Google Play Store Redesign, Permissions dropped

Google recently updated the design for its online play store. While I can’t find any benefit other than eye candy (It would have been nice to have better search-ability, for example being able to search apps based upon permissions or popularity within certain time constraints) I certainly missed the “Permissions” section. After searching frantically I gave up, bing’ed it and confirmed my fears..parts of them anyway.

UPDATE: The changes go deeper than just this rant, after not being able to sort free/paid apps or relevance/popularity or app categories, lack of downloads in 30 days chart I found this post about ALL the TERRIBLE things (functional regressions) that have changed with the Play store redesign.  From that post user NoWallsPlease gives their perspective:

Don’t forget the Hangouts debacle. There is a consistent pattern here. They are stripping features out of everything and closing everything that was previously open. Very disturbing.

It seems google is trying to be like apple: dumb everything down, like riding a tricycle in a walled-off garden.

Background: app permissions are often why you get apps for free: they sell your identity to advertisers or who ever else might want to pay for that information. Even paid apps do this so getting the paid version isn’t a fail safe. Because I desire a modicum of privacy I ALWAYS check permissions prior to install and app permissions are often a deciding factor in my purchases/installs. Why does a “free” simple game need to know all my contacts and read my SMS, GPS coarse and fine locations? Creepy, especially if the only opt out is to install nothing at all.

app permissions are like the hidden dangers of smoking in the 1950's.

Some things that look good are really a wolf in sheep’s clothing

Sure, you can still see the permissions but you have to click to install first and then review them. This is a setback for privacy because raises the barrier for people wanting to know where their personal information is going. True, most people don’t care but on the other hand most people don’t even know or are too busy so they just trust the app – after all if it was bad why would Google list it in the play store?

This is a setback for security by the same measure. People just don’t have the time (let alone knowledge) to investigate and this makes it even more difficult to spot suspect permissions that may allow trojans/viruses/malware to do god knows what.

Yes, I know the information is semi anonymized but there is no “back” button if an app takes a picture using your camera without your knowledge* and then uploads it to their servers – let alone your facebook friends, status updates, profile info? No thanks. Google already gives paid apps enough information even without any permissions.

Mildly related video (Typical Funny that Microsoft does’nt give an embed code from their scroogled site so I had to find the youtube version:

This seems like a 180 from Google considering to give users the ability to block specific permissions on a per-app basis, lets hope it is rather a stepping stone toward that. In the mean time, root your device and use droidwall if the app will let you.

I am going to speculate that someone at Google got paid a very handsome salary to analyze the user interface and conclude that this change is for the better. Problem is, “better”  according to for-profit corporations generally means higher sales. Is it a coincidence this information is only provided after you have made an initial decision to press that “buy” button? From what I have seen, Computer Human Interaction (CHI)  specialists don’t approach these issues from a customer satisfaction standpoint as it is assumed the Human doesn’t even know what they want.

another blog post about this: http://www.mobileburn.com/21824/news/android-let-down-by-google-play-web-store-redesigned-for-the-worse

 

*technically you knew they could do that (and was ok with that) when you reviewed all the apps permissions and decided to click OK. Reference: South Park's brilliant HUMANCENTiPAD episode.
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Intuit stuck “Please wait while we gather your account details”

If you receive the “please wait” message and it never changes, try another browser, try mercahntcenter.intuit.com as a login rather than login.intuit.com – not that it will work because it probably wont but the real solution is:

log into merchant center from within quickbooks.

works instantly, you can find invoices processed the same day whereas if you try online you can’t even see transactions you just processed!

Hope this helps!

How to use a DSL Modem with Wifi as an Access Point without DSL

This post is how to add wifi to a wired network if all you have is a modem/wireless/router unit but without a WAN port to plug into, just LAN ports.

I have an actiontec wireless n dsl modem with built in wifi and router capabilities (model GT784WN-01 ), but I dont want to use it as a modem – I want to use it to add a wireless access point for an existing wired network. At first I thought it would be easy to just plug into an existing network cat5 cable into the modem/wifi/router without needing to use the modem part of the unit. Not so tru but it can be done, at least with my model.

Here is the trick: Disable DHCP, otherwise the router side of the modem is trying to hand out network addresses and this mucks up the whole process of multiple DHCP servers on your network handing out conflicting IP addresses.

This took me a couple hours to figure it out, I have to give credit to this forum postin on using a modem/router as an AP at dslreports.com (an awesome website by the way) specifically, this entry with step by step instructions. awesome

anyhow, on actiontec modems you will find the DHCP settings under the “ADVANCED” menu tab, picture below of what you are looking for (at least on my version)

By the way, this modem/wifi/router is terrible according to newegg reviews for many reasons. I should have never bought it but for wifi it seems to be okay. Among many gripes, there are security issues with ports being open if used as a modem.

screenshot of actiontec GUI for DHCP

goto advanced setup and turn off DCHP, you can see the radio button at the bottom of this screenshot . the scroll down and hit apply. DONE!

Hope this helps someone, this is one of those posts I make just for my future personal reference to make wireless Ethernet bridges (as well as to burn it into my memory. If it helped you, drop me a comment – all are much appreciated!

Netflix Speeding up Frame Rate Playback speed to Save Time

I love streaming Netflix videos but had to cancel because the videos alternate between normal speed and about 20% faster than normal. Is it just me or are some shows – some segments of shows – deliberately sped up to make slower scenes play faster? I don’t know if they do this to save time (more commercials) or to affect the pacing of the story but it is quite annoying.

Are Netflix movies sped up?

It's not a bug, it's a FEATURE! Why watch only four movies when you can now watch five in the same time! Note: feature is mandatory.

I initially noticed playback speed varying between normal and about 20% faster on netflix and figured it was my video card or something. Then the same effect happened on a friends computer and finally a TV with netflix built in; there were scenes or sections of scenes where the movie seemed to be playing back frame rates faster than normal by about 1.2x or 20% faster than the original recording. Netflix may do this to:

  • save bandwidth (but I can’t believe that all the movie aficionado purists out there aren’t complaining about this)
  • Synch audio with playback speed that is limited by available bandwidth (Initially I thought this was the issue but it happens on faster connections as well)
  • caused by platform issues (no, it happens on windows and mac and a vizio tv)
  • caused by software issure (no, everything is updated)
  • Throttling by the Netflix server. (the account isn’t used that much)
  • Dropping frames. (shouldn’t affect overall playback rate though)
  • ???

I tend to think it is intentional as the audio is always pitch adjusted so it sounds normal and the playback isn’t choppy but transitions between normal and fast smoothly. For me, some of the shows are simply unwatchable as I can’t let go of my veil of disbelief when everything is happening 25% faster than in real life!

This isn’t a solution to a problem but if you would like to look into the issue further on your machine here is a post here that describes how to look into silverlight diagnostics for more info on frame rate.

Again, this happens with videos on several different computers, laptops and televisions,  high end and low end, with a download speeds between 756 and 6mbps, day and night. I have tried all updates and also tried pausing the video for several minutes to give it time to buffer. My CPU utilization is within reasonable limits. The computers have SSDs and a quad core 4ghz CPU with 8 gigs of ram. What is going on? I can’t find anything about this online, not even on good ol’ Hacking Netflix. Why isn’t there rage in the streets?

Looks from now on it is DVD’s or nothing. I can’t take the fast speed anymore.


Have you noticed Netflix or even television shows playing faster than normal, sped up but with audio pitch correction supposedly so we won’t notice? Does it bug you too? Please comment!

Note: I am in the process of taking videos of screens playing the same movie, streaming vs DVD and playing them side by side to compare the difference. Check back soon!

Google analytics: in-page analytics error for ga.js

Google in page analytics gives me this error: ” Your site doesn’t load ga.js from Google. If you host the Google tracking code on your own servers, it isn’t updated automatically and can miss important changes.”
I can’t find out what the problem is, the code is sitting right there in the header and looks just like it should. It gives me this error also : “[Error: 20007]” I wonder if there is some kind of conflict with the other code on the page?
I definitely don’t have the code on my own server.
I found this thread on their help website regarding the error 20007, at least i am not the only one with the problem. Everyone says it is beta and hope to have it fixed soon.

Apparently others find that the page overlay in analytics works in IE but not firefox (how ironic!)

Quickbooks credit card submit button doesn’t work – solution

Intuit credit card will not submit? Mine didn’t either.

Oh my, I just spent the last hour trying to figure out why I couldn’t process a credit card. Everything was fine but when I pressed the submit button nothing happened. No error message, nothing. I tried over and over, restarted, disable firewalls, rebooted routers and firewalls, forced updates on the software, read help and support. Then I spent 20 minutes on hold and gave up on being able to reach a person. Finally I searched quickbooks / intuit help forums online and found A TON of people asking about the same problem recently. Funny thing is, most of them were UNANSWERED. Then I found ONE reply:

Where is the tech support?

“It sounds like you may be using Internet Explorer 9. Unfortunately at this time Quickbooks is not compatible with this web browser and it has been preventing error message from appearing in QuickBooks during credit card processing.” – http://community.intuit.com/posts/submit-button-problems

Yes, that is right: the latest version of Quickbooks will not process credit card payments on computers using the latest version of internet explorer.

This reply is

  • Buried in a forum
  • Not given to loads of other people posting the same sumbit button question in the past couple weeks.
  • Lacking info on HOW TO UNINSTALL IE9, implying that you have an IT guy that can do it on demand. Yeah, it isn’t hard to figure out but a simple link to the solution would be very handy for end users. I know a lot of people that would be completely stumped/scared to uninstall internet explorer updates.

Well guess what. Quickbooks is responsible for thousands of small businesses, they should be on top of it. Windows is massively dominant in business and auto updates are the norm. Add the two and this is the scale of the problem.  If Intuit isn’t on top of THIS HUGE BUG then they should at least send out an email notification AND answer simple forum questions have this displayed prominently on their help page. Heck if fixing the compatibility issue with IE9 is that difficult they should at least update QB so when you pressed the submit button it would at give you an error upon detection explorer 9.

Oh wait, there is no competition.

Here are some (currently) unanswered posts to the forum. Maybe not all of them have IE9 problems but they sound very similar.:

This guy gets it close but no one verifies it http://community.intuit.com/posts/unable-to-submit-credit-card-info-submit-button-will-not-work

another person with the same button problem http://community.intuit.com/posts/submit-button-not-working-to-run-credit-cards

http://community.intuit.com/posts/processing-the-credit-card-charges

http://community.intuit.com/posts/credit-card-processing-problems-6

http://community.intuit.com/posts/submit-button-problem

The list goes on and on.  I’m giving up. You get the idea.