23 Jul 2013

Asus EeePC 4G Surf revival

Update: Consider running the x86 port of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on your Asus EeePC 4G Surf. Download the android-x86-4.0-RC2-eeepc.iso here and follow the instructions for installation.You won't believe how slick it will make your old EeePC!

I recently dug out my old EeePC from the back of my closet and tweaked it to better than new. The improvement is mostly thanks to a fresh installation of Zorin-OS 7 lite which I think is a totally awesome Linux distro for this netbook. It's a shame that Asus didn't use something more like Zorin-OS with the initial 2007 release of the EeePC, but it's only been around since 2009. I never imagined I could be running Chrome 28 on my EeePC and I easily re-installed Frozen Bubble and Extreme Tux Racer from the Ubuntu repositories - It's so much easier to install software  than it was using Xandros and everything is up to date!

During my investigations into upgrading the OS, I also came across suggestions that the EeePC uses standard laptop RAM (DDR2), this was a nice find as I had a spare 1GB DDR2 laptop module lying around. It was no mean feat to get to the RAM slot as the white version of the EeePC doesn't have a door underneath (apparently the black one does). I'm not going to document the full process (you can watch a video here), but I can confirm that if you carefully dismantle a white 4G Surf, you will find a standard laptop RAM slot on the back side of the motherboard. It was worth the effort as my 1GB module is working great and more RAM is always better!

I deleted all the factory drive partitions during installation (from a USB stick) and assigned the full internal 4GB drive to Zorin-OS. In the spirit of putting redundant hardware to work I slapped in an old 1GB SD card as well and set this up as the swap partition. I've got a full 1.3GB of free space on my 4G now which I didn't even dream of previously and while the 4G Surf remains well past its use by date I think I have actually made mine fairly useful again.

16 Jul 2013

Send 20 free Vodacom SMS from your smartphone

If you have a smartphone on the Vodacom network then you have 2 options to send 20 free SMS (to other Vodacom numbers) per day.

1. The easiest option is to just install the My Vodacom App (available in the App Store / Google Play / BlackBerry World) and login using your Vodacom website details to send Free SMS.

2. You can also access the desktop version of the Vodacom website from a smartphone. Just head over to vodacom.co.za on your phone (this will load the mobile version), scroll right down to the bottom of the page and select the 'Switch to the full site' option or click the direct link here: http://www.vodacom.co.za/personal/RedirectFullSite - This link will load the desktop version of the Vodacom website on your phone and you can login to send free SMS.

The full desktop site may work on some feature phones, but I think it requires a browser that supports JavaScript in order to work properly which is not a standard feature on all phone browsers (sorry, you can't login using Opera Mini). If you are using Opera Mini or some other feature phone browser then you should be able to send free SMS to South African numbers from free082sms.co.za

10 Jul 2013

Twitter phishing - Don't take the bait!

In the same way that scammers use phishing emails to try and snag your banking details, they also use direct messages as bait to try and catch your Twitter account login details. If they are successful, they will use your Twitter account to send the next batch of malicious direct messages to all your followers and so the cycle perpetuates...

I have almost 7000 followers on Twitter (@mobidk) at the time of writing and my DM inbox is overflowing with these scam messages to the point that I flat out ignore direct message notifications, in fact I wish I could disable my DM inbox entirely. Short of that I'm hoping that if people get educated, then fewer will need to learn about Twitter phishing the hard way.

Here's a snapshot of my Twitter DM inbox for you to get a feel of what one of these scam/phishing direct messages look like (I've concealed hacked users' identities)

How to identify a spam / scam / phishing direct message on Twitter
  1. It will contain a link
  2. It may contain poor grammar or spelling (whos versus who's)
  3. It will most likely be arbitrary and seem to come out of the blue (from someone who doesn't often direct message you)
  4. Typical themes center around gossip related to you (people saying nasty things about you, or a funny picture of you, or who's been viewing your profile etc)
Be suspicious of any messages that match any of the above points, but the best rule of thumb is to never click any links that you receive by direct message. Typically the link will bring up a fake Twitter login page, prompting you to login and this is how the bad guys get your details. Most good Anti-Virus can block these Twitter phishing login pages and warn you though, so it's important to run an Anti-Virus and keep it up to date as another layer of protection.

If you really are dying to click the link or you aren't 100% sure that it is a safe message, then message your friend back and ask them if they sent you the message intentionally before you click! It's not a bad idea to reply to the sender anyway and let them know that their account has been compromised, though Twitter will most probably reset their password for them. Otherwise, you can send them to this link that explains what to do if your Twitter account is compromised.

For what it's worth, I have also seen similar messages used to spread malware on the Skype IM network and Facebook, so be aware! These tactics are used across many social media channels.

This public security announcement was sponsored by mobidick :)

p.s. I used the handy tool over at www.dmcleaner.com to delete all the DMs in my inbox in one foul swoop... (Though technically it was a few swoops as it deletes in batches of about 150 DMs per batch).

22 Jan 2013

Vodacom LTE/4G performance during every day mobile use

I conducted a few ‘every day’ type tests to pit Vodacom LTE / 4G against Vodacom HSDPA / 3G because LTE was up to 46% faster than HSDPA on the Vodacom network in my initial speedtest.net results. However, I wanted to see how this speed difference translated to typical real world use such as browsing, downloading apps, using apps, and watching videos.

Internet Browsing
I set my Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE to load the desktop version of Facebook.com and then refreshed a bunch of times using both Vodacom LTE and Vodacom HSDPA while keeping track of the time it took for the Vodacom page to finish loading…. The fastest load time I clocked on Vodacom LTE was 17 seconds, while the fastest load time I clocked on Vodacom HSDPA was 20 seconds.

I could not tell the difference between Vodacom LTE and Vodacom HSDPA when I was using Twitter as timelines refresh and new tweets are loaded very close to instantaneously on both technologies.

I was able to watch YouTube videos in HD using both Vodacom LTE and Vodacom HSDPA without any stuttering and the time it took for videos to start playing was short on both as well.

Downloading Apps
It took 22 seconds from the time I clicked ‘Accept & Download’ on the Skype app in the Google play store to the time that Skype had finished installing on Vodacom LTE. The fastest download and install time I could achieve for Skype on Vodacom HSDPA was 24 seconds.

Final verdict
The faster speeds on offer by Vodacom LTE do translate into increased performance in real world usage scenarios, however the performance of Vodacom HSDPA is already superb and the difference between LTE and HSDPA may go unnoticed in average every day use on a mobile device (apart from the fact that LTE may drain the battery faster than HSDPA). 

Power users who routinely download large chunks of data should notice a marked performance difference between the 2 technologies as LTE gets more of a chance to ‘stretch its legs’.  Another area where LTE performance should outshine HSDPA more readily is in scenarios where the connection is being shared by more than just one user / device.

Both HSDPA and LTE performance depend greatly on signal strength and you can check Vodacom coverage in your area here.

14 Jan 2013

A refund from Vodacom for 4 hours of BIS downtime? Get real!

I have been surprised to hear that Vodacom BlackBerry customers are demanding refunds as a result of the short period of  BIS down time (that maybe lasted 4 hours?) on Friday 11th of Jan 2013

Frankly I think this is ridiculous! BIS costs R60 a month which is the equivalent of R2 a day or 8.3 cents an hour. So 4 hours down time x 8.3 = 33.2 cents. I understand that people feel they have a right to demand service, but seriously such an out cry over 33 cents? That's the equivalent of a single SMS message which is exactly what Vodacom sent me to apologise. I think it's unreasonable to expect anything more. This is not America people, you can't get a month's free BIS for 4 hours of down time - Get real!

Vodacom you have permission from me as a BlackBerry user to continue to focus your efforts on network quality and ignore any griping / ranting from bratty BlackBerry users who would try to manipulate you into feeling you owe them something.