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      Element X for Android and iOS is a whole new approach to the Matrix messaging app

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 6 days ago - 09:57 · 1 minute

    A bit like Telegram has a Telegram X for highlighting new beta features (no neither have anything at all to do with the X network), so has Element now "ignited" their Element X messenger. It will eventually become the main Element app.

    The reason it is different, is that it uses the new Matrix API called Sliding Sync, and they are not joking when they say it is 6,000 times faster than the classic Element app. That slick speed is immediately noticeable. They have also integrated Matrix's own voice and video chat (or will be later on in X) instead of using Jitsi meetings as an external service.

    The other thing is that the UI is much improved too. This is all with the aim of making Element X become a preferred instant messenger for everyone. Yes, there is Signal and other E2EE messengers, but have you noticed you still require a phone number and / or e-mail to register with Signal? Element has been re-developed natively using Rust for both Android and iOS, so updating it will be easier in future.

    Matrix, as a service, is starting to become really interesting. Apart from the one big server most of us know, it is also a service that is self-hosted by many organisations, individuals, as well as governments to ensure maximum privacy as well as control. This allows those organisations to fully verify who connects, and to enforce E2EE in rooms and chats.

    But where Matrix really differentiates itself, is its ability to do numerous types of bridges, and to interconnect with WhatsApp, XMPP, IRC, Telegram, and many more services. This is why Beeper uses Matrix to power their services.

    So with this move to Element X, Matrix is clearly being strongly positioned for the future, and it is also clear that Matrix was not satisfied with just incremental adoption and advances in their technology.

    Just note that although the iOS and Android apps are available now in the official stores, the Android APK install file can also be obtained directly from the linked GitHub project location under Releases.


    #technology #opensource #Matrix #privacy #messengers

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      Another Sisyphus, Timothée Jaussoin


    • 5 days ago - 04:08 Another Sisyphus


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      Obtainium installs and updates Android Apps directly from their releases pages, with notifications for updates

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 6 days ago - 09:02 · 1 minute

    This open-source and privacy-respecting app will install from a number of popular locations such as GitHub, GitLab, Codeberg, F-Droid, IzzyOnDroid, SourceForge, Huawei AppGallery, APKPure, and many more.

    The Obtainium app is ideal if you already avoid the Google Play Store and prefer to get your apps from these locations, where the source code is published directly. This is also suited to users who like to get the latest pre-releases for the developers, to test out. For those who really value privacy and a de-Googled experience, then they will usually already be sourcing their apps manually from these locations. This app makes that process easier.

    The onus though is on the user of this app, especially the first time when selecting the source, to be very sure it is the correct and valid source. This is not an official Play Store where that sort of validation is 'most' done for you. So, if you are a search, click to install person without worrying, then you may be better off with using the official Play Store, from a security perspective, or possibly the F-Droid app store.

    The app tracks updates locally from the app, so it is not relying on any cloud notification pushes.


    #technology #opensource #privacy #Obtainium

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      Linux Installation Date: How to Discover Your System’s Age

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 7 days ago - 17:37

    Have you ever found yourself pondering the age of your Linux system? Perhaps you’ve inherited a computer or are curious about when you first set up your trusty Linux machine.

    In the linked article, they show you a straightforward and efficient method to uncover the installation date of your Linux system using just a single command, as well as a few other options too.

    One of the most universal methods is to use: stat / | awk '/Birth: /{print $2 " " substr($3,1,5)}' or you could even just type stat /.

    My system is Manjaro Linux, so it has been rolling along for a while I see, from 16 June 2017. I realise too why it was that date specifically, as it was the start of a long weekend in South Africa, so I'd probably allowed myself a clear 3 days to set it all up before going back to work again after the weekend.

    Since 2017 I had changed my main boot drive to a SSD drive, so I must have just cloned the Linux drive to the SSD (not being Windows this would just work without complaining about hardware changes).


    #technology #Linux #opensource

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

      GadgeteerZA · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Friday, 22 September - 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 · Thursday, 21 September - 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 · Wednesday, 20 September - 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 · Wednesday, 20 September - 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 · Tuesday, 19 September - 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