Jan 9, 2013

Apple Holds Patent on Condescending Look at Non-Apple Owners

In addition to a patent on rectangles with rounded corners, Apple also owns a patent on the condescending look they give to Blackberry owners.

First reported by The Colbert Report on September 18, 2011.

Nov 26, 2012

Remove SMS Sending Limit on Android

I ran into an issue with sending a lot of texts using an Android phone. After so many texts  (it seemed like 100/hour) I would receive an error message for each message I tried to send over that limit.

Android GUI error

Title “Sending SMS messages” / Body “<application name> A large number of SMS messages are being sent. Select “OK” to continue, or “Cancel” to stop sending.”

I looked up information about the errors and found a lot of bad information. Looking in the logcat for the related errors really helped with piecing the whole thing together.

Android Logcat error

SMSDispatcher: EVENT_ALERT_TIMEOUT, message stop sending

Here is what I discovered (with just a little speculation):

The error messages are pulled from the Android OS from device/apps/common/assets/res/any/strings.xml with titles of “sms_control_title” and “sms_control_message”. So, it seems the intent is set from Android/Google to allow control over the rate of SMS sending. The rate can be modified by the carriers when installing ROMs on their phone, but of course, custom ROMs and those with root access can change this, too. The hard part is finding where this setting lies. A thread I read from two years ago stated the setting was in the settings.db under data/data/com.android.providers.settings/, but since Froyo, it’s been moved (as this OP mentioned a year ago with no answers). This change to the Cyanogenmod ROM references ”sms_outgoing_check_max_count” and the change proposes adding a easily GUI-accessible setting to modify or disable this setting writing to Settings.Secure.SMS_OUTGOING_CHECK_MAX_COUNT. The change author goes on to note “Currently this is null so it defaults to 30 sms messages in a 15 min period. Creating and writing  this preference allows us to control the sms rate interface. We can also modify timeframe as well.”  I don’t know if this is a Cyanogenmod default or Android since there’s no entry for sms_outgoing_check_max_count in the system setting database on stock Android, but either way, it seems to about fit the limits I’ve read complaints about from others.

According to Al Sutton, who works as a developer at Funky Android Ltd, “One of the changes in  #IceCreamSandwich  was the introduction of a lower SMS usage monitor rate which restricts how many SMSes can be sent by any application in a given time.”

Removing the Limit

If you are using Android 2.2 or 2.3, download and install SQLite Editor. You will need root access to run the app and edit the necessary database. Open SQLite Editor, scroll down and open the Settings Storage (com.android.providers.setting) database. Open “settings.db“, then”secure“. Press the device’s menu button and tap “New Record”. Enter the following, pressing save and entering a new record for each:

Name: sms_outgoing_check_max_count
Value: 999999 (or any large number)

Name: sms_outgoing_check_interval_ms
Value: 0

If you use any other editor which allows full queries, use this:

INSERT INTO secure (name, value) VALUES (‘sms_outgoing_check_max_count’, 999999);
INSERT INTO secure (name, value) VALUES (‘sms_outgoing_check_interval_ms’, 0);

The sms outgoing check interval of zero should disable the limit altogether, but I’m not sure if having the check interval without the max count will cause issues, so entering a large value for the count won’t hurt.

–> Restart your device after making the changes!

More reading: 

May 6, 2012

Scammy Invoice from US Telecom (UST)

 

My employer received this “invoice” from US Telecom based out of Ontario, California. The claim was for “Telecom maintenance 1 year Warranty.” The invoice was obviously scammy since we’ve never worked with US Telecom. There’s a statement on the invoice saying “Thank you for your business. This is not an invoice for services rendered but for proactive maintenance on your telephone system.” In other words, “we hope you blindly pay this invoice so we can take your money and not provide any service.” Also, isn’t an invoice to bill for services already rendered? Yeah, it is.

I also knew this US Telecom didn’t do their homework, because had they done so, they wouldn’t charge a measly $300 to “maintain” our several-hundred-thousand dollar VoIP system which interconnects with two different services providers and spans several campuses. Shoot, maybe we should have had them come over for $300.

Shame on you UST. I’m going to go ahead and call out supposed parent company “CCG Company”, too. FOR SHAME!

Apr 30, 2012

Aesop Job Notifications: Comparing Jobulator, SubAssistant, and Sub Sidekick

Previously, I posted about SubAssistant, an online automated service subs can use to check their SubFinder accounts for new jobs. At the time, SubAssistant didn’t support the Aesop system, but my wife subbed for a district which uses Aesop. So, we tried Jobulator and and Sub Sidekick for notifications, but we didn’t like either of them since they both had to run on your computer 24/7 to check for jobs. Then, in February, SubAssistant launched support for Aesop. Since she was already using SubAssistant, she could just add the Aesop account to her existing SubAssistant account for no extra charge and have it check Aesop for her. But, I wanted to compare the services to see which one actually provided the best service. In the end, we chose SubAssistant (www.SubAssistant.com), but here’s the breakdown we came up with:

1. SubAssistant
Pros: Sends a text message, email, or push notification on Android when a job offer is available on Aesop. The service is cloud-based, meaning, the service is entirely online so you don’t have to download, install, or keep any software running on your computer or phone.  SubAssistant also keeps a graph in your account which shows the number of job offers you’ve received by the hour, so you can see which hours are most popular for jobs to pop up on Aesop.  (We thought that was a neat touch)
Cons:  No automated job acceptance
Other comments: Checks every 60 seconds. Costs $7.95 a month, can cancel at any time.

2. Jobulator
Pros: “Aesop approved” because its made by the same company who makes Aesop. So, presumably, you’d exepct the software to work better. Motives are nefarious, though, with them making a separate piece of software and charging subs to use it, but whatever…. Jobulator sounds notifications on your computer or phone, and you can pick up the jobs from the app.
Cons: The desktop software and mobile app are self-hosted, meaning, you have to run it on your computer or phone 24/7 to get notifications. This runs down the battery on your phone, and keeps your home computer running 24/7. Anytime the phone or computer is restarted, you have to remember to start the app again to receive notifications.
Other comments: Checks every 60 seconds, costs $40 for 12 months + your cost of electricity.

3. Sub Sidekick
Pros
: Sounds notifications on your computer and sends text or email notifications.
Cons: Again, this app has to run on your computer 24/7 to check for jobs and send notifications. Anytime the computer is restarted, you have to remember to start the app again to receive notifications. No mobile application.
Other comments: Checks every 60 seconds, costs $9.99 a month or $90 for 12 months + your cost of electricity.

Mar 13, 2012

Verizon SMS Phishing Scam Making the Rounds

“[Unverified Sender] (9175399481) Message from Verizon. You have to update Your account. Click on http://verizon.wireless-update1.com and proceed.”

I received this text message earlier today, and I figured I was just a random recipient of a phishing attempt, but once I found more of my coworkers with Verizon service received the same message, I thought I should see if there was anything about this online. I wasn’t able to find anything about this specific message, so I’ll do my good deed for the day and post this little warning.

The linked web page tries to copy the actual Verizon mobile site (http://m.verizon.com/PAMMobile/TGridFB.aspx). Once you enter anything into the phish form and “proceed”, you’re directed to the Verizon mobile site as your credentials are stored, who knows where, waiting to be exploited.

What should you do if you receive this text? Delete it, and warn your friends who use Verizon Wireless. Or, if you’re inclined, flood the phishing site with bogus info or SQL statements, hoping the programmer didn’t sanitize inputs. :-)

 

Update: I received two more phishing texts this week, but with slightly different text and different domains:

“[Unverified Sender] (9178696234) Verizon Alert.Account Locked. Please click http://m.wireless-updates2.com and update your login info.”

“[Unverified Sender] (9173279245) Verizon Account Locked. Visit http://m.verizonupdate.net and update your login info.”

Nov 7, 2011

The Tallies: Steve Jobs & Bill Gates

I guess its time for me to jump on the bandwagon and post my commentary on the life of Steve Jobs like everyone else on the web. Originally, I resolved to keep my mouth shut, but after seeing this article on Forbes, I decided to comment on an angle most seem to be ignoring. Now before I get to far, I am sorry about his untimely passing, and I’m certainly not pulling a Stallman. However, as pasbesoin states on Hacker News ”…there needs to be room for a larger conversation. In part precisely because and as a reflection of this influence, there are important matter to discuss. Not all aspects will be flattering of Mr. Jobs. But that is the nature of the position he inhabited and the decisions he made.”

Bill Gates & Co helped made a product (Windows) which can be used on almost any computing device. By that, I mean you can go down to Best Buy, buy all the pieces you need, and build a Windows computer (shut up Linux users: you require too much tinkering for the average Joe). This helped bring the personal computer to the masses. For a number of reasons, this brought Gates tremendous wealth. Now, certainly, Jobs & Co played a role in that as well, but their paths diverge quickly.

Some make the argument that Job’s contributions to the world made it a better place. The iPad didn’t make the world any healthier or smarter. Perhaps the developers who created applications to use on the iPad did. The only world that Jobs really improved with his products are the worlds of those who directly benefited from the money tree. Is there anything wrong with this? Absolutely not. I only take issue with those who praise him as the savior. Let’s just refer to him as what he really was: Jobs was an excellent capitalist.  He spent his time figuring out how to create another piece of consumerism plastic with built-in obsolesce. I don’t buy into the “genius” of Jobs. He wasn’t by himself, sitting atop of mountain, stepping down once a year to give us mere mortals a piece of hand-crafted brilliance. He had an excellent team of creative individuals who probably endured an immense amount of stress as Jobs thought himself perfect and demanded the same everyone around him. For whatever reason, Apple decided to create an image of an ultimate, infallible leader. Corporations don’t put creative geniuses at their helms, they put cutthroat capitalists in those seats. Jobs was celebrated for working, right up to the end, on creating more wealth for Apple’s shareholders. Then, it happened. Consumers around the world wept. Why? Because they weren’t sure they were going to get another cool product to spend too much on. Jobs was stinking rich, and he knew it. With his over-reactive legal department suing anything with a fruit on it, he attacked Android for stealing everything from him. Apple’s entire culture is built around exclusivity, being a walled-garden with complete control over what you can do with what you own. You can’t play unless you pay. Windows has to play with everyone, lest they be taken to court again. Apple can force consumers to use iTunes with their iStuff. Meanwhile, Microsoft has to be cut up into several business units and pander to governments around the world because of “anti-trust” issues. Apple’s no underdog, nor a champion for them, they just have a better legal department.

Since stepping down as Microsoft’s CEO, Gates now spends his days literally giving away his wealth which saves lives around the world and teaches computer literacy to children who would otherwise never have the opportunity. And, not just giving the money away, but taking the time to research and invest in long-term strategies to better the lives of the underprivileged.

Which of these men is worshiped?

It says a lot about who we are as a people.

 

There, I’ve said it.

Aug 8, 2011

Configuration Program for Panasonic BL-C30A

Alright, guys, this is a boring post, but I hope to help a couple people out with it. The Panasonic BL-30A I speak of is a wired/wireless IP network camera with pan/tilt functionality. When I purchased it, Panasonic was just adding it to its list of devices it no longer actively supported, so its definitely not supported now. No firmware updates were ever released for it, and just to give you an idea of the firmware’s antiquity, the wireless only works WEP encryption. I picked one up about 4 years ago and, miraculously, have managed to keep track of the CD that came with it. But, that’s the trouble: If the camera is reset, or you end up with it on a network where that camera is on the wrong subnet, the only way to set it up the first time is to use the configuration utility that comes on the CD. I think you can also find the camera’s DHCP address if you have access to your network’s DHCP tables, or you browse through your computer’s ARP tables, assuming you’re in the same broadcast domain, but I’m not sure if it enables web-interface configuration until after the initial configuration performed by the setup program on the CD. After several fruitless web searches, and many dead links, I gave up trying to find it on the web and decided to dig up the CD where I had it stashed. Here I share with you the original setup software (including instruction manual with its machine-translated English) for the BL-C30A.

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