Poll Results from Privacy Question #1427



I go over the poll results from two shows ago and I was slightly surprised in the results and I go over half a dozen of the respondent’s comments. I do appreciate the participation of all the listeners that participated. Next week I will be in Florida and then back to Columbus the following week of which I will spending a large amount of the foreseeable future here doing shows. Lot’s of time on the road racking up frequent stay points lol

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Android Display and Lock Screen Settings are a Mess



Android Green Robot LogoA few weeks ago Ambient Mode arrived on my OnePlus 6T and much as I love my phone, Ambient Mode took way too long to get working properly: Android’s settings for displays and lock screens are a complete mess. There are far too many complexities and inter-dependencies.

(For those not familiar with Ambient Mode, it’s a dark lock screen that shows information based on Google Assistant, such as travel information.)

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at the ways we can configure the phone’s screen to do something when not actually in use. Starting with a rummage through Display settings within the normal phone settings app there is…

Menu itemsSleep which can be configured from as short as 15 seconds to as long as 30 minutes. On the 6T, it first turns off the backlight. If the phone is charging, it will stay like this with apps still visible, albeit dimly, but if on battery, the screen will go completely black a few seconds later.

Screen saver starts when the 6T is charging or docked, and the phone is sleeping. The phone will lock behind the scenes when the screen saver is running.

Ambient display  will display a clock and notifications when the phone is picked up or the screen is tapped, if your phone is already locked. It’s a dark (black) screen so won’t blind you in the night. Why is this even in Display settings when it’s a lock screen feature? It should be in with Security and Lock Screen.

Moving on, in the Security and Lock Screen settings, we have configuration for locking and unlocking the 6T.

Automatically lock after sleep gives the period of timing after sleeping before the lock screen kicks in. Varies from immediately to 30 minutes.

Power button instantly locks is a useful setting. Turned on, you can cut out some of the waiting around.

Smart Lock can be configured to not lock your phone in specific places, such as home. Normally this is useful when you’re safe at home, but if you want Ambient display or Ambient Mode to kick in when the phone is locked, it’s not so useful.

All of the above are in the standard OnePlus settings app. New kid on the block is Ambient Mode which replaces the standard lock screen with a Google Assistant-based dark grey lock screen. Turning on Ambient Mode takes a couple of screen taps. First, go to and open the Google app. Press More (the three dots), then Settings, then Google Assistant, next scroll down to Assistant Devices and finally choose Phone. Turn on Ambient Mode. That’s not hard to work out at all. Unbelievable.

Now, there’s one final “gotcha”. In the Developer Options, which is easily enabled by anyone, there is Stay awake which stops the phone from sleeping and locking if the 6T is charging. If this setting is turned on, none of the display or lock screen modes will kick in automatically. That’s Screen saver, Ambient display and Ambient Mode. If you are having problems in this area, check you haven’t got this setting on.

As I think you’ll see from the rundown above, there is plenty of scope for confusion and misunderstanding with display and lock screen settings. It took me a good twenty minutes to figure out why Ambient Mode wouldn’t kick in automtically before finally configuring it correctly. PITA.


Glass Backs Are Too Fragile



Smashed back of a yellow smartphoneSilvery Apple LogoA friend of my daughter called round the other day to proudly show off her brand new iPhone XR in yellow. As she pulled it from her bag, her face went from joy to shock, and when she turned the back of the phone towards me, I could see that it was smashed. She was totally gutted.

With hindsight, it was unwise not to have a case on the smartphone (she’d ordered one) but I really have to wonder about the practicality of a glass back on such an expensive phone. What is the point of having a material that breaks so readily that it’s essential to put a case on? An aluminium rear would look just as good and be a hundred times more practical. Certainly, Apple aren’t the only manufacturer sporting glass backs on the smartphones, but where Apple leads, many follow.

The iPhone XR starts at GB£629. Apple, being Apple, charges a premium for the repairs, especially without AppleCare+. To get the back replaced, it’s “up to” £396.44. Even if you have taken out AppleCare+ at GB£149, there’s still £79 excess so that’s £228 in total. Either way it’s pricey. An independent repair isn’t really an option as the phone is still in warranty.

Of course, the phone’s owner could have done things differently – put on a case, not swing her bag around – she’s not blameless. However, it is a factor that needs to be considered when purchasing a new phone: the fragility, the extra cost of insurance, the annoyance. Breaking the front screen is bad enough, but having to worry about the back is unnecessary.


Lighten Your Load with the Sitpack Zen



Sitpack LogoSitpack makesPerson leaning back against Sitpack Zen at railway station portable compact seats that transform telescopically from a small cylinder the size of a drinks can to a 90 cm tall T-shaped rest that makes waiting a great deal more comfortable.

I reviewed the first and second generations of the Sitpack back in 2017, and you can read my thoughts about these ingenious devices here and here. While I wouldn’t claim that the Sitpack 2 has seen daily use since then, it’s been taken out a couple of times when I’ve known in advance that I’d be hanging around and seating was unlikely to be available.

Person holding telescopic portable seatUnlike me, Sitpack haven’t been hanging around and the Sitpack Zen is the latest design iteration, with two lightweight models. The black aluminium tube version weighs in at 555 g, while the even lighter carbon fibre tube edition tips the scales at 455 g. Although the Zen might be light, it’ll handle people up to 136 kg.

Person holding folded up Sitpack ZenThe new versions look better too. Folded up, it’s less “drinks can” and more “light saber” which definitely doesn’t hurt. The Zen models have a different mechanism over the Sitpack 2 for the seat, using ballistic nylon straps under tension to provide a little more comfort. The straps do double duty for carrying the Zen as well.

Sitpack is not all about portability though – it’s about health too as it’s designed to ensure users rest with the right posture. Correct resting increases blood circulation, soothes a tired back and leaves only 30% of the body weight on the coccyx (that’s the remains of your tail at the bottom of your spine).

Lightness is one of those things you pay more for less, so while the polycarbonate Sitpack 2 is €47, the anodized aluminium Zen XI is €99 and the carbon fibre Zen XII is €189. Both are available from the Sitpack shop with worldwide shipping.


Landlord throws out 58 Million in BitCoin #1426



Imagine your sitting in Jail and your Landlord clears out your apartment and throws away a piece of paper with bitcoin worth 58 million on it. Yepp it really happened. Hey folks next shows from our Columbus office and then down to Tampa. So a lot of shows on the road for the near future.

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Amazon shakes up Shipping #1425



Amazon is shaking up its shipping operation again by canceling contracts with shippers who underperformed and or did not meet service expectations putting 1200 drivers out of work. I think some of them that were canceled delivers to my house the most lazy delivery people ever. Just one show this week, as well as I, head to Houston on Thursday.

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Facebook Will Allow Bloomberg’s Political Memes



Yesterday, The New York Times reported that Mike Bloomberg is working with Meme 2020 for the purpose of having the company make memes that support Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Today, The Verge reported that Facebook will allow the memes for political campaigns, so long as the posts are clearly identified as ads. The memes will not be placed in Facebook’s political Ad Library.

“Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge. “We’re allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools.”

Personally, I wouldn’t have guessed that out of all the people who are running for president it would be Mike Bloomberg who decided to pay influencers to make memes about him. I don’t think there are too many 77-year-olds who understand what memes are, how fast they spread, or what they mean. I’d like to hear the story of how Bloomberg came to the conclusion that memes were exactly what his campaign needed.

But, that’s not the weirdest thing about this situation. According to The Verge, The Meme 2020 project is part of Jerry Media, the promoter behind the infamous Fyre Festival. Meme 2020 is led by Mick Purzycki, the executive director of Jerry Media. What could possibly go wrong?