Block iOS app updates without jailbreaking

Media player apps on the iOS platform are being targeted by Dolby for patent licensing issues and are forced to remove support for AC3/E-ACE/TrueHD(MLP) audio decoding. This causes many files to playback without audio unless they are re-encoded. Users of the apps have been complaining (to deaf ears I suppose) because if they updated the app without keeping a backup copy, there is no way to return to the older version without jailbreaking and downloading a cracked app.

If you are the lucky ones that still have older versions of the apps on your device that still decode Dolby audio, then comes the dilemma of the various update notifications in the appstore. Because of these apps requiring update you can't just tap on the [Update All] button at the top but must go thru them one-by-one. If you have JB'd your device you can install from the cydia appstore something like Update Hider, OTA Begone or No Appstore Badges to disable the updates.

For those still on un-JBd iOS devices there is another way to do it without having to JB. You need a desktop PC/workstation and download and runiFunBox for the platform (Mac/Windows only). Navigate to the classic tab on the top and locate your application's sandbox folder. On the right-panel, locate the iTunesMetadata.plist file. Then there are two ways to disable the updates from appearing in the appstore. First is just to delete the entire iTunesMetadata.plist file. The app will still continue to work but will NEVER update because when the update page is selected in the appstore, no metadata for that particular app will be sent to check for updates. Problem with this method is that if you sync with iTunes on your desktop often, it will create a error message prompt. You can ignore this message because it is mostly complaining that it cannot sync the app properly to create a backup copy with your desktop or iCloud - all other apps and content will sync normally. If you never sync using iTunes you will not get any error messages.
The second method is to copy the iTunesMetadata.plist file onto your desktop and open the file for editing in your favourite text editor (e.g. notepad, notepad++ etc). Locate the fields for softwareVersionExternalIdentifier and softwareVersionExternalIdentifiers which are usually near the bottom. Delete those keys and the associated values immediately after (usually between an <integer>XXXX</integer> for the external and <array>XXX</array> for the internal) Save the file and copy back into the app sandbox overwriting the existing file. Now if you reopen the appstore the update would be gone but the apps still works the same and you can safely do an [Update All] in the appstore and the other apps remain unupdated forever. In some cases, I had to delete the softwareversionBundleId too .... YMMV, so do a backup before attempting.
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DISCLOSURE WARNING! I do not provide any guarantees that this will work on your iOS device although they have been tested to work on an iPad 2 and 3. Any results from attempting these steps are your own consequences and I will NOT bear any responsibility for any harm/error/crashes/failures/corruption/death/injury caused to yourself or your device.

ARGH! I'm a digital hoarder too

Every few weeks or so, I go to Amazon's Kindle section and click on every free Kindle book there. Turns out I've amassed over 1220 books ever since and I've only fully read from start to finish 5 of them.

It gets worse ... 'cos I have 91 books on iBooks too

I give up trying to track apps on IOS ... last count was at 3884 with the most expensive being US$32.99 ... and even that was free.

Problems with Unifi?

If you're one of the few recent adopters of TM's Unifi service, you may be experiencing one (or more) of the following issues
  • Webpages never finish loading
  • Webpage text loads but images do not load or only load partially
  • Nothing loads until you refresh several times
  • You get numerous 404 error messages (not found)
  • You get various 5XX error messages (time out, host did not reply, host not found)

First things first is to go check your router firmware version (the orange D-link hardware item) by keying into any browser the address of your router (by default is You do not need to login - just look at the top left to see the firmware version. If you have firmwares 7.13 and above you may be affected by a DNS forwarding issue.

How to confirm? Open a command window in Windows (terminal in Mac or *nix) and do a simple nslookup to see if your DNS requests are forwarded properly. If no nslookup command is available, a ping test would yield similar results.
What is a DNS request?

On windows, you can try the command "nslookup". You should get an immediate response which will look something like this which means the actual IP address of is .... if you key in those numbers, you'll end up at Google.

On the faulty D-link firmware, the results you get will look something like this. The screenshot below  does show the correct IP address because your PC caches (stores temporarily) all previously known resolved addresses. The main problem is the 2 second delay which causes most browsers to give up and display an error message (unless you press refresh).

To resolve this (without having to buy an alternative router) is either to call Unifi service and have them downgrade your router firmware to 7.09 or 7.12 (those so far seem to be unaffected by this bug) OR manually enter your own DNS settings into your network configuration. Since there are various tutorials on this online, I won't go into details about the steps required - just google "change dns windows" or whatever platform your are on (Mac/IOS/android)

Limits = ughs

Try as I might, I just can't get download speed to break the ceiling limit ... and any changes only increases the uploads instead. Oh well .....


Been a long time .... but was cleaning up and doing some 'self-auditing' when it became clear that I've been double-dipping too much. Here are some duplicates I found ...

Disney's Dinosaur 2-Disc Collector's DVD (R4) vs. Blu-ray (Region A)

HSM2 Dance Edition 2-Disc DVD (R3) vs. Blu-ray (Region B)

B&TB Platinum Edition 2-disc CE DVD (R2) vs. Diamond Edition 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD (Region B/2)

Snow White Collector's Edition 2-disc DVD (R3) vs. Diamond Edition 2-disc DVD (R2)

Aladdin Collector's Edition 2-disc DVD (R3) vs. Trilogy 3-disc DVD (R2)

Toy Story 2 Collector's Edition 2-disc DVD (R1) vs. SE 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD (Region A)

Ratatouille Collector's Edition 2-disc DVD (R2) vs. Blu-ray (Region B)

Farscape Ultimate Edition 32-disc DVD (R2) vs. Complete Edition 20-disc Blu-ray (Region B)

Sound of Music 40th AE 2-disc DVD (R4) vs. 45th AE 3-disc blu-ray/DVD (Region B/2)

Hairspray 2-disc DVD (R3) vs. 2-disc blu-ray (Region A)

Phantom o/t Opera DVD (R3) vs. Blu-ray (Region B)

The Little Mermaid Trilogy 3-disc DVD (R3) vs. Platinum Ed. 2-disc DVD (R2)

Monsters, Inc. CE 2-disc DVD (R3) vs. 4-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital (Region A)

The Lion King Platinum Ed. 2-disc DVD (R3) vs. Diamond Ed. 2-disc blu-ray/3D (Region A) vs. VHS (PAL - not shown) vs VCD (PAL - not shown)

Indiana Jones Adventure Collection 3-disc DVD (R2) vs Indiana Jones Complete 5-disc DVD (R3)

Step Up 2-disc DVD (R3) vs Step Up (R2) vs Step Up blu-ray (Region B - not shown)

Simple Plan CD vs Simple Plan Deluxe Edition Digipak CD/DVD

South Pacific VCD vs DVD (R1)

Michael Jackson Dangerous CD vs Dangerous CD/DVD

Muppets in Space VCD (PAL) vs DVD (R4)

Something tells me I'll probably be tempted to get newer versions of the Pitch Black saga, Firefly, Serenity, Blade series ...... ughs.

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Three weeks in .....

Got me a new iPad three weeks back and after all this time, what have I found out? Here are some personal truths and fallacies of the new iDevice

  1. The screen is resolutionary
    Uhm ... yes and no. If you're looking at just the new iPad you will not/can not really tell how different the screen is. Yes the resolution is stupidly high for such a small screen (2048×1536 pixels) which is higher than most commercial LCD screens, monitors and TVs. Place the new iPad against the first and second generation and then only you'll see the difference. The new iPad is a tad brighter and more evenly colour saturated in comparison with earlier models - this was one of the talking points on how the new iPad is good for photography and image editing.

    Bad points, non-retina iPad apps with non-vector graphics look really bad - some scaling is done by iOS but the jaggies are bad and text is a big mess. Good points, not that many apps are affected by this and actually scale quite nicely to the new resolution with minor artefacts. All this is easily resolved by app updates with the new SDKs.
  2. Battery life
    Personal findings of casual use (web browsing / facebookin / occasional gaming) and few movie sessions manage to drain the battery to around 30%. This is at center brightness and volume settings and only wi-fi always on for a total of around 6-8 hours use. At relatively heavy loads with apps like Infinity Blade II or NFS2, a one hour session runs the battery down by around 10-15% per hour. Just doing web browsing with Safari and/or Dolphin drains the battery around 2-5% every hour.
  3. Can't charge the new iPad
    Most PCs and laptops won't charge the new iPad because of its drain. There are workarounds to this which I may blog about later. The fastest way to recharge the battery is with the original iPad charger which pumps out the required 2.1amps of juice and can charge the battery to >90% in around 3 hours (in standby mode). Compatible chargers from online vendors do not charge the iPad properly.
  4. The iPad gets very hot
    Yes and no again. In comparison to all the previous generation models, the new iPad DOES get warmer at the bottom left corner (screen facing you with home button at bottom). By how much? Depends on what is running. Non-cpu intensive apps do not raise it by much. Running FPS apps like RageHD, IB2, Hockey Fight or Max Payne raises it to be noticeably warmer than the rest of the device but not enough to burn. A laptop's CPU fan output vent is much warmer than the heat generated by the new iPad.
  5. The camera does HD
    Yes, it records at 1080P for video and does waaay better at photos than the previous generation model. Photos have better saturation and clarity especially in low light situations BUT it suffers from the rolling shutter effect which affects panning and tilting shots in video. Front camera remains the same at low 640×480 resolution which is lower than most desktop webcams. The absence of a flash makes night photography impossible

    There is no way to change the resolution of recorded photos and videos with the default iPad apps ... so photos are always 5MP (around 1-2MB per photo) and videos are always 1080P. Installing other recording apps will allow for other resolutions but IMO, its stupid for the default apps to not offer this as a basic feature.
  6. Wireless connection has problems
    Haven't tested the 3G connections because everywhere I go, I get wi-fi. Additionally, can't test 4G-LTE connections because those only work in the US and Canada .... *sigh*. Users have been noticing the new iPad drops connections more frequently in comparison to earlier models. Personally, I haven't noticed much difference when comparing all three iPad generations. Same performance and number of drops were experienced on all the devices. On the new iPad, whenever the connection drops, it only does that during lulls of traffic when reading an article/PDF. The connection always comes back on (maybe after a second or two) when a browser/store/web aware app is executed.

    The only major problem I had was it did not want to associate with my access point at first. My D-link was set to using channel bonding at 40MHz 802.11n and try as I might, the iPad just would not connect/associate/handshake with the AP. Setting the AP temporarily to use only the default 20MHz channels fixed this and once it associated, resetting the AP back to 40MHz caused no further problems .... weird.
  7. The A5X processor is faster
    Speed at launching apps - not by much when compared to the iPad 2, a lot when compared with original  iPad. The processor only truly shows its power when running graphic intensive apps like FPS and video apps.  Occasionally, simple apps like Sprinkle seem to run more fluidly (pardon the pun) and this may or may not be attributed to the processor. Apple claims the GPU is more powerful and I mostly believe that is true but I believe that Apple does a better job at optimizing everything on the iOS platform towards a better performance. Compared to the Android platform (with its fragmentation issues) every aspect of the iPad - peformance wise - seems to work better. The interface flows better, everything reacts/interacts faster and feels more unified. 
Overall, the new iPad may offer a slightly better performance with its new A5X cpu assisted with the quad-core GPU, but its main selling points is only its better retina-resolution screen. Users of the iPad 2 will not notice much difference and may want to skip an upgrade until the next generation (iPad 4? the even newer iPad?) unless camera and image editing options are important to them  since all existing apps continue to work on the iPad 2 with not much difference (something which the Android platform needs to overcome)
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Where's the cheapest country to buy an iPad?

The iPad is currently the most popular tablet on sale and is pretty much available worldwide ... with the new iPad slowly being released in batches. Malaysia recently joined the ranks of countries with the new iPad on sale at both retail Apple retailers and the online Apple store. Currently 28 countries 'officially' sell the new iPad alongside the iPad 2 16GB variants. Curiously, Malaysia is also the cheapest country to buy the iPad (both new and second generation) ... its even cheaper than US by US$11!!

Based SOLELY on each country's online Apple store (i.e. sans offers, bundles, packages, tax etc) here's the breakdown of all the prices of available models (6 for the new iPad and 2 for the second generation, note that Japan only carries the WiFi version)

Prices were obtained at individual online Apple stores and
exchange rates were obtained on 20th April 2012 from

Although Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Finland (Suomi), Spain and Italy use the Euro, their prices are slightly different because of exchange rates. The iPad is the most expensive in Hungary at nearly 4.2 times the US price. On average,the iPad costs roughly US$100 more outside of the US .... who knows why its cheaper here, and I'm not complaining ;)

Note: Any errors/omissions on data/calculations are regretted.

Finally a new GPU!

Last year, the graphic card of my PC decided to die on me because of blown capacitors .... not one, not two but ALL of them.
Whether this card was affected by the plague or not, the card wouldn't boot, would crash, display weird graphics (inverted!!) and became sooooo frustrating. I had a few caps replaced (top right two in the pic above) but as they continued to explode, I finally gave in and removed the card altogether and have been running onboard graphics until now (thankfully it still has a adequate Geforce onboard GPU which is waaay better than IntelHD options).

I finally bought a new replacement in the form of a nVidia GT430 .... definitely NOT a gamers' card but better than onboard (I don't game that much anyways). Why this particular card? Bad experiences and conflicts in certain video rendering software makes me avoid the AMD 5000s series eventhough they offer better performance/price ratio. Plus if they finally decide to offer GPU programming where I work, I'm ready for it anyways (this card has 96 CUDA cores which is more than enough for simple GPU programming). Lastly, I needed one that was low powered enough so that I didn't have to upgrade the PSU on the PC .... the built-in one runs at a miserly 250W max so this card was the lowest in power consumption (additionally, I'm UNDERclocking it).

I'm happy with it - its silent, improved my WEI score and runs Alan Wake at 1366×768 at mostly medium settings or lower res at higher settings ... not bad for RM195.

P/S: I DO have another 600W PSU but don't plan on using that because its a power hog and generates too much heat.

DESPERATE need for storage space

What started out as one - two purchases every quarterly suddenly exploded and I am TOTALLY out of space. The pic above does not even include stuff which I haven't collected in US (6 documentaries), UK (3 TV series box sets), Singapore (5 Pixar box sets) and Australia (dunno what was sent there .... ). The shelf space on the left is already three DVD cases deep (you only see the front rows) ... and yes that IS Mr Bean's teddy on the right. AARRGGHHSS!

Hello old friend ...

I've been procrastinating too much again ... *sigh*

But news of the upcoming iPad launch has me excited. Most sources have already "confirmed" the presence of a higher resolution display and possibly faster CPU but everyone is expecting a wow factor that Apple is famous for. So what is going to be new on the latest version? Gizmodo has stated the possibility of having no home button, whilst others have stated the use of LTE (which BTW is still far and away in Malaysia for now) .... I'll take a wild guess for the heck of it and say that Apple will have a pad with touch sensitivity as its wow factor. This would allow the pad to function as both a normal tablet AND also as a high resolution input device for artistic use - this would most certainly benefit with the recent release of Adobe photo apps for the iPad. Who knows? Maybe I'll be right at this guessing game :D

Other things to get excited about is the consumer preview release of Windows 8 tomorrow .... which heralds another round of formatting and reinstalling software .... yay or nay? Oh well, hope me gets a license later for the operating system from the academic alliance store.