Finally a better firmware for default Unifi routers

Referring to an earlier post here, there has finally been an unofficial-official firmware to fix the DNS problem with the DIR615 routers. The firmware updates G2 routers to version 7.15 and finally forwards DNS requests correctly between the router and the users in the LAN (previous firmwares timed out on most DNS requests thus making most pages never fully load or just time out)

So, save your config (just in case, the update shouldn't delete settings but you never know) from the menu. Download the firmware from here and update using the administration menu. Tested on two routers to work better than the original (one was 7.12 the other was 7.13).

Awww ... even iTunes makes mistakes

*Sigh* - as advanced as Apple is, iTunes does make mistakes like the one above. It probably was a indexing error with their backend servers.

Ultraviolet DRM is terrible and I wish it would die

What is ultraviolet?
UltraViolet is a free, cloud-based digital rights collection that gives you greater flexibility with how and where you watch the movies and TV shows that you purchase. When you buy a movie or TV show from a participating retailer, it's automatically added to your UltraViolet Collection and you have options to stream it over the Internet and/or download it for offline viewing to a variety of connected devices. Because UltraViolet offers so many viewing choices, you have greater freedom to choose where you want to watch - on a mobile device, computer, television, game console, etc.

What was it intended for?
Uhm ... to replace iTunes (it is headed by Warner Bros) as another means to distribute movies digitally legally. Probably was meant as a way to avoid paying Apple more money and to torture customers with yet another DRM system.

What is good about UV?
Three things only - your movies are "in the cloud" and accessible anywhere (not really), movies are available online through streaming (broadband required to stream) or offline through downloads and content can be shared with friends and family. Thats it. Nothing else. Nothing else they advertised really works.

Why does it SUCK SO BAD?
Hmmm ... how do I put this as clear as possible ...
  1. You need multiple accounts to access your content
    First you need to sign up for an Ultraviolet account. You do that here. Once you have a UV account, you need to create ANOTHER account at EACH AND EVERY respective studio that is distributing using UV - e.g. I now have accounts created in the Sony Pictures Store, Universal Hi-Def, Flixster and Warner Bros ... so in total 5 new totally unnecessary accounts just to download my digital 'copies'
  2. It is difficult to view content
    It is IMPOSSIBLE to view any of your content without downloading their software or apps. To watch on your PC/Mac you download Flixster. Same goes with tablets, phones, phablets and whatnots. The downside of this? There is no way to show your content onto your living room TV or audio visual system short of connecting your computer to your display. At least with iTunes you can still get an Apple TV to view your content on the TV or use any iDevice with the proper av adaptor (hdmi/component/etc) to display content. Using a tablet/phone/PC as your player means you actually need to mirror the content onto the TV.
  3. Quality of UV is poor
    Overall video quality of UV distributed films ranges from good to really poor. Compression is noticeably higher than iTunes digital downloads and detail is often lost. Worst thing is that UV downloads are 2-channel STEREO only. Supporters may claim that this was intended because the digital downloads are meant for portable devices which is true but if iTunes digital downloads can provide both 2-channel stereo AND 5.1 channel surround, then I'd go for iTunes anytime because I like knowing that I can still pipe the full surround experience if necessary.
  4. UV tablet/phone applications suck
    The Flixster tablet app sucks on all the platforms I've tried it on. On the iPad, the app integrates with Rotten Tomatoes and shows current/upcoming/past movies which is actually rather cool. The movie download/streaming section though leaves a lot to be desired. Movies download with no problems but often remain in processing mode indefinitely. This means that the downloaded version can never play and if you attempt playback it will revert to the streaming version instead. In some cases, movies that were successfully downloaded, processed and can be viewed offline can suddenly revert back to its undownloaded state and will no longer work thus forcing you to delete the file and redownload. On android tablets, I've had even less success with the app crashing often and movies suddenly stopping for no reason.
  5. UV desktop applications suck more
    The PC desktop application is probably the weakest. I though iTunes was bad - UV is worse. Unlike tablet apps, the desktop PC version of flixster has no links and is purely for playback only. The software is not optimized and cannot playback video content unless the app is made full screen. In a window, the content jerks and frame rate drops dramatically thus making it impossible for you to have multiple applications open on your desktop so you can't watch a movie whilst check your facebook status at the same time.
  6. There is no easy way to backup files
    Unlike what the support website says here, there is no easy way to backup your UV digital movies. Digital content is downloaded as a binary file with no extension and a random string of alphanumeric characters (it is actually an mp4 file wrapped in their own DRM encoding). You can't really transfer this file anywhere because the target app you copy it into will not recognise the file. For every device you own and activate with UV, the file downloads with a different filename so it is impossible to map files between devices. D-U-M-B. They should have done it like iTunes where downloads happen as M4V files. Backup? Just copy the file out. Move to another PC/Mac/iPad/iPhone? Just copy the file in. No nonsense. No fuss. Compared to UV where I have had to download the exact same movie 4 times on 4 different devices just because their files are different.
  7. You can only buy/redeem movies on the PC
    Yup. STOOPID. For a distribution method supposedly meant for portable devices, there is NO WAY to get new content without going back to your desktop and logging into individual websites. Some of you might think that you can browse websites on the portable device so why not do it there? Nope. Impossible. Most websites I've been too won't work with tablet browsers. Either the pages won't load or your code won't work (even though the same code works when used in desktop)
So as much as possible, try to avoid UV like the plague until they give up trying to force consumers with another doomed format.

The sad state of local arts scene

Its saddening to see the effect of lack of funding towards arts locally.

It starts off with a little known production called "Chow Kit Road! Chow Kit Road!" which is being produced by local company Masakini Theatre Co. Although initial publicity was adequate, as time progressed, hype and interest in the show started to wane. Recently, they were caught off guard when their main source of funding decided not to sponsor the show.

Those that have never been involved in any major production need to know that the costs of running a show like this runs into the hundreds of thousands of ringgit if not millions. This amount goes into payment for the cast and crew, venue rentals for rehearsals and shows, external payments for media (lighting, AV, printing etc) and so forth. A major chunk of cash goes into royalties if the show uses commercial content or is a licensed production. Without sponsorship, a show basically grinds to a halt with a showstopping screech.

CKR!CKR! basically uses the songs of the late Sudirman to narrate the life story of its main character. More details can be read on their webpage here but suffice to say it mostly resembles (as written) a local version of Rent!.

Although it is unclear why the sponsor decided to withdraw funding, it is equally disheartening to see the cast and crew which have putting so much effort only to hear news like this. It is not uncommon for things like this to happen since the arts is still viewed as more as a hobby as compared to other jobs like engineers or doctors where the so called 'ROI' is more clear cut and measureable.

The problem now comes with how the production is to continue without funding. As it is, they have around less than two months to come up with the required cash to proceed and have thus resorted to crowdfunding which is found here. Main thing is that successful crowdfunding requires two things - a sizeable 'crowd' and a convincing plea delivery - of which CKR!CKR! has none of. Based on whatever I can gather, tickets are selling slowly, there is not much interest save for a few active members and any social media sites are woefully lacking.

Their crowdsourcing video with their director was uninspired and sounded as if she had given up and was forced to say something to fill in the dreadfully long and mostly empty 1.5 minutes. And what is with the old-film look to the video? It was badly filmed with low audio and has no real delivery goal. Recently, they added in another video with missiles and bombs which had no relation whatsoever to their plight and instead makes them look like their joking around. To a new visitor, it shows that the cast usually rehearse in a war torn country in a well equipped air-cond studio that is easily bombed?!?? WTF? Sad really.

They need US$550,000. As of today they have US$282.00 which is 0.05% of their goal. They have 35 days to reach their goal. Which means they need to have at least one EXTREMELY generous donor or get ~US$15707.00 donations DAILY. Their so called 'plea' for people to donate US$1 (yes, I really do mean 'plea' with quotation marks because their video basically asks this as a question which is something that should never be done) means they need 15,000 people to donate daily which is pretty unreasonable when their facebook/twitter/social media sites roughly have around 300-400 likers/subscribers.

Word of advice - find out how to do proper crowdsourcing videos (Google has plenty of help) and hit the social media sites fast! A plea needs to tell the viewer not just WHY they need the money but WHERE the money goes to and HOW it will be used. Get the cast/crew along to help in the plea to show it is a concerted effort instead of one desperate woman's plea. And for gawd sakes stop the FX videos ... they're just embarassing.

iBooks or Kindle?

Here's a comparison of both apps with the same book - Sway by Amber McRee Turner - on the Kindle app (purchase book here) and on iBooks (purchase book here).

Both books appear in their apps fairly similar and obviously the content is the same but the presentation is controlled by the app you read the book in. These are how the books appear on your 'shelves' in the apps. You can't resize the book 'sizes' in the apps but the Kindle does show a larger cover.

The Kindle app takes over the whole screen to show the book pages.
Ibooks on the other hand shows the background slightly at the edge of the book.

Tap on the centre of the page and both apps show hidden options for font/colour/text settings. The Kindle has slightly more options compared to the ibooks app. The usual options to increase and decrease font size and contrast are present but the Kindle app also adds options to increase and decrease line spacing as well as change between single and double column layouts (only available in landscape mode). Font selections are minimal but there is always a "publisher font" to allow for unique fonts embedded into the kindle book.

Comparing the ibook app, the options for font size and contrast perform the same tasks as the Kindle app (or maybe its the other way around?). The unique option in the ibook app is the availability to show book content as a continuous stream instead of page by page (the full screen option removes the 'borders' mentioned earlier)

The Kindle app allows normal, sepia and night time modes for viewing books and this is how they look like.
The ibook app has the same options (called themes) and displays the same content as the Kindle but note how the ibook app tries to tint images to match the background as opposed to the Kindle app in which the images always remain bright white in nightime mode.

Screenshot below show the normal, minimum and maximum font sizes available for this particular book.

Comparitively, the ibooks app screenshot below shows the normal, minimum and maximum font sizes. You'll notice that the Kindle app manages to show a smaller minimum font size and the ibook app has the larger maximum font size - although both extremes are basically impossible and impractical to use anyways.

Landscape mode on the Kindle app defaults to a single column layout but the options allows for a switch to a easier to read two-column layout so that each sentence does not extend too long.

In the ibook app, the landscape mode always displays as a two page book spread ... I personally like how the little details like the shadow cast in the middle spine of the book is rendered to make the book 'feel' 3D-ish.

So ... which app is better? Well, both apps have very strong pros and cons.

Kindle Pros
  • Smaller app size
  • More books available in the Kindle Store - and more free options
  • Flexibility to view and sync books on the app (both iOS/Android), Kindle readers, web app (using Google Chrome) or with the Kindle application on PC platforms
  • Has some iOS enhanced books that only work with the Kindle iOS app - mainly because of animations/videos

Kindle Cons
  • Many books are unavailable outside of the US region (but workarounds possible)
  • Less interaction/interactivity in books - mainly as display only
  • Syncing takes time - especially with a large library
  • Although app size is smaller, overall data usage is larger in the Kindle app because of syncing
  • No control over what displays in the library - shows all books in account

iBooks Pros
  • Many tie-in books are available for free
  • iBooks offer more interactivity - especially in kid books and textbooks
  • More reference books and educational books available
  • Less region restrictions
  • More control over syncing and library display

iBooks Cons
  • Smaller selection of books in comparison
  • Less 'free' optons availablt
  • Only readable on the iOS app
  • Larger app size

General Pros
  • Both apps offer options to sync to your own ebooks and PDFs
  • Both offer subscription based services (although the ibooks option is through the newstand instead)

General Cons
  • You don't own any of the ebooks you've purchased - both iTunes and Kindle store is allowed to delete books from your account based on their discretion

..... Show/hide full post

Facebook isn't private at all ... so why are you posting your shit online?

Most facebook users would have seen the useless post about asking your friends to "unsubscribe from my posts" or something along the lines of not wanting to spam your timeline/feed. Although it does work to some extent (it doesn't really hide anything - just stops publishing to a friend's wall ... they can still see it if they want to) it does nothing to protect your privacy online.

Facebook is unfortunately very 'open' and may actually violate some privacy T&Cs. After numerous attempts at setting/resetting options in the profile pages this is what I have found out.

All your actions remain public as long as you are friends with me
Yup ... whatever you like/unlike/share/post/tag/subscribe can be seen by everyone. If you chose to post all your actions online they remain as a live feed on a ticker which is updated in real-time. [PS: If you don't see a ticker, that means your account is either dormant, inactive, insufficient feeds etc ... see this for official statement from FB]

Most people never notice the ticker because by default, the ticker is hidden at the top right of your newsfeed page. Mouseover and you see the dropdown menu for "Show ticker" .... by watching the feed scroll through for a while, I've noticed my friends have pretty weird tastes and likings.

Published e-mail address
Facebook used to publish your e-mail address (the one you signed up with when you created your account) on your profile page - unless you chose to hide it. Using your email address, a simple search on Google would reveal some pretty interesting (and sometimes shocking) information about your friends.

Luckily, FB tried to block this privacy loophole by quitely replacing all your e-mail addresses with a computer generated one ending with If you never noticed this, then go to your profile page and you'll see your new facebook email address which people can send email to (and it will appear as a message on your feed). You are free to change this back to your own address but why would you want to?

So facebook evaded the privacy issue with emails ... it will never be able to solve the next problem - that humans are really lazy @$$holes.
Ask yourself this, how many accounts do you have (email, banking, forum, etc) that use the same USERNAME you have on facebook now? Take that username and feed it into your favourite search engine and you may be surprised what turns up. On my last check, I have friends subscribed to S&M forums, hentai sites, LGBT forums, religion based sites etc ..... the list goes on and on. Note that this flaw won't work if you let facebook auto generate a user name for you (which I recommend for all sites)

Some funny algorithm ... which I'm still figuring out
Go to a friends facebook page - look for his/her friend list - start clicking around the friends on their list. Then click on your friend's subscriptions/likes and do the same with the friends of your friends (i.e. check out their subscriptions/likes and so on). Sooner or later, on YOUR OWN facebook news feed you will see a suggested friends or suggested posts (especially if using the facebook app on ios or android) of whatever your friend (and friends of friend) subscribed to or liked eventhough they were hidden from their timeline.

Believe me ... it gets creepy what some people like.

There are probably other ways you can facebook stalk someone but these are the most obvious ones I've found so far ... and for those on MY facebook friends list, don't worry - your secret(s) are safe with me and will remain as such till the day I die.

..... Show/hide full post

Its finally over

After a very tiring and hectic semester, I've reached the final week and will finally have time to myself for other things instead of work / assignments / lectures / meetings / paperwork / shit.