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:

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.