Persisting a VPN connection on Linux

Here is a small service that I wrote, mostly to learn about systemd but also to fix an annoying omission in desktop Linux installations.

The service will monitor the status of a given VPN connection using nmcli, and reconnect if the connection ends for any reason.

I’ve been running this for a few days now, and have experienced a near-seamless VPN connection, including after suspend or reboot.

Source code

Uber’s never-ending tracking of your movements.

When you hail a black cab or book a private hire taxi, you can be reasonably sure that your travel plans are not being tracked. For example, simply by phoning while withholding your caller ID and settling with the driver using cash, your anonymity will be largely maintained.

Uber, in comparison, offers its customers no alternative but to have their movements tracked in great detail, and at every possible opportunity. When you book an Uber, your booking information and payment details are tracked, as is the route of your journey and the exact time and location of its completion. All of this data is associated with your identity and stored for an indefinite period. Furthermore, as Uber is a privately-held US company there is essentially no way to force the company to have any kind of public accountability.

Now, with the latest “upgrade” to their app Uber will now use your phone’s location services to track where you go for up to five minutes after you leave the cab too. If you’re an iOS user, Uber have ensured that the only way to disable this behaviour is to disable location services completely – an action that is highly unlikely to be taken by the vast majority of Uber customers.

Ostensibly this is to “improve pickups, dropoffs, customer service and to enhance safety”, but this is a typically woolly phrase that tells us nothing concrete, and takes almost nothing off the table. Another reason why I have never used, and never plan to use, Uber’s service.

London must not allow hate to be normalised.

This evening, I travelled home as usual on the eastbound Central line.

As the train left Stratford, things took a turn for the unexpected.

A fellow passenger turned and started talking to me, seemingly at random. Like any seasoned tube commuter, I immediately started to curse my lack of defensive earphones, and readied myself for an unwanted exchange of small-talk.

The next thing I knew, the words “bloody foreigners” had passed her lips as if it was a completely acceptable thing, and I suddenly felt like I was going to explode.

As if Brexit wasn’t traumatic enough, the last fortnight has seen the election of a well-documented fascist and racist as American president-elect.

For those amongst us who have long repressed toxic views of many flavours, the combination of this victory with months of dangerous, deeply offensive rhetoric amounts to nothing more than self-validation.

And our so-called leaders’ pathetic posturing towards Trump does nothing but compound this further.

I’ve lived in London for seven years. Of course racism has never been far beneath the surface, but I’ve never overheard a racist comment on the tube before now. This might be too small a sample to discern a trend, but I fear that is exactly what we are going to see.

In the past I might have tutted and let the comment pass, but my blood boiled and I informed the woman as politely but loudly as I could that I found her comments deeply offensive, to the general murmured agreement of several nearby commuters.

With our political class behaving as if it’s business as usual in the world, grass-roots resistance to prejudice and hatred is the only hope we have. If you overhear throwaway bigotry being aired in public as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, please don’t let it go unchallenged either.