Gaming

So I bought a game console and to be precise a Sony PlayStation 4. I have bought a few in the past, but none were for me. I have children and grandchildren after all.

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This one is an early (one month on the day) birthday present, but in my mid-sixties am I past it.

As it happens, I still could understand the setting up instructions and I had it running in no time at all. I am now also a member of the Sony community and I have downloaded my first games.

I did even win a race on Gran Turismo. It is a start but I need major training time before I enter a race against my family. They meet regularly on line and compete.

Now you know why I bought it and as Sony says, it is not only a gaming machine but an entertainment box.

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Back from Berlin

(Blog entry to follow shortly)

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WhatsApp no more

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In my continuing effort to eliminate all Facebook products and apps, it is now WhatsApp’s turn to be deleted from my phone. The latest scandal about the spyware possibilities which I read about today accelerated my decision. I shall delete (if that is possible) all the chats and data I have and turn everything off in an hour or so.

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I am going to start using Telegram instead which is apparently far more secure. In fact I am downloading the App as this very moment.

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In the meantime I have changed my mind and will go for Signal instead of Telegram. It is open source and even more secure.

SIGNAL (article courtesy of Popular Mechanics)

 “While you’re happily chatting away on your phone or in your web browser, are you ever wondering what happens to all those 1s and 0s you’re sending into the digital ether?

Whether it’s a nosy national security apparatus or the guy sitting behind you at the coffee shop, there are people out there who want to peek at your messages—and some apps make this kind of snooping easier than others.

Enter Signal, the most secure messaging app you can get for your phone. Here’s what it is, why you’d want to use it, and how to get started.

What is Signal?

Signal is a messaging app, just like WhatsApp or iMessage or Facebook Messenger, but one that’s geared towards privacy and security rather than cute emoji stickers. In fact, so good are its security measures that even Edward Snowden recommends it—and he should know which apps are the best for stopping unwanted snooping.

Signal is free to use and available for Android, iOS, and Chrome (a browser extension that links with your phone), and alongside the extra security protocols, it includes all of the basic messaging tools you’re going to need, including read receipts, emoji support, group chats, and voice and video calls.

As on WhatsApp, Signal uses your mobile number to identify you to your contacts, so there are no new usernames or passwords to remember, and you can dive straight in. On Android, you can also use Signal to send normal SMS and MMS messages to contacts who don’t have the app installed, but these messages won’t have the same security protections.

Why use Signal?

First and foremost, because it protects your chats. Anything you send or receive is encrypted, which makes it very hard for anyone who intercepts the data to work out what’s being said unless they are the specified recipient. What’s more, Signal doesn’t store any user data, so governments and other agencies can’t request it, and it can’t leak out.

On top of that, all the code is open source, which means anyone can look at how the app is written—that doesn’t mean hackers can break Signal’s encryption (which is virtually uncrackable), but it does mean security experts and users can check that Signal is maintaining the high privacy standards that it says it is.

Just about every security researcher that’s taken a look at Signal has given it a big thumbs up from a data privacy and security standpoint, and its underlying technologies are now used in a lot of other apps too. The FBI and CIA might not like it, but right now Signal is about as good as it gets for “going dark” on your phone.

How do you use Signal?

Signal isn’t difficult to use and the setup is the same as with many other messaging programs—all of that clever security technology is hidden away behind the scenes. When you’ve installed the app on your phone, you’ll be asked to enter and confirm your phone number. On Android, you’ll also be asked if you want to set the app as the default for normal text messages (Apple, of course, doesn’t let you change the default SMS app on iOS).

Tap the pen icon to start a conversation or select an existing thread to continue it. Icons to send messages, as well as make calls, attach files, share photos and embed voice clips all appear inside the conversation window, though there are some small differences between the Android and iOS apps.

You can set messages to automatically disappear on a contact-by-contact basis. On Android, open up the menu inside a conversation (the three vertical dots), tap Disappearing messages and set a time limit; on iOS, tap the banner at the top of the conversation to do the same thing. Bear in mind that conversations can still be captured via screenshot, though even this is blocked in the Android version of Signal.

Install the Chrome app in your Google-powered browser and the setup process presents you with a QR code that you need to scan using your phone, which should also have the Signal app installed. This links conversations and contacts between your phone and your browser, and keeps them in sync.”

 

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Back in town

Made it back to Carcassone last evening and it is good to be home.

The trip to Berlin was a success and I think all 35 participants had a great time. I am however somewhat exhausted.

I have thousands of photos which I need to edit and sort out before I upload them. It will be done in the coming days.

In the post waiting for me was my new voting pass which I shall need to the European elections in a couple of weeks and I have just received an sos informing me that my new passport is ready and available to be collected at the Mairie. I shall do that this morning.

For now and since the sun is out, I am looking forward to relax by the pool.

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Pirates on the horizon

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There will not be the traditional exchange of “muguet” (lily of the valley) on this May 1st bank holiday as we are off on our travels again.

In my case, one week in the lovely seaside town of Brixham in Devon (UK) where not only my very good friends Chris and Julia live but also the time of year for the famous annual Pirate Festival.

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We are being joined there by our 4 German friends and it will be, I am convinced, a memorable few days.

→ Day 1 – Wednesday May 1st

I am somehow expecting possible and diverse troubles from the so-called Gilets Jaunes protests and will take no risk for the car trip from Carcassonne to Toulouse airport. Although the flight to Bristol is not until late afternoon, a mid-morning departure is my preference. A stop at the “Nailloux Outlet Village” and a relaxed lunch in Toulouse town centre is planned.

Weston-super-Mare Spreyton Guest House

→ Day 2 – Thursday May 2nd

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→ Day 3 – Friday May 3rd

Did some shopping in the morning for more Gin and a few bottles of wine and had a walk around town before hitting the pub at lunchtime waiting for A & S to arrive.

They did around 1pm.

Took the ferry across the bay to Torquay in the afternoon.

Did not have a long time to spend there as we needed to get the last ferry back to Brixham. Enough time for a walk around town and a beer.

In the evening we were joined by C & J in the very pleasant Lytehouse restaurant.

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The owner Catherine remembered me from my first and last visit there 2 years ago. Apparently we had quite a discussion about “Gougères”

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→ Day 4 – Saturday May 4th

Pirates Festival day 1 of 3

Basically the town is overrun by loads of people dressed up as pirates. Here is very small selection of pics (more will be uploaded in the Cloud very soon.

Finished the day with a very good BBQ at C & J’s house. Guess who fell down some stairs on the way home!!! A black eye yet again and a bloody nose. I cannot blame the few Gin & Tonics we had.

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→ Day 5 – Sunday May 5th

The plan to catch the ferry to go to Dartmouth but for some reason no services running today. The alternative which we chose is bus (double Decker of course) to Paignton to catch the old steam train to Kingswear and finally the ferry for the short trip across the river Dart.

All this followed by a river cruise.

I particularly liked that house with the boat hanging outside. It also shows clearly how high the water does go at high tide.

Back on terra ferma, a walk in town to my favorite pub in Dartmouth.

Took a cab back to Brixham and went up to C & J’s house for a few drinks, BBQ et games of billiards.

We were not too late home.

→ Day 6 – Monday May 6th

Moved to C & J’s house in the morning. P & K left for Canterbury and A & S left for Cornwall.

Enjoying sitting outside in the garden to try and decide where to go for lunch.

Walked down to the marina for a spot of lunch.

Followed by a walk to the end of the pier

and then into town for the last day of the pirate´s festival. Being a bank holiday and having fairly decent weather means that there are still plenty of people around.

I love this Gin van

→ Day 7 – Tuesday May 7th

 

It has been maybe 3 decades since I have done a cross country train journey in the UK. I have to say that past experiences during my working years were not that positive. Delays and cancellations were often the order of the day. But today I have to travel up north to Manchester and I do not have much alternatives.

It is a 5 hour trip but the train is quite comfortable.

Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 17.04.07And since I have to fly out on Wednesday from Manchester Airport, I chose to stay at a fairly convenient hotel and namely the Holiday Inn Express Manchester Airport.

 Saw my friends G & S in the evening. We went out for a Italian dinner. It was nice to catch up.

→ Day 8 – Wednesday May 8th

Not a very good night last night. Will go to the airport after breakfast and this concludes this blog entry.

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Easter in Hannover

Day 1

Early start in Wednesday to drive to Toulouse airport to catch the first flight to Frankfurt.

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Day 2

For the first time today I had the pleasure of driving an all electric car.

This little Peugeot belongs to my daughter and it is a little gem in town. It has tremendous acceleration which is a pleasure getting away from traffic lights. Another big advantage is that one does not have to pay to park here in Hannover. I do not know however if it is the same in all German towns. I have been considering switching to electric lately and today was a plus towards a decision.

Not so pleasant was being dragged through shops for shoes and clothing.

Walking in town is always a pleasure when the weather is nice. The architecture is so different.

Lunch in the Markhalle was good. It is a must for me when I return to Germany.

And of course we met up yet again in the evening with many friends in our local pub.

Day 3

Lazy start of the day. Late breakfast outside in the garden. Temperature in the mid-twenties are expected today. Not bad for north Germany.

Day 4

The traditional “Easter Bon Fire”. A chance to meet old friends and have a couple of beers.

Day 5

Easter Sunday. Expecting the whole family to turn up for lunch. Another beautiful and sunny day by the looks of it. Enjoying my morning coffee outside.

Day 6

Fairly lazy day till the evening when we met up with the gang for the first barbecue of the season.

One of my favourite whisky

Day 7

Another beautiful day and therefore a trip to town was on the cards. The bus services are really excellent. On time, clean and comfortable.

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Quite a few people in town on the shopping streets

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I would have liked to spend more time in this shop. Unfortunately travelling homey plane with hand luggage only does not permit me to take bottles with me.

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One of the highlights is always lunch, especially when it is warm enough to sit outside.

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and of course when in Germany a Curry Wurst and a bier are a must.

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Day 8

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Departure day. Being at Hannover airport brought back many memories. I use to spend so much time there.
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Quick stop over in Frankfurt

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Good to be be back home though. I need a few days relaxing before the next adventures.

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Facebook strikes again

Would you believe it!

Just read an article from Bloomberg Technology. Quite incredible really. But I am sure there is not a single crook within the 20,000 employees mentioned. I am glad I did quit using this outfit.

Facebook Inc. disclosed a flaw on its social network that made passwords of hundreds of millions of users visible to employees and said the issue has now been fixed.

During a security review in January, Facebook found that the passwords were stored in a readable format, against its security procedures, but that they were never visible to anyone outside of the company. Most of the accounts affected were using Facebook Lite, a version of the app designed for emerging markets. The company said it hasn’t found evidence this access was abused.

Facebook disclosed the problem after the security blog KrebsOnSecurity learned about it from an internal source. Krebs said the issue dated back to 2012 in some cases.

“The Facebook source said the investigation so far indicates between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees,” KrebsOnSecurity wrote.

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