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Archive for December, 2020

We all know now that 2020 was a strange, an atypical and – for some of us – a horrifying year. Even though I was pretty certain that the trouble with Covid-19 wouldn’t be over by now (just add at least another 12 months, if not more), I did not have the clarity of mind to foresee so many of the things that did happen, to me as well as to all of us, since March.

But I’m not a poet, a writer, an artist; I’m not like Francesca Melandri. In March 2020, this Italian novelist wrote “A letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future“, published by The Guardian. Reading it will make you nod your head, not once, not twice, but many times: yes Francesca, that’s exactly what I did or thought…

Even now, when the crisis is far from over, it’s clear that the prediction at the end will turn out to be true:

If we turn our gaze to the more distant future, the future which is unknown both to you and to us too, we can only tell you this: when all of this is over, the world won’t be the same.

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The Clearmounts smartphone holder in our Audi has won my praise, mostly because of its elegance and practicality. But I do have to mention that the mechanism that locks the grip on your smartphone isn’t the best you can have. In the position shown on the picture in my previous post about the charging cradle, it failed to hold my Samsung S7 while driving on a bumpy road (and we have lots of those in Belgium!), resulting in a cracked screen. I turned the the cradle 90 degrees to improve the grip, and that made things better – for a while.

Today, less than 3 years after its installation, the locking mechanism of the cradle has failed completely. There is no more way to use the holder. I did open it up to see if I could repair it, but whatever I tried (without 3D-printing replacement parts) there was no improvement to be made. So for the moment, I replaced it with the non-charging cradle that came in the box. Allow me to mention that we did not use the cradle on a daily basis; it served mainly when we were on holiday, so I doubt that we handled it more than 75 or 100 times…

(Image taken from the Clearmounts website – click to see more details about this product)

A a final replacement I ordered the new “Qi Gravity Cradle Wireless Charging Mount”. I do not like to fiddle with cables when using a phone that accepts wireless charging, and this Qi cradle has a bracket to hold your phone while using the cradle in its intended position: vertically! That should lessen the need to tighten the grip strongly, hopefully avoiding the fate of its predecessor. Time will tell if that’s true ;-)

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The past few days our home intranet WiFi wasn’t performing as well as previously. But everything I needed worked OK (I telework on a machine that connects to the intranet/internet by cable) and my family did not complain, so all was more or less well.

Until our daughter needed to print out papers to prepare for the upcoming exams at uni. Each time she tried to print, the printer would work OK for two pages, and then the Mac complained about an unresponsive printer. So I spent an hour checking the (or even resetting!) configuration of the router and the WiFi range extender, trying to figure out on what IP address all the devices in our home were to be found. In the end, it was almost by accident that I noticed (in Fing on Android) that there existed one device on our little network with a strange identification: ‘Ikea’ was listed as brand, and ‘Xerox’ as the name of the device…

There’s the Ikea hub, close to our router…

Disconnecting the Ikea Trådfri WiFi hub brought the printer to life without any further issues, making it clear that the Ikea hub and the printer had somehow managed to “use” the same IP address 192.168.1.3. Reconnecting the Idea hub a bit later I did check that it received another, unused IP address – just as I expected that to happen all the time.

I have no explanation for that situation, since I did not force any device to use a fixed IP address on our intranet. But the situation caused a lot of frustration! I would have thought this kind of mix up could be solved by the router software, but clearly it did not.

As a sidenote, let me tell you that my daughter proposed to buy a new, “better” printer. Of course this would also have solved the problem, since a new device would (hopefully) have received a hew IP address. But that would have meant throwing away a perfectly good printer – just because of a software failure on the router. Or is there a better explanation for what occurred here?

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I had not expected it, but Twitter may after all turn out to be a medium that makes storytelling possible. As an example, and without wanting to comment on the subject of this story (really!), take this thread from Twitter, written by Kenyan Patrick Gathara:

The author explains his reasons for writing this on the website of The Guardian. Recommended reading!

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I know: I should have reported this a few days ago. Just so you know: the latest system update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ has arrived. It contains (among other things, but probably in essence) the December 1 Android security patch level.

Baseband version N975FXXS6DTK8 is here!

It goes without saying that all your other devices are better off if you keep them up to date, software-wise ;-)

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We live in an era of rapidly increasing digitalisation. Hence it’s no surprise that digital systems, however complex they may be, are the subject of increasingly sophisticated attacks. If you want proof of that, take a few hours and read “An iOS zero-click radio proximity exploit odyssey” by Google engineer Ian Beer. He explains how he discovered – and “exploited” – a vulnerability in Apple’s iOS that made it possible to take over an iOS device remotely without the user knowing what happened.

If you like programming, like me, you’ll find the story lacking in code but rich, very rich, in debugging techniques. Plus a lot of detective work and experimenting – in soft- and hardware. That’s what “hacking” is about, of course, and this story is a good illustration of just how devious you have to be!

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There’s not much else to say about the Sun in November 2020, at least when it comes to Belgium: our solar panels produced slightly above average. Temperatures were much above average, making for a strange combination that did not really feel like Autumn until the last two days of the month. This morning it was raining, but now the sun is back – hurrah!

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