Dear Pandora Visitor, We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative. We believe that you are in Switzerland (your IP address appears to be 83.78.71.142). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please email us. If you have been using Pandora, we will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We will be notifying listeners as licensing agreements are established in individual countries. If you would like to be notified by email when Pandora is available in your country, please enter your email address below. The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere. We share your disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding. Sincerely, Tim Westergen Tim Westergren Founder

Security and geoblocking

Dear Pandora Visitor, We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.
 We believe that you are in Switzerland (your IP address appears to be ███.███.███.███). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please email us.
 If you have been using Pandora, we will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you.
 We will be notifying listeners as licensing agreements are established in individual countries. If you would like to be notified by email when Pandora is available in your country, please enter your email address below. The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere.  We share your disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.
 Sincerely, Tim Westergen Founder

A long time ago, I had a Pandora account. Then, one day, they decided they could no longer offer service to someone in Switzerland, so they blocked access based on the geographical coordinates associates with my IP address (Geoblocking). So I forgot about that service and my account until I receive the following e-mail:

Dear Pandora listener:
As a precaution, we want to make you aware of a situation that could possibly affect your Pandora account.

First off, there is no evidence that your Pandora account has been compromised or tampered with in any way.

However, usernames and passwords that were breached from a service other than Pandora a few years ago were posted on the web recently.

In order to protect Pandora Listeners, our security teams have analyzed the data and found that your Pandora username was included in the list.

If you share passwords across services and haven’t updated them recently, and you haven’t already reset your Pandora password, you should do so now.

Of course I did no update my Pandora password recently, as I could not access my account. So I followed the link that asked me to change my password, which lead me to a page telling me that:

Dear Pandora Visitor,

We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We believe that you are in Switzerland (your IP address appears to be ███.███.███.███). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please email us.

If you have been using Pandora, we will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you.

We will be notifying listeners as licensing agreements are established in individual countries. If you would like to be notified by email when Pandora is available in your country, please enter your email address below. The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere.

We share your disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely, Tim Westergren Founder

So I go back to the link which leads me to a contact form. I write a message explaining the situation, in response I get the following e-mail.

Hi Matthias,

Sorry for any trouble logging into your account.

I have reset your password to be: ██████████

Whenever you are back in an area where you can access Pandora, go to http://www.pandora.com from a computer, make sure to use your full email address (█████@██████.███) and the password, and click on ‘Log In.’

So the situation is now the following:

  • My Pandora account still contains personal information
  • My Pandora identifier was leaked
  • Access to my account is blocked to me
  • My password was sent unencrypted over the web

Security. 🞏

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Bolt character with both ANSI color and Unicode variation selector

Double Escape

Bolt character with both ANSI color and Unicode variation selector

are a mechanism to control the display of text in computer command line tools. While this mechanism is quite old – it originated in the 80s – it is still somehow used nowadays, mostly to color the text in terminals.

The use of control codes to format text has mostly died out, and the range of ASCII characters (escape in particular) used for the escapes has mostly died out. Nowadays people expect text formatting like color, underlines and such not to be expressed in the text itself, but escaped in another language like HTML.

It turns out the idea has not died out, but merely came back, as Unicode as the notion of escape sequences to control the appearance of characters. Some characters, like for instance ⚡ bolt (26A1), can be displayed in two modes:

  • ⚡︎ Text Style
  • ⚡️ Emoji Style

If you look at the source code of this page, you will notice that there is no formatting tag around these characters, instead they are followed by a variation selector: FE0E selects the text variant, and FE0F selects the coloured, emoji variant. If you see only one type of bolt, your browser/operating system does not support variant selectors – if you see nothing, your browser/operating system is missing the font for that particular character.

Unicode variation selectors only apply to the single character they follow where ANSI escape sequences mark a range, with a start and an end. Now the question is, how do they interact? To check this I generated the bolt character in the simplest 7 ANSI colours with both variation selectors. As you can see in the image, ANSI controls the font-color, which is honoured in the text variation and ignored in the emoji (color) variation. This means that in a modern terminal, for certain characters you can get 257 color variations, 256 from ANSI and one from Emoji…

Of course you can get the same behaviour in a web-browser

⚡︎ ⚡️ ⚡︎ ⚡️
⚡︎ ⚡️ ⚡︎ ⚡️
⚡︎ ⚡️ ⚡︎ ⚡️

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MyStrom WLAN power switch

MyStrom (2)

MyStrom WLAN power switch

It has been nearly two months since I wrote about my adapters – I tried various things out in the meantime.

I bought two more of theses switches, and bought some second-hand powerlan adapters, also from MyStrom. This ended up being a total waste of time, the stuff I got sold on Ricardo was crap, some of the adapters did not work, others I could not control because they were registered to another user, which was different from the seller, it seems. When I complained, the seller sent (at my expenses) more broken devices, so I have more stuff to dump into the . The system has three types of adapters:

  • Red ones that act as routers and are connected to the local area network using an ethernet cable, they can measure power consumption but cannot act as power switches (they are always on).
  • Blue ones that have an ethernet port, so you could connect a device to them. The link speed is nothing special (200 Mb/s), they can measure the power consumption and act as power-switches.
  • White ones that have no ethernet port, they can just measure the power consumption and acts as switches, in a sense they are the closest to the newer devices, except they use the power lines as a network instead of Wifi

From the seven devices I got (four in the original order, three replacements), only two of them work fully: the red one and a white one. One of the blue one worked – but as I was missing the code, I could only use the network link, and have a power switch controlled by some random dude on the internet – still I learnt a lot about these devices trying to make them work, which clearly use the same chipset as the ones from AWM Fritz: my Fritzbox was able to control the control lights and the pairing. There is something absurd in being able to control the control LEDs of a power switch, but not the switch itself…

Even the working device had another issue: they are huge and completely block the power connector, this is particularly bad for wall sockets with multiple plugs, or an adjacent switch.

The other thing I was looking at was , I had managed to control the switches by the way of my laptop, but this was not very useful as I want the system to work when my laptop is off. I tried building the package for my NAS, but I ran into build/deployment problems, the system requires some multicast DNS infrastructure, and this something that is not fully standardised between the various Linuxes, and I always run into problems with this on my Synology NAS.

I finally got it to run on a raspberry Pi, which is cool, except by then MyStrom had added direct Homekit support to the newer switches, and the HomeBridge package for MyStrom did not support the old ones – it looks like a simple fix, but I don’t want to run a service for a single switch that uses a full plug.

I found these switches really useful for turning on and off the various appliances that connect to my laptop on my work desk: dock, screen, etc. having a Siri voice command instead of crawling under the table to turn it on and off is nice.

The other switches ended up being on light switch duty – now that we have a baby, being able to turn lights on and off remotely with one hand is actually quite handy. I would also like to automate things a bit more – currently MyStrom is quite limited, you can set the state of the switch from automation systems like HomeKit or , but you cannot read it. I also need some lights that can be dimmed a lot, the Phillips Hue white lightbulb was promising but is still too bright.

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