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Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

The Android November 1, 2020 security patches – and possibly more updates – are now available on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. Since 2021 is coming closer and closer, I wonder: should I already start hoping for Android 11 on this device?

The N975FXXU6DTJ4 update includes the November 1, 2020 security patches

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It’s good to see that Google’s security patches for Android (version 10 in this case) are distributed quickly. Even Samsung manages to get them out on time, at least for top devices like the Note 10+.

N975FXXS6DTI5 is the latest firmware update for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

So far I haven’t noticed any bugs or performance issues, so I assume that the essence of this update is indeed the security patch level…

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I did not look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus for a few weeks, but when I started it up yesterday there was a new update waiting for me – including the September 1, 2020 security patches for Android. The update introduces the possibility to use Samsung DeX without a cable, at least if you have a Samsung smart TV (which I don’t have :-( ).

N975FXXU6DTH7

And now we wait for Android 11, I guess?

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A few days ago, my Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus could already install the August 1, 2020 Android security patches. If only Samsung (and other phone manufacturers) were always so quick to support more devices for many more years: the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 security patch is dated March 1, 2020…

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My setup has been the same since quite a few years now: I have a Keepass file on Dropbox, and I use several different applications and apps on multiple devices to access and update that file. Which applications, you ask?

On my Macs as well as on my Xubuntu machines I will use Keeweb. Despite its name, it gives you a desktop application that natively accesses (and syncs) files on Dropbox. This is the application I go to for when I want or need to reorganise the Keepass file, e.g. to rearrange groups or import lots of account data.

I would use Keeweb on a Windows PC as well – if I had one. At work, we have no free choice of which application to use to store passwords, but luckily we do have the “official” Keepass Password Safe at our disposal.

On Android my favourite Keepass app is called Keepass2Android. I will admit that I made that choice a few years ago, and haven’t checked on its competitors recently (are there competitors of note, by the way?). But it does what I need it to do; it accepts Dropbox as cloud storage and it will even merge changes from the local version and the Dropbox version when it detects differences between the two during the synchronisation process. That last one is a killer feature, and it hasn’t failed me a single time in the years I have been using it.

On iOS the situation is a little more complicated – at least, that how it feels to me. I wrote earlier about KeePassium, and that is still my app of choice. I like the interface, and it does all I need when I look for account info (you can store more than just passwords there!).

But in order to sync my central file on Dropbox, on iOS the app has to go through the “Files” app from Apple. Files-the-app is capable of showing files of all kinds on the iOS device, as well as the files on several cloud file systems, like Dropbox. What is less clear to me, however, is how quickly “Files” notices changes on Dropbox and picks up the latest version of my central KeePass file. I also have had trouble getting the latest version of my file (as changed on Android, for example) onto my iPhone. Although I must admit that the last few weeks fared better: I haven’t noticed anymore missing syncs lately. What I can’t say is whether the issue was/is with Files rather than KeePassium or even my internet connection…

Anyway, when it comes to passwords I want to be sure that I’m not missing any information – or worse: I don’t want to overwrite my updated central file with an older version on iPhone! That’s why I currently always check the “last updated on” date of my Dropbox file in Files before opening the file again. Of course my Dropbox account is protected with a password, but I don’t think that is what Andrei Popleteev means when he’s writing about “How to sync KeePassium with Dropbox“.

Manually checking the file date on iOS is not an ideal situation, I know, but to me that check is a small price to pay for the greater good of having my account data available on all the platforms I use! And for me, KeePassium is still the way to go on iOS.

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Here in Europe, thanks to the surge in homeworking, there is no way to get your hands on a new webcam – they’re sold out everywhere. So I tried another solution for my older desktop machine running Xubuntu.

While installing Droidcam on Xubuntu, I encountered the following message:

gcc: error: make: No such file or directory

Strange, since I had just installed the complete GCC.

But while the GCC may have been complete, ‘make’ is a separate tool. The simplest way to install it is:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

It’s easy, once you know – but I can imagine that it’s not that easy if you’re not a developer (or a seasoned Linux user). But neither is getting Droidcam to work on Ubuntu, by the way – it takes a lot of tinkering to get it to work over USB, including the right developer mode settings on the phone as well as installing the ADB tools on Xubuntu with:

apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

Now I just need a longer USB-C cable to position the phone above my desk rather than below it!

Can’t use this camera position in Skype – where’s that long cable?

As an aside: the lsusb on Xubuntu recognizes my Samsung Note 10+ as a “Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd GT-I9300 Phone [Galaxy S III] (PTP mode)“. I never connected my S3 to this copy of Xubuntu, so there must be another explanation for that weirdness…

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I may not have much faith in Samsung’s will to do what I think they should do: keep the software of their devices up to date for more than 2 years. But I must report that the Galaxy S7 received another update to its OS: at least the Android security patch level has been upgraded to the version of March 1, 2020. Keep it up, Samsung!

Minor updates only – but that’s better than nothing!

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Somewhere in the second half of January, Samsung managed to publish another software update for the Samsung Galaxy S7 – I was late in installing it, but here is the resulting situation:

The latest situation on the S7 in terms of software

At least the machine now has the December 1, 2019 security patches.

By telling you this you know that I’m still using the S7 occasionally, although mostly as an alarm clock (there is no longer a SIM card installed in it). It’s a bit a shame not to use such a capable device; with better software support many smartphones, this one included, could have a longer productive life.

For those of you who care: the Samsung Galaxy S Plus (SGS+) I wrote about in the past (5 years ago, that is!) is still somewhat usable. That means nothing more than that it still starts up, running CyanogenMod 12, and its battery still holds out for a substantial time: it just dropped from 100% to 60% overnight – not bad for a device bought in December 2011!

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A few days ago I tried to use KeePassium on the iPhone. Yet another KeePass app, you say? Yes – because it pays to be open to change, and in this case because KeePassium promises to sync automatically with any of a list of cloud storage providers. That promise means you can not just use DropBox, but also Google Drive, iCloud Drive, Synology NAS, and more, to store your file(s). It’s nice to have more choices when it comes to safely storing your passwords.

My current KeePass app, MiniKeePass, requires an explicit manual “Save to…” and “Open in MiniKeePass” actions to keep your cloud copy in sync on multiple devices. I tend to forget those “Save“s and “Open“s now that a iPhone is my daily phone; on my Galaxy S7, Keepass2Android requires just a “Sync” to figure whether to save its local copy to the cloud or to get the cloud version if that is more recent (and vice-versa, of course).

So I downloaded KeePassium, and pointed it to a copy of my .kdbx file. Unfortunately, the app wouldn’t / couldn’t open it, although it claims to compatible with all versions of KeePass files. Strange – or perhaps a bad copy on my side? I don’t know, since the error message wasn’t very clear. This means I will stick with MiniKeePass for the time being, knowing that I will have to look out for another KeePass-compatible app soon…

Why should I replace MiniKeePass? To begin with, the MiniKeePass app is no longer actively maintained, going by the updates to the source code on Github: the latest updates are from late 2017. And it shows: in iOS 13 I can see a few mix-ups in the user interface. For example, look at this:

Is MiniKeePass in Serious Trouble?

It’s not the only KeePass-compatible iOS app that is getting (too?) old to be worthy of attention. Check out the list of ‘Unofficial KeePass Ports‘ and even a cursory glance at the majority of entries will turn out to be (very dated). One version even goes back to 2010 – that’s almost the prehistory in IT terms. Others are more recent but require payment to get rid of ads – without any guarantee that the app will work with my files.

Let me be clear: I don’t mind paying for an app, especially for an app that will guard the hundreds of passwords I have to store. But then I want an app with a better-than-just-good UI, since I will be using it every day; I want automatic syncing with a choice of cloud storage providers; I want serious support, at least in the form of regular and continuing updates to comply with Apple’s progress. And ideally the source code of that app should be audited by independent security specialists, to make sure that it is indeed a secure and safe implementation, worthy of a user’s trust. I’ll keep looking! Your suggestions are most welcome, too.

 

Update on 2020-02-02: I revisited the app and changed my recommendation

 

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Two months after the previous software update Samsung has published another 125MB package for the Galaxy S7. This time, it brings the S7 in line with the September 1st security patch level. It’s always a good idea to keep up with system software for any device you own – so get it onto your S7 if you haven’t done it yet!

The G930FXXS6ESI4 / G930FLUX6ESI4 / G930FXXS6ESI6
update installs quickly…

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I was not planning on continuing my reporting on Android updates for the Galaxy S7, given that Samsung clearly considers this device too old to be worthy of attention. But for completeness’ sake I will tell you that a new update did arrive a few days ago (I missed the exact date, since I’m no longer using the device on a daily base). Basically, it’s a security update, bringing the S7 in line with the June 1st patch level update from Google.

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I wanted to try Android Auto now that I drive a car that is capable of doing so. In theory, that should be simple, no? Unfortunately, no it isn’t simple. First hurdle: officially speaking Android Auto is not available here in Belgium and the Netherlands. But apparently this does not mean that a car salesman has to tell you that: (s)he will tout the availability of Android Auto as an fine feature of the car.

So I downloaded and installed an Android Auto .apk file and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy S7, only to find that the application started up and immediately presented me with the dark message “Google Play services doesn’t seem to be working at the moment“. I tried a few of the “solutions” offered on the internet, but none worked, whether the S7 was connected to the car or not. So I wonder: does this message occur because I’m trying to use the AA mode in Belgium, or is it a Samsung issue?

It’s not really news, of course, but the update stream for the S7 from Samsung seems to have dried up completely. It’s June 17 today, and the latest security patch occurred in March: my machine is still on Android security patch level “1 March 2019”. I suppose an update to Android 8.1 or 9 is completely out of the question…

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I know it’s already April, but I did not want to publish the low solar energy production numbers of March on April 1st. Many readers might have thought I was joking, and that is not the case. Here’s why: March only produced 133.760 Wh of electricity, and that is just a fraction above last years March numbers and 25% below what I expected. Let’s just hope that this is not setting a trend for the future.

Another update is worth mentioning, at least for users and fans of the Samsung Galaxy S7: I was able to install the March 1, 2019 Security patch and the assorted updates on March 26th. This is what your S7 should tell you about its software, at least here in Belgium:

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A few days ago, on Jan. 17 to be precise, my Samsung Galaxy S7 received a software update. Considering the limited info available in the ‘What’s new” section of the update, I’m assuming that the update is limited to the January 1st security patch level…

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Samsung is fast this time: the December Security Update is available to Galaxy S7 devices in Belgium. Let’s call it an early Christmas gift ;-)

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