How I use Facebook on Android

Once installed their app, Facebook thinks they own our mobile devices.

At first, there was the peaceful all-purpose Facebook app. And some time later they separated messaging into another app, creating the Messenger. Initially it was at user’s discretion to use Messenger or Facebook app for messaging. Initially it looked polite but lately everyone was gradually forced to install Messenger. Another app… sigh! Personally, for me messaging is just messaging. I don’t want a childlike fairyland for just sending and receiving messages.

It didn’t stop there. Facecbook took unfair advantage of Samsung TouchWiz feature for displaying notification count on the app icon. When there are unread messages, Facebook app will add that up to notification count, forcing your mind to install the Messenger (or read them on computer to clear notifications).

And now it has come down to infiltrating our privacy through social engineering.

After all these took place, finally something is here that we can thank Facebook for. that is called Messenger Lite. That helps, because I don’t have to install that monstrous Messenger app just to read and send a line on the go. With Facebook app and Messenger Lite installed, here’s how I get maximum use of Facebook without letting it use me and eat up my phone.

Zero notifications

Go to Facebook app settings –> Notifications, and simply turn them all off at once. Who wants to be disturbed for every single Like and comment during an important office meeting?

Who wants fancy sounds?

Settings –> Sounds in the App – Turn it off. Just because I don’t want others to know that I’m using Facebook during a boring office meeting too!

Privacy of your contacts could be your responsibility too

Settings –> Continuous Contacts Upload – Turn it off.

I don’t want to be disturbed by every single new message

Go to Messenger Lite –> Notifications & Sounds.

Notifications: on. Notification previews: off. Vibrate: off. Light: on. Sound: off.

Now, one last thing. Messenger Lite app icon on GoogleNow launcher goes as just “Lite” that’s absurd (they think Messenger Lite is the only lite app?). Now I found a cool app called QuickShortcutMaker which will do the trick (you’ll figure out how to use it). I created a custom icon named “Messenger Lite” and removed the one placed by the official app installer. Now, all set.

However, these are my personal settings. Setting that prevent me from wasting too much attention on Facebook, making me use it only when needed. These settings may not work for you as-is, but I think it provides you with a good suggestion.

What now, Mobitel?

Recently I wrote about Mobitel LiveScreen because I was unhappy about the experience.

As soon I published that on my Facebook page (850+ likes), it instantly took vast public attention. So far it reached 13,000+ people without targeted advertising. Given my page’s member base is small, the post made a significant reach. Unless advertised none of my other blog posts ever reached more than 500 people on average. By the time of this writing, I’ve seen more people have started to voice against VAS scams which is a good trend.

Get the message, Mobitel? Lots of people think that you violate proper business etiquette.

Mobitel staff may think I’m a douchebag, but I am certainly not that type. I am a loyal customer who always appreciate quality service (examples available). But when it comes to daylight robbery, I can turn into a real pain-in-ass customer. From the feedback I received from readers, I realize that every Sri Lanakn telco is playing this dirty game.

So, what now, if Mobitel (and other telcos) care to listen?

Value Added Services (VAS) in Sri Lankan telco industry probably have a history over more than 10 years (history that I know of). At that time the devices we used had limited capabilities. GPRS for Internet. No Viber/ WhatsApp/ SnapChat. WAP played God. SMS and MMS ruled.

In that era, downloading a celebrity’s portrait and setting it as phone’s screen background was a real deal. Now some people might be thinking, why can’t you simply download it, crop it by yourself and then set as wallpaper? There were several real world problems with that.

That problems enabled telcos to make some extra profit out of a wallpaper and ringtone business through WAP sites. I remember people used to download wallpapers, ringtones, and even games through WAP sites. It didn’t end up there. Content such as jokes, astrology, religious prayers were delivered to subscribers’ phones as SMS at a fee. This used to be a service that people wanted.

Now it’s 2016. We have Android that supercharged the mobile phone users. Most have smartphones. We have Google that will get us what we need effortlessly. Facebook has a lot of memes that you can enjoy. Lot of free and paid games are out there in Google Play. Almost everything is available for free. Zedge has a plethora of wallpapers and ringtones.

Do customers still want WAP-based entertainment sites? I don’t think so. That era is gone. Unfortunately, telcos such as Mobitel and Etisalat don’t seem to realize this. Or rather, they pretend to be not seeing it. Instead of striving to deliver value to the customer, they desperately attempt to hard-sell the same WAP content – just like Darley road car accessory traders do.

How?

  1. By unsolicited activation of LiveScreen on newly purchased/ replaced SIM cards. These pop ups appear intermittently in a way that ‘OK’ button (meaning ‘I Agree’) could be unintentionally touched.
  2. By directly exposing our accounts to third party content providers to bill us as they wish. So, if a pop-up ad in a web page is touched accidentally, you don’t even know but they bill us on the spot.

(I can provide more detailed logical explanations on why this is not gentlemanly – if you happen to lack of common sense)

Are these telcos too lazy to innovate?

As a customer, I do not see why should I pay Rs. 30/ month to get home remedies via SMS. There is a plenty of Facebook pages that offer the same for free. I do not see why should I pay a WAP site to download pictures of a fashion model when Google gets me there for free. Rather than investing in an innovative service that delivers what customer needs, these telcos have totally ditched the sales etiquette, and they trade off their brand reputation for unsolicited VAS subscriptions.

Telcos,

Why don’t you do some market research to identify what kind of devices people use? I hardly think Android users who have subscribed to mobile data-included packages will have any interest in jokes via SMS. Why can’t you do a little market research to understand what people actually need? I have absolutely no interest in what happens around Bollywood, but there are other things that I’m interested in. As a busy worker, I’d rather be interested in things like road traffic alerts, train delays, freelancing opportunities, etc. Also, it’s worth understanding that SMS is only good for things that need urgent attention, such as breaking news alerts and job search.

Just think about your brand reputation and what customers are ought to do about this next. No more daylight robbery, please.

Wunderlist Today wallpaper for Ubuntu

Wunderlist again. Currently this is the only Microsoft thing that I use – apart of Windows servers involved in my DevOps job.

Wunderlist hasn’t been treating nice for Ubuntu recently. So I thought about working on something that works for Ubuntu. Then here I got an idea of a very small app that will embed your day action items into the desktop wallpaper. Since I’m not very much into software development, this as a pilot project will make me comfortable for building something better for Ubuntu.

To be honest, first I was planning to do some browser DOM hacking and figure out how it works. Soon after, I found out that there’s a public API for Wunderlist (awesome, isn’t it?), and that can avoid the need of DOM hacking. So, that’s how wunderlist-ubu-wallpaper started as my pilot project.

It is still very young, and I’m sure my code needs a little cleanup as well. It’s just a 150 line Python script – not at all a big deal. Readme file has all the information you need to set it up on your Ubuntu. Run it and see what happens to your Ubuntu wallpaper. Isn’t that awesome?

14 years back when I was a kid, I was just making little Windows executables (I was a Windows user back then) with Visual Basic. After that I did programming to a some level when I was a systems administrator, but I was never permitted to release my work to the public for obvious reasons. After that, here comes my very first little code contribution to the world of Open Source.

By the way, my all other action items are overdue! 😳

Remove imported (stolen) contacts from Facebook

I have reasons to believe that it rather steals contacts from your phone rather than politely synchronizing them.

Once you install Facebook, it forces you to install Messenger aside. If you don’t it will keep sending you new message notifications but not letting you read them. So you install Messenger.

Next, when you set up Messenger, they show you some an eye-candy stuff, and convince you to enable uploading your contacts, call and text history. This is where the problem begins. I don’t want to upload my contacts to Facebook, but Facebook developers have set up things in a way that it will convince most users to do so. Bad.

So here’s my normal routine when installing Messenger:

Text anyone in your phone: NOT NOW
Is your number up to date? NOT NOW (why the hell do I have to let people look me up on my phone number?)
Skip phone number? SKIP (are you effing kidding me now?)

So even after completing these three steps, Facebook Messenger won’t stop bugging you with Contacts Upload and Friend Finder stuff. I remember I accidentally touched a ‘Get Started’ button somewhere and it immediately started uploading my contacts. Just like a fish put back into the water!

I got panic and turned off WiFi immediately, but what’s done is done. After meddling with the Facebook and Messenger apps, I was able to turn off ‘Continuous contacts upload’. You can find that in the Facebook app settings.

After a bit of struggle with Facebook on web, I was able to find the following URL. Now, this URL is very important. I even recommend you to bookmark and share it with friends.

https://web.facebook.com/invite_history.php

Go to that URL, and you will see your past invitations (by any chance if you had previously shared your email password with Facebook) and other contacts stolen from your email account in one place. Scroll all the way to bottom and you will see a hyperlink saying “Remove all contacts”. Click it, and after a couple of confirmations, it will delete your imported contacts.

Towards the top of the same page, there’s a hyperlink saying “See contacts you’ve uploaded in Messenger.”. Click it, and then click the “Delete All” button. Don’t even bother reading the confirmation, just hit “Delete All” when it tries to convince you to keep them. That’s it!

Now I’m even more careful when working with the Facebook and Messenger apps.

 

උබුන්ටුවේ සිංහලෙන් ලියමු

උබුන්ටු වලට සිංහල දාන හැටි? කැම්පස් කාලෙ ලියාපුවනේ…! 😀

හරි. එහෙනම් චූටි ළමයි ටික ඉස්සෙල්ලම අහගන්න. මීට අවුරුදු හත අටකට කලින් ඔය ළමයි ඉස්කෝලෙ යන කාලෙ උබුන්ටු වලට සිංහල දානව කියන්නෙ වෙනමම ගේමක්. ඒ දවස් වල අපි අළුතින් වින්ඩෝස් හෝ ලිනක්ස් ඉන්ස්ටෝල් කළ ගමන්ම ඊළඟට දාගන්න එක තමා සිංහල යුනිකෝඩ් කියන්නෙ. ඊටත් කලින්, වින්ඩෝස්, ලිනක්ස් ඔය ඔක්කොටම සම්මතයක් විධියට සිංහල යුනිකෝඩ් එක ගේන්න විවිධ බාධක මැද තවත් පිරිසක් තමන්ගෙ කාලය, ශ්‍රමය කැප කරමින් ගොඩක් මහන්සි වුණා. තවත් පිරිසක් සිංහල භාවිතය ප්‍රචලිත කරන්න ලොකු වෙහෙසක් දැරුවා. ඒකෙ ප්‍රතිපලයක් විධියට, අද වෙනකොට අළුතින් වින්ඩෝස් හෝ ලිනක්ස් ඉන්ස්ටෝල් කළාම සිංහල ඉන්ස්ටෝල් කරන්න ඕනෙ කියන එක අමතක වෙන තරමටම අද අපි සිංහල භාවිතා කරනවා. වෙන එකක් තියා, සිංහලෙන් ලියන එක පොෂ් මදි වගේ දැනිච්ච අයත් අද අපූරුවට සිංහලෙන් ලියනවා. සිංහල තමා දැන් ට්‍රෙන්ඩ් එක! 🙂

ඉතින් ඔය වැඩේ කරන හැටි මතක තියාගන්න අමාරු නිසා අපි උදව් ගත්තේ sinhala.sf.net කියන අඩවියෙන්. හැබැයි මේ අඩවිය 2009න් පසුව යාවත්කාලීන වෙලා නැහැ. එදාට වඩා අද උබුන්ටු වලට සිංහල දානවා කියල කරන්න තියෙන්නෙ input method එක දාගන්න එක විතරයි. පෙරනිමියෙන් දීලා තියෙන phonetic method එකට වඩා ඉතා පහසු විජේසේකර යතුරුපුවරුව හදාගන්න මෙන්න මේ ටික කළා නම් හොඳටම ඇති. Ctrl + Alt + T ගහලා අරින්න ටර්මිනල් එකක්..

$ sudo apt-get install ibus-m17n m17n-db m17n-contrib
  1. System Settings –> Text Entry
  2. (+) ලකුණ ක්ලික් කරලා wijesekara කියල ටයිප් කළාම එන එක එකතු කරගන්න.
  3. “Switch to next source using:” කියන තැන ක්ලික් කරලා Left Alt + Left Shift තද කරන්න – නැත්තම් ඉංග්‍රීසි-සිංහල අතර මාරු වෙන්න තමන්ට පහසු යතුරු සංයෝජනයක් ඇතුළත් කරන්න.

ඉතාම සරලයි. 🙂

දැං ෆේස්බුකියේ ලිය ලිය ඉන්න ගමන් Left Alt + Left Shift ප්‍රෙස් කළ ගමන් එතනින් එහාට ලියවෙන්නෙ සිංහලෙන්. ආපහු ඒකම කළාම ආපහු ඉංග්‍රීසි.

ප.ලි. –
විජේසේකර සිස්ටම් එක අමාරුද? මගේ ඇඟිලි ඊට වඩා අමාරු එකක් මේ දවස් වල පුරුදු වෙනවා. ඒ තමා ගිටාර් එකේ F කෝඩ් එක ප්ලේ කරන හැටි.

Cisco AnyConnect VPN for Ubuntu Xenial?

Post-upgrade first World problems are here.

A friend who recently upgraded to Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus LTS told me that Cisco AnyConnect VPN doesn’t work anymore. So I wanted to give it a try.

In Ubuntu 14.04 what you’d normally do is installing the three packages network-manager-openconnect, network-manager-openconnect-gnome and openconnect (or may be two of them – can’t recall).

However, this no longer works. You can install the packages but you will no longer see the “Cisco AnyConnect compatible” OpenConnect option when you attempt to create a new VPN connection.

What now? Back to basics!

Hit Ctrl+T to get a terminal and here’s all what you have to do:

$ sudo openconnect --setuid=`id -u` --user=shaakunthala vpn.provider.com
  • Replace shaakunthala with your username in the VPN server.
  • Replace vpn.provider.com with your actual VPN provider’s hostname.

Hit Ctrl+C to disconnect.

Surf and enjoy!

More on constructing passwords

So, that happened and I had to spend a considerable amount of time choosing new passwords.

I really didn’t write about how I manage my passwords. I thought about writing this tip because it’s a game of battle between convenience and confidentiality.

People choose weak passwords because they are easy to remember. But easy to guess at the same time. People use the same password with many websites so they have to remember only one. However, a stolen password unlocks an entire treasure for an attacker.

Despite there are password management tools available I completely rely on my brain. But how many to remember? I have 50+ things to protect with passwords. Am I going to use a single password for all? No! Am I going to use 50+ different passwords? Again no! This is where you have to balance between convenience and security.

First I add all of my things (machines, routers, encrypted archives, websites) into a task management tool. I don’t remember each of them in hand, so as I remember them I add them to my backlog.

My backlog has several lists.

  1. Physical assets – computers, backups, routers, mobile phone, etc
  2. Office – work related ones, anything that belongs to my employer
  3. Finance – bank, anything that has access to my money
  4. Critical – email, anything that has a serious impact on my privacy
  5. Medium Importance – as it says
  6. Low Importance – I don’t mind losing these accounts
  7. No SSL – websites that are non-HTTPS
  8. Untrusted – websites that I suspect for storing passwords in plaintext

Passwords built for each of these sets will follow a different text pattern that is a synthesised fake word. Want an example? Read about how Google caught Microsoft red-handed and you’ll see a couple of examples there. I synthesise fake words that do not even exist in the English dictionary. Fake words that I haven’t even googled to find out existence. While it’s all echoing in my mind, I don’t even whisper them in the shower.

Next thing is l33t. I make it pAr3!@|ly l33t. Randomly by making sure my new contains upercase, lowercase, numbers and punctuation.

Eight different fake buzzwords –> eight password skeletons –> many number of passwords

That’s how changing passwords work for me. It’s could be several hours of effort. Next steps are training my fingers for the new password, and then following my to-do list to change 50+ passwords, one list at a time.