Verizon and AT&T are tracking all your online activity

As you may have read lately, Verizon have implemented a system that adds an HTTP header item in all web communication that originates from mobile phones on their network. Each phone/user get their own unique ID, which is transmitted to every website being visited (except if SSL is used), no matter if you have privacy/anonymous surfing turned on in the browser. The id stays with the phone, no matter if you connect in a different city or if you get a different IP address.

This series of about 50 characters is called Unique Identifying Header (UIDH) and is a key part of Verizon’s internet advertising program. And even if you as a user would opt-out of the targeted ad on Verizon’s website, any web server or ad network out there can build their own database of users based on the UIDH.

What has not been as widely mentioned is that AT&T is doing exactly the same. They add a header item called X-ACR (which is 350 characters long) to all outgoing communication. And this one you can not opt-out of, as AT&T have not even confirmed that they perform the tracking. According to this article, T-Mobile is also testing something similar.

You can test it yourself at Make sure you are not connected using wifi, then simply open that link from your smart phone and you will see what headers you are transmitting. I tested it myself, using my AT&T phone, and verified that the X-ACR header is there.


Nokia is dead

Microsoft is taking a page out of IBM’s playbook and is killing off the Nokia brand. Future models of the smart phones in the Lumia series will be named Microsoft Lumia. Last month the Nokia Lumia 735 and 830 were launched, and they will probably be the last phones branded as Nokia.

The mobile division of Nokia will also be renamed to Microsoft Mobile.

More at The Verge.


Is the break-through for smart watches almost here?

In a few days, Motorola will present their highly anticipated Moto 360 smart watch, and at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week LG will show off their latest entry in the battle for the hearts (and wrists) of geeks everywhere, the G Watch R. Both watches are round, as opposed to previous entries (including LG’s previous model, the original G Watch) and the Samsung Gear series of smart watches.



There are some differences between Moto360 (left) and G Watch R (right). LG is going with a more traditional watch look, with a bezel around the edge to hide the small blank section at the bottom of the screen that is more visible on the slightly larger (1.5 inch vs 1.3 inch) screen on Moto360. That blank section is where some of the screen components are located, and this “flaw” has been critized by many, even before the watch has been released.

Both watches are protected against water (so you can wear it in the shower), features a heart rate monitor, a touch screen and running Android Gear. Moto36 will use a wireless charging station and also contains a pedometer, and s expected to cost $249 when it is realeased in the near future. No price have yet been announed for the G Watch R, which is expected to be available later this year.

Samsung is also rumored to present something at IFA, probably a round smart watch as well, but no details about it is known. They are also expected to present a new square model in the Samsung Gear family.

I think we are now getting close to the break-trough for smart watches. They look more like regular watches, with a round shape instead of the boxy square look of the first generations of smart watches. Personally I think that G Watch R is more attractive than Moto360, and to me the slightly smaller size is a plus. I think we have an interesting fall ahead of us, especially with the Apple event coming up on September 9, where their smart watch is expected to be announced. The Android Gear watches from LG, Motorola and Samsung only work with Android phones, not with iPhones.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 to be launched today

Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch
Click on the image to go to the Live Stream.
The event starts at 7pm ET.

This evening, Samsung is launching their latest phone in the Galaxy S series. The new model is logically called S4, and is expected to have full HD resolution (1920×1080) on a 5-inch (or 4.99-inch) screen, as well as a 13MP camera. It is still unclear what processor will power the new phone, but some rumors say a quad-core for the North American market and an eight-core for the international models.

The event takes place in New York tonight at 7pm Eastern time, and there will of course be a live stream. It can be viewed here.


Cloud Storage – Overview

Cloud Storage - Logos

There are a number of cloud storage services available, all with similar functionality. The differences are mostly in the details, like amount of free storage, what platforms the clients are available for, etc. I mentioned some of them in a previous entry on this blog, when I wrote about some useful Android apps.

So what is cloud storage? The first people ask me when I tell them about these storage services is what “the cloud” is. Some even think it is an Apple product or service (because of iCloud). I think Wikipedia has a good explanation:

Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet). The name comes from the use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams.

Cloud storage is basically that you get space to store your files securely somewhere on the Internet, in a data center somewhere in the world. You then typically install a client program or app on your computer and/or smartphone to access the files. You can then upload a file from one computer or device and access it from any other device. Several of the services also integrate the storage with online editing withouth the user having to download files to edit them and then upload them again.

A typical example is how I use cloud storage. I have SugarSync and DropBox installed on my Android phone. When I take a picture, it is automatically uploaded to DropBox when I have wifi connectivity. I could set it to always upload, even through mobile data, but I set it to wifi only to save on my data plan. The pictures are available at once on my computer at work as well as on my computers at home (two of them with DropBox installed).

This actually saved me during Connect 2013. I store all photos on the SD card in the phone, and that card got fried halfway through the conference. In a normal case, i would have lost all the pictures I had taken that far, but now I had them uploaded to DropBox, and did not lose anything.

I also use DropBox to store certain files I want to be able to access both from home and from work. Like Photoshop files I use for my blog, funny pictures I find online or personal documents like my resume.

I use Microsoft Skydrive OneDrive for some other files, for example a book I am working on. I can then work on the book on any computer (even my Android phone!), even if the devices/computer does not have Word installed. Skydrive OneDrive includes a Word web app, while Google Drive and Box offers the same functionality using Google Docs.

Some services create their own folder on the computers where the shared files are stored, other let you share existing files, like My Documents. Most also allow you to share files with others, either a full directory or individual files. The person you share the files with does not need an account with the service, the file can be accessed through an URL, but having an account makes it easier to share whole directories.

Most of the services uses the freemium business model, you get a certain storage for free, and then you pay if you want more, after you tried it out.

Dropbox gives you 2 GB, but through referrals you can increase this. You can send emails to yoru friends from the site, or simply share a URL. You both get additional space this way. If any of my readers are not using Dropbox yet, use this link to sign up, to get additional space:

SugarSync used to offer 2 GB, but recently increased it to 5 GB for free. They also have a referral system similar to Dropbox, feel free to use this link to sign up:

Microsoft SkyDrive OneDrive offers 7 GB free, or 25 GB if you signed up early (before April 20012). You use your Hotmail/Live/ account to login to the service, and it also includes integration with Office on the desktop, as well as editing files using the Word Web App directly in the browser. Update: As of February 19, 2014 Skydrive has been renamed OneDrive, and a referral system has been added. If anyone signs up using your personal link, you and the other person both get 500MB extra storage. Feel free to sign up using my link:

Box (formerly offers 5 GB free storage. When I installed ASTRO File Manager the other day on my Android phone, I was offered  25 GB free storage. I haven’t explored the functionality of the service very much yet

Google Drive is one of the latest entries on the cloud storage arena. It was launched less than a year ago, in April 2012, and offers 5 GB of free storage together with access to Google Docs, the web-based office suite, so documents can be edited directly online.

iCloud is Apples offering. The user get 5 GB for free here as well. Currently iCloud only works on mobile devices using the iOS operating system (i.e. iPhone), but there are clients for both MacOS and Windows. The service allows users to backup their contacts, photos and other data on the phone wirelessly and automatically.

Ubuntu One is a service from Canonical, giving users the customary 5 GB of free storage. It is aimed at Ubuntu users, but there are clients for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS as well. Ubuntu One also offers music streaming, included in a paid upgrade.

There are more similar services, but the ones listed above are the most popular ones. Wikipedia has an overview of file hosting services, where you can find out more how they compare to each other.



Useful Android Apps

Recently several of my friends have been getting the Samsung Galaxy S3, the same phone that I got back in June. One of the first questions is if I have any advice on good apps to get. So I wanted to share a few of my favourite apps.


Battery Doctor

This app helps improving the battery life on the S3, and also modify how the charging is done. I have noticed a longer battery life since I installed this app.



A social driving and navigation app. Users report traffic issues, police checkpoints, objects on road and other hazards, and you get up-to-date information that can help you avoid traffic jams, accidents, etc. A must for anyone driving.



Vowe wrote about this last summer. It is a great way to share your location on a temporary basis. Perhaps you want to let someone know where you are, but just for a short time, not allow the person to track you forever.


Google Earth

I think everyone knows about this app, so I don’t think I need to tell more about it.


Kingsoft Office

This free app let you view and edit Office documents on your phone. It can access files stored on the phone as well as on cloud storage like Dropbox and Sugarsync.


ES File Explorer

Explore and open files on your local device, on your network and even in your cloud storage. It also includes an ftp client. I often use this app to copy files (movies, music) from my network shares to my phone.


Cloud Storage

This brings us to different cloud storage services. I use several, they all work pretty much the same. Most of them not only allows you to upload/download files from your phone, but can also be connected to the camera app, so all photos you take automatically get uloaded to teh cloud storage, which is a great way to automatically backup your photos.

You need to setup accounts with each service, and it is a good idea to also download a desktop client for your regular computer(s). These services are great to let you get to certainfiles, no matter where you are.



Client download:

You get 2GB for free, and can purchase more space if you like. You also get more space if you refer someone to Dropbox, and that person also get 500MB extra. So if you are not already a Dropbox user, click here and you will get 2.5GB instead of just 2GB with your free sign up. And I will get some extra storage. 🙂



Client download:

You get 5GB for free, and the Android app can be set to automatically upload your photos to the cloud for instant backup. You can also, like on the other services, share files with friends or family directly from the phone. If you sign up here it will also give me a little bit extra storage.


Google Drive

Client download:

Google also give you 5GB of free storage. Use your regular Google account for this service.



Client download: Windows Mac

Microsoft’s cloud storage is called SkyDrive, and you get 7GB for free (the most of any of the services). If you signed up early (before April, 2012), you got 25GB for free.


Reference and Travel

A smartphone is a great tool to find information while on the go, so I always install the apps for Wikipedia and IMDb (Internet Movie Database). I use to find inexpensive airfares, and they also have a nice  app. While we are on the subject of travel, SeatGuru is a website where you can find out what the good and bad seats are on different airplanes. The app let you not only look at the seating maps for hundreds of airplanes from different airlines, you can also track flights and see if there are any delays.


Geeky Apps

Ever since I started using calculators, I have been a fan of HP and their RPN calculators. I still have my old trusty HP-48SX at home, but I now mostly use the Droid48sx app on my phone. It is a modified version of Droid48 (an HP-48GX emulator, which also has a 48SX mode). If you want a powerful technical/scientific calculator on your phone, look no further.
Another app I like is Wifi Analyer. It let you check what hotspots are around, what channels they use, and help you get better connectivity by chnaging your channel to a less crowded one.
Atooma is a very cool app, it let you program different triggers that will automate functions on your phone. For example, I created a rule that says “if charger is connected and time is between 9pm and 6am, set ringer to silent”. Another rule says “if leaving home (as defined by GPS location), turn on bluetooth and torn off wifi”.


The last two apps I want to mention are Skype, so I can use my phone to talk to friends and relatives all over the world for free (if they have Skype) or very inexpensive if I have to call a regular phone number, and Spotify, which let me listen to music everywhere. For Spotify, you need a Premium account in order to use the otherwise free app. The app lets you download the songs on your playlists to the phone while connected to wifi, so you don’t waste your data plan to stream music.  Interesting enough, both services are originally created in my native Sweden.


I use more apps than the ones I listed above, like the WordPress app to update/maintain my blog, but I wanted to list the more generic ones. I am also not listing any IBM/Lotus specific ones, like the Connections or Sametime apps. But if you have use Lotus Notes at work for email, make sure you talk to your network administrator about getting access to Traveler.



Unlocked Google Nexus 4 for $299

I am not sure if I am misunderstanding something, but the new Nexus 4 seems to be sold unlocked for $299 (8 GB model) and $349 (16 GB model) when Google start selling it next week.

The phone is built by LG, has a 4.7 inch screen with 128 x 768 resolution and a Dualcore Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. The radio part support GSM/HSPA+/EDGE/GPRS on all the major frequencies, so it shold work both in the USA and on the international market.

The battery has a 2100 mAh capacity, the phone weighs 139 gram and contains a 8MP camera, GPS and all the other sensors we expect today, and it is runing Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). Yes, not the 4.1 flavor of Jelly Bean, but the latest version.

The specifications are just below the ones for Samsung Galaxy SIII, and most notable is that (like the other Nexus products) it does not offer memory expansion through SD cards. It also lack LTE support.

Read more here.


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