# Chrome 68 Payment Handler API – is it storing Payment Methods?

Chrome 68 Payment Methods – enabled by default.

# Chrome 68 Payment Methods – it’s on without you knowing it’s on

Googles latest update of the worlds most popular browser just released is Chrome 68. There are several additions in Chrome 68 and the labelling of non-https websites as “Insecure” is rightly getting plenty of attention. But another important addition in this update is the inclusion of Chrome 68 Payment Handler API, and notably the fact it is ENABLED by default. You may like that, or you may not.

If you don’t want Chrome giving permission to websites you visit to “check if you have payment methods saved” then head to your Chrome settings [see instructions below] now and DISABLE the option – because Google have already enabled it in the Chrome 68 update.

# What are Payment Methods, are they good or bad?

Payment Methods are all about making it easier to make online purchases. In principle that’s a good thing, however you may not like it due to the privacy, security or other considerations. The good thing is that you have a choice, and it’s up to you to make an informed choice. The bad thing is that Google have decided for you and you’re not informed, they could have at least given a pop-up to ask how you would like to configure the new option. If you don’t want the slightly more technical details – no problem, just skip the next section and jump to “How Do I Disable Payment Methods in Chrome?”.

# The W3C and Payment APIs

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) describes itself as an “international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.“.  There are two particular standards that relate to Payment Methods:

“This specification standardizes an API to allow merchants (i.e. web sites selling physical or digital goods) to utilize one or more payment methods with minimal integration. User agents (e.g., browsers) facilitate the payment flow between merchant and user.”

“This specification defines capabilities that enable Web applications to handle requests for payment.”

The two links above give the full specs, including further links to the repos on github for both Payment Request API source code, and Payment Handler API source code. That means you can contribute to the APIs – remember the W3C plus others “and the public work together to develop Web standards.“. That’s pretty cool. In addition, or alternatively, you could contribute to your favourite open source browser. If your favourite browser isn’t open source then you can’t contribute to it. That sucks. Of course you could make an open source browser your new favourite, or start your own open source browser…

# New Tab → Customisable New Tab 🙂

Take control of your web browsing experience with this customisable New Tab Custom Colour Blank Page Chrome Extension. It will allow you to pick a colour for your New Tabs in Chrome, because you can choose from a selection of popular colours (Black, White, Incognito, InPrivate, Red, Yellow, Blue, etc.) or similarly choose from a palette of 256 colours to suit your personal mood and taste. This will replace the default New Tab in Chrome which consists of 2554 lines of HTML and scripts, with a quick loading 10 lines of HTML. Gone will be the Search bar and the 8 Most Recently visited websites.

Customisable New Tab for Chrome

If you already installed my simpler “New Tab Blank Black Page” or read about it in the blog Hacking Google Chrome – Custom Chrome New Tab Extension  then you may also like the extra features this new Extension offers. Or if you are happy with just Black then that simpler Extension is perfect for you.

Another advantage to using this New Tab extension is that you can set the Start Page in Chrome to open your New Tab page. So Chrome will launch even quicker, and it might avoid some awkward moments. Like when you open Chrome or a New Tab and your boss sees a list of recruitment websites in your Most Visited Sites. Or your partner sees you’ve been on dating websites :p . Or most frightening is if your nerd friends see you’ve visited uncool-tech sites <_< , now you can impress them with your customised New Tab. Of course a true nerd will write their own, hey wait a second!

# How do I get the Extension?

Open Chrome and simply go to the New Tab Custom Colour Blank Page ( ← or click that link) in the Chrome Webstore and click the “Add to Chrome” button. That’s it! You will see the Extension icon appear to the right of the Chrome address bar. You can configure the extension by clicking the icon.

Enjoy using the extensions and other apps, feel free to rate them and leave a comment, feedback or suggestion.

# Hacking the Chrome New Tab – Speed up your Browsing experience

About two-thirds of us use Google Chrome for web surfing. And I’d say about two-thirds of us would like to change the Chrome New Tab page. Well I did anyway. You know the New Tab page with the Search bar and 8 most recently opened websites [see picture below]. I don’t like it, it’s slower loading and gets replaced 90% of the time. So I went to the Settings to change it to a blank page (loads faster etc.) but I was surprised to find that there is no such option. Whaaaat! You can only change the New Tab to open a specific URL (or their New Tab page). Previously I would create a local file, e.g. blank.html, and load that. But this time I decided I’d see if I could hack Chrome to bend to my wishes. Well of course you can hack Chrome, in fact they encourage you do so, and even to publish and share your work. So I did just that.

# Get the New Tab you want with my New Tab Blank Page Chrome Extension.

Solved: Chrome New Tab – Blank Page (Black or Custom Colour)

# So what are Google Chrome Extensions?

According to the Chrome Developer website “Extensions are small software programs that customize the browsing experience.” Sounds perfect and just the ticket. It’s surprisingly easy to write an extension, all I needed was an .html file and a .json file. If you want to publish your Extension on the Chrome Web Store you will need a Chrome Developer account which requires a gmail and a once off \$5 fee. But you don’t have to publish it to use it or even share it, you can distribute the extension yourself and people can use it directly however they will have to enable Developer Mode in Chrome in order to enable it initially – but once installed they can turn Developer Mode off again.

# Monty Hall Proof – The Formula

Get the free App – Monty Hall Game with Monty Hall Proof.

Monty Hall Proof – The Formula is here. My two previous posts described the Monty Hall Problem – Can You Solve This Maths Puzzle? and Monty Hall Solution – Advanced! Well, this is the next installment of the trilogy, a simple mathematical proof.

If you don’t like Maths (Mathematics, Math) then, well, you have serious problems – get some help :^) This isn’t difficult at all, it’s just a bit of simple probability and algebra, yep ALGEBRA ♥

The Probability that you will Win is the quotient of the Number of Cars, and (divided by) the Number of Doors. To represent that symbolically using algebra is simple:

$$P(W) = \frac{NC}{NDtot}$$ … Equation (1)

The Probability that you will Lose is a little more interesting, it is the quotient of the Number of Doors less the Number of Cars, and (divided by) the Number of Doors, in symbolic notation this is:

$$P(L) = \frac {NDtot – NC}{NDtot}$$ … Equation (2)

There’s one last equation we want, and it says the Probability that we either Win or Lose is 1 – since these are the only two possible events. In other words, we have to either win or lose – there are no other possible events (see my earlier post re the philosophical and physics debates on that general point). Anyway, to represent this symbolically:

$$P(W) + P(L) = 1$$ … Equation (3)

(Equation (3) is based on Kolmogorov’s second axiom i.e. $$P(\Omega) = 1$$)

# Monty Hall Solution – Advanced!

Get the free App – Monty Hall Game

This post “Monty Hall Solution” continues on from my previous post Monty Hall Problem – Can You Solve This Maths Puzzle? If you haven’t read that post, then read it now before reading this. Because I will now show you even more Monty Hall Solution coolness! We saw that you could increase (double) your chances of winning a car by understanding some maths, so let’s delve further into it and who knows, you might win something big (then again you might not, but hey!).

So what happens, if there are 4 doors instead of 3 doors? And what happens if there are 5 doors, 6 doors, hmmm, more code required – cool!

Checkout the code on GitHub.
Get my free Monty Hall Game on Google Play.

# Does The Monty Hall Solution Hold True For 4 or More Doors?

Door 2 now has a 2/3 chance

For 4 doors we would expect that the odds would be 1/4 (25%) for not changing Vs 1.5/4 (37.5%) for changing. “How did you get those figures?” I hear you ask. Well, with 4 doors, each door has a 25% chance of being correct. Our 1st chosen door has a 25% chance – the other 3 doors have a combined 75% chance. When Monty removes one of those 3 doors by opening it -the remaining 2 doors still have a combined 75% chance – which is now divided by the 2 remaining doors i.e. 37.50% chance each. Once again the figures from the 70 million simulations are very precise.

Doors in Game: 4

Unchanged Wins: 2498993, Changed Wins: 3750566
Unchanged Wins: 24.99%, Changed Wins: 37.51%

Unchanged Wins: 2498720, Changed Wins: 3750419
Unchanged Wins: 24.99%, Changed Wins: 37.50%

Unchanged Wins: 2500812, Changed Wins: 3748980
Unchanged Wins: 25.01%, Changed Wins: 37.49%

Unchanged Wins: 2499171, Changed Wins: 3747829
Unchanged Wins: 24.99%, Changed Wins: 37.48%

Unchanged Wins: 2499602, Changed Wins: 3749207
Unchanged Wins: 25.00%, Changed Wins: 37.49%

Unchanged Wins: 2497548, Changed Wins: 3748332
Unchanged Wins: 24.98%, Changed Wins: 37.48%

Unchanged Wins: 2499206, Changed Wins: 3749860
Unchanged Wins: 24.99%, Changed Wins: 37.50%



# Monty Hall Problem – Can You Solve This Maths Puzzle?

Get the free App – Monty Hall Game

The Monty Hall Problem is an interesting Maths Puzzle – with a hotly disputed answer. Monty Hall is a well known American TV Show presenter, and this particular maths puzzle gained some notoriety on his TV Show – hence the name “Monty Hall Problem”. The puzzle is quite simple to understand, but as is so often the case it is a little more tricky (and fun) to figure out the answer.

World famous mathematicians have gone to their grave disputing the answer. But I’ll explain it in easy to understand language, and demonstrate a proof using a computer simulation I wrote which played no less than 70 million games. The source code for the simulation is available on GitHub so you can review it yourself 🙂

# Show Me The Monty Hall Problem Puzzle!

Monty shows you 3 doors which are closed. You are told that behind one of the doors is a car, behind the other 2 doors lies a Goat. If you choose the correct door you win the car. The doors are labelled 1, 2, and 3. Let’s say you choose Door 1. In an unexpected twist Monty opens say Door 3 – behind which stands a goat! Monty then asks you “Do you want to stick with Door 1, or do you want to choose Door 2 instead?”.

The Monty Hall Problem

So do you stick or twist? You can stick with Door 1 or try your luck with Door 2. Monty is waiting. Your heart is racing. The crowd are shouting in equal measure “Door 1” and “Door 2”, some jokers are even shouting “Door 3” ]:> 😀

# Show Me The Monty Hall Problem Answer.

Not so fast. The fun is figuring out the correct answer – if there is a correct answer. What I’m going to do is put forward an answer and explanation, then I’ll write a software program to simulate this scenario 70,000,000 (70 million) times and see if it agrees with my proposed answer. Is it better to stick or to twist – or does it make any difference? I’ll share the results (and the code) of this simulation with you. In the meantime, you can try to solve the puzzle by yourself. But before that, I’ll propose an answer – spoiler alert – don’t read the next paragraph if you don’t want to see the proposed answer.

Ok then, you’ve racked your brains and thought through all sorts of statistical slight-of-hand and complex combinations and permutations and convinced yourself you have the correct answer. Stick or twist? Well , it turns out you should have …  Continue reading

# Maths Puzzles are FUN !!

Can you solve the Snake Puzzle?

Maths Puzzles may not be everyones cup of tea, but I love puzzles and I love maths (and cups of tea). You can already see where this is going, right. Anyway I came across this simple enough puzzle and inevitably I started thinking about how to solve it. I say it’s simple because it only involves the numbers 1 to 9 with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. So, how hard can it be? Well…

# Rules of the Puzzle

1. You must use the numbers 1 to 9 inclusive
2. Each number can only be used once
3. Note that : symbolises division

This type of puzzle is one of my less favoured types of puzzle because it’s solved mostly through trial and error, with just a sprinkling of inspiration. I prefer puzzles that are solved through some (optionally mind-bending) inspirational insight. Eureka moments, I like them, they’re a natural high. But what can make this simple type of puzzle more interesting is to take it to another level. How? First, you can calculate how many permutations there are, i.e. how many different ways can 9 numbers be uniquely ordered. The answer is there are 362,880 permutations for 9 numbers (where there is no repetition, and order is important). Suddenly this simple puzzle doesn’t seem so simple. Another interesting twist is to calculate how many possible solutions there are, you didn’t assume there was just one possible answer did you? Oh dear, never assume! Hint: There is more than one solution, a lot more. I found 128 solutions.

You’re probably wondering how I found that many solutions and how long it took me to find them. It took less than 200 milliseconds to find all 128 solutions. That’s the power of writing software to do the donkey work for you 🙂 Writing the code took an hour or so and that was a much more enjoyable puzzle to solve, than manually solving the puzzle.

# Get the Sourcecode

You can view and use the sourcecode which I have provided on GitHub under the GPLv2. Comments welcome, especially if you can see and errors or improvements. Enjoy!

# View the Solutions

Below are a list of all 128 valid solutions. First number goes in the top-leftmost square and insert the numbers in order. Easy peasy.

# Antipodes App now on Google Play

Antipodes App now on Google Play and it’s free  🙂

Ever wondered where or what is on the opposite side of Earth from where you are? Ok, maybe it’s just me, but since I’ve written the Anitpodes app, now you can find out for yourself.

“Antipodes” literally means “opposite feet”, and refers to the point on Earth exactly opposite your location.

Simply start the app, long press the Marker on the Map and drag it to your point of interest and WOOHOO it will draw a line to the other side of the Earth for you.
See if you can avoid the water, there is _lots_ of water on Earths surface 😀

If you tap a Marker it’ll popup and show you the GPS coordinates of that location.
As with all Google Maps, you can tap the ‘GPS icon’ in the top right corner and it’ll go to your current location (if available).
Long press any location on map to make it the Podes, the map will update accordingly with a new Antipodes.
If you drag the Podes or Antipodes, it’s GPS coordinates will be updated and displayed in real-time.

If you have any suggestions or improvements, comment below, and download Antipodes now.

Enjoy and have fun antipoding (I may have made that word up 😉 )

P.S. Thanks to vectortemplates.com for the free to use graphics which I modified.

Here come the Apps

Android Apps Published ! With 11 Apps developed for our Client Companies I think the class of 2014 can be super proud of their achievements. 6 of the Apps are publicly available on Google Play (links below), the others are either B2B or internal use. Without further ado, here they are:

GeoPal have their own successful app and were delighted with a library contribution which led to further work for the student who authored the library. Happy days!

Live at the Marquee App developed in collaboration with Clickworks on behalf of Aiken Promotions for the annual Live At The Marquee music festival.

Bedwetting App developed in collaboration with leading global pharmaceutical giant Ferring.

Sli Nua Careers are delighted with their App and are planning to add to it.

Clearview Coaching dipped their toe in the App arena, and their support paid off with this simple and effective app.

Hartley People got more than they bargained for with this feature rich App.

Other clients included Amnesty Interational (Ireland), Slattery Communications,  tech super-startup Kitman Labs, Beaumex, and Wattless.

And to think these Apps were all written in a 12 week development cycle from start to finish is all the more impressive. It was an absolute pleasure to work with 24 students who, with a heap of hard work and a dollop of tenacity, went from zero to hero. Well done guys 🙂

# Hello Linux Ubuntu, Goodbye Windows XP Alternative

Ubuntu – XP Alternative

Like about 20% of people who use a desktop computer I have one, ok two, that still run Windows XP. Well, not anymore. The end of support for XP last Tuesday 8-April-2014 was just the “stressor” (nod to Criminal Minds) I was looking for. So what is a suitable XP alternative ? Like plenty of people I’ve dabbled in various flavours of Linux over the years; Red Hat, SUSE, Fedora to mention a few of the better known ones. But they’d mostly been a hackers curiosity for me. For real(TM) work I’m not ashamed to say I wanted the reliability, simplicity, and compatibility of a Dell machine with Microsoft and Intel internals (yeah really).

But Linux has come a long way since then, no more messing around with tarballs, gcc, and editing scripts; mostly done through command line interfaces. And that’d be fine, I’d hacked OS code in college, but for me as a software developer the OS is just another tool. I just want it to work and be invisible. So I’m going with Ubuntu.

As a quick pointer on the steps awaiting you as you consider your XP alternative:

Ubuntu is currently the most popular flavour of Linux, it’s free, it’s open source, it’s available on the Ubuntu website.

You can try Ubuntu without removing XP at all. In fact you can run Ubuntu from a memory stick plugged into a USB slot. You may have to tweak your BIOS settings to get this to work (because typically the computer will try to boot from hard drives, floppy drives, and dvd drives before it looks for a USB key). Info on how to create a bootable Ubuntu USB key from within Windows are available on the Ubuntu Website.

Be sure to make a backup of all your user files on your computer. Things like documents, photo’s, videos, music etc. These are the things you don’t want to lose!

As an aside, check this out if you’re concerned about Heartbleed on your Android device.

Happy hacking!