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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 ;-)

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?

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!

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 ;-)

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!

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!

When I took this photo in the summer of 2018 I was pondering how to label it: should I blame Microsoft ? Should I say something about Italians and technology? Or does no-one care about tourists? We’ll never now what we were supposed to see then…

“Impossibile avviare il computer” – indeed!

The not so funny point is that even today Google Streetview shows the exact same message on the exact same spot in Orta San Giulio (Novara, Italy), in a picture that is probably/possibly a lot younger than mine!

Screenshot of Google Streetview on 2020-11-22 – Copyright by Google, of course.

I cant’ help it: whenever I see a BMW R1100S I have to give it a closer look. Here’s a picture from a 2002 model with quite a few modifications – including a unique look!

Details (as long as it isn’t sold) on 2dehands.be

Don’t tempt me: I would love to give it a spin, for old times sake ;-)

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

I am using WordPress for ten years now, and I have always appreciated the fact that WP is a solid piece of software. I know I’m not using all of its possibilities and functions, but until a a few weeks ago I have never encountered anything that could be considered a “bug”.

However… since the change to the Block editor for editing Posts and Pages all my editing sessions regularly show me this message:

Conflicting messages: did WP save the post or not?

What does WordPress mean, by the way, when it says I’m not allowed to edit my own Post? And if I’m not allowed to edit it, where did it save the Post? Why do I find parts of what I wrote in my site, even when it tells me that the update failed?

This is, of course, a nice example of how not to inform your user. Because just to be sure I keep clicking the “Save” or “Update” buttons, only to see the same message popping up most of the time!

Worse: sometimes the editor says “Saved”, but does not save the Post, thus forcing me to retype it. Having experienced that on a few occasions, I even started to write my Posts in a separate text editor program on my Mac or PC before copy-pasting them into the block editor – and that can and should not be the right way to use a tool like WordPress that can handle a minimal but complete editorial flow from writing over revising and approving to publishing.

Back to the message shown above: it occurs when I create a new Post, but also when I edit older Pages and Posts that were created with the Classic editor. Until very recently, I always preferred the Classic editor: it gives me a certain measure of control over the HTML code, something I (like many web developers) appreciate a lot. By the way: the Classic block in the Block editor may look like the Classic editor, but it isn’t the same and does not allow the same measure of control over your content. So  it’s not a good equivalent.

I know I still have to learn to get to grips with the Block editor, which is by definition better than the Classic editor when it comes to structuring content in a web page. That’s a big plus when changing the look and feel of a site, or when you move content from one site to another. So from a Content Management point of view the Block editor is way better than the Classic editor.

But the Block editor should be able to handle existing “classic” posts and pages without strange hick-ups (I seen a few of those as well) and without trying to apply the Block editor rules on those old Posts. It would be better if WordPress could simply revert to the Classic editor if it notices that there is no “Block” stuff in them.

And certainly the Block editor should save my edits correctly and without fail – and without dubious messages! Because that’s a bug, in my view!

I admit that I had to use a thesaurus to come up with all the adjectives to describe the past month.  But October 2020 was cloudy, dark, dim, gloomy, ill-lighted, murky, overcast, sunless, somber, tenebrous, … and more!

The numbers prove it: our solar panels produced only 69% of the average of the previous ten years. Even worse: in October 2018 the solar energy production of our installation was almost twice that of the past month!

There is a bit of good news, however. Contrary to 2016 and 2017, we’re certain to pass the 2 MWh mark for the whole year. Unless a major disaster blocks all sunlight in the coming days and months… I hope Nature agrees with me that the current pandemic is enough of a disaster for a single year.

I was wondering: should I install the belgian Coronalert app to help me know whether or not I have been in contact with COVID-19 contaminators? Many solutions to such “contact tracing” apps from all over the world have been found to be guilty of privacy invasions. I like to be on the side of the maximum privacy camp, so I went looking for serious discussions about the Belgian app. Sorry to say so, but the only valid discussion I could find was the report of the official security assessment, on the website of the application:

https://coronalert.be/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Report-Coronalert-Application-Security-Assessment-Public-Report_vFINAL.pdf

The report seems to be well done, and the conclusions in it are encouraging: there seem to be no serious issues when it comes to the security of the app and its data. I would have loved to see an independent review by one or more security researchers… But in the meantime it won’t hurt to install this; let’s just hope it does not drain the battery too much!

Thank you, BoingBoing, for pointing me to this beautiful and very understandable rendition of Lewis Caroll’s “Jabberwocky“:

And of course: thank you, TED-Ed, for making this video.

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…

Democracy only dies if a majority believe it no longer exists, or deem it not worth the effort to keep it alive. Dictators become dictators by puffing up their chests and talking tougher than they can walk. Mussolini marched on Rome with a mere 30,000 men; the authorities believed him when he said he had 300,000, so they gave in. “Give them faith that mountains can be moved,” Mussolini said, “they will accept that mountains are moveable. Thus an illusion may become reality.”

The article “The Strongman Con: How to stop worrying about Trump stealing the election” where this quote comes from is worth reading from start to finish!