Surprise: €12 vertical mouse

Since the left button of my older Logitech M570 trackball spins, a replacement was needed. I'm actually a convinced trackball user - but mice are more efficient for many actions (e.g. to get across the screen quickly). One of the reasons for the trackball, however, was to try to avoid problems with the right hand that can arise from using the mouse for a long time.

At first I was interested in the Logitech MX vertical mouse, but the price put me off for an experiment. Many people write about longer settling-in periods. So I looked for alternatives. Actually, I had already ordered an Anker mouse, but I noticed that another product from "GeekerChip", matched the Anker mouse 100% - judging by the pictures. And for half the price!
You can just try it for 12 €

The tiny box that I found in the Amazon packaging on the following day immediately caused my "Chinaware" alarm bells to ring. The box also looked like it had been opened before. I unpacked and connected the mouse anyway. There are also scratches on the underside of the mouse that make you suspect that it is used - but not on the top. Very strange.

The mouse is fed with two AAA batteries. In comparison to some reports, I could easily remove the battery compartment cover with my finger, even if it takes a little more power than with the trackball. The plastic is also clearly thinner - but we're talking about a 2.4GHz mouse for € 12, so please!

Plugged the USB receiver into a hub on the Mac and ... the Mac recognises a keyboard. Huh? With the (still connected) trackball clicked "Cancel" and mouse movements do not arrive on the screen. OK, the surface of my keyboard and mouse drawer is matt black - so tried on the desk (maple). Also nothing. USB receiver out and in again. Aha - something is happening. The mouse now recognized motion and fed it - as expected - to the Mac.

The matte surface seemed to present some difficulty to the mouse - sometimes it didn't seem to recognise motion at all. On the other hand, it works perfectly on the surface of the desk. Disappointment spreads - I want to use the mouse on the drawer (where a standard Targus mouse works perfectly, by the way). A miracle happened after 1-2 minutes - suddenly the mouse started to work perfectly on the drawer ... how very bizarre! As if a "learning process" had to run (certainly not, at that price). Anyway - I've now shut down the trackball and I'm only using the mouse - and it works great now.

In contrast to several reviews, I had no problems getting used to the ergonomics - it worked right away and, to be honest, is extremely comfortable! Maybe that comes from my long-time use of trackball, no idea. I think it's great and very comfortable. The surface doesn't feel so different from the (at that time quite expensive) Logitech trackball. This mouse does not make a "yogurt cup plastic impression", but quite a valuable one. At least a lot more valuable than I expected for the price.

The mouse buttons also work perfectly and - in contrast to one review - not at all loudly, but quite normally. Only the forward and backward buttons to be operated by the thumb are impractical. They are not sublime, i.e. you don't feel it when your thumb searches for it. On the one hand, this is a clear design flaw, but it doesn't concern me because I never used these buttons on the trackball. What is unusual is the need to "wake up" the mouse with the right button if you do not use it for more than 8 minutes. I know it differently, but again: 12 €. The shift key for the DPI is very practical and works well - so you avoid switching in the control panel.

Now I'm curious how long this mouse will last. One thing has already become clear after just a few days: the matte finish is very impermanent. It's already come off on the parts of the case that I touch with my hand, leaving black, dull plastic behind. I think this actually looks better than the original coating - and I'm really wondering where that coating has gone? I've probably absorbed it through my skin or something hideous like that.

All in all, I recommend this mouse, especially if you want to test a vertical mouse first before buying a € 80-100 mouse from a brand manufacturer. The price isn't to be beat and it works very well, after the initial, unexplainable issues.

Alarm Bug in iOS 10.3.3 Clock App?

After my alarm on my iPhone 6s didn't go off a second time around, I decided to look into it.

As it turns out, there may be a bug in the way the Clock app handles having the alarm turned off after it goes off. When you hit the "Stop" button when the alarm rings, you're presented - for some bizarre reason - with the control screen of the alarm clock - at least on my iPhone. Here, you can then hit the "On/Off" switch for that alarm time to turn the alarm off. The switch pops back to on immediately, but the alarm is silenced.

I presume this popping back to on happens because the alarm is defined as "every weekday", though I don't know what happens on a Friday...

In any case, the next day the alarm won't sound, even though in the app it is turned on:
Notice anything about this screenshot? The alarm clock symbol in the title bar is missing! Even though the alarm is on!
Turn the alarm off and back on manually, and voila:
The alarm symbol appears and the alarm is going to ring the next time it should!
Has anyone had this issue? Is there a fix?
I've posted this to discussions
here, in case you want to follow up.

Samsung Galaxy 8 Iris Scanner hacked!

Samsung just brought out its newest phone, the Galaxy S8, touting the new "iris-unlocking" feature as one of the safest methods of securing a mobile phone.

Quite unfortunately, it is incredibly simple to fool this as "the safest way to lock a phone" method, as the
Chaos Computer Club has found out.

Have a look at
this video by German Hacker Starbug - it shows how simple circumventing S8 security really is. The solution: don't let anyone steal your S8 after they take a picture of your face!

Three months with Alexa

At our annual sales kickoff in January, I was the lucky winner of an Amazon Dot. The Dot is the slimmed-down version of the Echo, and my expectations were high.
I was concerned that the device wouldn't function at all, as I live in Germany, but that concern was completely unnecessary - Alexa takes commands both in English and German!

You really have to define your query or command very clearly, however. Any deviation into dialect or changing the speaking rhythm leaves Alexa clueless.

While you can add new capabilites ("skills") to Alexa, many of these will likely be as forgotten as that odd app you installed on your smartphone but don't use because it is on the 5th app page…

All in all, I'm glad the device was free, as I would have been disappointed by a purchased version. Alexa (and speech command technology) has a long way to go, obviously!

WhatsApp App for iPad - a Warning

If you use an iPad with an excellent keyboard as I do, then a strong desire to use WhatsApp on the iPad rather than on the iPhone with its completely unusable on-screen keyboard is a natural result.

Until recently, WhatsApp was only installable on the iPad using various tricks, as the communication software is supposed to be locked to a particular ID (the mobile number). With the advent of WhatsApp software on the Mac (and on Windows) that connects to the mobile phone via a unique 2-D barcode identifier, a mechanism was created to make an online version of WhatsApp possible.

This online version is accessed - from an iPad or any other internet-connected tablet - via which makes the well-known interface available in the web browser (likely running on HTML5, but I haven't looked). The connection to the phone is made - just like with the software - via a 2-D barcode.

It works quite well, albeit being a bit slow in scrolling and selecting emoticons (on an iPad Air 2). So far so good. Of course, a thought crosses one's mind once the elation has ebbed back to normal levels: "if they can display all my message contents in a web browser, who says they can't read them, too?". I'll have to research that a bit more, I guess for now I'll have to believe that decryption is done on the iPad… hmm…

So if there is software for Mac (and PC), Facebook could have released an iOS iPad app, right? Off to the app store I went. A Facebook-authored app isn't available, but there are apps that bring WhatsApp to the iPad just the same.

I'm willing to bet that all these apps do is provide an iFrame-like mechanism to "beam" the site into an app and add advertising (and an optional in-app purchase to remove it). Do you need that? No, certainly not. These apps do not add any value on top of what Facebook offers in the original http site. I'm sure the other, available apps work in the same way - they all have the exact same interface as the web app, sometimes with different colors (which you can change via CSS).

No value is added for the user, but there is plenty of additional value for the app developer, of course. Take this app as an example: "
iPad Messenger for WhatsApp - Free by Internet Rocks Inc." If you go on the developer website (, you will not find a company address ANYWHERE. Not even in the Privacy Policy or the Terms and Conditions. I'm not a lawyer, but I will bet a tenner that this makes these documents quite irrelevant.

Read the section 1.1 of the
Privacy Policy on the website. The app collects data. Lots of it. Stuff that you don't want a company to know that doesn't even disclose their whereabouts on the planet. When you download the app they get even more data about you (such as your email address).

And they don't even have to keep your data to themselves! In section 2.2d you read that they may share your data "with third party advertising networks and analytics companies as described below." They do go on to state that no personally identifiable data is passed to ad networks or advertisers. Do you believe that, reading it in a privacy policy that doesn't even disclose the address of the programmer?

Honestly, I'm shocked this app slipped through Apple's quality check!

There is zero need for this app, as anyone with a halfway modern tablet (HTML5-browser) can use the website provided by WhatsApp.