Free text messages! For everyone, everywhere!

31/05/2018

Nowadays text messages can be pretty cheap.  It doesn’t cost much to get a bundle or plan that gives you hundreds or even unlimited texts for a month.  And if you have a smartphone, you can use apps like Facebook’s Messenger to send messages for free. But if you’re not on such a plan, or can’t/won’t/don’t use Messenger, you have to pay the “standard rate” – in the UK, standard rate sms cost 12p on ee, and on Vodafone it is 14p!  That’s pretty dear really, especially if you need to send multiple messages – and if you are having a conversation with someone you’ll be sending a whole bunch of sms to each other.

text-messages

We all use text messages these days. For better or worse…

Which is where I come in.  To tell you how to send free text messages, from anywhere to anywhere. This is supposing that you have internet access, but of course I always assume that as you are reading this (which would be rather difficult if you didn’t have online access).  And I use a lot of posts on this blog to give you advice and examples on stuff you can do on the internet.

So to send free text messages from just about anywhere to just about anywhere, go to the website www.afreesms.com.  As I mostly send messages to people here in the UK, I use the dedicated UK service at www.afreesms.com/intl/united-kingdom as that saves having to select the country every time I want to send a message.  But for this, I’ll use the international service for examples.

Here’s what you see when you go to www.afreesms.com/freesms/:

afreesms

To start, you need to choose the country where the person is that you’re sending the message to.  You do this by clicking on the Country field at the top – this will give you a drop-down menu with nearly all the countries in the world on it.  Then in the Mobile Number field you type in the recipient’s mobile phone number.  You see that there is a + symbol at the start: this means the number is in International format so you type the number without the leading zero; let’s imagine my number is 07890123456, so to send me a message you’ll put in my number like 7890123456.

Now we get the Message field which is, surprise surprise, where you type your message.  Remember, this is sms, so your message must fit in the 160 character limit (but don’t worry if that’s not enough, you can send more messages).

Now we come to the Sender ID field.  Here they want you to put your mobile number, in international format.  If I was sending a message to someone, I would plug in my country code – UK, which is +44 – and my number without the leading zero, so it would be +447890123456.  I’m not sure why they want this info, maybe it’s about international sanctions; on the UK page, where people only send messages from the UK to the UK, they don’t ask for this.  But if you’re sending sms abroad you have to do it.

Next it’s the Verification Code.  The display shows a 6-digit number, which you have to copy into the box.  And there’s a refresh image which you might have to click on if you’ve taken a long time to type everything and the link has expired.

And finally, all done, you click the Send button at the very bottom of the page.

You should remember that sometimes the Verification Code or Send button is covered by an advert box.  Just click the X to kill the ad, and you can get to the fields you need.

In the FAQ they claim they have a 99% Success Delivery Rate, and if a message doesn’t get through it is because of the following:

  • Invalid mobile number.
  • The mobile phone that you are trying to reach has been switch off or is out of coverage.
  • Carrier-to-carrier error or network congestions.
  • If the status is Delivered and you do not receive this means either your country is blocking our numbers or there is no carrier-to-carrier SMS agreement in place.

In my experience, some messages just get lost somewhere along the way.  So I tend to send my messages twice, and one of them will get through.  This isn’t a problem for me as the service is free.

There is also an anti-spam policy (like just about every online messaging service, from email to Messenger).  And a fair use policy.  Other than that, you can send as many texts as you want, from just about any country to just about any country.  Here’s the list from their website (also links to the relevant page):

中国 (China) 台灣 (Taiwan) 日本国 (Japan) 澳門 (Macau) 香港 (Hong Kong)
대한민국 (South Korea) Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria

 

American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria
Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados
Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda
Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil
British Indian Ocean Territory British Virgin Islands Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso
Burundi Côte D’Ivoire Cambodia Cameroon Canada
Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile
Christmas Island Cocos Keeling Islands Colombia Comoros Congo
Congo-Kinshasa Cook Islands Costa Rica Croatia Cuba

 

Curacao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti
Dominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt
El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia
Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France
French Guiana French Polynesia Gabon Gambia Georgia
Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland
Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey
Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Honduras

 

Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran
Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy

 

Jamaica Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya
Kiribati Korea, North Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos
Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Madagascar
Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta
Mariana Islands Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius
Mayotte Island Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco
Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique
Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands
New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria

 

Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan
Palau Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay
Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico
Qatar Reunion Island Romania Russia Rwanda
Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal
Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten / Saint Martin
Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa

 

South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname
Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tajikistan
Tanzania Thailand Togo Tokelau Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands
Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom
United States Uruguay US Virgin Islands Uzbekistan Vanuatu
Venezuela Vietnam Wallis and Futuna Islands Yemen Zambia
Zimbabwe

Iran is on the list.  North Korea, as “Korea, North” is also there, but South Korea isn’t.  I can’t see what other countries are missing – if any more are missing – if you notice any, please let us all know in Comments.

All in all a good service.  Make the most of it before it goes away.

 


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Not moving now! Stay here, everyone!

30/05/2018

I said I was moving to ihatehate.ga. But I’ve had a hell of a time trying to import m,y content from here, and there have been other problems, so for now I’m staying right here. https://ihatehate.wordpress.com. The hosting here at wordpress.com is pretty problem-free at the user level. The techs and engineers probably run around like headless chickens to give me this experience of problem-free hosting. Cheers, techs and engineers! And it’s free!

Well, that’s it. I’m going nowhere, right now. So sit down and shut up!!

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Aww what a sweet dog! Why don’t you buy her a coffee?

Buy Me A Coffee


Youtube video downloaders 2018

25/05/2018

youtube-perplexed

We all know how jealously Youtube defends its downloads – they control their content by making it difficult to download their content, which includes changing the way the site works.  So, here’s an update on how to download the videos from Youtube.

And first of all: one of the golden oldie’s still works!  That “pwnyoutube” site from 2009 still works!  To use this, you get the youtube url for the video you want – for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvP2FEfOSsk<<=========

(which is a Defcon talk about a vulnerability in LED monitors that can be exploited to show an attacker what you’re looking at) and insert the characters “pwn” like this:

www.pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=zvP2FEfOSsk<<=============

This url will redirect you to deturl.com, to a page where you can download the video.

And here’s the first newbie of this update: I call it “genyoutube”, because it works like “pwnyoutube” except… (you guessed it) you add the letters “gen”.  So, you have the youtube video url:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvP2FEfOSsk<<============

and add “gen” so it’s:

www.genyoutube.com/watch?v=zvP2FEfOSsk<<=============

This redirects you to https://video.genyoutube.net/zvP2FEfOSsk where you’ll find a bunch of links – there’s MP4 360p, a higher-def MP4  720p, WEBM formats, 3GP mobile phone vid format, even video without audio, and audio without video!!  I wonder if this one will still be working. in 2026?

Now here are a couple of online tools for downloading youtube video:

http://www.pickvideo.net/youtube-video-downloader.

and www.savethevideo.com.

You go to the respective service’s website, where you’ll find a long text-entry field like it thinks it’s Google or something.  Then you hit “download” and the site brings up a number of links offering a variety of video and audio formats.

Well, that’s me done for the next 9 years or whatever it’s been since the last time.  As ever, if you have any comments on these fine services, leave em in the Comments so other video-downloading fans can read em.  And if you know of any other video downloading services, stick them in Comments too.  Go on, you know you want to!!

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Won’t let us play with your multi-billion dollar satellite system? We’ll build our own!

25/05/2018

The UK chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that if the European Union refuse the UK access to the Galileo satellite navigation system, the UK will create its own system – a move that will add billions more to the Brexit bill.

From the Guardian:

EU is insistent that the UK had agreed in 2011 as an EU member state on the rules on blocking non-EU countries from access to secure elements of the project.

A senior EU official said, following some fraught negotiations this week, that it had become clear the UK “would like to transform Galileo from a union programme to a joint EU-UK programme, and that is quite a big ask for the EU”.

“They want to have privileged access to the security elements of PRS (the encrypted navigation system for government-authorised users) and to be able to continue manufacturing the security modules which would mean that after Brexit the UK, as a third country, would have the possibility to turn off the signal for the EU,” the official said.

Put like that, the EU’s position makes perfect sense.  Why would they put a third country in a position where it can switch off the EU’s system?  And the fact that the UK was instrumental in formulating the rules under with third countries – like the UK is about to become – are not allowed access to the system, well that’s kind of ironic really.

But of course that isn’t how the UK government sees things.  They want Britain to have some special status again.  Called “having your cake and eating it too.”  Again.

Hammond told reporters: ““We need access to a satellite system of this kind. A plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo project, contributing financially and technically to the project.”

Yes, that was the plan.  And that would still be the plan, if we hadn’t decided to leave the EU.  But we did decide to leave and now we need to renegotiate all of the deals that we enjoy as members of the EU.

 


Hack Trump!

22/05/2018

 

“You’ll prise my iphone from my cold dead fingers!” Trump will never stop tweeting – luckily for hackers.

The intel is out: we’re on to hack the Don.  The White House staff tried to tell him that bringing a cell phone into the secure area was to bring in his own gaping goatse security hole.  But he insisted: he needed, not one, but two iphones.  One for calls, one for Twitter.  Cos yeah, we all need a special Twitter phone.

But even though that’s a bit against procedure in the White House, it’s not un-doable.  His predecessor Barack Obama was hooked on crack, I mean Blackberries.  He simply could not exist with his poor-excuse-for-a-smartphone.   So allowances were made and he kept his Blackberry.  But he was aware of   the security risks; he had a specially-modified one made up, without microphone, camera or GPS, and even this “military-grade” Blackberry had to be handed over every 30 days to check for tampering, further modification, any chance that it posed any extra danger.

And Trump’s calls-only iphone is issued by White House staff and swapped out “through routine support operations” to check for hacking and other security concerns (well, any extra security concerns over and above the security concern that he is carrying around a bloody listening device!!).  But he refuses to let them have his Twitter iphone, because it would be a nuisance!

I’m sure it would be difficult to hack Trump’s phone(s).  I’m sure his equipment is especially hardened against threats.  But when a target is as juicy as Trump, and you have potentially nation-state actors moving against him, nothing is hack-proof.

The White House banned its employees from using personal phones while in the West Wing in January. A statement at the time said that the “security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration”.  But Trump’s wandering the West Wing (and the rest of the White House), Twitter-phone ready to tweet.

The personal smartphone of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly was reportedly hacked during the Trump transition.  And he didn’t replace it until October.  And Trump’s Twitter-phone hasn’t even been checked!!

This is the man who criticised Hilary Clinton for her use of a personal email server.  He is so dependant on Twitter that he needs a phone especially to tweet.  Note that he needs this phone (not device, oh no, it has to be a phone) to tweet (not to use for other electronic communication, oh no, he hasn’t used email since he came into office, he needs it only to tweet).

The guy is an idiot.  Don’t know if you’ve noticed that yet.

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More or less human?

20/05/2018

Humans have been using technology to artificially enhance their bodies for a very long time. Spectacles, hearing aids, false teeth, wooden legs – when our distant ancestor first used a tree branch to lean on as she walked with an injured leg, she was taking the first (painful) steps towards transhumanism.

So what is transhumanism?   Mark O’Connell, in his book To Be A Machine, writes that it is the “belief that we can and should eradicate ageing as a cause of death; that we can and should use technology to augment our bodies and our minds; that we can and should merge with machines, remaking ourselves, finally, in the image of our own higher ideals.”

Of course, the technology that we have used in the past to augment our bodies has been pretty low-tech: false teeth and hearing aids are certainly useful and have caused us to merge with machines up to a point; but it is the scientific advances of tomorrow and next week that have the potential to remake us into something more than human.

And this brings philosophical and ethical challenges.  Soon athletes in some events such as the 100 meter sprint who run on carbon fibre blades will be faster than those who run on legs.  So what should a surgeon  when approached by a prospective patient who wants him to amputate her perfectly good legs and fit her with the latest blades so she can compete at the top levels of her sport?

Many surgeons would refuse to be involved in such a procedure.  But there are also many health professionals who would be more sympathetic to the idea of exchanging inferior body parts with artificial replacements that could make the patient perform better, or live longer.  Cyberneticist Kevin Warwick is such a man.  He has had a number of  implants: one let him experience ultrasonic waves, which he likens to a “bat sense”. At another time:

“I interfaced my nervous system with my computer so that I could control a robot hand and experience what it was touching. I did that when I was in New York, but the hand was in a lab in England.”

And he is far from alone in his enthusiasm. The idea of transhumanism has sprung onto the stage of public attention recently.  It’s been featured in a number of recent blockbuster Hollywood movies, including Transcendence, Lucy and Her.  The Facebook group Singularity Network, one of the largest of hundreds of transhumanist-themed groups on the web, as seen its membership grow from 400 to over 10,000 in 3 years.  And that is just one of hundreds of transhumanist-themed groups on the web.

dilbert-transhumanism

cartoon by scott adams – cheers scott!!

Of course there are plenty of opponents to this creeping transhumanism.  “Blogman – Blacksmith of Truth” is one such naysayer.  In Auricmedia.net he blogs against what he calls the “transhumanist agenda.”  He does not want to have his body altered or invaded by swarms of nanobots, and he doesn’t want other people to go through such procedures either, as he believes transhumans will either imprison “normal” humans on an island or force them to assimilate like the Borg.

It’s true that transhumanists want to convert as many non-believers as possible.  They want to convince the public that embracing the radical science is in the human species’ best interest.  In a religious world where most of society still believes in heavenly afterlives, some people are doubtful if significantly extending human lifespans is philosophically and morally correct. Transhumanists believe the more people that support transhumanism, the more private and government resources will end up in the hands of organizations and companies that aim to improve peoples’ lives and bring mere human mortality to an end.  But some conspiracy theorists would have it that transhumanists are intent on dragging everyone away from their humanity, by any means possible.

Conspiracy nut and talk radio presenter Alex Jones is one such human.  In “Transhumanism: The New Dark Age,” he sets out his stall.  Ray Kurzweil, maybe the best-known long-time transhumanist, has been trying to achieve technological immortality for years.  In this, and in Kurzweil’s popularity among celebrities and executives, he sees proof of a transhumanist elite intent on enslaving human-kind.

“It’s all global government—accept nanotech. Accept wirehead. Accept interfaces, everything’s fine. All of our modern technologies—created by eugenicists. Or farmed out by scientists owned by scientists owned by eugenicists robber barons. The entire society, the whole technotronic plan; robotics, future not needing us, phasing out humanity, all of this, a hellish future, while they’ve been poisoning us and dumbing us down, so we can’t resist their takeover, and then saying we deserve it because all we want to do is watch Dancing with the Stars.

His ranting sometimes suggests lunacy.  But he is popular, so he wields much influence.  And he is not alone in believing in a transhumanist conspiracy.

cyborg-1

When does the cyborg become a machine? pic dc comics

Some of the conspiracy theorists’ fears do raise interesting – possibly important – questions.  If people become cyborgs, replacing limbs and organs with mechanical parts and implants, at what point do they become machines rather than human?  If they have their diseased hearts and kidneys and other organs replaced with ones grown in rats, when does their humanity succumb to rat-ness?  If a man uploads his mind and consciousness into a computer, and has his useless body destroyed, is he still a human?  When no physical trace of him remains, can he still claim any humanity, never mind transhumanity.  Rather than a glorious transhuman status, do they instead become low creatures and kitchen appliances and sundry pieces of equipment?

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MH370 “murder-suicide”?

18/05/2018

The mystery of what happened to Malayian Airlines Flight 370 may be over: an aviation expert believes one of the pilots murdered his fellow pilot and the passengers before ditching deliberately in a murder-suicide.

For four years what happened to MH370 has been a mystery.  The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on March 8, 2014,  but forty minutes later it vanished from radar.  It continued flying for six hours.  An international search effort tried to find any wreckage on the Indian Ocean bed but fond nothing.  But some wreckage was found off the East coast of Africa.

Larry Vance, a former investigator with the Transportation Safety Board Canada, examined detailed photos of the wreckage and believes it proves his theory that one of the pilots deliberately killed his colleague and everyone in the passenger cabin then crashed down into the ocean to commit suicide.

He claims that the flaps were down, which means the pilot was flying slowly before the crash.

Vance says: “If the flaps were down, then somebody would have had to have put them down, and they had to have put them down intentionally.”

Another expert, pilot and instructor Simon Hardy, believes the plane flew along  the Malaysian/Thai border, avoiding detection by air traffic control radar.  “If you were to commission me to make [a plane] disappear I would do exactly the same thing.”  And he thinks the pilot responsible was Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah.  The course took the plane over his home in Penang where he dipped a wing in farewell before taking the plane and its passengers over the Indian Ocean to their deaths.

The official verdict is that the plane crashed into the sea after running of fuel.  They think there is no proof to back the murder-suicide claim.  But there is nothing to explain why MH370 changed its course and crossed the ocean.

But Vance has an explanation: he thinks the pilot responsible crashed in the ocean far off-course because he did not want the plane to ever be found.

There have been a few cases of pilots deliberately crashing. EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1999, co-pilot Gamil el-Batouty crashed the plane killing 217 passengers.  And Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot of a Germanwings plane crashed into the Alps in 2015.

Still, it is very rare for this to happen.  We’ll have to wait for a comprehensive report on what actually happened.

MH370-Debris

Policeman with a piece of debris of MH370 on Indian Ocean island of Reunion Picture from mirror.co.uk


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