Android App Permissions Dialog

Most Android users are at least vaguely aware, that every time we install or update an app, we’re shown a dialog with a list of permissions the app is requesting on our mobile device. We can either Allow or Deny this request.

What people should be aware of as well, is that by default, Android did not allow us to Accept or Decline each permission on its own. We were shown the whole list, and would then have to either Accept or Decline the entire list, and in the latter case, the app would not install, or the update would not take place.

This was a rather powerless feature, because when we declined an update, Google Play would just come back within short order, and offer the same update again. Also, there was no way to opt out of updating for one specific app. So we would then either be obliged to accept the update at a later time, or to uninstall the app.

This was the status-quo up to and including “Android Lollipop”. The Android version that came after Lollipop, and which is the current version, is called “Marshmallow”. And the main, key improvement which Marshmallow offers, is control by the user, for each individual permission the app is asking for. With Marshmallow, the user is no longer obliged either to accept the entire list of permissions or to reject it. He can grant or deny any specific permission, and then still install the update, which gets rid of the messages for that update.

One reason fw this is important, is the possibility of a “Privilege Escalation”, which is also a known form of cyber-attack. Privilege Escalation means, that an already-installed app can ask for progressively more permissions during each update, which users often don’t pay strict attention to, so that after several updates, the app has a dangerous collection of them on our device.

Granted, most of the time the apps need a large number of permissions for innocuous purposes, or maybe because they’re just not programmed well enough, to work without those. But the potential exists for too liberal a set of permissions eventually to compromise our privacy online, or even our online security.

This is why, regardless of whether we have Marshmallow or not, we should in fact be examining the requested permissions each time, before we simply grant them.

Having said that, I don’t have Android Marshmallow yet. This is secondhand information, from a friend of mine who is in the know, and who has Marshmallow on at least one of his devices.



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I watched the new Star Wars movie tonight.

It’s been an objective throughout most of this blog, to focus on factual subjects or sincere opinions. But right now I’d just like to mention, that I did watch “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Episode 7) with an old friend. I’d say that the only way to watch this movie, is in some sort of social context. And so I must also announce the fact that I’ve finally watched it this evening.

I saw the very first Star Wars movie when it came out in the 1970s, which was Episode 4 as the first in the mini-series, and at that time I was maybe 12 years old. Being ‘the right’ age for it, I was blown away by the first Star Wars movie, but also because I was not yet capable of critical thinking. Later on in my teenage life, I was very critical of the entire Star Wars franchise, although I watched every movie.

Without giving away any details, I’d like to say that to my adult mind, the current movie was better, now that Disney owns it. I was not disappointed, but would only rate it 3/5 . I’d add, that it helps if the viewer liked Star Wars already, in order to appreciate this genre.


(Edit 1/23/2016 : ) One criticism which I have for this movie, is that its plot wasn’t based much on any technological premises, but rather theatrical in nature, in spite of all the neat combat and explosion scenes.

For example, many characters now wear masks, that don’t do anything useful. According to my earlier impression of Episode 4 however, those masks could have provided oxygen to supposed infantry, which needed to be landed on a planet even, that didn’t have any slightly breathable atmosphere…


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It’s Possible for a Little Tiny Gizmo to be a Turbine

It’s happened to many of us, that we’ve looked inside some appliance and found there to be a very small air-blower, powered by a very weak motor. And so one response which some of us might have, would be to think ‘That’s not a true turbine, because it’s not a meter in diameter, and wasn’t designed by steam specialists.’

But you see the fact remains, that according to Engineering, this turbine is either a blower or a compressor. In this case I’ll guess it’s a blower.

The fact that it’s a small object, spinning uselessly at high RPMs, working on small quantities of air, wouldn’t change this.

And the part of that which people may overlook, is that the efficiency of such a ‘small wheel’ will still depend on how well its blades have been computed and curved. The fact that this wheel is working with small amounts of energy, is orthogonal to the question of what its efficiency is. Hence, if the small wheel actually resembles blocks of plastic which have been stamped out or 3D-printed cheaply, the efficiency will suffer. OTOH, If the design was sophisticated, it’s possible for such a small wheel to produce surprisingly strong suction or pressure, and to convert a small amount of Electricity into that.

Mind you, it’s not in my habit to be taking every device apart, to see how well its small turbines were in fact computed. I’ve seen a few, that looked primitive, and from which I’d expect poor results.

Now, if it takes a remarkably long time for this turbine to get up to speed, and yet to do so reliably, what this means is that the “Moment Of Inertia” of what’s spinning is high, compared with the available Torque from its motor. Just like there is linear inertia, there is also this angular inertia, which differs by default, according to which axis we choose to try to spin an object along – unless the object has a spherical distribution of mass.

Would the observer think that the spinny thing is hard to spin, due to high moment of inertia? If not, this would seem to mean that its motor is only capable of generating Weak Torque. If at that, high RPMs and good performance are reached from the turbine, I’d say that this could be a sign of the system being efficient, once in its equilibrium state (of a controlled RPM).



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