Sunday, December 09, 2018

Night Sight

The camera on Google's latest Pixel 3 smartphone introduced "Night Sight" capability in the Camera app. Initially it was available on only Pixel 3s but has trickled down to all Pixels with varying capabilities.

But Android is a community of hackers. Almost immediately this new Camera app was cross-ported to several other Android phones.

Of course my current Essential PH-1 was one of the ports.

I've installed a couple of the ports. Here's a comparison of a photo taken with the OEM Essential camera app and a port (AeroZero_P3_GC_6.1.013_ABC_2.apk) of the Night Sight camera:


Why have I installed a couple of the ports?

Well, honestly they're still a little rough around the edges.

For example, the Essential PH-1 lets you set an app to launch on a double-press of the power button. Typically that is set to the camera app. On the first port of the Night Sight camera that I tried would prompt for additional permissions when invoked with the double-press of the power button.

The second port I tried consumed a lot of battery and wouldn't take photos back to back while is was doing HDR+ processing. The delay due to HDR+ processing may be normal but I hadn't run into it before.

Current status is that I have a Night Sight camera app (GoogleCamera_6.1.013.216795316-debug.apk) installed but it is not my default camera.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

PayPal Preapproved Payments - Update

This is an update to an old post of mine but it is worth repeating from time to time, especially in this season of online shopping.

Recently we bought something from Wayfair and used PayPal to pay for it. We selected to use a debit card as payment to PayPal. We thought that was relatively safe as Wayfair wouldn't have access to the debit card and could only process that one transaction.

How wrong we were.

My wife was subsequently buying something else from Wayfair and chose to pay with PayPal. The checkout went smoothly. Too smoothly.

She noticed that even though she had chosen to pay with PayPal she had not been prompted by PayPal to approve the charges.

That was odd.

While the charges were acceptable giving Wayfair the ability to process charges and debits against her checking account without our approval is not what we had intended.

It turns out that a during the previous purchase from Wayfair that was paid for with PayPal, Wayfair categorized the PayPal transaction as requesting an agreement for automatic payment approval.

This wasn't obvious as we approved the PayPal transaction at the time.

And PayPal doesn't make it easy to find these agreements on their site.

Here's how to find them.

Login to PayPal as normal.

Then up in the top right is a little gray gear (1). Click on that.

On the next screen scroll find "PAYMENTS" (2). Click on that.

There will be a section of "Automatic payments". Look down and find "Manage automatic payments" (3). Click on that.



You'll get a list of "Automatic payments". Click on "Show active". You may need to click on "See more" to get the entire list.


Click on each merchant in the list. On the next screen click on "Cancel" if you want to cancel this payment agreement.


A little bit of advice, don't cancel "iTunes and App Store".

This verges on sneaky, both on the part of the merchant and PayPal.

And while I have your attention on PayPal, go read this.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Start Menu

There are several changes to the Start menu in Windows 10 1809 but this one I haven't seen mentioned.

In Windows 10 1803 if you click on the Start icon and type an application name, it'll pop up. Click on it and it launches.


But in Windows 10 1809 it's all different.

Yeah, it'll still pop up the application name but look at the other information that's presented.


You can directly click on one of the recent files that have been used with that application.

Nice.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Snip and Sketch

Since at least Windows 7, Windows has had a Snipping Tool. I've always accessed it by pressing the Windows key and typing "snipping". Or you can press Windows key + Shift + S, then drag your cursor over a portion of the screen to capture it. The Snipping Tool had some simple mark-up tools.

In Windows 10 1809 the Snipping Tool is still there but there's a new Snip & Sketch UWP app. Pressing Windows key + Shift + S brings up a small toolbar with icons let you capture a rectangular portion of the screen, the entire screen, or a freehand-drawn portion of the screen.


If you click on the notification you'll see the UWP app with the editing tools.


These are much more capable than those in the pre-1809 Snipping Tool.


It's simple but certainly a nice improvement.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Windows 10 October 2018 Anyway

As I wrote back in October, I had hastily installed Windows 10 1809 just before Microsoft pulled it. I still haven't had any problems with it.

However I came across this post that pointed out that those PCs that had installed Windows 10 1809 hadn't gotten ANY updates since the October Cumulative Update.

This is significant as Microsoft has merrily been fixing the numerous problems discovered in Windows 10 1809 and pushing out new builds to Windows 10 19H1 through the Windows Insider Program.

So I wanted to get updated. But not jump into the fire with Windows 10 19H1.

In the above mentioned howtogeek.com post, a thread in the comments pointed me to a windowsupdate.com URL that contained the CAB file for Windows 10 1809 build 17763.107. Search the comment thread for KB4464455v2.

Microsoft has apparently had problems even with that as there are 2 versions of KB4464455.

To save you some trouble, here's the URL:
download.windowsupdate.com/c/msdownload/update/software/updt/2018/11/windows10.0-kb4464455-x64_de985f6d38215b316470dbecabb453c762a217af.cab
Now, what to do with a CAB file?

As has become typical with Windows 10 1809, nothing is easy. You have to use Microsoft's DISM to install the CAB. Here are the instructions.


It took a while and then I had to reboot.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Windows Defender Sandbox

You're going to have to think about this one some.

Think about how any anti-virus program has to parse all the files on a system. A parser could inadvertently enable arbitrary code execution if that parser has any vulnerabilities.

So what to do?

Run the parser in a sandboxed environment where malicious actions are limited to the sandbox thereby protecting the rest of the system.

Microsoft's Windows Defender does this.
In other words, the Windows Defender antivirus process that analyzes downloaded files and other content will run with very few permissions.
How-To Geek
But it's not turned on by default.

To enable this feature click on the Start button, type "CMD", right click on "Command Prompt", and select "Run as administrator". Enter the following command:
setx /M MP_FORCE_USE_SANDBOX 1
Then restart your PC by holding SHIFT while you select Shutdown or Restart on the Start menu.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Anti-Virus Comparison

I'm a regular listener to TWiT's Security Now podcast with Steve Gibson. On a recent podcast Steve mentioned AV-Comparatives' anti-virus testing.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you also know I'm a fan of Windows Defender.

AV-Comparatives' September 2018 test (PDF) showed that Windows Defender was in the very top performers.


Steve's assessment was:
Given that Microsoft is one of the 6 AVs with a perfect score, maybe just using the system built into Windows is sufficient protection.
That's what I use.