Archives for : March2014

Exploding Hand Boiler

In good time for Christmas we bought our son a Hand Boiler from Hawkin’s Bazaar.  It’s the sort of geeky thing a seven year old finds fascinating.  For £4 it seemed like a bargain, and until today it was.

Thankfully nobody was near it when it exploded, showering glass shards all over the room.  We don’t really want to think of what could have happened.  Naturally, all the pieces were swept up.  The room was vacuumed and the shards put in the bin, but not before we took photos.  We know that Hawkin’s isn’t the only source for these curiosities, they’re available at Amazon and no doubt numerous other places, but we’ll be writing to Hawkin’s Bazaar asking them to stop selling them.

If you have a hand boiler please be careful.  We certainly wouldn’t let our son near another one.

Children's Hand Boiler bought from

Children’s Hand Boiler bought from

Two phones, one Pebble

I’d been in the market for a new watch for some time.  I looked at three watches – Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, the Pebble, and Sony’s Smartwatch 2.  I’ve used Sony’s LiveView watch before and it promptly joined a long list of Sony’s products that have either acted up, not worked or broke.  While a colour, touch screen watch might be nice I wanted something that I wouldn’t regret and that didn’t fit Sony’s bill.  The Galaxy Gear is an impressive enough watch but funds wouldn’t stretch that far and I knew the Pebble would integrate nicely with apps I already use, especially if I was to have notifications pushed to the watch from more than one phone.

Whether you have two phones because you need to carry a business phone, or you have a family member whose needs necessitate a separate emergency phone, it’s possible to have your Pebble receive notifications on multiple devices.  First of all, you’re going to need a few apps.

Anything you can do with both Pebble Notifier and PebbleTasker can be done in AutoPebble.  It’s a single app, cheaper, does far far more than what is shown below, but it is slower to respond and takes longer to learn how to use. If you want to quickly read and respond to a text I’d recommend using Pebble Notifier and PebbleTasker. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy AutoPebble at all.  If you have the time to spend setting it up, do so.  It’s much quicker to set up if you want to set up lots of options in one go.  It certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Some of the above apps aren’t free but they’re not going to break the bank.  I spent under £8, and the apps can be used for more than one purpose.  I’m assuming you’ve never seen the above apps before.

First of all, set up Tasker.  You need to access the menu, Preferences, Misc, and tick Allow External Access.
In AutoRemote, you need to authenticate the two devices.  For this you can either tap the phone icon, and type in the code or just use the barcode scanner.
Once AutoRemote is authenticated you can start setting up the profiles and tasks in Tasker.
Let’s assume you have your Pebble connected to your personal phone and you want to bridge your business phone to it.

On the business phone:

  1. Enter Tasker
  2. Click on the + icon at the bottom, [you may be prompted to enter a name, if so call it Texts], and tap the tick
  3. Event, Phone, Received Text [you can set restrictions on the texts here by entering parameters phone numbers or words in the text; if you want all texts forwarded then leave it blank and tap the back arrow at the top left]
  4. Tasker will now prompt you for a Task to perform when you receive a text. Click New Task, type in Texts, tap the tick and you’re ready to add the Task.
  5. Tap + Net, Mobile Data, On.  Then + Plugin, AutoRemote Message, then the pencil icon found to the right of Configuration.
  6. From here select the device you want to send it to, and in Message, enter “Business text from %SMSRN at %SMSRT, %SMSRB” (without the quotation marks) and tap your phone’s back button.

On your personal phone:

  1. Enter Tasker and add a profile, State, Plugin, AutoRemote, Configuration, and tick Event Behaviour.
  2. In Message Filter enter “Business text from” (without the quotation marks), and tick Case Insensitive.  [This shouldn’t make any difference if you’re careful but I’ve had the first letter of a word change case because I’ve went back to change it]. Press back a couple of times and type in a name for the new task.
  3. Add, Plugin, Pebble Notifier (not Pebble Notifier settings), Configuration, Body and type “%armessage” (this should be in lower case and again, without the quotation marks).  In the Title, type “Business SMS”.

That’s it. All the time both phones are connected to the net your texts should be pushed from one phone, to another and on to your Pebble.  In most cases this is enough, but there are always times when you want two way communication.  This takes a little more time, but not too much.

If you’re unable to take out your phone and respond to a text properly there’s a good chance you’re going to want to keep things simple.  Your responses need to be set up in advance.  I have set up:

  • Ok
  • Yes
  • No
  • Thanks
  • I’m busy at the moment, I’ll get back to you shortly.

Obviously you’re able to select whatever responses are suitable for your own life, just don’t forget which one’s which.
On the business phone set up a profile, I’ve called mine “AR SMS Ok”.

  1. Add, State, Plugin, AutoRemote,
  2. Tap the Configuration pencil and tick Event Behaviour
  3. In Message Filter, type in “Pebble Reply Ok”
  4. Tick Case Insensitive and Exact Message
  5. Tasker will then prompt you for a task, select New Task, enter “AR SMS Ok” and tap the tick.
  6. In Number, enter “%SMSRF”
  7. In Message, type “Ok”, and decide whether or not you want the text to be stored with your other texts.
  8. [In case you accidentally reply to a tweet, you might want to add If %SMSRN doesn’t match 86444 (Twitter’s phone number)]

You’ll need to do the above for each response you’d like to have available in the Pebble.  I’d be wary of cloning the profiles as it won’t change the task assigned to it, and you won’t get the experience.  Once they’re all done, return to your personal phone.  Add a new Task, I called it ‘Pebble (phone model) SMS’.
Add, Task, Wait, 3 seconds.
Add Plugin, PebbleTasker, Configuration.
The top task, I assigned ‘Reply OK’ with the long press ‘Reply Yes’. Close watch app on use.
The middle, ‘Reply Busy’. Close watch app on use.
The bottom ‘Reply Thanks’ and the long press ‘Reply No’. Close watch app on use.
Close on idle, Reset on idle were ticked and the app should Open Watch App so the options are loaded for you without having to go through the Pebble’s menu.

Obviously you can have the remote phone confirm the messages have been sent by having AutoRemote send a message to the personal phone and having Pebble displaying it.  It just depends on what your personal requirements are.

It’s worth noting that once you’ve bought Tasker and AutoRemote you can do any number of things.  Making your PC interact with your phone, and by extension, your Pebble is easily doable.  You can sleep, shutdown, restart, lock, mute etc. a PC by pressing a few buttons on the Pebble.  If you like, you can even be notified when your child is using their phone/PC, and which apps they’re using.  Not to mention getting their location, locking/unlocking the device, opening/closing apps or having messages pop up on their screen.  In no way do I condone using these apps for April Fools pranks.  I would never do that.  Ever.  Well, perhaps one or two.

There was a man from Gallifrey

There was a man from Gallifrey
Who would travel to different days
But when talk turned to hate
He would regenerate
And get up and fly off on his way.


When I was young there was always one man, a friend of my Dad’s, who knew more fascinating (sometimes almost completely useless) facts than anyone I’d met, certainly at that young age. You could pick any subject and he could tell you something obscure about it. I remember checking up a few when I grew older, partly because I was sceptical that such fascinating ‘facts’ were true, and partly because if I was going to pass on this information to others I wanted to be able to tell them a little more about it (I never once found anything he said to be false or even exaggerated).

Today, I was able to educate my son with a true rarity – a fact I’d remembered from QI (a staggering achievement considering my medication). More often than not I’ll watch the half hour programme (or 45 minute QI XL) and be unable to remember a half dozen facts from it. A phenomenon Billy Connolly once mentioned in one of his gigs – the ability to leave a two hour gig and be unable to repeat anything from it.

My son stood, aghast in shock of what he’d learned, replying only “reeeeeeeeeeeeeallllllllllllly?”, as kids do. He held a look of surprise before the almost inevitable “I’m so going to tell [school friend’s name] tomorrow!”

From now on I’m getting armed up. I’m going to scour @qikipedia@scienceporn and @learnsomething daily for something to pass on. I want to be able to say that ‘x’ is a fact and that ‘y’ is an urban myth. I want klaxons going off each time someone says something as fact from QI’s General Ignorance,  but even I know that’s taking it too far.

I want to become that man I admired so much, and I’m thoroughly ashamed to say I can’t recall his name.


Router security

Most of you know that Sky took over O2 some time ago.  Because of the way O2’s service worked you pretty much needed to keep their router if you wanted to benefit from ADSL2.  Naturally O2 wanted the means to remotely connect to a router if you stuffed it up.  This meant knowing the SuperUser account name and password for each router.  To make their lives easier, they also kept a port open for such purposes.

After reading a tweet from @JonathanCamp (click here) I ran a scan of the open ports on the router.  It turns out that port 7547 was open.  A quick search returned a page on how to secure port 7547, on O2’s own web site no less. A quick jump in to DOS, and a telnet to the router and the port was locked down.  [If you’re uncomfortable with DOS or telnet please get in touch] I don’t know whether or not Sky took over the SuperUser access system from O2 (or if they knew what to do with it) but I think it’s better left secure.

After releasing me from a 12 month contract after only 5 weeks, (but not cancelling the billing) resulting in me getting letters from debt collection agencies, posting a letter saying they’re going to charge me ‘x’ and emailing to advise they’re charging me ‘y’, asking me to call them to action a discount (as they can’t do it by themselves), then being unable to merge two accounts on their web site, I don’t trust Sky to not bugger up the router.

To secure your O2 router, click here.
To run a scan on another router, click here.