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Posts Tagged YouTube

Baofeng UV-B6 frequency issues above 499Mhz

The Baofeng UV-B6 (and B5 too, I’m assuming) are factory programmed to operate UHF up to 480Mhz. You can easily unlock this to 520Mhz through either the Baofeng software or CHIRP.

However, the radio exhibits some really strange display issues when you tune above 499Mhz. Take a look at the two videos below for a demonstration.

It’s also worth noting that the UV-B6 antenna that mine came with was only indicated for use up to 480Mhz. Yours may be the same.

2014-01-05-11.57.48

If you have anything to share about this, please do so in the comments section below. Thank you!

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Why Carrier IQ is doomed

“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.

Highly motivated consumers may even choose to switch away from AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile, who use Carrier IQ, to Verizon, who states they do not.

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!

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How to rip a DVD to avi using k9copy in Ubuntu

I have a DVD here that contained a video that was shot and burned by us. We wanted to upload it to YouTube as well as send a copy to a friend, but have since lost the original digital file. Fortunately there’s a fairly easy way to rip the DVD back to an avi file (which is accepted by YouTube) by using k9copy. This walk-through is for anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation and needs to rip a DVD back to their hard drive. I wrote this after trying dvdrip (DVD::Rip), VLC, and Avidemuxk9copy seems the easiest program to use of the bunch. UPDATE: Actually, I’ve had a better experience using HandBrake for DVD ripping. I’ve written up a how-to which you can read here.

Notice: This walk-through is not intended to encourage or facilitate piracy. It is the user’s responsibility to observe all applicable licensing and copyright laws.

If your DVDs are scratched or damaged (like mine was), you may have bad blocks on them and k9copy may crash during the ripping with a segmentation fault. You will need to use ddrescue to recover the good parts of the DVD.

ddrescue

If you need to use ddrescue, follow the instructions in this section. If your DVD is in good condition skip to the next section. You can always come back and use ddrescue later if you experience problems. However, you will not do any harm using ddrescue if you don’t need it, you will only add time to the process.

From Synaptic or command line, install gddrescue.

sudo apt-get install gddrescue

Rip the DVD into an ISO using ddrescue

ddrescue -n -b 2048 /dev/dvd output.iso

(If /dev/dvd does not work in this or any following example, try /dev/sr0 instead)

ddrescue isn’t a miracle worker. If your DVD is severely damaged, it may be unrecoverable.

k9copy assistant

Install k9copy using either Synaptic or via command line:

sudo apt-get install k9copy

Run the k9copy assistant using the launcher.

Note: If k9copy is available but k9copy assistant is not, run k9copy then click ‘Wizard’.

Specify the source location for your DVD extraction.

If you had to — or chose to — use ddrescue as previously described, choose ISO and select the full path to your ISO image (by clicking the disk icon). If you didn’t use ddrescue and want to rip directly from the disk, use ‘DVD Drive’ instead, and verify the correct drive is selected.

Select the titles to include in your encoded file.

If your DVD includes more than one title, select the ones that you want included in your encoded file. You can use the preview pane and controls on the right side to ensure you’re selecting the right title. You will likely only select one. Note that there is no audio in the preview — that’s not a bug, it’s by design.

Next, select the audio and, if available, the subtitle streams you wish to keep. If in doubt, the defaults are generally correct.

Make any other codec-specific changes you wish. If in doubt, accept the default.

If you are ripping a DVD which is in widescreen format, you can optimize the output file by clicking on the ‘detect’ button above. This will open a preview screen and another detect button. Play the preview stream, then on a frame with clear contrast between the video and black bars, click ‘detect’ again. This will auto-crop the stream and optimize the resulting encoded file.

Click the Finish button to begin the copy/encoding process.

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When did Facebook become a social obligation?

So at least once I week I get hit with the following:

“Did you see what so-and-so put on Facebook?”
“No.”
“Go look.”
“I don’t want to look right now.”
“Just go look.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook has a certain social value. A certain value. I’m not trying to downplay it, but unfortunately it’s turning into, or been turned into… well, something else. I hear a lot of people say “I use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends I don’t see very often.” or “I’ve met friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, using Facebook.” Good on you!

Unfortunately the real value of Facebook has been drowned in a sea of spam and junk. I had to have someone show me how to hide and block it, otherwise it’s almost impossible to sift through it.

Facebook is turning the corner (some would argue it passed it a few miles ago) of being more harmful than beneficial, but I suppose that can happen with anything that more than half-a-million people get involved in.

Friends you don’t know in real life, people you will never meet, people you may never want to meet, and you and your “friends” are sharing your life with them, around the clock. The “social obligation” of having Facebook friends reminds me of High School cliques.

There’s also the over-sharing: the Facebook status that just screams “I’m a loser!” The pointless random stupid Facebook “repost” crap. Whoever thought some of this up had a fantastic idea to bring Facebook page views and advertising revenue.Lastly, there’s the gossip. Nothing spreads faster on a social network than gossip. Gossip, rumor, stuff that’s made up and has little, if any, truth factor. You want to spread gossip, Facebook is the way. There’s also people who have lost their jobs, ended up in jail, or otherwise punished for something or other they’ve put on Facebook. Recently, a California judge ordered legal action against a juror because of their Facebook posts. Good. You shouldn’t have been discussing the case publicly, and you knew better.

Let’s also not forget the privacy issues surrounding Facebook. After all, Facebook started by stealing people’s personal information and sharing it. That’s what got them off the ground. Why should they stop a good thing? Not to mention the malicious apps that install viruses on your computer, in an effort to get just-that-much-more of your information.

I feel bad for the people that simply “live” on it, and forget that there was a time when it wasn’t around, and there will be a time where it won’t be. Social networks come and go all the time. Look at MySpace for a really good example. I think people have too easily forgotten this… what happened to the good old exchange of email addresses? Rather, it’s “I’m on Facebook.” If you’re using depending on Facebook as a way to share blurbs and photos with others, you might just want to keep your options open.

Businesses have been doing it too: I’ll see billboards and TV ads encouraging me to “Find us on Facebook.” Just the other day I got an email telling me that a business was having a drawing or a contest for something-or-other, and all I needed to do to enter was “like” them on Facebook. Really? So how are you honestly going to choose a “random” “winner” from all your Facebook groupies? I think businesses that do this do a discredit to themselves in an effort to get (or expand) a fan base. I’ll “like” a company on Facebook if I really want to get updates from them, not because you’re throwing me a teaser.

To Mark Elliot Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook devs: Well played.

What are your thoughts on Facebook, currently the largest, most controversial, and most profitable social media networking website ever?

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Kensington MicroSaver DS Review

A few days ago I ordered the Kensington MicroSaver DS keyed lock from Amazon.com

I had a lot in mind when I weighed buying a new lock — the thickness of the cable was one issue, the lock itself was the bigger one, and the choice of keys vs combo. The one thing I did know was I wanted a Kensington lock.

I took a look at quite a few locks. For combo locks I looked at the ComboSaver Portable, the ComboSaver and ComboSaver Ultra. The advantage of the ComboSaver series is that you can set (and change) your own combination. So if you have a combo that you tell someone (or they find out) you can easily change it. The once complaint I did see a lot of is that the ComboSaver Portable had a lot of reviews saying that the cable was very thin. I just gave up a lock with a thin cable, and didn’t really care to replace it with another once. My other problem is, I sometimes forget combinations.

So on to considering keyed locks. The thing I look at with keyed locks is 1- don’t lose the key (or let it get stolen). That defeats the lock entirely. (It’s worth nothing that Kensington does offer free key replacement for registered locks) 2- I carefully look at the strength of the key/lock pair (especially after seeing this video about the insecurities of round keys). Locks with simple keys can often be easily defeated.

So I took a look through the keyed series of locks and saw only one that didn’t use a round lock. The Kensington MicroSaver DS. This lock uses a disc-style lock mechanism and has a “Safe Premium” rating: The highest security rating from Kensington.

And I got a mail-in rebate too :)

So I get this lock in the mail today, and of the first things I notice was the particular style of key cut on the key. Disc-style locks use a key with angles cut into the key (see the link above) which is very secure and very difficult to copy (and EXTREMELY difficult to pick successfully). Also, the steel cable is laminated and very thick, the lock itself pivots and rotates 360 degrees, making the connection to the laptop very easy.

When locking and unlocking the lock, I did notice it took a little bit of fiddling to get the key all the way in the lock. It’s very easy to turn the key while it’s still partway in, which will fail to unlock the lock. Just wiggling the key a little bit back and forth will get it in, and this quickly because habit. Chalk it up to the disc-type design.

I’m very happy with the lock, and it’s low-profile design will make a good match with even the thinnest laptop designs.

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