Category Archives: Breaking Forums, and Reports

It’ll be a cold day in Burma

A Cold Day In Burma

By Russell Imrie

February 9, 2018

A few days ago the 2018 Winter Olympics took off great with ceremony at PyongChang, Republic of Korea (“South Korea”). That a very unlikely competing country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“North Korea”) marched in the opening festivities is amazing, given that the two sovereign states have been locked in an unresolved conflict since 1953 when an uneasy armistice began following a short, intense war.

That a prosperous and democratic South Korea even thinks of accommodating the North says a lot about the South’s confidence and progressive outlook—and the pariah North’s need for respect and global credibility as a nation.

This astonishing turn of events is one more step in South Korea’s historic path to establishing itself as a modern, dynamic Pacific nation with a vibrant economy and a place as regional power.

Myanmar’s (Burma) story now lies in strong contrast to South Korea’s narrative. At the end of the 1950-53 war, Korea was in utter ruins and had scant natural resources. Things looked bleak. Burma, another Asian country (now known as Myanmar), was in a similar condition but had rich mineral, forest, and agricultural advantages like fertile land, water, and a favorable climate. The steps each took to evolve their economies in the coming decades have led to vastly different outcomes. SE Asia expert and advisor Dr. David Steinberg, in “Myanmar and South Korea Expert Discusses the Reasons Why the Two Countries Upended Their Development Expectations, September 18, 2017” states that the strikingly contrasting conditions are primarily the result of two contrasting polities.

Myanmar is a country of abundant natural resources, and yet is still one of Asia’s poorest countries. This situation is in part due to recent political turmoil.

Myanmar’s economy, with large deposits of ores to support it, should have lifted the nation to a thriving economic giant and lifted the welfare of its people. Instead, authoritarian regimes controlled by a corrupt military and cronies have hobbled the nation and rejected foreign ideas and management expertise. Its economy and politics, despite the recent relaxing of junta-like control, are more than ever in desperate shape. Religious conflict and ethnic cleansing sees hundreds of thousands of Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, itself struggling with its own challenges.

Korea’s post-conflict military regime though, exercised intelligient discipline by encouraging a free economy and foreign expertise. The ravaged mountains and cities were populated by an energetic population that could build ventures and were open to imaginative products.

The “my country first” economic model re-emerging as a populist meme ignores this fundamental lesson of national development: “It will be a cold day in Myanmar when the chains of authoritarianism will bless its peoples with freedom and prosperity.”

Signal 2.8.3 adds video calls and a can of worms

Signal 2.8.3 adds video calls and can of worms

By Russ Imrie March 25, 2017

Popular iOS 10+ encrypted messaging app Signal has added Video Calling to its toolkit–and no it’s not THAT bad. The first surprise you’ll see in your contacts (iOS contacts, not those in your signal app) when phone integration is activated is that a “signal” option is listed for contacts with an iPhone number. #1 below. Not to worry too much. Click on one and it doesn’t work unless they are one of your verified real Signal contacts and/or have Signal installed.

Surprise in your norma iOS contacts

#1 Surprise in your normal iOS contacts

But wait, there’s more. Basically, what has happened is that Signal, to maximize convenience and video quality for video calls, has incorporated Apple’s CallKit. This makes various apps like Signal and Skype work better right through the phone app while still using data over your phone carrier, or wifi.

To quote Signal’s blog info on what this all means…

CallKit is an iOS 10 feature that brings apps like Signal to the same level as the native iOS calling experience. It makes Signal calls answerable with one touch directly from the lock screen, allows initiating Signal calls through the native contacts app, and displays Signal calls in the system’s “recent calls” list.

That “recent calls list” they mention above is the thing. So for the truly paranoid, what that COULD mean is that anyone digging through your unlocked phone can see you made some Signal Calls. There are options that can minimize information revealed then and that comes later. Also what a notification in your lock screen [about an incoming call or message] can reveal also has control options, that is if you have general preferences in iOS set to show notifications or not.

Another phone integration issue is that everything in your phone app is routinely backed up to iCloud. Apple COULD be compelled (or hacked) to reveal your call history, now including Signal’s. You might be ok with that, or not.

The Signal app’s setting panel is accessed by tapping the gear icon which opens the preferences pane, where you can control the new Signal. Privacy, Notifications, and Advanced are what you use.

#2 Preferences Panel

#2 Preferences Panel

2. Now, the Biggie: Activate Phone Integration in Privacy settings. Or not. You should turn this off immediately until the following settings are done right. You can turn it on later if you want. Here’s what that option looks like. “Off” pictured.

CallKit on/off phone integration

CallKit on/off phone integration

3. What your notifications can or can’t reveal if activated. Located in Notifications in preferences/settings pane/Background Notifications options.  I want NO information revealed in any notification, just a beep alert.

Pick No Name or Content in Notifications

#3. Pick No Name or Content in Notifications

4. More privacy… I disable screen previews here. Also, and this can affect performance with video, I choose Always Relay via Signal’s proprietary server. Yes traffic is totally encrypted but is routed through the public networks. Signal’s server can be bogged down if you are pushing a video call through it. Your choice.

4. Suggest Secure

#4. Suggest Secure

5. The dreaded “oops”… Clear history Logs will wipe everything in Signal – all your messages and your contacts will look as if they have vanished. But open a new message and there they are (contacts, that is – message are his-to-ry. And seriously, if you are in a bad space and want to totally (and remember Signal doesn’t do caches) kill all old messages, this is the one.

Require Approval is good – if for some reason one of your contacts deletes and re-installs the app. This makes absolutely sure you are not being pranked and the contact is genuine.

5. Dreaded Clear Logs

#5. Dreaded Clear Logs

Questions? Suggestions? Stuff I missed? Send me what you think in the comments box below.

Now, if you want, go back and activate phone integration 

distant US Capitol dome

U.S. Capitol SOTU eve, 2011 – photo Russ Imrie

Russell Imrie is a  Networking and Content Specialist, craft beer enthusiast, webmaster and an American Indian blogger living in the Washington DC area. For a decade Imrie built systems and lived totally off the grid in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California near Silicon Valley. More opinion pieces are at China Daily Mail (under nom de blog supTweet)

Copyright Russell Imrie 2017