SMS 2FA and the Modern Smartphone

SMS has been around for over 20 years now and yet this basic 160 character instant messaging service is still widely used for marketing, transactional messages and two-factor authentication ("2FA") This was just a random thought when trying to log into something for the third time today that requires an SMS OTP. When I'm staring at a form input box and my phone receives a message at that exact moment the chances are it's to fill that box in, it'd be nice if this was more streamlined! Imagine if, for example, an HTML form could listen for the message.. perhaps with something like the…

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Alarm Monitoring (With Raspberry Pi)

I'm responsible for a commercial buildings that, as you would expect, have monitored alarms, access control and such like. However, commercial alarm monitoring is horrendously expensive, and most of them are stuck in the dark ages; I want to be able to monitor the condition of my alarm remotely, and get notifications in a useful way. Piece of cake pi My usual solution to these sorts of problems - Raspberry Pi. I've found use for this £30 mini Linux box in lighting control, information displays, presentations, video servers, phone systems and more... Connecting to the alarm Most alarms have a c…

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iMessage Preview

So, iMessage has a handy new feature - both on iOS and MacOS - where if you send someone a URL it will extract some metadata from this URL and display it as a clickable link; You'll be used to this behaviour if you use Facebook or Slack, as it provides useful meaningful content for a link. However, there's a big difference between their implementation and iMessage. When you use Facebook or Slack, the website you've linked to will see a request from Facebook or Slack's servers. Information Leakage iMessage makes a request from the device itself which reveals some significant information; The ta…

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What a difference a 0 makes

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Or, why it's really important to dial the correct phone number. Or, alternatively, how to have people willingly hand over personal details to scammers. Nuances of the UK phone system Two thing conspire to make this possible in the UK; Overdialling The UK phone network supports 'over-dialling', that is if you were calling 07700900123 and you dial 077009001234 the additional digit, 4, is ignored and the call is connected as you expect Local Dialling If you are in a local area (e.g. 01632) you can dial the local number without the leading area code. e.g. for 01632 9601234 you would simply dial 9…

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I'd like an Invoice please (Avis)

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As someone who reasonably regularly has to claim expenses for business travel it never ceases to amaze me quite how inept some companies (for whom people like me make up a large percentage of their business) are at the simplest of things. I regularly book cars with Avis. This is done through their website directly, and paid in advance. I can't, however, claim this payment at the time as it's a "pre-paid voucher" rather than "car hire" Later, this "pre-paid voucher" settles the car hire account and, in theory, I should get an Invoice (which they can't give me at th…

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Estate Agents - a follow up...

One of the professions many love to hate, estate agents. I recently posted my rant/review of a few estate agents when selling in Glasgow for a move north to the Highlands. The right choice? After inviting four agencies to quote (three of which bothered turning up); McEwan Fraser Legal (who I don't trust), Nicol (whose attention to detail was sadly lacking) and Rettie (who actually seemed pretty good!) we eventually settled on Rettie in Newton Mearns. And ultimately, yes, they were. Whilst the market in Newton Mearns is a bit more buoyant than it is up here, selling in four days was unexpected!…

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How not to do APIs

The company involved here will remain anonymous, as they offer a good (and relatively unique) service and I don't want to damage any relationship with them, nor discourage others from using them just for this reason! Additionally, their support has been excellent. I hope others find this though, and take it into account when considering their own API design and strategy decisions. As you may know I have some experience developing complex APIs for large service providers. The approach to this has changed over the years, but some of the basic principles remain the same. The Company The company…

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Eurobeat: Moldova!

I have provided voting for numerous (almost 20 now!) productions of Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision and am pleased to announce that one again I am providing the voting for the new professional production of Eurobeat (and the visuals are looking better than ever!) And the only thing better than a new Eurobeat with all new countries and professional production values is giving back a little elsewhere. Eurobeat: Moldova is using premium SMS messaging for the first time, and donating 100% of the funds raised to two charities - Waverley Care and Dickens Legacy For more information see eurobeatvote.net…

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Husqvarna Automower Challenge - Communication

For a bit of background on this see my first post on this. But, in summary, I am a participant in the automower challenge. Automower Connect The larger Automowers (430X, 450X) support a smartphone app called "Automower Connect" which allow you to configure and control the mower from your iPhone. Unlike some competing products, this doesn’t use WiFi. This is a good thing as the range of a typical home WiFi router would mean that in some parts of larger garden it would be unable to communicate. Instead the mower itself has a built-in SIM card and functions like a mobile phone. The SIM…

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The Wrong Lizard

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So, in a tumultuous week in UK politics our Prime Minister resigned after losing a referendum he didn't want to hold in the first place which was basically the result of trying to appease some internal party squabbling. Now, when an MP resigns, we hold a by-election allowing for their replacement to be voted in. Based on this approach - When the PM resigns, you'd expect an election, but instead we have more internal party squabbling and it seems they've boiled down to two; Angela Leadsom Lies on her CV Doesn't support equal marriage Worried about 'offending Christians' Claims god has spoken to…

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