Buying in USD from Canada

When buying things in the US from Canada, there are often different options to pay: PayPal, credit cards, etc.

In my case, I am (too) often paying for my line (DID and usage).
Despite being a Canadian company, they only charge in USD, probably because they need to pay their providers in USD, and don’t want to lose money when the exchange rate is abysmal (1.40 CAD = 1 USD right now!)

When paying an invoice in USD from Canada, not all payments methods are equals. Some will charge more to convert currency. PayPal in particular is pretty bad.  Continue reading Buying in USD from Canada

iOS 9 ATS (App Transport Security) exceptions

App Transport Security is a feature that improves the security of connections between an app and web services. The feature consists of default connection requirements that conform to best practices for secure connections. Apps can override this default behavior and turn off transport security.
Transport security is available on iOS 9.0 or later, and on OS X 10.11 and later.


What does that mean?

That unless you change something in your iOS app’ plist, your app will not be able to communicate with unsecure HTTP servers, when it runs on iOS 9.

That’s a good thing really; Apple is trying to force people to update their HTTP servers to use the latest HTTPS protocols & recommendations: TLS 1.2, SHA256 or better, forward secrecy.

Continue reading iOS 9 ATS (App Transport Security) exceptions

How to extract your TOTP secrets from Authy

Maybe you just want to back them up for when something goes wrong, or maybe you want to set up a new two-factor authentication app on a platform that Authy doesn’t support (*cough* Windows Phone *cough*). Whatever your reasons, if you want to export your TOTP secret keys from Authy, their apps or support guys won’t be much help to you.

The trick, that I just used to install all my existing TOTP secrets in the Microsoft Authenticator app, is to change one of their app of which we have the source, namely their Chrome app, to show us what we want.

Continue reading How to extract your TOTP secrets from Authy

RSS-For-Later: Replace Google Reader with Pocket

Google Reader is going away later this year. This means those of us using RSS to keep in touch with the world will need to find an alternative to be able to get our fix using our different devices.

I still remember the pre-Google Reader days of RSS, when RSS clients were silos that talked to nobody. This meant that trying to read articles on a PDA (Palm Zire anyone?), and on a PC, forced us to skip a bunch of articles each time we switched from one to the other…
Solutions for this problem existed at the time, but were convoluted, and not that pleasant. i.e. I don’t want to go back there!

This morning, I read a post by Ruth John, aka @Rumyra, about how she used IFTTT (If-This-Then-That) to inject the content of a RSS feed into the Pocket read-it-later service. This stuck me as a good idea, so I started with a Yahoo Pipe that took my OPML, and merged all articles into one feed, and I inputed that into IFTTT, and chose Pocket as the target. Sadly, that didn’t work so well; IFTTT has known issues with Yahoo Pipes RSS feeds. Next option: just do it myself!

Continue reading RSS-For-Later: Replace Google Reader with Pocket

How to run a super-fast Android emulator with Intel x86 system images

Note: I did this on my MacBook Pro, and saw a major difference between the x86 emulator, and the old ARM emulator. I guess I should thank the CPU my MacBook uses, which supports Intel® HAXM*. If yours doesn’t, you’re out of luck!
* Intel® HAXM requires an Intel® processor with support for Intel® VT-x, Intel® EM64T (Intel® 64), and Execute Disable (XD) Bit functionality.

Continue reading How to run a super-fast Android emulator with Intel x86 system images

Flickr interesting or groups photos on your (jailbroken) Apple TV screensaver

Since I replaced my Apple TV 1 with an Apple TV 2, and started using Flickr as the screensaver, I was wondering how I could use group photos or interesting photos from Flickr, instead of just a user’s photos, or the result of a search.
Today, I was able to hack it to do what I want!

(Note: You need a jailbroken Apple TV for this to work.)

Continue reading Flickr interesting or groups photos on your (jailbroken) Apple TV screensaver

[Updated] Phone Power in Canada: awesome features set, so-so routing & support

Last year, I took the plunge and switched from a big local telephony provider to a web-based VoIP provider: Phone Power.
Their features set is quite something: free second line, voicemails to email, some free international minutes, etc.
But, when it comes to routing local calls, they are so-so.

I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Many local agencies & companies have 1-800 numbers that are geolocation-locked; you can’t call those numbers from outside Canada, or outside Quebec (depending). How they detect the origin of the call is not based on the caller ID (the caller’s phone number); it has to do with how the call is routed, i.e. where it’s coming from for real.

Now, the problem is not that Phone Power isn’t technically capable of routing those calls correctly, since I have been able to call those numbers on multiple occasions. The problem is that they are unable to keep routing consistent. The result is that those calls will only work sometimes, and will sometimes fail. And, when it’s not working, and you call/chat support to fix it, they don’t know how to resolve the situation. Sometimes, after 20-30 minutes of back and forth, they are able to make those calls go through. Other times, they can’t fix it, and answer that they’ll investigate further, and contact me later when they found something.

Continue reading [Updated] Phone Power in Canada: awesome features set, so-so routing & support

[Updated] How to monitor the Apple Store for available refurbished items using cron

So, you’d like to buy a refurbished product from the Apple Store, but it’s currently Out of Stock. And will probably be for a while, and when it’s not anymore, the few units available will be gone in minutes.
So you need a way to be notified ASAP when it’s available, so you can have a chance to order it.

Here’s a simple way using cron.

Continue reading [Updated] How to monitor the Apple Store for available refurbished items using cron

Start iPhoto screen saver from AppleScript

Starting the screen saver from AppleScript is simple enough:

tell application "System Events" to start current screen saver


Even starting another screen saver than the default from System Preferences is simple, if you want one of the standard screen saver:

tell application "System Events" to tell screen saver "Arabesque" to start


But it becomes much more complicated if you’d like to start the iPhoto screen saver, and use another as the System Preferences default.
Here’s how I did it:

Continue reading Start iPhoto screen saver from AppleScript