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!

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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.

Weeds and Lizards – And HDR Photography

I actually enjoy taking pictures.  There are a lot of pictures that I have taken that are strictly for me.  After all, how many pictures of your dog being cute, or that particular friend walking into a wall can you inflict on people?

Not everyone shares “your” enthusiasm for a subject, no matter how good you are at it.

So I meter myself, restrict what I show, and self-edit a bit.

But trust me, I have “gigs” of pictures I have taken since the beginning of the digital photography era.  I’ll keep doing it, and I’m getting better at it.

If I bore you with it sometimes, sorry, maybe the next picture might be something we both enjoy.  I’ll try harder.

All this was running through my mind lately when I was having a chat with a good friend, Craig.  He lives up in Atlanta and a while back told me that he had an old phone that he didn’t need.  “Oh, really?” 

It was a massive upgrade for me, and I’m beyond happy to get it.  I’ve changed my phone plan to allow texting and to get a gig worth of data per month.  I am being conservative there, but why spend when Wifi is so available, right?

I’ve gone back to T-Mobile and rightsized the plan.

Plus my old phone, a T-Mobile MyTouch Q was so slow that it literally took 10 minutes for it to come up.  It was that lack of speed that stopped me from really using the smartphone as well as I knew I would.

He knew I’d have a lot of fun with it, and, well thanks again!

That display literally lights up the hallway when I turn it on at 5 AM in the bedroom.

Talking about the phone, Craig shared with me some ideas to make things more interesting.  Cellphone cameras.  This one has a 14 megapixel camera.  Great, about another 50 percent better than my standalone camera that I have been using for years. 

Cellphone cameras have one big limitation, the lens is fixed.  You can’t really zoom in and out with one, they are just taking a digital scissors to the view and cutting it down.  It forces me to put myself in just the right spot where an optical zoom lens would let me do things a little simpler than having to get reeeeeealy close for that closeup.

But on the other hand, if the programmer who wrote the camera software was good, the camera can be amazing.

I’d say that Samsung had some very good programmers when they wrote the software for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

There are a couple of things I can do with the camera that I couldn’t do before, one of which is a little controversial.  It’s called “HDR” or High Dynamic Range.   HDR photography takes three pictures in rapid succession, so you need a faster processor than you might have before.  First an underexposed picture, then a “normal” one, then an overexposed picture.  The three are blended together and presented as a final picture.

Craig asked me had I ever played with it?

A little. 

I’m finding HDR to be an uneven technology.

Spotting a weed growing from a plank, it caught my eye as pretty typical for Florida.  Drop a seed and it

will grow or be eaten.  So during the golden hour dog walk that evening, I took a normal picture.  Then I took an HDR Picture. 

The normal picture had deep greens in the shadows, but the representation was a bit darker than my eye perceived.  I think the camera’s auto mode was looking at the weed in the foreground and using it to figure out how bright everything would be.   Otherwise, this is a very competent piece of equipment.

Then the HDR picture was taken.  The angle is slightly different, and I can now see what the difference was

with the HDR.  There is more of the darker areas shown.  It popped more, however the darker areas near the sunlight shaft were a little hazy.  No, I hadn’t left a thumbprint on the lens, I’m thinking it’s the code for this particular situation said bring it all up and make it more “contrasty”.  

I would say that the HDR picture is more true to what my eye sees in the scene.  At that time of day, the fence in the background is highly visible, and the darker areas of the plants aren’t really back into the gloom.

The way I see it is that it is an interesting technology, well worth playing around with.  On the other hand, good old “normal” photography could be just what you want.  Since you won’t know until you get home and look at it on your computer – Use Both!  After all, you don’t actually pay for film anymore do you?

Besides, isn’t Photography all about being creative?  Playing with your environment, the light, the setting, and your equipment?

Another tool in the shed or another crayon in the box.  It’s just going to make us better at what we do.  Frankly, I’m enjoying it.

Go Away Priyanka, You Are A Worm.

This Priyanka has cropped up on the tech blogs, just about everywhere that I was reading, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon.

Got Android?  Read on.
Got something called “WhatsApp“?  Read on.

WhatsApp is a chat client for SMS or other WhatsApp users.  Yes, Yet Another Chat Client has a worm running through it.  Pretty common these days.

It’s an easy one to avoid, simply don’t accept any messages from Priyanka, don’t friend Priyanka… In short, ignore Priyanka and delete anything from it without opening it.

If you have Priyanka in your contacts, then it goes out and sends invites to all your friends on the WhatsApp platform in order to share in on the fun.

Oooh.

The instructions to get rid of them are pretty simple as well, and you can find them at this link.

I’m an admitted oddball.  I don’t do SMS Texting.  At all.  It’s turned off at T-Mobile, so no matter what I’m safe.

Want to talk to me, call me.  Want to send text?  Email.  Yeah I know, it’s not trendy but I’m in front of a computer from 7AM until 11PM some days.  I’ll leave WhatsApp on the shelf for those who are more “smartphone addicted” than I am.

Bamboo Smartphone and Tablet Docks are all done

A while back a neighbor cut down a stand of bamboo that was as thick as your wrist.  I was able to take some of the scrap and cut it to size for a dock for my smartphones and larger ones for my tablets.

After taking the time to cut the wood and try the things out, I realized I really did want to finish the project by staining the bamboo inside and out with poly-seal.   Two coats later, they actually shimmer in the sunlight.  I may go another step further, but it really is pretty much “Furniture Quality” at this point.

Basically they work like the box that the drivers for your speakers for the stereo are contained in.  Give sound a box to bang around in and you get resonance and a louder, richer, and more directed sound.  More bass and better direction.  Since we’re talking about the tiny little squeakers inside of a tablet, they need the help.

Even the one that cracked worked nicely when I screwed it down to a stand to hold it together.  Now that I have all of these docks, five in total, I’m finding that they have their uses.  Why run ugly wires to the top of the medicine chest in the bathroom for speakers when you already have the phone playing music?  One of the docks lives there perched six feet above the ground.

The trick is to not make the hole where you drop the phone or tablet too large.  If the sound leaks through the top of the dock, it can’t be refocused out the ports on the side.  Since the Android phone I have and the iPhone 3G are almost identical in shape at the bottom, it works for all of my phones.

Other than that, unless I find more scrap bamboo or a reason to make more of these things, I’m probably done.  Nice little diversion of a project.  I got to the point where using mostly hand tools, I could make one in about an hour.  After all, what guy doesn’t want an excuse to do some woodworking and make something “cool”?

What did you do with your old Smartphone

After reading this article on Lifehacker, I was left smiling.

So very much bile and grief.

Ok, so you have a smartphone.  It’s older than your contract.  Get it unlocked.   You can even do that with your AT&T Phones.  Mostly, anyway.  There are some phones that are simply hardwired to be with the company you got it from.

My being the king of electronic repurposing, there area a lot of uses that you can get out of the little beasts.

You will want to remove the SIM.   That’s the little chip that tells the phone to talk to the cell towers.  If you managed to get it unlocked, you still can use it for “Old Times Sake” or just give/sell/pass it on to someone else.  But that SIM is required in the new phone to make it work like a phone.

Some of the things I use my hand-me-down smartphones for are:

One of them is unlocked.   I use it when my “real” phone is dead.  Swap in my SIM and now I’m back on the air.  You can even use it when you’re in a bad neighborhood so you don’t lose the “good phone”.

Load it up like an iPod and walk around listening to the same tracks over and over because I can’t stand having iTunes on my laptop phoning home every couple hours.   At least that is easier to deal with on Android.  Fewer programs to “manage” my music preferences.

Download a copy of Magic Jack for emergencies.  You can make free phone calls in the US using your Wifi and this software.

I keep one on the nightstand for when I wake up.  Since the “regular” phone is on charge, I turn this thing on and use it to check up on Radar/Weather/News/etc. 

Internet Radio is great when you have a wifi-only no-longer phone smartphone.  I use a program called TuneIn and can listen to all those streams or radio stations from outside of the house when I’m tired and want something new.

No, this isn’t earth shattering news.  But it is better than tossing it in a drawer and then in the trash in a few months.  May as well use the thing, after all you paid for it, and really you paid quite a lot for it.

CMAS is a TERRIBLE idea

Have you ever had an idea that sounded good?
You know, something that would be a great benefit but in the end turned out really terribly executed so it basically is like banging your head against the wall. 
Something you stop doing when it ceases to be theraputic?

Read on, McDuff, this is one of those ideas.

Luckily I didn’t make this boneheaded mistake.

CMAS is a piece of software that runs on smartphones.
CMAS is a service that allows you to be warned, here is the wikipedia page.
It gets information from some central server somewhere that is supposed to be keyed on where you are, based on the cell towers you are near.   Yes, even if your GPS doesn’t work on the cell phones, you can find out where your cell phone is at based on the old Triangulation technique.  

If there’s something that happens that is an emergency in your area, a notification is pushed to your phone and …

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

Last night, in the tail of Tropical Storm Isaac, around 4PM, there were some Flash Flood Watches sounded for this part of the world.  Not like they weren’t expected, we’ve had four days of rain in a row and a Duck and Cover Event called the Tropical Storm Watch.  Or Warning, it’s never quite clear which is which. 

When you live in South Florida, these warnings are literally EVERYWHERE.  You simply can not escape it because a helpful neighbor will ALWAYS tell you about it.

Sitting in the green comfy chair, watching the rain fall, there was a Thunderstorm.   We’re used to that here, the storms can be entertaining in itself.

Right as a lightning strike hits, some drone sitting in a building somewhere decided to make my phone disgorge noise.  First it started to vibrate.  Violently.  So as I reach over to grab the phone before it begins a trip to the floor, it then starts to scream like a siren.  Then back to vibrating.

Figuring it was possessed, my first thought wasn’t Oh Let Me Check For An Emergency Warning, Oh no.  I wanted to Kill it with Fire.  As in accelerate it as fast as I could at the nearest Concrete Block and Stucco Wall to MAKE IT STOP.

Had this happened while I was driving, there would most likely be an automobile accident.  Mine.

Regaining composure I found the settings for this vile software.

I had three levels of Alerts. 

  1. Presidential Alerts
  2. Imminent Threats
  3. Amber Alerts

I was able to immediately turn off Imminent Threats and Amber Alerts.  Helpfully, this evil software said “Presidential Alerts are always presented.”

This piece of software may not be removed.
This piece of software may not be turned off.
This piece of software may not be modified so that the alarm sound is less offensive.
This piece of software may not be modified so that the vibrate can be turned off.

This piece of software will be the reason why I will be “rooting” my phone, then installing another “operating system” so that I won’t have to experience this “feature” in the future.

Cyanogen Mod will be in its future.

You see, this is the problem with software these days.  You have a marketing drone somewhere that says Oooh We Can Give The This Feature And They Will Love It And Pay Us Money.

Remember you can’t uninstall this.  You are locked out from this particular feature.

I can’t even find an example of it in Google Play so that I can explain what it is. 

T-Mobile’s page on this software is here if you want greater detail.  I just want to know how on earth to block this thing.   It is like killing an Ant with a Sledgehammer.

I do know in the future, my purchases of Android hardware will be governed first and foremost by whether or not there is “Locked In” software like this and if I can “root” the device.  

My Device, My Rules.

That unfortunately is a big problem with software these days, whether it be Android or Windows or what have you.  I spend more time removing software from a brand new computer than I do installing operating systems.  Spyware, useless browser toolbars, and games that report back to the writer what you are doing for more pertinent advertising are the norm on Windows.  At least you can remove them there, in the case of my little purple phone, I have to go to the level of wiping it clean and starting over. 

Sad really, because the addition of things like Twitter or Facebook are only useful on a phone if you have an account and use them.   I do not have a Twitter account and do not want one so why can’t I remove the software again?

Oh right that Marketing drone.

Oh well, it will be gone too I hope.   In the meantime, while I fully support President Obama, I’m hoping that he doesn’t send out an order to make the phone do that again.  It was just too much of a shock the first time.  Once in 9 months is enough.  Three times in one night was ridiculous.  Since all it did was scare the living daylights out of me and not provide me with any useful information it really does need to go.  A Cancel Box plus a one line blurb saying that there was a Flood Watch In Effect is simply scaremongering.

CMAS is currently a voluntary service that needs to end.   At least in this particular way of providing the “service”.