Category Archives: Software

Handy Form to See if You are Victim of Adobe Password Hack

From Lastpass. Pass it on.

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Android Phone Backup Considered Dangerous

Michael Horowitz, Google knows nearly every Wi-Fi password in the world | Computerworld Blogs.

Oh, joy. See, if Google knows your wifi passwords (and all the other app passwords it backs up) then it can be compelled to tell them by officials bearing the right paperwork.

Android devices have defaulted to coughing up Wi-Fi passwords since version 2.2. And, since the feature is presented as a good thing, most people wouldn’t change it. I suspect that many Android users have never even seen the configuration option controlling this. After all, there are dozens and dozens of system settings to configure.

And, anyone who does run across the setting can not hope to understand the privacy implication. I certainly did not.


  • In Android 2.3.4, go to Settings, then Privacy. On an HTC device, the option that gives Google your Wi-Fi password is “Back up my settings”. On a Samsung device, the option is called “Back up my data”. The only description is “Back up current settings and application data”. No mention is made of Wi-Fi passwords.
  • In Android 4.2, go to Settings, then “Backup and reset”. The option is called “Back up my data”. The description says “Back up application data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google servers”.

The good news is that if you turn it off, Google says they erase all of the data.

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Geeky Humor

Well, I thought it was funny.

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GCal Sends Unwanted Invites

When I create a new entry on my Gcal and include an email address, it asks me if I want to send an invite to the person I’m meeting. I say “don’t send”. It often sends one anyway, especially if the person has a gmail address. There doesn’t appear to be any way to stop it.1

  1. Yes, I know this is a pathetic topic for a blog post. But it’s the first day of classes, I’ve been busy, and if I don’t post anything for too long my mom worries. 

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A Second Coat of Drying Paint

I suppose Windows is the slowest-installing program I know (and that’s on my mind because I’m going to have to upgrade my home desktop, my last XP box, to Win 7 soon), but Libre Office, the free and open source substitute for MS Office, has to come in second place. I have just been watching the installer for version 3.6.6 sit on my screen for more than the time it took Lou Reed to sing “Pale Blue Eyes”.

Oh #$**#U$W#**%$.

I got the 3.6.6 update by clicking the ‘download update’ button in response to a Libre Office popup (the automatic download has not worked pretty much ever). Fair enough. But now I just googled Libre Office to be sure I linked to the right website in the first paragraph above. And, guess what, THERE’S A VERSION 4.0.3 WAITING THERE that the updater didn’t tell me about. Being vaguely OCD about updates, I guess I get to watch some more paint dry. Bob Dylan will be long done with “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”1 before these (help files are separate) are downloaded, much less installed.

To be honest, I use the Libre Office spreadsheet much more than the word processor. I’m still using Wordperfect as my word processor of choice, and will use genuine Office when people send me files to collaborate on. Many versions ago the track changes feature of Libre Office didn’t play nice with Word, and I’ve been shy about it ever since.

Anyway at least I posted something here so my mother won’t call up to see what’s wrong. Talk about creating expectations.

PS If you download Libre Office, and I recommend it, it seems to install real fast until one of the later steps, when it just sits there a long time. Don’t panic. The progress bar is for each step, not for the whole process.

  1. Courtesy of my Pandora Lou Reed channel. 

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Civilized Discourse Construction Kit

Jeff Atwood, of the great Coding Horror weblog, writes about his new “next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.

He’s calling it “Discourse“.

As much as existing forum software is inexplicably and terrifyingly awful after all these years, it is still the ongoing basis for a huge chunk of deeply interesting information on the Internet. These communities are incredibly passionate about incredibly obscure things. They aren’t afraid to let their freak flag fly, and the world is a better place for it.

The goal of the company we formed, Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., is exactly that – to raise the standard of civilized discourse on the Internet through seeding it with better discussion software:

  • 100% open source and free to the world, now and forever.
  • Feels great to use. It’s fun.
  • Designed for hi-resolution tablets and advanced web browsers.
  • Built in moderation and governance systems that let discussion communities protect themselves from trolls, spammers, and bad actors – even without official moderators.

Our amazingly talented team has been working on Discourse for almost a year now, and although like any open source software it’s never entirely done, we believe it is already a generation ahead of any other forum software we’ve used.

Love the ambition, love the name. Not so sure yet about the interface, though, which seems very busy with all those avatars and stuff.

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Xmarks is Back

Xmarks is back. I found this on their twitter feed:

We experienced unscheduled downtime, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please try a “repair” for ongoing errors:

Which leads you to this ‘perfect storm’ explanation:

Xmarks bookmark sync has experienced unscheduled downtime over the last 20 hours. This morning the decision was made to disable syncing to facilitate recovery.

Xmarks has gone to backups to restore the service for impacted Xmarks bookmark sync users. If you use Xmarks bookmark sync please double check any bookmarks you’ve made over the previous 48 hours from 7/1/2012.

At this stage all users should be back in working order from the server, if you’re having issues we’d recommend trying Xmarks Settings -> Advanced -> Repair first. You may want to consider simply using Upload instead to push your local set up to the server if you notice inconsistencies.

If you use Firefox you can reference the bookmarks backups that Firefox automatically creates:

A number of issues came together causing Xmarks to experience this problem:

– While our datacenters were not impacted, our staff was impacted by the storms that hit the Washington DC area – leaving many of our employees without power, without Internet, and without working phones.
– Our offices are also without power impacted by the storms so using them was not a possibility either.
– Nearly all of our servers were impacted by the bug detailed by Mozilla here:
– We found that rebooting machines fixed the issue before we found out the true cause (and the above bug report). Rebooting worked but a number of machines failed to shutdown gracefully causing issues bringing back up the cluster cleanly.

We apologize for this issue and thank you for your patience. We will be looking into ways we can further mitigate our risks against threats like these in the future.

That Firefox bug, by the way is ‘Java is choking on leap second‘. That plus a major power outage is very very bad luck indeed. The leap second bug had some nasty effets around the world — grounding Qantas flights and crashing various internet services.

Previously: Xmarks is Down.

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