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17 December 2014

On the need for an open source smartphone


 
Threatpost is reporting on Palo Alto Networks' discovery of a backdoor on an Android phone sold primarily in the Chinese and Taiwan markets that allows the vendor (and ostensibly anyone approved by or who impersonates the vendor) to take over your phone.

Whether there is any hyperbole in this or not, it's clear that what they describe could very easily be done. And it thus underscores why we need a fully open source smartphone platform, all the way back to and including all drivers, that puts the user in control. A solution that's effectively open only for vendors or leaves the last mile closed just isn't good enough.

Once we have the software solved, we can move on to building hardware that's open in the critical areas. But let's start with the easier to solve software problem. With just the smallest help from manufacturers, we could have this problem solved yesterday.

Threatpost (via Slashdot)

10 December 2014

Here to stay?


As part of my effort to diversify my online data siloing, I've been looking for an alternative to Google Maps/Navigation on my phone. I've slogged through a lot of FOSS and proprietary offerings, but all have had various inadequacies that left me lusting for the latest from Google.

Then today I learned that the part of Nokia that wasn't sold to Microsoft released a beta of their Here mapnav app for Android. So far it has been quite good. All the features I want, some that I didn't know I wanted but am happy to have, and a reasonably usable if less than stunningly attractive UI. I only hope their monetization plans don't gut the app after it comes out of beta.

Helpful links:

14 November 2014

WebDAV

I tried a number of things to get a speedy and easy-to-use WebDAV setup and finally settled on using the setup described in Kasun's Tech Blog's Mounting a WebDAV directory in Linux (Ubuntu).

I deviated from the above by leaving /etc/davfs2/davfs2.conf as it is and instead edited the conf file at ~/.davfs2 that magically showed up. I also found a secrets file there where I added credentials. I suspect these were added after the first access I performed, that is, after I did a $ mount . in the mount directory.

07 November 2014

crontab -r


crontab -r is sooo close to crontab -e — exactly one adjacent key to be precise.

And crontab files are stored in /var/spool/cron/crontabs rather than inside the (backed up) /home/mithat directory?

Crap.

21 October 2014

New laptop time

Alas, I think I need to upgrade from my 5+ year old current laptop. I need a dual boot system (with Windows) for teaching, so this means I will need to confront UEFI madness and a whole new slew of hardware compatibility foo--and maybe even a distribution change to one that has solid support for UEFI installs.

Fun times ahead.