Posts Tagged Android
DD-WRT is feature-rich alternative firmware for a large number of home router models. It adds a wonderful array of new features, VPN being one of them. This walkthrough will show you how to quickly and easily configure a PPTP VPN server on your DD-WRT-powered router, so you can connect to your home network from afar, create a secure tunnel so you can safely use a public Wifi point with your laptop, or secure your iOS or Android device.
Setting up the VPN Server
So here’s how to get started. First, you’ll need a build of DD-WRT supported by your router which includes the VPN software. If you’re doing this on an Internet connection which has an IP address that changes periodically (i.e. residential), you’ll likely want a Free DynDNS hostname to point to your IP address. You’ll also need a basic familiarity of networking.
For the remainder of this guide, I will assume your router’s internal (LAN) IP address is 192.168.1.1.
Start by going to http://192.168.1.1 and login to your router’s administration panel.
Go to Services > VPN and set PPTP Server to enable. After doing that, a few new options will appear. The only ones you need to set are Server IP, Client IP(s), and CHAP Secrets. Set them as follows:
Server IP: You can set this to your router’s LAN IP, i.e.
Client IPs: Set this to an IP range OUTSIDE your DHCP range (See Setup > Basic Setup to figure your DHCP range) A good example value would be
192.168.1.200-250 for clients to receive addresses within that range.
CHAP Secrets: This is the username/password combinations for your VPN clients. Format is:
myname * mypassword *
Neither the username nor password can contain spaces, and must be all-lowercase.
You’re done with this page; Click Apply Settings.
Now go to Security > VPN Passthrough and make sure PPTP is set to Enabled. Click Apply Settings if you had to change the setting.
You should now be able to connect to your VPN using your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer by setting up a PPTP connection to your public (WAN) IP or hostname.
Can’t get connected? First, try setting up your connection to the router itself, using the LAN IP (192.168.1.1). If that works, then the VPN server is set up correctly; the problem is likely on the WAN side. Keep reading for suggestions. If you weren’t able to get connected, go back to the top and double-check your settings.
You may need to make the following settings adjustment if you are having trouble connecting specifically from your iOS device running iOS 4.3 or above. Go to Administration > Commands and paste the following in the box. Click Save Startup.
#!/bin/sh echo "nopcomp" >> /tmp/pptpd/options.pptpd echo "noaccomp" >> /tmp/pptpd/options.pptpd kill `ps | grep pptp | cut -d ' ' -f 1` pptpd -c /tmp/pptpd/pptpd.conf -o /tmp/pptpd/options.pptpd
(Source: DD-WRT Wiki)
If you can connect from the LAN side, but are still having trouble connecting from the WAN side, it’s likely your ISP or your gateway device (modem) is blocking the needed GRE protocol or the needed PPTP port or traffic. Contact your ISP for further assistance.
Do you have any experience or tips to share regarding VPN connections to a DD-WRT-powered router, or any suggestions in addition to the above? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!
“Carrier IQ: How the Widespread Rootkit Can Track Everything on Your Phone, and How to Remove It” — That was the title of one of LifeHacker’s posts this Wednesday, which is just one of countless articles on the now-controversial carrier metric-gathering tool Carrier IQ that some are calling “rootkit” and “spyware.”
” … a hidden application on some mobile phones that had the ability to log anything and everything on your device—from location to web searches to the content of your text messages. The program is called Carrier IQ, and … it actually comes preinstalled by the manufacturer of your phone.” — LifeHacker.
Developer Trevor Eckhart posted his YouTube video detailing the proported workings of the Android software, which demonstrates Carrier IQ monitoring keypresses, SMS messages, and browsing, even when the phone is not connected to a carrier network, and transmitting this data to Carrier IQ’s servers. Supposedly this data is then aggregated and then transmitted to the carriers for network and user-experience improvements. Though it’s not necessarily what it is doing, it’s about what it’s capable of doing. Read Eckhart’s detailed article here for his detailed breakdown the capabilities of Carrier IQ.
So I’ll say it once more — Carrier IQ is doomed — at least in its present incarnation. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
LifeHacker, HowToGeek, TechCrunch, BBC News, and others have all run articles on Carrier IQ, typically with one main focus: Detecting it and allowing the user to remove or disable it.The U.S. Senate has started asking questions, and it’s fairly certain that there will be lawsuits. After all, it’s not what you’re doing, it’s what you’re capable of doing:
“Senator Al Franken … has asked Carrier IQ to clarify exactly what its software can do. Franken specifically wants to know what data is recorded on devices with Carrier IQ, what data is sent, if it’s sent to Carrier IQ or carriers themselves, how long it’s stored once received, and how it’s protected once stored.” — The Verge.
If you want Eckhart’s app for checking/removing it on Android, you can get it here. Non-root users, or those having trouble with the above tool, can get a tool that detects but cannot remove Carrier IQ here.
What will be the end result?
If the lawsuits have their way, Carrier IQ is likely to have it’s functionality reduced at the very least, as well as a full disclosure to its presence. It could also mean a visible option to disable it — and that’s if handset manufacturers and carriers continue to use it. At the very most, it will be a huge, drawn-out ordeal, which is very likely. Update: The lawsuits are already underway:
“Carrier IQ, the new poster child for (alleged) smartphone privacy violations, has been hit with two class-action lawsuits from users worried about how the company’s software tracks their smartphone activity.” — ArsTechnica.
If the tech blogs are of any influence (and they are), people will start removing Carrier IQ from their handsets, or switching away from Android to handsets that don’t have Carrier IQ on them. Apple has already stated they are planning to drop Carrier IQ completely in future versions of iOS. RIM has stated that they never had Carrier IQ on BlackBerry handsets to begin with. Microsoft states Windows 7 phones don’t even support Carrier IQ.
Phones aren’t the only devices Carrier IQ may be installed on. Users have started asking questions about tablet devices such as the Nook as well, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 can be rooted to check for the presence of it.
You can bet that, over time, the pressure from customers and negative press towards Carrier IQ will cause the carriers to reconsider the value of it, especially since they might be the ones paying for it in the first place. If you want one last laugh, be sure to read John Gruber’s “translation” of the Carrier IQ press release from November 16th.
Have any thoughts of your own to share regarding Carrier IQ, or would like to share what devices you have or have not found it on? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!
I’ve been delaying this post while I search for the real must-haves of the iPhone world, and after putting together this list, I went back and updated my must-have list for Android where some of these exist in the Android app store.
So here is my list of must-have apps for iPhone. Note that some of these application descriptions have been taken directly from the App Store where I feel the author has explained it better than I could.
With Google support for 2-factor authentication for both Google and Google Apps accounts, and now LastPass support for 2-factor authentication, this is an app that I keep on my phone always. The security it adds to my accounts is invaluable.
This app allows you to scan a number of barcode formats and then email or copy/paste them for use later.
Z-Bar Barcode Reader
A good, featureful alternative to Bar-Code. Allows you to email as text and csv.
This is one of those apps that once you have it you’re not sure ow you got along without it. Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Since Evernote’s notes are synced to all of your devices via the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing them. iPhone users have access to Evernote’s two new apps: Evernote Hello and Evernote Food.
No specific app to mention or link to here, just anything that offers to turn on the camera flash to function as a flashlight. You never know when it will come in handy.
Okay, yeah, it’s been said a dozen ways that the Maps app in iOS 6 is pretty lacking. Google Maps is an excellent alternative — when it’s on the App Store. It’s been pulled a handful of times as well. Waze (below) is also an excellent program, but suffers from some rather glaring bugs that I’ve noticed.
With fast and easy access to your LastPass password vault, the LastPass mobile app is a must-have. (Note: Requires a LastPass premium subscription – $12/year) For more information about LastPass, see the LastPass web site.
MyWeather seems to be the only app on the App Store that features push alerts for NWS severe weather alerts. This makes it the go-to weather app for me. Granted, registration is required, but it’s free and worth it.
Android has one thing over iOS devices — integrated turn-by-turn directions. Waze fills that need quite nicely, and goes way beyond, for free. Waze uses your devices GPS to not only provide turn-by-turn navigation, but also provides crowd-sourced traffic data to other Waze users about traffic, delays, police presence, accidents, and other road incidents. Waze allows you to report a road incident with just a few taps on the screen, and Waze works well in both portrait and landscape orientation. (Thanks Jeff T. for the recommendation!)
I know this is a rather short list, but I deliberately excluded the usual social media apps.
Do you have any iPhone apps that you consider must-haves? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!
Google and Apple each brought their own services which allow users to upload their music library and stream it to their devices in the form of Google Music and iTunes Match, respectively. But how do those services compare?
Let’s take a side-by-side comparative look at some of the features:
|Feature||Google Music||iTunes Match|
|Number of songs||20,000 songs not purchased from Android Market||25,000 songs not purchased from iTunes|
|Supported devices||Works on common browsers on Win / Mac / Linux / Android / iOS (1)||Works on Win / Mac running iTunes; iOS devices supporting iCloud|
|Sync||Automatically sync music to Google Music using Win / Mac / Linux client||Automatically sync music to iTunes Match using iTunes|
|Sync Selection||Select which songs to upload using sync client||All songs from iTunes library are synchronized.|
|Local Storage||Save music to your Win / Mac / Linux / Android device for offline playback||Save music to your Win / Mac / iOS device for offline playback|
|Uploading||Every song must be uploaded||Matching is performed prior to upload; Only unmatched songs are uploaded|
|Supported file formats||Mp3, AAC (m4a), wma, flac, ogg (source)||Same as iTunes|
|Excluded formats||None||24-bit audio; Bitrates under 96 kbps; File over 200MB (source)|
As you can see, Google Music is aimed at the Android crowd, while iTunes Match is aimed at the iOS crowd. However, a few of the major points in Google Music’s favor that I see are that it supports playback from a web browser, has a Linux client, and is free.
I’m interested in everyone else’s opinion as well. Which streaming music service do you prefer, and why? Please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. Thank you!
How to display ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry lock screen
If you have stored ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts in your phone, you probably noticed that your phone treats them like any other contact. This means that emergency responders won’t be able to access your contacts if your phone is locked. Also, if you’re an Android user using a custom ROM, there’s a chance an emergency responder won’t even know how to access your contacts. In an emergency, every moment is important.
You can, through a few easy steps, display emergency contact information, along with any other information you select, on your phone’s lock screen. This means that it will be available just by turning on the screen, making it quickly and easily available in the case of a real emergency. Who knows, this might actually help you get your device back in case it’s lost or stolen.
You might also be interested in reading about how to streamline your emergency contacts with an emergency email address.
So how to do it?
Select a wallpaper (dimensions)
Start by selecting what will be your new wallpaper (either an existing photo or graphic) with a resolution close to your phone’s display, to prevent the text from being stretched or scaled. Here’s the resolution of many popular smartphone displays:
- BlackBerry: Varies by model, but the most common sizes are:
- BlackBerry Bold: 480×320
- BlackBerry Curve: 320×240
- BlackBerry Pearl: 240×260
- For other devices, or to verify the above, see BlackBerry forums for your device’s exact resolution.
- Android: Android also supports a wide variety of screen resolutions. You will likely find your device and its resolution listed at Comparison of Android devices – Wikipedia.
- iPhone 2G through 3GS: 320×480
- iPhone 4 and 4S (retina display): 640×960
Edit it to add your contact information
Open your soon-to-be wallpaper in your favorite image editor, or use one of the following utilities:
You’ll want to place your text and/or information where the UI isn’t going to cover it. Here’s some pointers:
- BlackBerry: Avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image, as well as the direct center (where the unlock/password prompt appears).
- Android: Avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image, as well as any other UI elements (such as the unlock slider). You may have to experiment somewhat, since different Android versions have different slide-to-unlock methods.
- iPhones: avoid the top 1/4 and bottom 1/4 of the image.
Save it to your phone
- BlackBerry: Either insert your microSD card to your computer, or connect your phone and mount it as USB storage. Copy your picture to your card in any location, but remember where you put it for the next step.
- Android: Either insert your microSD card to your computer, or connect your phone and mount it as USB storage. Copy your picture to your card in any location, but remember where you put it for the next step.
- iPhone: The easiest way to get your picture onto your device is to email it to an account you have set up on your phone. Then, from your phone, save the attachment from your email.
Set it as your wallpaper
- BlackBerry: open your pictures (via Media, may vary by OS version), display the image you want, hit menu > Set as Home Screen image.
- Android: From your home screen, press menu button > Wallpapers > Gallery > (select folder and file).
- iPhone: Go to Settings > Wallpaper > (touch screen) > Camera Roll > (Select your picture) > Set.
There you have it. Your emergency contact information is now displayed on your phone’s display, even when it is locked, making it available to emergency personnel quickly and easily.
What do you think of this tip? Was this useful to you? Do you have any other tips or suggestions to share related to this? Please share in the comments section below! Thank you!
I’ve been getting more than a few expressions of “You? Got an iPhone?” from friends and family lately, after they see my iPhone 4S. While I’ve been known not to be the biggest fan of Apple up until now, I’m starting to realize why the device has gotten to be so popular — it’s an easy-to-use, reliable device that doesn’t frustrate.
Although learning a new smartphone OS hasn’t been terribly difficult, here’s some of the major points between the two that I’ve found myself having to adjust to.
The Home Screen
The home screen on an Android phone is more-or-less a “blank slate”, waiting for you to fill it to your liking with widgets and shortcuts, to make it just the way you want it. If you want to access all your installed apps you open what’s typically referred to as the “app drawer.”
On an iPhone, that “app drawer” is your home screen. No widgets here, though apps do have what’s called “badges” that can show an indicator on the icon if the app has something that wants your attention, such as a number of missed calls over the phone icon, unread texts over the messages icon, and so on.
Android-based phones feature a microSD card slot for removable storage. It’s an optional — but highly recommended — additional storage space that you can use for media, and on some versions of Android, even apps. You can upgrade this by simply popping out the card, copying the contents to a new, presumably larger card, and putting that card in your phone.
On an iPhone on the other hand, what you buy is what you get — buy a 16GB iPhone, get a gross total of 16GB. Likewise for the other sizes, such as 32GB.
However, there’s some distinct differences:
Android phones by default have their apps installed on the phone’s lower-capacity internal memory. Since the internal memory is smaller than the microSD card, (Sprint’s Epic 4G for example, only has 1GB internal memory), you are sharply limited for the space your apps have to share with everything else. Starting with Android version 2.2 (Froyo) and up you had the ability to move apps to the SD card. This frees up internal memory. However, its up to the app developer to support this feature, and if they did, most apps still required that you move it yourself from within the phone’s settings. Remember those widgets? Don’t plan on them working if you move your app to the SD card.
iPhones on the other hand have a single unified storage area for everything. Assuming you get a 16GB iPhone, that storage space is used for everything — there’s no need to move anything. Apps, media, and the OS all share a single storage space. You might say “this is less overall than an Android phone”, and you would be right. But — you aren’t going to have to try to balance what apps are stored on SD card versus the phone’s internal memory.
When you plug your Android-based smartphone into your computer’s USB port, you’ll likely get a message asking if you want to charge-only, or mount as removable storage. If you select to mount as removable storage you have full access to the SD card in the phone. This is handy if you want to use your phone’s memory card as a makeshift USB flash drive. However, once you mount it to the PC, you don’t have access to it from the phone. Apps that are installed on the SD card cannot be run, and you won’t have access to any media on the card until you unmount it from the PC.
Installing media on an Android phone isn’t difficult. Simply mount the phone to your PC as USB storage (or insert the microSD card into your computer), and copy music, pictures, or anything else you like to it. When you unmount (or insert the card back into the phone) the media scanner will automatically detect your media and propagate the media libraries. But — it’s up to you to get your own music.
With an iPhone and a Windows or Mac computer running iTunes you simply connect your phone to your PC, select what media — such as music, movies, or other — you want to sync, and iTunes adds it to your device. You can purchase your music through iTunes as well. However, you have to use iTunes. Don’t expect your iPhone and Linux-based PC to get along very well.
Backup and Restore
With an iPhone, completely backing up your device is as quick and easy as plugging it into iTunes and right-clicking on it and choosing “Backup.” iTunes takes care of it, and makes restoring it just as painless.
With an stock Android, you don’t have any options to make a “full” backup. You can sync your contacts, calendar, etc to your Google (or other) account, and there they will sit in case you need them. In case of a serious issue, you can boot your phone to recovery mode and wipe it from there, restoring it to stock configuration, after which, prepare to spend some time reinstalling and reconfiguring your apps and account. Rooted users have a few additional options, such as ClockworkMod’s Nandroid backup and restore, and the third party app Titanium Backup.
There’s a lot more differences between the two that I didn’t cover above. But I will say this: When people ask me why I got an iPhone, my typical response is something along the lines of “it’s easy to use without having to think about.” I really enjoy my iPhone, and I don’t think I’ll be picking up an Android phone again anytime soon.
What about you, reader? What are you experiences with Android and iPhones? Do you have anything to share or compare that I didn’t cover in the above? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
If you set up your Google account using your Android phone, or you added contacts to your phone but didn’t set them as Google account contacts, you will find they’re not synced to your Google account. This means that they’re not available as contacts when composing messages, and worse, you’re not using your Google account as a backup in case your phone is lost or damaged, or you swap phones.
You can easily fix this by doing the following steps from your Android phone:
- Open Contacts
- Hit menu > Import/Export
- Export to SD card, then hit OK to confirm.
After a few moments, your data will be exported.
Next, we delete all contacts, to prevent confusion
- In Contacts, hit menu > delete > Select All > delete
If you don’t have this option, try Delete All Contacts from Android Market.
(If you’re concerned about deleting your contacts before re-importing them, you can always import them, then resolve the duplicates manually, but you will have stale contacts in your phone. Deleting your contacts then re-importing them a second time will take care of that.)
Lastly, re-import all the contacts to your Google account
- Hit Import/Export again
- Select Import from SD Card
- Select Save contact to… (your Google account) NOT phone
After a few moments, your data will be re-imported, and synced with your Google account online. Note that it may take up to a few minutes for the contacts to start appearing in your Google account.
If you mistakenly import multiple times, you may end up with duplicates in your online Google account. To fix this, simply open more > Find and Merge duplicates from your Contact manager as shown below:
Yes, I really do have 329 contacts.
Note: It is not possible to preserve group information during an export/import. It’s not supported by Google.
Questions and comments are welcome below, thank you!
Odds are you installed an anti-virus product on your PC or mobile device to protect you from viruses and the like… but, does it work? Or is it providing you a false sense of security?
Here’s how to safely test your antivirus program, and a little background about the process.
The EICAR Standard Anti-Virus Test File is a non-destructive test file that was developed for this purpose: To safely test anti-virus programs for proper operation, without having to actually expose the system to a destructive program. All anti-virus programs should detect to, and respond to, EICAR as a virus. However, is it not malicious.
So how to test?
DOS/Windows (32 bit only) users:
You can download the EICAR test file directly from EICAR here and run it. Your anti-virus should immediately react. If you have trouble deleting the test file because your anti-virus program is blocking access to it, temporarily disable your antivirus program, then delete the file. Don’t forget to reactivate your program after. You can only run the .com file on non-64-bit systems due to the 16-bit limitation.
64-bit: Download the file as above. Since you cannot run it, you won’t be able to test your real-time protection. However, your anti-virus product should still detect it if you do a manual scan. If it does not, it may be because the 16-bit code doesn’t apply and won’t run anyway. So a failure to detect EICAR on 64-bit Windows may not indicate lack of protection.
Yes, there’s malware on Android. Yes, there’s anti-virus and anti-malware programs for Android. Yes, if you’re running one you should test it. Search Market for ‘EICAR’ and download EICAR Anti-Virus Test, or use this Market link.
The following are screen shots that I took from my Android phone… as you can see, there’s a rather significant Android Market update.
Google reports this update is coming to all Android 2.2+ devices, and will be rolled out as a silent OTA update in the coming weeks. The highlights of this design are the ability to quickly download books, rent movies, and the tiled design which appears to be similar to Windows 7 phones.
If you have anything to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Thank you!
You should always prefer SSL-encrypted (HTTPS) login pages on sites over non-SSL (HTTP). Why?
Session hijacking is why.
First, let me [very briefly] explain the difference for the unfamiliar. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it’s the encrypted, secure version of HTTP, the protocol that loads web pages. Normal web access is over unencrypted HTTP (the http:// part of the web address) and secure access is over HTTPS (the https:// in front of the address bar). In the most basic terms, the extra ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
Some screenshots using Firefox:
Normal (unencrypted) session:
Secure (encrypted) session:
So why am I bringing this up? Because I got a chance to play with an app for Android that claimed to allow one to “capture” login sessions over wireless connections.
How does it work? Well, without going into too much detail you simply connect your Android-powered device running this application to a wireless network and it just sits and listens for login data and captures it. I sat down with the app a few minutes ago, put it on my network, and logged in to various sites. You know what? It worked. I was able to capture several logins in just a few minutes and log in to those sites from my mobile device without needing the password. Among those captured were my Facebook and Google login. Note that I had to disable HTTPS logins on Facebook to get it to capture. The encryption provided by HTTPS is enough to prevent this type of hijack from working.
That means that Joe Blow sitting two tables away from you at Starbucks with his phone in his pocket could be capturing your Facebook, Amazon, or other login credentials while you’re casually surfing the web and sipping coffee. This could also mean that your neighbors unsecured wireless network, which you’ve been casually using to avoid paying for your own, could be silently capturing your login details. This also means that if your own wireless network is unsecured, you’re leaving yourself open to this type of attack.
Note that this worked even though my network is WPA2 secured: I just had to enter the wireless key to connect to the network.
I’m not going to mention the name of the app, though it is available in the Android Market and does require a rooted phone, so if you want to go play with it you have to find it on your own. I’m also not encouraging stealing other people’s identities. As far as I know it’s a Federal crime. :) I’m writing this to make people aware that they should:
- Use HTTPS login pages whenever possible.
- Avoid using unsecured wireless networks.
- Secure your own wireless network and be aware of who you share the key with.
- Change your own wireless key from time to time if you share it.
Have a nice day :) As always, feel free to share your comments below!