of the US workforce, I don't think it's something negative. At the end of the day, life isn't about working, it's about living. And having a world based on AI algorithms would allow us to spend more time with our families, to spend more time with our friends,... Some people argue that AI is just like the internet a few decades ago. They think that the job market will simply change, nothing more. I agree with that because yes, the job market will change.

Most jobs will switch to a more human-centric way of doing things, where they will give much more attention to how people feel. These include health experts, teachers, and even judges. The reason being that, there is literally no point for a health expert to take years to learn everything by heart about how a brain works, while a machine can learn that in a fraction of that time. Besides, like I already argued in another blog post, AI algorithms have the advantage of not being impacted by emotions, nor feelings.

An example I used to illustrate this in that previous blog post, is an economist in a bank.

Imagine that you are Goldman Sachs.

Do you prefer to hire an economist, who can be (massively) impacted by his feelings, whose knowledge is limited, and whose decisions are actually mostly made by hormones, genes, and synapses, instead of what we call "himself"?

Or do you prefer to hire an AI, which has no feelings, whose, knowledge is in theory unlimited, and whose decisions are rational, as they are based on actual data?

Logically, Goldman Sachs would hire the AI in this case. What you can read above was my vision of AI until I read AI Superpowers. While I still think that banks will use (and likely already partly use) AI algorithms to determine if you are worthy of a loan, I think that the economist in this situation will not be fired. Why? It's incredibly simple. If you are a business owner, you don't want to talk to an AI when covering your financial situation. You want to see if you can trust the bank, if you can trust them with your money. Let's put that in a table.

Economist AI
Impacted by emotions What are emotions?
Limited knowledge Unlimited knowledge (in theory)
Decisions based on hormones, genes and synapses Decisions based on actual data
Irrational Rational
Understands human feelings, can express empathy No understanding of human feelings, can't express "real" empathy

Like you can see, AI wins on nearly all of the above aspects, except the last one. As an AI can't express feelings, and can't express empathy, there is no way for an AI algorithm to fully replace humans.

When you are a client, you want empathy. In fact, empathy is one of the key parts of running a successful business. How can you become successful, if you don't care about your customers?

And this is precisely the reason why I think that most of the people constantly saying on social media that AI is going to destroy everyone's lives are completely wrong. Essentially, AI is simply a shift in how society works, nothing more. Besides, we are still decades a way of having the so-called "Artificial General Intelligence" (AGI) which scares so much people.

While it's true that an AI called AlphaGo has already won in a tournament agains the world champion of the game of Go, which is basically an Asian version of chess, the team behind AlphaGo worked during years before their AI became truly good at Go. On top of that, AlphaGo can only play Go. If you ask it what is the capital of France, it won't know the answer. And it needed to play thousands, and thousands of games, before arriving at such a level. Because yes, as a human, an AI needs to learn.

To conclude, I think AI is going to have a tremendous impact on society. It's going to radically change how people live, and how they interact with the digital world. However, it's not going to destroy humanity, at least not yet. And it's not going to cause massive unemployment. AI is simply going to change how our society works.

MakerDAO, criticized, but required.

Interestingly, there has been the past few months a growth, in terms of the amount of people starting to "hate" MakerDAO, or at least to criticize it. This, from the Synthetix community for example, but also from other people in the broader ecosystem.

While I'm not a fan of MakerDAO, mainly because it has become a slow organization with more and more bureaucracy and there isn't a clear roadmap for DAI adoption and development, I have invested in Maker. This may seem crazy, but it isn't, at least in my opinion.

There are multiple ways of viewing the MakerDAO case, and while I have had many doubts in the past regarding the project (and I still have), there is always one argument which beats them all. And that argument is that for the DeFi space to survive, and grow, DAI is needed. They can't do otherwise. They need MakerDAO. There is currently no reliable, decentralized and scalable alternative to MakerDAO.

So you can think what you want of MakerDAO, but DeFi is dependent of DAI, and that's precisely the reason why it's here to stay in my opinion, at least in the near future.

Don't work for money, you will regret it.

Most people in our society work for money. Though, money is just an abstraction of your time. Essentially, when you work, you convert your time into money. Your time is literally money, indeed. But what's interesting about that, is that you might ask yourself, why work? Because yes, why would you work, lose time, for something which is basically just a way to exchange your time for other things? It's quite ridiculous in my opinion. Especially when taking in condideration the yearly 2% inflation of your cash savings, making your time less valuable year by year. Why lose time for something which is losing 2% of its value on a yearly basis, and which isn't limited by its supply, while your time on this planet is clearly limited? It's a valid question. Besides, what positive things will you retain from your 9-to-5 job when you will be in your eighties? Likely nothing. Will you have meaningfully contributed to humanity? Likely not. Will all these years working 8 hours a day have made you someone truly happy? Likely not. You will most probably be exhausted.

So, what should you do instead?

Find out why you are here on this planet (not that easy, I agree), and start contributing to humanity in one way or another. By not working for money, and actually working to help people, to save animals, or even send people on Mars, you will not only have much more chances of becoming wealthier than you were before (because you will be all-in in your job, which is obviously not the case when you work for money), but you will also become trully happy.

And that's the only thing which matters at the end of the day.

Don't use ads.

If you read by previous blog post, you will now understand why I really think that ads are useless. In my opinion, when you work on something, it's all about the long-term. How did Warren Buffet get as rich? Because he was thinking on a timescale of 10, 30, 50 years. While other fellow investors where thinking on a timescale of 10, 30, 50 days. That's the major difference. Why did Apple get so popular, mostly without ads? Of course, thanks to their marketing, but also, and especially, thanks to their empathy regarding their users. Apple truly changed the life of people, by creating user-friendly products, which even your grandma should be able to understand. That's true helpfulness. It's creating value.

So, what we can learn from Warren Buffet and Apple (and these are just two examples, but you can find many of them), is that you need to focus on a long-term perspective (dozens of years), AND, you need to be delivering true value.

And guess what? Ads are incredibly short-term focused, and don't deliver any value. Do you learn something when you see that an ad on YouTube? I don't. Nor do you. Nor does anybody who watches this ad. And watching this ad isn't going to create a trust relationship between the company, and you, the consumer. In fact, you may even start not trusting that company, simply because of its repetitive ads.

So if I were to operate a business, which will most likely be the case in the future, I will avoid as much as possible the use of ads. Because it doesn't help anyone. It's hidden brainwashing, it doesn't contribute to the development of our society, and it doens't get people to start trusting you as a company.

People start to trust you, when you create value, when help them, when you care about them, when show empathy. Not when immediately try to sell them a product which they didn't need in the first place.

True value.

I have already written about delivering true value in the past. But, with time, this idea has only become stronger. It's funny, because a massive amount of content creators, in fact, most of them, aren't creating content to help people. They are creating content, to help themselves, financially. Because of that, you could argue that they are creating content, to create content. And you can't expect from someone to start trusting, to start using your products, if all you do is writing useless blog posts, recording videos and podcast episodes,... Especially when you are just recyling the content other people have already created.

It's actually a very simple idea, like, it's just "deliver true value". But, weirdly enough, 99% of the content creators out there don't understand that, don't get that. Now, you will most likely tell that most of the popular youtubers aren't delivering true value. But the reason is incredibly simple, their audience is usually pretty young. But if go and take a look at youtubers which have a more "adult" audience, you will notice that they have to create content to survive on a long-term perspective. Maybe not on a short-term perspective, but always on the long-term. Most youtubers, with an adult audience, who get at one point popular, and don't create value, will most likely see their number views go as rapidly down, as their number of views first went up. That's how simple it is.

Deliver true value. Create content to truly help people. Don't be a sheep, don't create content to create content like everyone else does.

AR//VR

I believe in Augmented Reality (AR). Not in Virtual Reality (VR). At least, currently.

And the reason is because, AR is bringing a soft change to our society. It's actually a massive change, but in terms of how the society works, it will not change that much. While VR, is what I call a hard change. If VR gets globally adopted, the world will never be the same. And that's precisely the reason why VR will take much more time before reaching it's maturity level, simply because people will need to adapt a lot. Besides, VR takes a lot more time to develop. If you are a VR app developer, you will need to literally create a whole artificial world, which obviously, will need to be beautifully designed, because who wants to live in a world full of ugly pixels? While an AR app developer, simply needs to develop a light-weigh graphical interface which can be used through the AR glasses, and that's all.

It's not that I don't believe in VR, it's that, AR will likely reach a lot faster its maturity level than VR.

AI.

It's funny, because a lot of people start to have this feeling that AI is overhyped, and that Artificial Intelligences miss the "Intelligences" part. What these people absolutely need to realize, is that we are still incredibly early in this space. It's like the blockchain sector, or even like the Augmented Reality space (AR). (By the way, if I had a few billion dollars, these are the three domains I would invest in). We don't even know all the use cases for AI yet. The thing is, whether you want it or not, this revolution will eventually take place. And it's likely going to cause a new industrial revolution, simply because 99% of the non-creative jobs, can get replaced by an AI.

Think about it. Why would you hire an economist, who could for example have some relationship problems with his wife, causing him to make bad financial decisions? Why would you invest in a company where the workforce protests every year because they would like higher salaries, when you can invest in a AI-operated company, where no one will ever protest, as there aren't any workers?

While this may seem crazy, it's not. Let's place things in perspective: Uber takes a 25% fee on every ride made through its app, which means 75% goes to the drivers. Guess what would happen if Uber's cars were now operated by an AI? Their revenues would quadruple. Yes, QUADRUPLE.

And now a more controversial one: why would you let fame and wealth seeking (and emotionally-vulnerable) individuals (politicians) run your country, when you can have an AI, which isn't impacted by emotions, which doesn't seek fame, which doesn't seek wealth and which above all, could be programmed to seek for a better country (obviously, an interesting question in this case would be: what is "better")?

Most people still believe the decisions they take are their own, made by their own mind. But as Yuval Noah Harari puts it in his book Sapiens: "Scientists studying the inner workings of the human organism have found no soul there. They increasingly argue that human behaviour is determined by hormones, genes and synapses, rather than by free will – the same forces that determine the behaviour of chimpanzees, wolves, and ants."

Finally, an AI will be able to take into consideration every detail when handling a case, which a human obviously can't.

I guess it's just a matter of time, before AI starts to govern us.

Meditation. Meditation. Meditation.

Your mind is an instrument, so why use it 24/7? At the end of the day, it's just like your arm, or your foot, it's like a muscle. And you don't use your arm all day, nor do you use your foot all day. So why use your mind all day? Doesn't make sense. Like you allow your foot, and your arm to rest, you should also let your mind rest.

That's precisely the reason why you should meditate.

Now, I have recently realized that timing your meditation sessions just doesn't make sense. Because a lot of people make a goal of it to meditate a certain amount of time. They put an alarm on 10 minutes for example. But the thing is that, because of that, it becomes a goal for them to meditate that long. It's no more about meditating, it's about reaching that goal. To be honest, I don't even know how long I meditate every day. I really don't. Because it just doesn't matter. What matters, is that I meditate.

A Guide to Life: How to Realistically Get Rich, Become Happy, and Live a Healthy Life.

This will be a short, short, short guide on how to rich realistically. It's not meant to sell you stuff, and you will not get rich quickly. Getting takes time, likely tens of years. That's why you have to start early. I have the advantage of being pretty young, and that's also the reason why I'm creating this little guide.

In the beginning, I wanted to create long guide, but I started to think that creating a short guide with rules or laws, whatever you call them, would be more effective. A bit like I did with this guide: https://listed.to/@0xtardigrade/11746/living-a-healthy-life-through-sleep-diet-and-exercise

• Invest ideally between 20 and 30% of your salary every month in the SP500. You can do that through Vanguard for example. Even if there are crashes, or bear markets, the market ALWAYS goes up. Just look at the DOW since 1900.

• Just buy a few times one outfit, and wear that everyday. This way, you will be able to resist the idea of buying new, unnecessary clothes. Give all your other clothes to the poor.

Pro-tip: create three piles of clothes. One for the clothes you would like to keep, one for those you don't want to keep, and one for those you don't really know if you want to keep or give them. For that final pile, think for each of these, "how much would I be willing to pay to buy it again?". That should be doing the trick.

• Eat healthy and expensive food. Yeah, that's quite contrary, right? Well, the reason why is because expensive food is much more likely to have higher level of quality than cheap food. It won't always be quality, but the chance is just much higher. But the reason why you don't want to be greedy regarding food, is simply because it directly affects your health. And health issues are INCREDIBLY expensive, even here in Europe (and I don't want to imagine what it would be in the US). So it's actually cheaper to eath healthy expensive food, than to eat cheaply.

• You want to get a 9-to-5 job, and on top of that work on stuff you like, and try to create a business out of it. Like Naval puts it: "You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity - a piece of a business - to gain your financial freedom."

Example, you have a degree in economics and have a decent knowledge in software development, well, get a job at a bank, and in your free time, start developing an app. Once you have a decent userbase, start monetizing it, in non-intrusive way. Once you are sure that this is the right path for you, quit your 9-to-5 job, and start working only on your business.

Always deliver a massive amount of value, and monetize it in simple, ethical, and authentic ways. That way, you will create superfans, essentially, people willing to buy all your services, people who will buy an airplane ticket just to be able to meet you. That's the kind of community you want to build. Like Naval puts it: "You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale." (essentially creating value)

• Try to get good at things which usually aren't mixed together. The example of the economist with some software development capabilities (see above) is a great example of this.

• Constantly create content, whatever it is. Compound interest also applies to content, at least, if it's quality content.

• Regarding where you live, you want to buy a piece of land where you can build a house. And then build that house. Though, that house needs to be as low-energy-consuming as possible, ideally totally off the grid, and, as little as possible, as that will force you to 1. spend time outside (which will massively increase your health, and likely also your hapiness) 2. be minimalistic regarding your furniture and stuff you want to buy (which in most cases you don't need).

• Never buy a car, it's the worst investment you can make. Instead, buy an electric bike, which will improve your health as you are exercising, and you will save tens of thousands of dollars.

• Avoid all debt, the only authorized debt is for your ultra-economical house.

• Don't buy a TV, you will lose time, and it's unnecessary. Avoid as much as possible subscription-based services. Especially when it's for "entertainment". These things just make you lose time, and don't make you happy, so, why pay for it?

• Don't buy a smartphone. Just use an old phone like a Nokia 3310 and that's it. You don' need more. Besides, having a smartphone will make you lose time, and on top of that, you will be much more likely to subscribe to services you don't need. Finally, it's also much better for your digital privacy, as all these super-evil entities like Google and Facebook will not be able to use your data for very evil purposes (ads).

• Find a philosphy of life, whatever it is. It may be Buddhism, Stoicism,... Just find one, and start practicing it. You will see massive (positive) changes in your life. You will likely become much happier than you currently are, you will also most certainly have better and stronger relationships with people,...

• Read everyday, it doens't matter what you read by the way, just read. And remember: when reading, the slower, the better. Speedreading is certainly one of the most ridiculous inventions of mankind.

• Never go to the gym, it puts too much tension on your body.

• Avoid eating in the morning.

• Exercise everyday, but alternate. Example: Every two days, I do some push-ups, pull-ups and squats. And the remaining days, I do some yoga.

• Always exercise just after waking up, that way, you will not forget, and not be able to find excuses, and you will speed up the fasting process.

• Only drink water during the morning (and also during the day actually).

• Eat a salad with 5 different vegetables and some proteins at noon.

• Eat at least twice a week fish.

• At noon, after having eaten your big fatty salad, eat one fruit, and a handful of nuts (preferably almonds).

• Avoid eating anything with sugar during the evening (even fruit).

• If possible, eat healthy during the evening, if you can't because of social circumstances, it's not a disaster.

• In the evening, try to eat around 3 to 4 hours before you go to sleep.

• Never too much, nor too little, just eat enough.

• Don't sleep longer during the week-ends. Keep the same routine as during the week.

• Don't wake up with an alarm, wake up naturally. (you should be getting between 8 and 9 hours of sleep)

• NEVER, ever use the snooze button.

• Go to sleep at the same time every day, no matter what is hapenning, in 99.9% of the cases, it's actually not important after all.

• Always use people's names, it's everyone's prefered sound.

• Make it a game of listening to people, like, how long can you make them talk about themselves? People don't care about you. I know, it's harsh, but it's the truth. People only care about themselves, so let them do it. Avoid talking too much about yourself, just ask questions, which can't be answered with yes or no. Besides, you will cultivate a sense of mystery, because will know nearly nothing about you, your life, while you will know an enormous amount of information, leaving you with the cards in hand.

• Respect people, whoever they are, whatever their job is, and whatever their origin is.