Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2G is not dead — or the many ways of phasing it out.

This was written in reply to a post on Slashdot about the possibility of future 2G phaseouts around the world.

Developing economies, like Venezuela, are very unlikely to shut down 2G and 3G networks even in the long term. Venezuela in particular is also unlikely to introduce 5G within the next five years.

Venezuela was once a rich economy pursuant to its extensive oil wealth, but unfortunately, did not become an advanced economy, as the country did not diversify its economy, and let the generation of any form of local produce atrophy. Calling the country's sad state a 'developing economy' is at best generous, or aspirational.

wrt 2G and 3G, Africa and South Asia are just as unlikely to phase these technologies out; though 5G is likely to be introduced in some markets, after 5G implementations in Northern Europe will be rated stable. 5G was launched on 27 June 2018 in Finland and Estonia.

The situation with mobile tech adoption in India is mixed. On one hand, Reliance have switched 2G off, and their subsidiary Jio has 4G from the outset. On the other hand, Airtel have not shut their 2G network down, and I can imagine, that there may be smaller mobile providers that still offer 2G service.

Countries with large 2G-only and 3G-only userbases are unlikely to shut these networks off anytime soon, and will opt for a gradual migration.

Some of the reasons in favour of gradual migration:

* Late adoption of new technologies owing to reasons economic, or geographical: 3G was never implemented until very recently; so, the entire mobile network is based on 2G (GSM), and a large amount (if not most) people have 2G-only phones. Wealthier subscribers may have phones that support 3G, but are unable to use the technology because of non-existent infrastructure;
* 2G and 3G have become plain utilities akin to landline phones, and can therefore be harder to phase out for their entrenched status, since:

* many of their subscribers might not be able to afford anything else;
* upgrading would increase the rate of planned obsolescence (lots of useless handsets); and
* would add to large amounts of electronic waste
— despite being labeled a legacy technology.

* Countries, where the 2G/3G adoption ratio per population is small (percentage-wise), can afford to upgrade faster.

* Countries, where 2G/3G adoption is perhaps in single digits, can choose to:
** adopt 2G/3G either to quickly get more subscribers for less;
** or where there is no 2G/3G in the first place, said countries can leapfrog existing standards, and implement 4G from the outset, but with the downside, that not all people will be able to afford mobile telephony until the market is reasonably saturated, as newer technologies are also more expensive. Nepal is one of those.
* Operators in very large and very wealthy economies have both monetary and security incentives to upgrade, and most of their userbase is probably using 3G devices at the very least (think lots of iPhones with at least iPhone 3G). The United States and Australia are examples of this upgrade model.

A historical example with the quick phaseout of 1G in favour of the 2G GSM:
In Estonia, the 1G NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone) network was launched in 1991, and sunset in December 2000. In a country of 1.3 million, the greatest amount of NMT subscribers at EMT (then a major operator; now Telia) was about 19,000. By early 2000, the number of subscribers was 9600. And by December 2000, there were only 351 hold-outs left, after EMT announced in May that year, that they were going to shut the NMT network down in that same month of December. NMT was then still working in Finland, Sweden, and Russia.[Source: Ärileht, 11.12.2000]

Reasons for the shutdown of NMT in Estonia were the overall low and declining subscriber numbers, and the legacy status of the analogue 1G NMT network, which, compared to GSM, was not secure.

In time, 2G/GSM has in Estonia become an entrenched technology, relied on by people who choose to have a featurephone because of its high reliability, or because they're unable to afford a smartphone (pensioners). In 2016, Telia (then Elion) turned off WAP. The status of 2G in Estonia is similar to the rest of Europe: Despite the reasonably early adoption of 3G, GSM remains widespread, is in some ways entrenched, and operators have chosen a softly-softly approach with gradual migration.

The approach taken in Pakistan is different to that of India. In Pakistan, 3G and 4G were launched on 23 April 2014, which is quite late compared to China and the Philippines (both 2008). While four years ago may seem like a long time, then it really isn't. This late adoption of 3G and 4G means, that the number of GSM-only subscribers with 2G-only phones is still substantial.

That GSM is entrenched in such a way, is not a bad thing. It could be called 'deep adoption', which means, that the service is essential, widespread, and available to most everyone. Especially, when landlines are scarce. GSM was the first mobile standard adopted worldwide, and joining and using a GSM network is affordable to a very large number of people. GSM is like a well-managed regional bus service: One could use it to travel across the country, but not quickly. Removing it in the absence of viable alternatives would substantially reduce the level of development in the country, and would reduce its inhabitants' quality of life.

3G and 4G are faster: 3G is like inter-city bus service, and 4G like a high-speed express train. Neither is essential, not all territories are covered by it, but they have their uses and customers.

Other parallels: Radio is like 0G; analogue tv = 1G; DVB-T (digital terrestrial tv) = 2G (MPEG-2 or 4, non-HD); DVB-T2 = 3G (with full support for Full-HD broadcasts in MPEG-4); and cable tv (based on IPtv) is like 4G.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A snippet on using Android 2.3 in 2018.

The text below was written in reply to a comment under one video about using Android 2.3 in 2018.
Pinch-to-zoom can and does work, but several things need to be done beforehand to implement this feature.

If I heard correctly, then the phone in question is a Huawei M865C, aka Huawei Ascend 2.

One must update the device's system clock to make sure that some of the certificates are (correctly) rendered invalid, and that others still remain valid. This resolves only some of the certificate issues with the native browser component.

Then one must let the OS auto-update Google Play Store and Google Play Services in the background. These two have several update cycles each to go through, as one depends on a version of another to update.

The version numbers below are based on what they are in Android 2.3.6.

AFAIK, the most recent Gingerbread version of Google Play Store is version 6.2.0.2; and the latest Google Play Services is v. 10.0.84.

The latest or most modern installable version of Google Play Services may take well over 100 MB of local storage, so a microSD card may be in order for long-term use. Some Gingerbread devices support formatting a microSD card into an extended system volume.

Once Google Play Store is accessible, update Google Maps. The most recent version is 6.14.5. The most recent version of YouTube is 5.5.30. Watching videos and most other activities are possible, except uploading — there, you'll get a 410 error.

If all that doesn't work, install Firefox 31.0 (if the phone has ARMv6 CPU), or a version of Firefox up to and including 47.0 (ARMv7). Firefox has its own certificate store, which is quite a bit more up-to-date.

These versions are not the latest versions of Firefox, but will work in Android 2.3.

Note, that Firefox will work and render modern websites, but it's slow to start up. Most sites will load nicely, but some will not. Use an ad-blocker or NoScript.

Use Firefox to login to the the web-based Google Play Store, where one can download/install the official Google Maps from there.

I also recommend updating to Android 2.3.6, as it has some improvements, and slightly newer security certificates. The Android version in the video was certainly v2.3.4 or less.



If there is not enough storage to update Google Play Services:

Back up all your photos and videos, then use the built-in file manager.

In file manager settings, set it to show hidden files, and to show file extensions. Go to approximately where the photos are typically saved to: /sdcard/DCIM/.thumbnails . Files and folders with a leading dot are hidden.

Go into the .thumbnails folder, select all files, and delete them. This should save plenty of space, but note, that the system may re-create the thumbnail database at any time. Do not delete the DCIM folder, as it's the default folder where photos are saved to. The photo app can be configured to save to a microSD card, if one is available.

Note, that if one or more thumbnails contain a small-scale image of a valuable deleted photo, you can connect the phone to the computer as a mass storage device, if the computer has access to relevant drivers.

You might need a separate microSD card on that phone, and if your particular phone models supports it, you can format or set the microSD card as an extension of system storage. Keep in mind, that that card is then tied to the phone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Eesti kelle spelleri kasutamisest

Hiljuti saatsin tagasisidet ühele ettevõttele, mille ühel leheküljel oli kirjaviga, millest võis järeldada seda, et vigase teksti avaldaja võis olla kasutanud avatud lähtekoodiga / vabatarkvaralist Hunspell spellerit ja selle eesti keele sõnastikku. Siin on tagasiside tekst:

Võib eeldada, et kasutusel oli avatud lähtekoodiga / vabatarkvaraline Hunspell speller koos eesti keele sõnastikuga. Viimane pole täiuslik, kuid see on kasutuses järgmistes levinud tarkvarapakettides, mis tarvitavad õigekirjakontrolliks Hunspell spellerikomponenti:

• avatud lähtekoodiga Mozilla Firefox ja selle derivaadid (Pale Moon, GNU IceCat, Waterfox) või sõsarprojekt (nt. SeaMonkey);
• omanduslik, kuid eri aegadel tasuta jagatud StarOffice;
• avatud lähtekoodiga / vabatarkvaralised OpenOffice.org, Apache OpenOffice või LibreOffice;
• või suuresti omanduslik Google Chrome, mis põhineb avatud lähtekoodiga Chromium projektil. Google Chrome'i lehitseja spellerikomponentide hinge-elu ma väga täpselt ei tea.
※ Saab küll oletada, et omanduslik Google Chrome võib tõenäoliselt kasutada Hunspell spellerit, kuid ei pruugi, sest võib pigem pakkuda Google'i enda spellerikomponenti või -teenust.
※ Hunspell spellerikomponent võib olla Chrome'is siiski kaasas, sest see sisaldub avatud lähtekoodiga Chromiumis.

Ülalpool mainitud kontoripakettidest on StarOffice ja OpenOffice.org mõlemad vananenud ja aegunud, ning Apache OpenOffice'i arendus toppama jäänud ja aeglane.

LibreOffice'i arendus on kõige kiirem, kuid eesti keele sõnastik pole ka siis täiuslik, sest Hunspell spellerikomponenti ja sellele mõeldud eesti keele sõnastikku arendatakse eraldi, ning eesti keele sõnastiku arendamise progress on suurte keelte sõnastike arendusega võrreldes aeglasem.

See kõik tähendab omakorda seda, et kasutajad peavad nimetatud programmides sisalduvate spellerite poolt märgatud ja eesti keele sõnastikule tundmatuna märgitud sõnade juures olema eriti tähelepanelikud, et mitte läbi lasta kirja- või trükivigu sisaldavat teksti.

Sama kehtib muuseas ka Microsofti toodete puhul, ehkki omanduslikus Microsoft Office'is kasutatud õigekirjakontroll on paremini välja töötatud, ning on aastate jooksul olnud motiveeritud arenduses.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Delfi Flash-põhine video, Firefox ja privaatne lehitsemine

Niisiis tekkis hiljuti vajadus vaadata Delfis artikli juurde käivat videot, aga video kohe tööle ei läinud.

Tingimused olid järgmised:
* Inteli integreeritud videoadapteriga (videokaardiga) sülearvuti, mis ei toeta OpenGL-i seda versiooni, kus Firefoxis mängiks HTML5 video;
* Windows XP SP3;
* Mozilla Firefox 38.8 (eestikeelne);
* VLC Media Player (see osutub hiljem oluliseks);
* Flash Player, mida selle vanema versiooni tõttu automaatselt ei aktiveerita;
* Firefoxi privaatse lehitsemise režiim;
* Samuti annab Firefox veebilehtedele teada, et jälitamist ei soovita (küpsised jne.).

Video mitte-esinemisel osutusid peamisteks põhjusteks teatud Delfi jt. domeenidel pluginate ja küpsiste õigused, ehk nende puudumine.

Protsessi kirjeldus


Kuna HTML5 video mängimine ei tööta videoadapteri draiveris OpenGL 2.0 toetuse puudumisel, langeb Delfi pleier tagasi Flashile, mille põhjal hakkab tööle JWPlayer.

Firefox kuni versioonini 43.x (k.a.) toetab küpsiste salvestamise kohta küsimist, kuid see süsteem ei tööta privaatse veebilehitsemise režiimis, ning eeldatavasti ka siis, kui Firefox annab veebilehtedele teada, et jälitamist ei soovita. Viimane võib tähendada, et ei võeta vastu küpsiseid, aga selle protsessi hingeelu ma täpselt ei tunne.

Lahendus


Kuna aga videomängijat ei tulnud ette, selgus lähemal uurimisel, et Flash ja küpsised oleksid teatud domeenidel lubatud.

Muuhulgas asub Flashil põhinev JWPlayer näiteks g3.nh.ee domeenil.

Küpsiste ja pluginate õiguste muutmiseks tuleb teha järgmist:
  • Mine aadressile

    http://g1.nh.ee/ct/ej/arrow_250.png

    Ette tuleb PNG-formaadis olev noolepilt, ning väljaspoolt pilti tee lehitseja (musta värvi) vaatealale paremklikk ja vali hüpikmenüüst "Vaata veebilehe teavet".
  • Uues aknas "Veebilehe teave" mine vahekaardile Õigused, ning erinevate õiguste nimekirjas tee järgmised muudatused:
    • Sektsioonis Pluginate aktiveerimine vali raadionupp "Lubatud" igal real, kus on "VLC Web", sh. ka see VLC rida, kus võib olla kirjas "Plugin võib sisaldada turvaauku!" Seletuseks niipalju, et peale VLC installimist on Flash-plugin märgitud mingil põhjusel VLC-ks.
    • Keri nimekirjas alla, kuni jõuad eraldiseni Küpsiste salvestamine.
      Seal vali "Lubatud" või "Lubatud selleks seansiks".
    • Korda sama asja järgmistel aadressidel:
      • Delfi koduleht (www.delfi.ee) või vajadusel mõni muu Delfi alamleht, mille artiklis näidatakse videot, nagu näiteks Delfi Publik (publik.delfi.ee)
      • Delfit toetavad domeenid:
        • http://g1.nh.ee/ct/ej/arrow_250.png
        • http://g3.nh.ee/m/dd/nupp.png
      • JWPlayeri domeen:
        https://ssl.p.jwpcdn.com/6/12/logo.png
      • Video lähtedomeen aadressil eeds.babahhcdn.com või mõni muu babahhcdn.com alamdomeen:
        http://eeds.babahhcdn.com/crossdomain.xml
  • Videot sisaldav artikli lehekülg tuli uuesti laadida.
Suurema osa näitefailide asukohad sain kätte klikkides näiteks Delfi artiklil "Vaata veebilehe teavet" ja siis selle akna sektsioonist "Meedia". Ülejäänud asukohad sain teada Firefoxi veebiarendaja Network tööriista ja Internetiotsinguga. (Nii või teisiti olid failide asukohtad avalikult kättesaadavad.)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Remedying high CPU usage in Firefox when visiting the Esquire site

I recently visted the Esquire site, and Firefox hung for many long minutes, with Process Explorer (a Task Manager alternative) showing very high CPU usage. To stop this, I had to end the Firefox process.

I experienced this with Firefox 38.8 and 39.0.3, both on Windows XP SP3. These two browser versions are relatively close to one another, but in different computers, which led me to conclude, that the issue is server-side.

The culprit is a possibly malformed font file with the .css extension:

assets.hearstapps.com/sites/esquire/assets/css/fonts-deferred.afa78bb.css

This is the file that you have to block.

If you use NoScript already, don't visit the Esquire site yet, and go instead to NoScript Options.
• In the Other tab, there is the ABE subtab;
• Click the USER rule/set in the left pane, and paste the following code into the right pane:

#ESQUIRE HIGH RESOURCE USAGE
Site .assets.hearstapps.com/sites/esquire/assets/css/fonts-deferred.afa78bb.css
Deny INCLUSION(FONT,CSS)

#This is a widespread tracker or ad service of some kind. Used by Esquire, too.
Site .nexus.ensighten.com
Deny

Click OK.

You can now try out the Esquire website. Works for me.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Predictions of FM radio's demise are overrated. FM radio in Estonia.

This was written as an AC and as a reply to a post on Slashdot, but turned out to be too long. There's plenty of discussion, among which there's a U.S.-centric notion, that FM channels there do not play much good music, and a substantial amount of airtime is devoted to ads.

So, I'm in Estonia, and the local public (national) broadcaster ERR has five channels, of which four are broadcast nationwide, while Raadio Tallinn airs just around the capital and its surrounding counties.

Of these, Raadio 2 is like BBC Radio One. It is youth-oriented, plays current music, has some talk programmes; its evening programmes are themed by music genre. Raadio Tallinn plays adult contemporary, jazz, and world music with just news a the top of the hour. Klassikaraadio is self-explanatory. There are promos to events, but no ads. Raadio Tallinn almost has no promos at all. It's all free to listeners, and ad-free ERR channels are entirely paid for by the taxpayer.

Across the country, there are 33 channels in total, but not all are broadcast nationwide. 28 channels are privately-run; of these, there are about four or five that are Christian; six are broadcast in the Russian language (seven total with ERR). Some are only regional. In the north of the country, I could sometimes pick up two Finnish channels.

The non-Christian privately-run channels typically play music geared toward different listeners: one plays only Estonian-language music; another only Russian-language music; another one is extremely conservative, dislikes the state and does conspiracy theories; yet another one is mainstream talk radio. Most others are in-between, vacillating between retro and pop.

Across Estonia, there's music and great (and not-so-great) content available to all tastes, and I don't know of anyone who'd be complaining about radio.

With the exception of Norway with only digital radio, I can imagine, that Finland and other EU/EEA countries have a similar radio landscape.

Because of the large installed base of FM receivers, it would seem really pointless for a country -- as it seems pointless in my view -- to switch FM radio off in its entirety. While digital radio broadcasting has its advantages, then it would be better to implement it side-by-side with FM radio in order to counter planned obsolescence. The side-by-side method is transitional.

Estonia's switch-over to digital tv in 2010 was a major thing. By then, most people had already transitioned away from Soviet-made SECAM sets to those made in the West because of a need to adopt the PAL standard, so anything with a SCART outlet was good for a digital box.

Friday, December 29, 2017

YouTube and Android 2.3

This article is not entirely a resolution. Its main content (further below) is a reply I wrote in a thread on Google Product Forums, but I thought to post it here first, because I can add links and more context.

What follows at this point, is what people might be looking for first.

Update: Since 30.12.2017, the YouTube app works again. Yay.
The original text will remain below.

So, the YouTube app does not work on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and below, and shows "Error 410".

For me, the currently working resolution in Android 2.3 is to use the mobile YouTube site in the default browser ("Internet"), which sends the YouTube stream to the built-in video player app. It works, but is impractical.
As of December 2017, Android 4.0 ICS is the earliest major version of Android still supported by the official native YouTube app. The app must be up-to-date, and version 11.01.70 certainly works.

This I found out, when I was granted access to a phone that runs Android 4.0.3.
Since Android 2.3 typically runs on lower-specced devices, then Firefox for Android is unlikely to work as a player conduit for YouTube.

That's because on low-end devices, Firefox can be a resource hog even when configured in conjunction with the NoScript extension to be as resource-unintensive as possible.

Nevertheless I consider Firefox on Android 2.3 with NoScript to be like a life-saver, expecially when many modern websites have refused to load in the default browser.

13.01.2018: It should be note, that on the basis of 2 billion monthly Android users (as of May 2017), the 0.4% of active Android 2.3 Gingerbread users make up about eight million people, which is the population size of several countries.
The forum thread reply:
The particular Android 4.0.3 phone I did research with, only has the YouTube app updated, and Google Play Services, too. (The latter auto-updates in the backround.)

Other apps in the device are not, and were never updated. — That was mostly through a stroke of curious unluck: As far as I could tell, the phone's owner never signed into his Google account linked to the device for the entire time he'd been using the phone. The Android UI did ask for account sign-in all the time, but the owner dismissed the notifications. So, this prevented automatic updates and upgrades to Google Play Services, and prevented automatic updates and upgrades of all of the other built-in apps in the device.

Then I came around and resolved the account issue. That fix enabled automatic updates of Google Play Services, and enabled access to the Google Play Store, where I quickly disabled automatic updates of apps.

Note, that Google Play Services is a core component of official Android, and therefore it's one of the few components for which automatic updates cannot be disabled.

Some of the Google apps in that phone might already have some updates applied, but they are not in their latest versions (Google Maps, Hangouts, etc.). Then I only updated YouTube—mostly in order to find out and report if at least Android 4.0 is supported.

The particular device I was checking out, has an 800 MHz single-core CPU, and 512 MB RAM. That's not a lot, but even nowadays, low-end phones with only that much RAM memory are still being sold as new.[1]

Such phones are good for just one or two apps at a time, and users would be well-advised to prioritise which apps they want to keep. For example, YouTube is a major go-to app. Facebook has an official lite version of its app available; others services, like twitter, offer mobile-friendly and lite versions of their website, if the default browser is too old.

Users should also close the apps they are not using at any particular moment.

In Androids ca version 4.x, long-pressing the Home button lists all the open apps; swiping apps to the right closes them. In newer Androids, single-pressing the Menu button shows the rolodex of any open apps; these, too, can be closed by swiping them to the right.