An English-always app workaround

Using apps on your phone with the wrong language can be frustrating. (Bangkok Post file photo)

On a recent overseas trip I noticed that some of my Android phone Google-related apps would change language settings and feeds based on the country I was in. Unless you can read in multiple languages this is really annoying. Even more so is that this behaviour is the default one and apparently unchangeable. If you are using Google as a browser you can at least stop this when browsing by using the URL google.com/ncr where the "ncr" stands for No Country Redirect. The result is an English always result regardless of where you may be in the world at the time.

- Sadly, there is no equivalent setting for a more generic "pretend I'm always in " for everything on your Android device. If someone knows of one please let me know.

- Infosec researcher Troy Hunt tells us that well over 700 million email addresses are now available on a popular hacker forum along with a large number of plain text passwords spanning the period 2008 to 2015. Troy has a useful website you can use to check if any of your accounts have been compromised that you can try here haveibeenpwned.com. The site has data on over 1.1 billion email addresses, usernames and passwords. It is a good time to change your important passwords.

- I was recently involved in helping a friend move from an existing phone service to another. Location Australia, provider Optus. It reminded me of processing times back in the early days of technology. The first issue was a blank SIM. Non-Optus providers have ones to use for any option, according to Optus store staff, but not for that purpose. Having an understanding of the system I got one anyway. Started the process on a Saturday afternoon, sure enough any blank SIM would do but I ran out of time as the movement team had gone home; call back Monday was the recommendation. Despite having all the info before, had to provide it all again multiple times over a couple of days. Every time I have done this before between providers it took from five minutes to a couple of hours. As I write this it has been a few days now, making Optus the slowest provider to actually give their customer mobile phone service in the modern age.

- Technology is a wonderful tool but I'm not convinced it works for everything. Pope Francis has launched the Click to Pray app. The app allows you to post a prayer, ask for support and view other prayer requests. Like an approval click for a Facebook post you can then see how many people prayed for your request. Coincidentally you need to login via your Facebook or Google accounts. This new trolling for prayers of social media service is an interesting approach to a long-standing Christian tradition. The phrase "they have an app for that" is becoming more real every day. God was not available for comment.

- Marketing works. If you want some evidence then consider that the research group Gartner reported back in June last year that a mere 4% of CEOs had invested in artificial intelligence or the current definition of AI with only one in five having experimented with it. The biggest implementation was in the area of chatbots. According to the latest Gartner report, implementations have tripled in the past 12 months. The report has no base numbers but it assures that AI was being deployed across all industries and in a variety of applications. Unsurprisingly a lot of this growth had been with the implementation of new chatbots. The report also noted there was an industry shortage in AI and related skill groups.

- For the four or five people left on the Windows Mobile platform, support will be dropped on Dec 10. The platform that killed Nokia has not had any real updates since earlier in 2017 so this comes as no real surprise and hopefully ends Microsoft's mobile phone ventures for good.

- One of the latest rages these days is DNA testing. You spit in a sample container, send it off and a while later you get to find out what percentage of your make-up is from what sources. What used to take a lot of effort has now been commercialised. With this change has also come questions around reliability. In a recent test, twins sent off their data to five of the major companies and to Yale University. The latter did their testing and the results were, as expected, exactly the same. The results from the other providers varied wildly. Between providers, the place of origin data did not match in location and varied by up to 20% when it did. Two reported Middle Eastern ancestry the rest didn't. Even within a given provider the percentages differed between the twins, in one case by 10%. With all of our modern technology it still takes a long time to get accurate DNA results. If you are planning to take advantage of these services, don't assume the results provided will be accurate.


James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com

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