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.

This is not Plex on your GPU

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nvidia/30153594058/

I hadn’t really thought Plex Media Server could massively benefit from a GPU, to be fair its not really a thing you put in a headless server? But after reading about it, I gave it a try by borrowing a Nvida Quatro PCI-express card and after some small issues getting the propitery drivers working gave it a try.

I thrown together a shell script to log the CPU and GPU heat to a text file called heat.txt

while true; do date >> heat.txt ;
 nvidia-smi -q -d temperature |
 grep 'GPU Current Temp' >> heat.txt; sensors |
 grep -e 'CPU Temperature' -e 'CPU Fan Speed' 
-e 'MB Temperature' >> heat.txt; sleep 10; 
done

I know theres a better way but it was quick and dirty.

From the short tests I did, it seemed the CPU kicked into high gear for a minute or two before it hands off to, what I thought was the GPU. However… During a stream encode of 4k h.264 content to 1080p h.264, while directly streaming at the same time. I got these results.

Thu 20 Dec 20:23:51 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 1650 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +71.0°C
> MB Temperature: +34.0°C
Thu 20 Dec 20:24:01 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan:: 1599 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +68.0°C
> MB Temperature: +34.0°C
Thu 20 Dec 20:24:11 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 1261 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +59.0°C
> MB Temperature: +34.0°C
Thu 20 Dec 20:24:21 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 1167 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +54.0°C
> MB Temperature: +34.0°C

A while later once the transcoding stops

Thu 20 Dec 20:37:40 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 725 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +37.0°C
> MB Temperature: +35.0°C
Thu 20 Dec 20:37:50 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 724 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +37.0°C
> MB Temperature: +35.0°C
Thu 20 Dec 20:38:00 GMT 2018;
> GPU Temperature: 33.0°C
> CPU Fan: 725 RPM
> CPU Temperature: +37.0°C
> MB Temperature: +35.0°C

As you can see with proper testing it was clear the GPU isn’t being used for transcoding (unless the CPU magically is doing something else, but looking at Htop, its clearly Plex transcoding). This was confirmed when doing more research on the issue.

Seems the problem I got is the AMD processor and if I was to swich it to a Intel one it should work with the Nvidia GPU?

So this brings me to the idea of maybe changing parts of my server.

Si pointed me at PC part picker which is alright but I don’t really understand why some Linux operating systems are not listed under operating systems? I listed most of my parts here and to be fair changing the CPU, motherboard, case and of course getting my own GPU might be a good idea?

The pebble maybe water resistance but not spa resistance…

Dead pebble

Sadly its the 2nd Pebble smartwatch I have lost to my love of spas. First one died during a spa visit in the Midland hotel, weirdly about a year ago. I instantly got another one exactly the same as my kickstarter version. It worked great but I didn’t learn the lesson and kept wearing the smartwatch at spas and swimming pools.

Then a few days in a hotel spa in London and Liquidrome in Berlin, caused my smartwatch to fail again.

Dead pebble

Looking at the damage I think its the intense steam of the steam room (to be fair, was in the steam room for over 30mins) mixed with the heat of a sauna. Then floating in a salt water pool just killed it for good. I really should have done the bag of rice trick but I was mitte, Berlin and well bags of rice wasn’t easily available at midnight while leaving Liquidrome.

After a few days in Berlin with no smartwatch I realised how much I missed it and looked online to get a replacement. Black pebble 2’s were closer to the 400 pound mark, while the white one was less than half that brand new. So I got a white one.

All the my pebbles
From left to right, My dead pebble from 2017, then my new white pebble and finally the one which just died in Berlin

I did spend some serious time looking at alternatives to the pebble but couldn’t find a decent alternative for anywhere near the price. My list was simply this…

  • Non LCD, so I can get more than 3 days battery on a charge
  • Basic apps to do sleep/fitness tracking, read Google tasks, etc
  • Clear display in sunlight and darkness
  • Replacement straps which are not custom to the device
  • Android WearOS support to get notifications, etc

Nothing too complex but the smartwatch still seems lacking in diversity. As most seem to be clearly copies of previous with beefed up specs. I even consider the Fitbit charge but I hated the straps and the size was massive.

How good is the Oura ring tracker?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5U4F9xvWY

Its a nice looking device, seems to work well but at £300+ its a high price.

I do find the back story interesting however, especially since its been floating around the Quantified Self community for quite some time.

My usual worries about data-portability, app access (the android app looks like it needs work), etc all come into play but as a replacement for myband2 and sleep tracking on my pebble smart watch. It does interest me.

I don’t usually wear rings but I did obviously have a wedding ring and also did try wearing one of those cheap NFC rings.

Making Slack useable on x64 Linux?

 

Slack

Its been a while since I reinstalled my work laptop; one thing I haven’t reinstalled properly is the Slack app.

The amount of times I use to start it up and go and make a tea because it would make my ubuntu install act like Windows 95. Most of the time I would come back to find my laptop completely frozen.

I tried removing the amount of slack workspaces I had attached to the app but it made little difference. So I decided to hell with the slack app, which seems to be a wrapper for Chrome, with each slack instance being another instance of chrome!

This time I’m using Slack in Firefox and limiting how many I have open at a time. I noticed if you login into the different slacks, the cookie will hold them open for you without using the resources. This can be done from the main page using the Workspace options.

Slack home

I also noticed the enterprise slack version also has a front page which can be used to reach the other slacks.

Recently I decided to give Flatpak Slack a try. Interestingly I found you can launch the Slack app from the slack pages mentioned above.

It sounds like a lot of hassle but it works and mean my ubuntu system is fully useable.

Hopefully this will be useful for other Linux Slack users?

I bought a Chromebook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDIhZZJQWRw

The other day my work Dell XPS 13 which has been running Ubuntu 16.04.1 asked me to upgrade. This message has been coming up for a while but I decided it was time for a upgrade, 18.04 was running well on my server and well it was time.

However the upgrade broke and I was left with Ubuntu 18.04 with Busybox. I had backups but as it was a BBC R&D build of Ubuntu, I needed to go to work for them to reinstall it. All of this was just before I went away to Mydata 2018 in Helsinki. On top of that my ubuntu server also had a problem.

Double wammy!

It was clear I could reinstall Ubuntu quickly but I would need to do a bunch of configuration and that takes time. I have a task to create a live CD with a bunch of configurations just for me, incase similar happens again.

I’d been looking at Chromebooks since I bought one for my parents ages ago and seen how ChromeOS has matured. I’m not the only one. It was the ability to run Android and Linux apps which pushed to get one.

Google Makes it Easier to Run Linux Apps on Chromebooks

So I bought the Asus chromebook flip c302, and I’m quite impressed with it. The size is good and the performance is good. As a backup laptop its ideal. It also kinda a solution to my lack of a decent tablet now my Nexus 7 is pretty much dead. I was tempted with the Google Pixelbook but it seemed too close to what the Dell XPS 13 is for.

I did consider getting a second hand XPS and sticking ChromeOS on it myself actually.