Friday, 14 February 2014

Reinvent: Updating my identity on the web

Inspired by my attendance at 2014 I am in the process of "rebooting" my identity online and refreshing a lot of the services that I use.

I have been doing this since the start of the year and I've gotten to the point where I believe my blog should be a part of it.

The main aim of all of this has been to get onto reliable modern cloud services and move away from old ways of doing things that I have been doing for over a decade.

Nothing here is groundbreaking or new, but it might be worthwhile for others to reflect on some of this.

What do I mean by the old ways? Things like ISP email accounts, GeoCities services and services that are at risk of failure without an easy way out. Yes, this all stems from being burned by Google's Reader demise, and much earlier the aforementioned termination of GeoCities by Yahoo.

Thankfully in both cases my data has survived but the solution that I came up with weren't necessarily much better. For example my solution to Google Reader was to run Tiny Tiny RSS on a slow computer behind my home internet connection without a useful backup scheme and hampered by slow upload speeds. That's not a modern way of doing things.

So what do I consider the modern way? Well, creating your own open identity online - starting with A domain name of your own. Then we can attach services to this running in the "cloud" and use the domain name as a way of mitigating against changing services. For example, you can find this blog however you did, but from now on it's accessible via - meaning it could change to WordPress or something else in the future with less effort. And I don't have to worry about natural disasters taking out my data as much.

So far my change has involved the following steps, which I hope to elaborate on:

Buy the domain name. This is the enabler for everything else.

Associate some email accounts with the domain name.

Get a password manager - this process creates a lot of new passwords and the modern way requires them to be unique and complex (and my brain can't cope with them all!)

Get some cloud resources - virtual machines and databases and/or hosting

Start running some cool services - such as the RSS platform and a blog

Comments welcome as always.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

New GAuth version now hitting Nokia Store on N9

With special thanks to Jean Blanchard for his regression fix you should now be able to update to GAuth version 1.6 on your Nokia N9 with Dropbox and multiple account support.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Mea culpa, or more to test before going to Nokia Store

So version 1.4 of GAuth wasn't good enough for Nokia Store in the end. Here's a couple of reminders to make sure this doesn't happen again:

  • Nokia Store still tests against PR1.1. It is now impossible for me to do so, without using Remote Device Access (which is a pain, because everything else can be done from my phone - I have a spare phone for testing but I've foolishly upgraded that one to PR1.3 too OTA).
  • Test for new users of your application that it works. Some of my new code was relying upon having settings already there, which of course wasn't the case for new users of the application.
  • Test for upgrading existing users. This is a problem that I hit in the past where I was wiping the settings because I was treating upgrade as uninstall-install.
Version 1.5 is now on GitHub. Existing users who had 1.4 working needn't upgrade.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New version of GAuth... Long awaited features

Thanks to everyone for their support for GAuth.

This week sees a new update coming.

The main trigger for this is that Dropbox has added two-factor authentication compatible with Google Authenticator, and I'd fallen behind because a user pointed out the GAuth wasn't working with it.

That kicked me into gear! Thanks to Max on this blog for pointing it out (I'm not a big Dropbox user yet).

Then of course, if people get the update, they'll be adding Dropbox to their GAuth. Which would've fallen foul of the fact that GAuth only ever supported one account at a time. Yes I know I was asked about this a while ago. But it's fixed now and that's what matters.

And then over on a fan has contributed an inverted theme icon for GAuth. So I thought I'd return the favour with a simple tweak to add an inverted theme mode to GAuth. Simply enable it in Settings after installing the update (unfortunately I can't swap over the icon as easily - you'll still have to do that yourself).

So after 1000 downloads on the Nokia Store alone I give you GAuth 1.4. Available now on GitHub* and soon in the Nokia Store via an automatic update to your phone (hopefully within the next week).

* Note that you have get the update the same way you installed the previous version. If you have the Nokia Store version, your phone will not allow you to update to the GitHub version. Do not uninstall your version because you will lose your tokens! Just wait for the update notification, won't be long I promise.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Build your own: XBMC for Android from Ubuntu 12.04

Firstly massive credit to the XBMC team for pulling off the feat that is XBMC on Android. I'll bet though you're desperate to try it yourself. I'll respect XBMC and not share my build (I couldn't support it if I did) but here is a recipe for Ubuntu 12.04 users. Or equally, Windows users because you can't install using the Windows Android SDK. First, for Windows users, install Oracle VirtualBox. Then install Ubuntu 12.04 using the mini net-install CD (this gets you less packages you don't need). The instructions in the XBMC repository (docs/ are then fairly complete, except for covering all of the dependencies you need. You must: sudo apt-get install build-essential git-core default-jdk autoconf autopoint curl zip unzip zlib1g-dev gawk gperf ant Then when building the android depends for configure you need: ./configure --build=arm-linux-androideabi --with-sdk=/home/user/android-sdk-linux --with-ndk=/home/user/android-ndk-r7-crystax-5.beta2 --with-toolchain=/home/user/android-sdk-linux/platforms/android-10 --with-tarballs=/home/user If you've never built anything with the Android SDK on this machine you have to generate a debug.keystore using ant debug on any random (a blank project will do) Android project before running make. And the veru last step in the documentation is wrong. The APK you want to install is in the root of the source named xbmcapp-*-debug.apk.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Update: GAuth new version now available from Nokia Store and thanks to the first 100+ downloaders.

My app GAuth has been approved to the newer better version for the N9's Nokia Store. If you haven't downloaded it yet, go for it. If so, and you didn't already grab the updated version from GitHub, you can get the new version from the Nokia Store now.

The new version is a little more polished, including a help file the first time you start it up or from the menu button.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Announcing the Nokia Store release of GAuth

So this happened on Friday but immediately afterwards I was coding my next project and found an awkward bug so I planned to delay the announcement until after I had written and Nokia Store had approved the update, but seeing as people are already downloading it (for which I am grateful), GAuth has now been released as a free download on the Nokia Store.

This marks my first successful release of an "app" on any mobile platform. I've toyed with very briefly the iOS App Store (and helped friends release apps) but nothing myself, and I've toyed with the Android Market/Google Play Store but no joy there. The main difference was that I was able to make a full-blown app in my spare time just using my phone*.

* Well plus SSH access to a Linux server for some small parts.

GAuth is a Google Authenticator implementation for the Nokia N9. It allows you to generate six-digit token codes required for two-step verification of your Google Account when GAuth on your Nokia N9 is paired with your Google Account.

That bug? It was a oversight in that when next you download an update to GAuth it will treat it as an uninstall followed by an install, rather than an upgrade which will reset your settings. The new version is available now on GitHub (get version 1.3 - it's the latest as of now) and you will be able to seamlessly get upgrades from the Nokia Store when later I make them. Nokia Store should have the update next weekend. The new version also features built-in help with a description of how to match your phone to your Google account.

The workaround for the bug is simply to copy and paste your secret from the Settings before you do the update, and copy and paste them back when the update wipes them out. This won't happen again.

For more information on this app, please visit the dedicated GAuth page on this blog and I'm interested in your feedback.