Google deliberately breaks Android XMPP (Jabber) Instant Messaging.

In May this year, Google in their infinite wisdom has migrated everyone using Google Talk (baked into Android since day dot) over to the Hangouts app. There’s a problem with this: Hangouts is not XMPP compatible and is not federated with the rest of the XMPP network. Here’s a quick breakdown of what this means:

  • Google Talk app can message to Hangouts and all XMPP contacts.
  • XMPP apps (like PSI, Miranda, Xabber, Empathy etc) can log into Google Talk service and then message Hangouts and all XMPP contacts.
  • XMPP apps logging in to other servers (jabber.org, jaim.at etc) can message all XMPP contacts including Google Talk but NOT Hangouts.
  • Hangouts users can message ONLY to Hangouts and Google Talk service users.
  • Theres no way that I can see for telling which of Google Talk or Hangouts a  *@gmail.com contact is using.

google-hangouts-interop-fail

This is of course incredibly disappointing for anyone who relies on XMPP instant messaging and uses a server other than Google’s, as most regular users on Android phones are of course using whatever Google makes available to them (ie Hangouts) and are now cut off from the rest of the XMPP network. This amounts to about a third of my contacts. So much for interoperability, Google.

Recommendations for gmail.com users:

  • If you connect to Google Talk server using an XMPP client (like the “Talk” app on Android) rather than the Hangouts app, you’ll have connectivity with Hangouts users as well as XMPP network users, as per usual.  There are plenty of other good XMPP clients; I’ve tried xabber on Android and it works nicely. PSI is a great client for desktop Windows/Linux/Mac. Mac supports XMPP through iChat, and most Linux distros include XMPP support in their default desktop environment.
  • Google Talk the XMPP app is now discontinued, but Google has made no announcement that it will discontinue the service itself. You may wish to consider what happens if they ever do. I for one am predicting it’s demise and jumping off the Google ship as of today.

Removing the adware that ships with stock Ubuntu 12.10

This is here more as a reference for me and anyone else that sees the annoying ads that appear in the launch page on recent ubuntu versions.

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

The fact that this needs to be done on every new install of Ubuntu is a catastrophic fail, and canonical should be deeply ashamed of themselves for causing this embarrassment to Linux advocacy.

ubuntu clean install adware

screenshot example of the advertising built into stock ubuntu launch menu

 

Keeping the awesome N900 running a little longer after a hard life

Without a doubt the best and most heavily used device I’ve owned sofar, the N900 continues to be the laptop-in-pocket solution that comes out when other more modern devices lack the power and versatility.

Which is why it was sad when mine started dropping calls and 3G data link saying “SIM Card error” and showing things like this in the dmesg kernel log:

Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.272857] * CMT rst line change detected (0)
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.272888] *****
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.272949] McSAAB: ACWake line 00000002
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.272979] McSAAB: CAWake line 0
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.272979] McSAAB: Main state: 2
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.273010] McSAAB: RX state:00
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.273040] McSAAB: TX state:02
Sep 19 09:16:09 Nokia-N900 kernel: [ 2040.273040] McSAAB: CMT was ONLINE

I started researching in earnest for something that might come close to replacing the functionality of the N900 but soon became depressed at the options as at July 2012. These features of the N900 are the ones that I so desire, and may well deem it, sadly, the last of it’s kind:

  • “Full” Linux distro as the OS, with APT package management and xorg graphics, all the normal libraries, bash, python, openssh etc –  just like running ubuntu (for example) on a laptop.
  • Hardware keyboard (well thought out layout with the linux hacker in mind) – without a hardware keyboard VNC/RDP are very close to unusable.
  • Resistive touchscreen (yes thats right) with a sharp stylus, for accurate and fast VNC/RDP. This prevents a heap of zooming in/out and struggling with drag/drop.
  • FM Transmitter (functionality of which might be possible on more modern phones using bluetooth and replacing my cars’ decks.)

Getting all of these features simultaneously in a phone, as well as the usual requirements which are nowdays easily met (64G storage, a good cam, good video with good audio recording, at least 800×480, etc) was proving to be nigh on impossible, so I started the long-shot search for a fix.

A potential fix was discovered in this thread over at nokia talk forums by “ForeverYoung”. Many thanks! He worked out his problem was the GSM chips which are coming away from the board, so devised an ingenious solution using springy metal to push the chip harder onto the board. Some of his photos are here.

Heres my version of the fix, using a spring out of a biro/pen. Click on the images for bigger versions.

The above two shots are the first attempt, using small pieces of spring. I used “high” grade threadlocker to goo them in place. These turned out to be too small / not enough downforce, so I redid the fix.

Above is the final fix that worked. I used all the old pieces, plus a couple of bigger bits of spring. to push down on multiple points of the chips. (Note the previously fixed micro-usb connector, locked in place with solder between the connector sides and PCB which was stripped back to the ground copper)

Above shows the shield back on, and you can see its clearly distended, so theres a good amount of down-force on the chips.

And voila.. rock solid 3G again! I can abort my search for a new capable linux phone, at least for now.

Church of Scientology vs Wikileaks

This is going to be an epic battle in which I really can’t see the Church of Scientology winning. Wikileaks has posted the full Operating Thetan here. On the same page is the Church of Scientology’s response in the form of a threatening letter from their lawyers. And here is an analysis of the so-called sacred documents.

Here’s another random combination of numbers and letters, for your enjoyment:

ed2k://|file|scientology-ot-levels.pdf|17788660|977911F17568753C60114C13A0FDEA4B|/

A message for AACS LA

I just feel like sharing some random hex pairs:

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

From 100,000 to over 2 million google search results growth in one day…  They are going to have a hard time censoring the above hex number. A couple of related amusing links:

A poem written around the banned number.

One of the main Digg threads, while it lasts… (scroll down for great ascii art).

This guy has tattooed the banned number onto his chest.

I’m sure there’ll be many more amusing works of art created. It’s DeCSS all over again.

Mythweb + Daylight saving in Perth, Western Australia

If you updated your operating system correctly to the latest timezone updates – tzdata-2006p (which you probably have, as most distributions have provided updates automatically), then you would have noticed that mythtv’s internal program guide hasn’t skipped a beat, provided mythtv’s TimeOffset setting is set to “Auto”. All your shows should be recording at the correct time. Mythweb, however, will have still been one hour out (ie “Ten News at Five” displays as being at 1600h on mythweb only). Mythweb is PHP based, and as such doesn’t use your operating system’s timezone data. PHP has it’s own timezone database. As of this date, the 2006p timezone update has made it into php’s upstream CVS, but as far as I’m aware, there have been no official releases of php since that commit. You could grab a diff from PHP’s CVS here, and compile your own version, but I suggest a much simpler work around until an official version filters down to the various distros: edit php.ini and set date.timezone = Asia/Tokyo which is the required +0900 offset that we need. Restart apache and your mythweb will be fixed.

Gow Real Estate, Perth, Western Australia

Every time I’ve dealt with them – in person or over the phone, I’ve felt like strangling somebody. They have broken promises to follow up on many issues we had, particularly to do with incorrect (in their favour) rent collected. Many of their agents, including the head honcho (Dee Gow) seem to have attitude problems (“we’ve been doing this for xx years, so dont tell us how to do our job…” sort of attitude). Thankfully the property we live in is not managed by them any more, but we were quite amused to talk to the new real estate agents (who have been wonderful) and find that they had a very bad experience dealing with Gow in the changeover procedure. Changing over to Gow was also apparently a major issue for the real estate agents we had previous to Gow (and a bad experience for us also).

Gow Real Estate – you should avoid them in my opinion.

I hope this information is helpful to somebody

Commodore VS V8 Dissys

Symptoms: Randomly doesn’t start. After anywhere between 30 seconds to 60 minutes (or longer), the injectors pulse once (click) and the fuel pump fires up for a few seconds. After this point, the car starts normally. Sometimes (less often) the engine stops whilst driving, followed by the above procedure of waiting for the “problem” to reset. ECU code retrieval (bridge pins 5 and 6 on the diagnostics connector under the dash – watch flashing engine light) reveals error code 46 (No Reference Signal while cranking). Problem seems worse after stopping the motor and trying to restart it, for about an hour or so afterwards.

The Problem: faulty Hall Effect sensor located in the distributor.

Info and some hints: VS (and probably VR and VN etc) Holden Commodores with V8 motor do not have a crank angle sensor on the front like the V6 ecotech. The only way the computer knows when to pulse the injectors and fire the electronic ignition is from the hall effect sensor in the distributor, which activates each time a gap in the hall rotor passes by it. Obviously the hall rotor has 8 gaps. Some tips: Dont muck around – remove the bonnet straight away. Grab some soft pillows to put on the engine so you can kneel on it – getting the distributor out is really tricky, because theres only a very small gap between the intake manifolds and the firewall. It does pull out though, although mine was really really stiff. Siemens don’t make the original hall sensor anymore, you can get a “universal” replacement from most good auto parts shops. You’ll need to drill the rivets out of the old sensor and attach the new one accurately in the right position, as well as solder/rewire it into the existing connector.

-update: you can get the exact replacement part from Altronics and probably Jaycar