[tor-reports] Griffin's November

Griffin Boyce griffin at cryptolab.net
Mon Dec 1 13:00:05 UTC 2014

What I did in November:

* Updated Cupcake's website to include more information on the myriad of 
projects under that umbrella. [1]
* Released a new version of Cupcake (1.2).
* Submitted Cupcake to Opera for review. [2]

* Released Stormy one-click hidden service installer (beta), and 
requested feedback (and then incorporated that feedback). [3]
* In discussions with an organization that would like to offer hidden 
services in-house.

* Investigated funding (see below).
* Wireframed a redesign of Satori's user interface.
* Tallied the number of downloads via Satori, which came out to 
approximately 128,000 (88k trackable).

* Currently considering a Readability[4] fallback mode (as default) if 
there are no relevant stylesheets available for a given page.  
Readability needs to be tested with JAWS first.
* Sketched user interfaces. Currently leaning towards single-button 
on/off, with minimal options.

* Worked with Kim Burton to rewrite documentation for Cupcake and 
Satori.  She did a fantastic job =)
* Visited Nick for a few days to discuss hidden service improvements, 
usability, and clarifying torrc options in the manual.
* Outlined the impending total rewrite of the Tor FAQ to be more 
user-centric.  It's currently thirty printed pages (presented as one web 
page), and the frequent feedback from users and trainers is that it's 
useless and confusing.
* Took on Lunar's task of rewriting the Tor Browser User Manual while he 
is away.

[NPdev Summit]
   I attended Aspiration Tech's NPdev Summit in Oakland at the invitation 
of Gunner.  The crowd was from very diverse backgrounds and interests, 
and the trip was extremely productive. =)  But I was not aware in 
advance that I'd be on the receiving end of a large number of questions 
about Tor, its funding, its hiring practices, other people's twitter 
accounts, and press strategy writ large.  This led to a series of very 
interesting (and cordial) discussions with lots of different 

[The Great Funding Debate]
   During a Q&A at NPdev, I proposed the polarizing notion that "applying 
for government grants is always bad".  This turned out to not be very 
polarizing, despite the fact that most in the room do not work on 
projects which take USG funding.  The most common government funder in 
the room seemed to be Sida, which was also interesting.  Many 
discussions were had around diversifying funding, and how difficult that 
is for smaller projects.  ("Smaller" being $1m<$3m annual budget).

   From time to time I conduct research on funding streams and what I 
find is not ~particularly~ encouraging or helpful.  Government funders 
like Sida and DRL still offer the majority of funding for 
privacy-related technology projects.  EU funding is still comparatively 
difficult to obtain for some reason, while European Commission 
affiliated people occasionally complain to me that they'd like more 
projects to apply for funding.  Small foundation funders frequently 
don't feel they have the technical resources to select appropriate grant 
recipients (particularly <$100k).  Small projects tend to be entirely 
self-funded, when award floors are far above the project's budget.

   The trend among funders is to frame all grants as deliverable-based 
contracts, which is problematic for nonprofits, but which makes sense 
for funders.  Funders prefer this because it makes project tracking and 
evaluation easier.  The contract model hurts nonprofits that focus on 
rapid development as tasks must be planned months in advance, or be 
under the contracted deliverables in some way.  For many nonprofits, 
unfunded (but necessary) work winds up being performed with donated time 
by volunteers and staff alike.  Contrast this with NSF's funding model, 
which requests a set of highly-specific aims and distributes funding as 

   And in at least one case, the contracting model was cited by the IRS 
as a reason to reject an organization's 501c3 application.  The overall 
funding ecosystem should be overhauled.

* I'm more or less avoiding email.
* Over the course of the month, I took several days off to make art.
* Brainstormed ideas for games, and played around with Construct 2 for 
rapid development.
* I applied to Nintendo's game development program.

What I plan to do in December:
* More puns.
* More paint.
* Rough draft of a torrc creator following discussions with Micah Lee 
and others.
* Participate in the next Ludum Dare game jam. [5]
* Test Readability-adjusted pages with JAWS in Windows 7.
* Do a first-pass rewrite of the Tor FAQ.
* Rewrite the Tor Browser User Manual.
* Release Stormy's wizard on December 15th.

[1] http://cupcakebridge.com/about/
[2] https://twitter.com/abditum/status/538663885541486592
[4] https://code.google.com/p/arc90labs-readability/
[5] http://ludumdare.com/compo/about-ludum-dare/

"The apparent safety of modern life is just a shallow skin atop
an ocean of blood, guts and bricked devices."
~Pearce Delphin

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