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      11 Social Media Platforms You Probably Forgot Existed (And Why They Failed)

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 09:43 · 1 minute

    I was on many of these networks, but something I see fairly common across many of them, is they were acquired or shut down by other large social networks.

    I suppose if you are a big social network, you have the clout and money to buy out the competition more easily. The irony of it is that many of the big social networks themselves appear to have a vacuum inside them, where the number of user accounts is not the same as the daily active users. It's rumoured that Facebook may already have more dead user accounts, than for the living. Big social networks have a lot of infrastructure and staff to support, which gets paid by advertiser revenue, so I suppose they need to keep showing the numbers and posting the adverts, and don't worry too much if the users are not actually actively using the platform.

    The thing is with social networks, for users it is about the social part, so they want to see posts from friends and about things that interest them. The network effect holds many back from joining new networks. But it should also be remembered that when Google, Facebook, etc started up their networks, they were actually open networks, often using protocols like XMPP to connect with friends even outside that network.

    I hope that we go back to more interoperable social networks, so that users can switch networks or servers, without losing their friends. Maybe that will also allow smaller networks to coexist next to larger social networks, and provide more variety and choice for users.


    #technology #socialnetworks

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      News aggregator app SmartNews’ latest feature tries to tackle doomscrolling through negative news

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Yesterday - 10:41

    News aggregator SmartNews is today launching a new feature that it hopes will help combat the anxiety associated with regularly consuming negative news — something often referred to as “doomscrolling.” Instead of encouraging impulsive scrolling through its headlines, the app’s new feature called SmartTake claims to offer a selection of uplifting stories, editor’s picks, useful articles and calming graphics in a single destination.

    Their SmartTake tab is meant to feature more interesting and less shocking tales.

    I've not heard of this app before, and I tend to rely mostly on my 30+ RSS feeds for my news, but I do support getting quality news sourced from actual news media sites vs from social media feeds.

    It seems it may not work 100% yet, but they certainly seem to have put a lot of effort into it over the last year, trying to achieve their aim. We do need to encourage any effort to try to get some more positive spin on our days.


    #technology #news #positivenews

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      MIT Scientists create a living medical device that is made from human cells that secrete insulin, and may replace injections someday

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 2 days ago - 18:20

    MIT scientists might be one step closer to making insulin injections a thing of the past. In a new study this week, they’ve shown that it’s possible to implant a medical device inside mice that produces its own supply of insulin for up to a month. More research will be needed before this technology would be widely available to use in humans, however.

    The team’s device features a membrane that creates oxygen by splitting apart nearby water molecules—in theory, allowing for an indefinite supply of oxygen. The device can also be powered wirelessly with a small amount of voltage, which might only require a small patch to be worn on the skin.


    #technology #medical #health #diabetes

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      FindMyCat (or dog) is a well-designed open-source tracker for your furry animal

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 2 days ago - 18:05

    Yes, you could use a AirTag or similar, but this is LTE-M enabled with a SIM and full GPS, and it powers down into an idle mode while the pet is at home. It ends up having a 6-month battery life.

    The collar is built around a Nordic Semiconductor NRF-9160, a System in a Package (SiP) that does most of the heavy lifting as it includes GPS, an LTE-M modem, and an ARM processor. One interesting feature here: [Sahas] doesn’t make his antennas on the PCB, but instead uses an Ignion NN03-310, an off-the-shelf antenna that is already qualified for LTE-M use. That means this system can be connected to almost any LTE-M network without getting yelled at for using unqualified hardware and making the local cell towers explode.

    As one commentator says, it is really well documented and designed, and looks much like a product designed by Apple themselves. So, an iOS app is expected, but there are no plans to produce an Android app, although the dev says he is open to someone from the community creating one.


    #technology #trackers #pets

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      My Home Assistant Dashboard alerts if my Victron Solar System last fully charged the Battery more than a week ago

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 3 days ago - 19:22 · 2 minutes

    About two months ago we got woken in the middle of the night to the UPS system alarm screaming, and pitch darkness. The UPS keeps the Internet router alive, with the main solar system powering that. This should not happen as my solar system runs on a Lithium battery, and I have 24/7 audible alerts if the battery gets down to 20% for any reason. That night the battery was on around 37% if I remember correctly, and suddenly just shut off.

    South Africa has had its heaviest load shedding this year, but even so, I always allow a good safety margin of 5+ hours on battery to cater for the odd 4-hour load shedding stages. So, this was really odd. But after speaking to the installers, they told me that as it was in the middle of Winter, I had been running my battery for weeks down to 30% or so, and it was never achieving a full 100% charge during those weeks. What had happened was, the State of Charge (SOC) % was no longer accurate as the battery needs a full charge into 100% until it reaches idle mode, to balance out the cells. With the imbalance, that 37% SOC showing was in fact the hard cut-off of the actual 10% average SOC that was reached = hard shut down. I also have the battery set to not preserve battery life (which would normally adjust the minimum SOC upwards, until a day where the battery charges fully).

    The solution is quite simple: At least once a week, I should ensure the battery is fully charged, whether by solar or grid power. But how do you check that?

    I monitor tons of metrics off the solar system already, including down to what tomorrow's solar energy forecast is, the cloud cover for the next day, etc. So, this week I thought, why not write an automation to restart a timer every time the battery reaches a full charge, and warn me if this reaches 7 days, to do a full charge?

    I already post the code for this home automation to a GitHub project repo, but I thought this time, let me actually open a discussion thread on the repo, so I could chat to myself as I went through the process. This will prove more useful for me next time I need to troubleshoot it, and also would help anyone else wanting to implement it (instead of trying to figure out all the separate bits of commented code).

    The basics are working now, but before I upload the actual code changes, I'm just letting it run a bit to be sure that the warnings work, and that the timer does reset properly at full charge (its trigger checks for battery status changing from charging to idle, at 100% SOC). If there is some cell imbalance, the charging normally continues at 100% for a good 10 minutes or longer, and this needs to be allowed for.

    I'm still pondering a bit around maybe automating the full charge process. There are two or three ways of doing it, but I also don't want to waste grid power if I know the next day is going to be a good solar energy day. So possibly I can have HA look at the forecast for the following day, and if low, then charge fully from say 15:00, and switch back to normal usage mode.


    #technology #Victron #HomeAssistant #opensource

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      Beaver Notes: A Private Cross-Platform Open-Source Note-Taking App

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 4 days ago - 21:15

    This app has a very similar look and feel to it as Obsidian, and also works in Markdown format. And although Obsidian has a kitchen sink full of community plugins, this app is a lot simpler, but it is proper open-source software.

    I also like that it has a toolbar with all the usual shortcuts like bold, italics, underline, headings, bullets, etc as many people do like that ease of use, instead of only having to remember Markdown codes.

    Very importantly for note taking, it does have easy-to-use tags that will help connect all your related notes. If you do need to sync your notes between devices, you could use something like Syncthing that will do that privately and directly between your devices, without any server required.


    #technology #markdown #notes #opensource

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      The Motorola Defy satellite dongle tested: Essential plan starts from $5 per month

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 4 days ago - 21:12 · 2 minutes

    “I think [satellite connectivity] is going to start coming in as a feature in the high end and then become just a default feature for flagship phones,” he said. “It’s relatively easy to take our chip [the MT6825 found inside the Motorola Defy] and add it to any 4G or 5G phone. It will be integrated into 5G modems going forward, kind of a default feature.”

    It’s an exciting picture of a future where you aren’t entirely reliant on connectivity provided by your carrier or Wi-Fi network, and it could end up saving lives in emergency situations. While direct integration of satellite communication is still in its infancy, the service is available to anyone right now through the Motorola Defy and the Bullitt Messenger Service. The Motorola Defy is a palm-sized rugged dongle with MediaTek’s MT6825NTN chip inside. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth, talks to the satellite network, and is ready to send messages through Bullitt’s app when you don’t have any service.

    The linked article goes into some detail about the hands-on testing with this device. It will work with any smartphone, and just requires the Bullitt Messenger app to use the Defy dongle (and your recipients need to have the app installed to receive messages for free [yes payment too if they want to reply]). The downside is you do need to carry this dongle with you. That said, it is a once-off purchase that includes the one year of the Essential plan (Up to 30 satellite messages per month with emergency SOS included) which is $5 pm after that and is actually quite reasonable. Receiving messages via the satellite service though is free of charge.

    Being a separate dongle device, I'd imagine you can also share the use of it with a spouse or friend. The only bad news really is the satellite coverage for now is still only the USA and Europe. But it looks like from Q4 2023 that South America, Africa and also the Oceania region (and Japan) will get coverage.

    For the next year or two at least, it will only be some of the flagship phones that get satellite comms built in, so a device like this may be perfect for the millions of mid-range smartphone users. Hopefully too, an increasing volume in usage, will make pricing even better over time.


    #technology #SOS #satellitecomms

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      15 Best Free (and mostly Open Source) Music Making Software for Linux, Windows, and macOS

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 6 days ago - 15:00

    Are you a music producer and use Linux as your primary operating system, then music production is going to become easy for you after reading this article.

    There is good music production software in Linux just as it is in Windows and Mac OS, though a few features may vary, but the underlying functionalities mostly are the same.

    Although the focus in the linked article is really on Linux, it can be seen that many of these apps also run on Windows and macOS. About ten of them are open-source software, but also included are some free proprietary music apps too.


    #technology #opensource #music #audio

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      Previously secret Israeli spyware that infects targets via ads on Microsoft Windows, Google Android, and Apple iOS devices

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 6 days ago - 14:44 · 1 minute

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Director of Activism Jason Kelley said Insanet's use of advertising technology to infect devices and spy on clients' targets makes it especially worrisome. Dodgy online ads don't just provide a potential vehicle for delivering malware, such as via carefully crafted images or JavaScript in the ads that exploit vulnerabilities in browsers and OSes, they can be used to go after specific groups of people – such as those who are interested in open source code, or who frequently travel to Asia – that someone might be interested in snooping on.

    "This method of surveillance and targeting uses commercially available data that's very difficult to erase from the internet," Kelley told The Register. "Most people have no idea how much of their information has been compiled or shared by data brokers and ad tech companies, and have little ability to erase it."

    It's an interesting twist. Sherlock seems designed to use legal data collection and digital advertising technologies — beloved by Big Tech and online media — to target people for government-level espionage.

    "Since these ads are being served using known advertisement networks, anti-adware technologies such as not loading JavaScript, using ad blockers or privacy-aware browsers, and not clicking on advertisements should act as a guardrail against this attack," Dani suggested.

    I suppose this gives additional impetus for many wanting to block ads... But if this one was previously secret, how many more are there that no-one knows about? Supposedly, the Wester will use this to spy on the East? We actually don't know what the East already has, because for some unknown reason we are always discovering what the West is up to in regard to alleged spying (even on their own allies). And as we saw this month, data privacy laws mean absolutely nothing to some major Western powers, as they just get a 3rd party country to do the spying on their behalf, and then pass the data back, or they buy the data from Facebook.

    More and more, reading all of this, I can see why so many private citizens are insisting on having E2EE without any backdoors. Unfortunately, a citizen can no longer just trust their own government, and it is mostly lip service that is paid to privacy laws. So laws and political assurances mean very little in reality.


    #technology #spying #Israel #privacy