Sunday, March 30, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S3 4G Downgrade From 4.3 with Knox

Well as it turns out the reason my battery has been dying super quick is due to Samsung Knox being installed on the latest firmware I installed (I9305XXUENA2_I9305XSTEMK2_XST).

Knox is an awesome bit of software.
If you need it.

If you don't, it's a battery killing pain in the ass.

This is one of the most painful things I've ever had to do on an Android phone (except for rooting a UK HTC Desire) so to save you all some time:

1. Re-Flash your 4.3 Knox containing firmware through PC Based Odin (Assuming you've tried to flash an older firmware and killed the phone) PDA Option

2. Apply Chainfire Root through PC Odin PDA Options

3. Upgrade SuperSU to Disable knox

4. Install MobileODIN and your Kernel Image from Android File Explorer

5. Copy desired 4.1.x ROM .tar.md5 rom to SD

6. Flash image through MobileODIN in Android OS

Follow instructions at:

Hint: Ctrl + F and search for Manual

w00t. you are back to normal battery life.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yamakasi DS270 - Come Get Some

Ok - so admittedly it's been a little while since I bought my last monitor.

The monitor I've been using up to this point is a ChiMei CMV221D.

This monitor has served me well for 7 years but I just got my annual bonus and after a slightly boozey evening decided "awwww - what the hell" and have taken the plunge to purchase some sweet new monitor goodness.

This all began a couple of weeks ago when I was commenting on how nice the displays were at a customer site a little while ago (Dell UltraSharp 27") to one of my co-workers.

Mr David Brady then informed me that I'm a hermit who has been living under a rock for the last 2 years and promptly advised me that many clams can be saved if you're in the market for a 27"er by looking at some South Korean brands of monitor.

To explain, your main panel manufacturers reside there (Samsung and LG).
While they pump out panels by the Gazillions, probably 90% (maybe more - just guessing here) of those are up to the spec of quality for the high-end manufacturers.

That is, the panel manufacturer will check the quality of panels rolling off the production line and bin them according to how many tests they pass.

Now these days dead pixels are virtually a thing of the past.

Minimal backlight bleed really is what 1st tier vendors look for and causes some monitors to be binned as A, A- or B depending on the severity.

While the A+ go off to standard retailers for the masses to buy, if you're happy knowing there's a defect with your monitor that your eyes most likely can't see, you can nab yourself one of these now highly popular South Korean bargains.

I ended up purchasing a "Yamakasi DS270 IPS SE LED 27 (glossy)".

All I can say is - wow.

I'm writing this update on this monitor a couple of months on after purchase and all I can say is this is the best monitor I've ever used.

I go to work and my 24" Samsung Matte 1080p (while still a great monitor) just doesn't stack up.

If I'm away from this monitor for a few days, I find myself sitting down when I use it exclaiming "holy shit" on a (unfortunately) somewhat too frequent basis.

The monitor itself runs a resolution of 2560 * 1440.

I don't know if that's technically quad HD (would't that be (1920 * 4) * (1080 * 4) = 7680 * 4320?

Either way, it's image quality, brightness and contrast are ridiculously good.

Now, yes - it is a glossy monitor.

But I'm sitting here right now with an open window to my right with indirect sunlight coming in and it's absolutely fine.

The monitor has an anti-glare coating of some description which (as many reviews have stated) really does make a difference.

One thing to note - the stand the monitor comes with is total shite.

It's non-adjustable and the monitor literally wobbles about on it.

Get yourself a decent VESA adjustable stand and you'll never look back (I run these on all monitors I use as it saves my neck and is therefore easily justifiable).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

XBMC - Windows 7 Media Centre De-Throned

Well after months of agony, I've settled on a Media Centre solution.

While being a big fan of Windows Media Centre for a long time, it really is starting to show its age in terms of retrieving meta data to tell you more about your TV, Music and Movies.

MediaBrowser was ok but my system seemed to wig out randomly when scraping using this application.

So, over the last month I've tried XBMCBuntu, gone back to Win7 and tried Plex and finally landed at Win7 with XBMC Gotham Beta 1.

So - first of all, here's why XBMC on Win7 is the best IMHO:

  • XBMC now supports live TV and recording using a tuner device either on the same machine or a remote machine (free).
  • The Android Remote Control app is awesome. Really awesome.
  • It passes the well-known girlfriend / boyfriend / wife / room-mate test.
  • It looks slick. Damn slick. TV and movie browsing is awesome.
  • Once you know the trick to fix the two major issues I encountered, it's near perfect.
  • Windows 7 lets you do something magical: Loudness Equalisation
Next, we'll cover the tips and tricks to get you up and going and make the platform as simple and stable as possible.

  • Disable Subtitles
  • Install Watchdog Add-On
  • Configure Watchdog Add-On to remove deleted files (manual).
  • If you're sharing media off a Windows 7 machine, don't use CIFS. Use and FTP Server. If you don't use FTP and choose to use CIFS, expect to be regularly disconnected from your video library.
  • Enable HTTP management interface (used for Android App) and if using Gotham version, set HTTP port to 8080.
On a related note, one thing that drove me crazy with XBMC was regarding how to remove a video source.

It turns out this is done via a (somewhat) hidden menu.

To delete a source, go to Videos -> Files and then highlight the source you wish to remote.
Next, press c on your keyboard and choose remove source.

Cherry MX Keyboards - How to Choose?

Ahhh keyboards. One of those things you begrudge spending money on but could also be making your experience a lot less enjoyable than it could be.

I've been a bit of a keyboard geek for a while in that the factory issued crap from HP, Dell, IBM, Apple etc. drives me slightly mad when I'm in a situation where I just want my words to appear on the screen correctly without it turning into a Hulk moment.

So, I cast my mind back to the PCs I grew up with and seem to remember never really encountering these frustrations.

As it turns out, the keyboards I grew up with in the late 80's / early 90's (at least the ones on the IBM and IBM clone PCs I remember using) used mechanical keyboards.

Essentially, yes, a mechanical keyboard is older tech that uses physical switches and springs to actuate the key and register the keypress.

And as everything old is new again, Mechanical Keyboards are making a comeback in a big way.

This is justified however as they really are a much better experience (IMHO) and just that much more satisfying to type on.

What are Cherry Switches?
So, now you're interested right?
Good :)

Ok - let's introduces a company called Cherry.
Cherry has been the biggest manufacturer of mechanical switches for a very long time.

And they haven't updated their logo in a very long time either.

They also pump out keyboards as well but the trend these days is for them to just be the manufacturer of the actual switches and let other vendors look after the manufacturing of the keyboard.

To cater for different typing and gaming styles, there are a number of different Cherry Switches.

The difference between switches is:
  • Force required to actuate
  • Tactile (Yes or No)
  • Clicky (Yes or No)
Rather than re-invent the wheel, at this point you should head over to LifeHacker and scroll down 1/4 of the way down the page.

Here you'll see an excellent animation of each switch type.

As a quick Overview:

This switch was made exclusively for the Hulk.
If you have big ass, super powerful hands, this is the switch for you.
Everybody else, steer clear.

Awesome for typing if you work from home.
If you work in an office, this will take years off your life in that your co-workers will want to kill you.

I love these switches.
Just the right amount of resistance, nice and tactile and a dream to type on.
You don't have to bottom out the key for it to register and you really can just type nice and fast.

Low resistance, high smash.
I can see why people like these for gaming.

So, now you're interested, without actually trying one, how do you know which one you actually like?!

Well - there's two ways to tackle this.

The first is to start burning time heading to retail stores in hope that they have one there you can try.

If you're lucky, Dick Smith tends to have a Logitech sample showcase which has the G710+ setup (cherry brown switches).

That's where my journey began when they had a 40% off sale :)

The second option is to grab yourself a Cherry MX Sampler.

I picked one up off eBay for $15 at the following URL:

These bad boys are awesome in that they have a black, blue, brown and red.

Citrix-Like VDI on the Cheap: Fortinet SSL VPN Portal and Pooled Desktops

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Good Cheap Fast ADSL2+ Modem

Who doesn't love the age-old question "what ADSL2 modem should I buy"?

And thanks to Australia being scrooged in terms of the piss-weak watered-down version of the NBN now being rolled out, we're going to be asking that question for a little while longer...

So - what makes a good ADSL2 modem?

The chipset and the operating system/firmware.

Who makes good chipsets?


Who makes good firmware?

Billion, Netgear and occasionally TP-Link.

What broadcom based ADSL modems are kicking around now for a good price?

At the moment, if you just need an ADSL2+ modem router using the Broadcom BCM6358 chipset that can run in bridge mode as well, has a basic 802.11n AP and syncs up at one of the best rates I've ever seen, the TP-Link TD-W8960N is the way to go.

What's even better is that this little sucker costs all of $45 from good old UMart :)

Adventures in Exchange 2013

Ahhh Microsoft.

I am setting up a 2013 Exchange Server at the moment and thought I'd slowly put together an all-in-one on how to set it up from start to finish.

This is my "when I get to it" guide on how to set up Exchange 2013.

It's a circus so grab some popcorn and be prepared to be bored and slightly disturbed.

1) Obtain the Install Media / ISO image from Licensing Portal

Don't even bother with the trial install.
You'll be lost very quickly.

Files aren't in the same location as that which is referred to in the Microsoft install guides.

2) Stage up a new server

In all their documentation, Microsoft never really actually make it clear as to whether or not their guides actually say whether or not you are installing Exchange 2013 on a separate server to your AD DC.

Obviously any normal person would give Exchange its own server, but I thought I'd take a second to clarify: All Microsoft doco is written from the perspective that you are using a separate server for exchange.

2) Download and install the three pre-requisite applications to the Exchange Server

3) Run the big scary pre-install PowerShell scripts on the Exchange Server

Yep - these things are about as elegant as a wget, make and install in a Linux shell.

Just copy and paste the powershell script and you'll be fine.

4) Run the Exchange Installer