Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Google Plus app won't work in Android 2.3 any longer. Use Firefox.

This came up as an issue for me recently, and I wrote this as a reply to another person who wasn't able to access Google+ content in their app anymore. This post is meant for seasoned Android users.

Since mid-to-late February 2017, the Google Plus app wouldn't work any longer in my phone, which runs on Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread, and can't be upgraded to a newer Android version.

While the Google Plus website still works on the mobile web, the stock web browser ("Internet") is far too outdated to visit Google+ and other modern sites.

The solution — or workaround, if you will — is to download and install Firefox for Android. Try from Google Play Store first. If that doesn't work, you need to download Firefox from the Mozilla archive.

• Temporarily switch on third-party app installs.
• Below is a breakdown of which Firefox version is compatible with which combination of ARM CPU architecture and older Android version. Each Firefox version links to the appropriate Mozilla archive directory.
ARMv6 devices —
Android 2.2, 2.3: Firefox 31.3.0esr
ARMv7 devices —
Android 2.2: Firefox 31.0
Android 2.3 (on a slower phone, <1 GHz): 44.0.2
Android 2.3: Firefox 47.0
Then from the Mozilla Add-ons website, install an adblocker to block ads. I suggest uBlock Origin, because it has built-in support for anti-adblock lists; this needs to be turned on separately, but works.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A small ARM primer

Android devices' CPUs are by and large ARM microprocessors, as these were chosen for their low-power features.

The ARM family consists of different architectures, each of which is named ARMvX, where v stands for 'version', and X is the architecture version number.

CPU architectures can be incompatible with one another, as each have different instruction sets, and programs made for one architecture won't run on the other (or there's a heavy performance penalty).

Most Android device CPUs are based on ARMv7-A (usually shortened to ARMv7) or greater, but a bevy of older devices have ARMv6.

Consequently, not all Android device CPUs are based on ARMv7 or greater, and that's why it's important to pay attention to which architecture an app was compiled for.

ARMv7 is subdivided into series of architecture profiles, of which Android devices use ARMv7-A (Application profile). The ARMv7-A grouping is also known as Cortex-A.

A deeper subdivision in each architecture is a core, and these are named differently. Cores within the same architecture are mostly compatible between one another, but differ in performance.

Each device manufacturer or maintainer of a compatible Android fork makes their own compilation of the operating system; first for a particular architecture, and then optimised for each processor type, graphics adapter (GPU), and other hardware features.

I'm specifically pointing cores out because of naming similarities between cores and architectures; for example, ARMv7 should not be confused with ARM Cortex-A7, since the former is the architecture, and the latter a core that uses said architecture.

Respectively, ARM11 is the microprocessor core using ARMv6 architecture; as ARM Cortex-A5 and ARM Cortex-A7 are under ARMv7.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Some URL entry line edit commands in Lynx for Windows

Ctrl + a — move cursor to start of line
Ctrl + e — move cursor to end of line
Ctrl + d — delete next character

Ctrl + b — delete one word back (to left) from cursor position
Ctrl + f — delete one word forward (to right) from cursor position
^ These are useful for long URLs

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Uploading files via Firefox in Android 2.3

This is very much a quick-and-dirty post, so that I wouldn't forget about it. As my phone is also currently charging while off, I can't check out some information pertaining to this post. Some time after the phone will have charged, I'll update this post accordingly.

So, yesterday, I had this need to upload a file to a project in Github via Firefox in Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Now, Github is quite a modern website, and in Android 2.3, the logical browser for visiting Github and other state-of-the-art sites is Firefox for Android or a derivative, such as GNU IceCat, Orfox, and Adblock Browser.

I have two browsers my phone: GNU IceCat 38.8 and Firefox 44.0. Both have NoScript installed, and Github servers were whitelisted in both. Separate issues with uploading are covered at the end of this post.

The crux of the problem is having a filepicker that works.

Typically, an Android user gets a file activity dialog to pick an app through which to select a file; such as Gallery for photos and videos or somesuch.

For a simple text file, things are a bit more complicated, but I've discovered two kinds of filepickers that I associated with having installed two separate apps.

• One filepicker, "Choose file" with blue folder icons, seems to be related to VimTouch, a version of Vim for Android, because I noticed that filepicker after installing this great text editor.
• Another filepicker, "Find file" or "Find command" (I might err with its title) is adorned with the Terminal Emulator icon.

Both VimTouch (alternatively spelled 'Vim Touch') and Termminal Emulator were installed through F-Droid, a respository of free and open source apps for Android.

The filepicker that works, is the one I associate with Terminal Emulator.

Unfortunately, I don't know beyond my memory of my app installation activities, and beyond one app icon about how to find out which app or handler these two particular filepickers are actually associated with.

Upload issues.

Resolved on 28.04.2017.

With IceCat, there were issues relating to uploading files to GitHub, whereby file upload failed with an error. File upload to GitHub worked with Firefox for Android, but for some odd reason, did not work in IceCat.

Now, I use NoScript in Android Firefox and in IceCatMobile (based on Firefox with very small changes). Since both have slightly different NoScript whitelists, then I attributed the issue to an incomplete NoScript whitelist in IceCatMobile. But it was not at fault, and the problem was much simpler, though no less esoteric.

Turns out, that, all other things being almost equal, GitHub does not recognise the Firefox-based GNU IceCat browser when uploading files if an IceCat-only desktop user-agent (UA) string is used.

The solution is to change in IceCat's about:config page the Gecko-based user-agent override affecting the Github domain to that of Firefox, leaving the version number intact.

<Moot:> Possible issues wrt NoScript
The reason for that, is, that I edit NoScript whitelists in Vim Touch so as to get a very fine-grained whitelist on a subdomain level (3rd-level domains and below, such as sub.domain.tld ), because the browser extension in Android does not provide such functionality.

The rationale for subdomain-level whitelisting is, that my phone is rather underpowered, and sub-domain-level whitelists in Firefox/derivatives make it possible to allow advanced site functionality, and at the same time, to block script-based ads and trackers. In addition, it's possible switch off very resource-intensive site functionality by blocking certain subdomains of a website. Such features are impossible in the stock Android browser, the rendering engine of which dates from 2011.

(I'm thinking of writing a separate post about all that.)

So, the NoScript whitelist for IceCat is typically more fine-grained; yet oddly, file upload to Github actally worked with Firefox.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Posting URLs with multiple concurrent dots in YouTube comments

In a YouTube discussion under one of the Star Trek-related video clips, a commenter ha posted an address to a Memory Alpha page into the comments, but the address to the article was truncated, because it contained three concurrent dots:

Intended address:

and as it turned out in truncated form:

Note, that the two last dots are gone, and if the address is clicked on at YouTube comments, the browser is taken to a "404/Not found" page in Memory Alpha.

The article about what Star Trek is, actually does contain three dots at the end of its address, but the YouTube comments system doesn't like it, as I found this out through my Google+ notifications on the desktop and the (linked) comments at desktop YouTube.

The somewhat unorthodox solution to avoiding dots from being truncated is to insert the URL with those three ending dots and replace the two last-most dots with their percent-encoded representations. Case in point:

That one dot there may remain.

The percent-encoded values are available from Windows Character Map, a similar program in UNIX/Linux, or through any Unicode character table available on the web.

One can also try with

— with "typed dot | precent-encoded dot | typed dot" after "_is", but there cannot be any two or more concurrent normally-typed dots.

Truncation of characters in addresses pasted (or typed) into YouTube comments can also apply to other web addresses with multiple concurrent characters, but I do not know, which types of characters are more affected or less. I could lay a claim, that special and non-alphanumeric characters that are used in programming, are treated with a greater level of scrutiny.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Long-lasting designs

This is a reply to a post on YouTube discussing the longevity of Miranda-class ships in the fictional Star Trek universe.

Long-lasting old designs in various complex technology branches is really nothing new.

wrt this and the car industry, then off the top of my head, I can cite as examples the Volkswagen Beetle (1938–2003, 65y), the VW microbus (1949–2013, 64y), and Citroën 2CV (1948–1990, 42y).

Fiat 124 (1966) was transmogrified into Soviet Zhiguli/Lada cars, production of which design ended in 2012 in Russia, but continued well into 2014 in Egypt. With 2014 in mind, that's 48 years of mostly continuous production, though in that same year of 2014, the plant in Egypt had a fire

With trams, it's the PCC Streetcar (1936), numerous modifications of which are still in service. I don't know, whether any new PCC-spec trams are still built.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress had its first flight in 1952, and these planes are still in service.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Most supernovae are misclassified as nebulae...

...Because the calculations reflecting the speed of light en route to Earth are off, since they don't take into account the effects caused by the confluence of time dilation and dark matter across the long trip that the photons take.

The title refers to numerous photos of nebulae, which I think are really supernovas in progress. I attribute this misclassification the the sheer distance involved and what I think are inaccurate speed-of-light calculations, because the distance between an event and Earth is so great. So, even a quick event in a galaxy far, far away just appears to happen very, very slowly when viewed from here. — So slowly for that matter, that the event looks to be in a standstill.

Dark matter, black holes, and other crazy theories

What I think dark matter is

Dark matter, in turn, is gravity from black holes (aka singularities) not (yet) manifest in this realm. These black holes are singularities, but not black holes, because they haven't opened up yet, but are close enough to the 'wall' separating them and this universe to cause gravimetric emissions. Alternately, I can describe dark matter as just a gravimetric echo of a black hole not yet manifest.

Imagine putting small magnet pieces on paper and then moving them around using a big magnet on the other side of that sheet of paper. The sheet of paper is that wall.

The black holes themselves don't open up just like that. A typical process in the lifetime of a manifest black hole is first to collect enough matter. And well, if there's no matter, then the singularity won't bother either.

But — if there's enough matter, the gravity of the non-manifest black hole (the 'dark matter') will collect the matter together. The right elements that are easier to attract will congregate into one or more masses, of which one such mass is large enough to be solar-forming.

The catch is, that black holes rotate, and the solar material basically chafes at the fabric of the 'wall' separating ths realm from what is probably another one. One possibility is, that a certain small amount of solar material moves from this realm through an inner back hole (inside a sun) to the other side. Well, enter pulsars. Some pulsars are long-lasting and stable, but emit solar material from the other side transmogrified into very powerful pulsar emissions.

Now, the stars and the suns are just pimples of the universe, which are mostly stable. In some cases, a star runs out of fuel (collected matter) and becomes a dwarf.

In other cases, there is some kind of an imbalance that causes a supernova to happen.

An open black hole sucks everything in; imagine a drain, and water going through it is just space. But in space, it's totally 3-dimensional. |There might be more dimensions.|

For a supernova, one option is, that as the amount of solar material increases, a black hole within the stellar object gets more powerful (and maybe sucks more in). Or that it is sustained, along with the star around it. Once the stellar object runs out of fuel, the opening of the singularity inner to the stellar object cannot be sustained, and as that singularity leaves its 'nest' and closes within the stellar object, the remaining solar material that has so far made up that stellar object — unable to be to be sucked in anywhere — disperses. Often violently.

Imagine a rubber balloon and then applying pressure from its hind end. Apply too much pressure, and the ballooon pops. The rubber pieces of the balloon fly around quickly and sometimes violently, as they hit stuff in their way.

13.11.2016 update.

I later thought about actual open black holes that don't have any light around them. As I'd described stars as pimples of the universe, then I could think of not just one type of supernova, but more than one.

So, one type of supernova is likely to be caused by dispersing solar (and other) matter once a singularity has closed up, but the collected matter around the closing doesn't have anywhere to move. That's described above. To add to that, such a nova happens, if the closing is not safe, or if there's surplus material and gravity, and maybe an imbalance involved, but the hole itself closes.

The other type of supernova is caused by a tear in the continuum. The magnets and paper description might come into play here, as rotating black holes are covered by stars (note, that manifest singularities are circular, but instead of forming a mass, they are 3D drains when open), which avoid, prevent or delay the tear from happening.

So it could be, that a certain star runs out of fuel, but a greater imbalance causes the black hole to manifest.
What may be causes to the imbalance, are unknown. Perhaps lack of sufficent matter to close the hole, if the singularity is too powerful. In that case, it's not so much solar matter exploding outwards, but a violent opening, whereby normal gravity is pushed away, in the process also pushing outwards, but not destroying/extinguishing all extant matter that is in the way. That is disperesed before the hole opens.

At this point, I'm too tired, and the previous paragraph is too illogical even to me. I'd rather read up on Wikipedia about actual discoveries and proofs, but later.

All this from the crazy theories dept. I felt so giddy this hour, that I wanted to put out something off the wall with lots of non-sensical technobabble.

Added minor wording and idea updates a few days later.