Down to my last Pebble smartwatch

Pebble 2 with and without a glitch

It was bound to happen but the last few days my pebble 2 watch has experienced a number of very bad glitches. The last glitch made it unreadable and although it was still working as normal which makes a difference from when the last two caved in on themselves.

So I think its time to stop buying old pebbles and maybe look at the hybrid smartwatch market instead.

To be honest I haven’t bought a pebble for quite some time, as I have happily taken from friends who no longer have use for them. The one which broke came from my line manager and my friend Ahmed. Gave me his colour Pebble time, which wil be my last after my pebble 2 white, which I had in storage.

My last lot of pebble watches side by side

Could a hybrid smartwatch be a replacement for the pebble?

fossil hybrid HR smartwatch face

I was reading about the Fossil hybrid HR smartwatch recently, and on the face of it (pun intended) it looks like a good smartwatch with all the features I would be after to replace my pebble smartwatch.

What’s the difference between a hybrid smartwatch and a regular smartwatch? In the hybrid category, Fossil’s Hybrid HR mixes physical watch hands with an always-on display that shows information and notifications. It almost feels like an old-school Pebble watch fused with an everyday analog-style watch.

I always swear by eink for these type of things, and I’m happy to hear its using eink too.

Keeping a smartwatch charged is incredibly annoying. Fossil’s newest line of hybrid smartwatches may have found an answer, and it’s E Ink. The Hybrid HR’s added display feels less like a screen and more of an extension of the watch, the sort of basic readouts that you might expect on a digital watch. Or, like what Google’s Wear OS watches offer, but in E Ink. To be clear, though, this isn’t Wear OS. It almost reminds me of what the TicWatch Pro tried for by layering an always-on display on top of a feature-packed smartwatch, but the Hybrid HR looks a lot nicer.

Earlier this year, Google reportedly paid $40 million for Fossil smartwatch technology that could enable hybrid watches. The Hybrid HR looks like it is, indeed, the watch tech that earlier reports thought Google was interested in… and it’s here now.

I will be keeping en eye on this category, because although I like the Hybrid HR, I’m not so keen on round faces and I’d need to get a sense if theres sleep tracking support? Or more so if theres going to be a standard for watch apps like WearOS and the Pebble OS.

The Google Pixel 4 battery needs some help

89% battery on my Pixel4

There is a lot of discussion about the lack of battery for the Google Pixel 4. To be fair its been pretty good to me, but its certainly not the same type of battery life of my pixel2 or nokia8 which lasted a few days at ease.

More details about the battery use
Fedilab what the?

The picture above is with Wifi, Bluetooth (with my pebble, motiv ring attached), NFC,  KDEconnect, dark mode and most of the apps I run daily.

To be fair I don’t use the screen much, relying on my pebble watch, KDEconnect for some interactions.

34% battery on my Pixel4

After a day of usage, I end up with 34% but it claims to last till 8:15 if I decided to keep it going, however I think that would drop massively with my sleep tracking.

Its all workable right now but I do hope they will drop the high refresh rate in favor of better battery life? Its super slick but I was happy with my Pixel2, so I’m not so bothered about higher refresh rates.

As I talk about the Pixel4… here’s a few things which I have done.

I turned off the radar ambient stuff because I found it annoying, so it won’t do the face unlock till I press the power button on the side. As usual I turn off the ambient display because like notification lights/sounds its annoying. The Face unlock is stupidly fast and its worked in almost every single scenario including a pitch black room with no lights. I do find the no eyes quite scary as I do take security pretty seriously and find Google’s lockdown not the most workable thing but its a stopgap. I do wish there was a fingerprint option or something to fill the void between the two, as typing in passwords each time is quite painful, especially when I have some stupid length passwords.

Expect more about the Pixel4 soon…

 

Windows 10 inside of Ubuntu 18.04, the way it should be…?

windows 10 inside of ubuntu

Its been forever since I moved from Windows to Linux and the idea of running Windows is quite a scary idea for me now. I made the decision I was never going to use Windows Vista (remember that pile of crap!) and wiped my main computer and installed Ubuntu 6.04.

It felt strange downloading Windows 10 from Microsoft’s site (all 5.4gig of it!) using the serial number which came with the Dell XPS, easily extracted using this terminal command.

There certainly was a disturbance going on, as it installed then attempted to get a ton of updates.

Due to a number of changes coming soon, it seems sensible to virtualise Windows inside of Ubuntu for certain future tasks at work. Of course others think it should be the other way, but of course they are sadly mistaken…

I’m happy to say it works but I could really do with some more memory, as 16gig is tight for my daily usage. Shame I can’t upgrade the memory easily on my Dell XPS 13.

Why I bought the Google Pixel 4?

I decided after watching the Made by Google Pixel event, that its time to upgrade my Pixel 2 with a new phone. The biggest issue I have had with the Pixel 2 recently is the Bluetooth support with my Pebble watch but more importantly the battery life of the phone is down to 18 hours.

The Pixel 4’s camera looks amazing but I was most impressed with the live transcription which google claim works offline and is done completely on the device. This is impressive if it really works, although I expect it won’t be perfect it will be impressive and powerful for myself as a person with dyslexia. Easily overlooked by most people I guess.

There seemed to be more offline and on-device based processing across the google range which is great but I will desperately miss the fingerprint ID because I’m not super keen on the face ID stuff as proven in the recent news.

Pebble 2 smartwatch won’t re-connect after Android 10

Pebbles growing in work

I like many Google Pixel users recently got the Android 10 upgrade. It was smooth and everything was in order except there was a notification that the Pebble/Rebble smartwatch software may need to be upgraded as it might be incompatible with the Android 10.

What follows was a long painful process trying to pair the Pebble 2 with my Pixel 2 phone. It took forever and ended up with me unpairing both rebooting both and repairing the whole lot again. Nothing was lost in the process but its a real painful process and I thought, once its done, its done forever.

However I was wrong. It seems like this happens every few weeks? Others have suggested it happens when the Pixel doesn’t see the pebble for a little while. Someone started a bug issue with Google, thankfully and I added my own comment to the growing list.

If you are having similar issues, do add a comment to show Google there is a problem and maybe the Bluetooth LE stack might be at fault? Although I’ve not had a problem with my Motiv Ring yet?

Pacemaker big battery replacement

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

Thanks to our excellent lab technician Elizabeth. I bought a 3.7v battery to replace the one in my 2nd pacemaker. I previously had replaced the 1.8 inch SSD with a SD card, so knew there was more room in the pacemaker case.

I had hoped to buy a very thin battery which I could slip under the SD card but I couldn’t find one with a higher capacity than 500mAh. Instead I looked for the highest capacity I could get which fit into the same battery space. I found a few 1100mAh batteries but then finally found one which was 1500mAh and the same voltage.

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

I unfortunately couldn’t didn’t quite get the right size, I was about 1-2mm’s off in height. The only way to make it fit was to remove the brackets which protected the old SSD/HD from the battery. As there was no drive anymore I decided its ok to remove them. With them gone, I could shift the battery over a bit and fit it in.

Old Pacemaker with new 1500mAh battery

With some great soldering from Elizabeth, I was able to get everything back in the case and screw the whole thing together.

Looking forward to doing similar with my main pacemaker device, maybe?

Upgrading the pacemaker device with a SD card, not this time!

IMG_20190813_211758

Its a short story (not in effort and time). I tried it after a colleague suggested it instead of SSD a while ago. I tried it but found the card reader the Kalea Informatique adapter, didn’t support SD cards over 32gig. The description said 64gig but everytime I restored the pacemaker firmware it would only format to 32gig. Even using Gparted (like partition magic) to extend the Fat32 partition caused the pacemaker to no longer be accessible by my laptop (it comes up as generic Linux storage device).

I haven’t given up, I’m returning the Kalea adapter and have bought a Kalea adaptor converter but the compact flash version. Yes in short it would be a ZIF LIF to Compact Flash to SD card.

Hopefully this will actually work

What happens when a country’s entire population is hacked?

Hack the planet

I was reading about how a 20-year-old man was arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Tuesday afternoon and was charged with an unprecedented hack of the country’s tax authority, ending with the theft of sensitive personal records from nearly every adult in Bulgaria.

The question is what happens when a country’s entire adult population is hacked?

The scope of this attack is vast, and the number of unanswered questions remains significant.

The email the hacker sent to journalists with the leaked data came from a Russian email address. No one is quite sure what that means yet, but given the tension between Russia and Europe, especially in cyberspace, it’s a detail that’s attracted immediate attention.

Closer to home, the Bulgarians are looking at their government and wondering what went so badly wrong.

Its quite a thing when someone else (trusted?) loses control of your data like this. But its happening more and more.

More of a reason to be more choosy about who you trust with your personal data but also more of a reason why companies may want to rethink holding the data at all! Zero-knowledge proof, client side processing, etc is all part of this. But asking that question about the value of holding such data and liability of doing so is even more important.

Till we finally get a grip on this, more headlines like this will become more common place.

iPhone XR ad promotes smartphone addiction as a way of life?

Found via Hannah while working away, Latest iPhone XR ad promotes smartphone addiction as a way of life, and that’s bad
I hadn’t seen these Apple adverts but yes this isn’t good and strange for a company who was pushing for time well spent a while ago.

If you are affected by any of this, I would recommend having a look at my guide to take control of your smartphone and likely improve your phone and personal batteries

Dada says there might be a problem?

Grandpa's Pocket Ledger & My Field Notes

Following on from the great work being done by the databox project team which recently appeared in BBC News, about the work (BBC R&D) have done with it including the living room of the future and BBC Box project. I was impressed to learn about the Dada wiki.

The Defense Against the Dark Artefacts (DADA) project is a collaboration between the Universities of Cambridge, Nottingham, and Imperial, addressing challenges in security and privacy related to smart home devices. These challenges result from the current, widely-adopted approaches in which cloud services underpin home IoT devices, where network infrastructure protection is minimal and little or no isolation is provided between attached devices and the data traffic they carry.

It addresses these challenges by:

  1. designing and implementing mechanisms for device traffic monitoring with a precise look at packet traces and device profiles;
  2. applying learning technologies to detect devices’ abnormal behavior;
  3. introducing techniques for dealing with traffic anomalies and restoring home network operability;
  4. putting the homeowner in the center of management by informing them of possible security threats and offering a choice of defences.

This although I used the wrong technology, this was what I was pointing towards in my blog titled your home needs a blockchain. All the things in Human Data Interaction – Legibility, Agency and Negotiatability all apply if Dada was a databox application.

Interestingly Dada isn’t the only one in this field. Recently Princeton released IOT inspector to do something similar.

Today, we release Princeton IoT Inspector, a open-source tool that lets you inspect IoT traffic in your home network right from the browser. With a one-click install process, you can watch how your IoT devices watch you within minutes of setup.

However IOT inspector is a tool for inpection, while Dada is a tool and place to upload data for analysis to benefit the research community. Of course you don’t have to upload the data and maybe do the analysis locally (this would fit the Databox model perfectly). There is a privacy policy of course, but I expect this will be expanded in the near future.

We understand that any uploaded device trace might contain personal application data. While we need to analyse the uploaded traces to extract IoT features in order to form ML training datasets, we do not aim to analyse nor store your personal data. Therefore, the processed traces are anonymised and all sensitive application payload is removed before the actual analysis starts.

After analysis is done, our servers store the anonymised trace and the extracted features such as packet headers, addresses, ports and payload size (but not the payload itself).

Of course uploading the data for research purposes could be incredible useful. For example imagine you bought a device which is already in the Dada database. You check the device and it seems to be sending a lot of traffic odd places. You check the version number, firmware, etc but its consuming a lot of traffic which is odd. Maybe it was hacked/hijacked? With a public database, its possible to check. Even better with a databox application, it could be done automaticlly if the user(s) allow it.

Some of you maybe thinking this is insane stuff but can I remind you of the house that spied on me and the follow up which armed people with tools.

Even Mozilla went as far as to create a buyers guide to help people choose IOT devices with more information that whats usually available to you in the shop or without proper research. Now theres loads of stories about IOT hijacking by hackers (hummmm possible) and more likely from the companies who make the hardware to bring new features… 

96656cc2-6c28-4100-a783-f1006f53c102_text_hi.gif

Throw back to the past, my first PocketPC

HP 200lx pocketpc

The HP 200LX was my first pocketpc and it was quite a device. It nicely had a PCMCIA slot (remember those things?!) which means I could upgrade the storage to a massive 8meg. The big thing I found extremely useful was the installed version of DOS which meant I could do lots of things the device was never setup for. The infrared was great for actually getting things remotely over my 2.5g connection. Not really the web but the internet.

I can’t even tell you how many times I was busy writing stuff on this, while in the booth of the cinema box office.

Thanks to Phil for this flash back from the past.

Google takeout to the rescue?

My Motiv ring on my hand

So recently I’ve gone into Quantified Self overload with my new Motiv Ring, added to my Pebble smartwatch for sleep tracking.

The ring is very good, but the app isn’t the best, its seems to work but isn’t very clear when its not syncing with the ring. Also I knew the 2 day battery was going to be a pain but to date I’ve been charging it every 2 days and never got to the point where its gotten below 44%.

As the app is pretty rubbish, I have sent everything to Google fit. I pretty much have everything synced with Google fit now.

The first time I noticed it was all working, was when I looked at sleep as android which I use with my pebble smartwatch and noticed my heart rate over the top of my sleep data.

Sleep data with heart rate
I warn you the sleep is a mess due to my flu I currently have… also why I’ve not blogged those great conferences I’ve been to recently.

Likewise I recently hooked up my Withings/Nokia iot scale to Google fit. The scale has its own app which isn’t bad but frankly its not great. It suffers from the similar problems as most of the quantified apps attached to a device or service; they want to be the centre of the world. Reminds me of my Fitbit which import everything but export little.

I understand Google fit is mining the heck out of my quantified data but with Google takeout, I can get the raw numbers in one place. Everyone wants to sync with Google fit and the dashboard view is far better than what everyone else right now.

I’ve also set it up to send me an update every 2 months. Now that’s pretty neat. Would I pay for a service to do this? Yes I would, how much is the question…

Google Titan key security problem?

I was sure I tooted/tweet a thank you to the Google team in Berlin’s Re:publica conference. But it looks like it never quite happened due to connectivity issues with the wifi at certain points of the day.

So first of all I want to say thanks for giving me a titan security key for spending time listening to what changes Google had made to their security as announced in Google IO 2019.

I was surprised to see Google there with all the ill feeling about the 5 stacks, their monopoly and business practice.

But before I could get home try the key/system, I saw a bunch of problems with the key.

Google Titan Bluetooth Security Key Can Be Used to Hack Paired Devices

Titan-ic disaster: Bluetooth blunder sinks Google’s 2FA keys, free replacements offered

Obviously I was a little concerned, although I had not added the titan key to my google 2 factor auth yet.

After a bunch of reading, it seems its not completely flawed. The Google security blog confirms my research.

The problem is with the Bluetooth fob which to be honest is super convenient wasn’t the most secure idea in the world. The bluetooth stack is limited in its range but because of that, its not got as much security as most things on the net.

Due to a misconfiguration in the Titan Security Keys’ Bluetooth pairing protocols, it is possible for an attacker who is physically close to you at the moment you use your security key — within approximately 30 feet — to (a) communicate with your security key, or (b) communicate with the device to which your key is paired. In order for the misconfiguration to be exploited, an attacker would have to align a series of events in close coordination:

When you’re trying to sign into an account on your device, you are normally asked to press the button on your BLE security key to activate it. An attacker in close physical proximity at that moment in time can potentially connect their own device to your affected security key before your own device connects. In this set of circumstances, the attacker could sign into your account using their own device if the attacker somehow already obtained your username and password and could time these events exactly.

Before you can use your security key, it must be paired to your device. Once paired, an attacker in close physical proximity to you could use their device to masquerade as your affected security key and connect to your device at the moment you are asked to press the button on your key. After that, they could attempt to change their device to appear as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse and potentially take actions on your device.

This all being a big mistake, Google has offered a replacement key. However because my key hasn’t been added to my account yet, I get a message saying no action is required but a email to override this. However after double checking my key is a type T3 meaning it wasn’t effected.

Good work Google…

I decided to get the Motiv Ring

Oura Ring vs Motiv Ring

I have been considering something else to help track different activities, since I lost the Mi Band 1. The pebble smartwatch is great for this but there is no way I can wear it while playing volleyball. I also found using gadgetbridge more painful than it needed to be.

While keeping my eyes open for alternatives, I seen Oura but not the Motiv. After reading about it against the Oura and then further reviews. I decided its worth trying. FIDO and 2FA swung it for me, so put down the money and bought one. I’m looking forward to giving it a proper review once I get it and try syncing data, etc. Hopefully its more spa proof than the pebble.