How to Format your Hard Drive (HDD) for Mac OS X compatibility with the correct exFAT Allocation Unit Size.

TL;DR version
For Mac OS X to read-write exFAT formatted HDD, two options

  1. Format using Mac:
    1. Disk Utility ->
    2. Erase ->
    3. choose exFAT ->
    4. OK
  2. Format using Windows:
    1. My Computer ->
    2. Right Click HDD ->
    3. Format ->
    4. choose exFAT ->
    5. AUS 128 kilobytes->
    6. Start

Turns out exFAT exists so that Mac and Windows can co-exist harmoniously. There are many forum discussions and how-to articles out there recommending exFAT if you want to share files between Mac and Windows.

What most of them failed to mention is the correct allocation unit size / cluster size necessary for the harmonious relationship to work. Most of them talked about what the allocation unit size does, which might be misleading for the purpose of getting it up and running seamlessly.

My Story
I want to use an external HDD as the scratch disk for a video editing project on a Mac OS X 10.7.5. But my files are on my Windows 8.1 laptop HDD, which was formatted in NTFS. By default, Mac OS X can only read but not write to NTFS HDD. Of course there are NTFS read-write solutions out there for Mac. Among them Tuxera NTFS, Paragon NTFS, or NTFS-3G FUSE.

Disclaimer: I have not tried Tuxera or Paragon. I used NTFS-3G FUSE from 2009-2013 on my Macbook Snow Leopard, so far so good. I have not tried it on later versions of Mac OS X. There is a high chance of it not working on OS X 10.7 and later (see Known Issues).

Then I found out that if I format the HDD in exFAT, it should work for both Windows and OS X. I figured that since most of my files are videos with BIG file sizes, I chose 4096 kilobytes for the AUS. It formatted nicely. But lo and behold, OS X doesn’t even recognize the HDD. I tried to force mount it but nope, it doesn’t work.

So I figured that if I use OS X’s Disk Utility to format, it should work for both Mac and Windows. This time it works! Turns out Disk Utility formatted the HDD with 128 kilobytes AUS (131072 bytes divide by 1024).

chkdsk to check allocation unit size. Divide by 1024 to get kilobytes (KB)
chkdsk to check allocation unit size. Divide by 1024 to get kilobytes (KB)

Just for kicks, I used Windows to format it again with AUS 128 kilobytes. Yeap, it works.

128 kilobytes is the harmonious constant between Windows and Mac OS X 10.7.5. Use 128 kilobytes AUS while formatting a HDD so that it works for both Windows and Mac OS X.


How to Remove Icon Badge Notifications / Count Bubbles?

WhatsApp mute function can really come in handy, especially when you are in one of those massive WhatsApp group that talks about everything and anything. Don’t get me wrong, I like big groups, it’s a very effective way to massively reach out to everyone at one go. But sometimes, sometimes you just need that peace and quiet, say like when you are trying to complete your dissertation. Sadly the badge notifications or count bubbles doesn’t seem to obey the mute instructions. So when that numbers keep adding up next to the icon even AFTER you’ve muted the conversations, you know something must be done!!

TouchWiz Badge Notifications / Count Bubbles
TouchWiz Badge Notifications / Count Bubbles

So after some Googling, I found this article which is exactly what I need. Turns out you just need to disable the BadgeProvider service. It’s apparently a uniquely Samsung TouchWiz thingie – trying to imitate iOS count bubbles I think. In short these are the steps I took and it worked perfectly! (I’m using Samsung Galaxy Note 2, running non-rooted 4.4.2)

  1. Go to Settings -> Application manager
  2. Scroll right to ALL
  3. Scroll to BadgeProvider
  4. Disable
  5. Restart the phone

Voila! Everything is working like a charm!

Backup WhatsApp Conversations

For the longest time I have been using SMS Backup+ and Backup Text for WhatsApp to backup my whatsapp conversations. But ever since WhatsApp changed their encryption format to crypt7, both apps stopped working. Actually the last backup from SMS Backup+ to Gmail was in March 2014. I only realized it now.

The quickest solution to this predicament is to use WhatsApp Tri-Crypt. But to use it without problem you will need to root your phone. Fortunately there’s a workaround for non-rooted devices. The following is copied from the description of the app on Google Play Store.

* How do I enable Crypt 6/7 on a non-rooted device with Android 4.0 or higher?
* 1.) Visit: on your PC.
* 2.) Download
* 3.) Extract and read the enclosed “ReadMe.txt” file.

I’ve tried doing that and for some reason it still doesn’t work.

Then I found this post on Google + by Abinash Bishoyi.

Please download and follow the following steps:
 1.) Extract “” on your computer maintaining the directory structure.
 2.) Browse to the extracted folder and click on WhatsAppKeyExtract.bat.
3.) Few have complained that it’s keep on asking to install Java though Java is already installed, then you can click on WhatsAppKeyExtractNoJavaCheck.bat.
4.) Connect your device via USB, unlock your screen and wait for “Full backup” to appear. (If you have never used USB Debugging before, you may also need to verify the fingerprint.)
5.) Leave the password field blank and tap on “Back up my data”.
6.) The key will be copied back onto your machine in such a way that WhatsApp Tri-Crypt will work.

I checked the bat file, it seems to be doing what it should and doesn’t look malicious.

So after many tries of both methods, somehow it magically worked!

Overnight my Gmail is flooded with whatsapp backups with label:whatsapp. At least now I know it works!


Why I am so keen on backing up my WhatsApp text? Other than my archiving instinct, it’s also because the WhatsApp images folder is taking up 700+MB on my phone. I suspect that’s the reason why my phone has been so sluggish recently, what with only 400+MB left on storage. The optimum space I realized is about 1+GB. Then the phone will not be so sluggish. Not sure why, maybe that’s the amount of space needed for the swap files to work properly?

Once I backed everything up, I deleted the 700+MB folder and voila! My phone is as smooth as tofu again! Wheeeee!


(Now how I wish there’s an app that automatically backup all my WhatsApp texts. Right now SMS Backup+ only backs up individual conversations. It doesn’t work on group conversations yet. That’s why I am using Backup Text for WhatsApp to export the group conversations into HTML conversations format. It’s a manual process and it’s quite tedious. Maybe this is the opportunity for me to make my own Android app.)

Samsung Note 2 Software Update (Android 4.4.2 Kitkat)

At approximately 2 p.m. (GMT +8) I received a notification from Samsung Push Service telling me that I have a software update.

The whole update package is 445.2 MB. A quick search online seems to indicate that this is the long awaited Android 4.4.2 Kitkat update for my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.


Update (05/08/2014): Turns out the update isn’t that great. It doesn’t really improve anything great on the surface. According to Chee Eng, 4.4.2 is supposed to be more about behind-the-scenes improvements. One thing I totally didn’t expect is the SD card access problem. More importantly, the app that I used to read manga (布卡漫画) lost access to all the downloaded manga which I’ve stored in the SD card. The only way to fix this seems to be rooting the phone. I’m still quite reluctant in doing so, mainly because I have not reached the necessary activation energy to do so yet.

Excel & Unicode (UTF-8)

It would seem that the only way to get Excel to display CSV unicode characters correctly is to use the “Import From Text” feature.

In short,
1. Open a new blank Excel spreadsheet
2. Data -> From Text -> [your CSV]
3. Choose “Delimited”
4. Choose “Unicode UTF-8″ under “Encoding”
5. Next
6. Check that everything seems to be in place
7. Finish


(See some screenshots over here

Malaysian States – Abodes of Awesomeness!

So it dawned on me that I didn’t really know the meaning of all the “Arabic honorifics” given to the different states. I believe at one point we were asked to memorized all of them 13 states honorifics. But I guess either I was sleeping or we were just not taught what those “Darul xxx” really mean. Thank God for Wikipedia.
(curious: why are they called Arabic honorifics? Were they given by the Arabs long ago?)

And my oh my, these names are beautiful!
(I have to “define Abode” to know that it means “a place of residence; a house or home.”. Whoa macam House Stark, House Lannister and House Baratheon, gaya-nya!)

Here’s the awesome list.

  1. Perak Darul Ridzuan Abode of Grace

    • Literally it’ll be Silver Abode of Grace. Whoa suddenly the atas-ness all terserlah berlambak-lambak!
  2. Selangor Darul EhsanAbode of Sincerity

  3. Johor Darul Ta’zimAbode of Dignity

  4. Kedah Darul Aman Abode of Peace

  5. Kelantan Darul NaimThe Blissful Abode

  6. Melaka Darul Azim (Melaka Negeri Bersejarah) – The Historic State

  7. Negeri Sembilan Darul KhususThe Special Abode

  8. Pahang Darul MakmurAbode of Tranquility

  9. Perlis Indera Kayangan (Perlis Darul Sunnah)

    • Indera Kayangan is loosely translated to Heavenly Sensation (with the help of Google Translate). Need help, anyone?
  10. Pulau Pinang (Pulau Mutiara) – Island of Pearls

  11. SabahThe Land below the Wind

  12. SarawakLand of the Hornbills

  13. Wilayah Persekutuan – Federal Territory

    1. Putrajaya

    2. Labuan

    3. Kuala Lumpur 


Like all names I am curious about the story as to why those names were given. Perhaps if those stories are incorporated into our Sejarah syllabus, it might actually have been a little more exciting while we were learning about it. (*≧▽≦)

Oh ya, for the record, thank you for everyone who wished me happiness today! Facebook registered 108 of them, so thank you thank you! I think your wishes came true, I’m happy that I got to know more about the hidden awesomeness of my beloved country. Never too late I guess.




  2. Wikipedia


How I stumble upon the awesomeness of the Malaysian states?

Background: I was watching Gangster Squad and it got me thinking about the whether there are documented stories about Malaysian gangsters? So I went on to google “malaysian gangster” and I chanced upon Botak Chin. I don’t think I’ve heard of him but his story is super interesting. Maybe some day someone will make a film out of it.

So Botak Chin was treated at Tanjung Rambutan Mental Hospital in Perak for 19 days before he stand trial. Perak jumped out on me and it got me thinking about the Ipoh gangsters stories that I’ve heard about while I was growing up. Of course they were called triads or 黑社会(literally Black Society. More commonly known as Secret Society.) The story goes that the Cantonese Triads won the war against the Hakka Triads. That’s why everyone in Ipoh spoke Cantonese and the Hakkas stays at the outskirt of the town. But I don’t think there are any official historical records about this. This might be an interesting dissertation for a history major :p.

One thing led to the other, I was reading the wikipedia page on Perak and lo and behold, right there, “Abode of Grace” – Perak Darul Ridzuan!  So cool right? Silver Abode of Grace.

Hey what about the other “Darul”s, and again one thing led to the other and this list is born. Super random, I know. But that’s how serendipity works! It’s awesome!

Thank you Wikipedia and hyperlink :p

Ah Beng The Movie: Three Wishes – A Consolidation of Feelings about the Future of Malaysian BigScreen Film?


Today I watched the midnight run of Ah Beng The Movie with the No.33-Gang. For some reason I felt a tingling in my heart as the show progress. I looked within, though it was a sad scene when I felt the tingling, it was more. I looked around, the whole cinema, full house, was fully engrossed in the movie. Then as the main actor did a slapstick witty line, everyone laughed.

For a moment there, I felt a tinge of hope. Isn’t that what a movie director & the script writer would hope for? That the masterpiece being played on the big screen is able to captivate the audience’s emotions at every nook and turn; That as the plot progress, the audience chuckled, laughed, kept-quiet (sobbing?) as and when they are supposed to be; That sadness, joyfulness, suspense, anger, happiness on the screen will resonate down to the audience; That the audience is able to empathize with the characters on screen. Isn’t that it’s all about? For a moment there, it is as if I have felt what the people-involved-in-the-film would have felt if they were in TGV movie theatre 3 at around 1:30am on the 25th of January 2012.

As I glanced around the theatre, it’s full house. I believe the same might have happened in the earlier show timings. I see parents who brought their toddlers along. I thought I heard some baby-cries, I might be wrong. But it might just be a common happening during Chinese New Year. I can’t even remember when was the last time I actually watched a movie during Chinese New Year, 半夜场更不用说。But I really cannot recall any other time where a local film production garner a full house during the midnight run. Or at least I have not heard of it being mentioned even if it has happened before.

It is as if people are really returning to the cinema theatre. That “let’s watch a local movie production” deserves a spot on our “to-do list”. Perhaps the “Support Original” campaign is finally working. Perhaps people are getting more affluent. Perhaps it’s just me being the usual out-of-touch self. That the situation wasn’t that bad before this.

Just as the credits rolled, once again I am bedazzled by some unique behaviour. Most of us are still seated and people actually pay attention to the rolling names, pointing out names in which they recognize, commenting on the actors’ performance earlier. That — is truly a rare scene indeed. Why is it so? Let me go into some details :-

If you have watched a movie in Malaysian Cinemas before, you are bound to be appalled by the unfailing kind act of the cinema staff to open the EXIT door at the ending scene of a movie. Well, you might say they are just doing their job, part of their service to give the audience some preparatory time to leave the theatre. But it is so annoying. The ending scene of a movie are usually a resolution scene. We are supposed to immerse ourselves in the scene and sometimes to give some serious thought about the show we have just watched. But the cinema staff have to, have to spoil it all by opening the EXIT door.

Of course, the most important reason to stay on just a little while after the rolling credits is so that we can honour the people who worked so hard behind-the-scenes. Staying back a little while more and carefully look at the names is the very least we could do, as appreciation to them.

Try to recall the last time you actually sat through the entire credit roll. Wait, how about half the credit roll? One-third?  Was it because someone told you that there was a hidden trailer at the end of the credits.


But today, today is a spectacular day indeed. There are quite a number of people stayed back for the credit roll. I had a feeling that they are genuinely touched by the movie and decided to stay on just a little while longer. How do I know? I don’t know, I felt it.

Lastly, sponsors & product placements. This might not be the smoothest product placement film but you can feel that the script-writer tried. Nonetheless, the last time I counted, there were more than 6 sponsors that appeared in the film itself. Why are they doing this? Would you want to have your product appear in a show that doesn’t sell? Of course not. Hence the existence of so many product placement in the film might suggest that companies are starting to notice local movie production. As much as I dislike the notion of a movie industry dependent on a sponsor’s wimp, money seem to be the most efficient fuel to push the industry forward.

From the execution of the movie technicalities, the spectacular audience numbers, the audience’s behaviour during credit roll to the willingness of companies to sponsor a local movie production. All things considered, I think this shows a promising future of the local movie production scene.

But then all these might just have been a simple surge of emotion from a guy who had not touched-the-ground for far too long. At times, he seemed almost out of touch with the happenings in his home country, his home town. So take my words with a pinch of salt. Go and try it out for yourselves. Open your eyes and your ears, you might just catch a glimpse of what it is about to come. We shall see.


Now as for me, it hurts to think that I have to spend more of my time in the next 3 years glancing over the causeway to keep myself up to date with the exciting growing movie industry. Now I’m sure I will be able to still do something….

Final Post for CS3216 v2.0

And so here I am, the second time now. Haha.

So as per tradition, we are supposed to write a blog post about what have we learned from the class.

This is what I wrote the last time around, back in 2010 “What have I learned from Cs3216” and this is what I wrote when I set out on this crazy journey 12 weeks ago “What I hope to learn in CS3216 again

I wanted to be a competent programmer. Did I become one? Er… maybe… maybe not.

Assignment 2 (Mobile Cloud) was quite a good training ground. I did quite a bit of javascript, JQuery mostly. But still I could not catch up with the real elite programmers. So when we decide to go full blast on developing an iOS Native App for the Singapore Heritage: Mobile, I know my days as programmer are numbered. It does not help as my Day Job (8:30am – 6pm) started around the same time. I tell you, you will be surprised how little time you have left for other projects once you start working. And my job is already quite flexible.

Anyway, there is no point ranting on and on about what I did not achieve. It is not that I have no choice. I made the decision and so be it.

But not all things are dark and bleak, the Singapore Heritage: Mobile project was a blast. I think I never had so much fun and sense of accomplishment in any school project before. Everyone in the team is so intrinsically motivated. I have never seen anything like these before. I guess this is what it means to have SYNERGY. When all our beings flow in the same direction. I really have no other explanation other than it’s God’s divine will that brought all of us together. I know I have said it before, but Alan, Zhenling, Kenneth, David, you guys (and girl) are simple 2AWESOME! I hope that you will continue to work with Sharon and me on this exciting project. Kenneth is right when he summed our experience up with the punchline “It was Gr8! And now, it’s simply 2Awesome“. (note: “Gr8” was “Group 8” for our Singapore River Assignment 2 group and “2Awesome” is “Group 2” for our final project group.)

1-2 weeks into the final project, I knew I could not commit the time required to be a “useful” programmer. So I fall back on what I do best, to be the morale-booster, technical and logistical support. Day by day my constant worry is that whether I have contributed enough to the group. I hope I did. For all the technical incompetencies, I supplement it with my enthusiasm and creativity. Alan described me as “wacky”. I think it’s quite apt.

I also got to fulfill my chinese martial art time travel dream. HOHOHO.

joshuatj kungfu fist
joshuatj kungfu fist. Thanks ZhenLing for the braid!


Of course, no project is complete without a nice video to sum it up. For some reason, video production seems to always find its way back into my hands. Here take a look at it, it’s only 30secs. Leave some comments.

One thing that I learned from making this video. Not really learned, more of reinforced. It’s that video editing, the piecing up the clips part, it’s the easiest of the whole process. The hardest part is coming up with the idea, putting it down on paper, refining it till it flows of honey. That, is the hardest part in making a video.

Looks like it is going to be a long while more before I will be a competent programmer. I will not give up though. At the very least I am now holding the title of “IT Officer”, I will have ample opportunity to practice my programming skills. World, you just wait, I’m coming to make a dent in you. Media + Programming, you just see what I can do, you just see….



(One last assignment we had to do is to read all 42 other people’s blog and do a “Mutual Blog Grading Survey”. Prof. Ben likes to outsource his work. So here we are, reading all of our course mates’ blog posts. Fortunately for me, ever since I have gotten my Galaxy S II, I have been keeping up with the blog posts. Not all of them, but I think I did read most of them. One thing I dislike reading blog post on the go is that there’s no one easy way to comment on the blog post that I have read. )