In my opinion, when it comes to getting the best bang and build quality for the buck on an Android phone, check out Motorola’s phones. Lenovo — the same company who took Right now, they’ve got discounts on many of their mobiles, including $100 off any of the Motorola One family — the Action, the Zoom, and the one I got: the Hyper.
With the discount, the unlocked Hyper goes for US$299 when purchased directly from Motorola. That’s a pretty good price for an Android phone with mid-level specs.
Here’s a quick video review of this chipset from Android Authority’s Gary Sims:
As a point of reference, this chipset is also used in Samsung’s Galaxy A70, A60, and M40, and LG’s Q70.
This chipset puts the Moto One Hyper firmly in the middle of the road of current Android offerings, making it a reasonably representative device for an indie Android developer/article author like Yours Truly.
The phone’s “Hyper” name is a reference to its “hyper charging” — high-speed charging thanks to its ability to take a higher level of power during the charging process. It comes with an 18 watt charger (the same level of power provided by the current iPad Pro and iPhone 11 chargers), but if you have a 45 watt charger handy, the phone’s 4,000 mAh battery will charge in just over 10 minutes.
The phone also comes with the usual literature and SIM extraction pin:
There is one additional goodie that I didn’t expect: a clear, flexible, rubber-like plastic case. It’s nothing fancy, but it was still a nice surprise.
I’ll post more details about the phone as I use it and start doing development work (native stuff in Kotlin, as well as some cross-platform work in Flutter, and maybe even Kivy).
Week 3 of The Undercroft’sUC Baseline cybersecurity program is about to begin, and it’s all about operating systems! From Monday to Wednesday, it’s Linux from a cybersecurity point of view, and we’ll close out the week with Windows.
Not all of us are programmers, and not all of us live in the command line. I’m also not so smug that I can’t benefit from a review of T3H LUN1X!!1!!1, and unlike my normal Linux use case, where I use a desktop installation (I run Mint, Peppermint, and Raspberry Pi OS), we’ll be booting into a server setup.
For the benefit of my fellow classmates — and hey, it’d do me some good as well — here are some videos that will come in handy over the next couple of days.
Linux Terminal Introduction (ExplainingComputers, Jan. 2020)
In the Windows world, it’s called the Command Line. In the Unix world — which includes Linux and macOS — it’s the terminal, and it’s where we’ll be living for the next three days. Here’s a tour.
Beginner’s Guide to the bash Terminal (Joe Collins, Mar. 2017)
Ready for a longer intro to the Linux command line? Here’s a good one:
Linux File System/Structure Explained! (DorianDotSlash, May 2018)
You’re no longer in Windows’ C:, Program Files, and Documents folders any more! You’re in Linux, where the directories are cryptic, with names like /bin, /sbin, /etc, /dev, /usr, /var, and more! This will give you a quick intro to what they are and what they’re for.
Linux File System | Complete Overview (Chris Titus Tech, Sept. 2019)
Also worth checking out.
Vim Basics in 8 Minutes (tutoriaLinux, Oct. 2018)
We’re going GUIless, so all text editing will be done on some command-line editor — most likely Vim. If you’re new to Vim, you’ll find its modes maddening, as it’s a direct descendant of a program that traces its roots back to 1970s computer terminals. You’ll definitely want to watch this video.
Introduction to Linux for Cybersecurity Crash Course 2020 (Grant Collins, Jan. 2020)
Here’s a more in-depth introduction to Linux from a cybersecurity point of view.
Linux for Ethical Hackers (FreeCodeCamp, Jul. 2019)
Here’s another course on Linux as seen from a cybersecurity point of view. This one focuses on Kali Linux, a distribution specifically made for the purposes of ethical hacking, penetration testing, and general cybersecurity-related stuff.
The mind behind Linux (2016)
This won’t be covered in the course, but it doesn’t hurt to find out more about Linux’s creator, Linus Torvalds. This TED conversation from 2016 is a pretty good introduction.
Today marks the end of the second week of The Undercroft’s 5-week cybersecurity training program, UC Baseline. This week was a quick but in-depth (we each had a Cisco switch to configure) introduction to networking. Next week, we look at Windows and Linux from a security perspective.
I have some familiarity with the operating systems in question.
If you’re bored: When I was a Microsoft developer evangelist (they hired me from the open source/free software world), I won Stallman’s auction for a plush GNU gnu — and paid for it with my Microsoft corporate card. Here’s the story, titled Winning the GNU.
Here’s my daily view for seven hours a day for the next little while, as I’m part of the inaugural cohort of UC Baseline, the 5-week cybersecurity training program from Tampa bay’s security guild, The Undercroft:
Last week was devoted entirely to the “Hardware 101” part of the program. Here’s a video summary of what happened that week, and Yours Truly’s in a fair bit of it:
This week is “Networking 101”, which is all about how the bits gets transferred across wires and air to our hardware.
One of the exercises is making our own Ethernet cables. I can do it — just, very, very slowly…
We spent a good chunk of time setting up virtual LANs on our individually-assigned Cisco Catalyst 3750 programmable 48-port switches (alas, we don’t get to keep them), hooking up our Raspberry Pi 4 boxes (which we do get to keep) to them, and wiring our VLANs together via trunks:
It’s a strange world, where IOS doesn’t Apple’s refer to “iPhone Operating System” — part of my usual stomping grounds as a developer — but in the world of network administration, it’s Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System:
This is way outside my normal experience with networking, which I do at the application level, where I deal with data structures like arrays, dictionaries, base64-encoded data, and maybe the occasional data stream. This is the world of packets, frames, switching, and routing. I would still probably ruin a server room if left in charge of it, but after this course, I’d ruin it less.
I do have a refreshed generalized concept of what happens at the lower levels of the network, and that’s the important thing for me and the sort of work that I do.
It’s Monday, July 27th, which means that I’ve completed the Hardware 101 portion of the 5-week UC Baseline cybersecurity training program offered by Tampa Bay’s security guild, The Undercroft! Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve posted so far about my experiences…
Day 4 of the Hardware 101 component of the UC Baseline cybersecurity program was all about security for the enterprise, which naturally included topics such as servers. Not everyone in the class has had the opportunity to tour a server room or data center, and this was their chance to see these machines up close.
Unlike the previous days, we did not attempt to dismantle and then reassemble the servers — this was a “look, but don’t touch” sort of lesson.
We also had a guest lecturer who gave us a pretty thorough walkthrough of the sorts of things involved in an enterprise server/data center setup, some of which went way over my head. I don’t see a sysadmin/system architect role in my future, but it might not hurt for me to do some supplementary reading on this topic.
Day 5 was the final day of Hardware 101 and started with something that I’ve always been terrible at: Making networking cables.
We also spent some time looking over all sorts of intrusion devices, such as the incredibly cute “Pwnagotchi”, a Raspberry Pi Zero-based device that “listens” to wifi chatter to feed its machine learning program in order to figure out wifi passwords.
It uses an e-paper screen, which is quite legible and consumes little power.
It’s incredibly small:
Here’s a Pwnagotchi beside a U.S. quarter for size reference:
A great way to steal information to gain access to people’s accounts and systems is to set up a fake wifi hotspot at a place that offers free wifi, such as Starbucks. That’s what the Wifi Pineapple is for — people connect to it, thinking they’re connecting to Starbucks wifi. You route their signals through to the real Starbucks wifi, but you’re the go-between, and can “see” everything that your marks are sending on the internet: the data they’re passing back and forth, including stuff like user IDs and passwords:
It sends out a signal that causes devices currently connected to wifi to disconnect. You could use it in tandem with a Wifi Pineapple to force people to disconnect from the real wifi and then connect to the Pineapple instead, enabling you to read their internet communications.
If you really want to “sniff” all the wifi traffic in the room, you’ll want one of these — a high-gain antenna system hooked to a network interface controller (NIC) that reads signals in “promiscuous mode”, a capability that’s disabled in most NICs. In promiscuous mode, you can capture all wifi traffic instead of the bits of data that you’re authorized to receive. It’s a good network diagnostics tool — and it’s also useful for getting up to no good:
And finally, the Shark Jack. Plug it into someone’s network, either via the ethernet jack or USB, and it will execute scripts to get a map of the network or even deliver a payload somewhere onto the system:
It’s basically a real-world version of the device that Tony Stark slipped onto the command console of the SHIELD helicarrier in the first Avengers movie (it’s at the 0:44 mark):
I may have to invest in one of those bad boys. For research purposes, you understand.
We also had a guest lecturer who delivered a very thorough and informative presentation on getting started in cybersecurity. I’ll have to post notes on it later:
Wednesday: Day 3 continued the heavy hands-on portion of Hardware 101, the first segment of my five weeks at UC Baseline, the cybersecurity training program offered by Tampa Bay’s security guild, The Undercroft.
After taking apart and reassembling a desktop, it was time to up the ante and do the same with at least one laptop. I started with a Dell Latitude E5500, a bulky beast by today’s laptop standards, but one that’s more user-serviceable — and more easily taken apart — than most.
First step: Removing the battery.
The bottom panel was easy to pop open. It was held in place by nothing fancier than standard Phillips screws, which provided easy access to the RAM.
Next on the removal list: The optical drive. Once again, pretty straightforward — remove some anchoring screws, and then use a flathead screwdriver tip to push the the drive casing out.
The fan was quite easy to remove, as was the CPU heat sink.
Unlike the previous day’s desktop machines’ CPUs, which were in ZIF (zero insertion force) slots, laptop CPUs aren’t typically swappable, as they’re generally soldered onto the motherboard. This machine had a notebook-grade Core 2 Duo, which was typical for a mid-level laptop in the Windows 7 era.
It was also pretty easy to remove the keyboard…
…and once that was done, detaching the screen was a simple process.
With the disassembly complete, I laid out and labeled the parts that I’d extracted:
“All right, next challenge,” said Tremere, our instructor for the Hardware 101 portion of the course. “Disassemble, then reassemble the small one…”
I flipped it over, pleasantly surprised to see standard Phillips screws that were easy to access:
At this size, a laptop’s battery-to-actual-computer ratio jumps significantly:
This machine was still intended to be somewhat user-serviceable, so the battery and RAM were still easy to remove:
The drive didn’t take much effort to liberate, either:
The fan/heat sink combo didn’t put up much of a fight:
This is a machine made specifically for writing TPS reports and not much else, judging from its CPU. Still, I’m sure it could still do a serviceable job running a modern lightweight Linux — assuming it survives my disassembly and subsequent attempt to put it back together again.
Here are both patients, spread out across the operating table…
Re-assembly took a little longer, and I didn’t bother with photos of that process. I did manage to get it back together again, and with no extra parts!
I even the screen reattached! Later, I found a power adapter, and the machine managed start and get up to the BIOS screen, although the screen looked a little dim. Since I’m not trying out for a CompTIA hardware certificate, I’ll simply declare the procedure a success and not get too bogged down with fussy minutae such as “functioning” and “usable”.