• Tips

    by Published on 01-15-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Tips

    Fyi, any time I lead off with this captioned photo of Carl Pei it's probably going to be bad news...

    Last week a customer took to the OnePlus Forums to post about suspicious charges on two of their credit cards, both of which were used for purchases at OnePlus.net last November. It turns out he is not alone; to date some 69 users have reported similar fraudulent charges, and it's looking increasingly likely that the upstart Android OEM's payment portal has been compromised.

    For a company that only sells its products online to most of the world, this is understandably a big concern—even if the number of affected customers is so far relatively small.

    A blog post by Fidus Info Security explains how an attacker could have compromised the portal:

    The payment page which requests the customer’s card details is hosted on-site and is not an iFrame by a third-party payment processor. This means all payment details entered, albeit briefly, flow through the OnePlus website and can be intercepted by an attacker. Whilst the payment details are sent off to a third-party provider upon form submission, there is a window in which malicious code is able to siphon credit card details before the data is encrypted.
    The working theory at Fidus is that the credit card numbers were intercepted not by client-side attacks via javascript, but instead a server-side compromise via PHP. But if this were the case then I'd expect a lot more fraudulent charges to be reported.

    If, like me, you paid for your OnePlus purchase using PayPal then your credit card info should be safe. If I recall correctly, PayPal was the only available option for my last few orders; in light of this news I'm pretty grateful for that!

    Links: Fidus InfoSec, OnePlus Forums

    by Published on 11-24-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips,
    4. Carriers,
    5. Apps

    Too late for the midnight stampedes, but I'm hoping this will at least serve as a starting point for your mobile-centric Black Friday shopping. It's not exhaustive by any means; you'll notice that Android Police and Mobile Syrup are responsible for a few links each. Kudos to them for doing the grunt work so that I didn't have to.


    Amazon Canada’s Black Friday tech deals are now live!

    Best Buy VIP Black Friday sale now live with discounts on smartphones, tablets, smart home devices

    Freedom Mobile offers up to $450 in MyTab savings for Black Friday

    Here are Canadian carriers' 2017 Black Friday deals

    Rogers and Fido launch Black Friday iPhone deals


    2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals roundup [Updated continuously]

    Deal: Get 3 months of unlimited data for $99 from Rok Mobile

    Fossil smartwatch Black Friday sale: 30% reduction on Android Wear

    Free iPhone 8: The Best Black Friday Deal Is From T-Mobile

    Here are Google Play's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

    Feel free to add any deals not mentioned above, for the benefit of anyone else reading this. Happy bargain hunting, and stay safe out there!

    by Published on 11-14-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    Short answer: it's an open source replacement for Google Play Services, useful for Android modders who run custom ROMs without flashing Google's proprietary apps and APIs.

    Long answer: from the official project page, it's these five components:

    • Service Core (GmsCore) is a library app, providing the functionality required to run apps that use Google Play Services or Google Maps Android API (v2).
    • Services Framework Proxy (GsfProxy) is a small helper utility to allow apps developed for Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) to use the compatible Google Cloud Messaging service included with GmsCore.
    • Unified Network Location Provider (UnifiedNlp) is a library that provides WiFi and cell-tower-based geo-location to applications that use Google’s network location provider. It is included in GmsCore but can also run independently on most Android systems.
    • Maps API (mapsv1) is a system library, providing the same functionality as now deprecated Google Maps API (v1).
    • Store (Phonesky) is a front-end application providing access to the Google Play Store to download and update applications. Development is in early stages and there is no usable application yet.

    If an open source interface for Google's app store seems somewhat contradictory, consider the promising YouTube replacement NewPipe, which offers access to the same videos but removes the annoying pre-roll ads.

    The microG project was first announced on XDA over two years ago, but just got a lot easier to install; there is now an unofficial build of LineageOS with microG services built-in. Device support is impressive to say the least—I'm guessing that the builds are automated from the official Lineage device tree.

    With their completely unnecessary vendor image Google has already ruined their phone hardware for me; should the day ever come for me to wean myself off of Gmail and the like my fallback position would most likely be the F-Droid app store and an Android custom ROM. I've never actually tried it, though, and I honestly hadn't considered just how deeply integrated Google Mobile Services were in a typical Android device.

    Love Android but hate Google? microG is here to help.

    Links: microG, XDA (1) (2)

    by Published on 11-10-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    To honour the 10th anniversary of the smartphone that changed everything, I forced myself to read the entirety of Brian Merchant's The One Device. It's definitely meant for Apple fans, and seems at times to be set in a fictitious world where Android doesn't even exist.

    To be fair, one of the chapters where Android is actually acknowledged turned out to be the most illuminating one, at least for me. The author visits the infamous Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China, where a surprisingly candid employee had this to say about the local job market:

    “I was tricked to work for Foxconn,” a new recruit says. “I intended to work for Huawei,” he adds, referring to the Chinese smartphone competitor. “People feel way better working for Huawei, better corporate culture, more comfortable.” In fact, he says, “Everyone has the idea of working in Foxconn for one year and getting out of the factory and going to work for Huawei.”
    So congratulations to any Huawei owners reading this; you can rest easy with the knowledge that the people who built your device were treated well while making it. And if you were wondering about that other big smartphone OEM, later in the same chapter a Foxconn higher-up had this to say:

    “I had a meeting with Samsung executives and they said they would just follow Apple [...] That’s what they told us—they would do whatever Apple did.”
    So what exactly does Apple do? If you're not familiar with Cupertino's decidedly hands-off approach to manufacturing, check out my Christmas Downer post from 2014.

    Links: The One Device on Amazon.ca / Amazon.com

    by Published on 10-19-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Tips

    This week Belgian researchers discovered a major security flaw in WPA2, previously thought to be an unbreakable security protocol for WiFi networks and the devices that use them—including routers, desktop computers, streaming set-top boxes, connected appliances and, of course, smartphones.

    The flaw is called Krack, or Key Reinstallation Attack, and can be exploited to read sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers being sent through the network, or insert malicious code into websites as they are loaded onto devices.

    The bad news for Nexus and Pixel owners is that they'll have to wait for the next monthly security update from Google to get their devices patched; the really bad news is for users of other Android devices (Samsung), who will have to wait much longer than that. The good news? If you're a modder and are running either LineageOS or OmniROM then your hardware is likely already patched. Android Police reports that official Lineage builds from October 17th onwards have been patched; ditto for Omni builds starting October 18th.

    For anyone reading this who has ever questioned the value of custom Android firmware I'd say that this right here is a pretty good example of their worth.

    Sources: Android Police, The Guardian

    by Published on 09-21-2017 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    Yup, Samsung is everywhere...

    For anyone who will ever visit Sri Lanka (and you totally should) here's a quick guide to getting mobile service there. Although carriers in both Canada and USA offer "roam like home" packages—where you access your plan's data bucket anywhere in the world for an additional daily fee—it's often cheaper to get a local SIM when you arrive. Case in point: for the equivalent of about $9 USD each my girlfriend and I were able to get 4GB of data (plus an extra 5 GB of "overnight" data) that lasted through the entirety of our 10 days on the island.

    This special tourist package is available through Sri Lanka's number one mobile carrier, Dialog. Getting set up was easy but not an experience that I would call pleasant. There's a Dialog shop right in the Arrivals Hall of Bandaranaike International Airport that's open 24 hours—perfect for us as our inbound flight from Hong Kong didn't land until close to midnight. They only accept cash but fortunately for us there was a currency exchange in the same Arrivals Hall that was also open.

    After taking our money the Dialog rep robotically set up the SIM on one of our phones and then left it there on the counter without telling me it was ready; he didn't even bother with the second phone. I eventually got the hint and set up the second SIM myself, using the settings from the first one. In so doing I noticed that the home SIM on my first phone—a dual-SIM OnePlus 3—was disabled for absolutely no reason. Thanks, jerk...

    I did speed tests all over the island (when I remembered to) and not once did I ever see a 4G signal while I was there. That in itself wasn't a problem, but the sometimes spotty coverage took a huge hit on our phone batteries, as they desperately hunted for a signal to lock on to. To keep my phone juiced up for the next photo opp I got into the habit of keeping it in airplane mode until I actually needed data for something.

    In other words, Sri Lanka might not be the best holiday destination for the obsessed Instagrammer or YouTube Livestreamer but it's definitely worth visiting for its Cultural triangle, friendly people and amazing food!

    by Published on 08-24-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    Before you upgrade your Nexus or Pixel to Google's latest and greatest, you might want to read this first...

    Android Police is reporting that some users who have done so are reporting that, on Android Oreo, Bluetooth automatically switches off almost immediately after being turned on. Granted, this was also an issue on some devices running Android Nougat; this time, however, Google itself is taking the unprecedented step of soliciting feedback on its Pixel and Nexus forums.

    Most of the replies so far concern Android Auto, and include pairing issues, problems displaying music album artwork and audio hiccups while making phone calls. For Bluetooth headphones, headsets and speakers, there are multiple reports of audio cutting out, sometimes as often as every 5-20 seconds.

    It's all but certain that there will be no headphone jack on Google's second-generation Pixel phones; these Bluetooth issues should probably be fixed before those devices ship.

    Source: Android Police

    by Published on 07-27-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    iMessage is the one thing that Apple fans can rightly gloat about—nothing beats the convenience of having your SMS reach you on whatever iDevice you happen to be using. With its Chrome browser extension Pulse SMS can give Android users the same convenience, along with AirDroid, MightyText, Pushbullet, etc. But for those Chrome users seeking native SMS support there is some potentially good news on the way.

    Chrome Unboxed received a screenshot from a reader with a Samsung Chromebook Plus, showing a new field in the Settings menu called Connected Devices, and a toggle labeled SMS Connect. It doesn't actually do anything at the moment, but you can supposedly see the menu item on your own Chromebook by enabling developer mode and searching
    for the following:

    Enable multidevice features Chrome OS
    Enables UI for controlling multidevice features. #multidevice
    Remember that enabling developer mode will wipe all local data from your machine—which is why I'm unable to test this for you on my girlfriend's Chromebook.

    Hopefully an update is on the way that will activate this feature, at least so that users in the developer channel can test it. Perhaps one day soon all Android users will be able to enjoy native SMS functionality through their Chrome desktop browsers—and that iMessage envy won't be quite so bad.

    Source: Chrome Unboxed via Android Police

    by Published on 07-26-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    Last week I wrote about issues that some Pebble users are having with their Android app, hammering Pebble's servers and in so doing killing their phone's battery. Fitbit has promised to support Pebblers only through to the end of 2017, but with their own proper smartwatch on the way it seems inevitable that Pebble servers will one day be powered down.

    Fortunately, if you're an Android user, there's an app for that: it's called Gadgetbridge. Available via F-Droid, it also supports Mi Band and Zeblaze fitness trackers. For Pebble it will give your watch 85% of the functionality it had with the companion Pebble app, and zero dependence on Pebble's servers.

    Let's have a look!

    This is the app's control center, where you'll see all your connected devices (I just have the one). The grey icons along the bottom row are, from left to right, your watch's battery level, a screenshot utility, your installed apps and watchfaces, your fitness data (stored locally on your phone) and another utility to buzz your watch if you've lost it.

    Here's a list of the watchfaces I have installed on my Pebble. Gadgetbridge has no direct connection to Pebble's app store, but you can use any web browser to download your desired face (or app) to your phone, and then install it locally from there. Just follow the instructions on the Gadgetbridge wiki here.

    So here's something I didn't know; the configuration page for watchface settings are actually remote web pages maintained by developers—GitHub in the example above. To protect you from malicious sites Gadgetbridge will show you the URL of the configuration site rather than taking you there directly.

    Once you've configured your watchface Gadgetbridge will show you a preview of your settings before sending them on to your watch, presumably to protect you from malicious code. I don't have a problem with this.

    Pebble and its community have done a fantastic job of making software available for the now-unsupported hardware. If and when the app store goes offline, no matter; someone on reddit is sharing their entire download of it. Likewise, there's no need to worry if your Pebble goes down; you can reinstall your watch firmware via Gadgetbridge, and links to the latest versions are available on their wiki.

    In terms of functionality it's easier to tell you what doesn't work rather than what still does. Switching to Gadgetbridge will basically remove the option of using your voice with your Pebble. You won't be able to initiate text messages but you can reply to them from your watch with your own canned responses, entered via the phone app. Gadgetbridge is very serious about protecting you, and as a policy will not allow any app or watchface to connect to the Internet directly; as a result apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp will be quite useless. If you use a watchface with a weather complication there is a fairly ugly hack that works for only a few faces, but will at least provide weather data for the native weather app on Pebble OS.

    For me the choice was obvious: have the official Pebble Android app continue to murder my phone's battery or give up some features and use Gadgetbridge instead. I should point out that I also own three Android Wear watches, and yet even with the reduced functionality it's still the Pebble that most often ends up on my wrist!

    Links: F-Droid, Gadgetbridge

    by Published on 06-22-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    Pro tip: If you're thinking of ordering a OnePlus 5 (and haven't already), do it when they go on sale at midnight next Tuesday, June 27th. You'll likely experience the same impossibly-quick delivery that I did with their early drop this week.

    What you're looking at above is a screen grab from an Android app called ParcelTrack, showing my phone's journey from Los Angeles to Cincinnati and then on to its final destination in Toronto. I placed my order Tuesday at 12:43pm Eastern (I'm a keener that way); less than 8 hours later the order was dispatched, and less than 24 hours after that I had the phone in my hands.

    For this to happen OnePlus had to have stock already shipped from Shenzhen to LA, along with other tactical ports near key markets. I would expect the same for the phone's official launch next week.

    The buying experience has certainly come a long way since the dreaded invite system for the OnePlus One, and the added headache of import fees for those of us who had that device delivered to Canada. The only negative part of my OnePlus 5 experience so far is that cases for the phone are not yet available. I wonder how well a case for an iPhone 7 Plus would fit...?

    Links: OnePlus 5, ParcelTrack on Google Play

    by Published on 03-14-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    I really hate it when I have to use this image, but here we are once again.

    Last Friday security firm Check Point published a blog post detailing malware found in products from "a multinational technology company" and "a large telecommunications company". I can only surmise that the latter is a carrier; the former would seem to suggest an online retailer, but the products from Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi makes me think that it's not Best Buy.

    What's unique about this particular infections is that they were added in the supply chain—that is, somewhere between the manufacturer and end user. Here's the list of infected devices, with the offending APKs in italics:

    Asus Zenfone 2 / Lenovo S90

    Lenovo A850

    Lenovo S90

    Oppo N3 / Vivo X6 plus

    Oppo R7 Plus

    Samsung Galaxy A5

    Samsung Galaxy A5

    Samsung Galaxy Note 2 / LG G4

    Samsung Galaxy Note 2 / Xiaomi Mi 4i

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 / Galaxy Note 4 / Galaxy Note Edge / Galaxy S4

    Samsung Galaxy Note 4

    Samsung Galaxy Note 4 / Galaxy Note 8.0

    Samsung Galaxy Note 5

    Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

    Samsung Galaxy S4

    Samsung Galaxy S4 / Galaxy S7

    Samsung Galaxy S4

    Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

    Xiaomi Redmi

    ZTE x500

    Hopefully no one reading this is affected by any of the malware listed above. If you want to make sure your device is safe, Check Point, Lookout and Malwarebytes are three malware scanners recommended by Ars Technica.

    Sources: Check Point via Ars Technica

    by Published on 03-13-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    Google has taken their fair share of lumps from yours truly as of late, what with faulty Pixels, freemium Hangouts and such. But this is something really cool. One of Android's main selling points over its closest rival is the ability to customize your home screen—not just with wallpapers but with custom icons and 3rd-party launchers as well. To get you started Google has a new site, the #myAndroid Taste Test.

    It takes less than a minute to complete, and consists of a series of binary choices—light or dark, vibrant or muted, animated or static, etc. Completing the test gives you a recommended wallpaper, icon pack, launcher, home screen widget and keyboard. As an example, here are the suggestions I got from taking the test just now:

    Google Wallpapers
    Revolution Icon Pack
    Smart Launcher 3
    News & Weather Widget

    Okay, so three out of the five recommendations are for Google-made products, but it could have been worse... Another way to get inspiration is by looking at the recommendations from others. #myAndroid isn't exactly trending on Twitter, but over on r/Android redditors are currently discussing the merits of Evie Launcher, and I'm pretty sure that the #myAndroid Taste Test had something to do with that.

    If you're tired of your home screen and want to try something new, Google's taste test is a decent place to get started.

    Sources: Android via XDA Developers

    by Published on 02-20-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    Recently a NASA engineer was detained at a Houston airport until he agreed to unlock his work-issued phone for CBP agents there. The incident has citizens of the United States along with those with plans to visit wondering what their rights are in regards to their smartphones and privacy.

    The unfortunate answer is, not much.

    Even if you're a U.S. citizen the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which protects you from search and seizure without probable cause, does not fully apply at border crossings. And while the Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement agencies inside the country cannot search your phone without a warrant, it hasn't yet made a ruling on phone searches at the border.

    Until it does, here's what you need to know: If your phone is subject to inspection you will be provided with this tearsheet from the CBP agent who requests it. If you refuse or are unwilling to unlock it, what happens next depends on who you are. Citizens of the United States may be detained for an indeterminate amount of time, but you can at least request that a lawyer be present for all questioning. Citizens and legal permanent residents cannot be denied re-entry into the country, but this does not apply to foreign nationals—in other words, visitors the U.S. who refuse to unlock their phones for inspection run the risk of being turned back.

    If you're concerned about your privacy and personal data, what can you do? One recommendation would be to leave your phone at home, but I'm guessing that no one reading this would want to do that. Another option would be to back up your personal data online, wipe your phone for the border crossing and then restore it once you're through. A third option would be to avoid travelling to and transferring through the United States until all this is sorted out.

    Sources: The Atlantic, BBC News, Business Insider, CNN

    by Published on 02-02-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers

    With its pink sand, pastel-coloured houses and dark rum, Bermuda is a dream destination for anyone, really. But for BlackBerry users, perhaps a little more so. You can still buy a 2013 BB7-powered 9720 like the one you see above (wallpaper not included), and if you're visiting the island with an unlocked BlackBerry of your own you can also get a prepaid SIM card with unlimited data at surprisingly reasonable rates.

    I didn't even bother with SIM cards for the two Android phones that the girlfriend and I brought with us for our quick island getaway; Digicel, the country's largest carrier, charges an insane $75 Bermudian Dollars (at par with USD) for a gigabyte of data, what I would consider a comfortable minimum for uploading photos and the like. But the operator also offers another relic of days gone by: BlackBerry Internet Service. So for a mere $15 BMD you can enjoy a full seven days of unlimited email, messaging and mobile Internet.

    The deal also applies to Android-powered BlackBerry phones, which I guess must also have the necessary hooks to connect to BIS.

    I was actually looking into getting a pair of cheap BlackBerries for our trip; Bermuda is close enough to Toronto that we'll probably be visiting again before too long. In case you were interested, Digicel sells their 9720 for a not-entirely outrageous $99 USD. Note, though, that you can currently get the newer Q5 for that same price from Amazon.com.

    For any Bermuda-bound BlackBerry users, all the links you need are directly below!

    Links: BlackBerry 9720, Prepaid Plans, Hamilton Flagship Store

    by Published on 01-23-2017 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. How-To,
    3. Tips

    I don't know if this will be a regular feature here, but I feel obliged to pass on any pearls of wisdom gleaned in this very specific area of expertise where and when I can. Root, custom ROMs and the like are, after all, the only thing that really differentiates Android from iOS at the end of the day.

    The video above is from a thread on the official OnePlus forums, a guide for unrooting a OnePlus 3 and returning it to stock (as in "shelf stock") condition. You would do this if, for example, you were prepping your device to be sold; you might also follow this procedure if, like me, you were flashing a major OS upgrade to your device. For anyone used to a Nexus there are some peculiarities as to how OnePlus does things, which I learned over the course of a few hours last Friday afternoon, and will now share with you.

    So let's say I was upgrading from Android Marshmallow to Nougat... On a rooted Nexus I would back up my apps and data using Titanium Backup, along with other local media like photos and transfer those files to a desktop computer. Then I would download a device-specific factory image from Google, flash all the partitions manually (I never bother with the "flash all" script) log into my new Android OS and after re-rooting the Nexus would then restore my apps with a fresh install of Titanium Backup from the Play Store.

    Like I say OnePlus has their own way of doing things; they do offer downloads of Oxygen OS (and the major revisions to it), but only as flashable zips. So how is one to restore Oxygen from a custom ROM on their OnePlus 3, or perform a clean upgrade to Oxygen v4.x (Nougat) from v3.x (Marshmallow)? The key is OnePlus' own recovery image, the one partition you can flash to your OP3 via fastboot.

    Once you've backed up your phone the procedure, in broad strokes, goes like this:

    1. Download the desired flashable zip of Oxygen OS, and also the OnePlus recovery;
    2. Reboot your OnePlus 3 into fastboot mode and flash the OnePlus recovery;
    3. Still in fastboot, re-lock your bootloader via fastboot oem lock—this will wipe your device, and also whatever OS is installed on your phone;
    4. If the phone reboots after Step 3 immediately press and hold the Volume Down key to boot into the OnePlus recovery—understanding that at this point you do not have a bootable operating system on your phone;
    5. Use the OnePlus recovery to flash your zip of Oxygen OS via adb sideload;
    6. Boot into your new OS.
    7. If you want to re-root your phone don't bother signing in to your Google account—instead go back into fastboot, unlock your bootloader, flash a custom recovery and then use that to flash a SuperSU.zip.

    The OnePlus restore method does have some advantages over a Nexus-style restore; if something goes wrong you've at least got a working bootloader and recovery partition. There's just that one tense moment when your phone will try to boot into an OS that isn't there!

    Source: OnePlus Forums

    by Published on 12-16-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    I don't think I ever got around to reporting on Amazon's Prime Edition of the BLU R1 HD; thanks to Brad Linder at Liliputing for reminding me of its existence. It is indeed a $50 USD unlocked Android phone—some specs:

    5 inch HD display with Gorilla Glass 3
    1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 ARM Cortex processor
    Android 6.0 Marshmallow
    8GB storage / 1GB RAM
    8MP rear camera / 5MP front camera with LED flash
    Dual SIM and MicroSD support for up to 64 GB of expandable storage
    4G LTE plus GSM

    The catch? Lock screen ads from Amazon. And even worse, it was found that the phone was secretly sending text messages and other personal information to a server in China. Amazon actually stopped selling the R1 HD until the spyware was removed. With assurances from BLU's CEO that the backdoor is gone, the phone is now back in stock.

    So about the lock screen ads... those l33t [email protected] over at XDA have figured out a way to unlock the device's bootloader and install a custom recovery—paving the way for SuperSU and AdAway or, if you prefer, a custom ROM.

    The ad-supported R1 HD unfortunately won't ship to Canada; otherwise I would gladly have a go and report my findings for you all here. Any of our American friends up for the challenge?

    Sources: Liliputing (1) (2), XDA (1) (2)

    by Published on 12-12-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Apps

    Do you know someone who regularly overshares personal information on social media? If so, you might want to direct them to this post.

    Russian Art School Student Egor Tsvetkov completed a project earlier this year; he called it "Your Face Is Big Data". For the project, he took 100 photographs of random people who happened to sit across from him on the subway. Then he used an Android app called Find Face to see if he could match the strangers with their accounts on Russia's version of Facebook, VKontakte.

    The result? He was easily able to identify about 70% of his subjects, even if their morning commute face bore little resemblance to their staged profile pic. As for the purpose of this privacy invasion, here's Tsvetkov himself to justify what he did:

    “My project is a clear illustration of the future that awaits us if we continue to disclose as much about ourselves on the Internet as we do now.”
    For a gallery of Egor's subway and social media matches, check out the first link directly below. The second link has more information about Tsvetkov and his project.

    Sources: Imgur, PC World

    by Published on 12-02-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Tips

    ... Provided you meet their stringent requirements, of course.

    If you're the unlucky owner of an iPhone 6s that randomly shuts down, but lucky enough to have purchased one manufactured in the narrow window of September to October, 2015, then your affected device might be due for a new battery, free of charge from Apple.

    Here's how to find out if your 6s is eligible: Get the serial number for your device by navigating to Settings > General > About then enter that number on this site. If you get a green light you can proceed to your local Apple retail store, Apple authorized service provider or call Apple Support directly.

    There are additional stipulations, of course. Your phone must be in good working condition—a cracked screen, for example, would interfere with the battery replacement process and is therefore not eligible for the program.

    Fingers crossed that everyone affected gets a new battery...!

    Sources: MacRumors via ZDNet

    by Published on 09-30-2016 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips,
    3. Carriers
    Article Preview

    I found an interesting deal on mobile hotspot Internet service from Sprint, courtesy of author and Internet freedom fighter Cory Doctorow.

    The Calyx Institute is a registered nonprofit ISP—the first ISP, in fact, to ever get a Patriot Act warrant unsealed. They're able to offer mobile Internet service through Sprint thanks to a condition of that company's 2013 acquisition of Clearwire. There was a stipulation in that deal that nonprofits get access to the network at very low prices.

    You're technically paying for a membership, not the Internet service itself. But the Internet service is a pretty sweet perk. I'll let Cory explain:

    Calyx uses the wireless data service as a membership premium to help pay for their crypto and privacy supporting activities: to pay for multiple gigabit connections, data center space, etc.. to offer a whole array of free security and privacy services to the public including our LEAP based VPN, their encrypted instant messaging service, and their many Tor exit nodes.

    The upshot? For $500, Calyx will send you a little wifi hotspot with a Sprint SIM in it that comes with a year's worth of unlimited, anonymous, unshaped, unfiltered 4G/LTE bandwidth on Sprint's network. Unlimited as in, I downloaded 60GB with mine and it didn't break a sweat.

    And it's a tax-deductible charitable donation.
    Calyx isn't supposed to call their service unlimited; they refer to it as 30GB+. The thing is, after 30GB in transfers nothing changes; the user isn't throttled in any way and there are no overage charges whatsoever. Even better, the cost of service drops to $400 after the first year, since you'll already have the hotspot required to access the network.

    Carrying around an extra piece of gear can be a burden, but has advantages as well. For example, it's generally much safer to connect your laptop to your own hotspot than to someone else's WiFi network. You'll also be the instant life of the party for your cheapskate friends who have little or no data of their own. ...
    by Published on 08-25-2016 08:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Tips

    If you own an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, I'm afraid that I've some bad news for you: Both of Apple's 2014 smartphones are susceptible to a growing phenomenon called "touch disease", wherein a grey flickering bar appears across the top of your display and your touchscreen becomes unresponsive.

    The iFixit video above details the issue and how it can be fixed. It's basically a perfect storm of manufacturing issues—inadequate protection of the Touch IC chips on the phones' logic boards, combined with the rather bendy nature of the chassis. The good news is that for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus Apple moved the Touch IC chip off of the logic board and onto the display assembly where there's less flex. But if your 6-series iPhone gets afflicted with touch disease your only options are either a board-level repair or a new phone.

    Jessa Jones of iPad Rehab, interviewed in the video, has repeatedly tried to educate iPhone owners on what she sees as a growing epidemic; she has since been banned from Apple's Support Forums. As of this writing, Apple has not officially acknowledged the existence of touch disease. ...
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