Thoughts from Blue Blaze Irregular Will Reichard
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I Cannot Sanction Your Buffoonery

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[Content Note: Misogyny.]

So, I've altogether stayed out of the DNC Chair stuff, for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that I am busily pretending that Donna Brazile will stay forever.

But this piece by James Hohmann in the Washington Post finally pushed me to my limits: "The Daily 202: DNC chair candidates say Clinton lost because she talked too much about Trump."

I cannot let this revisionist history stand.

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wreichard
132 days ago
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So glad the Ds are learning the lesson.
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Unshackle your Device from the Google Play Store with APKUpdater [XDA Spotlight]

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With the Google Play Store reaching tens of billions of individual application installations over the course of its lifetime, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid using Google’s app store.

This is especially problematic for open source enthusiasts and/or privacy conscious folks who see the Google Play Store as a shackle on their device that chains them into the Google Play Services ecosystem. A system which arguably exists only to find and collect information on you to sell to advertisers, and whose services often poll so repeatedly in the background that they result in significant battery drain. Thus, many users try to avoid using Google services as much as possible, even going so far as to avoid the nearly-ubiquitous Play Store for app downloads.

While a vast majority of applications and games exist on the Play Store, over the years alternative and legitimate means of acquiring applications have popped up. Our very own XDA Labs and Forums are two ways you can both discover new apps and stay on top of updates, but admittedly these two means contain only a fraction of available applications that are out there. Other websites such as APKMirror are a good place to keep up to date with (mostly) Google applications, but again relying on just that website means you will run into the same dilemma.

That’s where APKUpdater by XDA Junior Member rumboalla comes into play (no pun intended). Using some of the most common alternate repositories available on the web as well as a scraper for the Google Play Store, this application can help you keep all of your apps up to date. The best part is that use of this application does not require having the Google Play Store installed. Perfect for those of you who care about open source software, your privacy, or if you want to use the Play Store but your device didn’t ship with it. Whatever your reasons are for needing this kind of application, you’ll find it immensely useful given how simplistic, beautiful, and functional it is.


Free your Device from the Play Store with APKUpdater

One you load the app, it automatically finds all the apps you have installed and displays them in a list; unfortunately the list is not alphabetically sorted which is a bit of a bummer. The updates tab shows any updates that are available for your apps. You can either wait for the app to automatically search for updates based on the update frequency in the settings, or you can click the icon that looks like a clock with an arrow to force a manual update. After APKUpdater has searched for your app updates, you will see that the list on the updates tab is now populated (and still not alphabetically sorted, sadly). It should be noted that APKUpdater app doesn’t update the apps automatically for you — you are required to click on each update and download the APK and then install them one by one. This makes updating your apps a little time consuming, and while it can be argued it’s better to avoid bad and/or intrusive updates, we hope that an automatic update method is implemented in the future. Tapping on an update loads your default browser with the URL that is displayed in the update tab, which (in Chrome) automatically starts downloading the APK file to your device. Next up,  you need to find the downloaded APK (mine was located in the downloads folder, as expected) and install it manually, then rinse and repeat for each update available. The app contains some adverts, but they are very minimal and I didn’t really notice them in my day-to-day usage, yet knowing that I’m helping the developer get a little bit of money for all the hard-work they put in is a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I found a couple of things a little disconcerting when I first started using the app, though: firstly the updates page shows the app icon and version number, however the version number that is displayed is the currently installed version not the new version you will install. To find the new version number you have to read the URL. This is not ideal and workable once you know about it, but the first time I was trying to figure out how come the app was telling me to update to versions that I already had installed and thought there was an issue with either the app or the APKMirror source.

APKUpdater settings allow for changing the built-in theme, setting how often to check for updates and which sources to use. By default, APKUpdater will check on APKMirror but it can also use APKPure and the Google Play Store. The latter uses apps.evozi.com to actually download the apps from the Google Play Store so you don’t need a Google account. This has a neat side-effect which allows you to bypass the checks that Google has in place to restrict apps to a given country or device type whilst still using the Google Play Store download, which is checked for viruses and trojans.

The app is ultimately very easy to use; for example, I tested it with the Paypal app that I had installed on my phone and had APKUpdater check for updates. It duly told me that there was a new version and provided the link which it opened via Chrome (my default browser). The APK downloaded to my downloads folder which I was able to then manually find and click on the APK to install the new version of the Paypal app. I was prompted for “Unknown Sources” security to be turned on, which I did and turned it back off again after the install was complete (some ROMs allow for a one-time installation in case you think you’ll forget to turn it off)

One very useful feature I found was that APKMirror is not blocked in a well known country that has a great big wall running the length of it. This means I can keep all my apps up to date without the use of a VPN, which can sometimes be slow or unreliable and it can chew through my phone’s battery.

I also stumbled upon the White list feature that is present in the APKUpate app thanks to a helpful forum post. I couldn’t find any whitelist options in the settings or updating tabs and just started poking at the app with my finger, and I eventually found it by long-pressing the app item in the installed tab. There is no mention of whitelisting, it just makes the item appear slightly greyed out. I confirmed my suspicion, though, by whitelisting Opera Mini which had an update available, and then refreshing the updates tab I found that Opera Mini was not included in the list of updates anymore. This is a great feature, but it’s so well hidden I am not sure just how many people can find it without instructions.

To sum up, the main small issue I found with APKUpdater are:

  • Apps are not sorted in Alphabetical order — making finding a specific app to update a bit of a pain.
  • Google Play Store version is out of date. (Not a big issue since this app is designed for users without the Google Playstore — but something to note)
  • Doesn’t automatically update the apps that it finds latest versions of with one click.
  • Default is to show the experimental / beta builds of apps on your device. A useful feature for sure. but something I don’t think should be turned on by default
  • The app’s heading shows whatever page you were last in (e.g. Settings on the main page after changing the settings)

As you can see none of the issues above are major, and they are mostly minor UI issues, yet if they were fixed that would add a bit more polish to an otherwise very useful application. There are no issues with the functionality of the application though, so don’t let any of the small items I pointed out stop you from downloading it, trying it out and enjoying it.


Conclusion

Overall, APK Updater offers a useful service that needs a little more polish to become a great app. If you are in a location that blocks access to  the Google Play Store  or would like to keep Google off your phone completely, then APKUpdater is a must-have app. Otherwise, if your phone doesn’t have the Play Store on it by default (or if you removed Play Services for privacy and battery life) and you would like to keep it that way, then this app is perfect for you.

You can get APKupdater at the XDA Forum thread.


Check out APKUpdater on the XDA Forums!

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wreichard
132 days ago
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Nice.
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The Enormous Bird That Can Ride the Wind for 10,000 Miles

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The Enormous Bird That Can Ride the Wind for 10,000 Miles
The albatross has wings that span up to 11 feet, and it uses them to cross entire oceans. The post The Enormous Bird That Can Ride the Wind for 10,000 Miles appeared first on WIRED.
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wreichard
132 days ago
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I want to be this bird.
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Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned’ - The Washington Post

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our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
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wreichard
133 days ago
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This is the most chilling thing that has been said in our lifetimes. Pandora's Box is open now. God help us all.
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Maiden Australia: Lou’s 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

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Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Prova Cycles’ Mark Hester has some impressive automotive design and engineering credentials, which he now applies to the two-wheeled world. After producing a slew of off-road tourers and MTBs, he recently completed this 650b tourer for his wife, Lou.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

After a formative engineering career in the US and Europe, which was spent developing chassis control systems for companies such as Robert Bosch and Jaguar LandRover, he’s now based back in the Australian capital of Canberra.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Mark raced XC enduro for more than a few years in Australia and when he was living in the UK, he took to the gravity enduro scene, where he participated in a couple of Enduro World Series rounds and the Trans-Savoie multi-day enduro in the French Alps.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Suffice to say, he knows how a bike needs to perform off-road. The last of his creations featured on Cycle EXIF was the Prova Cycles 29er Adventure Road Bike, which was successfully tested on an 800km ride from Canberra to Melbourne in five days.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Obviously, his wife Lou was wondering when she’d see the benefit of Mark’s enterprise, and he suitably responded with this fresh, functional and very pretty tourer. It’s built for seriously long distances and if the scenery gets boring, admiring the bike sure won’t.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Mark fillet brazed the frame together from a combination of Columbus Life and Spirit tubing, trimmed with low mount rear dropouts from Bentley Components and Llewellyn stainless down tube and chain stay gear bosses.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Yorkshire’s Bentley Components also provided the stainless CNC’d fork dropouts, to cater for the SON SL connectionless front hub. Mark modified the crown to remove the caliper holes and added top-mount rack bosses and the under-crown fender mount.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

A Brooks Cambium saddle has been customized to accept a SON rear light, inspired by the work of MAP Cycles‘ Mitch Pryor. The wiring enters the downtube through a Di2 grommet in a stainless boss and exits from the end of a Thomson Masterpiece post.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

White Industries G30 cranks were installed with a ‘super’ compact 32/42 gearing, coupled with a SRAM Force 22 groupset and a 32T rear cassette, which will provide for an ideal loaded touring ratio.

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

Mark made the front basket atop the Tubus lowrider rack, which was designed for the Sugarloaf bag and rolltop panniers from Swift Industries. Another Canberra local, Velopaint, applied a matching scheme, as did Melbourne’s Busyman Bicycles.

Head to Mark’s site to see more of his work.

Prova Cycles Website | Facebook | Instagram

Maiden Australia: Lou's 650b Prova Cycles Tourer

The post Maiden Australia: Lou’s 650b Prova Cycles Tourer appeared first on Cycle EXIF.

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wreichard
133 days ago
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That is my style.
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Not Cowardly, Evil

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Ryan-invites-Trump-to-address-joint-session-of-Congress

There’s no mystery about why Congress is not going to meaningfully check Trump:

After three weeks in the White House, Mr. Trump has made clear that he is going to continue promulgating conspiracy theories, flinging personal insults and saying things that are plainly untrue. And the Republican-controlled House and Senate seem to have made a collective decision: They will accommodate — not confront — his conduct as long as he signs their long-stalled conservative proposals on taxes, regulations and health care into law.

“There’s a widely held view among our members that, yes, he’s going to say things on a daily basis that we’re not going to like,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking Senate Republican, “but that the broad legislative agenda and goals that we have — if we can stay focused on those and try and get that stuff enacted — those would be big wins.”

Such accommodation is coming at a price, attracting incredulous or angry constituents to town hall meetings, leaving members flat-footed when presented with the latest presidential provocation and testing the capacity of now perpetually clogged phone lines on Capitol Hill.

I’ve seen this behavior described as cowardice, but this is incorrect. The Republican conference isn’t too scared to stand up to Trump. They think it’s in their interest not to stand up to him, because he can facilitate their agenda of upward wealth distribution, deregulation of the powerful and regulation of the powerless.

And this is the central problem with comparing where the Republicans are now to where the Democrats were in 1977. The latter Congress picked all kinds of fights with Carter, and vice versa, because there was nothing remotely resembling a coherent governing agenda. That’s not the case here. They won’t succeed on everything — the Reagan Republicans have generally been unsuccessful at actually eliminating New Deal/Great Society programs, and they might not be able to kill the ACA (although I certainly wouldn’t count on that yet.) But as long as Trump will sign what they put on his desk and sign whatever executive orders Mike Pence puts in front of him and nominate the judges the Heritage Foundation tells him to, Congress with leave him alone to pillage the treasury and create diplomatic crises, and a lot of damage will result.

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wreichard
133 days ago
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"The Republican conference isn’t too scared to stand up to Trump. They think it’s in their interest not to stand up to him, because he can facilitate their agenda of upward wealth distribution, deregulation of the powerful and regulation of the powerless."
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