Switch to HTTPS

Switch to HTTPS: https://t7j7l.blogspot.com/

Saturday, 28 February 2015

How I keep my info private


Do you have something to hide? Everyone does unless you're this guy. Most of the time, I actually don't use any special safeguards and treat them as public knowledge or at least government-aware. That wasn't always the case, I was quite the paranoid one and had full disk encryption on all of my devices whether it's my phone or laptop or whatever. I tried tor, steganography, VPN, etc. Nowadays, I rarely do such things, not because it's a hopeless battle, but because it's simply unnecessary. Anyhow, I will share my techniques here just for you guys:

  1. TrueCrypt (or DiskCryptor, etc.): This software allows you to create a virtual container where all files are encrypted and hidden from public sight. The container itself appears to be a generic file, except with a TrueCrypt header you can modify, and usually isn't too slow as long as you're using hardware-accelerated AES. It can even encrypt entire partitions, or your whole system if you want! When your system is encrypted, it appears to be a disk with random, unusable data, but the bootloader show TrueCrypt by default. You can change that to a generic OS not found error or something like that though. There is even a hidden partition mode where you boot into a normal system while another hidden OS is stored on the same drive as "random data". Please use something like this before uploading nude selfies, you'll thank me later.
  2. OpenPuff: Oh, it's just a cat picture. But did you know you can hide sensitive info in that? Here's how. I recommend OpenPuff, because it has the most file formats supported, and appears to be the most secure. Just type a password, select a file to put inside, and select the file you'll use as the bait. Then presto! Just an innocent cat picture. Don't forget to overwrite the original file (or store it on a RAMDisk the whole time), and modify the timestamp!
  3. Your choice of a secure erase tool. I just use FileMenu Tools, because it has that built-in along with other useful utilities. Once again, there is no need for any more than 1 pass, unless you want to waste time and degrade your drive. There isn't even any successful theoretical attacks against a plain old overwrite of zeroes.
  4. SoftPerfect RAM Disk: Anything you store in here is gone as soon as you reboot! Only problem is, you need to allocate RAM specifically for it that won't be used by the rest of the system. I also use it for temporary files, cache, downloads, and write space.
  5. Tor Browser Bundle: The ultimate anonymous online surfing tool. Anything you do here will be reasonably hard to locate, especially if you have NoScript enabled and are blocking flash plugins and the like. Feel like James Bond as you go undercover and fight crime!
  6. A VPN of your choice: This is like Tor Browser Bundle, except they can be associated with your account, but it's much faster and arguably more secure for things like banking. If Tor was James Bond, this would be the police force after such a person. Both can be combined for even more security, whether you don't want Tor to know who you are, or the VPN to know what you're browsing (if they collect such info).
  7. A PGP or GPG tool: These utilities can encrypt and verify the integrity of your emails. With a strong enough key, even NSA will have problems cracking into your cat photos! Some email services have this type of security by default, for example Hushmail.
There are some security that are pointless though. One is auto-wiping after X amount of failures. For an amateur who won't gain access in the first place, you will lose data. For a professional, they will image the drive, make backup copies, and try cracking it as much as they want. Also, most VPN providers are in bed with their host government. So don't put your complete trust in them! Hope you learned something new as always, and have a good evening!

Bitcoins, a worthwhile endeavour?

As someone who's spending as much free time as possible earning money, Bitcoins is a bit of a fascination. I personally use freebitco.in, bitvistor.com, and xapo.com, but you are free to choose or not bother at all! The process of getting a Bitcoin wallet can be lengthy, I had to enter personal info like my address and even the last 4 digits of my social security number to xapo. But the current world runs on money unfortunately.

Bitcoins is more secure than other currencies, because there is a higher degree of anonymity. You have this wallet address you can share anywhere (mine is in About Me) that anyone can deposit money to, but withdrawing money can only be done by logging in your accounts. I don't know much of the technical details, but you can make free money, so why not?

With free time and nothing to do, earning some Bitcoins may be for you! If interested, you can sign up via these links:
http://xapo.com/r/SNIBNRE
http://freebitco.in/?r=1179153

How I once converted manga images for my Kindle 3


Own an eBook reader? Want to read manga images on it, but tired of the lag, lack of proper pages, bloat, and other incompatibilities? Well in this article, I will show you how I convert those images into a convenient PDF file. I will be using 3 different software:
  1. XnConvert: Rotate only landscape by 90° > Change colour depth to Greyscale 256.
  2. FastStone Image Viewer: Resize in pixels 552x736 (preserve aspect ratio, do not resize if already smaller) > PDF output (50 quality, screen DPI).
  3. jPDF Tweak: Use temporary files for intermediate results > Optimize PDF size > Use better compression.
There you have it, enjoy your fast and efficient manga reading on a Kindle 3 today!

Friday, 27 February 2015

FreeGeek Vancouver


Here you are, bored with nothing to do. You may be going to school or not, but you need the job experience. Well, here is one good way to get it! FreeGeek Vancouver is an electronics recycling, refurbishment, and donation facility with a thrift store. There you can go through a variety of tasks from wire cutting, dismantling desktops, or helping out with sales (my personal favourite).

Not only do they give great deals to non-profit organizations such as themselves, their thrift store has very competitive pricing which can be mind-boggling. Like perfectly usable earbuds for $1. GTA: Vice City for the same price! 17" widescreen for $50 and 24" widescreen for $95. More details here: http://wiki.freegeekvancouver.org/article/Thrift_Store_Price_List

What have I gotten from there? For volunteering 24 hours of my free time, I get a 40% employee discount and $50 off any item in the store. Therefore I managed to snag a 23" HDMI widescreen monitor for just $20! And I got Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion with the Shining Isles expansion pack for only $1.50! And so on and so forth. There are some really rare things there such as a Palm Portable Keyboard and Palm IIIxe as well. Too bad I couldn't find a working charger, yet. I also heard they were selling stuff like PS3/XBox 360 controllers for $15 and Macbooks for $200. Of course those didn't last.

So overall, feel free to visit FreeGeek Vancouver and learn about open-source software such as Ubuntu, building your own computer, repairing it, and so forth. And save a lot of monies!

http://www.freegeekvancouver.org/

Finding free gems on Craigslist

Did you know that I just recently got 3 bags of manga for free? What about 5 boxes of OS/2? A classic SNES USB controller, an external floppy drive, flight sim joystick, a bike helmet, a security camera, a foldable bag/chair, and a Patriot GearBox? Yes, those are all free from Craigslist. So how do I do it? Luck and advanced searching. Here are the details:
  1. Search for the word free on Craigslist.
  2. Uncheck free stuff and wanted in the for sale selections.
  3. Select owner only.
  4. Check search titles only.
  5. Enter a max price of $1.
Add your email notification, and voila! Free stuff that sometimes aren't shown in the free stuff section you always check out anyways! Happy bargain hunting!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

How to help prevent device theft

Have you ever been to a shady place? Afraid that your phone might be jacked? Well here are some tips that will hopefully prevent that from happening:
  1. Do not take out your phone unless necessary. Pick up calls with your headphones with mic (mine are Bluetooth), and reply to messages on your smartwatch (if it can). You can also control music using either of those gadgets.
  2. Install a wrist strap of sorts. Mine wraps around my finger, and helps keep me from losing my phone, especially when taking photos on a cliff or being bumped by hostile strangers. The latter has never happened thankfully.
  3. Install or enable anti-theft on your device. Apple and Google has one built-in as long as you verify your phone with your online account. Those can locate, alarm, and wipe your phone. I also use CM Security and Prey Anti-Theft (which happens to work on laptops as well) for extra security like app locks and taking front camera pictures of invalid unlock attempts.
  4. Lastly, notify the police immediately and get in contact with your cell phone provider in order to track down your phone.
Hope you learned something new tonight, au revoir!

Disk imaging for Windows and Linux

Hello all. Today I will be talking about how I make disk images. What are disk images you say? Well, my friends at Gizmos Freeware will explain that. My methods of disk imaging are as follows:

1) Windows
  • AX64 Time Machine: This revolutionary program allows you to make snapshots of your system quickly and efficiently. After the first baseline image, all snapshots are made with only changes in your data, making them small and efficient. All of this is done every hour while you're using Windows! There is very little performance impact, as it is low-key and done in the background. You can even restore Windows while running it! Of course, it's not possible to use your system at the same time, and there may be bugs. But it can also restore from its special recovery environment when you boot from a recovery media or a separate boot entry. This method is foolproof, although slower.
2) Linux
  • LVM: This is the Linux alternative of AX64 Time Machine. It works similarly, and stores all changes in a separate partition of your drive. Backup is done automatically in real-time, and restore is as simple as booting a LiveCD and deleting all the changes! So this method is even faster than AX64! More details here: http://linuxconfig.org/linux-lvm-logical-volume-manager
  • Backup system files manually: This method can also run when you're using the OS. Unfortunately, it is not automatic unless you make a cron job. Restoring is also significantly more difficult, but you can learn about that here: http://www.wilderssecurity.com/threads/how-to-shutdown-after-dd-completes-or-alternative-imaging-for-linux-with-that-feature.367295/#post-2401125
3) Any OS
  • Clonezilla: This free program boots from a LiveCD and can backup/restore any OS! I used it for a hackintosh machine once. This allows you to backup and restore whenever you want, but not when the OS is running.
That's it for today, I had slept in after sleeping very little the day before yesterday, so unfortunately I didn't have as much time to write. Also I'm staying over at a good friend's house, so yeah. Have a nice night!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

My Pebble Smartwatch


One of the newest fads that very few people actually own, smartwatches can actually be more than just a convenience at best. My usage pattern of it will prove that. In this article, I will describe how that is the case and why you may consider getting a wearable tech yourself.

First of all, let's review built-in features. The Pebble can control music directly using any app of your choice. Mine is Google Play Music. You can play/pause, skip forwards/backwards, or even change the volume of your phone. It conveniently displays the title/author/album of the music. Other built-in features include an alarm you can set separately from your phone (the watch will vibrate), 3 different watchfaces (words/digital/analog), and various settings: Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, activity tracking, quick launch shortcuts, and the usual likes of factory reset.

But that of course isn't the main selling point. That would be the ability to read messages from your phone. You can even view the history, and with Android Wear, select from a set of actions to perform on the message itself. Those include dismissing it, opening the app on the phone, and replying with built-in smilies and messages. You can create 5 of those yourself. But not only text is supported by those actions, even apps like GMail, Calendar, and Google Now work.

The Android app allows you to manage apps, of which 8 can be stored on the watch at a time with the others easily re-loadable. Notifications can be selected, and those include phone calls and SMS of course. You can only hang up with the default Pebble phone notification, but that isn't an issue with Pebble Dialer or just headphones that can pick up calls. It includes an app store for watchfaces, apps, and games. Settings include the usual usage logs, updates over WiFi-only, and such.

Now let's get onto third-party apps, this is where things get real interesting. Did you know that you can create your own watchface with Canvas for Pebble? You can even display info such as other timezones, battery of both devices, data connection, WiFi SSID, countdown to specific date, the next calendar event, the weather, and any image of your choice. Another app called Dashoard for Pebble controls everything from Bluetooth to WiFi AP, and can even alert where your phone is by sound and lock it. The next app is called Keep for Pebble. This allows me to read Google Keep notes. Of course there is an Evernote app as well, if you prefer that instead. Mr. Runner is my 4th app. It's a simple timing game where you stop the running stickman from being squished by the ceiling.

More apps include Nav Me, which integrates with Google Maps Navigation. That means it will show how many meters are left until you turn until you reach your destination. Ever heard of two-factor authentication? Well that means another passcode must be entered after your password on a new or unknown device. PebbleAuth is the app for the job. It generates the authentication numbers for you, without having to switch from apps when logging in using your phone. Next is Pebblets, the multi-functional app that shows calendar, calculator, timer/stopwatch, weather, stocks, and RSS feeds. Ans lastly, there is ShakeDice, a dice emulator for up to 100 sides that can also flip coins.

There are literally thousands of apps for Pebble, ranging from a steps/sleep tracker to Pokedex Kanto. How useful they are depends on the user, but your amount of choices will not be lacking. Unfortunately, not all is rosy. One glaring issue is the lack of non-Roman character support. Being a Chinese-Canadian, that means I cannot discern which music its displaying when listening to J-Pop or C-Pop for example. The characters are replaced with upright hollow rectangles...

Overall, the Pebble Smartwatch is definitely worth my money, being far more than just a fancy watch that shows you texts. It truly integrates with your smartphone, and can even stand on its own two feet whether that's gaming, timekeeping, or other basic functions. This is a pioneer of the field with humble origins as a Kickstarter project back in 2013, and now is featured in Best Buy and Future Shop in its rightful place with other smart devices. While I look forward to the capabilities of the new models being released this year, hopefully us legacy products won't be left too far behind.

Chitika

As you may have noticed, ads appeared on my website. While I would love to partner with either Google AdSense or Bing/Yahoo Media.net, the former is too strict in their requirements, while the latter isn't replying to my emails. Therefore, I needed to sign up for something fast and efficient.

Do note that I planned to have ads on this blog since the very beginning, not just to fool you guys, but technical difficulties prevented that at first. Now that I have ads running, please regard them in any way you want, and only click what you're interested in.

I tried to censor all the adult words, and the mobile site and mirror will always be ad-free. Currently, I'm waiting to claim my domain to I can manage the ads better. That does require a few clicks and time, but once again feel free to do whatever you want as long as it's not malicious.

I have also updated my Privacy Policy regarding this change, so please look over it and notify me of any errors. Thank you, and may we all make monies!

Unfortunately, I'm having problems with getting any clicks at all with Chitika after over a month of usage. That means zero revenue, no claimed domains for optimization, etc. I even have to fill out this complex U.S. tax form to even get anything out of it if everything was actually working. I will probably just drop Chitika as soon as I get Google AdSense working. But once again, the purpose of this article is to clearly explain that I will have non-intrusive ads (no pop-ups, video ads, mobile ads, etc.) on this blog which was the plan from the beginning.

Please feel free to comment

As the owner of this blog, any and all feedback other than spam/trolling is welcome. I would love to hear from you guys!

Unfortunately, it has been too eerily quiet other than social media shares which I cannot necessarily see (despite what my privacy policy say), so now is the time to break the silence!

If you do not understand how to comment, feel free to contact any of my accounts. I've even enabled Anonymous comments, so there really shouldn't be any problems. Please enjoy the rest of your day, sayounara.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Sci-Fi Short Story Perhaps?


Please comment on what you think, and any ideas for the plot. Here is what I started years ago, and suddenly found sitting around on my data disk, with some updates:

- Sole red planet (Ygghaven), accumulated all excess mass from birth of blue star (Siriusly).
- Trillions of light-years away from other stars.
- North = declining empire split by democratic revolution.
- East = main rival to the West, masquerades as many socialist states.
- West = ruling power, unconditionally united by tyrant revered as God.
- South = alien portal to unknown multiverse hidden by wilderness.
- Year 7775 by Earth calendar, 6699 locally.
- Residents (Xenon) = remarkably humanoid for silicon-based life.
- Based in Earthly environment with different materials.
- Flora/Fauna of Permian era likeness, along with unique plants & creatures.
- One continent, several islands. Islands said to be inhabited by carbon-based life.
- A moon (Dvaven) once existed until collision with planet.
- Crater (Dundyll) locked in time, space, and matter. Meeting area of main characters.

Time Princess (Celeste): Very formal, charismatic, and narcissistic. Freeze time, change duration.
Space Ninja (Darkstroke): Cold, mysterious, and lecherous. Warps space and invisibility.
Matter Dragon (Eigarl): Proud, intolerant, and egotistical. Shoots black holes and neutron stars.
Hermaphrodite Protagonist (Alex): Bisexual, understanding, and klutz. Knowledgeable about entire continent.
Carbon-based companion (Liez): A lizard person. Mistaken frequently for being uncivilized, but actually a gentleman.
Aliens (Quex): Unknown lifeforms that watches in the sidelines. May invade after world war.
Carbon-based life forms (Plora): Primitive creatures with Permian-era likeness.

Gizmos Freeware Reviews and Wilders Security Forums


Do you ever wonder how I got the technical expertise I have today? Well the above websites are the reason. When I was 12 or 13, being the computer newbie I was, I managed to infect my system so badly that it couldn't connect online anymore. That started a chain of events which led to much research, discussion, paranoia, and more. It's because of those two sites that I'm here today writing this technology-oriented blog.

Gizmos Freeware Reviews is the best website for you to find legally free software for your computer or mobile, period. It is run by volunteers such as myself, in their spare time, who tirelessly work for the greater good of saving money. You can find all sorts of apps and games there, all for free without any legal issues! The staff is very supportive and friendly, so please join in if you have the time!

Wilders Security Forums is the website to go to when discussing technical concepts, especially information security of course. Although it may not be the best place for newbies, we try to cater to everyone, but technical discussions still rule supreme. The staff there are very disciplined and fair, so don't be afraid to speak your mind as long as you have common courtesy. Forget geek squad, this is where true experts reside. So come on in, if you dare!

YuruYuri


Blu-ray

YuruYuri is another one of my favourite anime. Despite its title, there is little real lesbian action going on, so don't worry about it. This anime is about a girl named Akari, who happens to be the protagonist, disappear into obscurity (exaggeration). Well her presence is definitely overshadowed by another main character named Kyoko. Akari is mild, gentle, and caring, while Kyoko is hyper, outgoing, and friendly. Other main characters include Yui and Chinatsu. Yui is the serious one of the bunch, correcting Kyoko when one of her antics goes over the board. Chinatsu is infatuated with Yui, and somehow resembles the protagonist of an anime within this series. She can be overzealous sometimes.

YuruYuri is about the daily school life of these characters. But don't yawn yet, there are plenty of excitement as they get challenged by the student council vice-president for the closure of their club, stay over at Yui's house (she lives by herself), take over a beach (sometimes forgetting something important), etc. Overall it's a great anime I recommend to pretty much everyone.

Monday, 23 February 2015

VirtualBox Guidelines


VirtualBox is the best freeware for running virtually any OS right on top of Windows or whatever you've installed as your system. It is a powerful tool that can save you time and money that would otherwise be spent on spare hardware when testing out new operating systems or applications. The above image is what I always allocate to my virtual machines, except Linux guests don't have 2D Video acceleration, and OS X none at all. Here is how I setup every single virtual machine I own:
  1. Above specs. If unable to allocate 256 MB VRAM (max) in GUI, use this command: "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage" modifyvm "Your OS name" --vram 256
  2. Always install guest additions, except when not available (OS X). That can be as simple as attaching the ISO and letting autorun take care of it, or as complex as manually installing build-essential, linux-headers, dkms, etc. just to execute VBoxLinuxAdditions.run successfully. Windows XP needs to be in Safe Mode to install Direct3D. Many Linux distros have the package virtuabox-additions-dkms in their repository, so you don't need to build it.
  3. Always run the guest OS fullscreen 1080p. If without guest additions, use this command: "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage" setextradata "Your OS name" "CustomVideoMode1" "1920x1080x32"
  4. Never install swap, and disable pagefile/hibernate/system restore. This saves you space.
  5. To access auto-mount shared folders in /media/ (after logout): sudo gpasswd -a user vboxsf ; sudo usermod -G vboxsf user
  6. If the above fails, you'll need too mount them manually using /etc/fstab or /etc/init.d/boot.local
  7. If no guest additions, try sharing folders on Windows host, and connect via smb://10.0.2.2
  8. To reclaim space on a dynamic VDI, do the following before this command: "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage" modifyhd "X:\path\OS.vdi" --compact
  • Windows: Disk Cleanup (System Files) > CCleaner (winapp2.ini) > Disk Defragmenter (optimize) > sdelete -z (admin cmd).
  • OS X: OnyX > Monolingual > Disk Utility (Repair Permissions + Zero Free Space)
  • Linux: BleachBit (check all except free disk space and memory) > Free disk space
Lastly, never forget to take a snapshot before any changes. I always keep one in handy to restore just in case something goes wrong. If you successfully updated, delete the snapshot and create a new one. Hope you learned something new, and feel free to comment below for any questions!

My hardware specs

MSI GT70 0NC [17" 1920x1080]:
Intel Core i7-3610QM @ Quad-core 2.3 GHz
16 GB DDR3 1600
128 GB SSD + 750 GB HDD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M @ 3 GB

Acer C710 [11.6" 1366x768]:
Intel Celeron 847 @ Dual-core 1.1 GHz
4 GB DDR3 1333
320 GB HDD

Apple iMac MA590LL [17" 1440x900]:
2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
3 GB 667MHz DDR2
160GB HDD
ATI Radeon X1600 @ 128 MB

iPad Mini [7.9" 768x1024]:
Dual-core A5 CPU @ 1 GHz
1 GB RAM
64 GB Internal Memory
PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU

Google Nexus 5 (4.95" 1080x1920):
Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400
2 GB RAM
16 GB Internal Memory
Adreno 330

Asus Eee PC 4G [7" 800x480]:
Intel® Celeron M 353 @ 900 MHz
512 MB DDR2
4 GB SSD

Pebble Smartwatch [2.3" 144x168]:
ARM Cortex-M3 @ 80 MHz
128 KB RAM
4 MB Flash storage

My security setup

With the widespread threats these days, it pays to be careful. That is especially the case in popular systems like Windows without their own trusted repositories. Here is how I protect myself from malware on Windows 7 64-bit:

  1. Avast Free Antivirus: One of the most feature-complete free antivirus there is. Contains features such as boot scanning, web filtering (HTTPS included), DeepScreen (cloud behaviour analysis of unknown files), Hardened mode (automatic actions), script/network scanning, and more. I highly recommend Avast for everyone.
  2. Crystal Security: A new anti-malware that uses cloud reputation when dealing with your files.
  3. AVG LinkScanner Free: Extra protection against online threats such as phishing and malicious scripts. Appears to work well in the testing of an experienced Wilders Security member.
  4. AX64 Time Machine: An awesome backup software that takes snapshots of the drive of your choice to another drive. I use it to image my system every hour. Don't worry, it's fast because only changed sectors are backed up after the first image. Restoring is a breeze as well, and can be done within Windows or its special boot environment. Since it only restores changed sectors, that makes it one of the fastest tools available for the job.
  5. HitmanPro.Alert: An advanced piece of software that protects you against banking trojans, exploits, sandbox-aware malware, CryptoLocker, keyloggers, webcam loggers, inter-process corruption, network attacks, and BadUSB. The advanced interface allows you to configure everything, including adding new software to its anti-exploit. The free version doesn't have anti-exploit, process protection, or CryptoGuard.
  6. Sandboxie: The ultimate app virtualization tool, it puts every change a program makes in its sandbox. Therefore your real system isn't affected. Includes advanced features such as whitelisting, blacklisting, compatibility with other security software, etc.
  7. WinPatrol: Although a bit dated and not super effective against major threats, this software monitors areas of your system such as startup programs, and alerts you to any changes.
  8. Prey: One of the only anti-theft software for your laptop. It allows you to track a lost or stolen device, and lock it down or take pictures from the webcam.
  9. On-demand scanners I use just in case include: Emsisoft Emergency Kit, HitmanPro, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, SUPERAntiSpyware, and Zemana AntiMalware.
  10. Other program/link analysis/blocking tools I use include: SpywareBlaster, PeStudio, TrafficLight, VTchromizer, WOT, and ┬ÁBlock.
  11. And lastly, I use SoftPerfect RAM Disk as a temporary workspace where nothing is kept (files can't be recovered). SUMo lists any updates my software may have. And LastPass manages all of my non-important passwords that I don't have the time to remember. Includes extra security features such as two-factor authentication, automatic password changing, etc.
I hope you guys learn from this, and stop being infected! The most important advice of all is to not install software from suspicious websites, and if you do, please at least upload it to VirusTotal. And don't forget to uncheck all that adware!

*Deprecated, see: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/free-windows-desktop-software-security-list-my-choices.htm

Sunday, 22 February 2015

My punching bag and I

Normally I don't exercise, but I will try to do so from now on. So excuse my shape...

How I survived without Root/Jailbreak

In the beginning, did I always root/jailbreak my devices? Nope, I actually worked around the limitations. Here I will be describing how I did that:

  1. Adblocking: Without root you can't adblock right? That's actually not the case. I personally used FilterProxy on Android and BA.net AdBlock on iOS. The former is a very powerful tool that allows you to block any website you want for all apps. Unfortunately, it takes over your mobile data traffic. The latter is a DNS service that works with virtually any device. Unfortunately, it might have holes and you can't plug them without contacting the owner of the service. Other options include Firefox with AdBlock Plus either for Android (buggy in my experience) or Firefox (only works on that browser), and similar apps with built-in adblocking. Unfortunately, those options are not system-wide, so I prefer my methods.
  2. Firewall: How do you prevent those pesky apps from using up your mobile data, especially in the background? On this topic, I will focus exclusively on Android, because I have no experience with iOS regarding firewalls and I own an iPad WiFi model. While you could restrict mobile data in the background in later versions of Android, what about foreground ads and such? That is where NoRoot Firewall comes in handy. I've personally used the Grey Shirts, LostNet, and Mobiwol. The first works well, except custom filters didn't work when I tried it months ago. LostNet has built-in filters for ads, countries, and such, but it disconnects after ~5 hours the last time I tried it. Mobiwol is the pioneer of the field, but is lacking site blocking. At least it monitors your mobile data fine.
  3. Background resource manager: What about those apps that always take up CPU/RAM in the background? Greenify to the rescue! Although it works better with root, this app suspends background processes of your choice when you stop using them. As for iOS, there is Kingsoft Battery Doctor. For some reason, its optimize feature isn't available on the iPad version, and I'm not sure how well it works, but at least there's something. Only manual execution though.
  4. Automating your phone: Want to schedule some tasks such as changing the call volume when your headphones are plugged in? Llama is here! Once again, this app works better with root, but most features are still available without breaking your warranty. I know of no alternatives for iOS.
  5. Other killer apps I use without needing root: AirDroid, Bambuser, Clean Master, Clipper, CM Security, CM Locker, Elixir, Home Button Launcher, LINE, Photon Flash Player & Browser, Tool Box, VLC, X-plore, SoundHound, CamScanner Free, First Aid by the Canadian Red Cross, i-nigma, MyTools · My Light & Ruler, PCalc Lite, OPlayerHD Lite, Prey, StumbleUpon.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Review of FileMenu Tools 6.7.1 by LopeSoft


FileMenu Tools - Windows 7 64-bit

Today I will be reviewing one of my favourite software of all time: FileMenu Tools. This is an advanced program that can forever change how you interact with your right-click context-menu. It allows you to select from a variety of utilities, edit your send to menu, disable some other context-menu items, and even create your own commands. The first 4 are made by myself:
  • Open with Notepad: Self-explanatory, works on any file with text inside it. Runs with admin privileges so I can edit UAC-protected files.
  • Open with NFOPad: Much like the above, except without admin privileges (faster, no UAC prompt) and supports more filetypes.
  • Open with VLC: I mainly use this to add files or folders to my current playlist, or create a new one. Saves space compared to installing VLC context menus.
  • Unlocker: Since the default Send To menu of Unlocker doesn't support drives, I made this exclusively for locked volumes.
The rest of the items are explained in the FileMenu Tools website. I only use the ones that are checked. For the more complex ones and personal favourites, I will go over them in detail:
  • Change Time...: Allows you to specify when the file/folder is created, modified, and accessed. You can specify the exact time or increase/decrease units. Very useful for spoofing the timestamp of files you've modified yourself (hint: OpenPuff).
  • Advanced Renamer...: Say goodbye to manually renaming each and every file yourself. With this, you can rename any part of the filename, including separate settings for extensions or even find & replace, and optionally include a sequence of numbers at the end. Very useful for misnamed manga chapters.
  • Shred Files...: This actually overwrites the files with a algorithm of your choice, making their recovery impossible. I recommend one-pass of zeroes for speed and practical security.
  • Calculate and Verify Checksum...: One way verification of any file. You can know if a file is corrupt f the checksum doesn't match, but you won't know what the file contains just from the hash itself. Wish it supports more algorithms, but beggars can't be choosers.
The Send To menu doesn't really need explaining, it just simplifies a process you can do yourself. Any shortcut can be added or removed there, and selecting it will open the file/folder with that program. As for commands of other applications, I have disabled quite a few things:
  • Taskband Pin: Drag and drop is easier. Waste of space.
  • Start Menu Pin: Same as above.
  • Briefcase Menu: Who actually uses Windows Briefcase?
  • Sharing: File properties is enough for me.
  • Previous Versions Property Page: I don't waste space with that, I use proper backup like AX64 Time Machine.
  • Library Location: I barely use the Library feature, and certainly don't need another space in right-click just for adding items there.
  • MS-DOS shortcuts: Not even sure what this is exactly, and how their relevant in modern Windows, but it's disabled in my settings.
You can import and export your settings anytime. This program automatically checks for updates and prompts you to apply them. Note that the installer (not portable version) includes OpenCandy, so be very careful what you select. I recommend clicking decline on the left side and uncheck any agreements you see. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Feel free to download this software here: http://www.lopesoft.com/en/filemenutools/download

Orca meets Great White

 
Stockvault.net - Chris Adzima
What will happen? Although most of the time they will go their own way, especially when comparable in size, there have been cases of orca preying on great whites. The most prevalent example is "The Whale That Ate Jaws" by National Geographic.

How do they do it? Well, according to the scientists of the National Geographic team, the orca charges in and tackles the shark upside down, inducing tonic immobility. That apparently, anaesthetizes the shark, and allows the killer whale to chomp down on a defenceless apex predator. Looks like they weren't equals after all.

What's even more amazing (if you managed to watch the entire video) is how all other sharks in the area, during seal hunting season, escaped elsewhere as they detect the semiochemical of their fallen comrade. Intelligence makes the difference in the end.

Fate/kaleid Liner Prisma Illya

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate/kaleid_liner_Prisma_Illya
http://www.crunchyroll.com/fatekaleid-liner-prisma-illya
http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Fate/kaleid_liner_PRISMA%E2%98%86ILLYA

One of my favourite anime of all time. This is about a young girl named Illya who happens to discover a talking magical wand! When the original owner Rin tries to retrieve it, the wand registered that girl as its new owner. Hilarity ensues. Forced to be the protege of Rin, Illya must collect all the servant cards before their rival does!

The second season includes more fanservice, so be forewarned. It is about the same girl Illya, along with her newfound partner Miyu cleaning up the mess they made last season while retrieving all the servant cards. Suddenly a doppelganger appears?!

Sorry about the lack of pictures, I'm cautious of copyright violations. Until I get that sorted out, enjoy the anime!

What I do after rooting/jailbreaking - Part 3 (Chrome OS)

Here it is, the final instalment of what I do after rooting/jailbreaking! Unlike most Android devices and iOS, there are official steps to do this. It's called Developer Mode. Anyhow, here are my experiences.

Chrome OS Beta - Acer C710

  • dev_install: Bunch of extra binaries Chrome developers install. Allows you to add more tools.
  • qemacs: Native Chrome OS text editing! Unfortunately, command-line only, but it's not the same as Google Keep. It actually edits text files instead of jotting down notes in the cloud.
  • xset: Running this with "dpms force off" allows me to turn off the monitor without suspending the device. Very useful when downloading/torrenting!
  • crouton: Runs another OS simultaneously as a chroot! Either Debian or Ubuntu and a variety of desktop environments & other parameters. I use it almost exclusively for VLC (cause Chrome OS video players lack embedded subs support for my anime) and ZSNES (with a controller).
  • JSTorrent: Doesn't require Developer Mode, but still worth a mention. Allows you to torrent files natively on Chrome OS!
  • List of Chrome extensions: Always Clear Downloads, Calculator, Camera, Cracking Sands Racing, Cut the Rope, Entanglement, Google Keep, Google Play Movies & TV, Google+ Photos, Hangouts call, Happy Friday!, History Limiter, LastPass, Linkclump, Mailto:, Save the Day, Selection Search, Tampermonkey, Tank Riders, TrafficLight, VTchromizer, WOT, X-notifier, ┬ÁBlock.
As always, thank you for tuning in! Have a good one. Ciao.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Introducing: My Lil Sis

Hint: She's on my Facebook profile picture. This is her version of reviewing the 4 in 1 thingiemajig (see previous post for proper name).


What I do after rooting/jailbreaking - Part 2 (iOS)

Thought I was just an Android user? Think again, I also own an iPad Mini. Of course the same standards apply, so I jailbreak it. Here are my experiences.

iOS 8.1.2 - iPad Mini

  • Cydia: That's where you get all the jailbreak apps and tweaks. Is usually pre-installed.
  • AppInfo: This lists all your installed apps, contacts, etc. Can email to yourself.
  • AppSync Unified: Allows you to manually install unsigned IPA to your connected device. Be careful with this one! Use at your own discretion.
  • Controllers For All: MFi support for your third-party game controller. I use it to connect my PS3 controller to my iPad and play games like Bastion.
  • Experimental Untrusted Hosts Blocker: No more ads, even on Cydia!
  • iAppLock: Lock any application with a custom passphrase. Useful for sharing your device. Free version limited up to 5 apps.
  • iCleaner Pro: CCleaner for your iPad. I love removing unused dependencies on it (packages left by unclean uninstallation). Can also control startup.
  • iFile: The ultimate file browser for your root iPad filesystem. Allows you to see what Apple forbids, and share them across your WiFi.
  • ***: Removed, please research it at your own discretion!
  • Nitrous: Speeds up javascript performance on Chrome and other non-Apple apps.
  • ShowCase: Make your iOS keyboard show lower case when not capitalizing.
  • SwipeSelection: Very handy tool that allows you to move the blinking text cursor via swiping the keyboard. Much better than iOS auto-selecting your text.
  • WiFi Passwords: Now you can see the WiFi passwords of any network you previously connected to!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's Chrome OS article! Ciao.

What I do after rooting/jailbreaking - Part 1 (Android)

Have you rooted/jailbroken you mobile device? I sure did. While there are plenty of guides on how to do it, most of them don't discuss what to do after rooting. Here are my experiences.

Android 5.0.1 - Google Nexus 5

  • AFWall+: Very useful firewall that can save you data! I don't normally use outbound firewalls, but with the limited amount of data we have, it simply is necessary. This edits your iptables directly, making it faster and compatible with mobile data monitoring of each individual app.
  • App Ops (Lars Team): Ever wonder how to select which permissions your apps have access to without uninstalling it completely? Well, this is the tool for that. Can also control startup.
  • Clean Master: The main usage of root for this is managing startup apps and uninstalling default apps. It can actually prevent apps from automatically starting or running in the background on your phone!
  • Dashboard: Allows your Pebble watch to control your phone. Includes disabling/enabling Bluetooth, Data, WiFi, etc. Even finds your phone by beeping it!
  • Greenify: Suspends background applications from taking up memory and other resources.
  • Keep for Pebble: Allows your Pebble watch to read Google Keep notes.
  • Llama: Schedules multiple tasks. Root allows for more features. I use it for making headphones calls quieter, disabling WiFi when outside home (prevent disconnects), and Airplane Mode when roaming.
  • ***: Removed, please research it at your own discretion!
  • Sixaxis Controller: Enables you to use your PS3 controller on Android via Bluetooth. Has nice features such as touch emulation for games without gamepad support.
  • StickMount: Mounts usb devices such as mice and flash drives via OTG.
  • X-plore: With root, you can explore and edit the entire filesystem! Useful for things like viewing your old WiFi passwords.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

How to use a PS3 Controller on Windows, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS

OK, now it is time to get serious. Recently, I've decided to go a step further in gaming and purchase a PS3 controller. I don't even own the console! So how did I do it? Well here you go.

Windows 7 64-bit: http://forums.pcsx2.net/Thread-XInput-Wrapper-for-DS3-and-Play-com-USB-Dual-DS2-Controller?pid=186161

  1. Instead of using Better DS3 and MotionJoy, I've chosen a less bloated and more automatic way. This is it, after set up, it's literally plug in USB and play as if it's an XBox 360 Controller! Note I haven't tested out the Bluetooth feature on Windows yet.
  2. Recommended games: Street Fighter X Tekken and Super Smash Bros Brawl in Dolphin emulator.


Chrome OS: http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/doodles/gamepad/gamepad-tester/tester.html

  1. Surprisingly, Chrome OS automatically detects your PS3 controller and it's usable from the start. It even automatically pairs the controller with your machine so you can connect via Bluetooth! That can be annoying due to the fact that a PS3 controller only accepts one master at a time.
  2. See the above slink to test it out. There are some games in Chrome store with controller support as well like Cracking Sands Racing and Save the Day.
  3. If you are in Developer Mode, you can install Crouton, ZSNES, and the like.


Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dancingpixelstudios.sixaxiscontroller&hl=en

  1. On Android, things are pretty simple as well. With the above app, you can connect via Bluetooth and choose which master device to pair it with. It includes some nice extras like touch emulation for games without controller support.
  2. Unfortunately, this program needs to take over your Bluetooth connection and disconnects me from my Pebble & headphones. Root is required.
  3. An alternative way to connect your PS3 controller is via an OTG cable. Just connect a mini USB cable to the controller and OTG cable to the phone. Then you're good to go as if it's a native gamepad. This method does not require root.
  4. Recommended games: GTA San Andreas and Guns Girl (touch profile).


iOS: http://cydia.saurik.com/package/com.orikad.controllersforall/

  1. Now this is where things get complex. On iOS, you must be jailbroken and install the above Cydia app. Then follow the instructions below to make it work.
  2. Settings > BTstack > make it the active Bluetooth stack > open a supported game > press the PS button on your controller > voila!
  3. Unfortunately, it is very buggy and frequently disconnects for me. Also, not all MFi-compatble games are supported, so you'll need to do some hunting. Like the Android equivalent, you cannot use any other Bluetooth devices simultaneously.
  4. Recommended games: Bastion and Muffin Knight


I hope you learned something new! Until next time, ciao.

About LINE and WeChat contacts

Unfortunately, they do not seem to provide a public URL where you can access my profile from any browser. You will have to download the app and enter my ID (it is shown at the end of the link).

My OS


I use Windows 7 on my main laptop (MSI). Fedora 22, Linux Deepin 2014.2, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows XP run as virtual machines under it.
Chrome OS Beta (Developer Mode) with Trusty Crouton is installed on my Acer Chromebook.
OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard is installed on my 17" Late 2006 iMac.
Tahrpup 5.0.2 is installed on my Asus netbook. 
Android 5.1 and iOS 8.1.2 are both used (jailbroken/rooted).
Haiku and PC-BSD are installed on my dad's VMware ESXi server.

As a technology enthusiast, here is a list of my electronics:

MSI GT70 0NC, Acer C710, Asus Eee PC 4G, Apple iMac MA590LL, Apple iPad Mini, Google Nexus 5, Pebble Smartwatch, Coby MP601-8G.

LG E2350V-SN 23" Monitor, IBM ThinkPad Docking Station, OptiBay optical HDD caddy, external laptop CD/DVD/Blu-Ray enclosure.

Sony Sixaxis Controller, Biogenik Combat Controller, Logitech RumblePad 2, Microsoft Original Xbox Controller with USB adapter.

JBL Spark Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Outdoor Tech OT1400 Bluetooth Headphones, Michael Jackson In-Ear Earbuds Section 8, Nexxtech PowerPort Wave 6600 External Battery, The Lifesaver 2600 mAh Portable Power Pack

Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse, Microsoft Wireless Intellimouse Explorer 2.0, Rocketfish RF-BTMSE4 Bluetooth Mouse, Logitech S520 Keyboard.

BlacX HDD Docking Station, Hitachi HDT7210SLA360 1TB HDD, Lexar JumpDrive S23 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive, Patriot GearBox, Dell Floppy Drive Module, USB2.0 Multi in 1 Card Reader.

protective signal interface for microprocessor technology, Electricord XP Power TAP, staples transient voltage surge protector.

Touchscreen Gloves, OTG Cable, Camera Connection Kit, 30-pin to Lightning Adapter, Retractable Network Cable, USB 2.0 4 Port Hub, Universal USB Travel Power Kit, audio splitter.

First of all

Hello, this is Jeff's first foray into blogging. Please excuse any mistakes made with a healthy tolerance. Thank you for visiting.