The Edward Snowden guide to practical privacy

Thanks to The Register; here’s The Edward Snowden guide to practical privacy

Edward Snowdon

If you’re just an average user concerned about your privacy

  • Use Tor when browsing. You don’t have to use Tor all the time (it does slow things down considerably and some sites will also block Tor traffic). But if you are looking at or for something that you feel is sensitive, then either set up your browser to work with Tor or use the Tor browser.
  • Use an ad-blocker. Says Snowden: “As long as service providers are serving ads with active content that require the use of Javascript to display, that have some kind of active content like Flash embedded in it, anything that can be a vector for attack in your web browser – you should be actively trying to block these.”
  • Use a password manager. It doesn’t matter how many surveys and reports come out that tell people to use different passwords and complex passwords, a huge percentage of us maintain borderline idiotic approaches. The simple answer is: get a password manager. It will protect you.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Many services such as Gmail, Twitter, Dropbox, Hotmail, and Facebook offer this now for no charge. So even if your password does get exposed, you still have a backup such as a text message to your phone to secure your information.
  • Use apps that protect your information. Snowden suggests the smartphone app Signal, which encrypts both your phone calls and texts. It’s free and easy to use. Although of course, following a high-profile argument with the FBI, it would appear that Apple’s messaging service is also pretty secure (although Snowden would probably have doubts).
  • Use the HTTPS Everywhere browser plug-in. This comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and will try to force all browser communication to be encrypted.
  • Encrypt your hard drive. This is comparatively easy these days but you have to be careful to do two things: one, have a longish phrase to make it worthwhile; and two, make damn sure you remember that phrase. There will be a slowdown in performance but nothing too bad if you have a modern machine.
  • Be smart with your security questions. Stop using your mother’s maiden name for everything. Likewise your first school. The key is to mix things up as much as possible so if someone does get into one of your accounts, they can’t use the same information to get in everywhere else.

After reading this I installed Whisper Systems Signal on my Android devices, and encouraged my friends and family to do the same.

Signal allows you to send encrypted texts and phone calls, all free of charge, combining the original apps TextSecure and RedPhone.

At Open Whisper Systems, we want everyone to have access to advanced secure communication tools that are as easy and reliable to use as making a normal phone call or sending a normal text message.

Over the past year, we’ve been working to bring the privacy software we’ve developed for Android to the iPhone, and today we’re releasing Signal – free, worldwide, encrypted voice calls for iPhone, and fully compatible with RedPhone for Android.

This free app is a no brainer for anyone who values their privacy, available on Android and iOS.

yubikey-neo + KeyPassX + KeyPassDroid + OwnCloud


yubikey-neo + KeyPassX + KeyPassDroid + OwnCloud portable secure password vault

Searching through F-Droid for yubico I came across a link to KeyPassDroid; I’d come across a password safe solution on the yubico site using KeyPass, but was shied away as it mentioned the premium version… I don’t mind paying for shit, although if I can solve the issue with free open source alternatives I’ll spend hours trying 🙂

So the solution that I’ve pulled together:

  1. created a KeyPassX database on my Ubuntu machine with all login email details
  2. set password up in 2 steps
    1. self entered password
    2. password stored on yubikey-neo
  3. setup key
  4. saved key and KeyPassX database to OwnCloud
  5. from Android download key and database opened with KeyPassDroid
  6. password acquired on demand via NFC from yubikey-neo

Sorted, a free solution… excluding purchasing of yubikey-neo and host fee of website that allows for OwnCloud space.

Guess free alternatives could be Google Drive or MEGA for online file storage, and a more simple one step password 🙂

Quite happy with how it works, lets’s hope I don’t lose the yubikey-neo in the near future 🙂

Shattered Pixel Dungeon

Select your Hero
I don’t really play games on my phone, guess not having Google Play limits those titles that are available. However earlier in the week I came across Shattered Pixel Dungeon on F-Droid

It’s described as: Traditional rogue like game with pixel-art graphics and simple interface.

Hard to believe that in all my years of gaming I’ve never played a ‘rogue like game’… but I’m very impressed with this perma-death Android title

The game begins by choosing an hero, from the traditional classes of Warrior, Mage, Rogue, and the unlocked bonus of Huntress… apparently awarded after defeating the third boss, I haven’t found the first one yet!

The dungeons are randomly generated on each load, each level containing monsters (rats and crabs early on), chests, and generic RPG goodies e.g. coins (can I use them?), a variety of potions, scrolls, seeds, weapons, and armour… and did I mention that the scrolls and potions are randomised, where blue once healed who knows now WTF it will do 😀

Your Hero takes damage from encounters, that can be healed in a variety of ways, gains experience points to level up, and becomes hungry over time; starving if not fed.

The source code is also published to GitHub. I’d be telling fibs if I said I wasn’t tempted to modify the difficulty a little, but I guess that it’s all part of the fun, and “one more try” compulsion.

I’ve found a the Pixel Dungeon wiki, this may help prolong my time exploring 🙂

Ah reading the wiki it seems like I’m playing the modded version of the game, the vanilla being simply Shattered Pixel

Shattered Pixel Dungeon is a game based upon Pixel Dungeon’s Open Source. it is posted with the permission of Watabou, the original dev of Pixel Dungeon. Its aim is to make Pixel Dungeon the best game it can be, with reworks to existing content and tonnes of new stuff as well!
Both Pixel Dungeon and Shattered Pixel Dungeon belong to the roguelike genre. The dungeon and items are randomly generated, so no two play sessions are the same. Roguelike games are difficult and feature permanent death (no loading a save to try again!). While you may try and fail many times, this makes winning all the more satisfying.
Here are the current differences from Pixel Dungeon:
– Texts and boss/quest encounters in the sewers completely reworked!
– Rings completely overhauled, 6 totally new rings!
– New item class: ARTIFACTS! unique utility items that do not need scrolls of upgrade!
– New food item/plant added, you’ll have to find it!
– Many potions/seeds/scrolls tweaked to be more useful, a few nerfed as well.
– Rogue starting ring has been replaced with an artifact.
– Dew vial no longer autorevives, but can now bless an ankh.
– Nerfed health potion farming from fly swarms.
– many balance tweaks and bugfixes
Shattered Pixel Dungeon is constantly being updated, so expect this list to grow!
It is of the utmost importance that Shattered Pixel Dungeon still feels and plays like Pixel Dungeon, if you encounter any bugs or issues please contact me and I will try to sort them out. If something seems out of place or overpowered/underpowered, let me know and I’ll look into it.
Shattered Pixel Dungeon is open source under the GPLv3 Licence. It is currently using v1.7.1c of Pixel Dungeon’s source, and will be updated when new source is available. You can find the current Shattered Pixel Dungeon source here:
If you would like to do any work with this source code, please contact me first as a courtesy.

The wiki has some cool tables too, this takes me back to the old days; remember pencil and paper RPG’s 😉

Read that there’s also a ‘night mode’: that the difficulty is increased between the hours of 00:00 to 07:00… as it wasn’t enough of a challenge to stay alive already!

Saying that my biggest challenge seems to be hunger, off to read the wiki for survival clues.

I’m finding it a great way to pass a short game session, and you can quite out at any time and save your current game. I can see this been on my phone for a while.


starting guide
– sleeping heals HP’s – great on early levels
Little-Known Tactics and Tips
11 tips from a veteran
Rating: ★★★★☆

CyanogenMod Nexus 4

Cyanogenmod Nexus 4

For the first time on the Nexus 4, I’ve installed a Custom ROM, and to date this was my largest fail yet.

I didn’t brick the device, although the password for the encryption I’d set up was continually rejected 🙁

I had to wipe the device completely, to remove drive encryption, and start Cyanogen 10.2.1, the last stable build based on Android 4.3.1, which is apparently more secure than later builds.

I made a complete backup of the device, then used Titanium Backup for apps and system data. For the first time I had the foresight to backup my contacts, I usually go dark after a ROM upgrade, plus the Bitcoin wallet I use on my phone.

All of the requested apps were restored with ease; except for PayPal? I left out everything Google, setup and added XPrivacy, AFWall+, Orbit, and OpenVpn, with no issues.

Email goes through K9, including GMail accounts that I need to keep.

What’s missing?

  • Swype text entry, although there’s a trail when I drag my finger, it doesn’t seem to record the words? Sure I can find another app to help
  • Volume for ringtones and alerts, but who uses their phone for calls 😉
  • WiFi and Bluetooth; I read this is a known issue for people loading this ROM from KitKat. Solution is to install OFW 4.3, and then back to this Cyanogenmod build.
  • Hangouts for PM’s
  • Office for docs
  • Keep for notes

I see an Android weekend ahead, and I could still end up on stock 4.4.4 😉 Posted from working WordPress app!

Another Android update another exercise in rooting


4.4.3 arrived earlier this month for my Nexus 4, I’ve missed root access, but only just got around to implementing it today.
This time I didn’t want to go the windows way, so I used 3 great resources:

I’m linking this as a reference, as I’m going to have to repeat this exercise in the near future due to the imminent roll out of 4.4.4:
Android 4.4.4 is rolling out to devices; contains OpenSSL fix

Download Microsoft Office for Android for free starting today


Microsoft Office Mobile Download Microsoft Office for Android for free starting today!

I’ve now had the opportunity to try out Office on Android, compared with Google’s Quick Office. It feels a little more prompt to react, and more feature rich… however still challenging to navigate with adult sized digits.

The one dissappointment is that files cam only be opened from Microsoft One Drive (nee Skydrive)… although I guess this is more secure, but doesn’t integrate well with Linux

cryptostorm VPN

#Cryptostorm VPN now live and accepting members, tokens available here.

Structurally anonymous, token-based, opensource, unlimited bandwidth network security/privacy service: old-style “VPN service” evolved to something entirely new, qualitatively distinct. Combining the technological insights of Tor/#torsploit with production-class infrastructure & battle-tested OpSec expertise, cryptostorm is secure darknet communications for everyone: all protocols, all applications, all OS/platforms | unlimited bandwidth & unlimited usage. Properly-implemented Diffie-Hellman ephemeral sessions (discrete log function-based asymmetric re-key of symmetric cipher suites every 20 minutes), token-based network auth, Privacy Seppuku Pledge. Redefining privacy service for a post-PRISM world: cryptostorm.

I’ve requested a months token, and am looking forward to giving the VPN a try.

useful links:

A journey through Middle Earth

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, although I don’t think The Hobbit should have been stetched out to 3 epic length films, but nevertheless I’m a long time Tolkien fan boy, and this Google web project, A journey through Middle Earth, excites me more than anything I’ve come across online in nearly 20 years.

Click on this link: (I could only open it in Firefox) to begin an interactive story, illustrated with stills from Weta’s first film of The Hobbit novel.

The images are a layered 3D, in very high quality, the map glorious in detail and contours.
3 mini games await


First, only due to it been the first sequential location offered… wow!

After reading a brief intro, we’re then invited to explore deeper, then a mini game begins.

Avoid and dodge the trolls long enough for dayl;oght to arrive to be given a reprieve… I’ll admit it took me 4 attempts, although 2 were to figure out what I was meant to do 🙂


Where it describes Elrond as an elf… swear I remember him being an half elf? (half true, at 6,000 years old, he chose to be Elven)
More 3D animated images that match the pull of the mouse laterally across screen, we read of Saruman the White (highest of the wizards, not meaning he’d been smoking the Hobbit’s Pipe Weed , and Galadriel (eldest of Elves, gifted with foresight, had a soft touch for those that were out for the meek of Middle Earth)

Control a leaf’s flight down river, acting as the energy for plants to grow… Cartman would describe it as hippy bullshit, I found remiicent of Journey, although not sure why?

Dol Guldur

Home of the spiders, and Radghast the Brown nearby in Rhosgobel (funny though, I remember it been more East into Mirkwood than South?)
*Hint don’t hide the mouse cursor, it’s hard to figure out where you’re going when you die
I couldn’t get the vision to track the mouse, so the final level proved impossible for me, but I wasn’t going to waste too long trying.

This is a fantastic memorial to a great tale, it doesn’twork perfect, at east on the browser I tried it on, but I’m still looking forward to the iminent release of the next 3 mini games, that will coincide with the first showing of The Desolation of Smaug.
Also sure there’s room on the map for 3 locations for the final Hobbit trology part

Google Keep

Google Keep

I’ve been on a quest to find a decent note taking app for my Android phone for some time.

I’ve tried several, but for the past few months Google Keep (get it here on Play) as shone through.

Feature I like about Google Keep

… although not necesarily unique to the app

    • ease
      • it just works, although I’m not a fan of the widget, but then again Power Control is the only non icon on my home screen
    • alarms
      • and not only the easily set time alarm, with the cool google time picker, but the location alarm… you tell it to alert you when you arrive somewhere, and it has a cool delay of opting to alert you the next time (+1)  you go back
    • colours
      • tabs can be coloured in, I use an importance scale graded on the spectrum; red critical, to violet casual
    • list boxes
      • i enjoy the satisfaction of ticking off completed tasks… or more usually items to pick up from the supermarket
    • photos
      • whenever I lend out a book or game, I take a photo or the recipient and keep it as a note
    • voice
      • this is a grey area of benefit; notes can be kept as a sound track, I like to enter them via google’s speech recognition as text
    • multi-platform
      • I get to my computer at work I can add notes, all my Android devices can see them, and Ubuntu even has a Keep lens

Rating: ★★★★☆

To download from Play store scan here 🙂

QR Code generator

upgrade Nexus 7 to Android 4.4

upgrade Nexus 7 to Android 4.4 I’ve bee so impressed with Android Kit-Kat on the Nexus 4 today that I’ve decided to upgrade my Nexus 7 to Android 4.4 before the OTA udgrade is available. Here’s a link to all of the factory images for Nexus devices… this is one of the selling points of having a Nexus:) This time I fooowed the below guide, gracious to Talk Android

  • Power off your nakasi Nexus 7, and power back on by holding the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons while it boots.
  • The fastboot menu should appear and you should see “Start” in the top right. Press Volume Up till it changes to “Recovery.” Press the Power button to select it.
  • You will see an Android with a red exclamation point icon, press Volume Up and the Power button at the same time.
  • You will get a new menu and you can navigate to “apply update from adb.”
  • Now it’s time to connect your nakasi Nexus 7 to your computer via a USB cable
  • Open the command prompt in Windows (cmd in Windows, regular shell in Linux and Mac) and navigate to the directory that the Zip file is located in.
    • Type: adb sideload
  • The update will install and reach 100%.
  • Reboot and enjoy Android 4.4

for the first time in years I fancy a KitKat


I haven’t had my N4 or N7 for more than a year, so I can’t see myself updating devices just yet, but I am excited about the new version of the Android OS, KitKat 4.4… although it doesn’t seem too long ago since I was waiting for the 4.3; what happened to the talked about 5.0?

So what am I excited about?

10 Cool Features from zdnet

  • Unlimited home screen panels: With no ability to create folders in the application launcher, Google provides you with the ability to create as many home screen panels filled with app shortcuts, folders, and widgets as you desire.
    • Not really, I minimise my home screen components to max out efficiency
  • Support for integrated pedometer: The Nexus 5 now has sensors to support pedometer functions and KitKat enables the hardware through apps like Move. You may soon leave the Fitbit behind.
    • I have been known to map journeys and walks with MyTracks, so this function may well be used, albeit infrequently.
  • OK Google voice control: While not as sophisticated as what Motorola has in the Moto X, the Google search voice control capability lets you control your device from the home screen panels.
    • Here’s the coolest bit of the update for me. I currently use voice to dictate SMS’s, Hangout entries, and searches. OK Google may even motivate me to use Google Now.
  • Immersive mode: Reading books is now a great experience in KitKat with the ability to hide everything but the text. Application support is still limited, but we are early in the KitKat rollout.
  • Caller ID by Google: You will see Google Search being integrated in more ways and one of these is through caller ID.
    • Not sure about this… should I be afraid?
  • Quickoffice integration: Google purchased Quickoffice a couple years ago and it is now getting integrated into the OS.
    • This is what now sets Google apart from Apple, an inbuilt indigenous office environment, Boomshanka! I’ve been using Kingsoft Office for the past month and find it useful, looking forward to seeing if Quickoffice matches up. – Trying to install it now, but ‘Play’ keep throwing up an error
  • Google Wallet without carrier restrictions: Google now provides you with Google Wallet without NFC carrier restrictions so you should be able to tap and pay with a Nexus 5 on any carrier.
    • I’m not ready to trust my transactions yet to Google, but guess they’re no more complicit than my bank in tracking my spending activity.
  • Emojis in Google Keyboard
    • meh
  • Album art on lock screen: Another feature that is a nice touch is the ability to see your album art while controlling your media right from the lock screen.
    • I like my lock screen minimal, I can read the song and artist ok 🙂
  • Integrated print support
    • I print very little, and if needed I’d email the document to a print ready PC, and it’s already available via Google Play

Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls
As another break from GTA V I’ve started playing Beyond: Two Souls on the PS3.
I enjoyed Heavy Rain… although I never finished the story after I lost all of my saves 🙁

I love the idea that I can download an Android app (guess it’s on the other popular smart phone too 😉 and use it as a controller, although I don’t yet find it as ergonomic as the controller… and I not the biggest fan of the, what I feel is small, PS3 dual shock controller.

I’m only early in, but I like the idea of the game, and as with GTA V, it’s like I imagined games could be as a kid.

The action scenes are the closest to a movie I have ever played, even though there’s what seems to be a determined line it seems to be free choice. The character acting is first class, and the graphics amazing… yeah they could be more polished; but the game is 30 gig and fluid, with no loading between the extensive film like chapters.

Beyond: Two Souls is certainly film like, I think I will be compelled to complete it… but I say that often until I’m distracted by by next shiny new title 🙂

I think there’s a Easter Egg nod to Ellen Page‘s Trailer Park Boys days by the first coppers 420 badge number, and I like irony of how Dafoe‘s Mulder esq doctor goes by the name Dawkins 🙂

Android Offline office first impressions


I wanted to love AndrOpen, and I do!

But it’s not as usable and slick as Kingsoft Office

I’m not going to be doing anything too complicated on the N7 phablet, but it’s nice to have the full Open Office option there if I need to.

Kingsoft also responded better to voice input, where AndrOpen got more words incorrect and duplicated some.

Another bonus of Kingsoft Office is that it can open and save to G docs… wonder if the software house will be bought out in the near future? 😉 + a fluid pinch zoom!

My only criticism of both is how large the keyboard is

Android offline Google docs

google docs
We’re moving into the age of the paperless office at work, so I’m looking to start using my wi-fi Nexus 7 to take notes on.

I can tether it to my mobile if necessary, and who knows they may one day entice BYOD by allowing us to connect our own devices to the companies wi-fi.

But until then I’d like to use my Android device offline.

Keep is great for lists and notes, I love the alarm that can be created and the tick boxes.

Although as an analyst what I really looking for though is an easy on the eyes spreadsheet.

Google docs ticks all the boxes, but doesn’t seem yet to work offline out of the box on Android… although it does on chrome.

My search for a solution begins!

I’d love to use Google docs, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen just yet.

So I’ve found 2 options to play with:

AndrOpen Office

AndrOpen Office is the world’s first port of OpenOffice for Android.
You can view, edit, export office documents using full features of the OpenOffice.

AndrOpen Office has 6 components:

– Writer (a word processor)
– Calc (spreadsheet)
– Impress (presentation graphics)
– Draw (drawing)
– Math (equation editor)
– Base (database)

* AndrOpen Office is forked project from the Apache OpenOffice project.
AndrOpen Office is not affiliated with the Apache OpenOffice project.

Kingsoft Office

Kingsoft Office is the only mobile Office with full-features FREE. Support for running on Android 2.1 and above system. User-friendly & nice UI interface! Users from over 200 countries and regions around the world are using it. The Average Rating of Kingsoft Office is up to 4.6 stars! Whether in a small cell phone screen or on a large screen on the Tablet, Kingsoft Office has a superior performance!

– Rich editing features! All is FREE!
– Small Size, Stable Operation, and Special interface!
– Support 23 kinds of files, including DOC/DOCX/TXT/XLS/XLSX/PPT/PPTX/PDF
– Built-in file manager that can automatically organize your office document
– Tight integration with the mail application
– Support cloud storages such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and other services with WebDAV protocol
– A variety of gestures operations, which make your work more interesting
– Support different Read Mode which be closer to the users’ need

I’ll give them a test run and feedback if they’re suitable… any suggestions appreciated

barcode xbox games to spreadsheet

I’ve heaps of xbox games gathering dust and am looking to share them with friends, so I need to catalogue them quickly.

I would rather not do it all by hand, so am looking for a solution via Android and barcodes.

I already have barcode scanner, but need a quick way to then more the info to a spread sheet, of google documents.

Video Game Tracker
Scan in games, finds title fast, although have to enter genre from drop down

Game Collection Tracker Free
Scans in games via barcode Scanner and queries web for detials… bit slow

Game Keeper
Has a (not quite… although just found it downloads updated info) full list of games for popular consoles, not the slickest or
I entered 80 xbox games from a check list and it failed on me… not happy!
Tried again and failed, sad to leave this app as I like the database, will keep it for reference but not to track games

I’ve decided it will be easier to export this list of XBOX 360 Games from Wikipedia and highlight the ones I have, and maybe the ones I have played

CyanogenMod for Nexus 4

Cyanogenmod – Make Mako your own! destructions for installing Cyanogenmod onto the Nexus4

Cyanogenmod was my preferred ROM for my Nexus 1, after it was no longer supported for updates.

Now I’m considering switching back to it, on my N4, for different reasons… the main one to break away from Google’s tracking. The down side is that I’m hooked on Google Apps 🙁

So here’s a list of the benefits of Android supported with Google apps.


For me an millions of others Gmail has become as synonymous to email as as to search.

  • I have several accounts that I use for different purposes
  • the app is good, clean and simple
  • more storage than I’ll ever need
  • built into the phone, the functionality is great

Continue reading

samsung smart watch

Samsung Android smart watch

I haven’t worn a watch for years, working at a keyboard it seemed to get in the way, then the mobile, and in turn smart phone came along… what need do I have for a watch?

Saying that I’ve fancied a pocket watch for some time, think that was inspired in my early teen years from the Pop Swatch I had.

Sony already have their SmartWatch(2) on the market, together with the Pebble, but I think the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and  iWatch will create more volume in the market segment.

Now to decide which one to test first, as a whore to Sony’s style I think the decision is already made  🙂

Articles: Guardian, Techcrunch


Android where art thou


Still no Android 4.3 for me on either of my Nexus devices 🙁

Update: It arrived this morning for my N4 🙂

Update 2: Half way through the day and I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in battery life.

One great reason to update, looking forward to seeing how this improves the N7 usability

Update 3: Aug 1st finally receive the OTA update for the N7, off to tinker