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# /r/Peloton Pre-TDF Survey 2020
Gentlemen, Ladies and those otherwise addressed - we know you've been waiting for a good thing, and the survey results are finally ready! The answers were collected from you all during August 2020 with 1428 unique replies. That's a participation of 0.5% of all subscribers! That's really not too bad, when you keep in mind how popular these kind of surveys are. But we here at /peloton want to show you that this is all about presenting the information in the subreddit to cater better to our audience! Updated after a few hours to include some more historical data the final edit that for some reason wasn't copied properly
Without further ado, let's get cracking on the response
You and Cycling
1. Where do you live?
Largely the same picture as ever, with the US leading the way, the UK in second and then a sliding scale of Europeans countries. Slovenia continues to pick its way up the pile for obvious reasons! World Map to demonstrate
2. What's your age?
Pretty much the same as last year, with the usual reddit demographics of majority 20 somethings dominating.
3. What's your gender?
More normality here for reddit.
4. How much of the men's season do you watch/follow?
March '18 (%)
August '18 (%)
WT Stage races
WT One day races
Non WT Stage races
Non WT One day races
Literally everything I can consume
Whilst GT following may be down (somehow), all the lower level stuff is up, which makes sense considering how desperate we have been for any racing during the season shutdown.
5. Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing?
Do you maintain an interest in women's professional road racing?
Still very much a half/half interest in women's cycling on the subreddit.
6. How much of the women's season do you follow?
The following is true for the half of you that follows womens cycling.
Just the biggest televised events
Most of the live televised/delayed coverage stuff
All televised racing
Down to .Pro & beyond
7. How long have you been watching cycling?
Under a year
25 years +
Simplified the years a little this time, but whilst we have a fair number of newbies, most people have picked the sport up since around 2013/14.
8. Do you have like/dislike feelings about WT teams?
Once more, 14.4% of people really don't have feelings on the subject. Of those that do:
So, the most popular team this year is Jumbo-Visma, followed by Quick-Step & Bora-hansgrohe. Least popular are Ineos & UAE. As per usual, no one cares about NTT & CCC, with nearly 81% of users rating NTT as meh. Pretty damning stuff. Lastly, we have the usual historical comparison of how teams have fared over time, normalised to respondents to that question on the survey. Things to note then, firstly that the Astana redemption arc is over, seeing them back in the negative, maybe Fulgsangs spring issues helped aid that? The petrodollar teams of UAE & Bahrain are stubbornly negative too, with Israel keeping up the Katusha negative streak. Meanwhile, at the top end, EF & Jumbo go from strength to strength, whilst some others like Sunweb are sliding over time - their transfer policies no doubt helping that.
10. Do you ride a bike regularly?
No, I don't
Still a fairly small group of racers out of all of us
11. Out of the sports you practice, is cycling your favourite?
A new addition to the survey prompted by a good point last time, just over half of us rate cycling as the favourite sport we actually do.
12. What other sports do you follow?
Association Football / Soccer
Track & Field
Esports (yes, this includes DotA)
Motorsports (Not including F1)
Football always tops the charts, and Formula 1 continues to rank extremely highly among our userbase. Those who have a little following below 5% include Sailing, Fencing, Surfing, Boxing & Ultra-Running. Other cycling disciplines
13. Out of the sports you follow, is cycling your favourite sport?
Good. Makes sense if you hang out here.
14. How often do you participate in a /Peloton Race Thread whilst watching a race?
I always participate in Race Threads during races
I follow Race Threads during races
I often participate in Race Threads during races
I rarely/never participate in Race Threads during races
Slightly less invested than before, reverting back to an older trade.
15. How do you watch Races?
Free Local TV
Desperately scrabbling for Youtube highlights
Paid Streaming services
Year on year, paid streaming services go up - the increasing availability of live content legally continues to improve, and so do the numbers on the survey.
16. Where else do you follow races live (in addition to watching them)?
We can safely say that most of us were wrong about this one. That's not a lot of confidence in Richie Porte either, the man who was to finish on the third spot of the podium. Alexander Foliforov (0,23%) had just a tiny number of votes less, and that man wasn't even in the race.
24. What for you was the defining cycling moment of the previous decade?
We had a lot of brilliant suggestions, but these were the clear five favourites when we tabulated the results.
2018 Giro - Chris Froome Solo Attack
2016 TDF - Chris Froome Running up Ventoux
2019 TDF - Landslides, First Columbian Winner, Pinot's bitter abandon - This was one race for the ages
2016 Paris-Roubaix - Mostly known for Tom Boonen losing. Also, some guy called Mat won.
2019 AGR - MvdP with his incredible catch-up for the win.
Honorable mentions go to the Giro 2018, which had Tom Dumoulin winning, and of almost identical fascination to many of you - Tom Dumoulin going on someones porta-potty in the middle of the stage. Little bit of recency bias perhaps, but that's better than ignoring that this was for the last decade and firmly insisting Tom Boonens 2005 WC win was the biggest thing. Special shoutout to almost all the Danes present in /peloton who voted for Mads Pedersens WC win last year. It's an understandable reaction.
25. Any suggestions for the Survey?
Could you add a section on rider popularity, same as for the teams?
Ask how people became interested in cycling
Ask how people watch cycling (e.g. TV Channels/Streaming etc.)
If you could be an animal for one day, which one would it be?
Would you wear a facemask while watching a cycling race live?
Which race do you look forward to see the most every year?
Favourite riders of your own country?
How many bikes do you own?
We promise to feature one of these suggestions in the next survey Suggestions
Always have a “no” or “not interested” option
We will try to implement this. But it will also skew results. About the Survey
More questions about womens cycling would be nice.
Less questions about womens cycling
The subscribers are torn on Women's cycling, nearly a 50/50 split there as the survey showed - The moderators at /peloton are firmly in the "more cycling is better" basket, and we will continue to get as good coverage of womens cycling as possible.
Are you trying to give the moderators PTSD? Because this is how you give the moderators PTSD.
26. Any suggestions for the sub?
More stationary fitness bike related content
ALSJFLKAJSLDKJAØLSJKD:M:CSAM)=#/()=#=/")¤=/)! - Your moderator seems to be out of function. Please stand by while we find you a new moderator
The Weekly threads are great for these types of questions, where several people can contribute and build up once it is understood which information is relevant.
Allow limited doping talk in result threads.
Our experience is that "limited" will never be so, if we're going to moderate it fairly. Moderating is not a popularity contest, but believe it or not, we're actually trying to be as fair as possible. and for that, we need rules that are not subjective. Unless you have a stationary exercise bike.
Written original content is always great - recaps, old race reviews or interesting rider bios, etc.
More non-race threads
Try and do some AMAs with pro cyclists, coaches, trainers, etc
All of these are good suggestions, but remember that all of you can also contribute - The mods are sometimes stretched thin, specially in the middle of hectic race schedules. It's easier if one of you has a way to contact a rider or a person of interest and can facilitate the initial communication.
Standardize major event thread titles for better search.
We've worked on this! The Official Standard is now as follows: [Race Thread] 202x Race Name – Stage X (Class)
A wiki that explains how races work. Roles of diff riders/support staff. History of racing.
This sounds as a nice community project for the after-season, and hopefully many of you subscribers can contribute.
Tidy up the sidebar!
Come with suggestions on how to tidy it up!
Don't assume everyone reading is a man, "thanks, bro". But that goes for all of Reddit. I know you can't fix that.
We have chastised all the mods. They are now perfectly trained in gender-neutral pronouns. Be well, fellow being.
Have a buy you a beer link for the mods for all the work you do.
If we can implement this for hard liquor, you know we will.
Remove the spoiler rule during grand tours. It kills the hype.
The spoiler rule is one that is discussed frequently - in general - some users absolutely hate it, but a majority love it. Perhaps we'll include a question in the next survey to see how this divide is exactly.
Lose the spoiler tag when it is for serious things; Lambrecht death, Jakobsen fall.
We actually do - whenever there is a matter of life or death, we think public information is more important than a spoiler rule. But at the same time, we try to collect all the different posts into one main thread, so to keep things focused and letting very speculative posts meet with hard evidence from other sources.
Less downvoting of opinions that differ from the fashionable consensus.
This is a tough ask of the internet. While we can agree that voting should be done accordingly to what insights they bring, not subjective opinions, it is very hard to turn that type of thinking around. We can ask of you, our subscribers, that you please think twice about hitting that downvote button, and only do so because of you think a post is factually incorrect, not because it differs with your own subjective opinion. That's the primary analysis of the survey! Feel free to contribute with how you experience things here!
Forex Signals Reddit: top providers review (part 1)
Forex Signals - TOP Best Services. Checked!
To invest in the financial markets, we must acquire good tools that help us carry out our operations in the best possible way. In this sense, we always talk about the importance of brokers, however, signal systems must also be taken into account. The platforms that offer signals to invest in forex provide us with alerts that will help us in a significant way to be able to carry out successful operations. For this reason, we are going to tell you about the importance of these alerts in relation to the trading we carry out, because, without a doubt, this type of system will provide us with very good information to invest at the right time and in the best assets in the different markets. financial Within this context, we will focus on Forex signals, since it is the most important market in the world, since in it, multiple transactions are carried out on a daily basis, hence the importance of having an alert system that offers us all the necessary data to invest in currencies. Also, as we all already know, cryptocurrencies have become a very popular alternative to investing in traditional currencies. Therefore, some trading services/tools have emerged that help us to carry out successful operations in this particular market. In the following points, we will detail everything you need to know to start operating in the financial markets using trading signals: what are signals, how do they work, because they are a very powerful help, etc. Let's go there!
What are Forex Trading Signals?
https://preview.redd.it/vjdnt1qrpny51.jpg?width=640&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=bc541fc996701e5b4dd940abed610b59456a5625 Before explaining the importance of Forex signals, let's start by making a small note so that we know what exactly these alerts are. Thus, we will know that the signals on the currency market are received by traders to know all the information that concerns Forex, both for assets and for the market itself. These alerts allow us to know the movements that occur in the Forex market and the changes that occur in the different currency pairs. But the great advantage that this type of system gives us is that they provide us with the necessary information, to know when is the right time to carry out our investments.
In other words, through these signals, we will know the opportunities that are presented in the market and we will be able to carry out operations that can become quite profitable.
Profitability is precisely another of the fundamental aspects that must be taken into account when we talk about Forex signals since the vast majority of these alerts offer fairly reliable data on assets. Similarly, these signals can also provide us with recommendations or advice to make our operations more successful.
»Purpose: predict movements to carry out Profitable Operations
In short, Forex signal systems aim to predict the behavior that the different assets that are in the market will present and this is achieved thanks to new technologies, the creation of specialized software, and of course, the work of financial experts. In addition, it must also be borne in mind that the reliability of these alerts largely lies in the fact that they are prepared by financial professionals. So they turn out to be a perfect tool so that our investments can bring us a greater number of benefits.
The best signal services today
We are going to tell you about the 3 main alert system services that we currently have on the market. There are many more, but I can assure these are not scams and are reliable. Of course, not 100% of trades will be a winner, so please make sure you apply proper money management and risk management system.
1. 1000pipbuilder (top choice)
Fast track your success and follow the high-performance Forex signals from 1000pip Builder. These Forex signals are rated 5 stars on Investing.com, so you can follow every signal with confidence. All signals are sent by a professional trader with over 10 years investment experience. This is a unique opportunity to see with your own eyes how a professional Forex trader trades the markets. The 1000pip Builder Membership is ordinarily a signal service for Forex trading. You will get all the facts you need to successfully comply with the trading signals, set your stop loss and take earnings as well as additional techniques and techniques! You will get easy to use trading indicators for Forex Trades, including your entry, stop loss and take profit. Overall, the earnings target per months is 350 Pips, depending on your funding this can be a high profit per month! (In fact, there is by no means a guarantee, but the past months had been all between 600 – 1000 Pips). >>>Know more about 1000pipbuilder Your 1000pip builder membership gives you all in hand you want to start trading Forex with success. Read the directions and wait for the first signals. You can trade them inside your demo account first, so you can take a look at the performance before you make investments real money! Features:
Forex signals sent by email and SMS
Entry price, take profit and stop loss provided
Suitable for all time zones (signals sent over 24 hours)
Digital Derivatives Markets (DDMarkets) have been providing trade alert offerings since May 2014 - fully documenting their change ideas in an open and transparent manner. September 2020 performance report for DD Markets. Their manner is simple: carry out extensive research, share their evaluation and then deliver a trading sign when triggered. Once issued, daily updates on the trade are despatched to members via email. It's essential to note that DDMarkets do not tolerate floating in an open drawdown in an effort to earnings at any cost - a common method used by less professional providers to 'fudge' performance statistics. Verified Statistics: Not independently verified. Price: plans from $74.40 per month. Year Founded: 2014 Suitable for Beginners: Yes, (includes handy to follow trade analysis) VISIT -------
If you are looking or a forex signal service with a reliable (and profitable) music record you can't go previous Joel Kruger and the team at JKonFX. Trading performance file for JKonFX. Joel has delivered a reputable +59.18% journal performance for 2016, imparting real-time technical and fundamental insights, in an extremely obvious manner, to their 30,000+ subscriber base. Considered a low-frequency trader, alerts are only a small phase of the overall JKonFX subscription. If you're searching for hundreds of signals, you may want to consider other options. Verified Statistics: Not independently verified. Price: plans from $30 per month. Year Founded: 2014 Suitable for Beginners: Yes, (includes convenient to follow videos updates). VISIT
The importance of signals to invest in Forex
Once we have known what Forex signals are, we must comment on the importance of these alerts in relation to our operations. As we have already told you in the previous paragraph, having a system of signals to be able to invest is quite advantageous, since, through these alerts, we will obtain quality information so that our operations end up being a true success.
»Use of signals for beginners and experts
In this sense, we have to say that one of the main advantages of Forex signals is that they can be used by both beginners and trading professionals. As many as others can benefit from using a trading signal system because the more information and resources we have in our hands. The greater probability of success we will have. Let's see how beginners and experts can take advantage of alerts:
Beginners: for inexperienced these alerts become even more important since they will thus have an additional tool that will guide them to carry out all operations in the Forex market.
Professionals: In the same way, professionals are also recommended to make use of these alerts, so they have adequate information to continue bringing their investments to fruition.
Now that we know that both beginners and experts can use forex signals to invest, let's see what other advantages they have.
When we dedicate ourselves to working in the financial world, none of us can spend 24 hours in front of the computer waiting to perform the perfect operation, it is impossible. That is why Forex signals are important, because, in order to carry out our investments, all we will have to do is wait for those signals to arrive, be attentive to all the alerts we receive, and thus, operate at the right time according to the opportunities that have arisen. It is fantastic to have a tool like this one that makes our work easier in this regard.
»Carry out profitable Forex operations
These signals are also important, because the vast majority of them are usually quite profitable, for this reason, we must get an alert system that provides us with accurate information so that our operations can bring us great benefits. But in addition, these Forex signals have an added value and that is that they are very easy to understand, therefore, we will have a very useful tool at hand that will not be complicated and will end up being a very beneficial weapon for us.
»Decision support analysis
A system of currency market signals is also very important because it will help us to make our subsequent decisions. We cannot forget that, to carry out any type of operation in this market, previously, we must meditate well and know the exact moment when we will know that our investments are going to bring us profits . Therefore, all the information provided by these alerts will be a fantastic basis for future operations that we are going to carry out.
»Trading Signals made by professionals
Finally, we have to recall the idea that these signals are made by the best professionals. Financial experts who know perfectly how to analyze the movements that occur in the market and changes in prices. Hence the importance of alerts, since they are very reliable and are presented as a necessary tool to operate in Forex and that our operations are as profitable as possible.
What should a signal provider be like?
https://preview.redd.it/j0ne51jypny51.png?width=640&format=png&auto=webp&s=5578ff4c42bd63d5b6950fc6401a5be94b97aa7f As you have seen, Forex signal systems are really important for our operations to bring us many benefits. For this reason, at present, there are multiple platforms that offer us these financial services so that investing in currencies is very simple and fast. Before telling you about the main services that we currently have available in the market, it is recommended that you know what are the main characteristics that a good signal provider should have, so that, at the time of your choice, you are clear that you have selected one of the best systems.
»Must send us information on the main currency pairs
In this sense, one of the first things we have to comment on is that a good signal provider, at a minimum, must send us alerts that offer us information about the 6 main currencies, in this case, we refer to the euro, dollar, The pound, the yen, the Swiss franc, and the Canadian dollar. Of course, the data you provide us will be related to the pairs that make up all these currencies. Although we can also find systems that offer us information about other minorities, but as we have said, at a minimum, we must know these 6.
»Trading tools to operate better
Likewise, signal providers must also provide us with a large number of tools so that we can learn more about the Forex market.
We refer, for example, to technical analysis above all, which will help us to develop our own strategies to be able to operate in this market.
These analyzes are always prepared by professionals and study, mainly, the assets that we have available to invest.
»Different Forex signals reception channels
They must also make available to us different ways through which they will send us the Forex signals, the usual thing is that we can acquire them through the platform's website, or by a text message and even through our email. In addition, it is recommended that the signal system we choose sends us a large number of alerts throughout the day, in order to have a wide range of possibilities.
»Free account and customer service
Other aspects that we must take into account to choose a good signal provider is whether we have the option of receiving, for a limited time, alerts for free or the profitability of the signals they emit to us. Similarly, a final aspect that we must emphasize is that a good signal system must also have excellent customer service, which is available to us 24 hours a day and that we can contact them at through an email, a phone number, or a live chat, for greater immediacy. Well, having said all this, in our last section we are going to tell you which are the best services currently on the market. That is, the most suitable Forex signal platforms to be able to work with them and carry out good operations. In this case, we will talk about ForexPro Signals, 365 Signals and Binary Signals.
Forex Signals Reddit: conclusion
To be able to invest properly in the Forex market, it is convenient that we get a signal system that provides us with all the necessary information about this market. It must be remembered that Forex is a very volatile market and therefore, many movements tend to occur quickly. Asset prices can change in a matter of seconds, hence the importance of having a system that helps us analyze the market and thus know, what is the right time for us to start operating. Therefore, although there are currently many signal systems that can offer us good services, the three that we have mentioned above are the ones that are best valued by users, which is why they are the best signal providers that we can choose to carry out. our investments. Most of these alerts are quite profitable and in addition, these systems usually emit a large number of signals per day with full guarantees. For all this, SignalsForexPro, Signals365, or SignalsBinary are presented as fundamental tools so that we can obtain a greater number of benefits when we carry out our operations in the currency market.
Fixing KotFE Part 4 - What's An Alliance Without Allies?
Special thanks again to these two sites for summarising the expansions so I don't have to watch hours of youtube videos or fights thousands of Skytroopers to remember what happened in some of the chapters. They were incredibly helpful and I honestly don't know if I would have bothered finishing this if I didn't have them on hand. Also, if you want to compare and contrast my story to the original, these will probably come in handy.
Welcome to Part 4 of Fixing KotFE! Here, I'll be looking at the story after you take over as Alliance Commander which, in my version, occurs in Chapter 6. The story up until this point can be found in Part 3 here. This is the section where I usually write out my aims but these carry on from Part 3, so I'll save everyone some time there. I'm really happy with some of the changes I made and I think we get some cool concepts that aren't explored in the original so I hope you like it too. However, there is something I'd like to explain that I never really got into. Technically, I guess it would go into the gameplay section but it feels more story-based. I'd add a prison to the base on Asylum where you can place characters who you decide to capture or imprison. At this point in the story, that would only allow for Senya, if you chose to imprison her, rather than allow her to join the council, however there are other characters in the future who can be held there. I think the prison would be an optional area that you can visit and talk to your prisoners, if you have any. They would say different things depending on your last completed chapter. This would obviously add more voice acting but I think it would help to create a sense of continuity when you can see and talk to these characters you chose t capture. It would also allow Senya to continue being a part of the story, even if you chose not to allow her onto the War Council. It's also just a fun idea that plays well into you being the big boss if you can interrogate your prisoners. With that little bit out of the way, we'll start with:
Chapter 7: Twin-Tailed Scorpion
Some time has passed since you officially joined, and became the commander of the Alliance. You are called to the war table to discuss a strange broadcast that Theron had picked up. He refuses to tell you more without meeting in person. You join your war council, who are already in place. As a reminder, this includes:
Lana Beniko (Chief Advisor)
Theron Shan (Head of Alliance Intelligence)
Aric Jorgan (Republic Representative)
Moff Pyron (Imperial Representative)
Dr Oggurob (Hutt Representative)
Koth Vortena (Smuggler Representative)
Hylo Visz (Koth's more cool-headed second-in-command)
And Senya Tirall (if you allow her to join the council)
Theron reveals that he received a distress signal from the very prison you had been imprisoned in for 5 years. Even more peculiar, the signal was only broadcast on channels used by Imperial Intelligence before it was disbanded. Theron warns you that this was probably a trap but Lana points out that you could use some allies on Zakuul. You decide it's strange enough to investigate regardless. The scene shifts to you being discreetly dropped off within the Old World district of Zakuul, with Hylo explaining that it would be impossible to get you any closer without being spotted, with Arcann having increased security after your escape, increasing the production of the prototype Skytroopers. You make your way through the Old World where your radio signal is lost. Instead, you are greeted by a strange, robotic voice that begins directing you to a service door in the Old World. You go through the door which shuts and locks behind you and begin making your way back up to the prison, fighting through maintenance and industry droids as you do, all the time being directed by the synthesised feminine voice. Eventually, you enter the prison once more. However, you are in a different part than before. You continue to receive directions, with doors closing to cut off Knights and allowing you to pass. You are eventually brought to a room. The door opening to reveal SCORPIO, hooked up to a machine and wired into the wall. She speaks to you, introducing herself and explaining the situation (or simply explaining what had happened if speaking to an agent). SCORPIO explains that, after Arcann's takeover of the galaxy, she allied with him, quickly rising through the ranks to become one of Arcann's most trustworthy allies over the 5 years. However, this was all a ruse so that she could gain information. She planned to sell Arcann's secrets to the highest bidder but was caught before she could leave Zakuul. She was imprisoned and wired into the prison security system, trapped both physically and mentally. However, the Zakuulians underestimated her and within days, she had taken over the system completely. She'd even snark that this wasn't the first prison security system she had taken control of, referencing Belsavis. She explains that she had discovered your location while in the system and had managed to send a message to Lana, allowing her to enact your escape. SCORPIO goes on to add that she had used the security systems to aid you, in the hopes that you would return the favour and free her from her own imprisonment, since the prison was a closed system and she was locked inside. In return, she would join the Alliance, if only to get revenge on Arcann. You agree to free her and are sent around the prison to deactivate various systems, allowing SCORPIO's escape.As you do so, you see snippets of SCORPIO's most recent memories, showing Arcann ambushing her as she attempts to leave the palace, sadly admitting that he had hoped she wouldn't try to betray him, even after the Scions warned him it would happen. SCORPIO, being her usual self, would respond snarkily, leading Arcann to angrily sentence her to be implemented within the prison security system. You then have to defend SCORPIO's body from Skytroopers and Knights while her consciousness downloads into it once again. As she is freed, explosions rock the prison and SCORPIO smugly explains that it is time for you to leave. Before you can ask how, another explosion causes the cell to break away from the prison complex, letting you freefall towards the planet's surface. You are saved as Hylo's dropship swoops in managing to catch the cell within the cargo bay. Returning to Asylum, SCORPIO begins to brief everyone on what she knows; to get to Arcann, the infrastructure of Zakuul must be taken down, starting with the Old World, where he has the weakest grip. Arcann rules over the Old World thanks to a shaky alliance with the Scion cult. The Scions essentially rule over the sector by providing Arcann with access to Heskal's prophecies. In turn, only a minimal security force of Skytroopers exists in the Old World. She mentions that the best way to dethrone Heskal and the Scions is to work with one of the rival gangs. Lana adds that she had already established contact with two of the Old World's gangs and that she would need time to set up meetings with the gang leaders. At this point, you see your first newsreel. It shows two presenters, a male who introduces himself as Adorus Bell and a female, Zelia Myker, sitting at a desk and recounting an act of domestic terrorism by the cell calling itself the Alliance. The Alliance, led by a radical extremist who is believed to be serving Vitiate destroyed a secure complex, killing a number of knights who were protecting the area and almost killing Princess Vaylin, who has been moved to a more secure facility. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Knights, no civilians were injured in the explosion. They then broadcast a message from Emperor Arcann himself, reassuring the people of Zakuul that he will personally capture this Agent of Vitiate and stop the Alliance. My aim here was to establish SCORPIO with a clear character that fits her personality, keep her selfish amorality and also provide her with a motivation to actually help you, even if she's still secretive and coy about it. She wants revenge on Arcann for pre-empting her betrayal and imprisoning her. she simply thinks that you and your Alliance are the best chance at fulfilling her revenge. SCORPIO's weakness was always her pride. We don't really see that In the proper expansions. Instead, we just got a series of convoluted double crosses and fake outs which were just more confusing than anything and made it seem like she just bounced from one side to the other. I hope to create a more straight forward story For SCORPIO that is still true to the character. I also liked the idea of SCORPIO ending up in a similar situation to when the agent first meets her. As an extra note, I added the idea of you escaping via SCORPIO ejecting the cell And hylo catching it at the last moment and I Just really think its a fun, silly concept that gets to show off SCORPIO's unique problem solving while selling Hylo as a great pilot. Lastly, this is where I introduce a new narrative technique. In the original game, we often jump to conversations between Vaylin and Arcann that we, as the character, are not privy to. I think this is a problem since we, as the audience, now know more than our characters do which creates a narrative dissonance to the choices. I understand that the purpose of this was to develop Arcann and Vaylin as characters while we couldn't meet them but I think a better solution would be the newsreels. It lets us see Arcann, in character, and gives us an understanding of what the population of Zakuul are getting in terms of how our actions are portrayed.
Chapter 8: Friends In Low Places
You receive a message from Lana who has contacted two gangs within the Old World. She asks for you to accompany her to meet with the gang leaders and choose which one you'd want to work with. As you travel, you learn from Lana that the Scions are practically untouchable, due to Arcann's aid. The local security chief, Captain Arex, secretly protects them from other gangs in return for Heskal providing Arcann with visions of the future. The two of you shuttle to the Old World and go to meet with the gangs. The first is a group of anarchists led by Kaliyo known as the Firebrands. They have a plan to blow up a Skytrooper factory and need your help. Theron argues over the radio that the factory is too close to civilians while Lana points out that destroying Arcann's source of troops would hurt the war effort. You then go to meet the other gang, a group of thieves known as the Old World Kath Hounds, led by Vette, who steal from the rich living in the Spire to give back to people of the Old World. While they have the favour of the people of the Old World, the gang members aren't fighters and wouldn't be able to help much with the war effort. Vette proposes a plan to steal intelligence from the Old World security depot. However, they need your help to distract the security chief and his Skytroopers. At this point, you have to choose who you will ally with; Kaliyo's Firebrands or Vette's Kath Hounds. Depending on the one you choose, you are sent on a different mission. For the Kath Hounds, you create trouble, attracting the security forces and fighting off Skytroopers. While they chase you, Vette keeps you informed on the mission's progress as they sneak into the security depot and take what you need, before you are tasked with escaping from the Skytroopers and meet back up with Vette. Meanwhile, if you chose to aid the Firebrands, you are tasked with placing bombs around supports beneath the droid factory, since the factory itself is too well secured. As you go, you are met by security forces that you have to defeat. As you finish, you rejoin with Kaliyo and watch the bombs go off, causing a section of the Spire to collapse down, much to Kaliyo's delight. With the mission complete, your chosen gang agrees to aid you against the Scions. Both groups managed to find information on Arex that he was extorting money from civilians within the Old World in return for protection. If this was revealed to those in the Spire, they would demand his imprisonment. However, before you can set up plans, the base is attacked by Captain Arex and a prototype skytrooper design. You and your chosen gang leader fight the two of them. You can then choose to kill Arex, report him or blackmail him for his corruption to either leave his position or work for you. With your new allies firmly established and Captain Arex dealt with, you join up with either Vette or Kaliyo to assault the Scions' fortress. Without Arex and his skytroopers to defend them, you are able to fight through the Scion forces and reach Heskal. Upon defeating him, you are given the choice to imprison or kill him, leaving your new ally to take control of the Old World. Another newsreel with the same presenters rolls. The presenters discuss a gang war that had begun in the Old World district, followed by a video of Arcann alongside a woman he introduces as Knight-General Vendryl. Arcann apologises to the people of the Old World for this terrible tragedy and explains that Vendryll will be personally dealing with this new menace. Speaking to Senya, either in her cell or the war council, will reveal that Vendryll was her second-in-command before her defection and that she is a ruthless individual completely devoted to Arcann. So, the aim of this chapter is to provide a big choice that actually affects the story, this choice being whether you have Kaliyo or Vette as your advisor for the Old World gangs. There's an obvious light side/dark side binary with Vette's Robin Hood-esque antics obviously being nicer than Kaliyo's terrorism. However, I wanted to make it a bit more complex with Kaliyo actually being the more competent choice, pragmatically. While Vette has the favour of the civilian population, Kaliyo's gang are more competent combatants. This adds a different dynamic than just "Good choice" and "bad choice" but still allows that morality for those who wish to choose it. The second notable choice is what you do with Arex. I think this is a fun one, since there isn't really a 'nice' answer, with you either handing him over to Arcann, blackmailing him to leave or work for you, or just straight up killing him. I like this as there isn't one 'right' answer.
Chapter 9: Mercy Mission
Koth asks to meet with you privately to talk. You oblige and he explains that he received a message from one of his contacts on Zakuul about a group of anti-Arcann refugees who are high profile targets looking to escape the planet. He planned to go pick them up but wanted to check with you first. You agree to go with him to meet these refugees. The two of you take a shuttle to meet up with the refugees. There are 5 in total, all with different characters:
Minister Gilbar - A long-time advisor to Valkorion who had grown disillusioned with Arcann's rule. While he admits that he doesn't know much of Arcann's military affairs, he does know of domestic issues and agrees to provide whatever expertise he can if you take him with you.
Marto Kimkae - A rich socialite who dislikes Arcann's rule due to the increased security, preventing him from importing illegal luxuries from around the galaxy. He agrees to provide you with additional funds from his off-planet accounts if you take him to Asylum.
Chaaile Veist - A peace-loving diplomat who wished to discover and build relationships with other planets. She worked closely with Arcann when the two were younger but is horrified with what he had become. Chaaile still has contacts with many species around the galaxy and believes she can increase support for the Alliance on these worlds, if you take her off-planet.
Nova Ducroz - Zakuul's premiere celebrity singer, Nova was forced to endorse Arcann's regime in order to continue performing. Sickened by this, she hopes to leave, offering to create anti-Arcann propaganda if you help her off-planet.
Adorus Bell - The male news anchor who has been providing the reports on your activities. He apologises for what he had done, explaining that the news was controlled by Arcann . He admits that he fears being imprisoned and replaced if he speaks out against Arcann and hopes you will help him escape, admitting that he cannot provide you with anything and that he wouldn't blame you if you did leave him.
However, while down there, you receive word from Theron who has been tracking your movements, believing that he had to be careful after the disappearance of Marr and Satele. He informs you that he received intelligence that one of the refugees is a spy working for Arcaan. You are then tasked with speaking to each of the refugees in an attempt to discover who, if any, is the spy. After speaking to all of them, you are given a decision: you can bring all of them back with you, accuse one character of being the spy or abandon them all. If you choose to leave the one you believe to be the spy or all of the refugees, you are given the choice to kill or imprison them. If you choose to imprison them, you can also have them tortured for information. Killing or torturing one or all of the refugees will negatively affect Koth's Alliance Influence to varying degrees, while allowing them to come to Asylum with you will positively affect it. After returning to Asylum, we receive another news report. This time, Zalia is joined by a new host, Brennon Brosnee. The report explains that someone believed to be the Agent of Vitiate kidnapped many of Zakuul's greatest minds in a clear attack on Zakuulian society. Adorus Bell is not mentioned in the report. This is what I'm calling a 'chill out chapter.' It's pretty short and doesn't have any combat but is more about player choice and character interactions. Your decisions in this chapter also have long-reaching effects as, in later chapters, Koth may leave the Alliance due to your choices here. If you do allow the spy onto Asylum, this will also affect the story later on. I think, overall, this is a fun, short chapter which mixes things up from the longer ones that come before and after. It's fun, it's interesting. It's different and you don't even fight any Skytroopers! It would also be a good way to get a different perspective on Arcann's rule from the people of Zakuul themselves. On a technical side, this sort of 'bottle episode' type concept would allow the developers to spend more time on later chapters while still keeping a consistent schedule.
Chapter 10: The Lost Masters
Theron is finally able to decipher the information he took from the gangsters when you rescued him (see Chapter 6 for more info). He explains that they are coordinates to a remote planet called Odessen within Wild Space. Lana adds that the planet seems to be unpopulated but shows all sorts of strange readings. She agrees that you should go investigate the landing coordinates with Theron. When you land on Odessen, you find it to be a lush, fertile and wild planet. However, you also find a campsite and begin to investigate. You are met by Satele who explains that they had been awaiting your arrival. She invites the two of you to sit down and talk. As you do, she explains that she and Darth Marr had sensed a strong dark side presence on Odessen and had come to investigate. What they found was an entire compound controlled by the followers of Vitiate, hoping to revive him. The two of them realised at this point that Vitiate's forces were more numerous and covert than either of them had believed, and resolved to stay on Odessen until the compound could be destroyed. Satele explains that they had learnt from their experiences with the Revanites and agreed that they could not trust even those in the Alliance in case it was compromised. However, Satele did leave a clue, saying that she knew Theron would be able to decipher it and bring you here. When you ask of Marr's location, Satele explains that they take turns keeping watch before noting that he should have been back by now. Suddenly, the camp is attacked by dark side beasts and the three of you fight them off. Once they're defeated, Satele states that Marr should have seen them coming and that he must be in danger. You head into the forest with her, leaving Theron to protect the ship. You travel with Satele through the jungle of Odessen to reach the compound, fighting through local wildlife as well as mutated Sith beasts. As you approach, Satele suggests you sneak in while she distracts the cultists. You agree and Satele splits off from you as you make your way into the compound that seems like a fortress. You fight through a mixture of sith beasts and cultists loyal to Vitiate, mostly Sith. As you go, you hear Darth Marr and approach his location. A member of the (former) Emperor's Hand, Servant 11, is interrogating an unmasked and kneeling Marr who refuses to give up any information on Satele, surrounded by members of the Emperor's Guard. As you enter, Marr takes the chance to attack the guards, taking one of their pikes and impaling them upon it. He grabs his mask and lightsaber before the two of you fight the rest of the Emperor's Guards together until only Servant 11 is left. Marr starts interrogating Servant 11 on the cult's activities with you being able to act as the 'good cop' to his bad cop or reinforce Marr's bloodthirst.. Servant 11 smugly declares that there are plans in motion that will bring a new era of Vitiate's power. Marr then kills Servant 11. Sidenote: I think this scene could go a couple of ways. We could finally get a Darth Marr face revealorthe scene could be shot in such a way that we never actually see his face until he retrieves the mask and puts it back on. I prefer the second because I just think it's a really fun concept for the scene. You plan to escape with Marr but he refuses, stating that all remnants of the Emperor's filth must be cleansed from this place. You agree and travel with him, killing more cultists and making your way to a large room with a strange Sith holocron on it. Marr informs you that the holocron is a Reliquary, an artifact containing a fraction of Vitiate's presence and an item of Sith Sorcery. He explains that it absorbs the Force released by beings as they die and would eventually resurrect Vitiate if given the chance. With this said, Marr draws his lightsaber and impales the Reliquary, causing purple energy to blast out from within. The two of you then meet up with Satele and Theron to talk. You discuss with the three of them on whether Satele and Marr should return to the Alliance. Satele agrees to join you but Marr states that he must ensure that the cult is completely destroyed before returning. You agree and leave the planet with Satele and Theron. You return to Asylum and get the usual newsreel. However, since you haven't actually done anything that they know of, the news is instead about preparation for an upcoming event: Liberty Day, a yearly day of celebration in honour of Valkorion's forces defeating Vitiate and his Sith long ago. The two hosts discuss what Emperor Arcann could be planning for this year's Liberty Day, which would be happening in the coming months, and point out that the increased security provided by the Knights and Skytroopers will stop the Agents of Vitiate from stopping such an auspicious occasion. So, I wanted to do a few things in this chapter: Firstly, I wanted to bring back Satele and Marr and, with Marr not being dead in my version, have them both do some cool stuff and show off a bit. In fact, my sequence with Marr is heavily based on his moment in the original story, shortly before he gets fucking gutted. I also wanted to be a bit fan-servicey with Marr's whole mask thing and I really love the idea that we never actually see him unmasked. On a slight tangent, I've just realised that, in the original expansion, Marr is just… left in his armour after being captured. Surely if you wake someone prisoner, you'd take their badass, technologically advanced battle armour off them, right? I suppose it's because they wanted him to be recognisable asDarth Marrstill but it seems strange, not only from a literal point of view but a metaphorical one too. Stripping Marr of his armour signifies that he isn't some unstoppable machine but a man, and when he then fights back and kills Valkorion/Vitiate's minions, (in either version of the story) it shows that, as a man, he is able to overcome these greater odds. I'd also want there to be some honest interactions between Theron and Satele, maybe having Satele actually show pride in Theron and what he's become. In the original story, I don't think Theron even meets her in these expansions, since you go to see her alone and then she just leaves. It honestly is just bizarre to me that you have two characters who are mother and son with a strained relationship (in an expansion that revolves very heavily about family ties, none-the-less) and theyneverinteract. I think having Satele and Theron repair their relationship a bit would be good story progression and an interesting route for both their characters, especially if Satele is going a bit AWOL from the Jedi teachings, which she already was in the original version. Secondly, I wanted to implement the Cult of Vitiate as antagonists. Since Valkorionisn'tjust Vitiate in a meat suit in this version, he should definitely have his own thing going. I also want this to be more of a thing later on, so I think it's good to plant the seed here. Thirdly, I wanted to introduce Odessen as a location. Asylum being the home of the Alliance gives us a chance to make Odessen a little more interesting than 'the place you decided to just make a base'. Again, this will come back later in the story. Lastly, I think this newsreel is a fun one. It's something light-hearted and unrelated to you and has the irony of Arcann pushing this 'Liberty Day' when he has taken over the entire Galaxy.
Chapter 11: Twists of Fate
With Satele back in the Alliance, things are running more smoothly. She calls you to join her to talk. When you meet with her, she is alone in the council room. She asks you to join her on a walk. Satele explains that she has some errands to run on the station and asks you to help. Regardless of your answer, she begins leading you deeper into the underbelly of the station to meet a friend of hers. Before you reach your target, you are pickpocketed by a young boy who runs into a back alley. The two of you follow the thief and catch him. He explains that he has to steal in order to make enough money to feed himself and his sister and that if he doesn't return with something, his boss will throw them out. You are then given a choice to take your credits back, kill the boy or recruit him to the Alliance. Whichever choice you choose, the boy pleads with you to save his sister who is being held by a gang known as the Engineers. Satele admits that the Engineers have caused problems for the Alliance in the past, but are the only ones able to keep Asylum running. You decide to go and deal with them. As you make your way down into the lower levels of Asylum, you are split off from Satele and are contacted by Valkorion once again. He apologises for possessing you and explains that doing so used up his energy and he was forced to retreat into your subconscious to recover. The two of you discuss the Alliance and your plans for after Arcann is defeated. Valkorion admits that he doesn't know if he will remain in your mind forever or eventually fade away. As the two of you talk, you arrive within the Engineers' territory. You fight your way through until you reach the Engine Room which is set out like a treasury. In the middle of the room is a rotund twi'lek man, Ral Ekval, sitting on a throne made up of scrap metal. He sends his goons to attack you and you fight them off. You then speak to Ral, who smugly explains that only his people can run Asylum. Without him, the station would fall from orbit and be sucked into the gas giant. You then have a choice:
Order Ral to work for you
Whichever you choose, Satele makes her way inside with Alliance back-up to help you. If you chose to kill or imprison Ral, Satele notes that it will be hard to find anyone who could replace him and that she would ask Hylo to talk to her contacts. As this happens, you get an emergency broadcast from Theron, stating that Koth and the Gravestone have gone missing and have been spotted in the Spire. You return to the Alliance base to meet with the War Council, deciding that a major assault would be too costly at this point. Instead, you will lead a small strike team into the Spire to retrieve Koth and the Gravestone. At this point, you're able to choose from the companions you have acquired to join you on the mission by performing different tasks:
Lana, Theron, Senya (if she's not imprisoned) or Satele are able to join you as your companion. The ones you don't choose will remain on Asylum to keep things running and provide mission support.
Aric Jorgan, Vette/Kaliyo or Moff Pyron would lead a second team to escort Hylo to the Gravestone and defend it, in order to gain an escape route
Lastly, SCORPIO would interface with the Spire security system in order to allow you through
Depending on who you pick to lead the distraction team, you gain Alliance Influence with the Republic, the Underworld or the Empire. With the positions set, you start your assault, landing within the Old World and fighting your way through to an elevator that leads up into the Spire. This is the first time you get to actually see the splendors of the Spire but it doesn't last long as alarms start to blare out. As you go, you receive reports from the other members of your team, with SCORPIO providing overviews on security movements and Jorgan/Vette/Kaliyo/Pyron and Hylo providing updates on their conflict. You make your way through the streets of the Spire, fighting through Skytroopers as you approach the palace. You fight through knights as you make your way through the palace towards the throne room. You reach the throne room where you are met by Arcann, alongside a group of Knights. You also see Vaylin, standing at her brother's side and Koth in manacles. Depending on whether Koth's Alliance Influence score is above or below a certain amount (heavily affected by your choices within Chapter 9 but also affected by other choices within the story), Koth will either have been captured while trying to pick up more refugees or he will have betrayed you, attempting to join forces with Arcann, who believes him to be a spy and had him locked up. Either way, you speak with Arcann, who seems strange. He is angered by your presence, claiming that you were an agent of Vitiate come to destroy him. He demands the Knights execute you and draws his own lightsaber, ready to fight. If you have Senya with you, she will attempt to talk him out of it, but this only enrages him further as he claims you have turned his mother to the darkness. You ready yourself for a fight, but before you can, Vaylin suddenly screams and the entire room begins to shake and shudder, windows smashing and the thin bridge to the throne collapsing, taking some of the knights with it. The throne room begins to fall apart and you are forced to retreat, bringing Koth with you. You receive confirmation that the others have captured the Gravestone and you make your way towards the ship. You get onboard the Gravestone with your companion and Koth while Hylo takes off, escaping Zakuul. No one seems to know the cause of the sudden damage to the throne room. With the danger passed, you're able to turn your attention to Koth. Regardless of whether he betrayed you or simply got captured, you're given the choice to let him go, imprison him or kill him. If you let him go after he betrays you, he agrees to exile himself. Otherwise, he will return to the Alliance. You return to Asylum and speak with the War Council who have mixed feelings. While some are happy about the victory, however minor, others believe that this will only harden Arcann's resolve. This is where Part 4 will end, since I've already massively surpassed my 5000ish word limit for these posts. I felt like this worked as a pretty good 'midpoint' for the story. The theme of this section of Chapters is about building up the Alliance into a better fighting force. The next section will delve into deconstructing Arcann's powerbase some more and then getting to the grand finale. Laughably, I thought I could get away with 4 parts when I started writing all this but that clearly isn't the case. This last chapter is fun because it gets you your first real look at Arcann since the start and you get to see his deterioration as he becomes more paranoid and cruel. It also includes the first seeds of Vaylin's storyline. I've also included a trope I really enjoyed when it was used in the class stories where each of your allies is doing something, with the twist of you picking and choosing for a few roles. There's also the whole bit with the Engineers which is more throwaway, but I thought some light adventure would be fun and I felt like I should bring Valkorion back for a bit. I've already gone on long enough though, so I'll finish with a TL;DR.
You receive a mysterious distress signal from the prison you had been frozen in carbonite in
You make your way to the prison and fight your way through to find SCORPIO hooked up to the security system
SCORPIO explains that she had worked for Arcann in order to acquire and sell his secrets, however Arcann found out and had her wired into the security system of the prison
While imprisoned, SCORPIO had taken over the system and helped to orchestrate your escape
You break SCORPIO out, heavily damaging the prison as you do
SCORPIO agrees to join the Alliance
You then go to the Old World in order to recruit allies to aid you against the Scions who are protected by the local security forces
You choose whether you would rather support Kaliyo's Firebrands, dangerous radicals, or Vette's Kath Hounds, a gang of Robin Hood-esque thieves
You complete a job for whoever you choose to aid and, in doing so, find out about a corrupt security chief named Arex
You fight Arex and gain the choice to blackmail, kill or report him, leading the Scions to lose their protection
You then team up with your chosen gang leader to storm the Scions' fortress and defeat their leader, leaving your ally to take control of the Old World
After returning to Asylum, Koth asks for your help in retrieving some high value refugees from Zakuul
You accompany him to meet with these refugees but Theron informs you that one of them may be a spy
You then have to speak to each of them and decide if you want to take them all, try to discover who the spy is or simply kill/imprison them all
Theron discovers that Darth Marr and Satele Shan had disappeared on a remote planet known as Odessen
When you arrive, you meet with Satele who explains that they were hunting down a cult attempting to resurrect Vitiate
You are attacked by Sith Beasts and realise Darth Marr must have been killed or captured
You assault the cultists' base with Satele distracting them while you look for Marr
You find Marr being tortured by Servant 11, one of the members of Vitiate's former Emperor's Hand
You free Marr and the two of you fight through the compound to find a holocron
Marr explains that the holocron is a reliquary which contains some of Vitiate's presence before destroying it
Satele agrees to return with you to Asylum while Marr hunts down any remaining cultists on Odessen
Satele asks you to join her on a walk around Asylum
You are pick-pocketed by a young boy
After following the boy, he reveals that he works for a gang called the Engineers who keep the station running, meaning they are considered untouchable
You decide to make your way down and fight them
You are given the option to kill, hire or imprison the Engineers' boss
As this happens, you receive information that Koth and the Gravestone have been captured by Arcann
You concoct a plan to lead a small team into the Spire, with one half retrieving the Gravestone while you find Koth
You find Koth in the throne room with Arcann and Vaylin
Koth either came willingly or was captured while trying to ferry more refugees
Arcann orders both of you to be executed but, before he can, Vaylin begins to scream and the throne room begins to collapse in on itself
In the chaos, you grab Koth and run, making your way to the Gravestone
Hello everyone. In light of the most recent update, "Supplying the Demand", I would like to share my opinions on the current state of this device. The following is some basic info of my background. You are free to criticize any and all aspects of this post.
I am an electrical engineer who specializes in digital signal processing (DSP), systems (debug), and comms.
I currently work at a large company that operates in the cell phone industry. My roll is within a 5G research/testing department.
This is my main Reddit account which is reasonably old and active. I typically lurk a lot and rarely post.
My knowledge of programing is very limited. I preform 95% of my job functions with Python and Matlab. This will be a hardware and systems level discussion of the Librem 5.
The CEO of Purism, Mr. Todd Weaver, outlined three major problem areas within the current iteration of the Librem 5: Thermals, Power, and Reception. Let us go through these in order. ========================================================= Thermals: Thermals and power are closely intertwined so let's only focus on Purism's options to fix thermals, assuming they make no changes to improve power consumption. Given that the Librem 5 is (thankfully) a thick device, I see no reason why Purism would not be able to fix the thermal issues. In a worst case scenario, they would have to redo the motherboard layout, add some thermal pads/paste, and maybe add a thin yet expensive copper vapor chamber. This would result in a worst case scenario of a possible delay and additional bill of material cost of 20-30 dollars. In my opinion, the thermal problems are solvable and within reach. Power: Because of the strict requirements Purism placed on the goals of this device (regarding binary blobs), they have chosen modem(s) that were not designed for this use case. All four variants of the offered modems by both modem vendors (Gemalto and Broadmobi) are internet of things (IOT) class chips. From an EE perspective, these modems are fine in the right context. Industrial communication with large equipment (shipping yards)? Great. Vending machine credit card processing? Also Great. A mobile device (UE) that users will be moving around (mobility) and expecting good reception on a strict power budget? And thus we arrive at the root of the power and reception issues. I am going to talk about reception in it's own section so lets talk power. The large modem vendors in the smartphone space (Qualcomm, Samsung, Huwawei/HiSillicon, MediaTek, Intel) spend an huge amount of time and effort on power management features. Not only is logic level hardware design done with power in mind, but once the chip is fully taped out, months of effort by 100's of engineers is sunk to improve power characteristics via firmware development and testing. As much as we all hate binary blobs that may (probably) spy on us, these companies have good reason to keep their firmware (and thus power saving IP) secret. Significant competitive advantages are created between the modem vendors from this firmware and digital logic level power savings effort. When a company markets their modem as "IOT", they are effectively admitting that little to no effort was done to keep chip power in check. In the example IOT applications I mentioned (vending machine's and large industrial equipment), power does not matter. The devices themselves draw far more power than the modem that will be inside. Space is not a concern. So companies making IOT products with these modems simply ignore the power draw and slap on a large heat-sink. From lurking on linux and /Purism , I have seem others call out the modems without going in depth to why these products even exist. Yes, the specifications and capabilities of these modems are far lower. So be it. I think all of use are fine with "100 MBit" peak down-link (reality will be 10-20). The problem is that these chips were not designed for power efficiency and never intended to be in a small compact device. You would not put the engine of a Prius into a flatbed truck. The engineers at Toyota never intended for a Prius engine to go inside such a vehicle. The same situation has happened here. Now on to how Purism can fix this power problem. With a herculean effort, the firmware developers employed by Purism (and hopefully some community members) can improve power characteristics. I suspect Purism employees have spent most of their time getting the modem firmware and RF-fronted SW into a functional state. There was a blog post somewhere where a Purism employee brought up a call over the air (OTA). I can't find it but that was by far the most important milestone of their effort. Getting past RACH and acquiring a base-station OTA is huge in the industry. The first phase of binary blob development is predominately focused on integrating features while avoiding attach failures and BLER issues. In this first phase, power saving features are typically disabled to make everything else easier to debug. It is safe to say that the Purism employees have neither had the time nor the resources to even start on modem/RF power saving features. Again, in my opinion, the power problem can be solved but this will be a huge massive incredible exhausting undertaking. Reception: As I have explained above, IOT-class modems are not designed for, and do not care for certain features. Certain features are really necessary for a regular smartphone (henceforth refereed to as a "UE") to function well. Some examples are:
Mobility. The ability of a UE to switch to new base-stations as the user travels (walking, driving, whatever). This is distinct from the ability of the UE to attach (pass RACH msg 4) to a cell tower from boot or a total signal loss.
Compatibility with all LTE bands. This is why Purism has to support four modems and why you the user will likely to have a somewhat unpleasant time setting things up.
Interoperability testing vs Standards Regression Testing. Suppose that LTE specs can have 1000 different configurations for a cell network and towers within that network. Large modem vendors rigorously test 100's of possible configurations, even if the carriers (Verizon, Sprint, China Mobil, ...) and the base-station vendors (Huwawei, Nokia, Ericsson, ...) only use a few dozen possible configurations. This means that niche bugs are unfortunately likely to show up.
Low-SNR performance. Companies who deploy these modems either place their devices in physical locations that get good SNR (20 dBm ish) or they just attach a giant antenna to get an extra 6-10 dB gain. Users of cellular devices want to still have basic connectivity for voice calls, SMS texts, and notification batches... even if the SNR is bad (1-bar ~= 7 dB SNR; NOTE: EE's use SNR and SINR interchangeably based on background) users still expect basic functionality. IOT modems do not have the hardware blocks to handle low-SNR signals. This is to keep the chip small and cheap. Some DSP tricks like higher order filter banks, over-sampling, and many other linear algebra tricks likely can not run on the modem in real time, rendering them useless. (wireless channel coherence is often quite short)
What concerns me the most is that in the "Supplying the Demand" post, Mr. Weaver only implies that there is a reception issue by very briefly mentioning an "antenna routing" problem. I do not find the claim plausible. UE base-band antennas are typically PIFA, patch, or Log periodic in design. Depending on many factors which are beyond my knowledge, you can get around 6-15 dB of gain from antennas alone. Even though I am a DSP engineer, my job requires me to have a surface level knowledge of antenna radiation patterns. Up front, I can tell you that antenna placement can not and is not a issue. In the Librem 5 batches that do not have metal construction. There should be zero problems. Plastic does not interfere with radio waves enough to cause more than 1-1.5 dB loss in the absolute worst case. In the devices with metal bodies, there should be no issue anyway because of antenna bands. The image I linked is a modern ultra-high end device where you can easily see two thin rectangular plastic antenna bands. There is a reason modern antenna bands are so small: it has become incredibly easy (and thus cheep) to mass produce highly directive antennas. This is especially true for for designs intended for UE's. As a student working in a lab on campus, we had a tight budget and needed to buy antennas for a system we were building. For legal reasons, we were operating on the 1.3 GHz band. Unfortunately, this was impossible because all the "off the shelf" (and very cheap) antennas were designed for various cell phone bands. We ended up ordering a custom design (Gerber files from a fellow student) and fabricated 150 large PIFA antennas for ~$100. In summary, this large paragraph is a justification for the following strong opinion. I believe there may be serious reception issues with the Liberm 5. These reception issues are not related to antennas. Mr. Weavers in-passing and extremely brief mention of "antenna routing" issues may be the tip for the (reception/SNR) iceberg. ========================================================= I want to make clear that I do not hold ill will against Purism or FOSS mobile efforts. I absolutely hate that any activity on my smartphone goes directly to Google. For years, I have been holing onto a 100-200 dollar class smartphone because use of said device must be kept to a minimum to protect my privacy (I try to keep all my online activity on a laptop that I control). However, this entire post is an opinionated criticism of Purism's hardware choices. At the end of the day, a cellular device that truly protects your privacy (with potential serious hardware and reception issues) is no different than a Android or iOS phone which has had its antennas and RF cards ripped out. A smartphone is only useful when it can be used. Otherwise, a laptop on a WiFi connection with VoIP (and a VPN) will be objectively more useful.
https://preview.redd.it/2lc1we5990s41.jpg?width=400&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5417ccb655b01501b4ba0db45e72d5e411cc1baf (Actual, updated) Frequently Asked Questions Unlike a standard FAQ, this (A)FAQ consists of the most commonly asked questions from our community. For much more elaborate FAQ full of questions, some of which no one actually asked, please consult our docs FAQ. For our communications archive, head over here. What is Golem? Golem is a decentralized computation network, a new way of distributing redundant computing power to those who are in need of it, on-demand. It creates a peer-to-peer network where users join on an equal basis to buy and sell computation, splitting up complicated tasks into smaller subtasks in the network. In Golem there’s no central authority and no user is more or less important than another. Who is building Golem? Golem Factory GmbH is responsible for building Golem and all its milestones. Golem Factory GmbH’s website is: https://golem.network Is Golem a Foundation? Golem Factory GmbH is not a Foundation. A GmbH is the Swiss equivalent of an LLC. Golem Factory GmbH has been founded in 2016 and as mentioned above, looks after the build of Golem the project, and its milestones. The Golem Foundation, founded in 2018, is an independent entity, founded by Golem Factory GmbH’s ex CEO and COO, and they work on different projects than Golem Factory (eg. the recently release Wildlands paper). Their website is: https://golem.foundation Golem Foundation and Golem Factory In 2019, Julian and AndrzeJ started the Golem Foundation, aimed to pursue riskier and more exploratory ways to add value to GNT. This is very public. We did press for the endeavor because we wanted to be transparent. See the Coindesk article that was the main pitch, in case you want external sources. See the Wildland AMA and more recently the Wildland Update and Golem Foundation FAQ are great resources for learning more about Golem Foundation. Golem Factory does not work on Wildland and vice versa, Golem Foundation does not work on New Golem / The Next Milestone. Who controls GNT? GNT (Golem Network Token) has been in the free market since the end of 2016. Neither Golem Factory nor the Golem Foundation control the token. Another thing is that we don’t do airdrops. So make sure to stay safe and not succumb to scams. Why should I or a requestor choose Golem? Golem offers freedom of choice and a voice in the community to specify what your requirements are for computation in the network. In the centralized infrastructure of shared computation, if you’re an individual you might not have the voice to specify the tools you need. Golem offers tools focused on your privacy and the flexibility for all providers and requestors to set the price they’re willing to have tasks completed on Golem Network. By cutting out the middle-man and large corporations taking a fee, this allows Golem to be a prosumer market with the potential to simultaneously be cheaper and more profitable for the requestors and providers, respectively. How can one integrate with Golem? If you’re a developer and want to add your code to Golem, the simplest way is to use WebAssembly (WASM). Check out the gWASM section of the documentation to learn more. The good news about WASM is that you can easily compile the code that is written in other languages. So if you have code written in C/C++/RUST, you can compile each to the WebAssembly binary and use it with Golem the same way you’d normally use WebAssembly code. If you don’t want to write anything in those languages or you want to do something more complicated, the Task API allows more versatility and is available on mainnet since the Clay Golem release. Additional resources that would be of interest include Being a Requestor and Acting as a Provider on Golem Network. How is computation verified? There’s no single answer to this question since it can get quite complicated. For the first use-case in Golem, rendering, the requestor renders a small part of the image and compares it with the result they receive from the provider and a machine-learning algorithm gives a verdict. In rendering, there’s a high chance of a small amount of indeterminism and differences in the pixels, which is what makes it complicated. For other use-cases such as WebAssembly, fortunately, it’s much simpler it’s practically easy to make WebAssembly computation deterministic. There’s also a verify function in the Task API to make this process simpler for requestors, to give them the opportunity to write their own method that is suitable for their use case. How is data protected and kept private on Golem Network? For providers, the solution is relatively easy using Sandboxing. You can read about this more in our documentation. The more interesting part of the question is ‘how are we going to protect the data you send as a requestor?’. In the classical scenario where you’re sending you data to the cloud, you’re not getting any protection. It’s essentially a trusted setup between the requestor and providers, an option which is also possible in Golem using Golem Unlimited. How does Golem Unlimited fit in the Golem Network ecosystem? Golem Unlimited allows users to create an internal trusted network of computers with one of them, called the Hub being in charge. The Hub is a requestor and other computers in the company join it as providers. It is meant for data center-like setup (e.g., render farms, or desktops within organization LAN) where network participants trust each other, but it will also support trusted P2P subnetworks (e.g., distributed team machines). App Why is my Golem node not connecting? If you’re having connection issues, see our Issues and Troubleshooting guide in our documentation or reach out to us in our Discord channel. The most common issues for first time setup are related port-forwarding (mentioned in the onboarding process when you setup your node) or Hyper-V. Keep in mind that, if you’re on Windows Home specifically, Hyper-V is not a feature so you have to install docker toolbox instead. What is [email protected]? [email protected] is a scientific modelling project on Golem. The project has been developed in cooperation with the most reputable scientific institutions in the field worldwide. Our relationship with them goes a long way, and our CEO/CTO Piotr Janiuk, was inspired to pursue Golem by such work. Via [email protected], our providers will be able to run help running the computations needed to simulate chemical reactions. What is the Task API? Recently, we introduced the new Task API. The Task API is a python library containing a programming interface and utility functions. Updates created by requestors should be able to answer a short list of RPC calls. You can read more about these calls in our documentation designated to the Task API. What is gWASM? gWASM stands for WebAssembly on Golem. It is intended to be a bridge between applications and extensible infrastructure. It gives your applications or services easy access to external and decentralized computational power. This access happens in an elastic manner, meaning that you rent as much infrastructure as you need and when you need it. What’s the purpose for GNT? With Golem you can exchange computational power, as a commodity or a service for GNT. These are market transactions. The different parties (users) and transactions are part of a small economy with GNT as the value transferred between participants. Within the Golem economy, we are free to define the rules and regulations for it. Our goal, however, is for it to be similar to real-life economies: demand, supply and quality affecting prices should always be included. This economy works in an anonymous and distributed network, which adds a layer of complexity to it. Golem is not a stock market, there is no central point to place bids and offers. Everyone must make their deals on a p2p basis and on their best criteria. Roadmap What does the future and endgame look like for Golem? In order to allow for a future where censorship resistance and privacy is available for everyone, we need to build networks to stimulate such freedoms. What we want to build at Golem is the tool that can connect computers borderless-ly across the world, and without the risk of censorship. Migration What is the ERC20 migration and how will it take place? This refers to us migrating GNT to be a fully ERC20 compliant token. We’ve been working with ETHWorks on finding the best approach for this task. How will GNT’s migration to the ERC20 standard benefit users? Working together with ETHWorks and audit firms, our goal is to make sure that the passage to ERC20 allows the (new)GNT to be able to adapt to various matters: for instance, to be used for layer 2 scaling solutions, or Universal Logins, gassless transactions, among others. Right now, doing gassless transactions with the current GNT is cumbersome, and there are many solutions in the market that would be a great fit if GNT was ERC20. An added (big) benefit for migrating towards ERC20, is to leverage DeFi tools and protocols, especially DEXes. Providing the first (ERC20) GNT liquidity pools for Uniswap and other similar projects is something that’s definitely in our plans for a long time. Why didn’t GNT start out as an ERC20 compliant token? It’s important to keep in mind that relative to the Ethereum space, GNT is quite an old token. When we implemented the GNT contract, the ERC20 standard was in its infancy, and we wanted to limit the exposure to risks stemming from it being at such an early stage. This is why we decided to limit the core GNT implementation to only the necessary ERC20 operations to make it transferable. Migrating GNT to be a fully ERC20 compliant token should open new opportunities to the token users, for example, DeFi (i.e. Decentralized EXchanges and liquidity by Uniswap) and potentially GNT becoming collateral for MCD (Maker’s Multicollateral DAI). Other What measures are in place to mitigate against loss of deposit? We’ve taken very thorough precautions against Golem users losing their deposits. With the recent release of the Concent feature, the Concent deposit a.k.a. GNTDeposit is a smart contract on the Ethereum mainnet which has been properly audited by third-party experts to contain no known vulnerabilities. Similarly to those aforementioned contracts, the balance of GNTDeposit is predominantly still owned by the ethereum address that transferred its tokens into it. The only difference is that the withdraws are time-locked and that there is a privileged entity, the Concent Service, which is able to use those tokens in very specific circumstances, according to the use cases described in the Concent’s documentation and its terms of service. How is GPU integration coming along with MacOS and Windows? There’s difficulty with exposing GPU to Docker containers on Windows and MacOS. GPU support is technically possible on both these operating systems, although we would need to tailor some new computation environments for those operating systems and make sure that the behaviour is consistent between them. While we exclusively rely on Docker it’s not possible to use GPU with Golem on Windows and MacOS. It’s also worth noting that GPU is also not supported in gWASM. Since gWASM uses WASM underneath and that itself currently doesn’t have any notion of multi-threading, which would be required for the computation providers GPU to act as the general processing graphics processing unit (GPGPU). It might be possible to get around that, however, the catch would be that it would kill the determinism which we require in Golem task verification. How much I can earn with configuration XYZ? Golem network is a fully decentralized marketplace therefore we cannot give you any estimates. The amount of tokens that can be earned depends on current demand in the network, the number of other providers, etc. Do you have a bug bounty competition? Yes, we do, you can find the details here: https://blog.golemproject.net/golem-bug-bounty-competition/
A Comprehensive Guide on Securing Your System, Archives and Documents
How can you make your system and documents secure? Today, 256-bit AES encryption is offered by everyone and their dog. However, AES encryption does not mean much (or anything at all) when it comes to the real security of your data. Implementing encryption at the right time and in the right spot is no less important than choosing strong encryption credentials and managing the encryption keys. While the previous part may sound a bit complicated, it all comes down to much simpler things than choosing the strongest encryption algorithm or selecting the length of the encryption key. If you are a Windows user, it all comes down to choosing the optimal data protection strategy for your particular usage scenario; protecting your storage media and the data you keep on them.
Defining your goals
Before you start considering encrypting your hard drives and files, make sure to define your objectives. What information would you like to protect? What threats do you consider important, less important and quite improbable?
Full-disk encryption part I: protecting your boot device
A reliable system protection is impossible without protecting your boot device. An unencrypted boot device (disk C: on most systems) allows for way too many vectors of attack ranging from hibernation and page file analysis to instant extraction of stored passwords from your Web browser vault. In other words, securing your boot device with BitLocker is an absolutely mandatory preliminary step and the most important security layer.
Availability: Windows 10 Professional and higher with TPM2.0, Intel PTT or Group Policy edit; all Windows editions for device encryption in thin and light devices meeting minimum requirements.
Note: although Windows 10 Home cannot natively create new BitLocker volumes, it can unlock BitLocker encrypted drives with full read-write access
Physical access, hard drive only: strong protection
Usage cases: protect data against theft of computer or hard drive; protect data if hard drives are sold or RMA’d; protect data against physical extraction.
If your computer meets the requirements (namely, the presence of a hardware TPM2.0 module or software-based Intel Platform Trust Technology), enabling BitLocker on your computer can be as easy as opening the Control Panel and launching the BitLocker Drive Encryption applet. Note that not all editions of Windows 10 can use BitLocker protection. We have a comprehensive article on BitLocker protection in our blog, which is highly recommended. Introduction to BitLocker: Protecting Your System Disk What caveats are there when it comes to securing data against physical extraction? The thing is, while BitLocker is nearly a 100% effective solution for protecting the bare drive, it might not be as secure if the intruder has access to the entire computer with the hard drive installed. Even if your computer is equipped with a TPM2.0/Intel PTT module, Windows will still unlock the encrypted hard drive if Secure Boot conditions are met. This in turn opens numerous vectors of attack that may allow the intruder to intercept the on-the-fly BitLocker encryption key and decrypt the hard drive. These vectors of attack include:
Making a RAM image of a running computer with BitLocker volume(s) mounted. This can be done via a Thunderbolt attack (Windows, by default, does not disable Thunderbolt DMA access when locked) or a cold boot attack.
Breaking or extracting your Windows logon password (e.g. extracting from your Google account, your smartphone, or from another computer you have logged in and synced your data to).
Advanced users and system administrators can read the following guide to secure their BitLocker volumes: BitLocker recovery guide
Full-disk encryption part II: protecting external storage devices
BitLocker is good not only for protecting your boot device, but for encrypting data on other volumes, built-in and removable. BitLocker protects external storage devices with BitLocker To Go, an encryption algorithm based on a password. In addition to passwords, external drives encrypted with BitLocker To Go have an option to unlock with a smart card on another computer by using BitLocker Drive Encryption in Control Panel. Finally, users can opt to make their encrypted external devices automatically unlock when connected to their (trusted) computer.
Encrypt external devices: Windows 10 Professional and Enterprise
Access BitLocker encrypted devices: although Windows 10 Home cannot natively encrypt drives with BitLocker, it can access BitLocker encrypted drives with full read-write access
Physical access, device only: protection as strong as your password
Physical access, entire computer: it’s complicated (see previous chapter)
Note: if you enabled the option “Unlock automatically on this PC”, then effectively no protection
Other users on the same computer: strong protection if offline/not mounted
Malware/ransomware: strong protection if offline/not mounted
Online attacks: strong protection if offline/not mounted
Usage cases: protect data stored on external storage devices such as external drive enclosures, USB flash drives etc.
Unlike system drive encryption, BitLocker To Go does not support multifactor authentication. This means you cannot use TPM protection as an additional form of authentication. You can, however, make BitLocker To Go devices unlock automatically when they are inserted in your (trusted) computer, which carries obvious security implications.
Full-disk encryption part III: using third-party crypto containers
I put it here just for the sake of completeness. If you are considering using a crypto-container such as VeraCrypt or PGP, you probably know what it is good for and how to use it. I’ll just add several things that aren’t immediately obvious when you set up encryption. In fact, the two things are so non-obvious that many coach experts have it backwards. (The right way: Choosing the right hashing algorithm – it’s all about slowness).
Availability: VeraCrypt is available on most relevant platforms
Physical access, hard drive only: very strong protection unless misconfigured
Misconfiguration examples: volume stays mounted when computer sleeps or hibernates; volume stays mounted when computer is locked (matter of security vs. convenience); volume unlocked with security key (e.g. USB flash drive) and no password (if USB flash drive is discovered)
Physical access, entire computer:
volume not mounted at time of analysis: very strong protection
volume mounted: very little protection
Other users on the same computer
volume not mounted at time of analysis: very strong protection
volume mounted: very little protection
Malware/ransomware: same as above
Online attacks: same as above
Usage cases: protect data against theft of computer or hard drive; protect data if hard drives are sold or RMA’d; protect data against physical extraction.
The choice of encryption algorithm (spoiler: use AES) Crypto containers such as VeraCrypt offer the choice of several (actually, multiple) encryption algorithms that range from the industry-standard AES to some quite exotic algorithms such as Serpent or Kuznyechik. For the paranoiacs among us, VeraCrypt offers stacked encryption (e.g. the Serpent(AES) option). The thing is, the choice of an encryption algorithm does not affect the security of your data (unless you pick an algorithm with known or suspected vulnerabilities; finger pointed to Kuznyechik). The choice of encryption algorithm does not affect the security of your data. A single round AES-256 encryption will be exactly as secure as Serpent(AES) or Serpent(Twofish(AES)). Moreover, the choice of encryption does not even affect the recovery speed (the speed of brute-force attacks on your password)! Considering that AES is the only hardware-accelerated encryption algorithm in all reasonably modern processors, choosing any encryption algorithm other than AES-256 will unnecessarily slow down your reads and writes (expect a difference of 2 to 3 orders of magnitude in theoretical RAM-to-RAM encryption speeds) without providing any additional security benefit. If choosing an encryption algorithm other than AES does not affect security, then what does? The choice of hashing algorithm When VeraCrypt encrypts (or decrypts) your data, it is using a binary encryption key to perform symmetric cryptographic operations. This media encryption key (MEK) is stored along with the encrypted data. The Media Encryption Key (MEK) is encrypted with a Key Encryption Key (KEK), which, in turn, is the result of multiple (hundreds of thousands) iterative hash operations performed on the user’s password. In other words, when you type a password, the crypto container will perform a calculation of a certain hash function, and repeat that a 100,000 times or more (in order to deliberately slow down brute-force attacks). If you want to make your encrypted volume more secure, you can change one of the two things:
Increase the number of hash iterations
Don’t use defaults
Choose a slower hash function
VeraCrypt allows modifying the number of hash iterations by adjusting the PIM (Personal Iterations Multiplier); here is the how-to. The PIM value controls the number of iterations that is used to derive the encryption key from the password that you type. This value can be specified through the password dialog or in the command line. If you don’t manually specify the PIM value, VeraCrypt will use the default number of iterations, which is bad because (2). For SHA-512 or Whirlpool (the two recommended choices), VeraCrypt defaults to Iterations = 15000 + (PIM x 1000). Why would you want to change the number of hash iterations? Because an attacker will first try to break your password using the defaults. Most tools used by the attackers to brute-force your password will first run the attack using all-defaults: the default encryption algorithm (AES), hash function (SHA-512) and PIM. Changing the PIM value is an easy way to substantially increase security without making your password more complex. Changing the hashing algorithm from default (SHA-512) to Whirlpool also makes sense in this context. Which brings us to the choice of a hashing algorithm. VeraCrypt offers the choice of SHA-512 (slow, good choice), Whirlpool (slower, even better choice), SHA-256 (slow, but not as slow as SHA-512, use other hash instead), and Streebog (untested). Choosing the right hashing algorithm – it’s all about slowness has some benchmarks and some good explanations; highly recommended. Selecting Whirlpool makes a lot of sense because a) it is slower than SHA-512 (thus will be significantly slower to attack), and b) it is a non-default selection, which significantly increases the complexity of the attack.
File system encryption: when and how to use EFS
If you read the Wikipedia article about Microsoft Encrypting File System (EFS), you’ll get that EFS has been introduced in NTFS 3.0 in order to provides file system level encryption. The article reads: “The technology enables files to be transparently encrypted to protect confidential data from attackers with physical access to the computer.” While all of that is interesting, neither statement explains who and, most importantly, why should be using EFS, and what exactly the encrypting file system protects against.
Availability: all versions and all editions of Windows 10 (and most older versions of Windows)
Physical access, hard drive only: as strong as your Windows account password
Physical access, entire computer: same as above
Other users on the same computer: effective protection
Malware/ransomware: not applicable
Online attacks: not applicable
Usage cases: protect your documents from other users of your computer; an extra layer of security on BitLocker-protected drives; reasonably strong, very easy and fully transparent document encryption on computers where BitLocker is not supported.
What does EFS protect against, and who should be using it? The purpose of Encrypting File System is protecting your data from users who share your computer. If you have a PC with several users, and each user has their own Windows login (as opposed to sharing a single Windows account), activating EFS encryption is the easiest way to protect your files from being accessed by those other users. What is the relation between EFS and BitLocker, and which one should you use? BitLocker protects your entire system volume. Any user who can log in to your computer will unlock the system volume. If a user has administrative privileges (or can escalate a non-admin account by using an exploit), he or she will also gain access to files and documents stored in other users’ accounts on that computer. Encrypting File System, on the other hand, only protects selected folders. It won’t, for example, protect your instant messenger databases or encrypt your browsing history. It’s mostly just for documents, pictures and videos you keep in your account. However, EFS will effectively protect those files against other users who can log on to your computer, even if they have administrative privileges. If an attacker got physical access to the computer, BitLocker is the first line of defence. Relying solely on EFS to secure the PC against attacks with physical access is not the best idea. How does it all work? It’s actually quite simple. Right-click on a file or folder you’d like to encrypt, select Properties and click the Advanced button in the General tab. In the Advanced Attributes dialog select Encrypt contents to secure data and click OK. https://preview.redd.it/742u0dpqdjc41.png?width=1019&format=png&auto=webp&s=26dcec93aba51d314531f65c6e68ac12302bc88f This is it. Windows will now encrypt the selected file or folder with your Windows logon credentials. There are no passwords to type and no encryption keys to save. There is a certain drawback to using EFS encryption. If you ever forget your Windows password and have to reset it from a separate Administrator account (or your domain administrator resets the password for you), the EFS encryption keys will be lost, and you will be unable to decrypt your data without going through the data recovery process with Elcomsoft Advanced EFS Data Recovery. Note that you must recover your Windows password in order to decrypt the files. However, if you simply change your Windows password by following the normal procedure (typing your old password followed by entering the new one), you will be fine.
Encrypting individual documents is an important part of multi-layer security. Microsoft Office apps can use passwords to encrypt the documents’ content. No one without a password should be able to decrypt the document.
Availability: all versions of Microsoft Office
Security: depends on the version of Microsoft Office, the file format you’re using to save the files and the strength of your password.
Physical access, hard drive only: strong protection (with caveats)
A million dollar question: if you are on a local area network, should you use EFS or document encryption to protect documents against other users on the same LAN? In this case, it’s better to use both. EFS will make it impossible to gain access to encrypted files and folders without knowing your Windows account/domain credentials. Password protection of individual documents will make documents difficult to break even if the attacker knows your logon credentials. The caveats of document encryption So what exactly does “strong protection (with caveats)” mean? The thing is, your documents are just as secure as the password you use to protect them. If you re-use a password you already stored in your browser cache or in the keychain, extracting that password and decrypting the documents will be a matter of minutes in many types of attacks. What if you use a cryptographically strong and truly unique password to encrypt documents? Are these documents secure? The thing is, they will be just as secure as the office app permits them to be. In Microsoft Office encryption evolution: from Office 97 to Office 2019 I discussed the encryption algorithms and protection strength of Microsoft Office apps from the early days to the most current release. Generally speaking, everything before Office 2000 was insecure (no protection). Office 2000, XP and Office 2003 had very weak encryption that can be usually broken in under a day. Since Office 2007, Microsoft started taking encryption seriously. Office 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 brought security to the new level, making encrypted documents very secure. Okay, so you are using the latest Office and selected a strong password; are we secure now? The thing is, you’ll be just as secure as the document format allows. If you are using the newer DOCX/XLSX format (files with .docx / .xlsx extensions), you’re good. If, however, you are saving your documents in “compatibility” mode, you are sacrificing encryption and make your documents as vulnerable as if they were saved by an Office 2003 app. Best practices:
Use the latest version of Microsoft Office to save documents. If the latest version is not available, use at least Office 2013 (the newer the better).
Never save documents in “compatibility” mode. Make sure that the files are DOCX/XLSX as opposed to DOC/XLS.
Use a unique, cryptographically strong password to encrypt documents. Remember: if the password is broken once (e.g. pulled from your Google account or recovered from a document you accidentally saved in the “compatible” format), it will be used to break everything else, including documents with strong encryption.
If you email an encrypted document, do use a unique, one-time password for that document, and never send both the document and the password in the same email. In fact, you should never send the password by email since that would allow an attacker who gained access to your email account to decrypt the document. Send the document and the password via separate communication channels (e.g. email / text message, chat or phone call).
Protecting backups and archives
Making regular backups is a common wisdom. Protecting those backups is a wisdom much less common. Once you make a backup, make sure to give it as strong a protection as your boot drive.
Store backups on BitLocker-protected media. Even if your backup tool (e.g. the one built into Windows) does not support encryption, at very least your storage media is protected with full-disk encryption. Note: Windows 10 does support the recovery from BitLocker-protected disks. Just create a bootable install image from Microsoft Web site (use “Create Windows 10 installation media”).
If your backup tool supports encryption, it may be a good idea to encrypt your backups (AND store them on a BitLocker-protected media). Note, however, that a backup tool will probably cache (store) your backup password on your computer to automatically encrypt new and incremental backups. For this reason, make sure to have a truly unique, never reused password for encrypting backups.
Individual folders are frequently backed up using common archive tools such as WinZip, 7Zip or WinRar. All of these tools offer the ability to encrypt archives with a password. While the encryption strength is different among the three formats (ZIP, 7Z and RAR), an up to date version of each tool provides adequate protection if you choose a reasonably complex password (e.g. 8 characters or more, combining small and capital letters with numbers and special characters). To achieve the best level of protection, do keep those archives on BitLocker-protected media. Note that password recovery tools work significantly faster on ZIP/7Z/RAR compared to attacking BitLocker encryption or Office 2013 (and newer) documents. For this reason, never reuse your password, and make sure that your BitLocker media, your documents and your backups/archives use very different passwords (ideally, not based on the same pattern). More information:
Microsoft started offering an extra layer of security to all users of its cloud storage service in the form of a Personal Vault. OneDrive Personal Vault helps secure your files both on your computer and in the cloud in the event that someone gains access to your account or your device. Unlike ransomware protection, Personal Vault is available to all users of Microsoft OneDrive and not just to Office 365 subscribers. Technically speaking, Personal Vault is an area in the OneDrive folder on your computer and in the OneDrive cloud storage that features additional protection. You can only access this protected area after passing a strong authentication. If your Microsoft Account is protected with two-factor authentication, you will have to pass the second step of identity verification in addition to typing your Microsoft Account password. Once configured, Personal Vault must be manually unlocked every time you need access to secured data. To unlock, you must type in your Microsoft Account password and pass the second authentication step if your account has two-factor authentication. Once you’ve finished accessing the data, Personal Vault will automatically relock after a short period of inactivity. Once locked, any files you were using will also lock and require re-authentication to access. Setting up Personal Vault only takes a few clicks as outlined in Protect your OneDrive files in Personal Vault. OneDrive Personal Vault is still new; no independent security analysis has been performed until today. In our view, Personal Vault is worth consideration as an extra security layer for some of the most private but rarely accessed types of data. Examples of such data may include BitLocker escrow keys and binary encryption keys, or the list of passwords some users store in encrypted Excel spreadsheets. I personally keep my two-factor authentication secrets (scanned QR codes to initialize the Authenticator app) in the Vault as well.
Physical access: unknown (not yet analyzed)
Other users on the same computer: strong protection
Malware/ransomware: strong protection (unless Personal Vault is unlocked at the time malware is running)
Online attacks: as strong as your Microsoft Account security
Usage cases: activate to add an extra layer of security for a handful of personal documents, encryption keys, 2fa secrets etc.
One of the most important threats not covered by any encryption is the type of malware called ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that threatens to either publish the data stolen from the victim or perpetually block access to the victim’s files by encrypting them with a key that is only known to the attacker. The term ‘ransomware’ has emerged from the fact that, on many cases, attackers demand a ransom payment to decrypt data. Protecting your data against ransomware is a complex topic in itself. However, computer users can choose one or both of the following two defences when it comes to ransomware protection. Ransomware protection is effective against the following threats.
Physical access: no protection
Other users on the same computer: no protection
Malware/ransomware: effective protection
Online attacks: as strong as your cloud account security
Usage cases: available automatically to Office 365 subscribers. Available to paid Dropbox users. Automatically protects files stored in OneDrive/Dropbox. Automatic alerts (OneDrive only). Automatic restore (OneDrive only); manual restore (Dropbox).
Use cloud storage with automatic ransomware protection If you are using Windows 10, most likely you already have a Microsoft Account. The Microsoft Account gives you access to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. The free tier includes 5 to 15 GB of online storage, while Office 365 subscribers receive the whole terabyte of cloud storage. Microsoft actively promotes OneDrive Ransomware Protection. OneDrive automatically detects when the files are mass-deleted or mass-edited (such as when ransomware encrypts the entire Documents folder), alerts the user and prompts to restore the known-good snapshot. The File Restore feature is only available to Office 365 subscribers (Home and Personal levels are enough to receive protection). More information at Ransomware detection and recovering your files. If you prefer Dropbox to Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox gets you covered against ransomware attacks, but mostly for higher-level paid tiers. Users of the free Basic tier as well as Plus subscribers can roll back individual encrypted files during the first 30 days after the attack (there will be no warning of mass-deletion of mass-encryption of files coming from the Dropbox app). If you want to roll back the entire Documents folder with Dropbox Rewind, you’ll need to be a paid Plus or Professional tier subscriber. More information:
Make backup snapshots. Keep backup media offline Once ransomware is installed on your computer, it will try to encrypt every document that is accessible. The obvious solution is making documents inaccessible by physically disconnecting backup media (such as using 2.5” portable USB drives to back up). In this scenario, you would only connect backup media to your computer when you actually want to make the backup, disconnecting the disk after the backup tool finishes its job. With this approach, even if your computer is attacked by ransomware, your offline backups will not be affected (unless you connected the external drive to the computer at the time the ransomware was installed). In addition, configure your backup tool to keep snapshots of your data going back as long as permitted by available storage. In our office, an affordable 4TB USB hard drive can keep approximately 30 to 40 full snapshots of the Documents folder; this number becomes significantly larger if you enable incremental backups, with each snapshot saving only More information:
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