Tuesday, December 15, 2015

TV watching the right way

This article is about how to watch TV on a large TV. You should watch the following video for what you can get.

Fire TV or Fire TV Stick

You need one of these. It connects your TV to your home network and the Internet. The Stick is the cheap version for much less money, $40 vs. $100; it does not have a LAN port (WiFi only); and its CPU is slower. A remote is included.

After you connect it to your TV, powered on and connected to your network (WiFi or LAN), you'll be prompted to register. You may use your exist Amazon account, or create a new account on your computer. You may use a fake email address and don't need a credit card, if you are not going to download any apps from Amazon. You can change this account anytime, so no need to consider too much about what account to use.

After the initial registration and a short welcome video, you are in:

If you're going to use it as it is, i.e. what Amazon offers, you may stop now. If you want what you see in above Youtube, then continue.

Side load

First thing first, you must install at least one app. If you know how to use adb, then life is easy; otherwise follow this guide on how to side load apps to Fire TV.

Now side load the FireStarter. From now on, you simply press the home button on your remote to access all the apps you are going to install. Like this:

Chinese TV

In order to watch Chinese TV and soaps, you need to side load Shafa Market. Then you can have pretty much everything you need, as showing in above Youtube. To get you started, I recommend TV Plus 2.0 for watching TV stations like CCTV and etc. Later you can add more - whatever you like, such as UC Browser for TV.

For Chinese input, install Sougo Input for TV and watch above YouTube for how to enable/disable it anytime. 


Kodi is extremely powerful. Find it here and then side load it. You add contents by adding addons. To get you started, just click on VIDEOS and Add-ons, then Get more... You'll see a long list of available addons. Click on any one interesting to you and install, this content will be listed in Add-ons for you to watch.

More apps

Of course you may side load virtually any Android apps. But keep in mind that most apps are not remote friendly, because they are not made for Android TV but for phones and tablets that have a touchscreen. To get you started, give Mobdro a try. It is quite remote friendly and you'll be amazed, I guarantee.

Why not other such products?

It is not a restricted device - it is open Android. As you have seen above, you can do virtually anything you like. It is very good quality and extremely stable. It is cheap, often on sale for $75 or $20. No any fee, totally free, vast contents.

As always, I try to make the article focus on essential points without covering all the details; so please ask if any question.

Related articles:

How to watch local TV

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dell Venue 7140 WiFi workaround

This tablet's WiFi needs a reset every now and then, I use a simple batch file to do it:

devcon disable "PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_095A&SUBSYS_55108086&REV_3B"
devcon enable "PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_095A&SUBSYS_55108086&REV_3B"

You need to create a batch file, say, rstwf.bat, in a folder and copy and paste above two lines into it. You also need to find the devcon.exe file on the net and put it into the same folder. To use it, open a Command Prompt as administrator and type rstwf.bat, enter.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Moto E battery

The following is a recording of my Moto E in three days, from fully charged down to 8%. It is mostly on WiFi and, sometimes, on LTE. It is used normally with three GMail accounts pushing, Google Voice for SMS pushing, Sipdroid receiving calls and Wechat pushing. I use the phone to browse the web with Dolphin about couple hours in a day.

This is one of the reasons I call it "King of phones"!

Enable GSM on Verizon Moto E 5.1

All credits go to this XDA thread.

Follow exactly the following steps as showing in above video:
  • Connect your Moto E on WiFi and open a web browser.
  • Click on this link to install the Network app.
  • Insert a GSM SIM card.
  • Open Settings, More under Wireless & networks, Cellular networks and now you're in the "Cellular network settings" page. Don't touch the back button; instead, touch the home button so later you can easily return to this page.
  • Turn on Airplane mode.
  • Open the Network app, switch to LTE/GSM auto (PRL), then touch on "TURN ON RADIO" - just once and ignore what happens afterward.
  • Return to the early "Cellular network settings" page by touching the square button at the right side. Touch "Preferred network type" and you have the 4G/3G/2G options that you've been dreaming for.
  • Turn off Airplane mode and you're in. You don't need to redo it after a reboot or power cycle, but you do after a SIM swap. Thank jet360 on mitbbs.
Alternative methods

1. adb method

This method is the best if you have a PC around. Like above method, you don't need to redo it after a reboot or power cycle.
  • Install the USB drivers for Moto E.
  • Enable adb USB on Moto E.
  • Download a root package that has adb included, such as this one. Unzip it into a folder, say, c:\adb.
  • Connect your phone to the PC, run the following commands from c:\adb:
adb shell "pm clear com.android.providers.telephony"
adb shell "settings put global preferred_network_mode 9"
adb shell "settings put global preferred_network_mode1 9"
adb shell "settings put global preferred_network_mode2 9"

Obviously, you can make a DOS batch file to run these commands.

2.  No PC required

This method is handy when you need to swap to a GSM SIM card while no PC available, but you need to redo it after a reboot or SIM swap.
  • Install the Network app and open it after a GSM SIM inserted.
  • Under "Set preferred network type", select the third from the bottom, i.e.:
  •  Then select immediately the second from the bottom, i.e.:

[update] If the phone still cannot pick up a GSM service after the 4G option checked: open the Network app, enter the menu at the top right corner and select radio band to "USA Band". Thank Supergo.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Philips SHE3010 Earbuds

I simply cannot live with in-ear headphones and thus I've always been looking for a pair of good sounding traditional earbuds. I saw these Philips SHE3010 in a Ross store for just $4.99 and they have got some good reviews on Amazon, so I gave them a try.


They sound good! As good as the YUIN PK3, if not better, for much less money.


They sound even better after I put foam on them:


Then the "L" and "R" letters are covered by the foam, but I still can distinguish them by reading the "PHILIPS" from left to right:


Finally, there are some earbuds, in addition to the YUIN PK3, that sound good enough! Before, Koss KSC/35/75 are the only light-weight headphones that I could live with. These SHE3010 come with many different colors.


Impedance: 16 ohm
Sensitivity: 107 dB
Speaker diameter: 14.8 mm
Freq. response: 9-22000 Hz
Max power input: 25 mW
Magnets: neodymium
Cable length: 1.2 m
Connector: 3.5 mm right angle

[update] I have been listening to these tiny buds for two weeks and they sound huge! The PK3 sounds good - the first pair of earbuds that I can live with, but too dark compared to these Philips. They are the best sounding and comfortable earbuds ever for the least money.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Install apps the right way

Google Play Store is convenient to find and install apps on your phone, but it is a horrible thing and I never enable it on any of my phones, never.

Here is how I find and install apps on my phones:

In a browser, open this link to find your app:


For example, you can search for "Notification Auto Clear" and get it at this URL:


Copy the link (URL), open the following link and paste. Then click on "Generate Download Link":


Then click on "generate download link" again, then click on "Proceed to Notification Auto Clear 1.0 (or the app name) apk Download Page". Wait for a few seconds (depending on the size of the app), your browser will pop up the download dialog:

Now your phone will start to download the apk file, once finished, simply click/open it to install the app.

If you did above steps on a computer, then you need to transfer the downloaded apk file to your phone, obviously. Then use a file browser to open/install the apk file. If your phone does not have any file browser yet, then you need to do above steps on your phone for a file browser such as ES File Explorer.

It is not so convenient but well worth it and once you are familiar with the process, it is quite easy.

[update] Another two very easy ways - just open the following URL's on your phone:


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fix Acer Nettoop PC

Several years ago I bought two Acer AspireRevo nettop PC, AR1600 and AR3610, because they are convenient and cheap, ideal for HTPC (NVIDIA ION graphics) and server (small and quiet). The AR1600 started to crash during or after boot about a year ago, later the AR3610 followed exactly the same behavior.

I was going to throw them into the recycle bin; so I opened them up (only one screw) to destroy the hard drives:

Then I noticed a screw on the heat sink looked loose. I removed the fan, turned ou all the 4 screws were loose:

I tighten up these screws and both boxes came back into life again. When they were loose, the heat sink could not have good contact with the CPU and GPU. Then the CPU and GPU overheat soon after powered on.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tweaking photo prints

It started when I was trying to print a photo to a glossy photo paper with a Canon MP600 printer, the output looked horrible. Recently I looked into this issue.

This is a sample photo I took with my a5100 camera and developed in Lightroom:

After many tries with different settings, I got good enough prints like this:


ICM Printing

The easiest way to print a photo in Windows is to right click on the photo(s) and select print. This type of printing is based on ICM (Windows Image Color Management, or ColorSync on Mac) and the following settings are required to achieve the correct colors.

First, the paper type must match, in this case I use HP glossy photo paper so I select "Photo Paper Plus Glossy":

Then the key is to select ICM as color correction as showing above; so the printer driver will use inks in the way that's best for the selected type of paper.

That's it, quite simple, but be warned: you may not always get the right colors. ICM is pretty much a mess, never consistent and you have no control of it.

An important note: If your image file has an embedded ICC profile (so called a tagged image), this Windows' built-in photo printing utility always ignores that and won't use it for printing. What you see in the utility's preview pan is what you get in your prints.


Color Managed Printing

If you use a so called "color managed" application such as Lightroom and Photoshop etc., then you must not use any printer driver's color correction but let the application use an ICC profile for color handling. In this case, "Canon MP600 SP2" is the profile for glossy papers:

Afterward, you still need to do the same settimgs as in above ICM method except this time select "None" instead of "ICM". Then you are good to go. ICC profile naming and paper type:

 SP = Glossy, MP = Matte, PR = Pro

The # suffix means the highest quality available (the less, the higher). For example, SP2 means no quality 1 (as seen grayed out in the illustration above).

Although Lightroom still let you use your printer driver to manage color instead of using an ICC profile:

but no matter what I select in the printer settings, Driver Match, ICM, None, or whatever, I always get something like this:

Now what about plain (non-photo) paper? 

This is the result when plain paper is used and selected as the media type:

Not too bad but not so correct neither with an obvious blue tint. After trying many different paper types and other settings, the best result comes from selecting "matte" as the media type for a plain paper:

Looks fantastic for a plain paper, doesn't it?

If you use a different printer and/or paper, your results may look different, but this article should lead you to the right direction. I have done lots of tests but I cannot write them all here - I always try to focus on the key parts, so please ask should you have a question.

To summerize:

  • Use either ICM or ICC, never use both.
  • If ICC is available, better use it, especially for photo papers. But YMMV, then try ICM.
  • When use ICC, use the correct profile for the media type.
  • For plain paper, the best color might be from selecting another media type.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Moen kitchen faucet leak

The 7560 faucet is very convenient and durable - 13 years of trouble free service. Eventually the spout started to leak water, down to the cab below the sink. The leak is even more in spray mode.

I bought an universal replacement from Homedepot for $22 and it works and the leak stopped immediately.

However, it is a little smaller to fit well into the seat; so I take out a plastic cup from the old spout and mount it onto the new one. Now everything is perfect.

I noticed that the spray mode is very gentle, nothing like the old spray which is VERY strong. If you are the original owner of the faucet, Moen will send you a replacement for free. The model # for the wand is 136829.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Current cameras

[In Chinese]

真快,一年过去了,又多了一批添了或者将要添娃的朋友,又临近Black Friday和Holidays,买相机的最佳时刻。


a5100 w/ Sony 35/1.8 OSS
这其实是好事,a6000和a5100真的各方面相当完善了,而价格,包括镜头,是越来越好。secondipity经常有两个套头(16-50和55-210)一起的套机才400刀。不太缺钱的,添一个SEL35F18,拍娃、花草、菜肴和扫街什么的、录像都够了,一头走天下,BestBuy经常有$310左右的deal。不愿意花那么多钱的,就填一个Sigma 30mm F2.8 for Sony E-Mount才$150,画质是实实在在1000刀的档次,实用性和SEL35F18无异(除了录像,因为没有防抖);或者SEL50F18,非常适合人像的拍摄和录像,BestBuy经常是不到$200。

a6000 w/ Sigma 30/2.8 mounted and Sony 50/1.8 OSS beside



需要更多的镜头选择的话,就得考虑M43了(Micro Four Thirds),首选是松下的G7,其
次是噢林帕斯的E-M10 II。

E-M10 II样样都好,但是所有的噢林帕斯都有两个弱项:连续对焦和录像。因为采用的
E-M10 II的录像跟以前相比,有了长足的进步 - 5轴防抖和1080P60,但是画质和自动




去年这时候,松下还没有一个比较理想的镜头。20mm f/1.7的神饼画质没说的,对焦不
尽人意,尤其是录像时。25mm f1.4太贵了,没有防抖也不好录像。现在有两个有些意
思的不太贵的大光圈头了:42.5 1.7和25 1.7。不过还是不够理想,前者比标准焦距长
出不少(85mm vs 50mm),室内不好施展(拍录单个人头像还行);后者是标准焦距,
大光圈照人像时略显不够。需要变焦又不差钱的,可以考虑12-35mm和35-100mm f2.8,


今年不同了,至少有两个新索尼全幅可以考虑:RX1R IIA7R II。两者相对而言,前


Kodakchrome的色彩(Classic Chrome)。


据说可以实用,这里Metal有大量X-T10 + 56/1.2的抓拍例子。


莱卡Q怎么样?莱卡终于有了个普通消费者能用的全幅相机 - AF(自动对焦)、EVF(
电子取景器)、光学防抖和1080p60录像,但是索尼RX1R II这一出来,立马又相形见绌
了些 - 无论是性能、功能还是价格和便携上。不过买LV和阿马仕的朋友们是不管这些




几乎所有上面提到的相机,可以去亲手摸摸。BB的店子里经常有非常低价的open box,





C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets\User



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Penclic mouse, what's the point?

It is just a small ordinary mouse with a dumb bar hanging on the top.

It is even not ergonomic (its advertized selling point), because the scrolling wheel is not on the pen but still on the mouse like a normal mouse. So your finger must fly between the wheel and the buttons, all the time. Further more, the buttons are located too low, you still have to twist your arm, like working with a traditional mouse, to reach these buttons.

Why not just make a real pen without the mouse base?  Obviously, there are plenty of space to seat the optical sensor, the wheel and the battery, all within a single pen body. At least, move the wheel onto the pen body and move the buttons higher, then it would be truly an ergonomic and revolutionary mouse/pen.

My workaround:

Modify the back and forward buttons to be scroll down and up. Then I no longer need to touch that stupidly located wheel. A very simple AHK script can do it:



Now I can conveniently use my thumb to scroll up and down, but it is still an awkward device. Swapping left and right buttons might make it more comfortable, but I'm done with it and it is going back to the store.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Three essential tweaks for FireFox

The following tweaks work for all Mozilla based browsers such as FireFox, Light, WaterFox, Pale Moon and etc.

RememberPass add-on

This add-on forces FireFox to remember passwords for sites that do not want you to.

Toggle animated GIFs

Not only very annoying and distracting, animated images also consume computer resources (i.e. slow down), run them hot and drain your laptop's battery. With this add-on, you can make them quiet by default and, when you do want to see the action, click on them to play.

For Flash, you can, and you should, make the plugin to always "Ask to Activate":


There are two more annoying things to block: scrolling (marquee) and blinking text. Find the profile directory (e.g., Palemoon\User\Palemoon\Profiles\Default) and create a new folder "chrome". Within this new folder, create a new file "UserContent.css" and copy and paste these two lines into it:

marquee { -moz-binding: none; }
blink { text-decoration: none ! important; }

Then restart your browser. Don't worry, you can still see the text in full, just not scrolling nor blinking, nice, ha.

All above methods has no side effects like ad and flash block add-on while making your browsing experience entirely calm.

Watch this video for before and after: