Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Amazon Fire TV low storage fix

Since last week or so, my 1st gen AFTV always pop up a message for low storage. Turned out it was the Amazon launcher cache that took up all the storage.

Here is a dirty and easy fix, root required:

adb connect 192.168.1.101 (change it to your IP)
adb shell
su
cd /data/data/com.amazon.tv.launcher/databases
rm mbcache.db*
touch mbcache.db
touch mbcache.db-shm
touch mbcache.db-wal
chmod 0 mbcache.db*

Now, ls -all and it should look like this:

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tweaks of Philips SHB9850NC Headphones

After trying lots of noise cancelling (NC) headphones, Philips SHB9850NC stands out as the satisfactory pair - comfortable, effective and good sound for less than $200.



However, ever since I put them on, I felt too much bass. I took off the ear cups to see what I can do about that:



The first thing I noticed: the large oval foam rings are off their supposed tracks. I tear carefully them up and put them back on the tracks. This correction should give better seals which is important for noise isolation.



I then removed the two white round tapes to reveal the two small holes. These two holes release resonance and thus reduce booming bass. Now they sound like monitor type headphones without excessive bass. If you want a little more bass after fully opening the holes, then you may try to block partially the holes, or punch a tiny hole through the white round tapes. The larger the hole, the less bass and less efficiency of NC. I used a 1/32" - 3/64" drill bit.


Or insert a tiny piece of foam into the hole to reduce bass but without letting treble out to degrade NC and sound quality:


I like this foam tweak the most - very clean and sweet sound.

Also insert a little bit of foam into the two Mic holes to avoid wind noise while running or riding a bike etc.:


One more tweak you must do is to insert some foam into the ear cups. Not only far more comfortable, better sound stage too!


 
You can have lots of fun with these tiny holes and some foam!

The clapping force is still too much, not comfortable after an hour or two; so I bend the headband like this:


Don't worry, you cannot break it because the headband is made of steal (but grab and bend the top part only, or you may break the two plastic seats that connect the top and lower segments):


Now this Philips is perfect, except just one thing - the stupid touch panel. To let the touch to work is like to win the Lottery.

Some notes on NC headphones

I tried more than 10 pairs of NC headphones and earbuds. The top Audio-Technica (priced at $200) have four microphones like this Philips for effective NC, but the speakers in them are bad sounding. They sound very poor when NC is turned off; Bose is the same. The Sennheiser PXC 550 is the only perfect NC headphones, but they cost $400, insane. For only $82 during this Black Friday, this Philips is currently the only choice if you don't want to pay a leg or arm for a good pair of NC headphones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

买补品之前必读

又快到春节了,不少人又要被各种补品所困扰。这几天稍微研究了一下补品(营养品、保健品),我想对大家都有参考价值。

首先,“补”是补充的意思,而不是中国人说的十全大补的那个意思,英文是“dietary supplements“。所以关于补品的第一点就是真的缺了才需要补,如果不缺,或者补的太多,反而会出问题甚至中毒、致癌的。简单说,这些东西是不能随便吃的。

第二个问题是,你怎么知道这些补品是名副其实、而不是面粉团子甚至有有害成分?在美国,美国食品和医药局(FDA)不管这些补品,谁都可以卖,也就是没有哪个部门来监管,所以这种担忧不是多余的。

事实的确如此。2013年,在美国的16个州至少有72个人因为补品中毒,其中3人必须做肝脏移植,一位妇人死亡。同年12月,一位医生给一个婴儿吃了一种流行的肠道益菌,结果死了,后来查出是因为含有酵母菌。

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/12/107141/?_r=0

在《纽约时报》做了关于补品大量作假的报道之后,纽约州总检察长在2015年2月展开了一个调查。调查了4家名店:GNC(美国最老的补品专卖店),Target(连锁百货店),Wlagreens(连锁药店)和Walmart(沃尔玛)。结果是:要么是根本没有标签上所说的成分,要么是大米粉末和大蒜粉末。检察总长对这些商店提出了指控,相关产品强迫下架。

没有有关部门来监管,这些本来就是挖空心思以赚大钱为唯一目的厂家,怎么可能不做假?它们要是真有必要的专业知识的话,就会去做药了;既然没有必须的专业知识,它们拿什么来确保不会有有害成分?

所以,这些补品是不能吃的!美国都这样乱七八糟的,中国的那些补品就可想而知了,绝对不能吃,无一例外!

实在还是想吃的话,美国现在到是有一家独立的检测机构了:

http://labdoor.com

几乎所有美国市面上有的补品他们都检测。所以你们以后还是想吃什么补品的话,可以自己到这个网站去查一下。当然,就算是经过这样的检查,还是不能保证会有效果或者是无害的。但是至少比以前那样完全盲目地给黑心厂家送钱好多了。

比如我昨天在CostCo买的两瓶东西,本来打算寄给我父母的:

 

labdoor去一查,都和标签上标明的含量不符;尤其是右边的Schiff,比标称含量少了99%,也就是主要成分几乎完全没有。这两瓶一起是30多美金,不便宜啊,30多刀买两瓶普通软糖,也它妈的太黑了吧!这还是美国,中国呢?!

总之,最好不吃,实在要吃,最起码要是经过上面这个网站检查过没有明显问题的。中国买的那些东西,就是号称是进口或代购的,都一律不要吃,因为你完全无法知道那些瓶子里到底装的是啥。

PS:  《消费者报告》(ConsumerReports)9月刊花了14页的大量篇幅全面指导补品的安全性,有兴趣的可以去你的图书馆找来读读。我还没见过这么长的CR文章,可见现在这个问题的严重程度。文中说: 仅仅是2008到2011,美国食品及药品管理局共收到6307起投诉,包括92例死亡,数百危机生命,严重受伤和患病的上千。由于很多都没有记录在案,实际数目要远高于这些。文章最后说: 健康无捷径可走,试试锻炼和食物。比如,如果你觉得自己缺维生素C,那么就吃一个橘子;如果缺维A,吃一个小小的胡萝卜就足够了。

美国人现在都知道中国人好这一口,赶在春节前补品全面减价。以前从来没有这样的全面过,每次顶多降一两样而已:

 

那个你们在里面吃过热狗的仓库式大超市(CostCo),从进门口一直到收银处,目前全都是一瓶又一瓶的补品,没有任何一样其它的东西,存货足足的,磊的高高的,我用手机只能照下这冰山之一角。这也是以前从来没有过的奇景,比如这会是一年中最冷的时候,这地方应该放的是保温杯和取暖器之类的东西:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

HP Proliant ML10 v2 Tower Server

Newegg often put these servers on sale for less than $180, a great value if you need a desktop, either a light weight server or workstation. It is very easy to add or swap hard drives (up to 4), with the front-accessible cartridge:


However, that's pretty much its only virtue in addition to the low price. It takes several minutes to boot up the BIOS; in comparison, a normal desktop takes only few seconds. It is a pain in the ass to load an OS such as Windows Server 2008 R2 (Windows 7 alike), so here I recorded the process before I forget.

A hard drive is included, but it is under a raid that is not configured. You must download the
"HP Smart Storage Administrator" and follow these instructions to configure the raid:

Then, as mentioned in the instructions, you must download the driver of the raid controller (HP Dynamic Smart Array B120i Controller) and uncompress it to a CD/DVD or USB jump drive. After you started Windows installation, soon you'll need it:


The rest is fairly easy, and all the drivers can be downloaded here.

Three tweaks for Windows 2008 R2:

1) By default, Windows will go into recovery mode, i.e., hang there forever if nobody is around, after an abnormal shutdown or reboot (such as a crash or power outage). So be sure to run these two commands before you ship the server to a remote site:

bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled No 
bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures

2) By default, Windows asks you the reason every time you reboot, very annoying. Run gpedit.msc, disable "Dislay Shutdown Event Tracker" under Computer Configuration, Administrative Template, System.

3) If you have to use an unsigned driver, you must use Driver Signature Enforcement Overrider, a neat utility.

Once Windows and all drivers are installed, it is a solid computer, for very little money.

Three tips:

1) Before you install Windows, go into BIOS and set correctly date (and time), or your 180 days trial will expire once you correct the date in Windows.

2) Why Windows Server 2008 R2 other than Windows 7, even if I don't use it as a server?  I heard that these boxes do not like consumer OS such as Windows 7. The two look, feel and work the same, and the server seems even slimmer and smoother with no garbage installed by default.

3) Select Windows Server Standard Full, not Core, unless you know what is Core (no GUI).

Monday, November 21, 2016

A perfect mouse, vertical

Vertical mouse is a great idea, because your arm is not twisted or tortured. Well, the problem is: you cannot find a vertical mouse that is not too large. Such as this Anker, its huge size kills all its potentials.


The good news is, you can perfect it with a saw:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump won

川普赢了,因为:

1)作为竞选策略,他划清和臭名昭著的共和党大佬们(比如小布什)的界限;
2)作为一名成功和精明的商人,他知道人们想要什么,所以他就精准地许诺什么。

往后呢:

1)像小布什之流一样,不会放过任何一个机会来掏空国库,行业垄断更加寡头,物价飞涨。而且他必须和共和党串通一气,否则怎么对付参众两院?

2)他知道人们想要什么,他会满足他们呢,还是利用他们?他的历史还有他的那张脸难道还不清楚吗?

从十六年前小布什选举开始,到欧巴马,再到昨晚,我注意到一个现象: 只要华人挺谁,谁就能当总统。能把华人都给忽悠了,其他人就更不在话下了。总是相信有灵丹妙药的华人,当然也总会盼救星。问题是这两样东西都是没有的,然后等待他们的(将)是一次比一次更深的失望。

昨晚有一件事值得庆幸: 那令人厌恶的老两口没能重回白宫。

记住今天: 八年小布什劫难的又一轮回。是的,又是八年,不管你愿不愿意。

欲令其衰亡,先让它猖狂,川普乃不二人选。

Monday, October 24, 2016

Printers: Epson vs. Canon

Lets take Epson XP-810 and Canon MX870 or MP560 as examples.

Epson is not refill friendly

The Epson uses sponge-less cartridges. I searched hard but could find only one place where sells refillable sponge-free cartridges for Epson and that company is located in FL.

There is no resetter worth of buying. If you're lucky to find one that works, you must reset a cartridge before it reaches empty or the cartridge is game over.

This refill issue alone is a deal breaker. With canon, you can clearly see how much ink is left and refill it easily anytime, empty or not.

Epson is ink eater

Ink goes down fast, really fast! Never had such a feel in the past 10 years with Canon printers.

Last week I replaced all cartridges except the photo black:


After only few test pages:


And after I take out the BK and C cartridges and then put them back:


Once any one of the cartridges runs out, the printer won't do any work for you other than telling you to buy ink. For example, if just yellow runs out while even if you are printing pure black text, you're still screwed. Canon is never this rude.

With Epson, you have to clean all cartridges altogether even if you know exactly which color(s) really need:

 
With Canon, you may clean only black or other colors, in addition to all:


The rear tray of Epson is second to useless

It takes only one piece at a time; so it is only for printing a single photo or envelope:


There is a second tray above the standard cassette, but it is for small photo papers only:


With Canon, I can fill 150 sheets in both the rear tray and the bottom cassette, respectively, and pick up freely between them.

Paper Handling Sucks

If the computer is set to use letter papers (8.5x11) and you print with a filler paper (8x10.5), printing will stop with an error. With Canon, the printing will always go through fine regardless what paper you tell the computer and what paper you actually use, smaller or larger.


Furthermore, auto duplex is limited to letter size at the minimum. If you use smaller papers such as filler paper, it refuses to do auto double-side printing. Although Canon have such a limitation too (on theory), but you can still duplex with filler papers just fine as long as you fake your computer with letter size.

Lacking of a multi-page rear tray, manual duplex printing is not practical, - it is a big hassle to reload papers in a cassette. So forget about duplex, auto or manual, if you need to use papers smaller than letter size such as filler papers sold unbelievably cheaply - 150 pages for 10 cents by Fry's Electronics during each and every back-to-school season.

When loading paper into the cassette, it is face down for single side and auto duplex, but face up for manual duplex. What a lousy engineering.

When printing starts, the output tray slides out automatically. Nice ha? Well, they forgot a button, neither hard nor soft, for sending it back! Man, even a 30 years old CD drive has a button so you don't have to push the tray and suffer from gear roaring.

Epson software is like malware

Once installed, there is no option to uninstall, like Chinese software. It adds some background stuff running on your computer - a monitor service and two scheduled tasks that run hourly (I disabled them all):


Canon software always play nicely.

The Epson is far more compact and neat though, while Canon are all bulky and ugly. The quality of scanned images is superb - extremely sharp with accurate colors while Canon's is quite poor and never get colors right. These are the only two things attractive and pretty much all other aspects are disgusting.