What to do when your phone is lost or stolen

by Dmitry Kirsanov 8. April 2021 19:51

Mobile phones are siblings of old day PDAs, but store vast amount of data. With smart cards up to 1Tb, access to cloud storage, e-mails, messengers and social networks, possessing your phone could potentially have consequences far beyond the obvious financial loss.

In this post I will attempt to address the risks and provide the way to create your own, personal emergency protocol for cases of your phone being lost or stolen.

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Security

Leaving Google, a comprehensive checklist

by Dmitry Kirsanov 8. February 2021 19:56

If, like many other people, you are playing with the idea of leaving all the Google services behind, and switching to better alternatives, this guide is for you. It’s relatively easy to assemble a walk-through for ditching old accounts and setting up new ones, but if you aren’t actually in process of doing it, and have your very own reasons for it, that guide won’t do much good to anyone. Hence I am doing it, going through the whole process, and documenting it as I do. I hope it will help you to migrate as well.

In short, we’ll go into full Zero-Trust mode with Google, the way they should have been treated from the start.

The Why

For the sake of leaving the argument on not-very-relevant topic behind, I’ll say that every one of us has his own reason. When speaking about the reasons to migrate from, Google is a gift that doesn’t stop giving. Security, privacy, usability, even politics – there are plenty of reasons to choose someone else.  I’ll describe my reasons simply to illustrate my case, you don’t have to have any of these problems with the company to migrate.

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Other

Two Generals problem

by Dmitry Kirsanov 27. July 2020 20:00

There is a logical problem, a thought experiment for emulating the communication over an unreliable link, called “the Two Generals’ Problem”. In case if, like most people, you never heard of it, here is the definition:

Two armies, each led by a different general, are preparing to attack a fortified city. The armies are encamped near the city, each in its own valley. A third valley separates the two hills, and the only way for the two generals to communicate is by sending messengers through the valley. Unfortunately, the valley is occupied by the city's defenders and there's a chance that any given messenger sent through the valley will be captured.

While the two generals have agreed that they will attack, they haven't agreed upon a time for attack. It is required that the two generals have their armies attack the city at the same time in order to succeed, else the lone attacker army will die trying. They must thus communicate with each other to decide on a time to attack and to agree to attack at that time, and each general must know that the other general knows that they have agreed to the attack plan. Because acknowledgement of message receipt can be lost as easily as the original message, a potentially infinite series of messages is required to come to consensus.

The thought experiment involves considering how they might go about coming to consensus. In its simplest form one general is known to be the leader, decides on the time of attack, and must communicate this time to the other general. The problem is to come up with algorithms that the generals can use, including sending messages and processing received messages, that can allow them to correctly conclude:

Yes, we will both attack at the agreed-upon time.

Allowing that it is quite simple for the generals to come to an agreement on the time to attack (i.e. one successful message with a successful acknowledgement), the subtlety of the Two Generals' Problem is in the impossibility of designing algorithms for the generals to use to safely agree to the above statement.

It’s even called a “paradox” for “inability to find a logical solution” to this problem. Because the proposed solution is to send confirmation for confirmation, and messenger could disappear.

If so many people are saying, that there is no solution, then perhaps there isn’t one, right? More...

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Other

Making Chrome great again. Or, at least, bearable

by Dmitry Kirsanov 7. February 2019 11:27

One of the most hated parts of Google Chrome is it's Software Reporter Tool. This executable file is started by Chrome and supposedly is providing Google with logs from your computer. Either way, it's the fastest way to drain your laptop battery, make computer stutter and noisy. People often ask about the way to get rid of this software reporter tool, but the best advice they get is to modify the security permissions on executable file. Basically, the most common advice is to open the file settings, go to Security tab, ensure the security settings are not propagated from parent (in this case - directory) and then remove all access rights, making this file non-readable. Well, it only works till the next time Google Chrome updates.

A bit better way to lock this (or any other annoying) executable file is by using your Windows Group Policies. More...

Windows Azure Storage performance benchmark and options

by Dmitry Kirsanov 9. April 2017 02:55

cstJust recently I had to assign a new virtual machine for yet another project, and this presented a perfect opportunity to try the recently introduced feature of Azure storage – the SSD drives.

As you know (and if you don’t – you can read about it here), the type of memory used in SSD drives provides not only faster way to write and read data, but more importantly – to read non-sequential data, hence promising a better performance for database and web caching. But, of course, I had to test it before putting any eggs into that basket.

One thing that raised some suspicion was the IOPS limit mentioned in each virtual machine “size” chart. The “size” of virtual machine, in Azure jargon, is the specs. Usually the name of the “size” consists of the literal and a cipher. The first tells us about the purpose of the machine and the second – how powerful and expensive it is.

I’ve selected the virtual machine that had “SSD 7Gb” on it, wondering what it means. Turned out that it means that you’ll get the temporary drive (the one with contents wiped time after time) with total size of 7Gb, but part of it will be taken by the virtual memory file. Still, you’ll get over 5Gb left and I never needed even that much on a temporary drive. More...

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How Google Stole My App

by Dmitry Kirsanov 9. April 2017 00:16

ipt2A lesson for mobile developers.

When you steal from IT corporation, it’s a theft. When corporation steals from you – it’s a progress.

You may live through an event in your life, when stars align and you discover a new niche, where you would be a pioneer. Get the moment of enlightenment, hectically lookup the Internet for solutions and be amazed that no one else did that. You would actually be the first. And there is no guarantee, that it will be success – in a heap of millions of apps and websites and info-noise of events, things are missed. In Android alone, there are 2.8 millions of apps today, and it’s still growing.

Indie projects are akin to live creatures – born in a coincidence that looks like a miracle, they start small and weak, just like most creatures on our planet – and they don’t look like what they will in a few months from now. At that time they are easiest to snatch by all sorts of predators and the nature.

How much it costs to make an app

I calculated, that getting one new user for a mobile app will cost you around More...

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My First App For Android!

by Dmitry Kirsanov 28. November 2016 11:33

andrapp

It finally happened. My first app for Android platform is just about to be released and is available in Beta channel. It was clear that I’m not going to release anything for Windows Phone market anymore, especially since all phones in family are Android based, but I had to start somewhere in Android, and what a start it is!

The idea came during the Halloween night, when I was about to pick up the trick-or-treaters and their parents from neighbourhood. The problem was – it was night, I didn’t know where they are at the moment, and they were wandering among other spooky wanderers. I needed to know their location, precise and fresh. It took a few phone calls and messages with coordinates until I found them. Not a big problem, but I would rather get rid of that.

Second problem was recurrent – when I have to pick up someone using the car, I want to make sure that person knows my whereabouts, so neither of us would have to wait. Or when I want to show where I am, so family would know when to expect me. And that I’m fine and where I am supposed to be.

And a nuance – I never want this information to be available all the time. For various reasons – from privacy to battery life of my phone. I want to press the button, share my location, and for a limited time I want that location to be current. More...

The fact of life: You don’t need the fastest SD card for your new phone

by Dmitry Kirsanov 4. November 2016 20:25

msdpilePhones get faster processors, more RAM, more capacity and capability to work with larger microSD cards. Phones like Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 can take microSD up to 2Tb large. The largest microSD card available in the market today is 256Gb.

With faster CPU and higher resolution screens and cameras capable of writing 4K videos (like Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge camera, for example) comes the question whether the current cards support such speeds and whether you need to invest into higher speed card or resort to twice cheaper and slower one.

To make long story short – you don’t need the fastest microSD card. You can take any Samsung or SanDisk card and you’ll be fine. Read further for a longer story. More...

Handling Temporary Files, Best Practice

by Dmitry Kirsanov 9. October 2016 05:59

Each day I am creating so many temporary files that I can’t really give you a count. Sometimes it’s thousands. Opening attachments from e-mails and instant messengers, saving images from internet for a single use, opening archives, deploying software and many other tasks – they all create temporary files that may stay in a hard drive for years.

By temporary files I don’t mean the files created by applications to temporarily store data. I mean the actual user files you don’t intend to use in the future.

Another type of temporary files is log files. Usually we have them on servers. Web server logs, mail server, your own application that creates a set of log files each day – usually you don’t need to store these files for more than a few months. Especially if these files are stored on virtual machines, like Azure or Amazon, where you are paying for each megabyte of storage.

There are two aspects in temporary files that may justify doing something about them:

1. They take space or they are produced in numbers that decrease the performance of file system. The file doesn’t have to take all the space of the drive – it’s enough to have thousands of files in one directory to make Windows freeze every time it’s trying to find and list these files. For some directories we would prefer to have a threshold of a particular time after which these files should vanish.

2. They may contain sensitive information that you wouldn’t want to leave behind. Of financial, medical, business, political or any other nature – when the file has expired, there is no need to keep it, but some files may require special care in form of secure erase. More...

Getting most from your SSD drive by redirecting directories

by Dmitry Kirsanov 5. July 2016 02:27

SSD are very popular these days. I can tell for myself - in all of my laptops I have SSD drives, and if it has more than one hard drive installed, at least one of them is SSD. My main laptop has rather interesting construction – it has only one standard size 2.5” hard drive, and a slot for M2 form factor SSD drive, which looks more like a microscheme than a “hard drive”. For me this means, that I have small capacity SSD (128Gb in my case) and large HDD, thus having good compromise between large capacity and performance.

With 128 and less of space, it doesn’t look like a good idea to migrate OS to such drive. Windows itself will take half of it, and then you would have to watch out for temporary files and whatever installation packages, so they wouldn’t install stuff that doesn’t require high performance storage, on SSD.

On the other hand, if you have a large existing hard drive with 500Gb of space taken over the years of work and play, migration to smaller SSD would be tricky. More...


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