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Tox - The Secure Instant Messenger Of The Future?

4 years ago  •  Reviews

A New Kind of Instant Messaging

“With the rise of government monitoring programs, Tox provides an easy to use application that allows you to connect with friends and family without anyone else listening in. While other big-name services require you to pay for features, Tox is totally free, and comes without advertising.”

Software like Tox is becoming more and more relevant in a world where shady governments spy on their citizens and collect data about everyone in huge amounts. Not only can this personal information be used against you, it is also sold to various corporations to better force advertisement on to you.

How does Tox help against that? Simple! It is a Peer-to-Peer, encrypted, instant messenger, that allows you to communicate with other people, just like Skype, Facebook Messenger and others do. Except, Tox is encrypted, which means no one else can listen in on your conversations.

Centralised vs. Decentralised vs. Distributed Network

Since Tox is Peer-to-Peer, there is no central server that will keep track of your conversations, limit your usage or have downtimes that can prevent you from getting in contact with friends or family. Tox is truly a distributed (meshed) instant messenger!

So what are the trade-offs and why do I care about encryption and privacy when I’m not really doing anything illegal? Let’s first do a little comparison between some of the popular instant messengers.

Comparison Skype Facebook Telegram Viber Tox
Open Source No No Partial No Yes
Encryption No No Partial No Yes
Distributed No No No No Yes
Video Chat Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Voice Chat Yes Yes No Yes Yes
File Sharing Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Synchronisation Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Ads Yes Yes No No No
Desktop App Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Web App No Yes Yes No Yes
Platforms Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Android, iOS, WP Windows, Linux, OSX, Androud, iOS

So there’s obviously a lot of ups and downs when it comes to all these different instant messengers and these 5 are just a few among the countless of instant messengers out there! The biggest one for me, personally, is open source and the usage of a distributed (meshed) network. I love open source and I believe it’s what we need more of in the world. Not just when it comes to software, but food, medicine, technology. You name it. The easier access, the better the world will be.

qTox Group Chat

Anyway, so why care about privacy, encryption and even distributed (meshed) networks, instead of just using centralisation? Imagine a world where a computer collects every little detail about you. Whatever you do, something is logging everything you do on the internet. This is called “data mining” and there is countless of companies out there that specialize in just that. Without your consent, they collect every little piece of information about you and sell it to the highest bidder. Luckily, this information is mostly only used to target ads at you, but data can easily be stolen or misused...

Okay, rant over. So what makes Tox a better alternative? If you are concerned about your privacy, love cryptography, new technology and want to fight against centralisation, then I guess Tox is a pretty good choice.

qTox Encryption Of Personal Data

It got pretty much everything you need, except it’s still in early development. Which means, it doesn’t synchronise your conversations between devices, it uses a lot of bandwidth, so do not use it on your limited mobile bandwidth and you can’t message your contacts or add new contacts, unless they are online. Adding contacts in general, can also be very tedious, as you will need to know a very long ID. There is no way to add someone by username or e-mail, unless you use something like toxme.se.

Some of these faults are being worked on though. Like synchronised conversations, but Tox really is in a very early stage in development. So keep that in mind!

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WebP vs. JPEG - Which Image Format Is The Best?

4 years ago  •  Reviews

I like technology. Especially technology that’s open source. This is where the image format WebP really got my attention. Not only is WebP an open format, but it also promises between 28-48% in file-size reduction! Wow! That’s amazing. Even though our internet connections become faster and faster, we still want to savor as much bandwidth as possible and spend less time waiting for a page to load.

Let’s start out with a quick comparison between JPEG, PNG and WebP.

Comparison JPEG PNG WebP
Browser Support All All Chrome, Opera, Firefox
Open Format? No Yes Yes
Alpha Channel? No Yes Yes
Lossless? No Yes Yes
Animation? No No Yes

This is my rough comparison between these 3 image formats. I included PNG just because. In general, WebP  can achieve a much smaller file size than the PNG format and I'm a lot more interested in seeing if WebP can compete with the closed format, JPEG.

You will need to use a browser that supports the WebP format, before you can actually see the comparison. You can also download the images and make the comparison, should you have other software that's capable of handling WebP. If you do have a capable browser, simply hover over the images with your mouse to see the difference.

JPEG File WebP File


I must admit, I'm no photographer, but I am a "perfectionist". I like to have my images look the best they possibly can. Some people just keep compressing their images, ruining the quality beyond bad.

I started out with compressing the JPEG as far as I could, before I felt it started to become pixelated and noisy/grain-ish. I'm sure a lot of people would say I could go further, but I already think I went too far! Even when the JPEG is compressed 60%, its size is still bigger than its WebP counterpart...

JPEG File WebP File


Here I couldn't venture that far with the compression before my eyes started to bleed. If you look closely at the stones beneath the white house, on the left, you will see how the stones gets blurry on the WebP image. This is something I see again and again. WebP tends to blur out the image, the more you compress it. When it comes to JPEG, the image gets more noisy. So it really depends on the image. Does it still look fine with a little blur? Or should it look a little noisy instead? It's a tradeoff, I guess. In this case, we save about 20KB if we were using the WebP format, but someone could most likely get the JPEG format down to that size as well, if that person is ready to compromise the quality even further.

JPEG File WebP File


Here's one where I just went to the extreme and compressed it as much as possible, without totally ruining the image. Judge for yourself.

I must admit, it's hard to see THAT big of a difference between the two formats. Obviously, JPEG is a lot more convenient for most people. It's a standard and everything supports it's. However, WebP is an open format and I love that. That's really enough for me and all it take is a little code, a converter and you are ready to serve the WebP format to Chrome and Opera users, and JPEG for the rest.

There's a good amount of WebP converters out there and I'm sure you'll get different results from all of them. I used gThumb 3.2.7 to compress the images and I really don't have any idea how good gThumb is. I think it did the job though.

Anyway, thanks for reading my very first post. I hope you enjoyed some of it. I don't claim to be a pro! If you have any suggestions or comments, please don't hold back. I'm thinking of doing a comparison between WebP and GIF. So let me know if that might have an interest!

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