Archive for the ‘General Stuff’ Category

The Perils of Passwords (a.k.a. Sony’s Security Sucks)

April 27th, 2011 No comments
Rating 4.83 out of 5

Yes, we have all read about the latest global company to get hacked, and once again our online identities are open to use and abuse (well… even more than they were before anyway…)

The question that I have to ask myself is; How can I really protect myself online?

Ask yourself this simple question: Do I use the same/similar passwords for all my accounts?

Now I happen not to, but I am in no way adept at protecting myself. In fact this very blog has been attacked in the past by Spam Bots, and when the Gawker sites got hacked, I quickly found my Facebook and Twitter accounts had been accessed.

How can you prevent the cascading loss of your identities?

Well I now use this set of simple rules:-

  • NEVER use the same password across all my accounts. This is the golden rule!
  • I (try to) use differing passwords for differing systems, for example;
    • Banking -> I use a different password for ALL online banking accounts and credit cards.
    • Online ‘forums’ that don’t matter -> I use one password for them all
    • Chat Clients (MSN, Skype etc) -> I use one password (but not the same as the ‘forums’ one)
    • eBay -> Unique password
    • PayPal -> Unique Password (but similar to eBay so I don’t forget it)
    • Desktop / Laptop -> Unique passwords for each
  • I use numbers instead of vowels and punctuation marks in order to make long/complex passwords.
    • Consider the password “password1” – that could take Dictionary attack a few seconds to bypass, whereas “p4ssw0rd_h4rd” would probably only be cracked by Brute-force and could take days.
  • I Check my password strengths here: or here
  • I use alternative email addresses (e.g. an unused Hotmail account) for Forum/Tech sites that force you to register.

So now you see what I do, consider these common passwords and ask yourself how many of them (or variants) you use…..

  • Wifes name
  • Kids name
  • Date of Birth (forwards, backwards, wife’s, kid’s etc)
  • Favourite pets name
  • “Password”
  • “12345”
  • “Computer”
  • “Fred”

Scared? :o)

This might interested you too – XKCD‘s detailed description of how insecure your password could be, even following these rules…

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Discovering a local Seascape Artist – Vincent Basham

August 16th, 2010 No comments
Rating 4.92 out of 5

Avid Reader,

Some of you who know me, know that I live in an area of England called ‘The Dengie Peninsular’. This is basically an outcrop of land in Essex that lies between the Crouch and Blackwater rivers, and includes the large towns of Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers. At the centre of this Peninsular is a village called Tillingham, purportedly having the lowest rainfall for the whole of the UK!

On this Peninsular is another village called Latchingdon, and this is where a good friend of mine called Vincent Basham lives.

Vince is a self-taught seascape artist, whose sharp eye for detail and ability to capture the motion of the waves clearly shows in his work.

Born in Maldon, Essex, and educated at Thurstable School in Tiptree. he has developed a passion for painting seascapes and sunsets since living in Cornwall during his early twenties. This passion lay dormant until recently when following back surgery, he had to re-think his glazing career of 30 years. He has now taken his art into a full-time occupation, and is continually honing his skills. Recently he has been mentored by another famous professional Essex born landscape artist. Although he has painted purely for pleasure during his glazing career, he was re-inspired following holidays to the Maldives and Cyprus which proved inspirational. He paints mainly in oils, and most of his work features the locations he is familiar with (such as St. Georges in Cyprus, or the Crouch River in Essex)


Vincent was recently signed to a Gallery in the west country, and has released a series of his paintings as limited edition lithographic prints of 195 or less.

You can view all of his artwork in his interactive gallery on his website at:

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Samsung Galaxy S i9000 – Tips, Tricks, Hacks and Root Access

July 31st, 2010 No comments
Rating 3.77 out of 5

Avid Reader,

Yes… Can you believe it… I’ve changed phone again!

I’ve left the good ship Apple, and hoisting my Jolly Roger, jumped aboard the frigate Android.

My first impressions of Andriod (2.1) is that it is more powerful than iOS4, but perhaps not as polished. Clearly there are much better ways of doing certain things, and maybe Apple’s iOS (or iPhone itself for that matter…) are not as powerful, but you have to hand it to the guys down in Cupertino, they sure know how to give something ‘form’. That said, the Andriod OS provides a lot more flexability that iOS, and there are certain aspects of it which clearly surpass iOS.

At this stage I would say that I am 50/50 as to which is better, and I will be holding out my judgment until the Froyo update appears for my Samsung (next month I hope!)

Anyway, after wrestling with Android, these are my Tips ‘n Tricks to help you along your way…

Contacts & Calendar Syncronisation

Well forget doing a straightforward Contact Sync… it’s not going to happen with Outlook, at least not directly. The Samsung software is s**t, and there is no standard Andriod<->Outlook tool our there for free [Feel free to correct me if you know different! Ed.]

What I did was this:-

  • Exported all my contacts from Outlook to a CSV file.
  • Wiped my GMail contacts.
  • Imported (using their standard tool) the CSV file.
  • Android then auto-syncs the contacts.

Calendar syncing on the other hand is straightforward; Use the ‘Google Calendar Sync’ applet from Google (free) and that’s it! Android will sync back and forth with no issues.


After a little acclimatisation, I’ve found that the ‘Swype’ keyboard works really well. Just press and hold on any text input box to change the ‘Input Method’ to Swype. The tutorials (available by pressing the Swype button on the keyboard) really helped me a lot.

Desktop (or Winterboard for you iPhone users!)

Android has some nice features, some of which I think may be unique to the desktop on the Samsung version of 2.1, namely the ability to create folders, but not just folder that contain apps, but folders that (for instance) contain recently received files over Bluetooth, or Favourite contacts. In addition, you can add ‘widgets’ to the desktop (e.g. Facebook status, Twitter, Weather etc)

Global Search

This is acheived by pressing and holding the left-hand context menu. You can exclude/include search areas within the settings pages (e.g. Hide Twitter contacts)

Navigation & Augmented Reality

Make sure you download the latest ‘Google Maps’ and ‘Wikitude’, the former now has turn-by-turn (complete with Street View integration!), and the latter lets you use your phone to find, for instance, a local ATM by holding your phone up and layering the information over the camera’s view. Google Goggles is also very interesting and uses the camera to provide information & translations (e.g. point at a foreign road sign!)

Secret Codes (not tested by me…)

*#*#4636#*#* for battery and other general setttings like GSM/CDMA
*#*#8255#*#* for Gtalk service monitor
*#*#7780#*#* for factory data reset
*#*#34971539#*#* for information about phone camera (be very careful hitting options here)
*#*#7594#*#* change the “Power” button action in your phone.
*#*#197328640#*#* service mode
*#197238640# service mode
*#0*# testing mode
*#06# view IMEI number
*#1234# display phones current firmware
*#*#1472365#*#* gps test
*#0011# network mode/cell info/power info hidden menu
*#*#0*#*#* screen test menu

Rooting your Device (for Android 2.1)

  • update (this is the zip file you will need)
  1. First, install the correct drivers for the Galaxy S onto your computer.
  2. Connect your Galaxy S to your computer, and mount the internal storage drive.
    • It’s easiest to find out which is which by taking out the ‘external’ Micro SD card under the cover (if installed), that way only one  drive will appear when you mount the device.
    • To mount, pull down your notification bar and select the “USB connected” notification, then tap Mount.
  3. Place the file (link above) into the Internal storage.
  4. Now you want to get into the recovery mode.
    • Turn off your Galaxy, and hold down Volume Up and Home keys while pressing power.
    • Hold all three until you get the opening image, and then release the Power key, but keep the other two held until you end up in recovery mode.
    • To navigate, use the volume up and down to move the highlighted area, and the Power button to select.
  5. Select Reinstall Packages, and hit the power button.
  6. The file will install, allow it to do so and reboot.
  7. Once the Galaxy is rebooted, you should notice the SuperUser application in the app drawer. You’ve got root access, and the SuperUser applet will always pop up to ask if you want to permit an app to have root.

Once you have root, you can get some more interesting apps from the Marketplace – for instance, a screen capture app (yes… I know its built into iOS…) which works without having to use the SDK.

Rooting 2.2 (Froyo)

Simply visit here:-

Rooting 2.2 + Speed Fix (Froyo + Speed Fix)

This is a *really* good site, complete with a (non-megashare style) download link!

Categories: General Stuff Tags:

3GS Jailbreak finally arrives! Spirit FTW!

Rating 4.83 out of 5

Avid reader,

You will of course know how difficult it has been for the humble 3GS iPhone user to JailBreak his/her phone. Well finally a group of elite hackers and coders have put together a ‘userland’ Jailbreak.

‘userland’ means simply – point and click… no complex restore processes; just plug your phone in and press ‘Jailbreak’

You can download it at

I’m off now to download all those Cydia goodies that I miss :o)

UPDATE – July 2010

This has now of course been superseded by – this site doesn’t even require you to connect your iPhone to a PC, just simply visit the URL from Safari on the phone itself. Once complete, run all the Cydia updates, reboot and then you can install Ultrasn0w to allow full unlocking (at present up to 4.0.1 firmware) to any carrier.

Categories: General Stuff Tags:

iPhone Secret Codes and Tricks (also works on Nokia et all!)

April 8th, 2010 No comments
Rating 4.88 out of 5

Hi All,

I’ve been playing with my iPhone, and have discovered that a lot of the GSM codes that work on your average Nokia, also seem to work on the iPhone – but with more detail

I’ve compiled a list of these below (and yes… blatently borrowed the information from various other websites!) – I haven’t checked all of these codes, but most seem to work as described.

Note: (Call) means press the ‘Call’ button after entering the code shown…

General Codes

*3001#12345#* (Call). Enter Field Mode – This shows many things useful to a telephone mast engineer, but you will find that you probably will only be interested in the top-left number that shows the dB signal strength you are getting to the local mast.
*#06# Displays your IMEI (Note: This is common to all GSM phones) – The IMEI is the unique id for your mobile phone, and is used by the network to identify you in conjunction with your SIM card – In the UK, the networks can ‘block’ a phone based on this, and it is now illegal (I believe) to modify or duplicate an IMEI.
*#30# (Call). Calling line presentation check.
*#76# (Call). Check whether the connected line presentation is enabled or not.
*#5005*7672# (Call).  Displays the SMSC (SMS Centre Gateway) Number.
*#5005*5264# (Call).  Displays the Language setting and tells you the “actual language” (e.g: ‘en’).

Call Forwarding / Divert (for each call type, e.g. Voice, Data, etc):

*#21# (Call).  Setting interrogation for call forwards (enabled / disabled)
*#43# (Call).  Shows if ‘Call Waiting’ is enabled
*#61# (Call).  Check the destination number for call forwarding on ‘Unanswered’
*#62# (Call).  Check the destination number for call forwarding on ‘No Service’
*#67# (Call).  Check the destination number for call forwarding on ‘Busy’
To Set Call forwarding manually:-
ON: **21*XXXXXXXXXX# (Call) (XXXXXXXXX = Destination Phone Number)
OFF:##21# (Call)

ON: **67*XXXXXXXXXX# (Call)
OFF:##67# (Call)

DIVERT IF SWITCHED OFF (or ‘No Signal > 20mins’)
ON: **62*XXXXXXXXXX# (Call)
OFF:##62# (Call)

ON: **61*XXXXXXXXXX# (Call)
OFF:##61# (Call)

Call Barring/Blocking:

*#33# (Call). Check for call control bars.

For Pre-pay / PAYG phones (these seem to be AT&T specific, but give them a go!):

*777# (Call). Account balance.
*225# (Call). Bill Balance.
*646# (Call). Check minutes.
*3282# (Call). View wireless data usage statistics (also *data#).
*225# (Call). Check the bill balance on your AT&T account (also *bll#).
*729# (Call). Makes a call to AT&T to pay your wireless bill.
*639# (Call). Show upgrade eligibility (also *new#)

That’s all folks!


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