James Mayes

Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Android dialler security flaw (and quick fix)

In Gadgets, Mobile on September 28, 2012 at 8:39 am

Noticed this one courtesy of Gareth earlier today. Flew through a couple of different sites researching and finding a fix I liked, thought I’d collate the info in one place.

There’s a recently exposed flaw on Android that will allow malicious web pages to use URL commands automatically. This means a site could potentially do a number of things, including auto-dial calls and force system level commands – potentially including a factory reset.

Not all phones seem to be vulnerable – but I’m running an HTC One X with 4.0.4 on board, and mine was indeed exposed.

First up, visit this page from your device to test it. If it automatically shows the IMEI number of your device, your handset is not secure. If the dialler opens, but gives you the CHOICE of whether or not to dial, you’re fine.

A little more bouncing around found me a great fix. Erik Thauvin released a quick install called NoUSSD (available for direct download or in the Android Play Store). Install that, tiny download, it will ensure any dial action in web pages is forced to give you the choice before the phone dials.

Hope this is useful.


Blog: Microsoft’s Dropbox alternative – SkyDrive (with free upgrade)

In Gadgets, Mobile on April 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

Microsoft are moving with the times and the next version of Windows (Windows 8) takes a tiled approach on the main desktop with apps aplenty. If you want to check it out, the preview is available for free download and install here (note: it’s beta – which means buggy – though I’ve been using it happily for a few months now).

One of the apps they’re really pushing is SkyDrive – a cloud storage app for your personal files, music, whatever.  It competes with offerings from Google, Apple, DropBox, Box and no doubt many others. To garner users in a lively category, Microsoft have upped the levels of storage on offer for free. DropBox for example starts at 2gb for free accounts – SkyDrive offers 7gb right off the bat.

However, to really push the launch, sign up now and you’ll get 25gb. It’s a time-limited offer (no idea on how long). Sign in with a Microsoft Live account, click for the free upgrade, job done. Go here for more!

skydrive free upgrade

Blog: Top ten apps & sites of 2011

In Gadgets, Guest post, Mobile, Social Media, Social Recruiting, Start-ups on January 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

Originally written as a guest post for Ed Scrivener, now here for my archives.

I’ve followed Ed on Twitter for some time – and he recently responded to an invite for a guest post with a cracker on LinkedIn LIONS, which you’ll find here.  He’s kindly offered me the opportunity to reciprocate.

If we’ve not met before, I sit mostly on the intersection of recruitment and technology.  I’m a geek, I admit it.  I jump in on new apps and tools whenever I see them and I try to blog reviews of those I really like.  As we wind in to the year-end though, it seems appropriate to look back over the year and see what actually had staying power.  What delivered on-going value.  What’s still in use? So, in no particularly order, I offer you my geeklist for 2011.

  1. Ifttt – Sets up social rules. Too many different profiles to manage? Ifttt can help. Blogged a review of this one here.
  2. CoTweet – I use this as a desktop client for Twitter.  Most of the functions are not dissimilar to other players in the market, but there’s one differentiator I love – the conversations. I bring up Ed’s profile, I can see our Twitter history. That conversation we had about keyword spam back in May. What other app for Twitter gives you that?
  3. Xydo – news curation and delivery service. Part automated, but influenced by the networks you build as an individual. Best personalised news service I’ve found, blogged here!
  4. Evernote – The ultimate note taker.  I use it to hoard favourite tweets (delivered here automatically by Ifttt), to make meeting notes, to hold photos as part of a mobile project stream. Brilliant.
  5. Buffer – rather than flood your followers with all the articles you read on the train each morning, space them through the day. Combine with Xydo for excellent results! Review here.
  6. WordPress – my blog platform of choice. My needs are simple, so I stay with the hosted version – I’ve checked out others and not yet seen a reason to consider moving.
  7. DropBox – My files, anywhere. Backed up in the cloud, backed up to each machine I install it on, deletion controls (which I only found after this episode!!). Ace service.
  8. Zovo – bigger cloud backup. I use DropBox for working files, Zovo for long-term cloud synchronised automatic backups.
  9. Bit.ly – always was good, but the enhancements this year allow for custom short-links. Instructions here.
  10. Aerolatte – just because I’m working at home, doesn’t mean I put up with crap coffee. This helps. A lot.

I hope you see something new to enjoy. Likewise, if you want to offer up suggestions of your own, please do! Personal recommendation is my favourite form of discovery.  If you have questions for me, or just want to see what I find next, Twitter’s best. You’ll find me here.

Blog: Recovering from a Dropbox disaster!

In Gadgets, Mobile, Software Development, Start-ups on September 20, 2011 at 8:02 am

Many people I know, myself included, make extensive use of Dropbox for cloud storage. Install on all your devices, have all your files accessible from the cloud, synchronised AND available offline. Lovely.

What happens when you make a mistake?

Last night, when I deleted a crucial folder by mistake. My first thought was to grab the phone next to me, which had the Android version of Dropbox installed – I opened it up, and watched as “in the cloud” synchronisation took over and the folder deleted itself right before my eyes. The very definition of a disaster gathering pace. I thought of the data in that folder… yes, I had a backup. No, it wasn’t recent.

Verging on meltdown, I fought to think logically… Dropbox stores a copy on each local machine… it synchronises changes via the net… I have  laptop upstairs which is currently off… QUICK…. kill the wifi! Internet suitably disabled (i.e. plug removed sharpish from router!) I powered up the other laptop. Yep, the folder was intact. I copied all my Dropbox files to a USB storage device, then double-checked it on another PC. Breathe easy.

Panic over, I calmed briefly and tweeted about my near-miss, reminded people of the value of back-ups. I won’t share with you the thoughts I had when I saw this response:

Dropbox undelete

I’ve known Fordie a while, he tweets some great stuff… but right then, I coulda killed him! Now though, cool & calm, I have the following lessons:

  1. If you’re going to entrust your data to a site or service, learn about it up front – especially the recovery options
  2. Back up. No site is ever 100% perfect and even if it gets close, there’s still the huge potential for error between the chair and the keyboard
  3. Tweet for help before you panic!

So, this being done, will I still use Dropbox? Hell ya.  I think it was probably my error that caused it, and I’ve just tested the Dropbox undelete feature – works a dream. Log into the website, go to your Files; the deleted stuff is greyed out; click the down arrow next to it on the right, you get the option to undelete. Would I recommend it? Yeah, if you keep the above stuff in mind.

Finally – if you don’t yet have an account, click here  – using that link tells them I sent you, which gives me a little extra free space. Cheers!

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