YubiKey 5 NFC with 1Password on iOS

tl;dr Yubikey 5 NFC works great with 1Password on iOS (assuming your phone has NFC).

I just got 1Password to use on my iPhone and my Mac. The website allows using a Yubikey as a second factor (in addition to apps, like Authy or Google Authenticator). Turns out, the iOS 1Password app also handles the Yubikey 5 NFC properly: open the app and it asks for the password, and then for the second factor. If you scan your Yubikey using NFC, the app recognizes it. 

The alert pointing to the special website also appears, but it is not necessary to go to it.

Ubuntu optical drives

After spending about 45 minutes trying to figure out why the optical drive (ASUS BW-16D1HT) I installed in my new computer build was not being seen by Ubuntu 18.04, a post at AskUbuntu (I did not save the link) mentioned that the optical drive should be installed in the first SATA slot (ID 0 [zero]). After I did that, and rebooted, it worked fine:

  • insert a DVD or Blu-Ray disc, and the Nautilus file manager mounts it automatically
  • open VLC, and select the drive (now correctly known as /dev/cdrom or some similar friendly name), and it see the DVD properly and can play it

Regarding playing DVDs: you need to install VLC, and a bunch of codecs, typically in a “restricted” repo. Here is the official documentation -- no need to add third-party repos.

sudo apt install libdvd-pkg && sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

You will also want to use "sudo apt install vlc" to install VLC. For some reason, installing using the graphical Software marketplace app gives you a slightly older version.

sudo apt install vlc

If you want (or need) to set your device region code:

sudo apt install regionset && sudo regionset

You may need to specify a device to regionset, e.g. /dev/cdrom

Nokia 6 smartphone

Just got a new Nokia 6 smartphone, with lock screen offers from Amazon. Only $180 cheap. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat, stock except for the lock screen ads. Ars Technica likes it. It has been less than a full day, but I like it so far.

It looks nice: I got the copper version. And it's the biggest phone I have personally owned. It's not particularly fast, but it's a secondary phone that I use for work. The nice thing about the big screen is that Nougat enables split screen multitasking. Just touch and hold the "switch app" button (lower right, with the square shape icon). It also conveniently flags spam phone calls.

Here's the official product image from Nokia, the split screen, and the spam warning:




Manual iOS backups via iTunes only keeps latest

I discovered this the hard way. iOS backups using the iTunes application will overwrite any older backups. I made a backup of iOS 10.3.3 and then updated to iOS 11 beta, then immediately made another backup. Then I discovered that an old app did not save data in the usual way for iOS apps; it only allowed exporting as CSV. I previously made manual backups of all applicable app data in installed apps, but this particular app did not have one.

So, I have likely lost the data in that app. I happen to have a 10.3.3 backup from this morning in Time Machine. We shall see if it works.

UPDATE: Time Machine did capture the last 10.3.3 backup, so I can downgrade. Once again, a reminder that backups are a good thing.

Google AIY Project - voice assistant

I saw issue 57 of MagPi magazine, the official Raspberry Pi magazine, on the newsstand last week, and it included a hardware kit to build a voice assistant like Google Home or Amazon Echo. It is produced by Google AIY Projects which aims “to put AI into the maker toolkit, to help you solve real problems that matter to you and your communities.” 

You just have to buy your own Raspberry Pi, and the SD card for storage, and a power supply if you don't have one handy. I got the Pi 3 Model B. A phone charger works well enough as a power supply, as long as it can put out a certain amount of current. 

It was pretty fun to assemble, nothing tricky and no soldering. Initially, the button light did not work, but a few minutes of flipping the LED and jiggling connections fixed it. I would say even a kid of 10 could do the assembly. The trickier bit is in doing the authentication stuff and getting API keys, etc. If  you have not done such a thing before, it's no big deal since the directions (in the physical magazine and the AIY website) lead you through it step by step.


DD-WRT WAN DHCP client disconnect

At some point, it seems that Comcast/Xfinity may have changed how they handle DHCP leases. I have had this issue starting in the past week or so: at some point, my WAN connection goes down, and multiple reboots of both the router and the cable modem do not restore the connection. However, turning the power off and then back on does seem to work.

After having only my Mac directly on the cable modem for a few days, which meant that it was the only device (except for phones) which was on the internet, it got really annoying not being able to watch Netflix and Hulu.

One more set of cold reboots, and I noticed that the DHCP lease time remaining was less than an hour. I have a vague notion it was more like 24 hours, before, but I could easily be mistaken. Anyway, I discovered this post on the DD-WRT forums. Apparently, some ISPs push the DHCP lease renewal, which the router's firewall blocks. So, the fix is to add an iptables rule to accept the renewal:

iptables -I INPUT -p udp --dport 68 -j ACCEPT

In the router web interface, go to Administration -> Commands. In the Commands text box, type in the line above, and click Save Firewall. That runs the command and saves it to the iptables config to persist across boots.

Cleaning the iPhone 5s rear camera

Somehow or other, my iPhone 5s gets a lot of dust inside it, affecting both front and rear cameras. Following instructions on ifixit.com, I was able to get in and clean both out.

I found out that you should NOT use compressed air on the rear camera (probably on the front camera, too). While the image overall is better, there are now several noticeable smeared out darker blotches on the image. I am guessing they are due to dust on the sensor.

Fire OS updated to 4.6.1 and almost all Google apps work

Since Amazon updated Fire OS on the phone to 4.6.1, recently, almost all the major Google apps now work. (See previous post.) The only one which stopped working was Google+: the Google Play store claims incompatibility. And Maps does not locate the device properly, which is odd because the location-based game Ingress works fine.

Before this Fire OS update, Gmail, Inbox, and Calendar did not work. All these now work.

Getting Google Play Store on an Amazon Fire Phone

I just scored an Amazon Fire Phone when the cut the price for a brand new unlocked device (32 GB) to $189 from $450 for a day or two. It's to replace the HTC One (M7) that became unusably slow after an update to Android 4.4, and also a cheap $200 Samsung Core II DUOS that I got abroad as a travel phone (painfully slow and laggy).

The big deficiency is that it does not have the Google Play Store. Turns out, on Amazon Fire OS 3.6.8, no rooting is needed to "sideload" apps. You do have to download APKs from a non-authorized source, though. You can get Google Play Store by the method in the video below.

Once that is installed, you will need to generate an application-specific password to sign in to the Play Store.

UPDATE: Well, I've had this for a couple of hours and there are major caveats. Some of the Google apps will not work, as they require a newer version of Google Play Services, which crashes on this version of Fire OS. Apps which do not work: Gmail, Inbox. However Google Drive does work, which is awesome.

UPDATE 2: More stuff which works or doesn't work. Dropbox, and Ingress work. So do Swarm, and Instagram. Instagram does not do location, however. I was surprised by Ingress because Google Maps (and My Maps) does not work. There seems to be an issue with handling location. It seems to be arbitrary which apps will work, and which will not.