[sticky entry] Sticky: Social Networky

2037-Jan-18, Sunday 00:00
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
Here is where I exist on various social networks:

I do not auto gateway any stuff between the various social networky places, since I am using them for quite different purposes.

thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
First, if you're a unix sysadmin or anyone running any web services that pass through a unix server, ow. Hope you've got overtime pay.

For anyone who cares to read more about the details of what the bug is and what it can do, etc, I refer you to Troy Hunt's post of yesterday ( http://www.troyhunt.com/2014/09/everything-you-need-to-know-about.html ).

If you're a normal person hearing about this, then then there are a few things you can and should do:

1. Check that your home wifi router is not able to be accessed via the Internet (usually for administration purposes). If that is on, and your router runs Linux (and many of them do), it's potentially a problem. Check your instruction leaflet for whether this can be on or not and turn it off if it is. Then check how to download the latest "firmware" for your router, in a few weeks time you'll want to do that. If you have any other devices that are accessible "via the Internet", you probably want to find out if they're Linux based and turn that feature off too.

2. If you're a Mac OS X user, if your machine only ever joins networks with trusted machines on it, you're probably safe for now. But just in case or if you ever join public networks, open System Preferences - Sharing. If Printer Sharing is on, you want to turn it off. if you're using an old version of Mac OS, you may have Web Sharing turned on, you also want to turn it off. New versions of Mac OS don't have Web Sharing, unless you're running OS X Server. If you have Remote Login active, just check that you do not Allow Access for All Users. Other than that, wait for Apple to issue an OS Software Update that fixes the problem.

3. If you're a Linux user, you probably want to run your Linux version's package updater right now. And again in a few days time, as the bash maintainers have not actually released a patch that fully fixes the problem yet.

4. This is a similar situation to the Heartbleed bug ( my PSA from last time - http://thorfinn.dreamwidth.org/tag/heartbleed ) in that web servers may potentially be broken into (it's even worse technically). You will need to confirm with website owners that they were either not vulnerable, or were vulnerable and have fixed the bug, then change your password on that service. Again. Yes, I know. Tiresome. Sorry. :-( It's probably best to just prioritise the important sites (net banking, and anything with serious personal consequences), and do those in a few days time.

5. If you use unique passwords for every site you log in to, that at least limits any potentially stolen passwords to sites that are vulnerable and lessens the urgency on changing every password you have. That's why, if you haven't already, now is the time to find a password keeper application to randomly generate new unique passwords for every single site you log in to and store them for you. If you're an Apple only person, the iCloud Keychain is quite good and free, otherwise I highly recommend 1Password ( https://agilebits.com/onepassword ). LastPass ( https://lastpass.com ) showed themselves to be reasonably good at security (and they support Linux). There are other options for secure password keepers, if people who use other good ones wish to mention them in comments, please feel free.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
Please Share Around: So, you may or may not have heard about "Heartbleed". A significant proportion[1], possibly 2/3rds of all "secure" web servers out there are currently essentially insecure (could be snooped on by anyone on the Internet), and this may have been the case since Mar 2012. The bug was publically announced on 7th of April 2014.

Right now, before you log in to any secure website (has the little lock icon), you should go here: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed

and enter the website name without the http or https bit, to check if the service is vulnerable.

If that doesn't work, try: https://lastpass.com/heartbleed (but that reports a lot of false "maybe"s, so it's not as useful).

If that still doesn't work, for an even more full on SSL test, go here: https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/index.html

If the service is reported as vulnerable - DO NOT LOG IN. Go and register a support complaint with that website, point them at http://filippo.io/Heartbleed and http://heartbleed.com/ and wait until they fix the problem. If you do log in and use the website, be aware that your login details (and anything else you send to/from that site) can be stolen by anyone on the Internet. Literally. It is that bad a bug.

Problematically, if you use smartphone apps that connect to a secure service at the back end, many of them may well be vulnerable, but you have no way of knowing. If you know what their website is, go test that, as they may be using the same service to provide their website.

Reliable secure service providers are starting to notify their customers of the situation and recommend changing your password.

If you know a service has been vulnerable to this bug, it is very much in your interest to change your password the moment it is fixed. Now is the time to find a password keeper application to randomly generate new unique passwords for every single site you log in to and store them for you. If you're an Apple only person, the iCloud Keychain is quite good (I'm told) and free, otherwise I highly recommend 1Password ( https://agilebits.com/onepassword ). There are other options for secure password keepers, if people who use other good ones wish to mention them in comments, please feel free.

If you have too many sites to check them all, you might want to prioritise. Here's [personal profile] skud on why You don’t need to change all your passwords.

You can take this one very seriously - Bruce Schneier, pretty much the top person regarding computer security, says '"Catastrophic" is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.' - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/04/heartbleed.html

ETA: A "big sites" hitlist of who you *should* change your passwords with: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

[1] ETA: Something like 6-10% of all sites, judging by this scan - Here's a list of 627 sites that were vulnerable on 8th April: https://github.com/musalbas/heartbleed-masstest/blob/b72a87558bfe37cd40327ec8b72386a2a2b99c69/README.md#627-of-the-top-10000-sites-appeared-vulnerable-on-april-8-1600-utc
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

O Noes, the Instagram Sky Is Falling...

So, the latest buzz about the traps is that Instagram is about add this (text from the iOS app) to it's Terms of Service :

"Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."

Note that photos (especially ones taken on smartphones) usually have geographic location metadata attached, by the way. This is essentially the same thing that happens on Facebook with "So and So likes Company Page X", etc. If you use Instagram, you may or may not be concerned by this change of Terms. I already wasn't and still won't be uploading anything to Instagram that isn't intended for public usage, and mostly only have a username because I like to grab usernames, so it doesn't bug me specifically.

The whole situation boils down to this: if you are not paying for the service, you are not the customer. Whoever is paying for the service is the customer - in the case of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Youtube, that's the advertisers. Don't expect the service provider to do things that are in your interest. They will do whatever is necessary to keep you interested so that they can serve their customer (the advertisers) - this is not the same thing as doing things that are in your interest.

And if anyone is still wondering why Facebook paid USD1billion to buy Instagram, this is precisely why - one of the biggest features that keeps users on Facebook is photos, and Instagram was the only service so far that actually successfully took users away from FB. That's a cheap price to pay for a defensive manoeuvre that removes your only competitor. (And no, G+ isn't a competitor. It has some different features that some people like, but nothing that actually really competes with FB head on and wins.)

So what?

It's all about the Business Models, IMO: User Pays > Freemium > Open Source Self Supported > Ad Supported.

So, nothing too significant, really. Just something to bear in mind whenever using an Ad Supported service (and note that this includes free-to-air television, news sites, etc), that you are not the customer, and have only small a ability to influence the service to provide what you truly want.

In the case of Freemium services, you are still the customer, in that what you're getting is a loss-leader to try and get you or others like you to pay for the more expensive parts of the service. And if you do choose to pay, you have more influence.

The other "free" alternative kicking around is "open source" software (e.g. roll your own wordpress installation on a web hosting service), but the general caveats with "open source" type services are that: firstly, there's a lot of self-support involved; secondly, the "paying customers" are the developer(s), whose interests often do not align with those of non-technical humans. In some cases you find that there's a mix between Freemium and Open Source, this can be a good way to go for everyone.

thorfinn: Thorfi in a shiny red vest (glade)
So, I finally got around to picking up the iPhone 5, and my iPhone related posts, whilst still relevant (a surprising number of apps are still existent and updated, and the security tips are still good), need a bit of updating. This is pretty much just going to be a random collection of new stuff that I happen to have opinions about. Some of it is not specifically iPhone 5 related, it's more iOS 6 related, so applies to all devices.

Also, if any of this post is confusing, tell me about it? I'm hoping that this is readable for non-geeks. :-) If there's something you don't understand, it's me, not you, please let me know so I can work out how to explain it better!


iOS6

Maps

Apple discovered that mapping is hard. Buying access to good map data is a massively hard problem, and Apple don't have their own cars driving around. :-) Some research and my own experience seems to indicate that Apple Maps refuses to return "near enough" results if it can't find an exact match (which can result in giving you no results or "middle of the street" results if it can't find the street number), whereas the Google maps searches try hard to return something, even if the something is wrong (usually it's near enough, but sometimes it can be way off too). The data will improve as more people use it, no doubt, but Google maps has a several year head start. I've been using Metroview GPS Navigation for turn by turn navigation a few years now, and it's quite good for the rather low price. If you particularly need or want google map data, you can install the Google Maps app. Nokia Here Maps is also a pretty good alternative if you want to try it out. Personally I've been happy using Apple Maps, have had no significant issues, and found the Siri integration quite useful.
GameCenter

Games are slowly catching on to just using GameCenter. My GameCenter ID is thorfi if you happen to want to add me.
Facebook/Twitter integration

Surprisingly nice - I particularly like the FB Calendar integration into the Calendar app.
Privacy Settings

Privacy settings are improved lots - you now get prompts when apps want to access your contacts, calendars, reminders, photos, bluetooth sharing, twitter and facebook. Location services privacy protection is still there, of course. Hit Settings - Privacy to go and tweak settings later if you want to. Sneakily, you probably want to go to: Settings - General - About - (scroll down) Advertising - Limit Ad Tracking and turn that on.


iPhone 5

Lightning (very very frightening)

The new plug adaptor - it's nice. I hated having to fiddle around and work out which way was up with the old dock connector, especially in the dark. Sure, I'm now going to have to live with having just one expensive old connector to Lightning adaptor for a bit until cheaper cables come out, but such is life.
Tall/Wide screen!

This thing is tall/wide. I like that I can still reach the whole screen with my thumb one handed, and watching video in widescreen on it in bed is awesome. Looking at my old iPhone 4, it seems short and squat. And now I can fit a zillion more apps in folders on my front screen. 4 more per folder x currently 20 folders = +80, woot! Yes, I have a lot of apps. No, I'm not going to list them all.
Camera

As usually, they bumped the camera specs, and the much faster CPU means much quicker image processing as well, hence the new Panorama built in feature.
Magic Headphones

The new in ear headphones are probably the best in ear headphones I've owned. They fit in my ear canals very happily, don't jostle loose at all, sound quality is definitely better, and I can still hear environmental noise through them. As a side note, the new plug position on the bottom next to the Lightning connector means that you don't have things sticking out two sides, which is nice. They're no doubt not a replacement for decent over-the-ear headphones if you're an audiophile, but that's not my main use case.


Other

Video

I use Air Video to view videos stored on my home computer. Air Server is the go if you happen to have a computer that you want to have pretend to be (one or several!) Apple TV(s) so you can send Airplay Mirroring to it. Also ABC iView and SBS On Demand now have apps.
iCloud

iCloud has fully replaced the aged MobileMe, and is rather good. If you want to, you can send your device's backup to iCloud, instead of backing up to iTunes (over WiFi or wired). I'm quite happy keeping my backups local, but iCloud backups are more convenient. Find My Friends is rather nice - although the only person I trust enough to permanently have as a "friend" via that is my wife. Temporary events are very nice, though, allowing you to share your location for the duration of an event.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
So, last time I posted about Jedi swing dancing it was blindfolded couples...

This time, the final two couples at Lindy Focus X do some swing dancing without physical touch ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm-amalwIX8 )

I am amazed by the winners' abilities - both by the lead's ability to body lead without actually touching ... and by the follow's even more amazing ability to follow those body leads without physically feeling them. There is "shared vocabulary" trickery going on, but I suspect less than you would think.

Mad skills. If anyone knows the names of the competitors, let me know, the Lindy Focus website doesn't have winners lists up yet. :-)
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
Just a super quick drop in - I'll make a more substantial post in the next few days I suspect. :-)

In the meantime, here's a link to one of the two Swing dancing routines I performed on the weekend:

Swing Patrol North Melbourne Level 3 Performance Ball 2011

Not a perfect performance, but I'm dancing partnered with a teacher I've been learning from since I first started this thing nearly six years ago, and managed to avoid being blown off the stage by her sheer awesomeness, so I'm happy with that. :-)

I've definitely come a long way since the first time I performed this routine - four years ago with St Kilda for the same annual Performance Ball...

ETA: Also, [personal profile] seedy_girl is the lead in the green vest, white sleeves and red tie starting at the top right.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
Apropos of:



I wrote the following to my MP and the Minister for Immigration:

Subject: Asylum Seekers - Let them arrive and be processed humanely, instead of treating them like criminals.

Dear Martin Ferguson (my local member of parliament) and Chris Bowen (Minister for Immigration),

I arrived in Australia aged 7 as an immigrant, having been brought here by my parents under the skilled migration scheme in 1982, and we all became Australian Citizens some years later, and have been ever since.

I know that my parents chose to emigrate to Australia because they felt that their country of origin (Malaysia) was bereft of opportunities for their children, and that they were under significant levels of ethnic discrimination from the Malaysian government.

If that discrimination had been worse (for example, threats of death, rather than merely restrictions in employment opportunities), and my parents had not been so fortunate as to fit within the skilled migration scheme, I have no doubt that they would have chosen to flee the country as asylum seekers, climbing on a leaky boat if that was the only means available.

I would hope that Australia would have welcomed them with open arms, as is our responsibility under the UNHCR conventions, rather than shipping them off to a deserted island, imprisoning them and their children in a stark prison, placing them in isolation for having the temerity to complain, and other such unpleasant treatments that we normally reserve purely for individuals who have been proven criminals in a court of law.

Seeking Asylum is not a crime, and does not deserve criminal punishment. There are several means by which asylum seekers could be given humane treatment and processing within Australia whilst we still retain protection from those rare asylum seekers that turn out not to be actual refugees. Please consider them, rather than simply maintaining the stance that seeking asylum deserves criminal punishment.

The second verse of the Australian National Anthem contains the words

/ For those who've come across the seas,
/ We've boundless plains to share,
/ With courage let us all combine,
/ To Advance Australia Fair.

My family and myself came here across the seas to Advance Australia Fair, and these asylum seekers merely look to do the same, regardless of how they arrive here.

Please end the unjust policies of your government (and the previous Howard government), and allow asylum seekers to be processed within Australia.

Yours Sincerely,

David



Edited To Add: On a more indirect note that I didn't mention in the letter, all four of my grandparents were taken to Malaya in the 1920s/30s as children by their own parents because they were fleeing oppression and famine in pre-communist China. Rough times, and I hope to never undergo such trials.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

Migrating from Livejournal.com to Dreamwidth.org (if you want to)

Why you might want to migrate (an incomplete list of possible reasons)
How to migrate (if you want to)
  1. Obtain an invite code (either by asking me or going to Dreamwidth.org: codesharing) OR Dreamwidth.org: Buy a new account (a simple USD3.00 for 1 month paid time will get you in).
  2. Create your dreamwidth.org account
  3. Dreamwidth.org FAQ: Import your LiveJournal (content, comments, even access controls for people from LJ if you want)
  4. Optionally change LJ privacy settings to turn off search inclusion, and possibly Turn off comments on your LJ account (especially if you are worried about the FB Connect issue and have imported comments)
  5. Set up Dreamwidth.org FAQ: Crossposting to LiveJournal
  6. Check Dreamwidth FAQ: Tags and Markup for some new markup you may want to use
  7. Just go ahead and start posting on Dreamwidth
  8. More details to check out if you're coming from LJ: Dreamwidth.org FAQ: A guide to Dreamwidth for LiveJournal users
  9. Optionally even more bits to look at if you want to: Collection of things to help people new to Dreamwidth (by [personal profile] kate)
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

In Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt's post "Do you think should people be able to enrol to vote online?", a number of people in the post also wanted to actually vote online (or electronically).

My response to that is that electronic voting is currently not possible to secure because of the requirement to preserve anonymity of voting.

With most electoral voting systems today, an essential part of the system is that the vote cannot be linked with the original voter. If votes can be linked to voters, then you open the likelihood that people may not vote honestly, because they can targeted due to the nature of their vote.

The difficulty is that all electronic data is essentially trivially copiable, and an edited version is usually indistinguishable from an original. For example, your computer copies the digital original every single time you look at something online - that's how it gets from the server to your computer so that your computer can even display it to you.

This text you are reading now has been copied in that way lots of times, and you could trivially make more copies of it, edit it however you like, and release a digital text which has been modified, but is in exactly the same format to the original text and nobody can truly verify which one was the real original.

There is only one kind of electronic data that is not editable in that way - that is electronic data which has been securely digitally signed in a non anonymous fashion. That means that if the data is edited, the digital signature will no longer match. For example, digital signatures are used by online banking systems to verify to your web browser that the online website you are talking to is actually the bank you think it is, not someone else pretending to be the bank.

The problem is, digital votes that are secure and verifiable must remain attached to their original digital signature - which fully identifies the voter. Once you detach the digital vote from the digital signature, they can immediately be trivially copied and faked (just like this unsigned digital text you are reading), and cannot be verified using any means.

No matter how much auditing you do on the software and hardware, at any point between the detachment of the digital signature and the final vote count, there is the possibility of trivial and currently impossible to check and verify against digital vote fraud.

Paper votes are physical objects which are much much harder to create copies and fakes of. Once the voter is identified, they can be given a blank voting paper, and the physical vote can then be passed around and verified without having any link to the voter any more.

As regards the original question posed, enrolling to vote online is actually fine, just like Internet banking and similar systems, the point is to be identified to prove that you are you. It could even tie in well to the electoral system at booths - secure identification that ties in with your digital enrolment at the tick off point in order to receive the physical voting papers would actually improve voting security, not decrease it.

In short: Online voter registration, no worries. Online voting, just no.

Vale, Archibald.

2011-Mar-01, Tuesday 19:12
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

Some of you may know [personal profile] seedy_girl and I's cat, Archibald. He's been in [personal profile] seedy_girl's family for a while, but we inherited him in October 2004, and he's been living with us ever since.

He's been an awesomely amazing cat, but today, after a fairly long struggle with a variety of health issues, we had to take him to the vet for his final sleep. He got to spend a last night and day with us, snuggled into bed with us, ate some chicken, sat outside in the sun, curled up in our laps and had plenty of pats and head kisses from both of us.

I've uploaded a small gallery of Archibald pictures.

He went peacefully and happily, surrounded by people who loved him (including the vets at the Cat Clinic).

We're going to miss him forever. Vale, Archibald.

thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

Found the [community profile] singleserving food community, so I posted there with this Not-quite-instant noodles recipe. Crossposting it here to my own journal. :-)

I tend to mostly cook big batches of food - cooking for two busy people who go out dancing a lot, plus "dinner parties" occasionally, so most of my recipes aren't quite appropriate for here.

But, I do tend to get home after a long night of dancing and make myself a midnight snack, which, given my relatively insane metabolism, is what most people tend to define as a single serving meal. The most common item I make is "instant noodles", except dressed up. I also vary the amount of stuff I put in based on how hungry I am. :-)

The ingredients list is not as fixed as I present it below - any kind of protein based stuff works a treat (I often have pre-cooked diced-chicken-in-garlic-and-rice-wine lying around to add), but this is the quick and easy midnight snack with nothing prepared version.

Not-quite-instant noodles

Ingredients

  • eggs (1-3, either beaten or just cracked and left whole)
  • bacon (1-3 rashers, optional)
  • tofu (diced, good vegan option instead of the bacon and eggs)
  • garlic (fresh diced, or dried chips work as a cheat)
  • oil (amount and type to taste - I often use a mix of corn oil, peanut oil and sesame oil, volume is dependent on taste and fattiness of bacon)
  • about a litre of water (boiling)
  • dried noodle cakes (1-2) (maggi, or ramen cakes, or a zillion other options)
  • seasonings: e.g. curry-powder/chilli-powder/soy-sauce/tamari/salt (to taste, possibly added to beaten egg mixture in advance)
  • scallions/lettuce/spinach/fresh green leaf (cut roughly or torn); and/or frozen peas/beans/corn
  • fried shallots

Method

  1. If using dried garlic chips, put them in a small bowl and wet them to "reconstitute" in advance.
  2. If using bacon, I usually dice it, but if I'm really tired/lazy I just tear it up into a few chunks.
  3. Fry bacon and oil in wok (or bottom of appropriate size metal pan)
  4. If using "dried" tofu, possibly choose to fry them here, or simply add them later, either is fine
  5. If you're using beaten eggs, add them here once the bacon is cooked, and slosh the eggs around carefully and turn occasionally to make an omelette, then break it up into spoon sized chunks once it's mostly cooked
  6. Add garlic (the reconstituted you'll have to watch very closely) and wait until it starts to brown
  7. Pour boiling water over it (watch the steam cloud and don't splash!)
  8. add the tofu (if you didn't already fry it)
  9. add the dried noodle cakes, add more water if necessary to cover the noodles, more or less water depending on how "soupy" you want the noodles
  10. If you're using whole eggs, gently slip them into the water to poach whilst the noodles cook
  11. add seasonings to your taste
  12. simmer for slightly less than the suggested noodle cooking time on the packet, occasionally stirring. If you can avoid breaking the egg yolks if you're poaching, that's one option, otherwise, don't worry, it's tasty anyway.
  13. toss in green vegetables, bring back to simmer
  14. serve in a large bowl with fried shallots on top for fun and crunch
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

I'd already decided I was going to stop complaining about LJ - at this point it's just useless annoying noise. I'd been thinking I should instead talking about what's nice on Dreamwidth.org and why I like it as a blogging platform, without comparing it to anything else.

[personal profile] shanaqui posted a meme in [community profile] lj_refugees specifically on that, so I copied it. :-)

Favourite thing(s) you think everyone should know about DW:
Favourite feature(s) that is/are unique to DW:
Favourite comm(s) on DW:
Comm(s) I wish would get more attention:
Favourite user(s):
The kind of comms I'm looking for:
The kind of people I'd like to befriend:







... my answers inside ... )
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
... details cut for those who are bored of the issue or are not on LiveJournal... )

So, in short, I'm still on LJ for reading and crossposting my blog posts, and I don't plan to change that. However, if you want to comment on content that I post, I really am sorry for the inconvenience, but you can either sign in on dreamwidth.org with OpenID (for unlocked posts) or obtain your own DW account (for all posts included locked ones). If you don't want to do that, I am sorry, but that's what I feel I must do to protect my privacy.

ETA for anyone who wants a DW account: news from [site community profile] dw_news Weekly Update: 8 September 2010:

VOX
Speaking of promo codes, Six Apart has recently announced that their Vox service is closing doors as of September 30. If you or a friend would like to move your Vox blog to somewhere that has the fine-tuned privacy controls that other options such as TypePad or Wordpress doesn't have, Dreamwidth would be a perfect fit! You can use the account creation code "VOX" to create an account.

thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

There's been a new wave of people acquiring iPhones around me, either the 3GS or the 4. I have an older iPhone Fu post, but it's time for an updated version, more focused around usage tips and newer functionality that's available. This is a pretty long post, but do take the time to read it sometime, especially if you're new to the iPhone.

Also, if any of this post is confusing, tell me about it? I'm hoping that this is readable for non-geeks. :-) If there's something you don't understand, it's me, not you, please let me know so I can work out how to explain it better!

Usage Basics

Smartphone Security

Firstly, if this is your first "smartphone", please note, this thing is a small portable Internet Connected computer, not just a phone. As a result, you need to plug it into a real computer with iTunes installed on a regular basis to:

  1. automatically make a backup of your iPhone's data so it can be restored if something goes wrong;
  2. Check for software and security updates and install them on your phone.

For more info on computer security for non-geeks, see my post Computer Security Alerts for End Users - Be Alert, Not Alarmed. Also, I recommend against "jail-breaking" your phone unless you understand what it does and fully understand the potentially bad security implications of doing it. If you don't know what jail-breaking is, probably best to stay away from it.

In addition, do set a phone Passcode (or password if you want to be ultra secure - see Settings - General - Passcode Lock - Simple Passcode). It's going to have a lot of personal data on it, plus it's your phone, so requiring a passcode helps prevent others getting access to your personal data and phone if you accidentally lose the phone.

Usability

Secondly, after playing with it for a short while to get familiar with the relatively obvious things, go to Apple's iPhone Tips. That's pretty much the one-stop shop for all the iOS (Apple's Mobile Operating System - runs on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) interface features that aren't immediately obvious. Good information on things like rotation locking, camera focus control, etc. Some of this stuff doesn't apply to iPad yet, iPad is still on iOS version 3.2, iPhones/iPod Touches are up to iOS version 4.0.2.

A few things that page doesn't mention are:

  • Reorganising Apps: Once you have downloaded a number of apps, you'll probably want to move them around or group them in folders to make them easy to find. On the phone, you can touch-and-hold on an App's icon, which will start all your apps going wibbly wobbly, give them a little "X" to delete, and make them draggable. You can then drag them around and release to drop. Drop an app on top of another app to create a folder which you can rename. You can also do this quicker and easier in the iTunes "Apps" tab of your phone whilst it's plugged in. Note that you can pull apps on and off the bottom bar, so you can choose what you want as your "always available" 4 apps.
  • Multi-Tasking: The multi-tasking interface is brought up by "double press" of the home button. That brings up your recently-used apps at the bottom bar. Swipe left (touch left, drag right) to go to the "iPod Control". Swipe right (touch right, drag left) to see more recent apps. If you touch-and-hold, that will cause the app bar to go wibbly wobbly just like reorganising your apps. The little X icon causes an app to be removed from the "recent apps" and therefore to "quit" if it happens to be running in the background.
  • Voice Control: Hold down the home button to access Voice Control. See Apple's Voice Control Info for more details, but it's fairly self explanatory.
  • FaceTime: Wi-fi video calls, iPhone 4 only. See Apple's Face Time Info for how to try it. May not work with some wifi connections due to firewall issues. Works well for calling someone down the other end of the house actually. :-) I expect this will become available over 3G at some point, but data charges are still too insane and the Telcos are just not ready for it yet.
  • iPhone Settings: On the iPhone, go to the Settings app and look through it when you have some time. There's a lot of stuff in there that you may wish to configure, and it's also a centralised location for application configuration information. If you don't understand something, it's usually okay to leave the default setting there.
  • In App Purchasing: In addition to buying Apps, some Apps have the option of purchasing "upgrades" or "items" within the App to get you additional features or suchlike. I recommend turning this off unless you specifically encounter a situation where you need it. Settings - General - Restrictions - Allowed Content - In-App Purchases - "Off".
  • iTunes Configuration: Plug the iPhone in, select it in the left hand bar in iTunes, and go through the rather a lot of tabs that then pop up. There's a lot of configuration there for what you want to synchronise, etc. You can also right-click (or ctrl-left-click) the phone to bring up a little menu to take an immediate backup or similar. Double-click the "iPhone" label in the left hand bar and you can give your phone a nice name.
  • iTunes Synchronisation: I recommend turning off synchronising Mail and Calendar and Contacts using iTunes, and using Google Mail, Calendar and Contacts synchronisation on the iPhone directly instead. See the "Cloud Life" section below for details of that.
  • iTunes Library Apps Updating: Do regularly go to iTunes - Library - Apps - Check for Updates in order to update your applications to the latest versions.

iPhone 4 Case Program

Due to "antennagate", if you buy an iPhone 4 before 30 Sept 2010, you are entitled to a free case (Apple iPhone Case Program Info). The actual iPhone 4 antenna story is that with no case and with your thumb on the gap, the antenna is still as good as iPhone 3G.

That said, a case is good anyway for protection. I've drop-kicked my old 3G across a road, and without a case, it would've taken serious damage. With the case, no problem. For details and reviews of the free cases you can choose between see: iLounge: iPhone 4 Case Program or Macworld: Free iPhone 4 Cases.

Telco/ISP Fu

If you received your iPhone from a Telco in Australia, it comes network-locked so you can't take it anywhere else. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that we have very good consumer protection laws, provided you got it on a post-paid plan, you can ring up your carrier and tell them to remove the network-lock from your phone. They are required to do that for free - some of them may try to charge you a fee, don't let them. Threaten them with an ACCC complaint if they try.

Depending on your plan, you may or may not have "tethering" available to you. If you do, you can turn it on and off on the phone in Settings - General - Network - Internet Tethering. (That option isn't visible if tethering is not available to you on your carrier's plan). If it's on, simply connect your phone to your laptop whilst you're out and about, and voila, your laptop is internet connected.

Settings - General - Usage tells you how much mobile data you're using, go to that screen and hit "Reset Statistics" at the start of your billing period, so you can check if you're going to go over. Your carrier usually has some kind of website where you can go to check your data usage. If you're with Optus, get the "My Account Optus" app. The "Consume" app for the phone also lets you get much of this data.

Get Wi-Fi on your home internet connection (and please secure it with a password), and configure your phone to use that when you're at home, to save on mobile data usage.

Cloud Life

There are two main options for synchronising data on your phone with your computer (particularly calendar and address book). The first option is to synchronise using iTunes - this means the information is compared when you plug your iPhone into your home computer, and updates are shared only at that time.

The second option, if you want changes to your data to be synchronised without needing to plug the phone into your computer, and you want access to email from anywhere, you will need to set up a "Cloud" service. This service will use the internet to synchronise your data, but it will use your phone plan's internet data allowance to do so. You will also need to set your home computer to synchronise with the "Cloud" service.

There are essentially two available to you:Google or Mobile Me.

I'm actually using Google for Mail and Calendar; and Mobile Me for Address Book, Find My iPhone and iDisk; but there's no real reason to use both.

Mobile Me is quite good, and the major point-of-difference is the "Find My iPhone" web service, where you can log in and make your iPhone beep even if it's on silent, see where it is on a map, send it a message, and potentially remote-wipe it if you want to do that. It's pretty good insurance if you're the sort of person who might leave their phone somewhere accidentally. If you choose Mobile Me, I'll let you sort that out the cloud life, Apple gives you pretty good instructions, I think.

If you're starting fresh and/or don't want to spend money, I recommend using GMail and Google Calendar and GMail Contacts, as they are free and also work just fine.

Google Cloud Setup Details
  1. If you don't already have mail and calendar set up, do that at https://mail.google.com/ and https://calendar.google.com/ respectively.
  2. See GMail Managing Contacts Help for setting up GMail Contacts. Make sure you upload or enter all your existing contacts to there before you try and synchronise things.
  3. Follow this help page on Enabling IMAP in Gmail to turn on IMAP.
  4. Set up your iPhone using instructions from here Mail, Calendar, & Contacts: Set Up Your Apple Device for Google Sync Help
  5. Set up your computer to sync your email using IMAP too: GMail IMAP help
  6. And for syncing your Calendar to your computer too: Google Calendar Sync Help
  7. And if you're using a Mac, Apple Address Book Google Contacts Sync Help tells you how to synchronise your Address Book to Google Contacts. I'm not sure if there's anything available under Windows to synchronise the computer's address book directly to Google Contacts (someone let me know if there is).

Websites to find Apps at

There are quite a few more, but these two are the best in my opinion:

App Recommendations

...giant list of apps... )
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
Just a quick note: If anyone does want to help out with emergency relief efforts with the floods in Pakistan and doesn't know who they might want to send money to, I highly recommend donating to Médecins Sans Frontières. I'm signed up with them as a regular donator.

They do very good work in emergency medical relief, and being a secular organisation, they don't clutter their efforts with any other activities.

They also typically already have people on the ground in many of the places likely to require emergency relief, and even if they don't, they are geared up to deliver that kind of emergency relief effort in a way that many other aid organisations are not.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
I'm in Higgins: http://www.aec.gov.au/election/vic/higgins.htm

We appear to have a Greens house of reps candidate, so my $2.31 worth of primary vote will be heading to them. Then in order, Independent I.T. Nerd, Blind Young Labor Guy, Liberal Ms I'm Not Costello Honestly, and Family First Goes Last.

For the Victorian Senate, I started with the Australian Sex Party ticket, and played with it until it made me happy... ;-) So my ticket looks like:

https://www.belowtheline.org.au/editor.html#vic-GFEDC76543fhjlnokmTSRpqVUabcQPvwxYXON0ZMJLK21BWAzydegirstuIH

Thus, my $2.31 primary senate vote goes to the Australian Sex Party - who are standing up against pretty much everything that I consider very wrong with what's going on in Australian Politics.

The rest of the ticket is scattered around issues parties, and preference flow will no doubt primarily wind up landing on Labor in the middle of my ticket. I've put Conroy towards the bottom of the ticket, but not last.

The switch-over point on my ticket (where I go from numbering in group ticket order because I'm "for", instead of numbering upside down because I'm "against") is at the Lib/Nat coalition ticket, starting at number 36.

Pretty much everyone below that point, including the Lib/Nat coalition, are mostly religious nut cases of one stripe or another that wish to do things that are bad for me and my friends. I have absolutely nothing against religious people, but the groups in politics are truly nut cases who wish to do harm to me and my friends.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)
So, if you haven't been living under a rock or overseas, you probably know that there's an Australian Federal Election on 2010 August 21.

Here's a bunch of online utilities and instructions that are likely to be useful. Lots from the Australian Electoral Commission, but some others too.

I am deliberately not linking to any partisan or issues based organisations in this post - there are plenty of places to find that sort of thing, and I may make some other posts of that nature another time. This is a pure non-partisan informational/utility post. Please keep it so in comments also.
thorfinn: <user name="seedy_girl"> and <user name="thorfinn"> (Default)

Hello, especially to anyone reading me who is on LiveJournal. LJ have recently started purging accounts that are idle inactive/suspended (Edited for accuracy).

This means that those account names can be claimed by people other than the original owner. (ETA: This has already been the case since 2005 with deleted accounts and renames, apparently, but I failed to notice that.)

Unfortunately, this fundamentally breaks the trust relationship of OpenID - which is based around the URL of the logging in site. Essentially, I cannot trust that the OpenID user http://thorfinn.livejournal.com/ will remain to be the original user, without continuously checking that that is so. I can't do that for more than a few users, so essentially, my only effective solution is to be unable to trust any OpenID from livejournal.com.

So, because I cannot trust OpenIDs from livejournal.com, I cannot allow those OpenIDs to access my DW content. This means if you are on LJ, you will be unable to see my locked posts on DW, even if you log in using OpenID.

Most of you will get to read the post anyway, because I will keep cross-posting to LJ, but as I will not be allowing comments on LJ, there will be no commenting.

In short, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but due to the lack of security of LJ OpenID introduced made even worse by this new policy, I can't allow LJ OpenIDs access to Dreamwidth directly.

If you wish to discuss anything in my locked posts, then come to Dreamwidth. For further references, see:

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