My personal guide to spending time well when using electronic devices

When I use technology I try to use it and not let it use me.
That means:

  1. Conscience over fanciness when buying a product
    When I buy a tech product I try to use my spending power to change the industry for the better by buying from companies that align with my principles instead of supporting the status quo that exploits people. Products shouldn’t support wars or contain planned obsolescence. That’s why I own a Fairphone (conflict-free, good working conditions, repairable, …) and a why! computer (repairable).

  2. Opt out of spyware
    With most hardware and software nowadays the customer is not the user, but the product. We are data mines who get exploited by tools we are stupid enough to pay for instead of getting paid for.
    I avoid proprietary software as much as possible not mainly for my privacy, but simply because I don’t want to support big corporations by letting them have control over my data.
    On my Fairphone I operate Lineage OS without GAPPS and only install apps from F-Droid (only exception is BOINC - see below) and only 2 of them are marked by F-Droid with anti-features.
    On my why! computer I run Ubuntu and try to only install FLOSS apps.
    For additional security I use apps and addons to block shady web-requests. E.g. I use the hosts file (on mobile via AdAway) to block all urls related to G%§$e, FB, Apple, Amazon & co as well as most social media sites.

  3. Using my devices’ downtime for good
    Instead of e.g. letting my devices mine cryptocurrencies for personal gain I use free Processor GHzs and RAM GBs to contribute to the World Community Grid via the BOINC app.

  4. Using my activities for good
    Instead of letting proprietary apps on my phone track my activities I collect data and contribute it to libre projects like Mozilla Location Services (via Mozilla Stumbler) or OpenStreetMap (via StreetComplete).

  5. Using my downtime for good
    Instead of reaching for my device to play a game when I’m bored I try to reach for it to do something constructive. E.g. I am active in some online forums where I help people with their issues and participate in interesting discussions or I contribute data to libre databases like MusicBrainz or Wikidata.

I have to admit the last point is the one I have the most trouble with following all the time. Especially when I’m on my mobile I sometimes do play a game instead of doing something useful - mainly because I don’t know of a lot of apps that can be used in any circumstance to contribute to something useful. There is Stringlate to help translate FLOSS apps, but I haven’t yet managed to submit data with it and there is GalaxyZoo to help classify galaxies, but the F-Droid app doesn’t work for me currently.
I’ll try to find more apps here, but the problem is: If they are on F-Droid I probably already know them and if they are not (yet) on F-Droid I’ll probably not trust/use them.


This is a great write-up @PaulaFairphone! Very much like your list.

I think I may add a Navigation section to my awesome-humane-tech list, and add OSM and StreetComplete (though I don’t want to duplicate existing ‘AlternativeToGoogle’-like lists too much). Didn’t use Mozilla Location Services before, because of some privacy concerns (haven’t checked thoroughly).

Blocking based on hosts file is nice, but not for everyone, if it requires ‘rooting’ the phone (voids warranty). My awesome list has a Trackers section with some more options. Blokada for Android seems a nice one in this regard, but I’m not using it yet.

Edit: I added a number of these resources to List of awesome open-source Humane Tech projects, thank you @PaulaFairphone :slight_smile:

Yeah, that’s true… for not Fairphones. :wink:
If root is an issue then DNS66 is an alternative. I don’t have any experience with it though.

+ Dns66, netguard and blokada from f-droid don’t need root.

Dns66 and Blokada are hosts file based blockers and very light weight.

Netguard is also a firewall that can let user disable net access (separate switches for data 4g and wifi) for both system and user apps. Plus much more advanced settings/features.

I wish I could find an easy yet powerful app like netguard for my Trisquel/Ubuntu GNU/Linux boxes

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Wi-Fi uses multiple parts of the IEEE 802 protocol family and is designed to seamlessly interwork with its wired sibling Ethernet. Devices that can use Wi-Fi technologies include desktops and laptops, smartphones and tablets, smart TVs, printers, digital audio players, digital cameras, cars and drones.