Safely Insecure

There’s something special about filling two monitors with terminal windows on Linux, then smashing the keyboard until you fill each black space with jargon. I digress, before I’ve even started!

Today, I focused on accessing Android devices (3 mobile phones) via the USB Debugging feature within the Developer Options found or unlocked on most Android phones. I was even able to rescue all the files off an SD Card I previously deemed non-functional. Once I’d used and reused the CLI program adb – freely available on Linux, Windows, and Mac – I then focused my energies on trying to get my PC to communicate with my laptop.

Side note: I’ve truly come to appreciate just how open Linux is, but with that, also the risks involved.

Did you know that your router very probably has something called Mac Filtering, which’ll let you strictly set which devices can connect to your network? Your ISP likely gave you information, perhaps on a little card, that has your router’s local IP address; use this in the URL field on your browse of choice, then supply the login credentials your ISP gave you, in order to change these settings. Fair warning though, some settings on routers can seriously mess with your Internet connection and may end up costing you time and cash to remedy the screw-up. Proceed with caution.

Setting a longer password, with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols really does affect the security of that password. They don’t say it for funsies; it really does make it more time-consuming to crack. The longer and more obnoxious your wifi password is, the less likely anyone will sit outside your house for years in order to get access. You should be using the best encryption method your router allows for your wifi connection as well. While it helps to hide your SSID, it’s possible to see right past that with little effort, so I wouldn’t rely on it.

By the way, if you see an unsecure wireless network and think you might just log in to browse the interwebs for some much needed tweets and status updates, think again! These can be a very nasty trap. Commercially available networks can be different, but I’d still not trust a great deal to the offered free wifi of, say, McDonald’s.

“Get some work done, check your email or connect with friends. With free Wi-Fi at more than 11,500 participating restaurants, customers can access the Internet using their laptops or mobile devices at no charge. So grab a McCafé® Latte and log on. The Wi-Fi is on us!” – McDonald’s official website; link.

Notice the zero mention of security? This would suggest it’s really not that important to them, or perhaps they just don’t think it’s important to the majority of us. Either way, I’m concerned.

Ultimately, for the best security, use Ethernet cables and be done with wireless! Safe in the knowledge that the only way someone will get your data, is if they physically break into your home, which isn’t all that likely, unless you stick up a big billboard next to your home which reads, “Government secrets stored on servers inside this building.”

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Andy – Your Virtual Android Device

I don’t usually give my impressions on a random piece of software I found, but I’ve been hooked to this program since I installed it 2 days ago, so I think an exception can be made here. Let’s nerd up and geek it out.

Andy. So what is it? Well, it’s an Android emulator that I believe rivals Blue Stacks, another Android emulator. However, many—myself included—find Andy to be massively superior, both in features and performance, while remaining entirely free and true to the Android experience.

If you wish to quit reading and get to installing Andy, simply click here. Otherwise, continue through the page to read what else I have to say about this fantastic piece of software.

“Andy breaks down the barrier between desktop and mobile computing, while keeping a user up to date with the latest Android OS feature upgrades. It also provides users with unlimited storage capacity, PC and Mac compatibility, and the freedom to play the most popular mobile games on a desktop, Yes you can now run Android on windows.”taken from andyroid’s official home page.

So, there you have it. There’s more, though.

I expected the software to be absolutely full of bugs, but actually I believe I’ve only really discovered one so far, and that is the inability to set down some widgets on the home screen, which is frustrating, but not a game changer for me. If you rely heavily on widget use, then perhaps this won’t currently be the emulator for you.

I’m currently listening to Heart at 101.7 and all from my computer, presumably without an ariel, so I guess it’s effectively Internet radio. I’m using Radioplayer, an Android app found on the Play Store—yes, you can indeed you your Google accounts as you would with your regular device!

I chose to create my own Google account to be safe and to keep my phone and Andy entirely separate. I did run into an issue initially whereby I couldn’t get the first account I made to authenticate but I created a new account which ended up working.

I’ve had issues with Skype for the PC, so I uninstalled it, and then installed Skype on the virtual, high-spec tablet, which just so happened to have solved all those Skype issues I had on the desktop—score.

I’m finding that games are definitely awesome, with a nice big screen and a really good level of performance, but your mileage may vary, as it will of course depend on your computer’s specifications. I’ve been playing games like Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter and Supercell’s Clash of Clans without issue.

I ran into problems with the controls on a shooter, Dead Trigger 2 by MADFINGER Games, requiring two thumbs on a screen for optimal movement, but I believe this can somehow be resolved, according to the official Andyroid website, by using your phone as a “remote control when playing games.”

“If you have an Android device running Android 2.2 and up you can control Andy with your phone. This let’s you take advantage of multitouch, gyroscope, accelerometer,
location and other various sensors to control your games and apps in Andy.” – Taken from the FAQ page on Andyroid’s official website.

You can actually backup your Andy tablet and create various tablets, or even have profiles for different Andy users on your computer. It’s not just about you anymore! This software is ideal for developers and for those who don’t own an Android device but still wish to check it all out.

Sadly, by default, I’m only on Android version 4.2.2, the “sweeter tasting Jelly Bean.” While I don’t have any real issue with this, it would be nice to try the latest editions of Android, but I’m sure Andy will be updated eventually.

It is fairly easy to exchange files between Andy and Windows. By going to %userprofile%\Andy\ and dropping in files there, you can easily pick those up within Andy. As I discovered, this is especially important when it comes to using apps like Skype to send images to your friends and family.

Oh, and yes, you can even use WhatsApp. Apparently all you need to do is install it as normal from the Play Store, “select the phone call authentication and enter your mobile number,” then you just jot down the code you’re given.

Andy can make use of your XBOX 360 wired controller (potentially others), your webcam, and your PC’s microphone too. I have had no issues using these devices, other than finding the controller to be entirely unlike how you would expect it to be on Windows.

Andy can rotate the screen with the click of a button outside of the main screen; this allows you full use of those apps which function only in either portrait or landscape. I’ve used this in the menus, on games, and regular apps without any problems.

To conclude, Andy is a brilliant, effective program for those looking to emulate an Android device on your PC without the need to hand over your hard-earned cash.

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