Nudge, Nudge

I’ve had Android phones for, like, fifteen years. Over that time, I’ve installed plenty of apps, which are taken across every time I upgrade the phone itself. Probably ten years ago I hit a limit – every useful app was pretty much already installed.

The upshot is that it is very rare indeed for me to install new apps these days.

Two apps, however, that I have installed recently are the WordPress app, when I moved my blog to WordPress, and the Spotify app, when I finally bought a subscription. Both in the last few months.

In that time, my phone started misbehaving. Specifically, it would beep when a notification arrived. Even in the middle of the night – beep, beep – bastard!

Suspicion fell on these two apps. But why would Spotify beep me at all, especially in the middle of the night? Of course, I looked at my phone’s list of notifications, but could not see anything suspicious in there.

It is true that, when I installed the WordPress Android app, I allowed it to send notifications, just on the basis that it would send them sensibly.

So, a few days ago, I changed one of the settings, in the app itself, to turn off notifications. But they kept coming, any time you like.

Of course, that might well indicate that this problem was nothing whatever to do with WordPress, but I wasn’t satisfied.

So, yesterday I went into the phone’s system settings, and revoked permission for the WordPress app to send any kind of notifications. Specifically, just on that one app. The other hundred-odd were still able to send notifications, if they chose.

Last night, I enjoyed my first uninterrupted night’s sleep for weeks.

Badly behaved WordPress? You decide. Let’s just say that in my few months on here, I have heard one particular theme probably above all others.

My Official Birthday

My very first bank card, I received it longer than I care to remember ago. It would only operate in the bank’s own machines, and the PIN number they sent could not be changed. So I had to make sure I remembered it. As time has gone by, it is now a standard feature on all cards, to be able to change the PIN. But that first PIN number stuck, so every card since then has been christened with that same PIN.

It was the same with computers. I bought my first laptop back in 1992, and so began the era of needing personal passwords for things. My first password was based on the model of that very first computer, now fortunately long-since forgotten so even harder to guess. Of course, over the years, the password has become more complex, just by concatenating several other pieces of information to it. Unless you’re me, you’d be lucky indeed if you guessed it – the phrase chance in a million springs to mind, but more like a chance in a million million million million million.

Now, with the coming of the internet age, we log on to many web sites, so I have added a site-specific element to go even harder. So that I have many different passwords. The passwords themselves may all be different, but the rules for building up the password are the same (almost) every time.

And thus it was with other data, too. When I got a Facebook account, it wanted to know my date of birth. So I made one up. It was sufficiently close to the real birthdate that I didn’t get tripped by silly age-verification checks, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Entered it, then promptly forgot.

So at that time, it was just a random, one-off invention, but since Facebook, more and more sites ask for this information (Spotify did the other day, see my recent post) although it is none of their business, it is easier just to fill something in. And so I dreamed up another date, which is slightly more memorable, and which I now use consistently. My official birthday – actually it was the birthday of my friend in elementary school. It took a few years for me to adopt that rule universally, but I now give that DoB out for most everything, except for important things. And using some online service is definitely not important.

So, dear reader, that is why I have two dates of birth, my real date and my official date. But if you wish to send a card on my official birthdayrather than my real one, go right ahead 🙂.

Twenty-first Century Boy

It must have been six months ago when I first got my voice-controlled tech. I blogged about it here. It all started when Google offered their home hub at half price – £25. I guess that’s around $25 or €25, give or take. I’d seen them advertised, so I thought I wonder what it can do?

Actually, on its own, not much. It connected to the web, told me the time, the news and the weather, and within a day I was bored. The device came into its own when I started looking at add-ons. It took a few days research, but I identified a light bulb. Hey, Google, light on. Bear in mind that I tend to crash into things when it’s dark – the stroke affected my balance and although it also affected my eyes, I crash about less in light than in dark. The bulb was just off eBay. Spurred on, the obvious next question was what else can it do? I found a smart switch, again on eBay, which allows me to boil the kettle first-thing. Okay, the switch was more out of decadence than a great practical use, but that too was cheap. I still need to go into the kitchen to feed two hungry cats, but at least I can wait until the kettle is almost boiled before I leave the comfort of my duvet.

My wife – my wife is able-bodied so she doesn’t need any of these gadgets – my wife was impressed by the light especially. We had Black Friday last week, and she picked up an Alexa device, plus bulb, at a third off. Amazon also had a deal on their Prime membership, three months free. At the weekend she finally devoted some time to setting it all up. So, we now have two totally independent circuits in the house, each doing these gadgety things.

One of the things I thought about, then dismissed, was paying for a music streaming service. The main reason is that I already own most of the music I’ll listen to (apart, of course, from SLS!) so it felt like I was paying twice.

However, with my wife’s trial Amazon Prime subscription came also a trial of their music service. And I must admit that I liked the idea, yesterday, of saying Alexa, play Graceland by Paul Simon, then having a leisurely soak in the bath. So, a bit more open-minded, I had a another look.

Google support several providers. They don’t explicitly say they support Amazon, for the two are direct competitors in this market, but they do say that they support any service. But no matter, I won’t buy from Amazon, deal or no. Of the several services they specifically mention, I had a look at them over the weekend.

There is Google Play and YouTube Music – I couldn’t tell the difference, they are the same company after all, and offered the same deals. Deezer is French in origin, so possibly not so many tracks than American services? And not one of them had any sniff of a Black Friday deal, although they did all offer a free trial upon signup. So, in the end, I went with Spotify. Again, no promotion, but three months free, so I have until March to cancel.

I have friends who have, for years, used Spotify happily, although I suspect that, at the time, there was less choice. The price of £10/month was universal – the word cartel springs to mind. But, three months was the longest trial. And Spotify had a student plan, which recognises people on a low income and charges them less. No disabled plan, unfortunately, but at least they have taken a small step in the right direction.

So, I decided overnight, and set everything up this morning. On laptop, tablet and phone, plus of course this Home Hub – it is nice just to lie on the bed and say what I want to listen to. (You can have is on as many devices as you like, but only listen to one at a time). I’m listening to something now. So those lists I made for my Tick-Tock posts might have yet another use, after all.