Police Use Selfie To Return Phone and the Importance of ICE

Being That Guy who is out walking his dog at stupid hours of the morning, I see a lot of weirdness.

Oh sure, I live in a tourist town in South Florida.  That could be redundant in itself, but its true. 

So I see a lot of weirdness.  Wait, I said that once already.

Some of that weirdness is best that I keep to myself.  Let me just say I see what you do out there and Shame.  Trust me some of that is truly bizarre. 

Luckily, most of what happens here is people from outside coming in and enjoying things a bit too much and therefore creating problems.

You lot party a bit too hearty.  No, really you do.  Have a little moderation.  A little goes a long way.  You wander down our streets using the wall to steady yourself.  Even my dog sees it and he is smart enough to know when to stay away.

So as you use that wall to steady yourself, you reach into your pocket for your keys.   What you were going to do with those keys scare me, but you have dropped them instead.

This is where I come in handy.  You see, I have found more sets of keys than I care to count.  I do tend to find a lot of things and since City Hall is on my normal walk, I tend to leave things there.  Just ask the Police Department. 

Really.  It gets to be a bit repetitious.  Keep a better handle on things.

So when the Police Department gets them they ask me where I found it and I tell them.  They also ask me a lot of random questions about myself that makes me think that it would be a lot easier if I just left your things sitting where I saw them in the grass next to that shoe.

This story doesn’t seem to be that impaired. 

It also has the benefit of some really great Aussie Sense Of Humour.  Love the way the Australians think, even if they are upside down.

They don’t like that joke either, but hey…

You see a lady lost her phone.  It was found by someone in Albury, New South Wales, Australia.  They took it to the police department, being good people who do that sort of thing.  Lo and Behold they were able to get into the phone.  There was no passcode.  I am assuming they couldn’t find the person’s own personal information but they were able to get onto her Facebook software and post a selfie.

Of the police.  Told her that she should come and get her phone because it’s safe.  They also said that she should use a passcode to lock the phone. 

Of course if there was a passcode and no personal information on the phone, the police would just have to hope that this person came to them and asked.  Small bit of circular logic.

What I do is I have a passcode, however I also have some ICE on the phone. 

ICE stands for “In Case Of Emergency”.  All the first responders know to look for that sort of information, although it is a bit vague where they look for it. 

I made it easy.  On my lock screen in Android, you can go into the settings and personalize it.  I added a message “ICE 954-xxx-xxxx”.  Yes, a phone number, No, you may not have it.

Someone presses the button to check to see if they can get in to the phone and if they’re honest, I’ll get my phone back. 

Honest people do still exist.

So add a little ICE to your phone if you can, I can’t tell you if your shiny iPhone has this feature or not.  You could always use the Find My iPhone Feature, and Android has a similar service, but this is easy.

It also might make things easier if you need a wall to hold yourself up.

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Getting Your SMS Texts Back on Android After Leaving the IPhone

This is something I usually don’t do.  A Reblog.

I’m doing it so I have the info later on and will have to repeat it.  Now you know why I have so many recipes on here – so I can bake and not have to go digging through the “Recipe Box of Doom”!

The backstory is that when Kevin went to The Isle Of Man, I borrowed a shiny old or “new to me” iPhone 4s for two weeks.  The reason is that iMessage on the iPhone will do what passes for an international text for free.  Google’s Hangouts works that way too.  But either way you have to have two people on the same hardware.  Either Android or iPhone – but not mixed.  Both systems are proprietary, and I believe that both will not play well with each other.

Since he had the loaner, I went off my beloved Samsung Galaxy S4 for two weeks.   I came back to the S4 because I use the phone like a computer and create content on it like pictures and videos mainly for my own entertainment and use here.   The camera on that iPhone has thankfully been improved in later versions, it was too saturated and too poor and grainy in low light situations.  The software was rubbish since HDR didn’t work well at all, but this is also iOS 6 when the current phones get iOS 8.

Got all that?

Anyway, here are the steps – and if you’re coming here and want the original, here is the direct link.  I have no pictures here since I followed the steps and it worked first time immediately.  The steps were beyond annoying when I got to iCloud since Apple wants you to stay on their services.  Removing the phone number from iCloud required hunting around in every nook and cranny of the site in order to delete the number from wherever you find it.

Steps:

1)  Before you leave your iPhone, turn off iMessage.  This is done by going into the Settings app, selecting Message, then flicking the slider to off on iMessage.

2)  Remove yourself from iCloud.  On the Mac, there is (or was) an iCloud app that you could do this from.  Since I am normally using Linux or Windows (in that order) I had to go to the website for iCloud.  Start on the settings link (icon) and go through every single aspect, link, and sublink on there.  If you see a phone number, delete it.  It also argued with me to disable “Find My iPhone” in order to proceed with some of this.  I did and chased my tail around until complete and I was dizzy.

I’m sorry I can’t be more specific.  I had to go through all of the account details manually myself.

3)  Have all your iPhone friends delete and readd your contacts.   Good luck.  As annoying as the iCloud step was, this one may simply be impossible.  Luckily for me, I had few people iMessage me during the two weeks.  If your contact used iMessage to talk to you, they will not be able to recontact you until Apple’s servers all realize that you have dropped off of iMessage – that could be as much as 45 days, however with me it was instant.

4)  Ask your readded friends to “Send Message as Text Message” on their iPhone.  Yes, seriously.  They’re going to wonder if they really want you as friends at this point.  Hopefully you don’t lose too many as a result.

5)  Wait 45 days before using your new non iPhone on this number.  I had to ask myself whether they were serious about this one, but apparently either I was lucky or this particular bullet is old news.  It was in my case.

6)  Text “STOP” to 48369 .  That’s the Apple support guy’s hint.  It worked for me immediately.

After running through all of this, my S4 is working fine.  I SMS Text everywhere, I am not using iMessage anywhere. 

I have read that some people on iPhones hate green text bubbles, and SMS is green while iMessage is blue.  All I have to say to that is grow up since there are worse things to hate.

First world problems, really!

Amaryllis In Bloom, iPhones, and Other First World Problems

Have you ever had one of those times where you thought something, stepped back and rethought that thought, then realized there are truly worse things in the world than what you’re going through now?  First World Problems?

It’s the technology equivalent of a toddler coming down the stairs, seeing you for the first time, walking over, sitting next to you on the couch, opening his mouth, and crying.

Yes, that happened to me too, and you know who you are who did that.

Jonathan.

Ok, so I am channeling that toddler today.

I have known that the cameras in cellphones aren’t all that great.  Then I got the Samsung Galaxy S4 which has a camera almost as good as the standalone camera that I had been using for years.  The drawback is that the S4 has a fixed lens so no Macro Zoom allowed unless you buy one of those $3 snap-on jobs that looks like something a jeweler would use. 

I may do that.

But I had a problem.  Someone needed to stay in touch with me, internationally.  He went to London, and yes I am jealous, then to Douglas on the Isle of Man.

Who goes to Douglas on the Isle of Man in the middle of the Winter anyway?

Never mind that, it’s for business.

He’s on an iPhone and instead of spending insane amounts of money for international texting, he suggested I use my old creaky iPhone 3GS.  We ruled that out since my SIM won’t fit in there.  But luckily I was loaned an iPhone 4S for this purpose. 

Now I can internationally iMessage him for free.  Free is good, my budget is tight.  The idea of even paying for a text these days offends me to no end, and I was very late in the game only upgrading my plan when T-Mobile changed things around to unlimited talk, text, and 1GB data.  It’s enough and it’s the same cost I had before.  Since I hardly use the phone for data, I’m good.

Now I have this iPhone in my pocket.  First thing I noticed is that it’s small in my big hands.  Being 6’4″ tall, everything is proportional, and the big Samsung with the gorgeous 5 inch AMOLED full HD screen that literally lights up the room fit me perfectly.  This 4 inch iPhone looks a bit “Barbie’s” phone in my hand.

No worries, I’ll deal with it, even if it’s “quaint”.

All the apps I had on my 3GS that I got over the years moved over and I’m back to “normal” whatever that is.

I went out and started taking pictures. 

Mind you, when I sell my next picture, I’ll sell my first.  Not a professional.  Maybe a Prosumer, what ever the hell that means.  I take pictures to remember what to write about, and I do take care to make the pictures as good as possible so they may be interesting to the hundreds of whoevers that stumble across this blog now and in the future every day.

Go ahead and graph that last paragraph, I know it is phrased clumsily, I’ll wait…

This weekend was the first time I tried to look at the pictures on the laptop.  I noticed two things.  The pictures were over-saturated.  Also they were fuzzy.  To be fair, it’s an older phone.  It’s been repaired professionally.   Good looking beast, but it’s clad in glass on both sides.  Apple recognized their mistakes and went to plastic and metal for the back.

It’s possible that the focus could be slightly off due to “deceleration trauma”.  That could explain the focus but not the color intensity.

So for now, I’ll carry the two phones and hope for the best. 

The best you ask?  I get an attitude adjustment and stop being so fussy.   I’ll also use the Galaxy for pictures.  Looks better in my big paws and takes better pictures. 

The iPhone is a communication device anyway.  The camera there is an afterthought.  

Youtube Prefers HTML5 Video to Flash – But What About All That Old Stuff?

Flash is one of those necessary evils.  It was like Java, reflexively installed onto computers that weren’t really quite up to the task of running it. Just checked, nope, I don’t have Java – and you should not either.

The computer would bog down, act cranky, and even crash when Flash was running.  Flash also has persistent cookies that you had to remember to delete.  Some people would have those cookies for years.  Security is a bear.

But there is one more nail is in Flash Player’s coffin.  Youtube is now preferring HTML5 over Flash when you watch videos there.

Why is that important?

More and more Flash had been the target of people wanting to hijack passwords, insert viruses, and track your movements with those persistent cookies.  Adobe had put more and more patches into it and it became a joke.  Start the computer, patch Flash, restart the computer and do your work – every single day. 

Worse, some people that I supported would simply tell the update check to go away and never come back.

You are getting closer to the day you can do that for good. Many of us already have.

My Linux computer, currently Xubuntu, is not even supported on current Flash Player, and I did an uninstall of it a couple weeks back.  I didn’t see the value of keeping an old piece of software on something that was running well without it and I almost never used.

My windows computer will get the same treatment.

About the only thing I ever do with Flash is to watch videos on Youtube.  The few games that I have kept over the years will get deleted.

That’s about the only problem that I see with this.  Videos can be streamed using “native tools” but the content that was created in Flash will simply go away.  Quite a lot has been created in Flash over the years, even a few Broadcast TV Programs, and many commercials as well.

After all, when was the last time you played a video tape?  Beta?  VHS?  Vinyl Records?

That is the kind of problem that Librarians have.  Content on a platform that is unsupported.  Music on Cylinder Beeswax Records from the Edison era.  78 RPM records.  Heck, I even have a few 45s floating around here.  Silly looking 7 inch donuts.

For most of us, it’s simply easier to find the track elsewhere and save it on something new.  But for librarians, especially archival libraries, they have to worry about that sort of thing every day.

Anyone still have and use a zip disc?  Nope?  Didn’t think so!

So the net result to you is that if you are running one of the four major browsers in one of the top four major operating systems on the desktop/laptop you’re fine.  Just make sure your browser is up to date.  Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Opera all work with HTML5.

See, that’s easy!

The iPhone and Android based phones will typically use the Youtube client or the browser will take care of it.

One aside though, with Android, it’s usually recommended that you do not use the base browser and go out and grab either Firefox or Chrome.  The reason is that if you are on an older version of Android, Google is not going to support the old “Browser” browser.

So it’s just safer that way.  Listen to big brother even if it is a bother.

Ok?

How Do You Protect Your IPhone From Wirelurker When They Don’t Know What It Does?

I’m reading the tech news.  In reality I read it about every day and far too much of it is out there.  Your mind may haze up from time to time, and that’s normal.

There’s a new virus out there that they’re calling “Wirelurker”.  The big problem is with this one is that they are still figuring out how it works and what it does.

The group that discovered the virus, Palo Alto Networks, let out a rather gloomy press release.  Basically, it said that you’re probably already infected and even if you didn’t get infected it will get you anyway through use of chargers or your Mac.

Huh?

Apparently it started as a rather fringe infection vector.  People who Jailbreak-ed their iPhones and connected up to a third party app store called Maiyadi, in China got it first.

Chinese third party software.  Probably not the safest out there.

What it did was to rewrite the apps that ran on the iPhone and add code to it that caused the virus to replicate and move onto the next victim.

So someone stepped out of the Walled Garden that Apple made and they got caught, end of problem, right?

Nope.

It infected their Macs, and moved on.  It also infected any other iOS devices plugged into the machines such as iPads and iPod Touch.

The recommendations are one of the broadest that I have ever seen for avoiding this virus.

This is the first time I saw a third party app store used as an illustration of a safer app store.  They recommend that if you do use third party apps, make sure it is the Cydia app store and only go to trustworthy sources.  Problem there is that you never really know since those third party app stores aren’t really looking into the source code like Apple does.

They say don’t even plug it into a charger that you don’t know about and don’t use any non approved sources.  Since the virus is so stealthy you won’t know that your charger is infected until later – but basically that lets the rest of the windows world in.

There’s a vulnerability with the USB devices that you have in your house.  More accurately the USB devices you will buy to replace the ones you have now.  Plugs, cables, and chargers.  It can be rigged to push a virus into whatever it is connected with.  While this particular threat hasn’t been seen in the wild, yet, give it time.  Yes, it’s doom and gloom and fear mongering, but give it time.

Thinking about a new charger?  Better make sure that you spend the extra money and get it from a recognized source. 

If the whole charger thing is questionable, their stated concern is that if you have an infected iPhone on your network, the virus will walk back to the next phone that is connected to the network via email servers and the like. 

Once it is in your phone, it can theoretically grab your address book and spam your contacts thereby sharing the fun.  This is one of the first “traditional” viruses to hit the iPhone platform.

The Apple Myth of No Viruses Here was built because they have the reputation of “vetting” or looking over and analyzing the software that sits on their own app stores.  If you remain in the Walled Garden, all will be well.  That is the theory and for the most part, up until now, it works.  However since the infection vector is from outside of the walled garden and you have to go outside the garden to update or charge the phone, you will have a vulnerability.

The solution will be that Macs and iOS devices will need to run a virus scanner.  Once the virus definitions are kept up to date, this will clean out the problem. 

If it sounds familiar, welcome to the Windows world. 

Once the signature to the virus is found, it will get out to the Windows based virus scanners and that should clear it up as well.

But it isn’t there yet, so stay tuned.

Bottom line is that if you have an iOS device, make sure you stick with Apple’s App Store and stay tuned.

iPhone6 Killer Feature? They Bend.

A lesson for you tech buyers is to wait at least a week or three before you buy.

Standing in line from midnight the night before outside of one of the few tech big box stores is all about the social aspect as well as being able to say “Look What I Got”.

Boring, but I understand it.

Those people have already stood in line, got their iPhone6 in shiny metal flavors and are using it.  They probably found out about the major flaw.  The phones are so thin that they bend in normal use in a trouser pocket.

Apple has yet to make a statement on the defect, but it’s clearly not Suitable For Intended Use – you know, the old English Common Law Warranty of Merchantability?

I’ll leave the law to the Lawyers, but you might want to stay tuned. 

If you did buy one of those phones, make sure it is in a shirt pocket or a caddy on the belt.  

If you didn’t, wait.   They will probably have to do a quick redesign on the back of the thing, most likely going to Tungsten or some other more durable metal.  Sure it won’t be as light as the current Aluminium, but it also won’t bend like that foil you used to wrap your baked potato last Sunday Dinner.

I learned that it wasn’t the best to buy first a long time ago. This kind of risk that you take when you buy first is a major annoyance to me.

I had bought a 1986 Ford Taurus.  Beautiful car, in cream with a tan interior.  One of the first ones out of the factory.  I almost immediately had problems with the front end of it.  A front wheel drive car that pulled to the left.  After two trips back to the shop for a replacement of the rack and pinion, I traded it in on a Chevy Nova.  I didn’t have that car for more than a year, and I haven’t considered a Ford since.  The Nova was a great little car, but as sexy as a toaster.  Maybe it was the Sexy that was the problem.  Sexy in machinery breaks.  It’s fragile.  Durable is best.  The Nova also lasted 10 years before it started to rust out in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Winters. 

I stuck with Durable but wanted something different.  That’s why I drive a Jeep Wrangler that is 12 years old.  It’s my third Jeep.

So wait a bit, you don’t want a lemon car like the Ford I had, and you surely don’t want a bendy lemon like the iPhone 6.

So how DO you know when your phone is obsolete?

I have a friend who visits about once a year.  I have a standing request that he brings his “Daily Driver” computer with him when he comes.

He calls it a tune up.  What I generally do is go through the machine, run a virus scan, uninstall spyware, and send him on his way.  It runs much faster because I’ve cleaned out the junk.

He’s also been using that machine for longer than even I have expected.  He’s gotten newer machines, but he keeps coming back to that beast of a 17 inch “laptop” because I’m able to keep it going.

Eventually, he’ll have to stop using it, and then it will have a second life as either a table leveler, something to hold a shelf down in the linen closet, or I’ll put Linux on it and it will be good for another 5 years of use.

I’m leaning toward Linux, but that is because I actually do like using the environment.

Computers have a longer life than the manufacturers want you to believe because they exist to make money by selling you new.  It’s Planned Obsolescence.

With a phone, it appears much more clear cut.  Especially with a smartphone, things have a shelf life.  The vendor puts out a new model, it can do more, but does it really warrant you getting a new one?

Again like with my friends beast of a laptop, to me, it appears that it is software driving the decision.

There are two schools here.  Apple and Android.  Not looking at this as a fanboy of either set up, I have a preference for Android because I can do things with it like use the phone as a multimedia computer much easier than I can with iOS.  I look at it as a use case to form a decision as to which works best for me.

Your Mileage May Vary.

With Apple, there is a clear end of life with their phones.  When you can no longer run their current operating system, it is time to consider moving on.  Apple has always done this with their computers as well.  For a while their PowerPC computers were supposed to be the best thing out there.  Then they came out with Intel based computers that made their old computers look horrible and they stopped supporting them after one more upgrade.

My iPhone is an old 3GS.  It will still make calls, but as a computer, Apple is actively pushing it away.  I have software that ran on it until I updated it, then all the sudden the older software is gone, and the newer one doesn’t work because I don’t have the current operating system.  One after another app is going away and eventually that will be the end of it.

Of course if you have the latest iPhone 6, it’s obsolete when you drop it on the ground on the first day it’s out because you just broke the screen.


Android is a different animal.

Android support varies with the company that made the phone or tablet.  Typically, an Android phone will get updates within the operating system version that it was bought with.  After that you are on your own.

My tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, got updates until the current OS came out.  That doesn’t mean that the tablet is unusable, it merely means that it will get more behind the times as I run into the same problem that my old iPhone had.  Software won’t be written for it.

There is another problem with the older versions of Android.  The browser that shipped with every version of Android except the current one has a rather nasty bug in it.  The short of it is that if you have an older Android device, do not use the default browser.  Disable that browser, and install another.  I did that at the start and I use Firefox which is the suggestion that is made by most security groups.

Why is that a problem?  Because if you don’t have a current device that runs the current Operating System, you aren’t going to get an update and you are on your own.  That means you have just hit the wall with using that phone, it’s now obsolete – if you want to be secure.

It all seems a bit alarmist, but considering how many people use their phones and tablets as their main computing devices these days, it really does pay to be aware of what that device is capable of doing.  It is a computer and they do need to be kept up to date.  But when you can’t do that any more, you have to be aware what not being up to date can mean.