I always encourage people to use RSS or Atom feeds to subscribe to people’s blogs but many people need an introduction and explanation about RSS and Atom.

Let’s talk about RSS, as it’s not much different with Atom. RSS is basically a web feed that is readable by computers. A web feed is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. It means that whenever the blog or news feed gets updated, the user can receive the update in user’s feed aggregator.

Writers or so-called content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe a channel to it by adding the feed address to a feed aggregator client (also called a feed reader or a news reader).

The information could be blog entries, news headlines, or audio or video files. RSS documents usually contain complete or summarized text, metadata, and author and publishing information.

There are some distinct advantages to using RSS. Instead of visiting the individual websites, RSS feeds can help provide users with updates and information from different sites in one convenient place. For example, instead of visiting 30 websites every day, I just open my feed aggregator and hit the update button, and I get the latest published writings or media from those blogs or news sites I’m subscribed to.

With RSS, subscribing doesn’t need email! You won’t be asked to give away your email address to any blog or site, and that site won’t be able to sell your data to anyone. RSS just simply visits or opens the blog’s RSS file and checks for new writings or media, and will show it to you in a human-readable way.

Just like how you read this blog post on your web browser, but RSS gives you ability to read everything on your own computer without being forced to open my blog.

Sample of a feed aggregator program (Liferea), featuring Chris Wiegman‘s blog post.

So what is Atom?

“The Atom Syndication Format is an XML language used for web feeds, while the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub or APP) is a simple HTTP-based protocol for creating and updating web resources.” That was Wikipedia. In human terms, Atom is basically RSS with extra steps.

I personally prefer Atom feeds over RSS ones because Atom benefits from on-going innovation and is a standard. The Atom Syndication Format was published as an IETF proposed standard in RFC 4287 in December 2005, and the Atom Publishing Protocol was published as RFC 5023 two years later, in October 2007.

While the RSS vocabulary has a mechanism to indicate a human language for the feed, there is no way to specify a language for individual items or text elements. Atom, on the other hand, uses the standard xml:lang attribute to make it possible to specify a language context for every piece of human-readable content in the feed.

Also, the Atom working group chose to use timestamps formatted according to the rules specified by RFC 3339 (which is a subset of ISO 8601, my favorite time format).

How to use it really?

Subscribing to blog feeds may be the easiest thing you can do with your computer. First thing you need is a feed aggregator program. I use Liferea, which is a free (libre) program. There are a lot of other programs you can install. Thunderbird and Evolution email clients come with a built-in feed aggregator. If you use Nextcloud, the Nextcloud News app is super cool. Another suggestion is Akregator which is developed by KDE.

Second, you need to go to blogs or news sites you like and grab their RSS or Atom feed URLs. They usually provide their URLs somewhere in their site, possibly using the “subscribe” or similar phrases. An easy way to detect feed URLs is using web browser add-ons. I use Feed Indicator add-on on my Firefox-based browser. You can search similar terms to find more add-ons.

Third, you should copy the link of the RSS or Atom feed and paste it in your feed aggregator program new subscription form, and hit subscribe or OK or whatever it is. You’ll find out.

That’s it. You can now ask your program to update the feeds to get latest published writings or media on your favorite blogs or sites.

As you see in the picture, murder rate in U.S. has a direct relationship with use of the Internet Explorer. Judging based on the picture and stats provided in it, I can assume using Firefox decreases the murder rate in U.S. and is helpful for people’s security and health.

You could say this is bullshit, but I presented stats and you can’t prove what I’m saying is wrong. You may say it’s completely unrelated and there are many many other really influential factors about amount of murder, but I can simply deny all the facts you present and stick with my own stats and judgement.

You can’t convince me, I have the stats, I have all those articles presented with these stats, and I can see the relationship between them. The lack of proper knowledge and reasoning in me will prevent me from having a proper discussion or debate with you.

The problem with many of us who enter endless discussions is that we’re filled with wrong set of ideas about the discussion and the person we’re debating. We don’t accept any fact or idea unless it supports our mindset. We don’t accept anything that may suggest we’re wrong.

We pick sides and we get filled with ideas of people on our side, while we can’t see anything on the other side(s). I don’t know what is that, pride, false confidence, desire for power and dominance, or else, but I can see that in myself and many many other people, and it’s wrong.

Maybe one day we change this, or maybe we don’t. Whatever we do, I’m sure ones we can trust and talk to won’t relate murder rate with Internet Explorer, or maybe they will?

I’m not sure which variant of COVID I got. For past two weeks, I’ve been experiencing worst feelings I’ve ever known. I was/am constantly tired, full of pain and unable to taste or smell stuff. I’ve been hospitalized for past four days and it’s the first day I’m off of hospital.

I’m better now. I got Remdesivir as medical treatment and doctors took a good care of me. Currently, I get tired after few minutes of activity but doctors say it’s normal. They ask me to drink liquids a lot, specially juice and water, and get Vitamin C.

They also asked me to get rest a lot and eat food (even if I’m not hungry because of the virus) because it’s essential to regain my energy.

One thing that helped me a lot during this time was my health insurance. My previous insurance was expired starting this year (Persian Jalali calendar) and I was not insured. The previous one was from family company but starting this year I was not eligible for it and I forgot to get public insurance until I was about to get hospitalized.

However, lucky us, there’s a great insurance system in this country. Every person is eligible to get medically insured by government. There are different types of insurance and people can choose between them, paying different fees based on your need but the basic plan which covers all public hospitals is free.

I signed up for the basic plan the day before I went to hospital and my insurance started the day I went to the hospital. All my bills were covered by government and I paid only 20% of the costs because of the insurance. The treatment was expensive and I would’ve face some difficulties paying all the bills without insurance.

Many people are facing a lot of difficulties during these times. The economic situation in whole world is pretty messed up and many are unemployed, facing trouble to live a normal life yet to be able to pay for expensive treatments for COVID.

I always advocated for public health insurance from government. I don’t care how some rich people may oppose it or how some people throw shitty “economic” reasons in the conversation but everybody deserves health insurance and nobody should be forced to pay a lot of money to get taken care of in hospital. Nobody should be full of stress about whether one can pay for one’s health or not.

I am proud that I live in a country with public health insurance and I will encourage everyone to vote for such system if there’s none where one lives. It’s basic human right and it’s needed for all.

Who you see in the video is Antony John Blinken‎, United States’ secretary of state, who apparently doesn’t know who is the former president of Afghanistan.

In the video, he says he’s been talking to President Karzai, instead of Ghani. Hamed Karzai was one of the former presidents of Afghanistan, long ago.

These are the people who are deciding for us. Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. are all highly influential of USA’s politics and these people. These are the people sitting in front of negotiation boards, war councils, so-called democracy committees, human rights watches, and everything else.

They have no clue of what is happening to people, they don’t feel the pain, they don’t face any consequences, and they have no understanding of the destruction they cause, yet they are deciding for us.

Check this video:

This is an Afghan/Australian citizen, captured and beaten by Taliban in Kabul airport, recorded this video few moments before his death. He talks to the Talibs saying “if I was fully Australian, you would’ve respected me but now, because I talk Persian, you beat me…”

In his last sentences, he says he’s Australian and then… death.

These were only two of the thousands of videos of crimes against humanity, happening daily in our region here. Just two videos, less than 1 minute.

There’s news that the Germans in Afghanistan evacuated beer cans but failed to bring Afghan people and employees. When you check the priorities of governments and those in power, you understand more about how the world is being controlled and how those in power feel about people.

There are pictures of a C-17 airplane full of people running for their lives. Many got into the plane and many were left behind but the more saddening part is that there were seats for dogs but no place for more people who were in danger of death.

Taliban finally occupied the whole Afghanistan, well except for Panjshir where Ahmad Masoud, son of Ahmad Shah Masoud the popular guerilla, is holding resistance. They are promising a different Taliban but we all know that is just lies. They keep killing everybody, discriminating against women, enslaving children, and forcing their ideologies on people.

Taliban is no different than any other terrorist group or government. They are currently seeking for global acceptance so they lie. They use newly available resources to them, such as country-wide television, for propaganda and facade.

Now, in this situation, other countries are listing their priorities and in those priorities there seems to be no place for people. They are thinking about natural resources in Afghanistan, drugs, guns, businesses, military industry, etc. The question is, where is the people in those lists?

Whenever we hear politicians talking about the situation in the region, we hear them talking about the good for people and how they’re fighting for human rights and everybody, but when we check their actions, there’s only good for them themselves and the governments, their businesses. Why is that?

We people get manipulated a lot, and maybe we do something about it. The result of us being manipulated sometimes is to pay more taxes or be restricted in some ways, but the result of Afghan people being manipulated is them being killed.

Priorities. We need to check and sort our priorities RIGHT.

The Taliban, a terrorist group in Afghanistan, is now occupying the whole Afghanistan. As of today, they occupied 17 provincial capitals, including Afghanistan’s second largest city Kandahar. Taliban are famous for their cruelty and savagery.

Many Afghans ran away from them to the city of Kabul, the capital, and many ran to neighbor countries like Iran. I’ve heard the border guards of Iran accepted the refugees kindly but there’s reports that some soldiers mistreated the refugees and beat them.

Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary wrote Thursday on Twitter that he had been in frequent communication with terrified city residents, including a shopkeeper called Haji Abdul Hamid.

“People are scared. There is fear. There is chaos in the city,” Abdul Hamid told him. The shopkeeper said he managed to get his family out, but left behind his home and business, fleeing only with some cash and clothing.

It seems that the Afghan army is incapable of defending the country and the people’s forces are not capable of fighting the Taliban. There are horrible news, like women (and underage girls) being forced to marry Taliban forces.

Like always, nobody seems to care about Middle East and no international force is helping the people. United States army, which was there for decades, is now leaving the country and Biden says it’s Afghans job to fight with terrorists. It is true, but surprising that it comes from those who wrecked the country in the first place.

A year and a half since U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad brokered a peace agreement between the United States and Taliban leaders, there is no peace in Afghanistan and new so-called peace talks are being held in Doha, Qatar. At the talks in Doha, officials issued a statement urging an end to attacks on cities and “reiterated that they will not recognize any government in Afghanistan that is imposed through the use of military force.”

In Washington, the Pentagon announced plans to deploy 3 thousand troops to Kabul airport only to oversee the evacuation of dozens of staff from the U.S. Embassy. But as the Taliban’s military campaign builds momentum, some foreign governments may choose to accept the new reality on the ground and reach their own separate accommodation with the group.

Specially in Iran, Afghanistan’s western neighbor, some are trying to show a different and inaccurate picture of the reality of the Taliban. Many try to portray the Taliban as different from the past and different from the terrorists they are.

Yesterday, Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, an Iranian Sunni cleric who is regarded as a “spiritual leader for Iran’s Sunni population”, said Taliban is part of Afghanistan and should be accepted, and that Taliban wants to install real Islam and have god’s victory behind them.

Some journalists also reported that Iran’s government officials asked them to avoid using “savage” and similar terms for Taliban.

The situation is very saddening. Afghanistan needs urgent international action, and the Taliban should be rejected at any cost and never get accepted. No matter how much of the country they occupy, they are a terrorist group and should never be accepted.

Apple’s new controversial feature “protections for children” opens a back door in your iPhone. The feature is controversial not because it protects children, which is very needed and good practice, but because it chooses a wrong way to do so.

Apple has explained its privacy and security practices in its proposed back door but at the end of the day, it’s a back door, and there’s no such thing as “only-good-guys back-door”.

Many people are angry about it and many are already campaigning to ask Apple reversing its decisions. A very known one, Apple Privacy Letter, is a campaign supported by famous EFF, Privacy Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and many others is asking people to sign the petition on GitHub and says “Apple’s proposal introduces a backdoor that threatens to undermine fundamental privacy protections for all users of Apple products.”

I don’t use Apple products. They’re proprietary and against computer user freedom. Instead, currently, I use a distribution of Android operating system named LineageOS. I’m not going to sign any campaign or beg Apple to respect my privacy.

When it comes to privacy, Apple is not a hero. It wasn’t long ago that Apple turned over iCloud data to Chinese government. Apple was not a privacy hero then, and is not a privacy hero now. They are very good at marketing and selling products, but they’re not, at all, a hero of privacy practices.

I agree, Apple’s privacy practices are much better than proprietary Android manufacturers, but that’s not enough. Respecting people is not giving them some privacy. As long as Apple is controlling everything and doesn’t give people full control and right over their devices, including software freedom and right to repair, they’re not a hero in anything but violating people’s rights and freedoms.

Many mobile operating systems and devices are not easy to use, I fully agree. GNU+Linux phones are not very suitable for daily use and Android devices may have some problems such as accessibility issues, but the real answer to, the real solution of, this kind of controversies is not to beg Apple or anyone to respect us, but is to respect ourselves by running free software and privacy-respecting operating systems, and those are not made by Apple or any other proprietor.

You may say free software also has bugs and insecurities, free programs is not perfect. Yes, that is true. However, the difference between free and proprietary software in this respect is the handling of the bugs: free software users are able to study the program and/or fix the bugs they find, often in communities as they are able to share the program, while proprietary program users are forced to rely on the program’s developer for fixes.

If the developer does not care to fix the problem — often the case for embedded software and old releases — the users are sunk. But if the developer does send a corrected version, it may contain new malicious functionalities as well as bug fixes.

I urge you to answer to what Apple is going to do by installing and running a free operating system. Put yourself in control, and run software in which you can run freely, study, share, modify, and share your modifications. Free software empowers users and is the best answer for any situation, specially in ones like what we’re facing with Apple right now.

A controversial law which many believe will lead the country to block, censor, and shut down the internet was passed today in Iran’s parliament. The law, named “Preserving the Rights of Users in Cyberspace” was passed as 121 of 204 voted yes, while 74 voted no.

It is believed, and by experience seems to be true, that the point and goal of this law is to limit internet messengers and social networks, specially WhatsApp and Instagram, as they’re most-used social and communication tools, and then ultimately shut down internet, limiting it to sites and networks located inside the country. This way the government can have full control over what people say, hear, do, or share.

While I condemn the use of any proprietary app, I can’t agree to any kind of censorship. Whether it’s proprietary or free (libre), it doesn’t matter for me today because what people use should be up to them and nobody, absolutely nobody, shouldn’t be able to force people use anything they don’t like, for any purpose.

According to this law, social networks and messengers like Instagram will be blocked inside the country if they don’t assign a representative and according to article 17 of the law, their bandwidth/speed can be reduced too much that using them would be impossible practically.

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks in Iran and Iranian citizens do economic activities such as sales of goods and supply services. Iran’s officials, including Ali Khamenei, also use this social network. Mr. Khamenei recently said that the country’s cyberspace is abandoned and officials should do something about it.

Blocking social networks and messengers has a history in the country. Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Signal, and many Mastodon instances are blocked and people are forced to use internet censorship circumvention tools.

People are against this law. I can say the majority of people are concerned about the results of this and are concerned about their businesses, social life, communications, and privacy. While I don’t use any of those proprietary apps and services, internet being limited affects me too. Even if it wasn’t affecting me, I would still oppose it because it’s against people’s rights and freedoms.

I read a post on Bill Gates’ blog about polio. It talks about how vaccines helped us survive the disease and easily walk. Thousands of people were infected with polio during time and lost ability to walk or even stand. The suggested cure for polio was a metal tank, an iron lung, a mechanical respirator.

Polio attacks the body’s nervous system, crippling patients. In the worst cases, the disease paralyzes their respiratory muscles and makes it difficult for them to breathe, sometimes resulting in death.

Using changes in air pressure, the iron lung pulls air in and out of a patient’s lungs, allowing them to breathe and stay alive. During the height of the polio epidemic in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s, rows of iron lungs filled hospital wards to treat thousands of polio patients, most of them children.

Today, we don’t need iron lungs anymore as there’s an effective vaccine for it. Every person now gets vaccinated against polio and, since 1988, the world decided to eradicate the disease. Polio cases dropped since then by nearly 100 percent.

Before vaccines, more than 350 thousand people were infected in a year, facing horrible consequences and difficulties in their life but now there’s fewer than 200 cases yearly only in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, in which extremists force people to avoid vaccines using religious propaganda.

Today, some people are spreading false information about vaccines claiming a vaccine is a conspiracy to turn people to something other than a human or vaccines are tools to impose surveillance on people. Of course some vaccines are not effective, we’ve seen them, but to induce that vaccines in general are harming people, that makes no sense.

I’ve seen the effect of vaccines on people. From influenza to polio to tetanus and Meningococcal vaccines, I’ve seen how they help people live and be healthy and I’ve seen how without them people are harmed and face difficulties, even death.

I’m not yet vaccinated against coronavirus (COVID-19) but I will be when it’s time for people my age. My grandparents and some relatives are vaccinated. They didn’t face any aftereffects. One of my relatives was vaccinated while his family were not, and I’ve seen how all of his family members got sick but he were OK. All of them recovered, happily.

Vaccines are results of scientific works, and I believe in science. People say science is always changing and is not reliable but that’s one reason I support it. Science always changes and gets updated for better. That’s why I rely on it. When it comes to vaccines, science is proven to be always working to get better, from iron lungs to polio vaccines, it’s always working to help people.


Part of this post is taken from gatesnotes.com. Check their terms of use/copyright notice.