Category Archives: Miscelaneous

Browse the Pebble App Store from a Computer

Quick Solution

Go to Click "Cancel" when prompted "Request failed. Try again?"

Search by going to to search the app store.


I’m not currently a Pebble Smartwatch owner, but I decided I wanted to start exploring smartwatches and backed the Pebble Time Kickstarter. While I’m waiting for my watch, I decided I wanted to look at the apps that are available. A quick Google search and Pebble Forum Post brought me to a reddit post which indicates that you can access the Pebble App store from a computer, but it requires a Pebble.

Looking at the link in the reddit post:[MY_TOKEN]&platform=android∓uid=, I wondered if there was a workaround to the access token.

I tried:

  • resulted in "Not Found"
  • resulted in an expanding orange circle
  • resulted in a dialog indicating the request failed.
    • Clicking OK, just kept bringing up the same dialog.
    • Clicking Cancel, initially brought up the expanding circle I’d seen previously, but suddenly the app store appeared.

Playing with the URL more, I removed the platform and uid parameters and it still worked. access_token appears to be required, but it can be set to any non-null value.

I found the search link by blindly guessing the URL after seeing the format of the category URL ( The search URL I entered automatically redirects to

Securing a T-Mobile Z915 Hotspot

I picked up a T-Mobile Z915 hotspot for international travel. Within the US, I’m sticking with Verizon for their coverage, but the difficulty and cost of international roaming is a bit much.

General Thoughts

The Z915 is made by ZTE. The default configuration is pretty secure as follows:

  • Wi-Fi Security: WAP2 Personal
  • Password: 8 digits (last 8 digits of the IMEI)
  • Network Name (SSID): T-Mobile Broadband<last 2 digits of the IMEI>
  • Admin Interface: http://mobile.hotspot
  • Admin password: admin

While the admin password is weak and the admin interface is unencrypted, it should only be available to users that have already authenticated to the Wi-Fi.

Increasing Security

Fortunately all of the settings are configurable (except encryption of the admin interface) by following these steps:

  1. Connect your computer/tablet/phone to the Wi-Fi network created by the hotspot.
  2. Point your browser to http://mobile.hotspot or
    On many devices, you will need to enter "http://" to prevent them from performing a search.
    You will need to enter the IP address if your device does not get its DNS settings from DHCP.
  3. Login by by entering the password.
  4. Click Settings
  5. Change Wi-Fi SSID to your own custom network name.
  6. (optinal) Disable SSID broadcast. I see this as a courtesy at hotels and airports, not to increase security.
  7. Change Wi-Fi Password. Click Apply.
    I set mine to a 32 character alpha-numeric password.
    You will be disconnected from the network when you apply these settings.
  8. Reconnect to Wi-Fi with the new settings.
  9. Login again.
  10. Click Settings and then click Device Settings.
  11. Change Admin Password. Click Apply.
  12. Set Wi-Fi Performance Settings to Economy mode. Click Apply.
    This should help increase battery life, and I was able to maintain a connection 60 feet away and 2 interior walls between.
  13. (optional) Disable SSID/WEB Password Display.
    By default the hotspot displays its passwords on its screen. Since you should have physical control of the hotspot, this shouldn’t matter either way.


Internationally, T-Mobile includes free roaming on their postpaid plans. This is limited to 2G/3G speeds, but it’s enough to check email and get directions.

So far, I’ve observed the following speeds:

  • Brussels Airport: 50 kbps
  • London Heathrow Airport: 70 kbps
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor: 12.3 mbps


Overall, my complaints are very minor.

I wish the hotspot had a more mobile friendly UI. As it is, it requires a lot of zooming and scrolling to get to the different links.

I also wish the hotspot supported https for the UI. I don’t think most people will allow untrusted clients to connect, so this is a minor security concern.

Free Credit Scores

It’s possible to get a free credit score from every major credit bureau by signing up for a few different free accounts. Sites that offer credit scores from each bureau are listed below. Also remember, you can get your free annual credit report from all three bureaus at without signing up for credit monitoring or other services.

Please note: The links to the credit bureaus are for reference. They do not directly provide free credit scores.




Amazon Echo Alarm

I used the alarm on my Amazon Echo this morning. For me it is a pleasant sound but different enough to wake me. The dangerous thing is it’s so easy to say, "Alexa, off."

I’m going to stick to my phone alarm where I can easily set multiple alarms and visually confirm the number and time that are set. I’ll use the Echo alarm feature more as a timer, to help remind me to check on things like the laundry.

Amazon Echo First Experience

I’ve only been playing with my Amazon Echo for a few hours, but so far, I’m very happy with "Alexa".

Echo has a very sold feel. It weighs almost 2.5 lbs and does not have the feeling of cheap plastic.

Setup was very easy, although it felt strange. From iOS or a computer, it involves:

  1. browsing to
  2. connecting your computer/phone/tablet to the WiFi network created by the Echo
  3. using the webpage to setup the Echo

So far Echo seems like it will be great for listening to music, getting the weather, and getting answers to basic questions.

Playing music with Echo is my favorite feature as well as my primary complaint. Being able to say, "Alexa, play country music," is a great convenience. Being able to use voice controls to change volume and change songs is very convenient as well. The speaker sounds pretty good and produces room filling sound. My main complaint is that Echo pauses audio when processing commands. Just telling Echo, "Alexa, volume down," results in the music pausing for about two seconds. A minor complain is that Echo tells you when it is playing Prime Music.

Echo is also good at telling you what the weather is like.

Echo is not very good at answering questions… Echo answered, "Do dogs dream?" with, "Yes, at least some dogs dream." This is a huge difference compared to Google now which answers the same question with the entire first paragraph from Psychology Today.

The Far-Field microphones work as advertized. I can generally speak in a normal voice while music is playing, and Echo will hear my command.

On a side note, my wife, who does not get excited by technology; is excited playing with Echo and playing different music.

Tomorrow, I’ll post how the alarm works.