Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?

Mobile payments

In my Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2019) I wrote brief bit about the curious tale.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?
https://www.ft.com/content/e8a177d4-dfae-11e9-9743-db5a370481bc
ian thinks: curious tale, but it does raise a question about digital access and backups. Least we forget about power and when things go technically wrong.

The FT puts things behind the paywall, so here’s a copy I made on wallabag.

Its a number of mistakes which leads to £476.50 fine and a wrongful conviction. This made me reflect on my own usage..

I personally don’t use my phone to pay for things and like the idea of the Curve card because although the mobile app is useful, it can be used without my phone. I do have a card attached to my phone but never use it.

When using mobile tickets for flights and planes, I put them into google drive meaning if my phone is dead, broken or stolen I can still get the tickets with my other devices or another persons device. For this reason I avoid all apps which only display the ticket in side of it. For example the trainline app’s eticket isn’t ideal, hence why I tend to get paper tickets still. When travelling via a plane, I find most of the airlines have a copy you can get via PDF with the 3D barcode included. This goes straight into Gdrive and synced with dropbox on all my systems.
This is also why I prefer services which work offline because mobile/wifi access can be patchy and I don’t want to be reliant on network access to get into my password store or for the 2nd factor. Google maps offline has been a massive help in the past and I haven’t had a bill like I got in America in over 10 years. Shame it doesn’t sync the offline maps to my other devices

I always tend to carry around a battery pack and have a stash of cables in my laptop bag and try and keep the phone charged enough. Especially when going somewhere for a while. Everyone use to follow the ABCs (always be charging) but we all know that’d not great for lithium ion batteries.

Seems a lot to think about but so far its served me well…

Dropbox as furniture design company

This Alabamiana Library Is A Beaut

Dropbox as furniture design company” – @iledigital (Jon Rogers)

When Jon first said this to me, I had to think for a second. Then I got it.

Amazon, ibooks, etc all have their own proprietary ways of holding your ebook. But imagine if you  used many different sources to gather books and organise them. Some digital and some physical (like I do) These are sync’ed using Dropbox or other syncing systems and instead of being displayed as files, appear like dropbox’s photos stream. A far more useful way to display books you have and heck why not make it sharable while your at it?

Next leap… Instead of it being just a digital thing, how about as a physical manifestation? Dropbox could sync the physical and digital together, like a wispersync for binding digital and physical items. Maybe it slots a bookmark into position or folds over the top edge of a page?

But one thing you don’t want is some ugly as sin apple skeuomorphism bookshelf in your living room. It would need to fit with the rest of the furniture and surrounds. Making Dropbox a furniture design company. Not such a massive leap in imagination I would say…

Replacements for dropbox?

Dropbox...

I’m seeing some serious replacements for Dropbox hitting the market

They all seem to have there advantages and disadvantages. Anyone used one or the other?

Ultimately I’d like to use something which is peer 2 peer, encrypted, opensource and secure. It would have clients for Android, Linux and other platforms. Webdav would be nice if you can do encryption baked in.

I like what dropbox does but I can live without the central operation. I do also like the fact dropbox is being used as a storage add on, but I’m sure this can be done using standard protocols. OAuth+Public key encryption surely can solve this problem easily enough? I’m also thinking this might also allow sharing and access control properties of folders and files within reason.

Top 10 Good Tech Habits

don't feel blue


Lifehacker
has a list of 10 good tech habits to have… Luckily I seems to have most of them, however its good to share them because lots of my friends have fallen fowl of some of them.

  1. Search Google Like a Pro
    Absolutely! You got to know how to use search engines fully…
  2. Back Up Your Computer
    The amount of friends who don’t do this is terrible. I don’t backup everything but the essential stuff I have backed up on Spideroak. The less important stuff I have backed up on Dropbox.
  3. Use Secure Passwords
    If I got a pound for everytime I’ve shouted Keepass!
  4. Know What Maintenance Your Computer Needs (and Doesn’t Need)
    Of course building PC’s in the past and still doing bits here and there, I certainly feel like I know my stuff, although since I moved to Ubuntu I’ve kind of lost touch with my Windows background.
  5. Be Smart About Hoaxes, Scams, and Internet Myths
    Oh I’m across this, snopes and wikipedia is your friend. Generally if you think its all makes sense
  6. Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi
    I’m aware of the risks and never do anything serious on a non-SSL connection. I’m aware of the sniffers and have been known to throw open wireshark every once in a while.
  7. Avoid Getting Malware (and Spreading It to Others)
    Running Ubuntu over Windows means the chances of Malware is less but I’m also very aware of the risks. I usually avoid passing stuff on by just deleting them but I’ve sometimes I report them. Specially banking phishing.
  8. Keep Your Desktop and Hard Drive Free of Clutter
    Check, all good…
  9. Know When You’re Paying Too Much for a Product
    Yes although I won’t go totally out of my way for a deal, as I put a price on my time and effort
  10. Regularly Audit Your Privacy Settings on Social Networks
    My general rule applies… If its private, it shouldn’t be online. No matter what privacy settings you have check the End user licence agreement! That will tell you everything you need to know…

Amazon Glacier

Mouth of the Matanuska Glacier - Alaska

I love the idea of Amazon Glacier

Amazon Glacier is an extremely low-cost storage service that provides secure and durable storage for data archiving and backup. In order to keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimized for data that is infrequently accessed and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable. With Amazon Glacier, customers can reliably store large or small amounts of data for as little as $0.01 per gigabyte per month, a significant savings compared to on-premises solutions.

This is how I use SpiderOak right now. All backups stored there in deep storage just in-case… It will also be a great place to store photos, videos and old projects… Oh and it seems to work for UK users too.

Great work Amazon… I’m going to see if Spideroak offer anything like this before switching. As I could easily use Dropbox for daily stuff and Amazon Glacier for everything else.

Cloud storage advice

We were discussing cloud based solutions in the office today, now that Dropbox offers double the storage for Pro users. I now have 130.25gigs of storage (up from 78gig) to sync and play with believe it or not, thanks to everyone who used my referral codes (mildlydiverting, seansines and djadams) plus HTC for the extra. We got into the topic of what I use myself?

I use Dropbox for general stuff and syncing across all my different devices including Ubuntu and Android tablets and phones. However I use Spideroak for actual machine backups…

Why?

Well I like what Spideroak do about security and privacy. Compare this to Dropbox’s terms… and what happened last year!

This was confirmed when I heard Steve Gibson’s Security now on Cloud Solutions.

Cloud Solutions
After catching up with the week’s news, Leo and I examine ALL of the various cloud-based synchronizing, storage and backup solutions we could find. I survey each one in turn, and Leo chimes in with his own personal experience with many of the offerings. We conclude that SpiderOak looks like the winner, though Jungle Disk is still in the running.

Zero knowledge encryption is very useful and although I know theres way to encrypt in Dropbox (I actually have considered using them myself for somethings) I don’t really want to encrypt and decrypt on my Android device each time.

For me right now, there quite different parts of the market (although Spideroak do have dropboxes too) and I’m happy with that for now.

HTC One X and Dropbox up a tree…

Today I finally received my HTC One X from Orange. I swear I will do a full review once I find sometime to really set it up and play with it. But generally I’m mighty impressed with the weight and the size isn’t so big.

I’ve not really had a chance to set it up except throw in my google accounts and get dropbox working… Nice that it was built in from the get go. And I happy to get this email from Dropbox…

Hi Ian,
Congrats on becoming a Dropbox Guru! We’ve awarded you 23 GB of bonus space for the next 24 months! You now have 75.75 GB of space. Thanks again for supercharging your HTC device with Dropbox.
Enjoy,
– The Dropbox Team

That is a nice ton of space, I’m sure I can find something to fill the space with… I’ve already started syncing my Mixes across…

Torrents & Magnets with dropbox

Bit torrent is changing if you hadn’t noticed already…

Torrent files are going the way of cds while magnet links are taking over.

When you download a .torrent file, you’re essentially downloading a small file that contains information on the larger files you want to download. The torrent file tells your torrent client the names of the files being shared, a URL for the tracker, and more. Your torrent client then calculates a hash code, which is a unique code that only that torrent has—kind of like an ISBN or catalog number. From there, it can use that code to find others uploading those files, so you can download from them.

A magnet link does away with the middleman. A magnet link is essentially a hyperlink containing the hash code for that torrent, which your torrent client can immediately use to start finding people sharing those files. Magnet links don’t require a tracker (since it uses DHT, which you can read more about here), nor does it require you to download a separate file before starting the download, which is convenient.

Magnet links are certainly a lot better in many cases, the piratebay demonstrated this by fitting the whole site into a 90meg file. But I have a problem which I don’t seem to be able to find a answer for…

Torrent files + Dropbox is a killer combination, it means no matter where you are as long as you got a internet connection you can fire up your torrent system without messing with firewalls, etc. As we move to Magnet links, that infrastructure just crumbles and everyone seems to suggest the hole in the firewall solution.

So if anyone knows a better way to replicate dropbox + torrents or a solution which doesn’t require punching a hole in my firewall, I’m all ears, like many people…

Bring your own bucket of photos

A little break from perceptive media, but don’t worry it will be back once we have something solid in that area.

I was intrigued to see two things happen one after another. I’ll have to store this one under the decentralised magic or something.

First Tim sends me a tweet about OpenPhoto which is a decentralised flickr (my words not theres)

The inception of OpenPhoto was a desire to liberate our photos and take back control. Like you, our photos are the most valuable digital files we have. Also like you, we’ve used Flickr, Picasa and Smugmug and wound up with our photos scattered across numerous sites on the web.

So I signed up and will be looking to move my pictures from Flickr to OpenPhoto when the flickr subscription runs out in May. Which reminds me I need to download all my photos using this lovely app on Ubuntu. It requires you to bring your own bucket or storage system. So right now you can either use Amazon S3 or Dropbox

Then almost like magic, Dropbox quietly announced they were doing Google+ like automatic upload of photos to your dropbox account.

Even though the holidays have passed, we’re really stoked to give you guys one more present — a new experimental release! Under the wrapping you’ll find a bunch of new toys, including a brand new Camera Upload feature. Here are the release notes:

• Automatically uploads photos and videos in the background using Wi-Fi or data plan

Together you have a complete solution to sidestep Google’s Picassa, Flickr’s reach and all other solutions. I just hope some of Flickr’s magic has rubbed off on OpenPhoto, as a decentralised Flickr is no easy feat. And I have to wonder how they stay sustainable if the money is going to Dropbox and Amazon.

Update – If OpenPhoto and SpiderOak would work together, I wouldn’t have to move anything at all. Although I’m wondering how permissions work? Wouldn’t want to just hand over my Spideroak authentication, as it has lots of my private backups. However its worth noting SpiderOak does support dropbox-like shares and Oauth, so that could work…

Reversed EyeFi card almost

Hak5

I was catching up with Hak5 and Darren was doing a few interviews from the RSA 2011 conference. One of the interviews was with Kingston, who were showing off there new secure USB memory stick, called Blockmaster.

One of the features seems to be around the ability to push content to the memory stick. I’m not sure exactly how it works but I assume when you plug the memory stick into a web connected computer it will refresh its content with a centralised kingston service? I guess it works like dropbox but limited to what can fit on the memory stick.

This of course raise all types of hacker type questions but putting that all a side for now, this goes one more step closer to the idea of a reversed eyefi card.

With a reversed Wifi card you could easily push images to a photoframe which would be simply amazing. Bloo from the forums outlines the idea…

I would like to see an Eye-Fi card which pulls photos from somewhere and puts them in a directory on the SD card.

The primary use case for this would be to wifi-enable digital photo frames; however it could also enable those frames to be information displays for other applications: some program stores images in directory on a PC and the frame downloads from there on a regular basis.

If the Kingston blockmaster was add wifi in the future, I believe the reversed eyefi would be done and a whole ton of people would buy it. The closest we are to the reversed eyefi card is Isabella miniusb stick

Evernote take notes from Dropbox and Rescuetime

I’ve said it many times but Evernote really winds me up no end. I even went down the completely open route for a while using Tomboy Notes and there online service. To be honest the only reason why I switched back was because of Nevernote and the fact Tomdroid, couldn’t sync with any online service unless you transfered the notes via SD card.

However I started thinking via Dropbox, it would be trivial to do the syncing part. The only issue left seems to be about the fact tomdroid doesn’t seem to support editing or anything like that.

Anyway, the thing is going back to Evernote. Is I’ve been looking around some of my other apps I also pay for. Dropbox is the key example here.

Dropbox does support Linux but to be fair there a little behind the windows and mac versions. Not by much but its understandable. Rescue time don’t officially seem to support linux but they do unofficially support someone elses linux uploader, it would seem.

The fact is Evernote could really help there dominance by helping Nevernote. If they don’t Tomboy notes isn’t that far behind and will rise up and become the choice for many people.

Mobile Apps working together to better support the user

I just started using Astrid on my HTC Desire (Running android 2.2) and I’m very impressed. The thing which amazes me is the integration with Locale.

Yes it a task app but the difference is with Locale, you can set conditions. Conditions like show me this task when I’m in certain location. Show me this task when you walk into a wifi signal with a certain SSID. Show me a task when blah blah blah…

Unfortunately it seems I’m behind the curve on this one. The locale team blogged about this last year.

I put on my todo list all sorts of tasks. Sometimes they are work tasks like “fill out my expense report.” Occasionally, I add random ideas like “ask the dentist about electric toothbrushes.” More frequently I add personal tasks like “get bananas.” With Locale + Astrid, I get reminders for these tasks when I can do something about them. By tagging tasks as “groceries” and connecting the tag to a situation in Locale (for example when I am near my local Trader Joe’s), Astrid will remind me to get bananas the next time I’m near the store. In the same way I can limit Astrid’s pestering me about my expense report to times I am in the office. And the next time I am sitting in the dentist chair, Astrid can alert me to get his take on the latest teeth-cleaning gadget.

While there are many tools that provide a place to save information you want to remember, most of them lack reminders when you need them. Locale gives Astrid the power to do this in an amazingly simple way, making Astrid less annoying and much more useful.

Exactly!

So theres a interesting trend of apps building on other apps. I noticed this with Dropbox. I got a feeling that because Dropbox has been out for the iPhone for longer, there might be more tightly integration that on android at the moment. But I noticed quite a few apps are using dropbox as there syncing method instead of creating there own. Its not just syncing there’s a lot more that comes with using dropbox as the storage method.

Whats also weird is I’m now expecting dropbox syncing as standard in a lot of the apps I download. After that I’m also expecting some kind of locale ability.

In actual fact, if I was to improve Astrid, I would indeed the ability to use dropbox and create tasks using a very simple XML format. It currently syncs with Google Tasks but I’ve not really got that syncing with Evolution or anything else yet, so something else would be great.

I’ll be watching this trend of apps working off the back of other apps more closely.

Are raw files the negatives of photos?

So as you may have seen, I bought a negative scanner which actually works on ubuntu. But it got me thinking, since I lost a ton of photos back when I screwed around with my server hard drives a while ago, its great that old photos came with negatives.

I didn’t even remember that photos came with negatives till a friend pointed it out to me one day while I was talking about how I use to take photos at school and sell them to friends (one of my long forgotten entrepreneur enterprises at school).

But now what happens?

You don’t get negatives with digital cameras of course.

Are raw files the negatives of digital cameras?

Are we all expected to be excellent digital archivists?

So now is a good time to learn how to install dropbox on x64 linux I think, although I’m also thinking about paying the money for Ubuntu One too.