Sunday, April 22, 2018

iOS Battery Usage

I check and log my smartphone battery reading at 10:00 each night and calculate % of battery consumed per hour.

Here's a chart of my findings on my iPhone 6.

I don't claim this to be scientific, just interesting.

iOS 11 introduced a significant increase in battery consumption then something was changed in iOS 11.2.1 that noticeably reduced battery consumption.

As the phone ages, the battery capacity reduces thus increasing the % per hour due to a smaller base. I didn't include this in my logging as until iOS 11.3 Apple didn't expose the battery capacity.

Incidentally, my battery capacity was 87% on the first of February and 86% on the first of April.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Google Maps Timeline

I use Google Location Services to create a timeline of my travels.

Since I've been using the iPhone 6s I've noticed that the resolution of the tracks has been pretty coarse.

When I switched to the Essential Phone there was a significant improvement in resolution.

Undoubtedly at the expense of battery life.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

How to Sandbox Facebook

Facebook "follows" your web browsing even on other sites.
Facebook's business model is to amass as much first-party and third-party data on you as possible, and slowly dole out access to it. If you’re using Facebook, you're entrusting the company with records of everything you do.
I try to minimize the opportunity for Facebook to gather information. I'm sure my technique is not foolproof but it is better than nothing.

When I launch Facebook I do it in a Chrome incognito window.

To be the most effective this should be the only tab that you are using as incognito.

If I want to click on a link in a Facebook post (which I generally don't recommend), I right click on the link and choose "Copy link address".

Then I leave the incognito window and go back to my normal browser window.

Open a new tab and paste the copied URL into the address bar. BUT DON'T PRESS ENTER.

Look at that link and see if it looks like this:

If you really HAVE to go to that link, type the title of the page into Google (or DuckDuckGo) and let Google find it for you. Because if you click on that link Facebook will record that you've been to that page and "follow" you wherever you go from that page.

When you're through with that session of Facebook, log out and close that incognito tab. That should close the incognito window as well if that was the only tab.

As an example of what various pages do to track you. The Guardian posted an article ( - intentionally NOT linked) on "Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you". That web page had four sets of Facebook tracking and nine sets of Google tracking.

You can see where Facebook has followed you by going here.

I also run uBlock Origin. You can get it here for Chrome and here for Firefox. If you use the above technique of running Facebook in an incognito window be sure to allow uBlock Origin to run in incognito. This article has a discussion of uBlock Origin settings for Facebook.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

So What's Going on with Facebook?

Cambridge Analytica reportedly mined information from 50 million Facebook users for the benefit of the Trump and Brexit campaigns. And bragged about it.

They got the data from Facebook before 2014. Facebook didn't sell it to them. Facebook just GAVE it to them. Up until that time Facebook allowed Facebook applications to not only get profile data from the user who ran an application but allowed them to get profile data from the friends of that user. The terms of service ALWAYS said that you were sharing your friends' profile data. Most people just didn't read them.

This stretch to friends' profiles was removed in 2014.

Cambridge Analytica used Amazon's Mechanical Turk to engage about 270,000 users to run an application (e.g., a game or survey) on Facebook that gave Cambridge Analytica access to 50 million other users' profile data who were "friends" of that group.

You can split hairs about who violated whose terms of service but the result is that millions of Facebook users' personal data was shared and used for data mining.

It raises serious questions about how Facebook handles your personal data. Especially after you read this 2016 memo ( from a Facebook Vice President.

Mark Zuckerberg had an interview on the BBC in 2009. Here's an excerpt of it:
BBC: So who is going to own the Facebook content, the person who puts it there or you?
Zuckerberg: The person who's putting the content on Facebook always own the information.
BBC: Are you going to sell it?
Zuckerberg: No, of course not.
Watch it below.

As noted above Facebook didn't SELL the information. They just GAVE it away.

And it's not just profile data that Facebook was gathering and retaining. TechCrunch (a Verizon property) had an article recently that described Facebook's tracking Android users’ SMS and phone call metadata as "concealment."

So what can you do?

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook:
Hey everyone...I am deleting my FB account and messenger on          . My Instagram account is          . You can find me there. If you want my email addy or telephone number, please just reach out.
Here's my reply:
Google (and your ISP) has similar data but it's not apparent YET that Google gives/sells it like Facebook. There's no telling what the ISPs are doing with it.

Like you, I signed up for Google Plus at the beginning and go there once a week or so. Honestly there's no one on it.

No good answer other than to recognize that all these big companies have access to broad data about you and with "big data" tools they can analyze it and monetize it.

The good news is that unless you are a "target" (e.g. CFO at a Fortune 1000 company) nobody much cares what web sites you go to or where you live.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJD) has had a couple of good articles on Facebook privacy. If you don't have a subscription I've included a technique at the end of this post that may let you read them. Unfortunately it requires you to use Facebook.

One article gives you a step by step of how to dump Facebook. To turn off apps, go here. To manage ads, go here. This link will show you where Facebook has tracked you. Delete them all.

Another article described how to download your Facebook data and what to look for.
You can request a folder of the things you have uploaded to or shared on Facebook from all your sessions on various devices - plus other curious information - to save on your computer. Here are instructions. Once you unzip the folder, open the "index.htm" file in a browser, and start looking around.

What isn't in this single download is a lot of the behind-the-scenes data that Facebook may use to increase engagement and target ads. For instance, it doesn't list people who might have uploaded your phone number or other information when syncing their contacts with Facebook. It doesn't say what ads third-party data providers have targeted at you, or which bit of your grocery shopping or web browsing prompted such ads. (No, Facebook isn't listening through your microphone - it doesn't need to.)
Here's the list of the behind-the-scenes data that Facebook keeps on you.

And if you're worried about Facebook you may be worrying about the wrong thing. Go read this article on your ISP.

And Google? OMG! Here's how to see what they have.

So what do you do?

Scott McNealy, the founder of Sun Microsystems said (
You have zero privacy anyway, Get over it.
The reality is that individually you're not much of a target. Unhook as much of Facebook as you can. And always read the terms of service carefully.

The way I read WSJ articles is to paste the URL into Facebook's "What's on your mind?" box then change the audience to "Only me" and post. Then when I click on the link in the private post it opens to the full story. Then I delete the private post. Remember to change the audience back to whatever you usually use.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Change is Essential

I seem to really have a soft spot for niche phones. I've had a Moto X , a Nexus 5, and a BlackBerry PRIV just to name a few.

I've done it again. I just bought an Essential PH-1. In late 2017 it was estimated that only about 50,000 had been sold. That makes the BlackBerry PRIV look like a runaway success at about 600,000 sold.

Essential was founded by Andy Rubin, the inventor of Android.

It's a gorgeous phone closely resembling the iPhone X in appearance and size.

Here's how it compares to my iPhone 6s.

Apple iPhone 6sEssential iPhone
Device typeSmart phoneSmart phone
OSiOS (10.x, 9.x)Android (7.1)
Dimensions5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches (138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm)5.57 x 2.80 x 0.31 inches (141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8 mm)
Weight5.04 oz (143 g)6.53 oz (185 g)
MaterialsMain body: AluminumMain body: Ceramic; Accents: Titanium
FeaturesFingerprint (touch)Fingerprint (touch)
Physical size4.7 inches5.7 inches
Resolution750 x 1334 pixels1312 x 2560 pixels
Pixel density326 ppi504 ppi
Screen-to-body ratio65.71 %84.85 %
Colors16 777 21616 777 216
FeaturesPressure-sensitive, Oleophobic coating, Scratch-resistant glass, Light sensor, Proximity sensorScratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 5), Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor
Camera12 megapixels13 megapixels
   Aperture sizeF2.2F1.9
   Focal length (35mm equivalent)29 mm
   Camera sensor size1/3"
Sapphire crystal lens cover, Autofocus, Back-illuminated sensor (BSI)Dual-camera (13-megapixel), Autofocus (Laser, Phase detection)
Touch to focus, Face detection, Self-timer, Geo taggingTouch to focus, Face detection, Self-timer, Digital zoom, Geo tagging
Camcorder3840x2160 (4K) (30 fps), 1920x1080 (1080p HD) (120 fps), 1280x720 (720p HD) (240 fps)3840x2160 (4K) (30 fps), 1920x1080 (1080p HD) (60 fps), 1280x720 (720p HD) (120 fps)
   FeaturesTime-lapse video, Continuous autofocus, Digital image stabilization, Video calling, Video sharingVideo calling, Video sharing
Front-facing camera5 megapixels8 megapixels
System chipApple A9 APL0898Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 MSM8998
ProcessorDual-core, 1840 MHz, Twister, 64-bitOcta-core, 2450 MHz, Kryo 280, 64-bit, 10 nm
Graphics processorPowerVR GT7600Adreno 540
System memory2048 MB RAM4096 MB RAM
Built-in storage64 GB128 GB
Maximum User Storage

Storage expansion

Talk time14.00 hours
Stand-by time10.0 days (240 hours)
Capacity1715 mAh3040 mAh
Not user replaceableYesYes
Wireless charging

Music player
   Filter byAlbum, Artist, Genre, PlaylistsAlbum, Artist, Genre, Playlists
   FeaturesAlbum art cover, Background playbackAlbum art cover, Background playback
SpeakersEarpiece, LoudspeakerEarpiece, Loudspeaker
YouTube playerYesYes
Built-in online services supportYouTube (upload), Picasa/Google+YouTube (upload), Picasa/Google+
CDMA800, 1700/2100, 1900 MHz800, 1900 MH
GSM850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
FDD LTEBands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30
DataLTE-A Cat 6 (300/50 Mbit/s), HSPA, HSUPALTE-A Pro Cat 16 (1000/150 Mbit/s)

PositioningGPS, A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Cell ID, Wi-Fi positioningGPS, A-GPS, Glonass
NavigationTurn-by-turn navigation, Voice navigationTurn-by-turn navigation, Voice navigation
Wi-Fi802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, dual-band802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, dual-band
   Mobile hotspotYesYes
   ConnectorProprietaryUSB Type-C (reversible)
   FeaturesUSB chargingUSB charging

OtherNFC, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA syncNFC, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync
NotificationsService lights, Haptic feedback, Music ringtones (MP3), Polyphonic ringtones, Vibration, Flight mode, Silent mode, SpeakerphoneService lights, Haptic feedback
SensorsAccelerometer, Gyroscope, CompassAccelerometer, Compass, Gesture
Hearing aid compatibilityM3, T4
OtherVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recording, TTY/TDDVoice dialing, Voice commands, Voice recording
Officially announced09 Sep 201530 May 2017
FCC Approval09 Sep 201526 Jun 2017

The day after I got it it updated to Oreo 8.1.

Then I sold it within a week.


I searched for a spring-clip belt holster without finding one. I know that is only slightly less geeky than a pocket protector but it is what I'm used to.

My bank's debit card doesn't support Google Pay. Apple Pay is supported.

The PH-1 has a weak vibration motor like the OnePlus One.

I tried to use Dropbox to move pictures from the PH-1 to my PC. Most of the pictures I was saving were being texted to me so they were in Android Messages. Messages saves them in Photos / Messages and Dropbox wouldn't look there for the Camera Uploads process.

I like the physical muting switch on the iPhone. Android has a complicated "Do not disturb" process that involves stared contacts, downtime and priorities. I just want it to not make any sounds but to still vibrate.

The fingerprint reader on the Essential is so much better than the iPhone 6s. It's in a natural place and reads quick.

Both of my Bluetooth ear buds misbehaved on the PH-1. They tended to switch the audio between ears occasionally and then switch right back. It wasn't continuous and wasn't very frequent.

The PH-1 uses USB C for charging and earphones. I had to buy USB A to USB C cables. While this was a short term hassle, long term it is clearly the direction.

Android is not nearly as aggressive as iOS at throttling apps running in the background. Even after Oreo 8.1 GasBuddy used 10% of my battery capacity on the PH-1 and I had NEVER launched it. The flip side of this is that iOS doesn't give Google Maps' location services frequent GPS updates. This makes my Google Maps Timeline have poor resolution (more on this later). Similarly Google Maps often opens with the wrong location on the iPhone.

Android Oreo 8.1 is really improving battery life (after I uninstalled GasBuddy). Admittedly my sample is very small but the mAh/hour for the PH-1 on Oreo 8.1 was 68.5 compared to 52.8 for the iPhone 6s for the last 5 weekdays I tracked. There are more details here.

I can't believe I gave up a flagship Android for a 2 year old iPhone but I did.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

One Hour and Six Minutes

I continue to be a huge fan of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

I still have Android Auto active in my Pilot all the time. I've gotten to where I input my destination any time I have to travel on the Interstate even if I know my route blindfolded.

Using traffic data Android Auto and CarPlay suggest alternative routing based on conditions.

Every now and then as I navigate I-240 in the Memphis area Android Auto will suggest getting off and then back on the Interstate to avoid a traffic slowdown. The savings are typically in the single digit minutes for a sub-30 minute drive.

Nice but no big deal.

However recently we were in Jackson, MS. As we entered I-55 I tapped the "Home" button on the Android Auto screen. It calculated a route and an ETA and off we went.

I have Android Auto muted except for traffic alerts. Within 2 miles Android Auto piped up with something to the effect "Due to a traffic slowdown on your route there is a suggested alternative route. This will reduce your ETA by one hour and six minutes."


Needless to say I took the alternative route. There was a wreck on I-55 that had it closed in both directions.

The alternative route had me exit I-55 and travel on a parallel surface road to the next exit. Reentering the Interstate there was no problem as there was no traffic coming from behind me. 😀

If your car doesn't have an Android Auto or Apple CarPlay head unit, look at this.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

It's Not Our Fault

I follow the Internet Storm Center's diary. Recently one of the entries related a situation with a personal NAS (Network Attached Storage) with terabytes of data. It was configured with RAID5. The NAS vendor offered a cloud backup service that he used.

He had a detailed backup plan consisting of:
  • a daily backup to a cloud storage provider
  • a monthly backup to an external disk (physically stored away from the source)
  • a file restore test performed every month (ex: restore file ‘x' backup at time ‘t’)

While this diary is about a personal situation the lessons apply to enterprise as well.

The power failed in his area and the NAS crashed hard. He reloaded the operating system and rebuild the RAID5.

No data was lost.

But then he had to “relink” the existing cloud backup with the new backup task on the NAS. That  failed with strange error messages saying that some files were not found.

After the normal "Turn it off and back on" with no success the vendor responded:
Thank you to try to log on your cloud service console to check if your files are available. If they are not available, please contact your cloud service support to get more help. We already notified them about this issue and we received a lot of complaints from other customers who are facing the same issue. You should try to see with them how to recover your files, if possible...
Remember that "your cloud service" was arranged by the NAS vendor.

Yep, his cloud backup was lost (1.5TB of data).

What if that had been YOUR enterprise data?

Have a plan. Have a backup to that plan. Test it. Test it again.