In this our twelth edition of 21 Questions By Decentralize Today we are off to the UK for our 12th and 13th interviews of the series as we catch up with both Kev Quirk and Mike Stone, the co-founders of Fosstodon, an English speaking Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology and particularly free & open-source software.
Run as a community funded project with large scale volunteer support, Fosstodon is committed to donating any extra money received to other open-source projects, full details are available atfosstodon.org
Decentralize.today: if you could choose three words to describe yourself what would they be and why?
Mike: Ooof. These are always so hard. Curious, Open Minded, Optimistic
Kevin: Oof, I hate these kind of questions – they tend to be very narcissistic. I suppose mine would be: Funny, Motivated, Interested. Ask my wife and I’m sure those 3 would be VERY different! :)
DT: How, why and when did you get into online privacy protection work?
M: Really my most recent job is the first time I’ve been professionally involved in online privacy. I started in my current role around ten years ago.
K: I wouldn’t say I’m into marketing FOSS as such. The term “marketing” screams corporate BS bingo to me. I prefer to think of myself as a FOSS advocate. I started using Linux around 2010, back then I didn’t even know what open-source was. As I learn more, I naturally got more involved and now I advocate it whenever I can as long as I think it’s approprpriate to do so.
DT: What were you doing professionally before Fosstodon?
M; The same thing I’m doing now. Fosstodon is more of a hobby than professional work. I work for a pharmaceutical company called McKesson where I develop automation that facilitates secure data transfers between patients, pharmacies, and medical professionals and/or facilities.
K: Fosstodon is a hobby project, not my job. So I still do the same thing. I lead digital forensics and incident response across Europe for Bank of America. I’ve been working in InfoSec for quite some time now. Before that, I was in the British Army.
DT: How would you describe your current work to a 5 year old kid?
M: I just would tell them I work in computers.
K: My oldest son is 6, and I describe it to him simply as“Daddy works with computers."
DT: What was your first ever job (even as a kid)?
M: My first job ever was driving a truck for harvest on my uncle’s farm.
DT: Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to work/business?
K: My late father. He always had a really strong work ethic which he most definitely instilled upon me.
DT: What’s the best life and work advice you’ve ever been given?
M: Always show everyone you work with respect, whether it’s the CEO of your company or the guy that comes to empty your waste bin.
K：再次，这来自父亲，它只是“do something you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life.”
DT: Your favorite superhero or fictional character, and why?
M: The Doctor. Other than regeneration and longevity, the only real super power he/she has is his/her intelligence and wit. Despite that, The Doctor is always saving the Universe from something. Usually with a snarky comment about the whole situation.
K: I don’t. If I had to pick though, it would be Superman. No one comes close to Superman.
DT: What were you like as a student?
M: Ha! Initially as a little, little kid I was a nose to the grindstone sort. My parents were both teachers at one point or another, sofocus对他们来说总是很重要。在我的青少年之后，我变成了一个非常大的懒鬼。我觉得我作为学生的投资回报不够高。如果我可以参加班级，只要做我的作业，我可以和高于平均水平，我无法激励自己花费额外的时间来获得更高的成绩。
K: I didn’t go to University, but if I had, I would have been much too involved in partying than studies. That’s why I decided to join the military instead.
DT: What would be your dream project if money were no object?
M: I’d love to just have my own data center with racks of computers where I could do whatever I wanted with them.
K: No idea. That would be something that needs a lot of thought. Either that, or just a bolt of inspiration. Neither of which I have.
DT: What is your favorite sport or game to watch?
M: Probably MMA. I enjoy watching a couple different sports, but I don’t really have a personal investment in any of them.
K: Boxing. I boxed for many years, both as a kid and in the military.
DT: Working in the privacy space and specifically secure communication, how do you decide your strategic focus and determine the programmes required to address these?
M:大多数时候,高层管理我的伴随矩阵y determines those for me. Like most large corporations I’ve worked in, they’re relatively conservative, technologically speaking, so products and ideas have plenty of time to develop in the market before they get our attention.
M: My dad has always been my hero.
K: My mum. She basically raised 5 kids on her own. If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.
DT: What does your family think of your work and advocacy of online privacy?
M: They like the idea in general, but their eyes tend to glaze over pretty quickly if I ever try to talk about it.
K: Honestly, they don’t really care and I don’t really talk about it to them. When advocating this kind of thing, I think it’s important to do it to people with whom you have a chance of making an impact. That most definitely isn’t my family. If their tech works, they don’t care about anything else.
DT: What was the last book you read that you would recommend to others?
M: I just finished rereading the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams. I’ve read them three or four times now, and each time they draw me back in.
K:A Biker’s Lifeby Henry Cole. It had a big impact on me personally. I wrote about it on my blog actually -https://kevq.uk/recommended-read-a-bikers-life-by-henry-cole/
M: I hate when people come to me for advice on a subject but don’t listen to what I tell them, or even care for that matter. When people come to me for a sounding board. I don’t have time for that.
K: IHATEbeing ignored. Not in an arrogant way, like “you need to listen to me because I’m talking!” I mean just rudeness. For example, if you’re talking to someone and they engage in a conversation, but pick their phone up part way through. It makes my blood boil. More generally, just bad manners.
DT: Do you have an “I lost my private keys” type story or a crazy privacy/comms related story? Do share!
M：多年前，我们有一个文件服务器。我们刚刚聘请了一名新员工接管我的工作，因为我正在进行一名高级角色，之前的高级推动了该部门。因为助焊剂的事情仍然很漂亮，所以她仍然被复制在大多数部门对应上。她在虚拟愤怒中飞进了我们的办公空间，因为我们的新初级刚刚将管理员名词和密码发送到外部客户端。我在这一点上几个月我一直与新初级合作，这很肯定是沟通中的错误。我看着她和客户在一起的剧会，并意识到她会复制和粘贴和忘记来改变用户名。我通知前高级的事情发生了什么，让她放心，少年已经发送的密码不是actualpassword to that account. She replied immediately asking why the password works then. This caught me pretty flat footed since I knew the password to that account, and it wasn’t the one the junior sent. I tried the password I knew, and it worked. I tried the password the junior sent, and it worked. I mashed the keyboard with random characters, and that worked too. It turns out that our admin account on that server would literally take任何password that was used. I have no idea how long it had been that way.
K: Not specifically this, but I did have a major failure on my Synology NAS at home. At first I couldn’t mount the RAID, so thought everything was lost and I would have to restore from backup. In the end I managed to get the data from the RAID. It was all backed up though, so not the end of the world. Moral of the story – backup your stuff, folks.
DT: Where do you see online privacy protection and communication in ten years time? Where would you like to see them?
K: Software development, I have no idea because I’m not in that industry. Privacy I think willl be non-existent. It’s already pretty poor, and it’s looking like things are only getting worse. People seem happy to over-share online to the max, and I really can’t see that changing.
DT: What’s your go-to form of entertainment or pastime? What do you do for fun? ?
M: I like reading and if I have the time, occasionally go out hiking.
K: Riding my motorbikes is a big one. I also enjoy writing, reading and drawing. I also really enjoy web design. Anyone who follows my blog will know that I’m always pissing about with it.
DT: You have the power to solve one world problem forever. Which one would you choose?
M: Climate change. We’re only starting to see the beginning of what’s coming with climate change.
DT: What would be the one thing you would say to your 18 year old self, if you had the chance?
M:要有耐心,事情即将改变in a big way.
K: Nothing really. Fosstodon is continuing to grow steadily and we have an amazing community. As the saying goes – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Mike and Kev can be found viafosstodon.org
On behalf of Decenetralize Today, can I say thank you both very much...very illuminating and keep up the great work!