Sunday, October 14, 2018

Chrome 69 - Part III

This isn't specifically MY rant although I've stubbed my toe on it.

If you haven't already go back and read Part I and Part II.

Chrome 69 logs the user in to Google automatically when they sign in to any Google service.

Adrienne Porter Felt of Google's Chrome development team posted a series of tweets "clarifying" this.

They just made me more confused.

Her "/4" tweet is where I stubbed my toe.
Plus, you now only need to sign out in one place before you share your computer with someone else.
When my wife signed out of Gmail, it signed her out of Chrome and complained loudly about it (post) (archive.is).

For the time being you can go to chrome://flags//#account-consistency and change this behavior but these workarounds tend to not live long. The flag appears to be broken in Chrome 71 and above.

Here's a post (archive.is) from someone who's really upset with the change.

Here's a post (archive.is) that's a little bit more middle of the road.
Quietly inserting a forced browser sign-in into Chrome, even though possibly done for good reasons, doesn't add any trust points for Google in an increasingly privacy-driven environment. - engadget.com
Amen.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Windows 10 October 2018 NOT

Microsoft seems to have made a mess of their latest rollout of Windows 10.

Windows 10 October 2018 (1809) dropped on 10/02/18.

Here's a list of the new features in 1809:
  • File Explorer now features a dark theme when Dark Mode is enabled in Settings.
  • You can now name live folders in Start.
  • A new "safe removal" feature has been added that lists open applications that might be using an external GPU connected via Thunderbolt 3.
  • Notifications in the Action Center now feature a fade-in effect when the Action Center is opened.
  • A redesigned snipping experience is present and can be accessed via WIN + SHIFT + S.
  • Snips will now present a notification that will open up into Screen Sketch, which is now a dedicated app.
  • You can now configure pen peripherals to take a snip when pressing a button.
  • The Print Screen button can now be configured to open Screen Sketch.
  • A new "Screen snip" action has been added to quick actions in the Action Center.
  • Copied content can now be seen in a new clipboard experience, accessed with WIN+V, that can also sync to the cloud and across devices.
  • There are now three different modes you can select when wirelessly projecting your screen, and these modes are game, productivity, and video modes.
  • Users upgrading to this release for the first time will be welcomed with a post-OOBE UI that walks the user through setting up new features added in this release.
  • Game Bar has been redesigned with new features including an overview of system performance and more.
  • Search will now provide a download link for programs searched online.
  • You can now use Windows Mixed Reality without a monitor.
  • Storage Sense can now switch files to "online-only" if they haven't been accessed after a certain number of days, saving space on your local disk.
  • Pen users can now ink directly into text boxes by default.
  • Users can now view the real world when using Windows Mixed Reality using a headsets built-in camera.
  • Emoji 11 is now available.
  • Game bar is now accessible via the Apps List in Start.

While it's a long list, there's not really much new in there.

It turns out that many users are complaining that the upgrade process DELETED their personal files, Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, etc.

This problem with the 1809 upgrade had been reported by the Windows Insiders (testers) but Microsoft still released 1809 to the public.


Windows users who clicked "Check for updates" got it instantly.

On 10/05/18 Microsoft stopped the rollout.and advised:
We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigate isolated reports of users missing some files after updating.
If you have manually checked for updates and believe you have an issue with missing files after an update, please minimize your use of the affected device and contact us directly at +1-800-MICROSOFT, or find a local number in your area .
If you have access to a different PC, please contact us at https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contactus/ (link will vary according to country of origin).
If you have manually downloaded the Windows 10 October 2018 Update installation media, please don’t install it and wait until new media is available.
We will provide an update when we resume rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update to customers.

Wow! "[P]ease minimize your use of the affected device" and "please don’t install it."

Take their advice.

And while you've got a little time, now is a good opportunity to practice your backup AND restore.

Incidentally, I've updated my sacrificial laptop to 1809 with no problems.



Sunday, September 30, 2018

Chrome 69 - Part II

Chrome 69 introduced so many changes it's taking several posts to cover them.
In the Chrome [69] address box's "resting state" -- in other words, when you aren't typing in it or otherwise interacting -- Google now hides the HTTP or HTTPS prefix and strips out website domain qualifiers like the initial "m." that indicates a website geared for mobile devices.
cnet.com
One of Chrome's engineering managers tweeted:
We are exploring ways of drawing attention to the right identity indicators at the right times.
By removing information?

You can still reveal the full URL in Chrome 69 by double-clicking the address in the address bar, and if you copy the simplified address and paste it elsewhere it will display the full address.

You can try this by browsing to benmoore.info.


Then double click on benmoore.info.


Does the "www" matter?

Chrome now considers the "www" to be a "trivial subdomain". Others are "m" and "amp".

What's "amp" you say? Funny you should ask.

AMP is Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Google's AMP strategy has been fraught with controversy over how these pages are hosted.

Hiding the "amp" subdomain is being seen by some as a way to quell this controversy.

To make Chrome 69 show the entire URL, go to:
chrome://flags/#omnibox-ui-hide-steady-state-url-scheme-and-subdomains
Set it to "Disabled". Relaunch Chrome.

These work-arounds tend to disappear over time.

Chrome 70 seems to walking this back some.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Chrome 69 - Part I

On September 2, 2018 Google's Chrome browser turned 10 and Google released Chrome 69.

I'm not picky about subtle UI changes like rounded tabs vs. slanted tabs or even different color palates.

Things that make it harder to do what I use a browser for is what really bothers me.

Chrome 69 took the user icon out of the title bar and put it on the toolbar. When it was in the title bar it showed your first name. In that entry I changed my "name" to "." so it almost didn't show in the title bar. Chrome 69 moved it to the toolbar and now it shows your avatar. And you can't hide that icon like you can hide extension icons.

Chrome 68
Chrome 69

Prior to Chrome 69 when you hovered your mouse over the "X" of a tab to close it, the background of the "X" turned red. That provided a clear indication that you were about to close that tab. Now the background of the "X" turns to white. This doesn't give much contrast on the gray background of the tabs.

Chrome 68
Chrome 69

Notice that this highlighting is completely invisible on the tab in focus as the tab is white.

Prior to Chrome 69 when you opened an incognito window the top left of the title bar had a spy icon. It was a very obvious indicator that you were in incognito mode. Now when you open an incognito window there is a gray spy icon in the toolbar which has a gray background. Much less obvious.

Chrome 68
Chrome 69

I guess I'll get over it but I just don't understand how any of these are improvements.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Zoolz Update

I mentioned that I was using Zoolz a while back.

It's still going well.

I have added a huge folder from my Drobo 5N to Zoolz's Cold Storage capability. I'm now sitting at just over 400GB of my 1TB capacity.

I still haven't played with the Instant Vault storage.

I occasionally exercise Zoolz's restore. My most recent test took about 4 hours to restore. That was for a single file. I don't expect that will grow linearly for a larger set of files.

My next restore test will be for a full folder.

Remember that your backups are no good if they won't restore.

If you've turned on Controlled Folder Access, you need to add Zoolz.exe and ZoolzRestore.exe from C:\Program Files\Genie9\Zoolz2\,

Sunday, September 09, 2018

GDPR Cookies

You know what GDPR is, right? Great, then we can keep going.

One of the most visible results of GDPR is all the cookie notifications you've been seeing.

Here's what's behind all that.
One of the most tangible requirements of the GDPR is in the definition of what constitutes a proper cookie consent, meaning, that the consent has to be:
  • Informed: Why, how and where is the personal data used? It must be clear for the user, what the consent is given to, and it must be possible to opt-in and opt-out of the various types of cookies.
  • Based on a true choice: This means, for example, that the user must have access to the website and its functions even though all but the strictly necessary cookies have been rejected.
  • Given by means of an affirmative, positive action that can not be misinterpreted.
  • Given prior to the initial processing of the personal data.
  • Withdrawable. It must be easy for the user to change his or her mind and withdraw the consent.
But don't just click through those pesky notices. Click on them and wade through them.

It's pretty fascinating what's in them.

Recently I logged into runkeeper.com.

I got the following notice:


I didn't just click on the bright yellow "Accept cookies" like most people would.

Rather, I clicked on "> Cookie Settings".

Here's what I got:






Look at how much control I had over what cookies would be stored!

I was impressed that the "Targeting Cookies" were turned off by default.

I flipped all the switches to "Inactive" and noticed no degradation in performance or function.

By the way, here's the site referenced in the fine print at the bottom. Somebody is making a lot of money.

Some of these dialogs have actually given me the choice of which partners the site can share my information with.

Here's what I got from the Daily Star.


Don't click on "Continue and Accept All". Rather click on the tiny "here".


On the next screen click on "Continue to partners".


Look at that! They gave me a list of all their "partners."

Click on "Select all" and then on "Reject all"

You're done.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Online Audio/Visual Tools

I like online tools so I don't have to install software. I like free tools because they're, well, cheap.

Here is a collection of online audio/visual tools that I've used.

They tend to disappear over time so if one isn't working any more, drop me a note and I'll tell you if I've found a replacement.

Video Crop


Sometimes I want to "zoom in" a video before I share it. The way I do this is to crop the video just like I would do a still. Like a still, I lose some resolution but it gets the focus where I want it.

Video-Crop is what I use.

Like their web site says "You can find here damn simple and juicy tool for video cropping."

Remove Audio from Video


Especially in my dashcam video sometimes there's audio that isn't appropriate to share. AudioRemover is what I use.

MP3 from Video


When I come across a video, usually YouTube, that I want to extract the audio from and make an mp3, convert2mp3 is what I use.

Audio Cutter


If I have an mp3 that I want to trim down, e.g. for a ringtone, I use mp3cut.net.

MP3 Volume


To increase the volume of an audio clip, e.g. for a ringtone, I use mp3louder.com.

I can choose how many decibels I want to increase the volume.

YouTube to MP4


If I want to save a YouTube video, I need to convert it to a format that I can store. I use ClipConverter to do this.

Notice that ClipConverter has a variety of output formats.

Audio to MP3


I have some old audio files (wav, amr, etc.) that I want to convert to mp3s. Online-Convert does it for me.

Anything to Anything


When all else fails, I try CloudConvert.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pie Pill

I'm still enjoying my Essential PH-1. It's really nice to be back on Android.

Essential pushed Android 9.0 Pie on the day of release. I was traveling so I deferred the upgrade for a couple of days.

Now I've been running Pie almost a week. I haven't had any problems.

One new feature I wasn't sure about was Pie's gesture navigation.

Turns out I like it and find it useful.

The "Home" button is replaced with a "Pill." The "Back" button only appears when it is useful. The "Recent apps" button is GONE.

I haven't tacked all the functions but I have found a couple that are very useful.

To get the recent applications, just swipe the "Pill" about halfway up the screen. The recent apps show up in an almost full screen presentation. Swipe left or right to pick one. Tap to go there. Swipe up to close the app. Shades of webOS!

I used to use the double tap on the "Recent apps" button to directly go to the most recent app. This would let you swap between 2 apps easily. In Pie, just swipe the "Pill" to the right. There's the most recent app. Keep on swiping to the right and you can go back further!

There's lots more function there.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

How I Do E-mail

I was helping a friend setup their e-mail recently and thought it would be worthwhile to share how I do e-mail.

I use Google's Gmail to manage all my e-mail. But it's not quite that simple.

I use Google's Gmail web client and Google's Gmail smartphone app (Android and iOS).

I've changed the domain names in a feeble attempt at privacy.

benmoore@mydomain.com

My primary e-mail account is benmoore@mydomain.com which is a Google G Suite. So that is the identity that I use to log into Gmail. And I recently added Google 2-Step Verification.

benmoore@mydomain.com arrives in the Gmail app. I have labels/folders that I sort correspondence into.

ben.moore@throwaway.com

This is what I use for throwaway e-mails, e.g. when I sign up for a newsletter or something.

ben.moore@throwaway.com is more complicated. throwaway.com has a free offering that I use. With the free offering you can't forward the e-mail to another address. So I have configured the Gmail app to pull my throwaway.com e-mail with a POP3 interface.

To do this, I went to Settings / Accounts and find "Check mail from other accounts:"  I specified the credentials for throwaway.com. I made sure to check "Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server". This took a little playing around to get this correct. The Gmail app will retrieve new e-mail from this server every 60 minutes. That's good enough to me.

When e-mail arrives to ben.moore@throwaway.com I have a filter that assigns a label of "Throwaway". Then to separate this e-mail I went to Settings / Accounts / Multiple Inboxes and setup a pane for the label of "Throwaway". This results in a separation of benmoore@mydomain.com e-mail and ben.moore@throwaway.com e-mail.

I use the throwaway.com SMTP servers to send ben.moore@throwaway.com so the headers look right. You specify this in Settings / Accounts / Send mail as:. This also takes a little playing around to get this correct.

ben.moore@mywork.com

This is my work e-mail. I just have it forwarded to benmoore@mydomain.com. Like ben.moore@throwaway.com I use mywork.com's SMTP servers to send ben.moore@mywork.com so the headers look right.

anything@tracking.biz

I use this when I'm suspicious of how someone might use my e-mail address. This e-mail domain is set so that any name you put in front of @tracking.biz comes to benmoore@mydomain.com. But I use the same technique as throwaway.com to segregate the incoming e-mails into a separate area in my inbox.

The way I use this is to use a name that identifies to whom I gave that e-mail. For example I created an identity at Computerworld as computerworld@tracking.biz. Let's just say that Computerworld must make a lot of money from selling their mailing list.

Overall

With all these e-mail identities I get to choose which one to use when I compose a new e-mail. In the Compose dialog there is a drop-down box next to the "From" field where I can choose.

Under Settings / General I specify:

  • Ask before displaying external images
  • Send cancellation period: 30 seconds
  • Keyboard shortcuts on
  • Button labels: Text
  • I'll add contacts myself

The Android and iOS apps honor all these settings so your experience is consistent across all platforms.

I'm sure I haven't covered everything. Leave me a comment if you have a question.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Google Voice Call Screening

I've been living with my Google Voice/Obihai system (see 12345678, 9),  for a couple of years and it continues to work great and for free!

Obihai sunset the OBi100 a while back and I upgraded to an OBi200. It took at least 2 minutes to make the transition.

Then in early 2018 Obihai was acquired by Polycom. Remember the old Polycom "Star" speaker phone?

There was one feature of Google Voice that wasn't supported by Obihai.

Google Voice has a call screening feature that will let you challenge a caller to identify themselves then ring your phone and announce the caller. At that point you can accept the call or send it to voice mail. While the caller is leaving a message, you can listen and pick up if you want to.

The Obihai system would challenge a caller to identify themselves but then immediately ring your phone without announcing the caller.

In practice that challenge caused most telemarketers to just hang up.

Then Google made a seemingly unrelated change to Google Voice. The result of that change is that now the screening works!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Reducing Spam Calls

If you're not interested in reducing spam calls to your mobile number, just go back to Facebook. If you're using an iPhone, just go back to Facebook.

Now that we've got the crowd thinned out, go to the Google Play Store and download the latest Phone app.

Open the Phone app and tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner.

Tap on "Caller ID and spam".


Then slide "Filter spam calls" to the right.


Lifehacker has an article here.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

AirPods

I have an unusual use case for ear bud(s). I am a voracious consumer of podcasts. I hate wires hanging on me so I lean to Bluetooth devices.

You know I'm cheap frugal so I go for inexpensive ear buds. The relatively poor sound quality doesn't bother me with my podcasts.

My walking regimen is about 30 minutes per day so battery life isn't critical.

I have been using ear buds like this and this.

My wife bought me the original Bragi Dash. I struggled with them. Seems like I wasn't the only one. My deal breaker problem was that the Bluetooth connection wouldn't work unless I held the phone near my chest. If I put it in my pocket or in my belt holster it kept dropping out.

The new version is supposed to fix all this. But they don't get a second chance with me.

Then I stumbled across this GRDE Mini Wireless Earbud. The mono is fine for listening to my podcasts. And I liked the price. I don't like the proprietary charging cable.

My daughter bought me Apple's AirPods. As expected they work great with an iPhone once I figured out how to get them out of the case. But they work just as well with my Essential PH-1.

Conclusion: The GRDE Mini Wireless Earbud's proprietary charging cable is a bummer. The controls on it is a physical switch, not a capacitive switch like the AirPods. The capacitive switch means that you have to double tap to take an action. So double tapping on the right AirPod is play/pause and double tapping on the left AirPod is skip. On the GRDE single click is play/pause and double click is skip.

I use them both.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Gmail Shared Contacts Revisited

Years ago I posted about how I was sharing selected contacts between Google accounts.

The solution I discussed at that time has gone paid only so I went looking for alternatives.

I found CoContacts that works great for me.

CoContacts has a free offering that supports 3 users with 3 shared groups with 100 shared contacts that sync daily. If you need more than that you should be paying for it.


I'm using it on G Suite accounts but it will also work with regular Gmail accounts.

It works so elegantly that I couldn't remember what I was using for contact syncing!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Delivery Optimization

After my installation of Windows 10 April 2018 Update I went to Settings / Storage just looking for how much space was used by the backup copy of Windows.

But I got distracted...


I clicked on "Free up space now".

As it was scanning the entry for "Delivery Optimization Files" caught my attention with over 2 GB.


What are "Delivery Optimization Files"?

From Microsoft (archive.is)
Windows Update Delivery Optimization works by letting you get Windows updates and Microsoft Store apps from sources in addition to Microsoft, like other PCs on your local network, or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.
So, how well is it working? Go to Settings / Delivery Optimization.

I always set it to "Allow downloads from other PCs" but only check "PCs on my local network".

Then click on "Activity monitor" to see what it's doing.


While I started on this journey on a PC that had just updated to Windows 10 April 2018 Update, I went over to a PC that hadn't updated to get representative numbers.


This PC is the only one Ethernet connected to the Internet. 2/3s of the Windows Update data came from Microsoft and 1/3 came from other PCs on the local network.

But further, this PC provided over 1 GB of Windows Update data to other PCs on the local network.

Interesting.








Sunday, July 08, 2018

Android Messaging, Part 2

I hadn't even gotten my Android Messaging post published before everything changed.

Inexplicably, AT&T Messages had started working again. Pulse was working great.

Then Google changed the world.
Google launches Android Messages on PC so you can text from your computer - as it looks to take on WhatsApp
This has 90+% of the function of Pulse for free and delivered by Google, not a third party.

The web presentation is way more Material Design than Pulse but I thought Pulse was fine.

Messages for Web doesn't have scheduled messages and I've used them a couple of times. I'll miss them but will trade them for an integrated solution.

I had trouble getting the Android Notifications working like I wanted but that may just be my unfamiliarity with Android 8.1 Oreo notifications.

The web presentation is a little more chatty than Pulse in that it asks you if you want to run Messages for Web if you have it open in more than one place.

If you have an active web presentation you don't get the notification on the phone. That's problematic when you have been using the web presentation and then walk away from the PC. It seems to take a couple of minutes (5?) before it will resume sending notifications to the phone. The messages get delivered to the phone just without notification.

The Android Messages client generates battery warning messages now and then that you can turn off and the web presentation reminds you that the phone is not on Wi-Fi. That's easy to turn off as well.
How to set up Android Messages on PC
  1. Go to the Google Play Store and update or install Android Messages to the latest version
  2. Head over to messages.android.com on whichever PC or laptop you want to text from. You'll be greeted with a massive QR code.
  3. Open up the Android Messages app on your phone.
  4. Tap the three vertical dots on the right hand side and find the "Messages for web" option
  5. Tap the "Scan QR code" option and point your phone's camera at the QR code in the browser window.
  6. Your phone will buzz with a vibration and you'll be all set up and ready to go. Your conversations will show up on the left hand side of the browser window.
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/google-launches-android-messages-pc-12757484
There's really lots more in this latest update of Messages. Read it all here.

Now I just wonder when Google will kill this.

PS. I'm not sure about Android Messages for Web. Since I've purchased the lifetime subscription for Pulse ($10.99) I've gone back to Pulse until I can sort out Android Messages for Web.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Android Messaging, Part 1

I have been using AT&T's messages.att.net for months. It worked well.

But then in January 2018 I got the following text message:


I called AT&T and they said to ignore it. That was wrong.

I started getting this response to https://messages.att.net:


After literally months of calls to AT&T their story was that they have discontinued this service except for non-phone devices, e.g. tablets and watches. Another story was that it only ever worked for AT&T branded phones. But we know different, don't we?

So I went off on a quest for alternatives.

I first tried Join. Here's a brief write-up on it.

I thought it was an interesting implementation. It uses your Google Drive as a place to store the text messages. It runs an app on the phone that watches the Google Messages app and sends the data to your Google Drive. Then I used Join's web version to view the text messages. In addition to the web presentation Join offers a Chrome extension and a Windows 10 app (paid).

The web version has a 60 second timer between updates and often paints the messages out of sequence and omits messages. The web version doesn't support displaying MMS pictures yet. The author said he will have to add that in the future. In a group thread you can't tell who the author of an individual message is.

The other presentation methods may address these issues but I wasn't impressed.

The next app I found was Pulse. Pulse is simple and fast. Here's a good write-up on it.

Pulse installs a replacement app on your phone for Google Messages. I wasn't wild about that but it really works nice. By being the default SMS app the Pulse app gets instant visibility of text messages. The Google Messages app still sees all the messages so apps like SMS Backup & Restore still work.

The web version requires you to create an account with Pulse and login to it. For that you get instant visibility to your phone's text messages. All of the issues I had with Join were solved with Pulse.

Both Join and Pulse are paid apps. Both also require that your phone is turned on and connected to data and cellular networks.

Post script: Just for giggles I tried messages.att.net again. It worked fine. My history was empty (it only goes back 90 days) but otherwise it worked.

Nah, not going back.

PS. Don't do anything until you read Part 2 next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sweech

When I was using the iPhone 6s I used Air Transfer to move files from the phone to my PC.

That worked as well as anything can with an iOS device.

When I moved to the Essential I resumed using Bluetooth to move files from the phone to the PC. But Bluetooth isn't as fast as Wi-Fi.

I liked the way that Air Transfer set up a web server on the phone that you browsed to from your PC. I searched the Google Play Store for something similar.

I ended up with Sweech. The free version works fine.


It works similar to Air Transfer but transfers in BOTH directions.

When you browse to the Sweech web server you can drag and drop files from your PC onto the web page and Sweech will transfer the files to the phone.



Nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Essential Portrait Mode

The Essential PH-1 has gotten a lot of bad press about its camera. Most of it was well deserved, especially early on.

But Essential has been working hard to improve the experience. They updated the camera app 11 times in the first 5 months.

It will take new hardware in the (not going to happen) PH-2 to resolve completely but the current software has smoothed out the rough edges.

The release at the end of November 2017 added a portrait mode.

I noticed the setting recently and have played with it.


I took these photos without playing with any of the adjustments.



Click on either photo to see higher resolution versions.

It worked just as well on an actual portrait photo.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Again, Again, and Again

When I last blogged about my Essential Phone experience I didn't really tell the whole story.

I bought a Sprint version of the Essential on Swappa for $250. I worked some magic and got it carrier unlocked. It worked fine for about 24 hours and then the cellular radio died.

I worked with Essential and they replaced the Sprint version with an refurbished unlocked version. That one worked fine but...

I put it back on Swappa and it sold for $350. Unbelievably I made $100 on my experiment.

Then...

Amazon put them on sale for $399.99. Amazon has an exclusive color of Halo Gray. It has a dark gray ceramic back and polished titanium frame.


So I bought my 3rd Essential Phone.

And I found a spring-clip belt holster by Encased.

I like the look of carbon fiber and the back of an Essential Phone is as slick as ... So I added a carbon fiber skin on the back.

I found a set of various length USB A to USB C cables.

I came across an Android app similar to the iOS app Air Transfer with the unusual name of Sweech. In a later post I'll describe how I use it.

Battery life has been excellent. My battery remaining at 10:00 PM has been 68%. A similar period on the iPhone 6s was 51%, Obviously the iPhone had a smaller, older battery though.

The vibration is still just so so.

My Bluetooth headphones still occasionally (but rarely) seem to switch from ear to ear. I found a reddit post that speculated that this is due to the Wi-Fi radio connecting to a new access point. There seems to be some merit to that as mine exhibits this switching in the same place on my morning walk, perhaps where there is a strong access point.

The Essential Phone's camera has gotten some really bad press but my experience shows that this is mostly resolved. Again a later post will discuss this.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

iOS 11 Keeps on Giving

Apple introduced iOS 11 along with iPhones 8 and X back on September 26, 2017. On October 8, 2017 I posted that iOS 11 had already been updated twice.

I couldn't have imagined that that rate would have been sustained.

iOS 11.4 was released on May 29, 2018, the 15th variant of iOS 11.

  1. 11.0
  2. 11.0.1
  3. 11.0.2
  4. 11.0.3
  5. 11.1
  6. 11.1.1
  7. 11.1.2
  8. 11.2
  9. 11.2.1
  10. 11.2.2
  11. 11.2.5
  12. 11.2.6
  13. 11.3
  14. 11.3.1
  15. 11.4

This is an average of a new version every 2 1/2 weeks.

And you thought Windows 10 was updating too often.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Windows 10 April 2018 Update

At least it wasn't called Windows 10 Spring Creators Update.

Anyway...

Woody Leonhard of Computerworld is kind of a "Chicken Little" of Windows 10. To him, the Windows sky is always falling. I guess it gets him clicks.

My experience doesn't align with his and his readers. I've had nothing but success with Windows 10 April 2018 Update. I have it installed on 5 laptop systems of various vendors and 1 Dell desktop.

The only problem I had was that I built a USB drive from the Microsoft Insiders resources and installed the April 2018 Update from that hand-built USB drive. This triggered Controlled Folder Access and the update failed. Subsequently I've been turning off Controlled Folder Access before I update. Probably not necessary if you're using Windows Update.


But still you need to consider what Woody Leonhard observes and act prudently.

He recently posted that many people running Avast antivirus are having blue screens after the upgrade.

Reason enough to just run Windows Defender.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zoolz

That title is not a typo. When CrashPlan withdrew home support I investigated a number of alternatives.

You know I'm cheap frugal.

Zoolz for $40 for life was on my short list so I installed it and started backing up the files/folders I had targeted with CrashPlan.

The first set was about 40,000 files and just over 300 GB. I set the upload speed to 256 Kbps.

The upload went smoothly taking just over 4 months. I suspended it a couple of times and rebooted several times. Zoolz never complained.

I have tested restoring from Zoolz's Cold Storage and that went fine. It took about 2 hours as expected.

I haven't tried the Instant Vault storage yet and don't know if I will.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Macrium Reflect

I've been using Macrium Reflect for almost 2 years since I built Trump.

Recently LifeHacker ran an article on it and I thought I should talk about how it's been working for me.

Great.

It treats the Resilient File System (ReFS) like a fully used GPT volume. With Reflect's compression and differential backups this has been acceptable.

I've been taking a full backup once a year and then differentials about monthly.

I have a 5 TB external drive. I created a TruCrypt volume for almost the entire drive and backup to that volume.

I have a Reflect "schedule" that takes a differential so I just run that manually.

It takes 3-4 hours to create the differential for my 2 TB data drives.

You can mount the differential backup as a virtual drive and drag and drop files for restoring.

Nice. And the price is right. Free.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

Windows Defender Browser Protection

I'm a fan of Windows Defender. I've written about it several times.

In April 2018 Microsoft introduced Windows Defender Browser Protection for Chrome.

Yeah, you read that right: For Chrome

It's a Chrome extension. In less than a month it had more than 64,000 users and a 4 1/2 star rating in the Chrome store.

Here's (archive.is) Microsoft's product page.

Here's the description from the Chrome store:
The Windows Defender Browser Protection extension helps protect you against online threats, such as links in phishing emails and websites designed to trick you into downloading and installing malicious software that can harm your computer.

If you click a malicious link in an email or navigate to a site designed to trick you into disclosing financial, personal or other sensitive information, or a website that hosts malware, Windows Defender Browser Protection will check it against a constantly updated list of malicious URLs known to Microsoft.

If the malicious link matches one on the list, Windows Defender Browser Protection will show a red warning screen letting you know that the web page you are about to visit is known to be harmful, giving you a clear path back to safety with one click.
It doesn't seem to take up much memory.


Why not?

Oh, don't look for their privacy policy. But you're running Windows 10, aren't you?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Windows 10 Photos App

I'm not a big video editor but from time to time I need/want to trim/combine videos.

I've been using YouTube's Video Editor. It wasn't pretty but it did the job.

Up until September 20, 2017 when YouTube killed it with no explanation.

I needed something else simple.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (1709) included a new Photos store app.


It doesn't have the most intuitive interface but it's way better than YouTube's Video Editor.

Here's an example of a video I made with it.


Windows Central has a nice article on it.

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:
https://www.facebook.com/topic/Baton-Rouge-Police-Department/1040460436008909?source=whfrt&position=1&trqid=6538904751892597700&impressionguid=0Ho4cQev8pMnPWgOe
DON'T PRESS ENTER.

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 (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy - 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.