On the hunt for new headphones (Help?)

Bose Soundlink on ear headphones

I have been trying to replace my Bose Soundlink headphones for a long while. I bought them in Tokyo for a good price back in 2014 and although they are great the battery on them has given up completely; plus there seems to be no real way to replace it?

Its frustrating having full functioning headphones except battery life is zero. But its even more frustrating knowing how much I paid for them, even with the exchange rate discount. But then add the fact my phone doesn’t actually have a headphone port anymore!

So I have been looking for headphones to replace what I currently have but I realise there are things which I really need in headphones.

  • Standard audio jack – Not just for when the battery is low/dead, so I can also connect to my Pacemaker on the go.
  • Foldable – I usually carry everything in a laptop bag and most things are flat. If it doesn’t fold in some way its going to be a pain to carry around. My Bose fold on the band but the type where speakers fold in are still good for me too.
  • On ear – The only headphones I can live with day in day out. The ones you put over your ears make my ears hot and sweaty. The ones you put in your ears are awful and always end up coated in wax after use (keeping it real).
  • Multipoint support – I finally found out what this was called when a bluetooth device can connect to 2 or more devices at once. Its pretty essential for me to be honest.
  • Micro USB or USB C charging – I’m kind of done with proprietary chargers. When going on holiday for work or pleasure I take my USB power hub which charges everything including phones, laptop, watch, ring, etc. USB is a must and I know most do of course.
  • Replaceable battery – I add this after my experience of the Bose’s but its wish more than essential. I’d at least like some ability to take it apart. This is why the Pacemaker device is still going over 10 years later.
  • Good price – I won’t lie, I’d be happy with a price under £100 but I am asking for a lot. I certainly won’t be paying about £200 again.

So far I have bought two headphones from Amazon…

Protein Earmuff,Hi-Fi Stereo Headset f

This was seriously awful, cheap and tacky. Multipoint was pretty bad. On top of this the band was so tight, you could only really wear it for a short while before you felt the life being squeezed out of your head.

Phiaton BT 390 Black Wireless On-ear Headphones with Mic

I liked these and price was pretty great however the micro-USB cable for analogue audio was a bit crappy. It didn’t seem easily changeable and meant carrying it around all the time. But I liked the design and fit. However while in London, they just died. They had to go back…

I considered the BT350 instead of the BT390 but I can’t see much advantage over it except its not all plastic and noise cancelling (which I don’t care about).

So this is where I am now… Any suggestions are welcomed if it fits with the above list.

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?

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…

Quantified relationships?

https://twitter.com/TonyChurnside/status/565482176566001664

Tony asks my view on pplkpr.

pplkpr is an app that tracks, analyzes, and auto-manages your relationships. Using a smartwatch, pplkpr monitors your physical and emotional response to the people around you, and optimizes your social life accordingly.

Its a interesting project/art project. I don’t think it would work so well but I seen it all before in QSEU13 with Fabio who records every single person he talks to.

Well at least its not a complete system, it works with other wearable devices.

pplkpr has been extensively tested with the Mio wristband, but any Bluetooth LE (also called Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth 4.0) device that transmits heart rate in real time will work. This includes the Polar H7 chest band and the Zephyr HxM.

Fitbit One just started working?

Fitbit tracking

I don’t understand what happened but my Fitbit One just started working. As you may remember, I running Ubuntu and the client doesn’t work on Linux (tried libfitbit), so I had hoped the Android app would be my way of syncing data to their website. However syncing was in beta on Android and seems to only work on newer Samsung devices I gather.

It must be one of the following, because my data was update on Friday 4:16pm

  1. The Bluetooth beta syncing is working on my Samsung Tab 7 plus. Even though forcing it to sync never works and its only got Bluetooth 3.0 not 4.0. I do have background sync turned on and the option to sync now is actually there, even if it fails everytime.
  2. The Fitbit sync app works on my HTC One X (which does have bluetooth 4.0), even thought there is no options for syncing the device like on my Samsung Tab 7 plus. However bluetooth is usually on for my headphones and its never failed (mainly because theres no actual button to force sync)
  3. The Fitbit sync’ed via someone elses device on Friday afternoon while at the Future Everything summit.

Option 2 looks like it will happen but not quite yet. HTC’s bluetooth stack is quite different from Samsungs and I guess its the downside of a diverse ecosystem. Option 1 is likely but its strange that when ever I try and force a sync, it just fails. I also have not seen an update to the app for at least a week now and I don’t know how compatible Bluetooth 3.0 is with 4.0?

As crazy as it seems, option 3 is looking likely because the timing looks about right and its never sync’ed before or after then. However does the Fitbit work that way, why only now? And isn’t there major privacy issues with this? (I am aware the fitbit sends its data in the clear over bluetooth already, keep meaning to fire up wireshark to see exactly how and what). Not having to use your own machine does have a lot of advantages. I can sync with a machine which isn’t mine or even a public machine. The password in the clear is a problem but like all my passwords, there just made up nonsense in keepass, so it won’t be used anywhere else. However I must relook at Libfitbit because must be pretty simple for it to work with the Fitbit One?

On the plus side, the Fitbit seemed to keep all the data from the moment I first ever switched it on. I did ask about how much it stored and most people said about 1-2 weeks at a time. But it seems 2 months is more correct.

I should be happy and I am but I’d really like to update it regularly…

Fitbit wireless syncing, almost…

I have been using my fit bit everyday to give me feedback of how much exercise I’m getting or rather not getting in most cases. However I have no real log of details because the Fitbit won’t sync on Ubuntu or even my Android devices.

However this seems to be coming to an end…

From Fitbit’s blog

Additionally, we waited until now to launch a wristband because we wanted to be able to offer wireless syncing with Android phones as well as iPhones, iPads, and iPods with Bluetooth 4.0. We’re very excited to announce that our products will start syncing with the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Samsung Note 2 in late January/early February, and more devices will follow soon! Viva la mobile!

Its frustrating still because of course i don’t own of those devices however I noticed a comment on the Fitbit app feedback

I was extremely surprised to discover that Sync works on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (n8010) even though it’s not in the supported device list. Super app, though it does loose one star as the functionality and experience is still so far removed from the desktop interface. A little consistency would be welcome, such as the ability to access activity records. Useful if you want to sync your Fitbit on the go and log driving / traveling or any exercises. Keep up the great work though! Looking forward to the next update

Seems most of the samsung bluetooth stack is supported, so when I tried it out on my Samsung Tab 7+ it almost worked. Can’t quite get the sync working but its trying. While on my HTC One X it doesn’t even give me the option.

Indeed frustrating… but I can’t wait for the next update. Reminds me I need to check in on what happening with LibFitbit

I bought a Fitbit twice?

Fitbit Ultra

One of my new year’s resolutions was to Be fitter and heather

Been consistently loosing weight at a slow pace but I do need to do more exercise. I’m hoping to find more of the things I like doing including volleyball in the next year. I’ve been consider a lot of what happens in the QS (quantified self) world and eying up the FitBit Ultra as it seems just open enough to do interesting things and work with my setup. My family got me enough Amazon credits to buy one which is great.

So I bought a Fitbit Ultra… Unfortunately its certainly a pain… More of a pain that I was prepared for originally.

First problem was the fact you need to get it started by using its own proprietary dock and software. I don’t have a spare Virtual Machine on my new laptop and I rather not go through the hassle of running a VM just to setup it up. So I went to my neighbor and he set it up instead.

Once that was done, I was able to see the stats on the website and the android apps which I installed. However I wasn’t getting updates…

In the end I saw they launched another Fitbit, titled Fitbit One which synced over Bluetooth 4.0 instead. So I swapped it and paid the difference on Amazon…

Although I still had to do the original setup using a mac or pc. The hope is I will be able to do the syncing from now on over the Bluetooth connection of my ubuntu laptop, or my phone/tablet with the fitbit app. Weirdly I can’t seem to find Ubuntu drivers for Bluetooth 4.0, altought Bluez says they have some support. Frustratingly this “feature” is still coming on Android although it works on iOS devices (as usual)

I’m holding out hope for the OpenYou project. But right now, it seems to be a process of waiting and waiting. During that time I’ll keep using it and hoping it keeps the data till its sorted…

What ever happened to the PAN?

Hooping

I remember ages ago when I was at University the concept of a Personal Area Network was heavily talked about but over the last 10 years I have heard very little about it. Now with the internet of things (IoT) coming into full effect, it seems a very good time to revive it from its dormant sleep?

From Wikipedia

A personal area network (PAN) is a computer network used for communication among computerized devices, including telephones and personal digital assistants. PANs can be used for communication among the personal devices themselves (intrapersonal communication), or for connecting to a higher level network and the Internet (an uplink). A wireless personal area network (WPAN) is a PAN carried over wireless network technologies such as IrDA, Bluetooth, Wireless USB, Z-Wave, ZigBee, or even Body Area Network. The reach of a WPAN varies from a few centimeters to a few meters.

The PAN should always operate in your benefit and not against you. Devices can freely communicate within the PAN but not so easily outwards. I imagine it would work something like a 2 way firewall blocking items within it from communicating out and vice-versa. As devices enter the trusted PAN zone, then permissions will be granted to allow external access, etc.

This does beg the question of how you do these type behaviours on a device with no buttons, screen, etc. But to be honest that’s a lovely interaction design problem to solve.

Fancinating to also see where the PAN is in the greater network topology…

Would be great to be able to specify rules based on the position of the thing/device. For example if an thing is classified/identified itself as needing to be on the BAN (body area network) then you can say its only allowed to talk to the PAN and never the NFC layer for example. Maybe it should come with defaults but they are changeable like the permissions used when trying to connect via OAuth.

Once again I’m not sure how to surface this to the user without some kind of external access like how you configure routers and switches now. But someone is working on it now I’m sure of that…

I quite like the Hula Hoop analogy. You can have multiple, some are bigger than others and some will overlap. You can even hula hoop around certain parts of the body rather than just your hips. Hula hoops are also shareable and I guess you can fit more than one person within them. However it still doesn’t explain how you control the wiring/influence/networking of the devices/things…

App sharing

Android phone

App referrer sends app links to your friends via qr codes via Lifehacker

We’ve all been in that situation: you’re sitting next to your friend, with both your phones out, and you tell them about this "awesome new app you found". Then he or she has to pull up the Market and manually search for the app ("What’s it called?" "Space or no space?" "It’s spelled with leet speak?"). There are a number of ways to share files and apps between phones, but App Referrer keeps it simple—you don’t need to set up any kind of connection between the phones, just open it up, tap the app you want to send, and it’ll generate a Market QR code that they can scan right then and there.

I stood up at Mix 2009 (the Microsoft developer conference in Las Vegas) and said to the Windows mobile team,

One of the benefits you have with Windows Mobile is the CAB format (Cabinet). You can share the CABs with friends over email, email, bluetooth, etc… Yes its not as sexy as the apple store but when you want to share an app it just works and you don’t want to give directions on how to download it on the app store. Microsoft should keep that format and allow people to share apps if there free on the app store.

Did they listen to me? No… They followed the Apple model and forced people to download from the app store. I told them they were crazy, people were using bluetooth to share apps and media. Anyway, I’m happy that I wasn’t the only one thinking this.

App referrer is interesting but one thing I noticed on my Android phone was an app (HTC or Orange) called App sharing. You can share via,

  • Bluetooth
  • Evernote
  • Facebook
  • My Friends Stream
  • MMS
  • EMail/Gmail
  • Text
  • Twitter
  • Read it Later
  • Delicious
  • WordPress

I guess when you do any of these it sends a APK file, just like I suggested to Microsoft back in Las Vegas…!

Fact is App sharing makes sense (specially when the app is free), why force people to the app store to get the same app as there friends…? Crazy! I swear theres some lessons which can be learned from the pirates dilemma.

I bricked my windows mobile phone

Mobile data?

Mobile laptop data has always been a pain, in my mind it started when the phone companies started making those PCMCIA adapters where you could stick in a GSM/GPRS card. Before that you use to have to dialup via the infrared port or a serial cable. The GSM/GPRS cards would allow you to put in a sim card into the PC card and dialup on your laptop from anywhere. Then Vodafone came out with a 3G data card, others followed suit adding Wireless and even HSDPA (3.5g) to the mix.

But there was a few problems. Each card came with some propitery software, the card themselves were expensive and the data plans attached only suitable for business users. In America on the otherhand all you could get all you can eat data plans based on that weird standard called EVDO for a reasonable rate. Because of this Laptop makers started adding EVDO and other Mobile data options, which made the PC cards a little less important. But the huge break through (in the UK) came when Tmobile (to there credit) dropped there data plan to a all you can eat model. Vodafone and Orange followed soon afterwards. 3 the mobile operator in the UK started offering a cheap usb dongle to there users of mobile data. 10 pounds buys you the dongle and the data for a month. Well I thought this was a good idea and I know a few people are tempted with the offer but I think I found better.

Ok enough history – I bricked my new phone, no not actually killed it so it no long works but more like bricked it so it operates as a wireless modem. I was doing this over bluetooth at the start but for some reason while using the windows mobile internet sharing option the phone wants to be in bluetooth discovery mode too. This quickly kills the battery, so I started plugging it in over USB. Because the phone also charges over USB too, it might as well be like the USB dongle. My Data plan currently is 5 pounds for weekend and evening unlimited data (unlimited meaning 1gig fair use data a month). Orange offer for another 3 pounds a all day everyday option but limited to 30meg a month. This doesn't work for me, as I'm usually around a wireless or wired connection during the daytime. Anyway the point is that mobile laptop data is become cheap and easy. If I can get a windows mobile phone to talk to a linux laptop, then anyone running windows or mac must be able to get theres up and running in minutes. But like before the data rates are better that ever. HSDPA (3.5g) is also pretty impressive, I was getting 400k down and 200k up in a starbucks in central Bristol. I expect in London I might get even more. This makes it a serious contender to the rip off wireless hotspots you find in some hotels and cafes up and down the country. Now if only the mobile operators would sort out international roaming data charges!

Ah I forgot to mention one thing.The bricked nature also comes from WMstorage, which basiclly turns your phone into a mass storage device or usb memory stick. Because I can't use activesync on linux this has been perfect for dragging files back and forth. However its never been reliable till now. So my phone sits there as a mini flashdrive and bluetooth modem but can still receive calls and texts if needed. Next step really is to pass some of that functionality on to my laptop instead.

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Finally got the Wiimote working with my laptop

Wiimote and Dell laptop

After weeks of messing around with many different configurations, tonight (1am) I got it working, thanks to this great forum.

I'm using a Wavelinker bluetooth USB dongle with the IVT Corporation BlueSoleil drivers on my Dell XPS M1210. I have to turn off my internal Bluetooth because it seem to not work with BlueSoleil drivers. The thing which seemed to make all the difference was this ordering.

  1. Open GlovePie
  2. Open BlueSoleil
  3. Press 1+2. Wait for “* Connected” to pop up in the lower righthand corner of your screen.
  4. Run your script.

I found that GlovePie with no Bluetooth Fix or Auto Bluetooth Connect worked for me. GlovePie when opened would launch BlueSoleil for me and within a few seconds I was up and running. I used the script Wiimote identifier to work out if the Wiimote was connected or not. Once it was connected I can then run a more exotic script like the Mouse Control Script.

I've uploading a video I shot, so others can learn how to do the same.

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Personal storage servers are back in fashion

Seagate D.A.V.E

Found on Engadget. Seagate D.A.V.E /images/emoticons/laugh.gifigital Audio Video Experience ) is simply a mobile hard drive with USB2, Bluetooth and Wireless. Its got a server built in so you can connect over wifi or bluetooth with almost any device. Currently it comes with 10-20gig of space, but there expecting much more in the near future. Oh and it launches in May.

My thoughts, on this very nice device which I can certainly see myself buying one. Does anyone remember the Toshiba Hopbit? Yes it didn't support Wireless and USB2 but the principle was the same. To be fair I wanted one of those a back in 2002 too.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number three – Dark side of the mobile

Me and Sarah's third podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it. This time we slide from topic to topic and get interupted by a few people at 1am in the morning. If I need to tie this podcast down to something, I would say its about the dark side of the mobile phone. Bluetooth, Toothing, Happy Slapping and now Happy Shagging. Luckly we never got into this which is terriable to even think about.

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