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.

 

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)

Windows + Left/Right to Dock Windows on Dual Monitors (Win7)

For the longest time I am quite frustrated with the fact that I can’t mouse dock my windows in the inner side of a monitor in a dual monitor setup. Somehow googling it for answer didn’t occur until today. So I found out that you can actually Windows + Left/Right arrow to dock them.

docking window inner side windows + left/right

Woohoo~ Now if only mouse dock works as well.

Now Windows + Shift + Left/Right shifts your windows to the other screen while preserving the window size. Win7 is quite polished.

Cinch on Mac OS X does mouse docking really well.

I can’t make a call using a phone! Samsung Galaxy S2 UX Failed!

Finally I’ve gotten myself a touchscreen phone. If it wasn’t for Jollideal I would still be using my loyal Nokia E71.

2 days into the phone, I still think a hardware QWERTY keyboard beats touchscreen typing hands down. But I am willing to give it a try. 1-2 months and see if I am able to overcome the obvious limitations of virtual keyboard.

 

But this post is not about typing. It’s about “Making Calls“. At least I thought what I got is a phone. No doubt it’s a “smart“phone, but it’s still a “phone” right? I’m supposed to be able to make calls using a keypad/dialpad right? You know the ones we used to have in phones? This one:

Keypad / Dialpad

 

Wrong! 

Ok I have to admit that it’s not entirely true that calls can’t be made. If you sync all your contacts from your previous phone or from google or from somewhere in the cloud, you should have no problem calling anyone. That is because all the contacts should already be in your “Contacts”.

But what if what you have is just a number, say 91737779? And you urgently want to call the person without adding him into your “Contacts” yet? Or it happen to be an acquaintance’s number that you don’t want to include it in your “Contacts”? Or maybe you saw an accident and you want to call “999“?

Ok, these might be special circumstances but I’m sure there are a lot more use cases for a keypad/dialpad?

But where is the keypad/dialpad in Samsung Galaxy S II?

 

Yesterday I passed the phone around in a table of 5 people, 3 people looked at it, fiddle with it, try out different combinations. But no, we can’t figure how to activate the keypad/dialpad! Mind you, those 5 people are heavy weight geeks, much heavier than me. But nope, Samsung decides to design their UI such that no geeks will know how to activate the keypad/dialpad. (Please leave a comment if you intuitively found out about how to activate the Keypad)

So I went to sleep yesterday thinking that perhaps Samsung decided to ditch the keypad. Perhaps they have gather enough user data about the keypad being useless. Oh well…..

 

sienz face
SIENZzzzz

Well, turns out i’m wrong. There is indeed a dialpad/keypad on Samsung Galaxy S II! But it’s UX design completely baffles me! If it’s just me, maybe it’s my problem, but 3 other people tried it and failed. Perhaps Samsung needs to rethink their UX design!

So how did I found out about it? All thanks to the mighty Googlem and surprise surprise Yahoo Answers! It’s also quite comforting to know that I’m not alone.

This is the said articleSamsung galaxy S2-how to make phone calls?

So for the benefit of all Samsung Galaxy S2 users out there, this is how you bring up the keypad.

  1. Select the Green Phone Icon (Contacts) – It should lead you to the screen where you see logs, contacts, favourites, etc.
  2. Place your finger on the “Logs” tab and swipe it towards the right.
  3. Voila! The keypad icon magically appear!!
Ok, here are some screenshots (BTW, thanks to this post, I’ve also learned how to screen capture by doing the Home+Power combo)
SGSII Contacts
Notice the small little glow at the top left corner? That is supposed to signify something is here – swipe me!
SGSII Contacts (with Keypad)
Hooray! The Keypad button is revealed!
SGSII Keypad
Hooray now I can call 999 without saving it as a Contact!

Google Multiple Calendar Sync with Nokia E71 (S60v3)

For the longest time I was using nuevasync to synchronize the many shared calendars I have on Google Calendar with my Nokia E71 built-in calendar. That is until nuevasync decides to go commercial. So since then I was unable to synchronize my phone’s calendar with my online calendar.

Then just as I am about to give up on Nokia and its incompatibility and lack of useful apps, I chance upon a forum post who suggest that Ovi is able to do multiple calendar sync!

So this was what I did

  1. Setup Ovi Sync (using SyncML and not the clunky Mail for Exchange)
    (The steps include receiving a SMS that will automatically setup the Sync Profile, quite seamless.)
  2. Import my private Google Calendar iCal address into Ovi Calendar.
  3. Sync using the “Sync” app under “Tools -> Sync” in my phone
  4. Voila! Finally I’m whole again!

All these would have been easier if I have an Android phone. I prefer HTC with QWERTY keyboard. So far only HTC Desire Z has that. >.<|| Come on HTC, launch a new QWERTY model already!

Posting as yourself on the Facebook Page which you’re the Admin

So here’s a simple solution to post as yourself on the Facebook Page in which you’re the admin.

  1. Edit Page (top right corner)
  2. Your Settings
  3. uncheck Posting Preferences checkbox that says
    “Always comment and post on your page as [thePAGE] even when using Facebook as [yourname]”
  4. Save Changes

Facebook Pages is really an awesome piece of software and it’s free! The insights tool is really good.

It’s also quite cool to surf Facebook as [thePAGE] too. Apparently other pages that you “like” will appear as “favourites” at the left of your page. Quite cool. Just remember to switch it back to “yourself” after that, if not your friends will be puzzled as to why [thePAGE] is commenting on their statuses.

Check out the page in which I’m the admin http://www.facebook.com/ameenmakanhouse

A Quest for Guitar Tuner Software (S60v3)

Apparently I was asked to be the guitarist and worship leader for the upcoming Cambodia Mission Trip. As it is quite inconvenient to bring our guitar there, we’re going to use the guitar that’s provided by our counterpart in Cambodia. As I have no idea how would the guitar look like and I don’t trust my relative pitch ear in tuning the guitar, the initial plan is to buy a guitar tuner (clip-on). But then i realize “Hey I have a E71 and I’m sure there are some apps out there that could solve my problem!”

So my first stop was Nokia’s Ovi Store, a simple keyword search of “guitar tuner” returns a few apps with price ranging from 1.99SGD to 7.99SGD.  I was about to purchase the app but then I realize that “Hey why don’t I google around first, I might just find a few free apps lying around”. Google around, I did.

My first attempt was “Smart Guitar Tuner”. It is really a guitar tuner app, when you pluck a particular string, it will indicate the pitch of the string. Sadly, it is so insensitive that 9 out of 10 times it failed to recognize the correct pitch. It doesn’t help when our friend Mr. Bike Tan started flexing a super-imba guitar tuner app on his newly purchase HTC Desire Z. The app is so imba that you can actually enable FFT Rounding, Tampering Function, Apply Harmonic Product Spectrum, Adjust Tempreraments, yada yada.. Not that those functions are useful for a guitarist but it just show how cool and powerful the app is! Most important of all, the app is actually more accurate in pitch-catching than his clip-on guitar tuner!

So I went on another round of googling around. I took a slightly different approach, I started off with “free symbian apps”, hoping to find some kind of free software repository websites. Lo and behold, I found “Bits For Free“! At this point I sort of gave up on those pitch-sensing app, instead I was looking for apps that can actually generate the correct tone so that I can tune by ear. Under S60 3rd Ed. Apps, I found two apps which is exactly what I wanted and more. Both of them uses Java but hey it works, who cares?

The first app is “Guitar Tuner Mobile“. It has a very simple interface with 6 strings “EAdgbe”, pressing each one of them plays the respective tone for you to tune by ear. It also has a sound spectral analysis function but I don’t think I’ll be using it much.

The second app is the more imba one “The Musicians’ Swiss Knife“. On top of a tone generator, it has a metronome and a manual beats per minute counter! One tool for all my guitar and drumming needs! The tone generator has 45 different instruments and is able to generate 48 notes!

I really have to thank the people @ “Bits For Free“. Thanks for making my Nokia E71 experience a little bit richer before I switch over to HTC Desire Z (hopefully in a few weeks time).