Step counters can be fooled!

I recently saw an article that stated that step counters on fitbits and watches could be fooled using certain methods by lazy people. All they had to do was to attach the device to the pet dog or cat but I suppose any animal would do, or even a any child but not a lazy cat!

A few weeks ago I thought that I would try the fitness thingy on my pebble. This worked fine when I was interested in how much I was walking. Mostly to check that I was actually getting enough exercise during the day. The result so far is yes in most cases and that I found that low step counts coincided with days of feeling low energy, the more steps the better I felt. However, here’s the good bit. I found that when I was at work digging with a trowel (archaeology stuff), my watch still counted the trowelling movements and I could generally not move much and still gained alot steps on the counter thus following the health activity sensors.

Also on the pebble is the sleep thingy, I really don’t have much use for this so turned it off. Who actually wears a watch to bed? Seems a bit silly and awkward feeling  to me. The other thing is these step counters aren’t much good during the week if I’m at home because generally I have the phone in one location with the watch sat next to it. Mostly because when I’m home I see no point carrying the phone around while at the same time not really caring what the time is. But then that just me



The Tablet Lacks With Wi-Fi And Other Annoyance

A couple of months back I bought myself a ASUS 10 inch tablet. Why you may ask that one and not another brand, first the price was right. Second, the colour and performance looked promising in the shop, the option to add extra memory with a sd card slot and importantly, there were no Microsoft apps pre installed on it.

So how as it measured up?

Pretty well, but not perfect though. WIFI on this tablet and being able to hold it is not brilliant but better than the Nexus 7. It seems to have got better and I cann’t really remember what happen. Another problem also has occurred, not much recently but it can get quite bad. This problem seems to take place mostly when do stuff. The whole thing freezes, the screen goes white with one or two lines across but again this seems to have not happened for a couple of weeks until the other day and it was accompanied by a buzzing sound.

Has with my other Android devices I have disabled a few apps that I don’t use as well as deleting some which came with the tablet. What I really want is to be able to delete apps ready installed so that I can free up memory and also makes sure that they don’t start up and run in the back ground as with a few Samsung apps on the s5. I am working on this problem but think it should be a requirement for OEMs to make all apps that come with a device to be removable.

The note pad that comes with the device is actually pretty good although writing with the stylus pen isn’t has good as it should be. I have recently been working away and being able to write notes on this in the field and the hotel room for later consultation  is handy. I don’t take photos with the device but there again I don’t want to look like one of those knobs that goes round with a tablet using it like a camera. Also while I was away and at home as well, it is just the right size for reading books and magazines. What is really missing for tablets is libre office, this would make tablets truly useful to those who need something to write stuff while they are away. Maybe this is one reason why tablet sales have started to fall.

I would recommend this device but I think it can be greatly improved. I will likely have to review it again once I have checked out other stuff but it is more of a try it when you need it thing as I am somewhat busy right now. When I have the money I may look at the ubuntu tablet because from what I can see, it is more off what a tablet should be. Runs linux so that libre office can be installed and view photos, etc. we will see. Maybe to get this I could get a cheap tablet and install ubuntu touch on that.


That darn raspberry

The past few months have been pretty grotty with with lots of rain and coldness (someone said it called Winter) So I have taken the chance to play with something new. The raspberry pi that I bought myself for Christmas (yeah, right,  any excuse) was got out of the box with a view to setting up owncloud. All I  can say is that there seems to be no set way of doing this. I followed one set of instructions to find problems because there issues with packages no longer used or out of date and no updates forth coming. Other sets of instructions said something else,  come on people,  keep your instructions up to date and at least correspond with others. It would be nice to have one central place where the most up to date information on this kind of thing was kept and if anyone found alterations or improvements in any part of the setup needed making then they should be able to add these to update the information.

So, I decided to put the wordpress project on hold for a while and set up the pi as normal following the instructions on the website and it works like a dream. I am going to use it for messing around and learning to code. Which I think was the origin intention before makers got their grubby hands on it and came up with lots of good useful stuff. I did have a little trouble on start up at first.

One point that I found needed to be made aware of is that there is a little switch on the SD card holder on the board itself that makes it read only and you can only read the card and able to run the system. That was found in a little article after wasting 4 hours trying to reset up the device (had worked first time). My initial try had gone so badly wrong that I decided to redo the card but the switch may have been in the wrong position (its really hard to find).

Expect more on this in the future!


Apps in apps out

A couple of months ago I posted that that Microsoft can’t be trusted with Linux and android and now other people are starting to say the same thing on how they seem to be trying to blackmail companies via software patents, etc. Well they seem to be doing just that. It had not occurred to me but the predicted loss of support to Skype for Linux as or is occuring with no updates for a couple of years. I also feel that its becoming less useful for individual, as it seems that group calling is becoming more promoted but there again, I feel that people are leaving it for more secure apps. So from this I move to what’s in and what’s out.

First up is guess what? Skype, I have recently removed it from my phone and soon my tablet. The monthly subscription was ditched a while ago as it served no purpose what so ever. I don’t use it as much as I did, I am going to try and get an open source alternative. If my friends want to video call then they can change and ditch that Microsoft controlled Skype. I am convinced that Skype is not so good as it was with not being as reliable and secure as before.

Also out is Swiftkey, largely for the reason that Microsoft as bought it. Swiftkey is one of best keyboards available with it prediction but I am not at all happy about Microsofts involvement and control of the app. I feel that it will also go down the pan as other things have, Skype and Nokia for example. I am currently try swipe which while not as good with prediction is a good alternative.

An newish app that I am becoming fond of is Pocketcast, I seem to be listening to podcasts a lot more these days, largely due to normal radio becoming stale with manufactured so called music and useless chatter. I haven’t really settled on a good range of podcasts but I do need to get used to this to get the most out of it. The first thing will be to figure out a way to have the casts follow on from the last when it finishes.


Don’t ignore emails you think are trying to get spend

Every day brings emails, mostly junk or ones that come from companies that you have bought from. Most often, if your like me you see the subject line and press delete. Well, thats fine and the most common reaction but sometime its worth just holding back for certain companies.

About a year ago I  bought some NFC tags with a view to having a play just to see what I can do with them. Sure I did the normal set up of turn WiFi  on then forgot because I got busy at work.  Then a couple of months ago I  got an email from the tag suppliers, I thought they were just after my money but I read the email anyway. I found a link to a blog of theirs that showed how to use Nfc tags to unlock the screen,  well I thought let’s try it out but I found the reason I  hadn’t tried it before even I may have heard of the use is because Samsung think it a nice idea to hide the setting that I need to do it. A quick duck duck go search gave me the answer.

Within the security section of the phones settings you’ll find smartlock. From here you can add apps, locations, etc where it is OK to have the screen unlocked. While I was doing this I also set up a safe location (home) but this is unreliable and rarely takes effect so the NFC tag is mostly used. I also have one set up for the car (still need to actually put it in).

Using this is just easier but the screen lock still kicks in after a while as normal but its still better than putting in the code every time which makes life easier. Also good for when I am using the phone to control the roku.

Bu t having said all that I still go auto pilot and just press delete…may have missed something.



Not a Swift Smart Move!

Right! A rant…

This week we saw the news that Microsoft had gone and bought Swiftkey, in my view the best keyboard for Android. I have been using Swiftkey for a while, beginning in the old days when they charged you. As in I paid them literately a week before they when free. When it was first announced I got the new snazy version,neural with the IA which had a lot promise but no updates were forth coming.

Then last week they go and sell out to the Microsoft scum! I am not at all happy about this due to my total mistrust of the Micro$oft lot. I am hoping that Swiftkey can continue moving forward as they have been but I will no longer be seeing what they get up to.


I have decided that I will take a stand and not use this keyboard for a number of reasons. The first is obvious if you have read previous posts. I simply don’t trust Microsoft, from the side lines I have been watching what they get up to and I really don’t like it. I fear that my personnal data will be up loaded via the keyboard, remember, what you type in goes up the line to Swiftkeys servers to make the typing better which is does but with the larger company involved I don’t feel at all happy. I am also concerned that Swiftkey itself will be badly affected as it gets added to Microsoft products (which is why they bought it) and the end result may well not be pretty (look at skype, nokia, etc). I strongly believe that that this is a very bad idea.

So SwiftKey, best off luck with your new overlords because I and many others won’t be there to help you!

Oh! by the way…I want my money back!


You Call That a Smart TV?

I have had a bit of fun recently with my mind going on overdrive. Spread over the past couple of months I have had a couple of visits to the ‘toy shop’ (Maplins). Around mid December I decided to go a head and go for the home server but this as seen some side benefits. The first was the much thought ‘that would be nice’ network cable sort out so a multi cable box came home with me.

I spent most of one day a couple of weekends ago getting my cables more organized and finished by setting up a small network or should that be a called something else? What it basically is, is that a I have one ethanet cable coming into the room and I needed more. One for the Roku,  one for the TV and one for the home server. When I tested it all worked fine,  my Samsung TV hadn’t been connected for close to a year so the expected update took place and the Internet interface got updated as well. Close to 30 apps,  most of which were of no use or interest to me so I wasted half an hour uninstalling things. If this so called smart TV was smart it wouldn’t have installed them in the first place. What I was left with wasn’t much different from the Roku and what I essentially got was Samsung sponsored junk. More I think about it the more I want another Raspberry pi  for a home media centre along the lines of Kodi. Let’s look on the bright side,  I can now control my TV with my Pebble watch! I am strongly suspecting that much newer smart TV’s are better than this but at least Kodi would let me have more control what apps are downloaded.


Update with a view of going forward

Looking back over this year I realize that my posts have been few and far between and mostly to do with little more than what has been voiced else where unless I have been thinking about expanding on something with my thoughts. Once or twice I have commented on new stuff if it has interested me. I have also not done much tinkering and trying to get stuff changed to what I wanted. Well that is going to change over the next few weeks.

I plan on a post about my experience with kubuntu 15.10 and then on to a couple of current projects. The first project has come about due to recent data attacks on big companies. This largely involves going through my passwords,  etc and changing them but a password manger is involved as well. I have also signed up for a mooc course on internet security. The start of this project has been covered already with the KeePass post.

The second main project has an off shoot or three. This is the centred around a home server and a personal network (the first off shoot). This project has encouraged me to get my grubby hands on a raspberry pi, what inspired this is the recent announcement by ownCloud regarding its community project to use Raspberry pi’s and digital data hard drives to bring the possibility of personal home servers to the masses. Me, being me think this is great and a way to save some money and to set a challenge to set up a home server and get something done that I have been wanted for a long time. The good thing about this project is that it will encourage me get off my butt and learn to code (the other off shoot). It may also encourage me to get a second raspberry pi and and build a media centre (the other off shoot). Why ? Although pretty darn good I am finding two things wrong with the Roku, the first is that I feel some channels are missing and I feel a little restricted in what is available. The second is that I have had it with the Roku people changing my theme to a seasonal one when they feel like it which gives me a feeling that I am not in control of MY device.

Well, that’s the next few weeks taken care off and expect some posts with updates covering the progress on how I accomplish these including mistakes and how various problems are over come. It is likely that other things will come up that I need to cover…like home automation and true smart phone functions on my phone.



Keepass The Manager

For a while I have been thinking more and more of getting a password manager, should have done this a while ago but time and dragging my feet delayed the inevitable. Lastpass was the one that got alot of mentions in articles so it was more well known but that got sold this year and my understanding was that it was propriety and stored my passwords on their servers (I may be wrong but I am sure they got hacked in the past year for this info). Anyway, I chose KeePass2 which is open source. I thought it would be simple enough to just install from the repositories but no. It will not run properly with Firefox. My idea was to store the database which is encrypted on a USB drive which seems to work OK with the current set up. The idea behind this was because I did not want to keep the database on the laptop in case of mishaps and for security.

I spent a little time researching the KeePass web site and seemed to get most of the way setting it up but I was not happy with the way it was not functioning how I thought it should. A search produced a number of pages for installing on ubuntu (I am using Kubuntu so its basically the same). In the end I used the  instructions here-

However, this site seems a little dated but works very well. I think it would be best to follow the instructions about installing the packages via the terminal and forget the software centre in ubuntu/kubuntu, and yes you need mono for it to work proberly.

In stage 3 on the page that is linked to, there is a mistake in the line –

sudo mv ~/keepasshttp/KeePassHttp.plgx /usr/lib/keepass2/plugins/

It should actually read

sudo mv ~/keepasshttp-master/KeePassHttp.plgx /usr/lib/keepass2/plugins/

I may have mentioned in a previous post about cutting and pasting stuff that I have found not to work due to out of date elements within the terminal stuff. Check! Check the file names as the lines your pasting may be out of date with titles or number versions.

The other step that needs mentioning is that you will need something called xdotool. I found this in Synaptic Package manager so you will need to install that manager first and then install xdotool. Synaptic is very usful and I really wish it was included with kubuntu to start with!

The rest of the instructions work fine, even when using the USB drive to store the database but this may need linking to during the set up process when you restart Firefox to set up the syncing of the database with the web browser.

Most of the information in its use can be found in the KeePass wiki if you have any problems which seems pretty compressive and detailed in most parts with the Linux instructions having to be done in way that more or less covers most of the Linux distros. At the moment the problems that I am encountering are greatly reduced to what I had so unless I need new elements in the set up it should be OK.

Any changes to due any clichés in the set-up that need fixing will be added here or above to keep everything complete for reference and avoiding head scratching.

And no, I am not spending the rest of the day adding all my passwords, etc. I will do that as I need to.



Digitizing Vinyl Revisited

The past few days has seen me revisit an old project.  This has mostly been due my decision to stop streaming music and to actually buy my music on vinyl and CD’s (has a second option). Why?  You may ask.  Well for two reasons, both are equally important. The first is due to recent issues with security of various websites and my wish to depend less on the web as whole and keep things off line if possible. The second is control,  basically, I want to control what I listen to and when.  It also means that in some cases no one knows what I  am listening  too unless I  login into lastfm which seems to be not a lot unless it on my phone (too lazy to login most of the time). Back to what I control what I listen to, by this I mean I don’t rely on stupid digital rights saying that I cann’t listen or download music in one country and not another and don’t have to pay for several steaming services just to listen to my favourite bands because of exclusive deals.

Anyway, I installed the software that I was using before and it hasn’t changed much and the only thing I had to do was make sure that the correct device was selected (have to check this each time you have a digitizing session it does not keep your settings in the instance).  The other thing that I found and I am strongly suspecting that its due to memory size is that I was unable to play the record while I was recording as it stopped after a couple of minutes.

Once the music was successfully recorded, I split the tracks up as they need to be using wikipedia or the CD/album listing for timings but if you use wikipedia then you get to copy and paste the track title. So much easier than guessing the timings by looking at the recording and typing the song title. Once each track was done I saved as otherwise it was saved as audacity file but I was saved mine as ogg-vorbis files. Making sure each file had .ogg at the end or it will not show in Amarok or anything else for that matter. Also make sure album title are the same or you get stuff listed twice.