Sunday, January 19, 2020

Startpage

Are you worried about what Google knows about you? Here's a way to reduce that AND what the web sites you visit know about you.

It's startpage.com.

Their tagline is:.
The world's most private search engine.
While that's not a very high bar, every little bit helps.

Startpage is headquartered in the Netherlands so it operates under the European Union's privacy regulations.

If you've tried alternative search engines, you've probably been disappointed with the results. However Startpage has an arrangement with Google  This is done without saving the users' IP addresses or giving any personal user information to Google's servers.

But the part I really like of Startpage is the anonymous surfing feature. Here's an example.


Here's where the Anonymous View took me.


Notice that the page is framed so that you know you are anonymous. You can break out by clicking on the "door" in the bottom right corner.

I was interested in why there was this big blank space so I loaded the page normally.


The nytimes.com site was trying to get the user to give them credentials.

Good job Startpage!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Happy New Year

The start of a new year is a good time to review a few things and make sure everything is right. Here's my list of things I think you should check once a year.
Some of the steps may be a little out of date but I think you can find your way around. If not, leave me a comment and I'll help.

PayPal Preapproved Payments
Offline Backup
Certificate Store
Router Configuration
Windows Defender and Windows Defender Offline
Controlled Folder Access
System Restore

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Mobile Data History

I track my mobile data monthly and have been doing this since early 2010.

Pretty interesting.

You can certainly see where the smartphone data picked up in April 2011 when I got a Samsung Galaxy S. My wife's data picked up later that year when she got an iPhone.

The spikes generally correlate to travel where either I'm using my smartphone for tethering or where we use mobile data rather than Wi-Fi.

The bright green bars are from Android Auto or Car Play. The spikes there are when we are traveling and using both the mapping capabilities and streaming Memphis radio.

AT&T's plans have been outstripping my mobile data usage. For the last 12 months, my average was less than 2GB. The highest month was less than 4GB when we were traveling. My AT&T plan is 35GB with one month rollover.

I regularly review AT&T's plans but lowering the data plan doesn't significantly reduce the monthly cost. Their incentives are to drive customers to unlimited data plans. This is often at the loss of tethering.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

My WWW is Missing


Do you use Google Chrome? If you do, this post is for you.

In recent versions of Chrome, Google has removed "trivial" subdomains like "www". They had already removed the "http://".

If you are using Chrome right now, look up at the address bar. You don't see the "http://" or the "www".

Now single left click in the address bar. The URL turns blue.

Now press "Home".

That changed didn't it? That is what Google calls trivial.

Generally that removal isn't a problem but recently I ran into a situation where it was.

I was on the phone with a Delta Vacations representative looking for hotels. She told me to go to "hotels-delta.com". That gave me a 404 error. She and I were both confused.

Here's what the full URL should have been:
https://www.hotels-delta.com/
I had to type the "www." in front of hotels-delta.com.

Here's how Ghacks describes this problem:
Another issue that users may run into is when a site uses www exclusively. Chrome displays the domain without www only and some users may try to load the domain without www as a consequence in the future. If there is no redirect, Chrome will display a 404 not found error instead.
Think about the problems this is creating for the Delta Vacations Customer Service department.

And you.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Wyze Camera Update

I've posted a couple of articles about my Wyze camera.

I'm still extraordinarily pleased with it, so much that I've expanded my usage.

I wanted to put one on each front corner of my house and keep the first one on my back porch.

While the Wyze cameras are sold as indoor, there are several vendors offering enclosures that seem to have pretty good reviews. I bought a 3-pack of these.



Then I bought 2 additional Wyze cameras and Wyze 32GB microSD cards.

In each location, I had an electrician put a receptacle for the USB power adapter inside my crawl space. Then I ran the USB cable through a hole in the soffit into the crawl space. I notched the base of the outdoor case to allow the USB cable to go underneath the base. Then I put the base of the outdoor case over the hole in the soffit. Works like a charm.


Running the cameras in SD mode gives 5-7 days of continuous video recording. SD mode is still 1920x1080. Here's a sample of the video.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Stop/Start Killer

Different manufacturers have different terms for this technology. In summary what it does is kill the engine when you stop while still in gear, e.g. at a stoplight. Then when you release the brake the engine will restart. Let's just say that this is not a very popular feature in newer vehicles.

I had wrestled with this new-fangled technology when I was shopping for an SUV in late 2017. I actually bought a lower model SUV to avoid this technology.

3 years later my daughter bought a 2019 Chevrolet Traverse. Needless to say it had this Stop/Start feature. While it irritated her she tolerated it.

Until...

She had an aftermarket DVD system installed. When the engine restarted as she released the brake the DVD system sensed the voltage drop and powered down. This didn't sit well with her 3-year old.

The organization that had installed the DVD system performed all the tricks that they had with no resolution.

I acquired SmartStopStart from smartstopstart.com. The method of installation was to install the device inline with the sensor for the hood. It worked by tricking the ECU into thinking that the hood was open when the engine started. This succeeded in defeating the Stop/Start and the engine keep running. However, the remote start capability no longer worked. The vendor worked closely with me but couldn't overcome the loss of remote start. I returned the device.

Then I came across the Start/Stop Disabler from Range Technologies. The method of installation was even easier that SmartStopStart. It simply plugs into the OBD2 port under the dash.


And it works perfectly.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

32,766, 32,767, 32,768, BANG

That's the sound of your data becoming permanently unreadable.

Calm down. Unless you have a RAID system populated with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Serial-Attached SCSI solid-state drives.
HP Enterprise (HPE) recently confirmed that some SAS interface SSD has a serious BUG, will be the total power-up time accumulated to 32768 hours (3 years, 270 days 8 hours) after hanging up directly, the result is that the disk storage content is all disappeared, and can not be recovered. - from small tech news
While this almost certainly doesn't affect consumer systems, the risk for enterprise customers is very real.

And think through this. If an enterprise had populated a RAID system with these drives and turned them on at the same time (as would be normal), ALL of the drives in the RAID system would fail simultaneously. There goes your data.

Bad news.

Worse, these drives were made by an unnamed supplier. The same problem could manifest in other brands of drives.