12 Things I Wish I Knew before a Day Trip to Torino from Bologna 

After hearing so much about the Cinema Museum in Torino (Turin), and missing the FIAF complimentary trip because of the Summer School classes, we’ve decided to take the plunge and make a day trip to Turin. It was a 3.5 hrs to and 3.5 hrs fro trip, total 7 hours on trenitalia. We were told that we were half-way to Switzerland at some point.

Here are some things (Life skills? Life experiences?)  that I wished I knew before the trip, not all are new revelations, some are reminders and refresher. Just gotta jot it down while it’s still fresh on my mind. 

  1. When you travel in a group, try to get seats that are in the same carriage. Six seats per carriage. 
  2. Go early and chope seats if you were not assigned seats in the same carriage. Although technically you are assigned seats when you buy them. It would seem people just do not honor them. Going early is still the best way. 
  3. There are power outlets near the window seats. Bring your power adapter and charge your phone.  It is the Italian 3 horizontal holes type of outlet, but the European two-pin plug should work just fine. 
  4. 5 hours in the Cinema Museum is not enough if you want to listen and go through every single track in the Multimedia audio guide. 
  5. Espresso double shot is called Doppio.
  6. The time spent on sit down meals are proportional to the number of people in the group. I would suggest grab-n-go if time is of an essence. It depends on the goal of the trip. For me it’s really just about the Cinema Museum. 
  7. Get everyone’s contact number as soon as the trip is confirmed. Roaming and data plan is crucial. We wouldn’t want to leave people behind and with no means of communication. 
  8. Italian air-con doesn’t really work during the summer. I was still sweating a lot while indoors. On the flip side it’s good for the environment. 
  9. Bring clothes to change. I stinked after continuous sweating for 12 hrs. It should have been obvious since it’s around 30°C to 35°C for the past few days. And surely I have to walk outdoors from building to building. Wasn’t my smartest moment for sure.  
  10. Bagpack straps can stink if it’s continuously soaked in sweat. Not sure how to fix this problem. In terms of weight distribution, surely bag pack is a better tool than a messenger bag or tote bags. Maybe a small bottle of febreeze?
  11. Smartphone cameras are really quite adequate. I brought a mirrorless with me, but it was too much hassle to bring it out. The thought of having to import them and edit them was the biggest hindrance. 

Here’s a photo of Via Roma. I think this is the road in All roads lead to Rome. 

Hello World! (for real) #01

Hello world!

I’m reviving the original purpose of this blog – to document my learning journey. It has seen two CS3216 journeys and after a five years lull, it’s back to document my journey during FIAF Film Restoration Summer School 2016 at Bologna, Italy (23 June to 15 July). This opportunity is also part of my work at the Asian Film Archive (AFA) . If you’re wondering what AFA is all about, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This will also be the first time I’m mobile blogging. Please bear with me. It’ll be a test of how robust the WordPress Android app is.

See you in Bologna.

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Bluetooth keeps turning on, won’t stay turned off after update to Marshmallow [OnePlus 2]

Finally, Android Marshmallow update for OnePlus 2. Immediately my phone is buttery smooth again.

Problem

Everything was fine but Bluetooth just keeps turning on, won’t stay off. Tried several other potential fixes like clearing Bluetooth Share cache and Network Settings. But problem still persist.

bluetooth

Solution

Thanks to a post on StackExchange, turns out it’s due to an errant app “Firechat”. Uninstalling it seems to fix the Bluetooth issue.

If you’re facing the same problem, try this first.

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

Background
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.

Conclusion
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: https://docs.google.com/uc?export=download&id=0B6El0Tw0em-ZZ3EwMXhUbGc0a3M on your PC.
* 2.) Download Tri-CryptNonRootFix.zip.
* 3.) Extract Tri-CryptNonRootFix.zip 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 https://github.com/AbinashBishoyi/WhatsApp-Key-DB-Extractor/archive/master.zip and follow the following steps:
 1.) Extract “master.zip” 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 http://support.mobileapptracking.com/entries/27347804-How-To-Import-a-Unicode-CSV-to-Excel)

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.

 

_____________________________

Source:

  1. http://www.appropedia.org/Malaysia
  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