Category Archives: application

All microUSB cables are not the same



This is a salutary warning to all geeks out there….even with all the year’s of experience, it’s still possible to make a rookie mistake and forget that all microUSB cables are not the same.

Last week at work, I needed to present an Android tablet screen via a data projector. The tablet only had a microUSB port, so connecting up directly via HDMI or VGA was out of the question. I’d have to mirror the tablet screen to a PC and then show the PC screen on the projector. WiFi wasn’t available to the PC, so it needed to be a wired connection but fortunately I had a drawer full of USB A to microUSB cables. I connected the Samsung Tab S2 to my PC and got on the with the job.

The wisdom of the Internet suggest that AirDroid was the one to try, so I signed up for an account, downloaded the PC software and installed the app on the tablet. Could I get the tablet to mirror to the PC? Not a chance!

Back onto the Internet, I then discovered that the Samsung tablets have an app for this called Flow, which doesn’t need rooting or developer access. Brilliant. I chucked AirDroid out the window, downloaded the complementary PC software….only to find that it’s for Windows 10, not Windows 7. This isn’t going well.

A bit more research and I further find that Flow’s predecessor is SideSync. There’s an app in Google Play, there’s a download for Windows 7…this is it, sorted….Nah, still doesn’t (expletive deleted) work.

I’ve been at this for hours and at this point I start to blame ActiveDirectory policies but it’s time to go home so I take the S2 home (leaving the USB cable) to see if I can get it to work on my personal laptop. And of course, it works straightaway.

At this point, the penny drops. It’s the bleeping USB cable. The one at work is a “charge only” cable whereas at home I’ve a proper “sync’n’charge” cable.  I’ve wasted half a day because I forgot that not all microUSB cables are the same. Back in work the next day, it’s time for lessons learned and I get the scissors out. Useless pieces of junk.

To paraphrase a European politician, there’s a special place in hell for companies that bundle charge-only cables with their products to save a few pennies.

And Samsung’s SideSync did the job perfectly. Thumbs up!


Musical.ly Fined $5.7 Million for Collecting Personal Information from Children



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the operators of the video social networking app Musical.ly (now known as TikTok) have agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal information form children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case.

The FTC’s complaint (which filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC), alleged that Musical.ly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.

User accounts were public by default, which means a child’s profile bio, username, picture and videos could be seen by other users. Changing the setting to private did not make the profile private. Users could still send direct messages to private Musical.ly accounts.The complaint noted that there had been public reports of adults trying to contact users via the Musical.ly app.

The FTC complaint said that operators of the Musical.ly app were aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts.

TikTok posted information on its newsroom about how they will work with the FTC in conjunction with the agreement. TikTok will split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps. The environment for younger users will not permit the sharing of personal information. It also places limits on content and user interactions.

There are two things can be learned from this situation. One is that companies that have apps or websites that collect user’s personal information really need to take steps to ensure that the data from children is kept private. Failing to do so could result in a huge fine.

The other lesson is that parents should not assume that an app will protect their child’s data – or keep their child’s profile private. Take the time to see what the app collects, and how protective their privacy settings are before allowing your child to use it.


Nextdoor has a Better Way to Sell Your Items



Nextdoor allows communities to easily create private websites to facilitate communications among neighbors and build stronger neighborhoods. It was based on the idea that the neighborhood is one of the most important and useful communities in a person’s life. You can now sell your items on Nextdoor.

Nextdoor announced the For Sale and Free category. It is an improved way for neighbors to sell and give away used goods on Nextdoor. At the time I am writing this, the For Sale and Free category is available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as in Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Jacksonville.

Here is what is new:

* The Classified category has been changed to the For Sale and Free category.

* There is now a “no longer available” setting that you can use once your items are sold or given away.

* Replies only by private message – This was done to reduce the noice in the public newsfeed. There will be no public replies to posts in the For Sale and Free category.

* Option to share with a broader local area – You can choose to make your item visible beyond your Nearby Neighbors.

In addition, there will soon be improved moderation of For Sale and Free posts. Lead moderation in that category will soon match the moderation process for other types of content.

Nextdoor put together a helpful blog post with more details about the For Sale and Free category. It includes information about what is allowed, and what is not allowed, in that category. There is also some advice how to post your item in the For Sale and Free category.


Facebook Acquired the tbh App



The tbh app is popular with teenagers. This probably explains why I had not heard of it before TechCrunch reported that Facebook had acquired tbh. According to TechCrunch, tbh has had 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the past nine weeks.

The letters tbh stand for “to be honest”. It was first launched on August 3, 2017, in the state of Georgia. Since then, tbh has rolled out the availability the app in more states. The plan was to eventually support a national audience.

You can download the tbh app for free from the App Store. The purpose of tbh is for people to give anonymous, positive, feedback to their friends. Feedback is given in response to positive multiple-choice polls about friends. Those friends will receive the poll results as compliments.

There is an announcement on the tbh website about tbh joining Facebook. The key part states:

Today we’re announcing that we’re joining Facebook to continue our mission. When we met with Facebook, we realized that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realize tbh’s vision and bring it to more people.

Those who are currently using the tbh app are assured that their experience with tbh won’t change as a result of tbh joining Facebook. According to tbh, they will continue to build features that their users love – “now with plenty more resources.”


Microsoft Introduces To-Do



Microsoft has introduced a new, intelligent task management app that makes it easy to plan and manage your day. It is called Microsoft To-Do, and it is now available in Preview.

To-Do comes from the team behind the Wunderlist app, and delivers a smarter, more personal and intuitive way to help people stay organized and get the most out of every day. It is powered by Office 365 integration and an intelligent algorithm.

To-Do helps you to create a list for anything – for work, home projects or just groceries. You can keep track of deadlines by adding reminders, due dates and notes, and personalize it with colorful themes. You can access your lists anywhere with the To-Do apps for iPhone, Android phone, Windows 10 devices and the web.

Every morning, To-Do gives you a clean slate called My Day. You can put in whatever tasks that you want to accomplish that day. Tap a lightbulb icon to access Intelligent Suggestions. The app will show you to-dos from the day before, what’s due, or upcoming, and other helpful suggestions based on To-Do’s algorithm. You can add the ones you want to get done to My Day.


Tumblr Releases Cabana



Tumblr announced the release of a brand new app. It’s called Cabana. Right now, the app is for iOS, only. (Tumblr says the Android version should be out in a few weeks).

Cabana allows people to video chat with up to five friends and watch stuff together. In other words, it allows you and five of your friends to watch the same video at the same time – and talk about it. It is a video based chat, not a text based chat.

TechCrunch reported that Cabana is not designed to interoperate with Tumblr’s product, and it doesn’t take advantage of existing relationships between Tumblr users. It seems to me that this means that you won’t have to worry about Cabana suddenly trying to connect you to strangers.

Any friend in the “room” can select a YouTube video for the group to watch together. Tumblr says that you must be at least 17 years old to download Cabana. It requires iOS 9.0 or later. In a post on Tumblr about Cabana, there is the implication that Tumblr has some ideas about “where to go with it”, and that maybe they will add more features later.


Google’s Trusted Contacts App is for Personal Safety



trusted-contacts-appGoogle has launched a new app called Trusted Contacts.  It is designed to help you feel safe and to give your friends and family peace of mind.

Right now, the Trusted Contacts app is only available on the Play Store, and can only be used on Android. If you are an iOS user, you can sign up to be notified when the iOS version of the Trusted Contacts app is available.

Once you install the Trusted Contacts app, you can assign the “trusted” status to your closest friends and family members. You can revoke the “trusted” status whenever you want to.

Your trusted contacts will be able to see your activity status – whether you’ve moved around recently and are online – to quickly know if you’re OK. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, you can share your actual location with your trusted contacts. And if your trusted contacts are really worried about you, they can request to see your location.

If all is well, you can chose to deny that request. If you ignore the request, or are unable to respond to it within a reasonable timeframe, your location will automatically be shared with your trusted contacts. Your loved ones can determine the best way to help you out. The Trusted Contacts app can share your location with your trusted contacts even if your phone is offline.

You can use the Trusted Contacts app to have a friend virtually walk you home if you feel unsafe. Share your location with one or more of your trusted contacts. Those loved ones can virtually watch you walk home. After you arrive home safely, you can stop sharing your location.

Venture Beat reports that you need to sign into Trusted Contacts with your Google account credentials and activate your location history. The app will create a map of everywhere you go.