Tag Archives: Native American In The City

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

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Live on the edge and fix sluggish Safari browser memory leak issues – maybe

Mac Mini Sierra 10.2.1 Safari 10.0.1 by Russ Imrie March 28, 2017

Disclaimer: I have used this fix myself but mileage may vary. If you are comfortable digging in your /Library folder, go for it

Recently my Safari browser started bogging down and repeatedly brought my Mac to a standstill. The spinning beach ball was everywhere. Apple Care appointment made sure my hardware was ok but the solution was NOT–to delete some Safari extensions, as the expert suggested. That seemed to work for a while, but the system sank into a bog soon after.

I reverted to launching the Mac with Command-R (recovery mode) which let me reinstall Sierra from Time Machine. Soon failing again, I tried reinstalling Sierra from a boot install USB drive I had made. But problem persisted. I tried Starting with Shift in safe mode, which at least let me launch Safari, get into its preferences, and remove my extensions (restorable at a later time). Obviously the issue was something in the restored applications and preferences from Time Machine. It was really screwed up. I was facing totally erasing, formatting my hard drive then restoring from maybe a month’s old Time Machine backup. Ugly.

On the Apple Forums, I eventually found a community of users faced with the same issue and a post from ShirsenduK on the Apple forums at https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7787044?start=15&tstart=0 who posted his/her solution after meeting frustration with Apple. I’ll paste in the process and you can try it, all responsibility yours. All I can say is that Safari launched brand new after this, requiring signing in again with my Apple/iCloud password (then the 2fA message for confirmation on my phone). iCloud has seemed to restore my bookmarks and favorites bar setup. Cool. So here’s the text of ShirsenduK’s steps. You better be familiar with activity Monitor, an app you’ll find in /Applications/Utilities.

ShirsenduK Dec 25, 2016 6:08 AM in response to Stephen Donovan  Level 1 Level 1 (9 points)   expertise.safariSafari

Dec 25, 2016 6:08 AM in response to Stephen Donovan

After being stonewalled by AppleSupport, I decided to fix it myself. The problem seemed to be limited to my primary user account. So I decided to reset Safari manually as the UI would only make Safari hang. Here is what I did.

Quit Safari/Kill via Activity Monitor

Open the Go menu in the OS X Finder

Hold the Option key and choose the Library option that appears

Move Safari folder to Trash

Open the Library > Saved Application State folder

Locate the “com.apple.Safari.savedState” folder

Move this folder to the trash

Open the Library > Caches folder

Locate all folders that begin with “com.apple.Safari”

Move these folders to the trash.

Open the Library > Cookies folder

Remove the file called “com.apple.Safari.SafeBrowsing.binarycookies”

Open the Library > Preferences folder

Remove any file that begins with “com.apple.Safari”

Go to the Library > Internet Plug-Ins folder

Move all items from this folder to the trash

NOTE: all previous steps are in your user’s directory/folder, The following step is in your main Macintosh HD directory/folder – ed.

Go to the Macintosh HD > Library > Internet plug-ins folder

Move all items out of this folder except the Quartz Composer.webplugin plug-in.

Start Safari, it should be good as new.

P.S. You will loose history and cookies.

Thanks to ShirsenduK – another happy camper

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