Decided to revive this blog to write/rant/rave. Who knows what I'll post and what nonsense will appear.

Unifi two years on ....

For personal reasons I changed my Unifi account at TMHQ and instead of a simple account transfer, it involved the whole shebang of having installers come to the house and setup everything all over again! At least this time they were in and out in 20 minutes because I said I will handle the configuration myself.

What has changed? Seems TM has new hardware revisions (still same manufacturers though) to all their components - their BTU, gateway (modem/router) and STB are now all matching and stackable but are still made by Fiberhome, D-Link and Huawei respectively. The stackability of the hardware does lend itself to looking very neat and tidy as opposed to their previous generation hardware which was the orange-white-grey combo of different sizes.

The gateway (or modem/router/whatever) is labeled WBR-2300 and is a D-Link OEM based on the same DIR-615 series but only in a different shell. The missing manual to the gateway can be downloaded from the D-link Taiwan support site. Antennas are built-in and a rated at 5dBi so will mostly work in terrace homes but triple-storey and large bungalows may experience service degradation ... YMMV. I personally had no problems but did notice a drop in connection dBm using inSSIDer - in use the speeds remain the same as before. I set my gateway to use the 80211BGN at 100% transmission power and 40MHz spectrum (i.e. 300Mbps mode for 11N) and WMM power save enabled and haven't suffered any problems thus far .... especially when I have heterogeneous devices ranging from desktop PCs, laptops, iPads, iPhones, smartTVs, DLNA servers and media players.

The default setup STILL enables remote configuration by TM and should be removed ASAP - the hidden account here is using the case sensitive "operator:h566UniFi" combo to enter operator mode. Once in operator mode, proceed to Setup>>WAN and click the edit icon in the action column and uncheck "Enable WAN". Leave all other settings in the Setup tab alone and navigate to Advanced>>Access Control>>Remote Access Control. Uncheck enable for all options and repeat for the IPv6 version. Lastly, navigate to Management>>TR069 Configuration and uncheck "Enable Interval Inform". Additionally, you should add a password to the admin account (which by default is not passworded).

The only other major change is the STB which is now running a stripped down version of Android - previous versions were running a customized linux operating system. The STB has better processing power and interface navigation is markedly improved and more responsive. Additionally, the STB now sports dual USB ports and can playback media files ... or possibly allow sideloading of apks to install new apps. Will investigate this soon .....

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Why you should update your TM Unifi router firmware NOW!

TM Unifi subscribers with the orange D-Link router should check and update their router firmwares ASAP because of a known vulnerability in any versions below 7.19. (TL;DR - see here)

If you are using any router with affected firmware, your passwords (router management) are open and susceptible to harvesting since it is also retrievable on the Internet (only if you have remote management enabled .... which is, unfortunately, enabled by default)

To update the firmware of the router
  1. Download the firmware 7.19 (see earlier post)
  2. Use an ethernet connection (wired) and plug in to any available port at the rear of the router (Except the port nearest the antennas since those are the WAN and IPTV ports and won't work). Wireless updates maybe possible but not recommended.
  3. Enter management mode with your router password - search google if you do not know your password
  4. Save your current configuration (in case anything goes wrong) by going to the Maintenance tab > Save and Restore > Save Settings to Local Harddrive
  5. Upload and update the firmware by going to Firmware Update >  Choose File > Upload
  6. Wait for reboot. 
If updated, the vulnerability should be fixed and you will see this with the command

Temporary fix to muffled audio in iOS8.x?

Anyone experiencing this where the audio output after installing iOS8.x is muffled, not clear, garbled, soft, muddled etc. ?

THe problem seems to occur when you have multiple apps trying to access the speaker at different volumes - in my case it was a notification sound from Whatsapp and the keyboard clicks/phone lock. Since system sounds are controlled separately from system sounds, it causes the audio immediately after this conflict to become muffled. A temporary fix which may work for you (did for me multiple times) is to go into Settings->Sounds and then slide the volume bar for "Ringer and alerts" all the way to the left (minimum) and then all the way to the right (maximum) before sliding to your preferred volume.

Unifi D-link firmware updates

The default router that most (but not all) Unifi subscribers get is the orange themed D-link OEM DIR-615 rev. G1/2. The latest firmwares for this router are listed below - there is no changelog or update list anywhere so it is difficult to determine which version will work best for you. There is also currently no known firmware update for the black or silver routers.

  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G1 v7.05 [DOWNLOAD]
  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G2 v7.12b05 [DOWNLOAD]
  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G2 v7.13b02 [DOWNLOAD]
  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G2 v7.14b02 [DOWNLOAD]
  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G2 v7.15b02 [DOWNLOAD]
  • D-Link/TM DIR-615 G2 v7.19b02 [DOWNLOAD]

DISCLAIMER: Although these are valid files, they have NOT been tested and are NOT recommended for casual users so try these firmware(s) files at your own risk. TM is not responsible for any damage that may/can occur. I too will not be held responsible for any damage/loss that may occur if your firmware update causes your router to fail.

WARNING: Ensure that you flash firmware over a WIRED connection. Always backup your configuration BEFORE starting a flash and ensure you know your login name and password to your Unifi account before proceeding. As a precaution, download several of the firmware files so that if one fails you may try another. Please learn and understand the DIR-615 recovery procedure which will allow you to re-flash a router that is bricked/dead because of bad firmware.

UPDATE 2015/11/05: Links updated and only latest two firmwares uploaded since the older ones have bugs and should not be used.

UPDATE 2015/12/15: Links removed - find your own sources

What new in iOS 8 ... a first look with an iPad 3

iOS 8 released to the general public today and after an arduous 3 hours of downloading, preparing, updating and restarting (no thanks to the downed undersea AAG cable) my iPad 3 is finally running iOS 8.

First off, the bad points - there are bugs still present in the GM release where iCloud crashed on me multiple times until I reset everything and so far it has been stable since. Things run ever to slightly slower and jittery (akin to iOS 7 before the 7.1x updates) and the iTunes store is running slower too ... but maybe thats because of traffic load to Apple servers.

Next is family sharing - I like the idea but dislike the implementation where all accounts to be linked together must be from the same region and using the same iTunes store .... I was hoping it could cross regions/countries/stores so I can combine the multiple Apple accounts I have and I can view all the content from all my accounts from a single point - no luck on that I suppose *sigh*

Good points?

New keyboard functions which used to exist only on Android platforms (don't get me started with minority Windows and BB platforms). Been testing several and may review that later. Overall, the built-in iOS keyboard with predictive text is already pretty good and does not slow down the iPad compared to others like Swiftkey or Fleksy ... or maybe I have too many keyboards installed?? I'll save that for a future post.

Another interesting thing are the new multi-touch actions in apps. Mobile safari now has hidden tabs to save space and you can switch between them by pinching two fingers quickly (do it slowly and it reverts to page zoom instead) making navigation much faster. The assistive panel now has added options to call up control center and notification center.

The built-in camera app now features a time-lapse mode for all devices (and additional slow-mo modes for iPhone 5s and 6 models) but its buggy on my iPad 3 and kept crashing. It does capture but calling the photo album directly from the camera app causes the album to crash. Opening each separately works though, weird. Late to the camera app is a timer with options for a 3 or 10 second delay upon pressing the shutter button. The tap-to-set exposure has also been improved with a small slider appearing so you can set the 'exposure' upon selecting an area or leave it to auto.

On the video side, now iTunes movies that come with iTunes extras play directly inside with the iPad!! Been waiting for this because before this it was impossible to view any additional bonus content except on desktop iTunes or using an AppleTV with the latest iOS installed. Although automatic on iPhones, it did not work at first on the iPad. I had to first disable loading videos from iCloud (i.e. do not show all purchases) then logout of iTunes store and finally reboot the iPad. After that just reverse the process of logging back into your iTunes store account and enabling iCloud streaming again. Once that is done, the little iTunes extra logo will appear and playback will start with the menu instead of just the movie.

Now on to more exploring on iOS ....

Can't update iTunes apps? Here a fix you can try

Something changed over the week when Apple announced the new iPhones and aWatch ... whereby some appstore updates were not working correctly with the following popup appearing in either the iDevice or on iTunes (doesn't matter which platform - tried on OSX and Windows 7/8). The popup has the message "Download for free? This item will be added to your purchases, and will be available even if your Family Sharing status changes" but does not proceed to do anything except loop the message.

The error seems to occur only if you have previously purchased the affected app AND hidden it in iTunes - so for a simple fix, get into your iTunes account management and proceed to the hidden apps, un-hide the app and then proceed with the update as usual. If you don't know how to unhide your apps, then proceed here.

What to do with an old iPod Touch 2G

'Inherited' an old second generation 8GB iPod touch a few months back and it was just collecting dust on my table whereupon I decided to see what I can do with it during the long weekend break. Condition wise it was pretty scuffed and scratched but everything works fine so that was a good sign. None of the accessories were included but luckily this is old-gen stuff so the 30-pin cables can be found really cheap (Daiso to the rescue!) plus I already had a few lying around so no problems there. The bad thing is that it is OLD (yeah, in Apple terms this is end-of-life stuff) so the highest official iOS that can be installed in 4.2.1.

I proceeded with doing a clean reset of the firmware/software since the original owner had a bunch of stuff in there which I didn't want. Once that was done, it was now down to repurposing the device for simple gaming to pass the time. It would work as a simple video player but it can't play my stored videos from iCloud and the internal memory does not allow much media storage (~6.8GB after iOS install); additionally iOS 4.2.1 does not offer Home Sharing so it couldn't stream from the NAS or play from the UPnP server.I could have chosen to install WhiteD00r which I did for another iPhone3G (AT&T) but found the stability a little too flaky and the choice of apps in the App Time Machine limited. So with the stock iOS firmware I dived in to see what still works and what doesn't.

Recently, Apple decided to allow older devices to download older versions of apps found on the appstore and this was a boon for last-gen device owners. This means that eventhough the app may state "requires iOS7.0 blablabla" sometimes the appstore may have an older version cached and allow that version to be loaded instead. After a few hits-and-misses, the screenshots below show what I have on the iPod now and it will probably last its new owner a long time before she tires of it (I'm not the one playing it).

Where's My Water - Disney
Mahjong Deluxe - EnsenaSoft
Mahjong Artifacts HD - G5 Entertainment
>Sudoku - Finger Arts
Solitaire++ - Chronological LTD
Treasures of Montezuma - Alawar Ent.
Jelly Car - Walaber
Tiny Wings - Andreas Illiger
Drop7 Free - Zynga (also works with paid)
Plants Vs Zombies - PopCap
Jewel Mania - TeamLava
Jenga - NaturalMotion
Save Toshi DX - Nitako LTD
iBlast Moki - Godzilab
Super 7 - No Monkeys
Fuzzle - CandyCane LLC
HK Mahjong - Apply Bits
Peggle - PopCap
Mixed Words - Quattro
Amateur Surgeon 2 - [adult swim]
Unblock Me - KiraGames Co. Ltd
UnWord - Mullet Games
Pac-Man - Namco
Temple Run - Imangi Studios LLC
Time's Up! (USA) - Repos Production
Amazing Breaker - Dekovir Inc
Circadia - Simple Machine LLC
The Lost City - Fire Maple Games
Percepto - Daniel Hooper
Home Sheep Home 2 - Chillingo
Water Maze H2Whoooa! - Big Goose Egg 

Cut the buttons - Open Name LTD
i.Game 16 Mahjong - Webi & Neti Internet Services Inc
Cross Fingers - Mobigame
Up With A Fish! - Oceanhouse Media
Pix Maze - Activision Publishing Inc.

There are lists available out there that try to categorise appstore apps based on iOS version support like here but they may be inaccurate because they only report the version as provided by the app developer to the appstore. The list does not report any earlier versions which are cached and provided to last-gen devices.

If you are attempting similar project, things to note with 2G iPods - they have limited OpenGL ES support so highly animated games and apps that require that library will not work because the hardware does not exist in the device. Older games also made use of OpenFeint (which has since closed) instead of Gamecenter but this can be avoided just by ignoring the login screens. Hardware wise, the 2G iPods have no camera or internal microphone so any apps making use of those will not install and/or will not work.Note the device remains non-jailbroken eventhough it is possible to do so .... I just haven't had the time and didn't require it JBd anyway. The apps shown above are either free to play or purchased in the appstore.

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Can things get any worse(r)?

My earlier attempt to try to post something every week went into a disastrous and epic fail when I suffered multiple hardware failures ... who knows where all this bad karma is coming from.

First thing to die was my iPhone which was only ~5 weeks old. It was a slow death starting with no early indications other than the cell reception dying first. I initially thought it was due to the nearby cell tower was under maintenance so I didn't think much about it. It was only about 12 hours later when the WiFi then proceeded to die and wouldn't connect to any access points at work or home. Going online to do troubleshooting, the apple website suggested to do a network reset - tried it and failed. The phone then proceeded to act weird and then went south of the border by displaying the dreaded screen asking me to plugin to iTunes to restore. iTunes didn't work and I kept getting the 1611 error which supposedly meant liquid damage. After an on-the-phone diagnosis, I was asked to bring in the phone to a service centre. Since Malaysia has no Genius bars, I had to go to an authorized service centre instead and lucky for me it was in 1Utama behind MacCity. Two weeks later, I get a new (possibly refurbished??) iPhone but I lost all the content from the previous phone ... which was nothing since it was close to new anyways.

Next to die was my PC workstation .... with a flaky motherboard. It still runs but I have lost all PCI bus lanes and thus no graphic expansion slots are available. Luckily, the board still had an onboard GPU and I used that to boot and continue work. I tried to buy a replacement motherboard from China but unfortunately, while the replacement arrived safely and installed OK it just wouldn't boot. Luckily I managed to get a refund for the faulty board and I am currently looking for a similar board to replace in the future.

The problem with branded PCs like the Acer I have is that the boards are so customised that I can't find any other replacement without sacrificing the features - the original motherboard has 4 USB headers (plus 4 onboard USB ports) which is really rare on commercial motherboards. Additionally, it has a firewire header for the IEEE1394 800 front port AND the case switches (on/reset/lights/) are all on a single plug instead of multiple individual plugs for OEM boards. Using a normal motherboard would required quite a lot of work to rewire the case to work ... that's a future project for now if I can't find another replacement board.

Everything has settled down for now (fingers crossed) and I hope it stays that way.

Worst things you're doing with your smartphone

I have never faced a problem like this until I got an iPhone (coming from a dumbphone which lasted 9 days per charge for one thing ... *sigh*). The problem I'm talking about here is the effort required to ensure the safety and security of information on the phone. If you own any smartphone - be it an iOS, Android or other device - these are the things you should NOT be doing (with focus on iOS and Android). There are probably many more things that can be done, but these are top on my list of things:

Leaving your phone unlocked
Its a hassle to keep unlocking phones especially if you're the kind that keeps checking your facebook and twitter feeds every 2 minutes but this is your first line of defense if, heaven forbid, you lose your phone or it gets stolen. Androids typically have that pattern unlock screen whilst iOS has the PIN instead. Using the iPhone 5s, I am grateful for the TouchID fingerprint system because it represents the best of both worlds by providing simplicity of a single touch with the complexity of the PIN without having to lift my finger. The latest Samsung S5s also have the fingerprint scanner on the home button but it is not used for locking the phone and instead is only meant to app use (like verifying PayPal accounts) so that point is moot.

iOS devices have a deadmans option whereby if you enter a passcode or TouchID too many times it locks the device permanently. Additionally, you can opt to wipe the device if attempts to crack the device exceeds 10 times. Similar options exist on Android but they are crackable (or at least manufacturer/provider resettable).

Not backing up information
Smartphones are now multi-use devices and perform additional functions of a camera, music player, map, etc. Losing a phone usually results in a lost of a LOT of information that possibly is not replaceable (i.e photos and videos). Use your phone's backup function if available and save your heartache should anything bad happen. iOS has iCloud whilst Androids have Google drive - both free options which you should be exploiting to save your data ICE.

All major platforms are also now supported by Microsoft's OneDrive which will offer automatic uploads through the individual mobile platform apps. I personally use iCloud backups for phone settings and app data whilst OneDrive for iOS handles all my photo backups to my cloud (this because I have multiple legacy OneDrive accounts with 28GB of lifetime storage)

Setting up the GPS
Did a simple test - took a friend's smartphone, searched around and launched the map application. Nearly every single time, the map/GPS application had its 'home' setting to the phone owners actual home address. Now imagine if your phone is NOT passworded/passcode locked and someone manages to get hold of it, launching the app will tell them exactly where you live and gives them an easy target for their next heist (especially if you lost your bag with your phone, wallet, house keys etc). Get the picture?

Set the 'home' location to any app you are using (Google maps, Garmin, Waze etc) to a nearby location that you know of. I mean, do you really need that GPS to tell you turn by turn directions to your house from the nearest shopping mall that you visit weekly? Else, set it to a public location like a school, mosque, temple, 7-11 etc.

Address book/Contact list problems
Yes contact lists are convenient and make you lazy at forgetting numbers but here's a tip which has relevance with the first tip above. In the same test I mentioned earlier, the contact list ALWAYS had a listing for HOME, MAMA or PAPA or something along the lines like that. Now you've all heard or read emails about horror stories that someone's parents received a phone call telling them that their son/daughter has been kidnapped and demands a ransom ... where'd they get the number? Why from your unlocked phone inside your phone's contact list of course!! How nice of you to provide these nasty people with information like this.
If you REALLY need to list your parent or sibling's phone numbers (or any close relative) its best to list a nick name that only you know and understand. Be creative and have fun - but be prepared to answer your mother if you listed her in your phone book as 'Constant nagger'

Taking photos
Photos are fun. Photos are useful to capture a moment in time. Selfies are also fun. Nude selfies are NOT. A smartphone in the hands of another user other than yourself may result in your embarassing photos being leaked out. All devices (unfortunately) allow the photo directory content to be viewed in any computer without even having to unlock the device.

If you want to take nudes or unmentionables at least use a encryption app - there are dozens out there you can choose from that can give you a level of privacy which your default phone camera app cannot.

Leaving apps logged in
I suffer from this habit too as I tend to leave most apps logged in - but at least I lock my phone and set it to wipe if its being hacked into. Many popular apps keep you logged in even when you shutdown the app (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard) and anyone with access to your phone will basically have access to those app accounts too. Worst case scenario is with banking apps. I wich app developers would incorporate additional protection features to prevent this. The only one I know of is Evernote which has an additional PIN entry aside from the normal login to prevent anyone from viewing content so you can remain logged in. For other apps, its best to log out especially if you don't lock your phone.

Not installing an antivirus and app manager
This is for Android/Windows Phone devices only. Due to the open nature of the platform and also based on a phone owner's actions, an antivirus may be necessary. If you use an Android and often sideload your apps downloaded through fileshare/rapidshare/forums/etc, you should have an antivirus app installed to reduce the likelihood that your device will be infected with malware. Windows phone devices may run on a separate build as opposed to their desktop operating systems so the jury is out on whether it is needed or not.

For androids - even with the latest releases - app management is still horrendous.  You need a management app to help corral apps from misbehaving and making your device run out of resources. Always uninstall apps you never/hardly use because those apps WILL slow down the device even if they are not running (don't ask me how or why, I still can't figure that out yet)

Allowing apps to access facebook/twitter/etc
Once again, laziness makes people prefer use a single sign-in method to use an app. Many apps do allow you to link your facebook/google/microsoft account as a sign-in method and in return, the app is given permission to post on your behalf to your facebook/mail/google plus/etc page. Some apps like endomondo sports tracker and nike run can post on your behalf so you can show off to your facebook friends how far you have run and how long it took.

Unfortunately, this also reveals information similar to the GPS tip above. Using several posts, a stalker can pin point the exact location where you live because your start and end locations are always the same. Next, the app tells them when you are not home or when you ARE home. Personally, I wouldn't want an unknown person to know that. The right picture shows a screenshot of someone (I randomly selected a facebook user) who allowed EST to post on their page .... now I know where he lives and when he's not home.