Roughly 4 days of app tracking with Duck duck go’s app tracking

4 days of app tracking with Duck duck go's app tracking system

Following the post a couple of days ago about Duck Duck Go’s app tracking system.

I had planned to make an update to the original post but after reading a few other pieces about it, thought it deserves another post.

So here is 4 days of data, and there are some really questionable tracking in there. For example I didn’t open my ereader prestigio app over the last 4 days but there was a tracking call to Google. Oura and Beeper are sending a lot of tracking calls. Wasn’t pleased with the calls to Facebook from Orfi and surprised OKCupid and POF apps were not tracking more.

I am thinking about maybe installing another app which does similar but unsure if I trust them as much duck duck go right now. Oh and I got my invite for Duck Duck Go’s mail tracking today too.

Fixing the pebble smartwatch with the new 3D buttons (Kinda)

Fixed pebble2 smartwatch

Over the last few weeks I have switched from the Pebble Time watch which a friend gave me. To the slightly fixed button Pebble 2 watch. I finally tried decided to just go with superglue in strategic positions.

The buttons are 3D printed to fit without glue but they didn’t quite pop like described in the video which came with the buttons. I obviously didn’t watch enough as I assumed I would need to open the pebble watch to fit the buttons (no idea why I did this). The upside of this being not breaking the watch and understanding how to maybe replace the battery too.

So far its good although the pressure of pressing the buttons did crack the plastic and I had to re-glue it again in even tighter positions. But its generally staying put now. I’ll likely do similar for the other pebble which  has broken buttons.

Its a good fix as the watch battery is much longer lasting than the Pebble time, even with the HR sensor and other features turned on. Maybe a charge every 4-5 days currently.

I would certainly recommend the 3D printed buttons for those looking to extend the life of the pebble.

 

Trying out duck duck go’s app tracking protection

Duck duck go's app tracking protection on Android

I was in the queue to get access to the Duck Duck Go’s app tracking protection and yesterday caught a invite on my old Pixel 4 phone.

Its only been one day but you can see above there has been 1650 tracking attempts. Many from Beeper app, which is my instant messaging app of choice. I can forgive them as beeper is under heavy development and segment & functional seems to be a customer/feedback data platforms.
This is similar to Oura and I can see why Google would be tracking as I do connect it to Google Fit anyway.

On the annoying side, Orfi is a app which my volleyball teams have switched to from using facebook events. The Facebook and Google trackers is worry some but its only when the app is open, which isn’t most of the time. Likewise the Philips Hue app tracking is annoying, as I do have that open a lot for controlling my lights. Plume is a tricky one but I will look through the settings to see if there is something which could be turned off.

Frankly its all really interesting to see and funny enough, the battery life of my Pixel 6 has completely changed. Usually its at about 75% after a day but today its at 85%. Not much different but the apps using the most battery power has completely changed.

Of course this is all after one day, so I expect I’ll see what happens over time and likely write a follow up.

Duck Duck Go are on fire and we need to see more of this…

 

Pixel6 magic eraser, pushed to the limit

I posted a quick picture on Mastdon of my Google Pixel 4 using my new Google Pixel 6 magic eraser feature.

Pixel 6 image

Here is the original shot, no edit no filters in my living room as I setup my Pixel 6.

This is the same picture just quickly wiping my finger over the Chromebook at the top right of the picture.

I guess I could have tried the other objects but I thought the reflection in my Pixel 4 would have looked very strange. The nice thing is I can go back and make that change at any time. So here is the that picture

Pixel 6 magic

If you hadn’t seen the other pictures, you might think the reflection is from objects much further away but knowing the fact it looks a bit strange.

magic erase looking strange

Finally magic erase can only go so far and you won’t get away with this picture at all.

Regardless of everything, its super fast and took longer for me to resize the photos (I reduced them down by 5x) on my laptop than use the tool. Computational photography has certainly stepped up a gear since my Pixel 2 days. I look forward to removing all those people who photo bomb my photos.

Growing up in the age of the search

Gnome shell search

This has been massively shared on the internet but I did find it interesting as something to look at how I organise myself.

Generally I use folders of hierarchy on most of my systems including my Android devices. I find the linux operating system encourages you put files in certain locations, especially when you are using different applications and different app systems. For example using snap, flatpak, apt and appimage. Its quite a diverse (sometimes complex) ecosystem compared to OSx and Windows I found.

I do use symbolic links (shortcuts) a lot on my systems and find it useful to link things within remote locations like my NAS or online storage.

Gnome shell has search built in from the super key (windows key on most laptops). I don’t tend to use the search for files or folders, which in hindsight is a bit silly because its much quicker. I guess it just wasn’t as good & quick as it is now, and so never got use to using it. Even now I still would put the files in a certain folder to be clear where it is for my mind.

I use dropbox, which kind of forces you to use a folder hierarchy. There is most of my files on there and that includes personal, work, app, etc. I have my Google drive mounted as a folder inside of Linux, so I also manage that in a similar way.

Now I’m looking at the list of Gnome shell search extensions and thinking about using it much more. Heck I can search my email, files, music, etc from Gnome shell (no Joplin however) time to start using it more.

Paypal goes crypto

Use Paypal to buy Crypto We all knew it was coming but it feels so strange seeing Paypal supporting Crypto. Especially certain ones over others.

Confirming crypto in Paypal

At least there is more terms and conditions before you can actually buy.

Buying etherum in PaypalActually buying some Ethereum is pretty straight forward. You can pick anything linked to Paypal including your credit and debit cards (which is slightly troubling).

Having bought a little bit, it seems to be stuck in Paypal. I couldn’t find any wallet address or a way to send the bought funds to other own crypto wallets. Maybe that might come but I doubt it.

 

Update your Chrome browser now

The amount of times I have been on zoom during work, someone shares their own screen and you can see there Chrome browser almost begging the user to hit update.

Most people put these updates off and I have really hard time understanding why, especially because the most updates are done in seconds and you are back to where you left off. Maybe its different on Windows and Mac but on Linux very few updates require a reboot. If a browser required a reboot I would be shocked.

The chrome updates recently have become critical with a number of zero-day exploits running wild.

I found this post explaining the colour differences in Chrome updates.

Get a Chrome update when available

Normally updates happen in the background when you close and reopen your computer’s browser. But if you haven’t closed your browser in a while, you might see a pending update:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, look at More More.
  3. If an update is pending, the icon will be coloured:
    • Green: An update was released less than 2 days ago.
    • Orange: An update was released about 4 days ago.
    • Red: An update was released at least a week ago.

The amount of the people I have seen with the Red update is incredible. Of course if you are not sure how to update Chrome…

To update Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More.
  3. Click Update Google Chrome.
    • Important: If you can’t find this button, you’re on the latest version.
  4. Click Relaunch.

The browser saves your opened tabs and windows and reopens them automatically when it restarts. Your incognito windows won’t reopen when Chrome restarts. If you’d prefer not to restart straight away, click Not now. The next time you restart your browser, the update will be applied.

Its that easy…

Fixing the pebble buttons by leaning on the community

My Pebble with Sugru

I am still holding on to my pebble 2 smartwatches, although I have said in my new years resolutions. I was going to find an alternative to the pebble watch.

I still haven’t found anything. I had hoped the new Android Wear 3.0 and the Fitbit buy might have done something positive in this space. However its not happening.

There was a study I took part in recently from Dr. Susan Lechelt of Edinburgh University about IOT & connected devices after they become non-supported, unusable, broken, etc. Of course I won’t go into details but through-out the study it made me revisit my ongoing task to fix the pebble smartwatch.

Broken pebble 2 smart watches

The pebble community is incredible, you only have to look at rebble to see how amazing. iFix it came up with guides to fix most of the most common problems including my pebble 2 button failures. So with this, I finally decided to skip the 3D print your own buttons which I had planned once I get back into work and bought them at Shapeways.

Pebble 2 and new buttons

After ordering 2 buttons and identifying two of my pebble 2 watches really just need new buttons, I’m ready to go this weekend – or maybe one of these weekends in summer.

Looking forward to extending the life of the pebble smartwatch like how I have extended the life of my Pacemaker device way beyond its limitations.

QNAP ransomware attack

Its the first time I have owned a NAS when a big ransomware attack is underway. Its clear QNAP haven’t done enough and learned about this a 5 days ago via bleeping computer.

I am very aware of ransomware attacks on standard computers and keep the firmware and software up to date when I see the updates. Its clear the notification of updates could be more viable, as its not that often I’m logged into the NAS. I have email and push on but I’d like to see more options on this front.

Bleeping computer has the full details of what you need to look out for and what you should do if you are being attacked.

A slightly better solution

xps13 camera cover
My Dell XPS 13 with the little microdot

A while ago I mentioned how the super tiny bevels on my new Dell XPS13 and Acer Chromebook make a camera cover look so silly. Some people mentioned to me about using duck tape, which I gather doesn’t leave as much stickyness after use.

chromebook camera cover
My chromebook with the microdot camera cover

But I also was pointed to little micro-dots which use the same glue as duck tape but are a lot more discreet than a slice of duck tape. The sheet I got has a number of them in different sizes.

lens covers

Its a lot better than what I had before but lets see how long they stick around with general use.

Presentation problems with Ubuntu, think I might have found the problem?

I have no idea why or what happen, but this is likely the 4 or 5th time my Ubuntu machine has become unstable while presenting live on zoom.

Tonight I gave a presentation for the Mozilla Festival about adaptive podcasting. I did some tests because I wanted to see if I could switch the audio from my headset mic to the Android phone running the app. Things were not working, so I decided to use the audio captures instead. Everything was fine, presentation in Google Chrome using google slides and Miro in Firefox for the workshop portion later. Zoom for video sharing.

Everything was smooth then I started Chrome in presentation mode but remember I need to turn on auto-generated subtitles. I switch to Zoom on my second screen try and turn it on but everything refreshes and freezes except my mouse cursor. The camera light is still on and sound is working (both mic and audio). I am forced to run the whole hour long workshop with no access to my slides, zoom or anything else. So I freestyle it.

I remembered a few times before something similar things happening while giving a presentation at Agile Manchester, UCD gathering, Immersive Arts Lab 8 and last week at the publicspaces conference. However the difference has been the laptop had paused for a short while (couple of minutes) before returning to normal state. This time I ended up rebooting the whole laptop.

Thinking about the circumstances of the other times, I suspected it might be Zoom but then its happened with Hopin too. It can’t be the laptop because I now I have a brand new laptop and although they are both Ubuntu the first three were Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS. While I was running Ubuntu 20.4.2 LTS for the publicspaces conference and Mozilla festival. This leads me to the other common element which is Google chrome, which I use because its google slides (I tend to only sign into my google account with chrome).

Then I found problems with Chrome and fullscreen.

Even if its not quite right, I’ll be testing running Google slides from Firefox instead.

One upside of todays presentation is the amazing response I got from people on the call who really enjoyed the pure storytelling. Although I am glad for my co-host, having shared the slides and miro whiteboard right at the start.

Big thanks to everyone and the lovely words people have shared with me.

We got to do better than this… Webcam covers

Camera cover on the new XPS13
How attractive on a new laptop

I agree this is a privileged thing but I got a replacement for my aging Dell XPS 13 work laptop. Another Dell XPS 13 but the updated version with much better support for Ubuntu. Its a great machine!

Dell XPS13 with that camera cover
My Dell XPS13 with that SD card, I mean camera cover sticking out

One thing I did look forward to was the new position of the webcam from the hinge alongside the keyboard. To the top of the screen like most laptops. There is a problem however, as the bezels get smaller the camera covers are not keeping up.

This isn’t just my new Dell XPS but also the Chromebook I got last year.

Chromebook camera cover sticking out
Looks like there is a SD card sticking out of my Chromebook

I gather there is sticker packs which don’t leave that usual glue stuff, which I’ll give a try but I certainly feel like I’m putting a plaster (literately) on a much deeper rooted problem. Camera should never be possible to enable without the light coming on full stop.

The tale of Amazon and the imported Qnap Nas

2 Qnap NAS boxes
Which one is the grey import?

I have almost no words for what’s happened recently with my Qnap NAS.

I decided a while ago that it was time to replace the server in my bedroom with a QNAP NAS. I had it with the heat during the summer and frankly it was long overdue. Plus a few people recommended them to me, plus pointed me at NAS compares. I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk as it was the cheapest by about 100 pounds, plus they had the 8gig version of the TS653D. Almost everywhere else had a 4gig only version. I knew I needed a bit of memory as I was going to replace my ubuntu server, which ran at 45-70c depending if it was transcoding for plex.

I bought the NAS from Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0896YVN5L. There was no mention this was coming from America as a grey import. After I bought it I noticed it came from Texas, USA with via UPS and it took about 10 days. I didn’t think too much about it once it arrived, got it set up and moved all my data over (this took weeks!). However when I tried applying for the 5 year extended warranty thats when things got interesting.

5 years of warrenty

Having applied to Qnap, answered their questions, I sent them the invoice which I got from Amazon. However Qnap replied with.

From the invoice, this is sold by Amazon Export Sales LLC, and the customer also pay the import fee, the customer should know the unit is not from local distributor.
The note says: “Only products that are sold and purchased from the same region are eligible for a warranty extension.”. 

Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

We went back and forth for a while but I got back on to Amazon. They insured me the NAS is a UK model. Qnap of course were not budging, the serial number wasn’t right and regardless if I bought it form Amazon.co.uk it was a grey import. I did think it was strange it was coming from America but I just thought it was where the stock was from. Plus Amazon kept confirming its a UK version.

Then finally I got into an exchange with Amazon customer services.

10:53 PM QNAP won’t provide a warranty for the NAS because its not a UK/EU NAS I bought it through the amazon.co.uk with pounds but say its a US version
10:54 PM Rizzwan | I can see it is Amazon global store order. Allow me a moment to connect you with them for further help.
10:55 PM Global order? I bought it through amazon.co.uk

Then Rizzwan was replaced by Tamsyn…

10:55 PM Tamsyn has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Tamsyn | ​This is Ta​mmy from Amazon. ​ I’ll be assisting you.​
10:57 PM Here is the email I got from QNAP… (same as above)
11:00 PM Tamsyn |  Yes it is from a UK distributor
11:01 PM I need something from Amazon to prove this, as QNAP won’t extend the warranty otherwise I have given them the invoice already
11:03 PM Tamsyn | what is the for the return ?
11:05 PM I don’t understand?
11:05 PM Tamsyn | what is the reason for sending the item back ?
11:07 PM I can’t get a extended warranty for the QNAP NAS
11:08 PM Tamsyn | Reason I’m asking is because I can refund you
11:09 PM Its a sub £1000 device and want to make sure it doesn’t go wrong, so the extended warranty is important Can I exchange it instead? because all my data is on the device now
11:09 PM Tamsyn |  cannot exchange
11:10 PM Do you have anything else I can send to QNAP to prove its a UK/EU version? They want proof – “Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.
11:12 PM Tamsyn | We can send them an email what is the email
11:13 PM Its done through their support forum- as the email is no reply – noreply@qnap.com. If you can send me something I can try and get a email to send to them I’m sending them this… “I am talking with Tamsyn | Customer Service Amazon.co.uk and they confirmed it is from a UK distributor – Tamsyn is asking for an email address to forward you details of the UK distributor”
11:17 PM Tamsyn | yes that is fine
11:17 PM Is there a email I should ask QNAP to contact you on?
11:18 PM Tamsyn |  yes
11:18 PM Thanks… you understand why I don’t want to send it back but I really want to get this sorted out because I want to keep it for at least 3 years 11:19 PM Tamsyn |  Yes I understand 🙂
11:19 PM Thanks QNAP are slow to reply, so is there a way of holding the return based on the outcome of this conversation with QNAP They usually take about 2 days to reply
11:20 PM Tamsyn | okay that is fine
11:24 PM Thanks, and I guess once I hear back from QNAP I join this chat again Just for reference I’m talking with Gerry ********* from QNAP… “From warranty information, it shows the NAS unit was sold from Amazon US and not Amazon.co.uk
Please confirm with Amazon.co.uk that the NAS unit came from UK (distributor) and not from US.

Then out of nowhere Tamsyn was replaced by Collen…

11:30 PM C Collen has joined and will be ready to chat in just a minute. Collen | Customer Service Hello, Ian Please note this was a global store order Sold and shipped by amazon US Order Placed: Tuesday, 3 November 2020 (GMT) C
11:33 PM Hold on Tamsyn said it was sold from a UK reseller a moment ago
11:34 PM Collen | Customer Service Please look at email from Tuesday, 3 November 2020 01:51 (GMT) C
11:39 PM Collen | Customer Service Global Store Amazon Marketplace order with Amazon Export Sales LLC C
11:45 PM Collen | Customer Service Do you wish to return the item for a refund? C
11:45 PM I would like to do an exchange as I am using the NAS, Ok I see it says Amazon Export Sales LLC This was not clear on the site when I bought it.
11:48 PM Collen | Customer Service We can only refund a USA item only on return We cant replace it C
11:48 PM Right I see, can I get a UK version then return the old one?
11:49 PM Collen | Customer Service Yes C
11:51 PM This was not clear at all when I bought it on the site
11:51 PM Collen | Customer Service However you will need to re order C

So in short Amazon mislead me by never making clear this was a grey import QNAP NAS. Yes when I got the invoice, I could see it was coming from Texas but it was too late by then. Simple as this, customer service lied to me and to QNAP.

Cheeky!

In the end Amazon/Collen did send me the return details and I had 7 days to return the QNAP NAS back to Texas. Annoyingly I had to print the return slips and I don’t own a printer, luckily colleague Jimmy helped out by printing them out for me. In the mean while I got in touch with QNAP, they pointed me in the direction of Scan.com and I was able to buy and get almost the exact same model sent to the next day. I say almost exact because I opted for the 32gig version as I was considering add more memory anyway and this would save me a lot of hassle.

Telling enough, Scan.com when I called them to confirm the speed of delivery, told me a few other customers have had the same problem with Grey imports sent from America and bought from Amazon.co.uk.

With the clock ticking, I was worried it was going to take forever to move everything across but I found it was super quick when I found this guide to move from one device to another. Pretty much start the NAS, update the firmware and slot the disks in the same slots. The migration took about 2hours in total, which is amazing. I was wondering about taking time off work to get this sorted but there was no need.

QNAP nas's
Which one is UK and which one is American?

Just enough time to take some pictures of them side by side then box up the grey import/amazon one, add all the labels then take it to the UPS drop off which just happened to be in China town. Can’t tell you why I didn’t get a taxi or take the tram half the way there, but it was certainly a work out for my lockdown arms.

4 weeks later I received my full refund from Amazon.co.uk and I’m sitting pretty with my QNAP NAS with 5 year warranty.

Why is Slack storing passwords in plain text on Android devices?

https://mas.to/@cubicgarden/105712244073779967

I posted about Slack’s bug on mastodon. I knew this was going to be a pain the ass changing all those passwords, even with them all sitting in my password manager and most using 2fa.

However some of the users of Mastodon asked the question, why does the Slack app store the passwords on the device at all?

I thought about this and they are right. The app connects to a remote server and should request the user login. Once logged in, it should provide some kind of secure key/cookie/hash on the device not the actual password. On top of this, it certainly shouldn’t be in the form of plaintext.

Mistake, bug or not, this should not happen.