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Back on Signal (née E2E is a Ghetto)

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Through some rube-goldbergian nightmare, I have made it back to Signal, with a new fingerprint. It is tied to my Google Voice number, (602) 633-****, and the fingerprint is as follows:

05 e4 ea ed a3 b3 61 ed 60 1c 3e 64 5c c5 a8 dc 99 a0 b2 c6 4a 5c 82 63 75 44 07 15 34 54 2a b7 30

Getting this in place was a total mess, due to the fact that I am no longer carrying a smartphone, and the fact that WhisperSystems refuses to support tablets. I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 to unify my web-browsing and e-book reading while I am still waiting for my PocketCHIP and CHIP to arrive, and switched to a BLU Samba TV, a great little 20$ number that has a gorgeous camera.

I used a side-loaded application called Market Helper to trick the Google Play web interface in to allowing my tablet to install the Signal application. Installing it was thus mostly easy, though it requires a rooted device, which makes it awkward since I am considering un-rooting my device (a thought for another post, though). It's just a fucking totally shit user experience to have to do this, for an app that works perfectly fine, though without a "tablet-y" interface.

Once you install the app it requires a phone number, because that's of course the only sane way to identify a human being in 2016. It doesn't use the cellular network to push the data, just as an identifier, so I put in the number attached to my Google Voice account, which used to forward along to my Nexus 5 and allow Signal registration by slurping notifications from the default SMS application. I get a push notification on my tablet from the Voice app, and then an SMS on my BLU. Signal sees neither, because it doesn't work with Google Voice. I wait three minutes for the registration to time out, and it offers to call me. It calls me, and I put in the same six digit number that I just had SMSd to me and it generates new keys.

Now… how on earth do I get access to that key's fingerprint so that I can paste it in to a blog post and a few out of band mesages? Good question, the UX basically has no way to do that, so I have to start a conversation which I can then message someone with, but they cannot message me back until they verify my new FP, which is hidden under Three Dot Menu -> Conversation Settings -> Verify Identity on Android.

After that, it'll work. Push notifications, media, contacts, all work just fine, Signal just refuses to support it in a way that isn't, again, a fucking totally shit user experience.

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Ryan Rix is a computer infrastructure fanboy who dabbles in decentralized systems. Reach him on twitter as @rrrrrrrix, via email to ryan@whatthefuck.computer or on Facebook or on Matrix as @rrix:kickass.systems.