Facebook App Draining Batteries

The recent news reports are for iOS, but some people are seeing the same thing with Android.

When I got my iPhone 5 the battery would last a day. Apple replaced it for that and other reasons, but I did some Googling back then on ways to extend iPhone battery life and it helped.

Disable location services where you can to avoid the drain of GPS
I left location services on for weather apps, map apps, Yelp, and Find My iPhone. That’s it. I turned off location services for everything else that wanted to know my location. For me, that was 11 apps, including headscratchers like Fruit Ninja and Photoshop Express.

Location services are under Settings:Privacy. 

Disable Push and use Fetch
Push notifications come from Apple servers from a variety of sources. They’re sent to your phone automatically and require attention from your phone that uses up battery life.

To disable, go to Settings:Mail, Contacts, Calendars:Fetch New Data. Turn Push off. Turn Fetch on to periodically download notifications. If you choose the Manual setting, notifications will only be downloaded when you open that app (Mail, Facebook, etc.).

Kill apps running in the background
I just checked and I had 20 apps running in the background, including things like picture apps, maps, and good old Fruit Ninja.

To stop apps, doubleclick the Home button, press and hold any app, and click the minus icon on the app you want to stop. The apps will return the next time they’re used, so you’ll have to repeat this every now and then.

DSLR Video – Syncing a Movie with External Audio in Adobe Premiere

This guy shows how. Just what I needed. The only thing you need is Audacity, which is free and good. The video is for Premiere Elements, but the idea is the same for Premiere Pro and not that different for other non-linear video editors if you know how to run them.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this I’ve synced the audio inside Premiere. That turned out to be way easier than I expected.

P.S. I bought a licensed copy of DualEyes/PluralEyes recently. It’s supposed to automatically sync the audio track from a movie created with a DSLR like my Nikon D7000 with an audio track from a separate digital audio recorder (DAR) like my Zoom H4n. Point it to the movie file and the audio file (which can be much, much longer than the movie). The software will match the waveforms in the movie’s audio track with the audio file and splice out that section of the audio file. Then you can either use your video editor to replace the movie’s audio track or let DualEyes/PluralEyes do it for you.

Why would you want to do that? The audio track on the DAR is almost always better than what the camera recorded. That’s because the DAR is a dedicated audio recording device, while a DSLR is a dedicated still photo recorder that also happens to record video and – oh yeah – I guess we need to throw some audio circuitry in there somewhere because folks nowadays sure do love them some talkies. A $3,000 DSLR might have twenty bucks worth of audio circuitry. If you’re lucky.

The trial version of DualEyes/PluralEyes worked great. Thing is, once I got a licensed copy as part of a mic bundle I could never get it to work again. Not on three different computers and not after working with tech support. It would not could not in a box, it would not could not with a fox.

Oh, well. Maybe the long-promised new Windows version of PluralEyes will fix everything. In the meantime now that I know how to sync manually I don’t care. It’s really not a big deal to take a few minutes to manually sync with Audacity.

Adobe is Going to Subscription Pricing for Photoshop and Other Creative Suite Apps

The whole Creative Suite will be $50/month. Photoshop will be $10/month. Scott Kelby has a FAQ.

Some people will win, some people will lose. I think the price for the whole CS – $600 a year – is a tad high. There are basic CS packages for $1,000 or so. That’s going to hurt them.

Other people will be happy to get access to a stream of new features vs. waiting for the next version to get them. If you don’t have Creative Suite already, the $50/month doesn’t sound too bad compared to shelling out $1-2,000 dollars for a package.

Cord Cutting: VLC Remote Control for Your Smartphone

More and more we’re connecting a laptop to the TV to watch video with VLC Media Player. The lack of a remote control was a nuisance. There are some USB-based remote controls with trackballs and keyboards for 30 or 40 bucks, but I found a remote control app called VLC Remote.

To use the app, run the setup software on any computer you want to be able to control. VLC Remote autodetects computers on the network running VLC and the helper program.

The app runs on Android, iOS and WebOS. I’m using the iOS version and it works great. I’m using the free version, which has volume control and basic controls for start, stop, pause, fast forward and rewind. The only small hassle is having to use the laptop to open the video file. Since I connect the laptop every time I want to watch video it’s no big deal. If I had a dedicated computer connected to the entertainment center I’d buy the the paid version, which has file browsing and some other geegaws like a graphic equalizer.

Turn Your WordPress/Blogger/LiveJournal Blog Into a Book or PDF

Someone asked me about exporting their entire blog into something readable and printable. Here ya go.

Update on iPhone 5 Problems

I had some problems with a new iPhone 5. The battery life was terrible. It was dropping calls at my house, even though my other Verizon phones had worked fine there for years.

I took the phone to the local Apple store. They ran a hardware diagnostic, decided there was a problem with the antenna, and swapped it out for a new phone. I’ll know pretty soon if that fixes the battery life problem.

P.S. That was my first time using the Apple store’s customer service and it was great. Greeted as soon as I walked in, scheduled for an appointment with a cell phone specialist at the genius bar, and the problem resolved 15 minutes into the appointment. I’ve enjoyed iPhones so much this last year, it makes me want to go back to Macs.

iPhone 5 Battery Life

I had an iPhone 4s at my last job. When I got laid off I picked up a used BlackBerry for 40 bucks, thinking I might land another job that would pay for a phone. No job yet and I hated the BlackBerry, so I bought an iPhone 5 last week.

I like it a lot, mostly. It’s thinner, the screen is taller, it has 4G, does noise cancelling to improve phone conversations, and some other things. Not a monumental upgrade over a 4s, but nice.

The reason I say mostly is that this morning the screen started flickering after waking up. It stops after a few minutes, but it shouldn’t do that.

The other thing is that the battery life is terrible. The 5 is supposed to have better battery life than the 4s, but so far I’ve had the opposite experience. Yesterday I took it off the charger at 100%. Seven and a half hours later it was down to 18%. Granted, I used it a lot, but that’s terrible battery life. Some 5 users are saying the same thing; others say their 5 is much better than their 4s.

I’m trying battery life tips this morning. I turned off push notifications, which I didn’t know about. Now I’m fetching data every half hour. Also turned off Location Services for everything but Find My iPhone, Maps, and Google Maps. I’m going to try some battery tips and stop at the Genius Bar the next time I’m out that way.

Anything else I should try?

Study: Real Photos Better Than Stock Photos

Marketing Experiments BlogThis Just Tested: Stock images or real people?

So what were the results? Well, Mrs. Generic finally met her match. It appears that an attractive smile is not a match for a good name. Overall, the familiarity hypothesis held some water. When the recognizable image of the founder was used, visitors were 35 % more likely to sign up for a free consultation. Remember, this is a 35% lift on top of many other previous gains in the testing-optimization cycle.

I was having a conversation with a friend who also works on websites just yesterday about how much we hate sites with generic, stock photos of people in offices. Nothing says “cheap, generic website like a photo of people in business clothes working on computers.

My friend told a funny story about his friend in the web design business who goes one step further. He takes a stock photo of an office building and Photoshops the business’s name on the side, even if they only have a couple of employees. Like no one will ever notice when they actually visit the business.

Stock photos are okay. Places like iStock.com make it easy to customize the look of a site with quality photographs for a few dollars. I have a client right now who does business locally rather than nationally, so I’m using stock photos of local landmarks so that visitors instantly know he’s local to them. It’s just the generic photos of smiling people that make a website look generic and insincere.

90,000 Strong Botnet Trying to Break in to WordPress Sites

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbArs TechnicaHuge attack on WordPress sites could spawn never-before-seen super botnet:

Security analysts have detected an ongoing attack that uses a huge number of computers from across the Internet to commandeer servers that run the WordPress blogging application.

The unknown people behind the highly distributed attack are using more than 90,000 IP addresses to brute-force crack administrative credentials of vulnerable WordPress systems, researchers from at least three Web hosting services reported. At least one company warned that the attackers may be in the process of building a “botnet” of infected computers that’s vastly stronger and more destructive than those available today. That’s because the servers have bandwidth connections that are typically tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times faster than botnets made of infected machines in homes and small businesses.

The attacks currently target the “admin” username and 1,000 common passwords. If you’ve got a simple or obvious password, now’s the time to change it.

If your WordPress admin account is admin you need to change that, too, and not just because of this bot network. I monitor failed login attempts, and 99% are using “admin” for the username.

I recommend the Better WP Security WordPress plugin for changing the admin username, monitoring failed logins and excessive 404s, and a whole lot more:

  • Change the database prefix from the default of “wp_”.
  • Disable admin logins during times when you never login.
  • Hide WordPress information in source code and files such as readme.html. That makes it less likely that Google searches and script tools can discover WordPress installations or WordPress versions with specific vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor file changes. I exclude directories that are supposed to have frequent file changes, like cache and backup directories:
    • wp-content/backup-db
    • wp-content/cache
    • wp-content/updraft
  • Temporarily or permanently ban access from IP addresses with excessive failed logins or 404s. Be careful with this setting. A search engine might hit the 404 limit when trying to access old URLs.
  • Optionally enable SSL for logins, admin area, or even the front end.

Backup WordPress First

Before making the security changes, backup your WordPress install. You should be doing automated backups anyway in case of successful hacks, server problems, or human error. Better WP Security has a backup feature, but I’ve tried it on two separate WordPress installations and couldn’t get the scheduled backup feature to work.

Instead I’m using the UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin for backups. It can backup the database and files separately. You should backup the database more often than the files. The database changes every time you create or modify a page or blog post, or receive a comment. The database is relatively tiny – even with thousands of blog posts and comments mine is only 437 MB – so backing it up doesn’t take much processor time or disk space.

Updraft Plus can email you the files, FTP or SSH them to another server, or upload them to cloud storage. Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive cloud storage are currently supported. You can choose to receive an email report every time the backup runs.

The Top 3 Cracked Articles About Computer Security

5 Clues Hidden in Computer Files That Can Get You Busted

6 Real Cyber Attacks Straight Out of a Bad Hacker Movie

5 Computer Hacks from Movies You Won’t Believe Are Possible

Using WordPress? Install Better WP Security to See How Many People are Trying to Break Into Your Site

I’m writing an article for work about WordPress security. Part of the process is trying different WordPress security plugins. One of the plugins I tried it Better WP Security, a Swiss army knife of security tools. One of its features is to log failed attempts to log into the WordPress backend.

Better WP Security Failed Logins Log

50 failed logins to the administrator account in 6 hours – Click to Enlarge

It turns out I’m getting hundreds of login attempts every day from people trying to guess the administrator password. That’s a bad thing.

A couple of things you can do if people are trying to log into your site:

  • Make sure you’re using a strong password.
  • Change the administrator account to something other than the default of “admin.” It’s under the User tab in Better WP Security. All of the failed logins for my site are for the “admin” username.
  • Turn off verbose login error messages (Remove WordPress Login Error Messages under Tweaks tab). By default, WordPress tells people whether their login failed because the username was bad or the password was bad. With this option off they won’t know which part of the login was incorrect. Let them think they should keep trying to get in with “admin.”
  • Enable login limits (Log tab). Users who give bad login credentials x number of times in y time period will be locked out of the site for z minutes. Optionally you can block IP addresses after a certain number of lockouts. You can opt to be notified by email when lockouts occur. The emails include the person’s IP address, which the log screen doesn’t. On my site about 50% of bad logins are from China, 30% are from Russia, and 20% are scattered all over the world.

“What happened to netbooks?”

Farhad Manjoo thinks Apple killed the netbook with the iPad and MacBook Air.

Netbooks are dead. Good riddance! Just a few years ago, these small, underpowered, ultracheap laptops were considered the future of the computer industry. In 2008 and 2009, recession-strapped consumers around the world began snapping up netbooks in droves. They became the fastest-growing segment of the PC market, and some wild-eyed analysts were suggesting that netbook sales would soon eclipse those of desktops and regular laptops combined. That didn’t happen. Over the past couple years the netbook market crashed. Now, as Charles Arthur reports in the Guardian, most major PC manufacturers have stopped making these tiny machines. The last holdouts were the Taiwanese firms Acer and Asus. Both say they won’t build any netbooks in 2013.

If you study the PC industry over the past five years, you find only one company that had the means, motive, and opportunity. Apple killed the netbook, more or less single-handedly, and we should all be grateful for it.

Blu-Ray Pet Peeves

Christmas was last week. I did what I usually do, which is to use three or four vacation days to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. During that break I spend time with my family, my pajamas, and my movies, which reminded me of some things.

Why the heck does it take Blu-Rays so much longer to load than old-fashioned DVDs? Newer tech is supposed to be faster, not slower.

I asked on Facebook and got different answers. I Googled and got different answers.

  • It’s because the interactive interface is written in Java, which is slow.
  • There’s more data to load than with DVDs.
  • Some units support BD-Live, and part of the delay is because the unit is trying to connect with BD-Live.
  • The movie studios got burned when DVD encryption was broken. With Blu-Ray the disc can contain newer versions of encryption. If the player doesn’t have the newer version on the disk it has to download that version before it can play the movie.

Beats me what the definitive answer is.

The other thing that bugs me about Blu-Rays and DVDs is not being able to fast-forward or skip whenever I want. Sometimes -like during the FBI warning or the intro – you can’t skip over them.

I paid for the disc. Now I’m getting “That is not allowed, citizen. Put down the remote and wait for the police to arrive.” Screw you, Hollywood.

It’s 2013. Do you know what your copyright statement says?

Time to update the copyright notice on your Web site and documents.

Bleg: Help me fix my weird PC audio problem

I’m having an oddball audio problem on my Windows XP tower.

My kids were using a pair of cheap headphones plugged into the headphone jack on the front of the PC. The tip of the plug broke off inside the headphone jack. The only way to listen to music is to plug in the broken headphones. Other headphones won’t work, because the broken plug tip is blocking the way.

Likewise, the rear sound jack won’t work. When you plug headphones in front, the computer assumes you don’t want to use the speakers, so it bypasses the rear sound jack. With the broken plug tip inside, the computer thinks headphones are plugged into the front.

I tried getting the broken plug out using a semi-straightened dental pick, but no dice. Any other ideas?

Is there a way to disable the front headphone jack in software? I’m thinking that if the computer didn’t know the front headphone jack existed it would stop bypassing the rear sound jack.

Any ideas appreciated.