Sunday, November 27, 2016

Decrapification of the PRIV

From the Urban Dictionary:
decrapification - The act of removing all the pre-installed crap from your Dell or HP computer PRIV smartphone. 
Other than the one time problem I had with Carrier IQ I really never had a problem with the AT&T bloatware on the BlackBerry PRIV.

In late summer 2016 many PRIVs started experiencing "No Service" when using LTE. There was some speculation that the problem was related to changes AT&T made in their LTE network to support the iPhone 7 running a new radio chip. In early November BlackBerry released an apk that corrected the "No Service" situation.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

It seems that AT&T has pretty much walked away from the PRIV. Obviously they dumped a large portion of their PRIV inventory onto liquidators as I bought mine for $300 with a carrier unlock code taped to the unsealed AT&T box.

A couple of days after BlackBerry released the "No Service" apk they rolled out a 1.8GB (not a typo) Over the Air (OTA) update to remove all the AT&T software from the now orphaned AT&T BlackBerry PRIVs.

Just for icing on the cake, this OTA included the Android November security updates.

The AT&T boot animation (including music) is gone and the software updates now come from BlackBerry, not AT&T.

Maybe it should be called the Nexus PRIV.

You really have to give some props to BlackBerry for this.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Windows 10 is the Last Version of Windows - NOT

Do you remember Microsoft's statement about Windows 10?
"Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10." Jerry Nixon, Microsoft
Source: The Verge
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

As of the end of 2016 there have been 3 "versions" of Windows 10. Here are 2 pages from Microsoft that call out the "versions."

But here's the issue with this relatively rapid push of Windows "versions."

Each of these "versions" (1507, 1511, 1607) are the process equivalent of a Windows upgrade. Each time you get one of these pushed via Windows Update your system goes through a Windows upgrade process similar to going from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

While the process is greatly streamlined from the Windows 7 to Windows 8 upgrade, the system still suffers all the trauma of a Windows upgrade.

I have been pleased up until the Anniversary Update (1607). Early on with 1607 I heard rumblings of problems with the upgrade. One of the problems had to do with systems booting from SSDs so since I am running Windows 10 Professional I was able to defer the upgrade.

After things quieted down I decided to let Trump upgrade. The process took about an hour and had every appearance of going perfectly.


After the upgrade I played around for a few minutes and everything seemed to be working so I turned in for the night. In the morning I went back in to check it and the screen wouldn't come back on. The system unit's power light was on but it wouldn't wake up for a tap of the power button. It took a hard reboot to get it back working.

Again everything seemed to be working so I walked away. When I came back in a little while it was locked up again. I started problem determination and finally associated the lockup with the power plan turning off the display. I set the time to "never" and it stayed up all night.

Then I remembered that a day or two before the upgrade AMD updated the video drivers for the Radeon V7 240. I went to the Start menu and typed "AMD". There was an entry there for AMD's utility but when I clicked on it it was missing.

The Anniversary Update had SILENTLY REMOVED the necessary drivers and the utility that I had installed to maintain them. I went back to the AMD site and download and reinstalled the proper drivers.


Why did Anniversary Update do that and break my system? What if I had been a "normal" user and didn't have the problem determination/resolution skills that I have?

That was the first problem.

Then I went back to my day to day laptop. I had a file that I needed to save on the D: drive of Trump. I was prompted for a userid/password.

I hadn't had to do that before the Anniversary Update. So off I went to do problem determination on this problem.

It turns out that you now have to turn off password protected sharing.

Neither of these are real show stoppers but if Microsoft is going to churn Windows versions twice a year they have GOT to overcome these types of problems.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Network Sharing

I always share the data drive of my "server" with the house. My goal is to make it painless, i.e. no passwords.

Every time I rebuild the server (or upgrade Windows, e.g. Anniversary Update) I have to remember what to do.

Here's how I do it.

Sharing a folder in a network
  1. Right-click on the folder/drive that you wish the share and select "Properties".
  2. Select the tab "Sharing" and click on "Advanced Sharing..."
  3. Tick the box "Share this folder" and enter a share name for it.
  4. Click on permissions, mark the group entry "Everyone" and configure the network permissions for this folder in the lower field according to your requirements. If you just want to release your files for copying, allowing "Read" is usually enough.
Setting the right permissions
  1. Right-click on the folder/drive in question and select "Properties" again.
  2. This time, switch to the tab "Security" and click on "Edit...", followed by "Add...".
  3. In this window, enter "Everyone" into the empty field at the bottom and click on "OK".
  4. Take a quick look at the permissions for "Everyone" and make sure they are all set correctly. If everything is in order, close all windows with "OK".
Deactivating password-protected sharing
  1. Open the control panel and go to "Network and Sharing Center".
  2. Click on "Change advanced sharing settings".
  3. Look for your active profile at the top, expand it (if it isn't already) and scroll down to the option "Password protected sharing".
  4. Check the option "Turn off password protected sharing" and click on "Save changes". Be aware that this will make all shared folders readily accessible for anyone inside your home network.
Source: PC Advisor

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Smart Lock for Android

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced a new Smart Lock feature. Smart Lock allows you to declare specific situations where you want your phone to be unlocked.

I use this feature and find myself only having to enter my PIN 1-2 times per day.

Here's how to do it.

I use "Trusted devices," "Trusted places" and "On-body detection."

While "Trusted devices" and "Trusted places" are pretty obvious, "On-body detection" is more subtle.

"On-body detection" keeps the phone unlocked while it is moving such as in your pocket. When the device becomes still for a few seconds it locks and requires the PIN to access. An example is when you set the phone on a table for a few seconds it locks. Nice.

Overnight, specifically after 4 hours idle, the phone locks regardless of trusted situations.

As always there are 2 sides to this story. Here's the other.

Remember what the president of our company said "iPhone users just don't understand what they're missing."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Google Opinion Rewards

One day at lunch a former co-worked asked me if I used Google Opinion Rewards. I hadn't heard of it. I found it in the Play Store and installed it.

Surveys pop up in the notifications bar and you can ignore them by swiping them away or clicking on them and taking the survey.

Upon completion Google gives you a nominal award of Google Play credit. Most run less than 50¢ but add up quickly.

Here are a couple of the recent surveys offered to me.

Thansks to for the gifs.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Not UPnP

If you don't read Krebs on Security you should. Recently his website was attached by the largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack ever seen. Investigation showed that it was powered by infected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, mostly media devices.

Subsequently he wrote a post on "Who Makes the IoT Things Under Attack?"

To me the key point in this post was:
...many IoT devices will use a technology called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) that will automatically open specific virtual portholes or “ports,” essentially poking a hole in the router’s shield for that device that allows it to be communicated with from the wider Internet.
If you don't know what Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is go read the wikipedia article here.

But that article is long and dry. The problem with UPnP is finally described here:
NAT traversal One solution for NAT traversal, called the Internet Gateway Device Protocol (IGD Protocol), is implemented via UPnP. Many routers and firewalls expose themselves as Internet Gateway Devices, allowing any local UPnP control point to perform a variety of actions, including retrieving the external IP address of the device, enumerate existing port mappings, and add or remove port mappings. By adding a port mapping, a UPnP controller behind the IGD can enable traversal of the IGD from an external address to an internal client.
Now read that again.
Many routers and firewalls ... allowing any local UPnP control point to ... add or remove port mappings.
Do you realize how BAD that is?

But the solution is easy. In your router just disable UPnP.

Do it NOW.

Update: Listen to Security Now 583

Update 2: I told you - Connections are allowed into the device from the outside world via UPnP.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to Turn Off LTE

There is currently a situation involving BlackBerry PRIVs and various mobile networks. The symptom is that your phone displays "No Service" and you have to reboot to restore service.

Along the way, I came across a technique to disable LTE and leave HSPA enabled.

LTE is a notorious consumer of battery and HSPA typically yields around 10Mbps down so even without the "No Service" issue turning off LTE is probably worth considering.

First go to the Dialer. Enter *#*#4636#*#*.

As soon as you enter the final asterisk, your phone should display a "Testing" menu.

Tap on "Phone Info".

The 4G LTE Switch app in the Play Store will take you directly to this menu. Scroll down until you see "Set preferred network type:"

Just below that you'll see the current network type, probably "LTE/GSM auto (PRL)" and a little "twistie" over to the right. Remember what that value is so you can reset to that if needed.

Tap on that "twistie."

Scroll through the resulting menu.

Tap on "GSM auto (PRL)". Now tap on the back button until you exit this menu. Don't just tap the home button.

Here's the download speed I'm getting.

You may have to repeat this after you restart your phone.