Newsletter 2022-04-22: Phones, social media, a massive load of free books and a music tip.

Newsletter 2022-04-22: Phones, social media, a massive load of free books and a music tip.

Hi there,

I've been scrutinizing my privacy online and my social media presence (in so far as I have one), giving this newsletter a bit of a dystopian theme. I didn't intent for it to be so, but apparently it's in the air. Scroll down to find an extravaganza of free books in the dystopian sci-fi / fantasy space. And of course, there's a fitting music tip at the end!

On the writing front, I've started chapter 1 of my next book. Stay tuned as I reveal details while the work progresses. Right now, I'm still figuring it out myself, eager to find out where my characters will take me. I'm looking to expand my beta reader team as well, to pore through the early pre-publication drafts and give their honest feedback. Interested? Hit reply and let's talk!


Over the past decade, I've been increasingly creeped out by big tech spying on me through my mobile phone. So that's why, a couple of years ago, I abandoned the big mobile phone eco-systems (Android and iOs) in favour of Sailfish OS, an after-market phone operating system spun-off from Nokia by Finnish company Jolla.

Sailfish has been serving me well. It suffers from the curse many niche operating systems do, though; there aren't as many apps available. However, there are enough to make for a functional phone and with the Android emulation layer (without the googly spy-ware included) it can run many Android apps. Sure, there are some rough edges, but it's been my daily driver ever since. I even created a native task-management app myself for the platform.

However, recent developments (Jolla is largely owned by Russian investors) have forced me to re-evaluate. I can't, in all good conscience, develop an app that makes a platform more usable that in the end benefits its Russian shareholders. I don't want to support in any way, however small and insignificant, the war criminals currently exhibiting monstrous and inhumane behaviour in Ukraine.

So, I've decided to abandon Sailfish and look for another phone operating system that offers the ease of use we've come to expect but that comes with a lack of the spyware we've sadly also have come to expect. One of those is Ubuntu Touch. I have an early version of that running on a very old phone (a One Plus One), and newer versions promise the capability of running Android apps. However, it only supports older, discontinued phones that lack a bit in the specifications department and can be hard to track down on second hand marketplaces. Another candidate was the Pine Phone, designed from the ground up with privacy in mind. I'm very interested, but as a daily driver, I'm not sure I want to take the plunge on that just yet.

So today, I've picked up a Fairphone 4 with e/OS (marketed as the Murena Fairphone 4). It's a pricey phone, I'll admit that. But it's been designed to be repairable, so I intend to keep this one on me for years to come (try that with your latest Android or iOS device, which will made obsolete by the manufacturer within 2 years of release). e/OS, is 'a complete, fully “deGoogled”, mobile ecosystem'. By default it can sync your data with the e foundation's 'ecloud', but it has brilliant Nextcloud integration out of the box, so I will be syncing all my contacts, notes, calendars, pictures and so on to my private cloud spinning away right here at home under the desk I'm writing this email on. Just the way I like it.

I'll let you know how I get on with that! And I'm curious to know: are you in the market for a phone that serves your purposes instead of those of the manufacturer's shareholders? Are you using an alternative to the 'big two'? Hit reply on this email and let me know.

Social media

They would democratise journalism, but they've become just another set of toys for the powers that be. Advertising is just one of the more innocent exponents of that, but remember how Putin used Facebook to mess with the 2016 USA presidential elections? And right now, techno-charlatan Elon Musk, tired of having his suggestive tweets deleted from Twitter, is threatening to outright buy the social network so that he can continue his manipulation of stock prices to increase his personal wealth. And the members of these networks, normal people who gain nothing from any of this, are unwitting pawns for them to play with, willingly spreading misinformation and lies without realising they are being used to serve the hidden agenda's of the moguls

So you can see why I am hesitant to engage in social media. However, it seems, these days, as an author, it is mandatory to have a social media presence. My biggest presence (if you could call it that) is on LinkedIn. I did register with twitter, although I'm not really using it yet. I'm thinking I should be on instagram too, but that's facebook-owned, which scares me off. I'm curious: what social media are you on? Where are the authors you follow?

Mid-April Dystopian Fantasy/Sci-Fi Giveaway

Dillapidated warehouse with text 'Mid-April Dystopian Fantasy/SciFi Spectacular! April 18th to May 17th.
Find 27 free dystopian-themed books and stories all in one page. I'm sure there is something there that will entertain you, so head over there and get them all before the promotion ends. The books are available until May 17th.

Get free books!

Music Tip

White wireframe pyramid with eye in the top against black background

(bandcamp, spotify)

This album by Squadra Blanco — one of many aliases of The Hague, the Netherlands based electronic artist Legowelt — is an all-time favourite of mine. Especially the title song — Night of the Illuminati — with it's dark groove, bass-heavy ambience and commanding lyrics makes a perfect sound track for your dystopian novel of choice. The whole album, with track titles such as Theme from the Forgotten Cable Car and Purification the City Shall Burn Tonight, breathes an atmosphere of cyberpunkian despair.

Legowelt is in possession of an impressive array of synthesizers, both vintage and contemporary, and he's not afraid to use them. So while you're there on Spotify or Bandcamp, make sure to explore more of his oeuvre if electro is your thing. And you might as well check out other artists from the Viewlexx label, many of them also based in The Hague. Some absolutely trippin' music in there. And if that has whetted your appetite, make sure to check out One of the best internet radio stations out there, if you ask me.