Since about 2015, smartphones have been getting increasingly user-hostile and locked down. It started with Google Play Services, a permanently running auto-installed, auto-updated service that has full access and control of your device. One a new Samsung Galaxy phone, I found 262 packages pre-installed, which were mainly from Google, Samsung, Facebook, Microsoft, and the cell provider. I tried disabling some of them, and at some point the phone locked with the message: "Your phone is locked because the Device Service was uninstalled without authorisation". Ok, so I enabled all the apps again, but that didn't unlock it. Tried a full factory reset and reboot, and now the phone says: "Phone Locked. This phone can't be used without authorisation." Just, wow! We are no longer allowed to uninstall the surveillance and bloatware on our phones. #smartphones #bloatware #surveillance
My house got struck by lightning again, taking out the alarm system again. This time I decided to #diy my own alarm system with an #arduino. It's a bit of a rat's nest right now (prototype), but it works! Controllable via Telegram and standard remote. Gotta solder it up on a board next and add some lightning isolation/protection. There's surprisingly little info on the internet about replacing a commercial home alarm system with custom Arduino one. The biggest challenge is that the long wires to sensors can pick up noise/EMF so I had to do some filtering in software to avoid false triggers.
Bought this ESP32-based Esplay Micro V2, and it is sweet! Not only is it a great form-factor and fairly priced, but it comes fully assembled with an SD Card loaded with some music and cool retro games. It's a #DIY #maker dream as I can turn this into almost any device I can think of! #esplay #esp32 #retrogaming #diy
Today's project: #diy battery for my 2015 phone. Original battery down to 6% of it's original capacity. Replacement battery costs only R90 and is readily available at hobby shops. Had to make an adapter plate using my favourite material: masonite board. Sealed it with a polyurethane coating. I've avoided buying new electronics and am still sticking with my 2015 phone and 2015 tablet as my main mobile devices because they are hackable in this way, and the software (after disabling all the bloat) is still running sweetly.
If you're part of the #TwitterMigration #TwitterExodus to #Mastodon then you can follow me there on @firstname.lastname@example.org - I've been there since April 2017. Heck, you can even just stick the URL https://email@example.com into an RSS feed reader. #MastodonMigration
Grey go-away-birds (AKA grey loerie) having a party in my bird bath! #birding
I bought this comically tiny phone in June and it's been my daily driver since. It has some amazing features in it's diminutive package: dual sim, microSD card slot, bluetooth (for calls and music, or to act as headset/dialler for your smartphone), camera for photos and video, voice changer (making it a great burner phone), 4+ days of battery life. Call quality is as good as on any smartphone, and it cost less than R400.
Made a distraction-free audiobook player using a Raspberry Pi 3A. Doesn't even distract me with a progress bar :) #diy
Book recommendation: THIS IS HOW THEY TELL ME THE WORLD ENDS, Nicole Perlroth. The fascinating story behind the biggest cybersecurity threats like Stuxnet, NotPetya, election interference, etc. Reads like fiction, but sadly it is not. #book
Here's a pic of my fridge-top Smol Data Centre, which I previously blogged about on gemini at gemini://tobykurien.com/articles/2022-05-17-smol-data-centre.gmi #photo #diy
Made an extended battery pack for my aging MacBook that also acts as a comfortable base. The 55Wh battery pack consists of cheap and easily replaceable 21700 cells. Plenty of space to add more batteries, USB hub, hard drive, or other accessories. #diy
Everything that becomes popular turns to crap. So now I have to ditch DuckDuckGo and find an alternative. No, I'm not telling you what I'm moving to, lest they get enough users to dictate their terms to us. #rant
Computers were "good enough" 5 years ago, and we're still using them for the exact same purposes. So why do we have gigs of software updates every week, and why do our computers get slow and "out-of-date" every 2 years? Where's the extra value from all this added complexity, compared to 5 years ago? Is it purely aesthetic? I'd argue that we're regressing, not progressing. #computing #philosophy
Photos from a recent trip to Hartebeespoort #photo #holiday
Birds photographed on a recent trip: Half-collared Kingfisher, Black Swan (in captivity), Giant Kingfisher . #birding
After decades of Ubuntu use, I've replaced my desktop OS with antiX. It's a minimal Debian system without systemd. Boots to desktop in about 5 seconds and uses only 150Mb of RAM. It's a simple system that I can get my head around easily and administer without unlearning and relearning things all the time like I had to with Ubuntu. It feels fast and efficient, and looks good too. For similar reasons, on the server side, I'm moving from Ubuntu to OpenBSD where I can.
"Nearly all of modern computer engineers are working above so many layers that there’s no human way to understand what they are doing."
gemini://rawtext.club/~ploum/2022-04-05-firefox-ubuntu.gmi #computing #philosophy #ubuntu #snaps
The Theological Problem Behind Firefox in Ubuntu 22.04
Back in 2015, I predicted that once ad-blocking became common, we would be faced with server-side tracking:
You know what will happen once most of us install ad-blockers? Server-side ad SDK's, that's what. Unblockable ads, unstoppable tracking. https://twitter.com/TobyKurien/status/628227819076775936
Well, it's here in the form of Server-side tagging in Google Tag Manager, and it's easier than the SDK I predicted. #adblock #privacy