Setting up OpenVPN client on iOS

It goes without saying that it might be a good idea to be careful about what you do on an unsecured wifi. And there are times, such as when travelling, when the only connectivity option is a public, unsecured wifi.

Normally, you just avoid doing anything sensitive while on such connection, but during longer trips, for example, it might be difficult.

There are tons of VPN providers nowadays and these usually make your client setup as easy as possible, but if you want to use your own server for this then for some reason I found that the client configuration part can still take time as the documentation is a bit suboptimal to say the least.

Anyways, long story short, the client configuration is acutally straightforward.
You only need to import one configuration file into your iOS device and in this file you can copy/paste all the certs and key.

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TomTom GO Mobile iOS app is crap

This turned out rather long, so to sum it all up:
Don’t buy TomTom Go Mobile app, it really is crap (at least as of mid-2016).
My biggest reasons why it’s crap:

  • expensive (compared to free options like Waze or Google maps)
  • no way to calculate alternative routes (just basic options like, don’t take ferry)
  • no way to add stops to the route
  • speed limits in eastern Europe are inaccurate

And really, how can it be that a paid navigation application does not have support for adding stops or doing alternative routes? This is simply mind boggling.

And now, the back story, more details and ranting.

So I decided to go on a small road trip from Latvia to Czech republic. Being the geek that I am, I obviously had to have the best possible navigation software as obviously using plain google maps or paper maps is a no-go.

In the Baltics I usually stick with Waze or Google maps, but the former can sometimes take very weird routing decisions and the latter does not warn about accidents on the road or speed cameras or anything else for that matter. So Waze it is by default.

However, when going out of the home country, it would be beneficial to have offline maps that can also do routing offline. And since this was supposed to be my first roadtrip across Poland, I thought I should be better prepared.

So after some slight Googling I decided to give TomTom Go Mobile a try. I have used their devices before and was reasonably satisfied.

So I installed the app (it allows for 70 km per month free navigation as well), tested it in my local town and it was ok. Clear instructions, route choice looked ok, so I bought the subscription for a year.

On the day of the trip, fun started. I belatedly discovered that there’s no way to add stops on the route and by default, when navigating from West-Latvia to Central Poland it absolutely wants to go via the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (which requires a visa). And no way to change that. Wow.
I thought, surely this is just me, not knowing how to use the app, googling turned up many complaints like mine and even some references to ways how to do it, however none of them are implemented in the iOS app. So I wrote to TomTom support, just to get back the templated answer about “developers are working on it, it’s taking some time…” yada yada.

So OK, I though I’d give it a try anyways and I set my route manually with destinations being just the intermediary points on my route.

This worked but was cumbersome, also I soon discovered that TomTom reports inaccurate speed limits while driving through Lithuania and Poland. Not a big deal, but still, better not to show them at all rather than showing misleading ones (for example showed 130 in Lithuania where actual limit was 110 and so on).
And also it does not know about all the speed cameras in Lithuania and vice versa sometimes reports on non-existing ones.

So all of that can be tolerated, but then while driving through Poland and headed to Warsaw TomTom directed me off of a highway and onto a small country road. I obeyed, despite the signs but stopped to check the map and it made no sense at all. I entered my destination into TomTom from scratch and it immediately changed the route back to normal. This was the end of me using TomTom.

When driving via foreign country the last thing I need is to be directed off my route and loosing time to get back on track.

So lesson learned. For the remainder of the trip I used Waze and I’m very happy with it. The traffic data seems to be quite accurate, whenever it decides to change the route it informs me about it clearly. Speed limits are shown well. And really, the only downside is that it requires a data connection.

Luckily, the roaming charges are decreasing fast in the EU. I pay 5 EUR per 150 MB a day while roaming which is enough to navigate and do some light browsing and email.

The iOS 9 podcasts app is terrible

I love listening to podcasts while commuting since I get to learn something on the way. This is especially great on longer trips.

I have been using the iOS podcasts app so that I add select podcast episodes to “On the go” playlist and then whenever I’m driving somewhere I know that I have a list of podcasts to listen to.

To my big surprise Apple has ruined the Podcasts app by removing the “on the go” playlist. There is in fact no way to create a playlist anymore. You can queue up podcast episodes but that’s about it.

This is a huge fail IMO. Yet again Apple has decided on what should be the best way to do things and I don’t like their way at all. They want you to listen to all recent episodes, but this is not at all how I like to do it.

And I’m not the only one with such opinion