Tag Archives: open source

Android unrooted

When I got my first modern Android phone, a Nexus 4, back in 2012, the first thing I did was root it. I had owned a bunch of cheap no-name Android phones before, but none of them had available roots, and were all locked up pretty tightly. My N4 was the first phone I had that made rooting easy. Since then, I have owned a N5, N6, and N6P. Every single one, I rooted as soon as I turned it on. However, after getting the upgrade to the latest Android version, Nougat, I unrooted my phone for the first time in years. I have been running without root for over a week and don’t miss it at all.

There are several apps I always install that depend on root, but all of them are now either rolled into the system, or have a rootless alternative. Greenify is one of the first root apps I ever used, but most of its functionality is absorbed into Doze on the Go.

Another main reason I always rooted was for AdAway, a simple way to block ads across my entire phone instead of just in the browser. However, I have since found that AdGuard can also block ads very well, without root. To do so system-wide requires paying for it, but if you change the currency you are paying in to Russian rubles, after converting the currency it is about $5 for a lifetime subscription. You can block ads in browsers only for free. Through a bit of sneakery, you are even able to block ads on HTTPS sites and on compressed pages in Chrome, which AdAway was not able to do.

I used Xposed, mainly for two modules: Greenify and GravityBox. GravityBox is a very comprehensive module that is able to interact with several parts of your system. A lot of its less useful functionality is lost but the parts I used the most have similar features built in to Nougat. Settings->Display->Size lets you change the size of your interface, mimicking shrinking the navbar and allowing more info on your screen at a time. Quick setting tiles are now editable. UI Tweaks (open quick settings menu and press and hold on settings icon) lets you make adjustments to how notifications, silent mode, and status bar icons are handled.

Android’s greatest strength has always been that you can modify it to do whatever you wanted or needed it to with enough work, but after eight years it has matured to the point where you no longer need to take drastic measures or void your warranty to do so.

So long, last.fm!

I have had an account with last.fm for a while now and have always liked the service.

I just said goodbye to them.

Last.fm is a music tracking service. After you create an account, you can install a scrobbler. This is a small program that tells their site what music you are listening to as you listen to it. They keep track of what you like, and can recommend music that you may like based on what you have already listened to. They also have streaming radio stations of music that you may like, or that your friends are listening to. In short, they let you find stuff to listen to that you otherwise might not have heard of.

Continue reading So long, last.fm!

Promoting Linux

Most Linux news sites (OS News, Linux.com, NewsForge, etc) run a couple of articles per week on how you can help to promote use of Linux on desktop systems. My simple advice, refuse to do any tech support for people using Windoze, other than installing Linux. Since most tech geeks are their family’s IT support, if more people refused to help troubleshoot viruses and malware on Windoze the unwashed masses would have little choice other than to either migrate to Linux or put up with Indian tech support hotlines.

Slightly cruel but should be effective.

Code Ignitor

I am recreating my most used Google apps under the open source Code Ignitor framework. I have always stayed away from frameworks. Not because I feel they make you lazy (lazy programmer = productive programmer = happy programmer), I just don’t like having to bend my code to the way someone else thinks I should write it. I normally stay away from any library that offers more than two or three functions, but after playing with CI trying to go back to straight PHP just feels clunky.

The main nice things about making your own web apps is that:

  1. You don’t have to worry about licensing issues
  2. You can hard code in stuff such as passwords and preferences
  3. You don’t have to include everything.

That last item could use some explaining. When you create a normal web app, you need to consider everything that a user could want to do and either include or ignore it. When you are making something that you will be the only one to use, you only have to worry about the stuff that you want to do often. The little one-off cases (such as changing a password) can be done directly in source files or SQL. No sense spending an entire afternoon allowing yourself to change a password when you can do it directly from the command line, and you will only do so every couple of months.

If you are looking to escape from both proprietary web apps and being tied to a single computer (or syncing files) I would recommend that (after searching FreshMeat) you download CodeIgnitor, read the user guide, and make it yourself.

Free as in speech…

The open source movement’s motto has long been “Free as in speech, not as in beer.” Of course, I go for both as I am poor 🙂

After reading Features vs Freedom, I realized that I use mostly non-free software. I had thought myself big on free software, but had not considered the fact that web apps aren’t really free. I use a lot of Google’s web apps. Nearly all of them, in fact. I am trying to change that.

I am still using GMail because my web host’s POP and IMAP servers don’t seem to work. However, I have weaned myself from my favorite Google app, Reader, for Vienna, a desktop aggregator. I am also using the bookmarks built into my browser (Camino), instead of Google’s bookmarks.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the way Google makes their stuff, I just want to have as much freedom as possible. This is my computer, after all. Shouldn’t I be able to control the stuff on it?

Bonus tip: If you use Privoxy (which you should) try enabling user.filter (in Privoxy/config then paste these two lines in it:

FILTER: noscripts Kill all <script> tags
s@(</?)(script)[^>]*>@$1no$2>@gU

Combine that with the build in filter for JS events and you can disable JS on a site by site basis. Comes in handy.