Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

And it's from the space!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Farewell to Kindle DX

I have meant to sell my Kindle DX for a while but was prevented from doing so by various forces in life. I was slightly affected by the news that Amazon quietly removed the Kindle DX from its inventory but we saw it coming all along did not we?

Let's face it, the Kindle DX was a flop. It was meant to take over the textbook and newspaper market, however the technology was simply not there. It was priced way too high ($489) when it was released and have always had an aggregation of minor issues. By the time most of these annoyances were fixed with the graphite edition, it was too late to capture the hearts of readers and publishers as well, especially the latter who saw the iPad as a better platform to deliver their increasing multimedia content. Amazon itself did not help by giving the DX as little support as they could, and it never saw a truly global release.

I have always held a low opinion of the iPad , at least the first two iterations, however the new iPad really won a change of heart in me. The screen has a whooping 261dpi and full RGB colour gamut, which is better than 90% of the laptops you can buy. It is great for reading everything from books, journal articles, textbooks and of course manga. Once you have seen it with your own eyes you will be convinced - or else get your eyesight checked by a professional.

The main problem is with the less than ideal automatic brightness detection - you need to manually tweak it as lighting changes to minimise eye fatigue. The other project relates to the lack of proper font management in many apps - Greek letters and other symbols tend to disappear from random places, while it is not too bad for biology I assume this is going to be an issue for mathematicians and physicists.

 Note the incomplete differential equation, all the greek letters are gone

Anyway thanks to Amazon for trying, thanks to Apple for making something that's just better and thanks to Yifan Lu for developing the firmware hacks that made me keep it for much longer. Maybe one day we will see a comeback but for now, adieus.

Also, the new iPad still has too much glare to be viewed under direct sunlight - with the high dpi screen matte screen protector is not the solution, might as well cover one's head in sand.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fading Out

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gustave Le Bon is my hero

Recent developments in geopolitics has directed me to read Gustave Le Bon's opus magnum The Crowd again. I have always meant to read it since I am generally in agreement with the author and thought there was no need to reinforce your own opinion; now I fully and truly regret not reading more earlier. Especially for the following passage:

"The whole of the common characteristics with which heredity endows the individuals of a race constitute the genius of the race. When, however, a certain number of these individuals are gathered together in a crowd for purposes of action, observation proves that, from the mere fact of their being assembled, there result certain new psychological characteristics, which are added to the racial characteristics and differ from them at times to a very considerable degree...

...the great upheavals which precede changes of civilisations such as the fall of the Roman Empire and the foundation of the Arabian Empire, seem at first sight determined more especially by political transformations, foreign invasion, or the overthrow of dynasties. But a more attentive study of these events shows that behind their apparent causes the real cause is generally seen to be a profound modification in the ideas of the peoples. The true historical upheavals are not those which astonish us by their grandeur and violence. The only important changes whence the renewal of civilisations results, affect ideas, conceptions, and beliefs. The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought. The reason these great events are so rare is that there is nothing so stable in a race as the inherited groundwork of its thoughts...

...a crowd is always ready to revolt against a feeble, and to bow down servilely before a strong authority. Should the strength of an authority be intermittent, the crowd, always obedient to its extreme sentiments, passes alternately from anarchy to servitude, and from servitude to anarchy.

However, to believe in the predominance among crowds of revolutionary instincts would be to entirely misconstrue their psychology. It is merely their tendency to violence that deceives us on this point. Their rebellious and destructive outbursts are always very transitory. Crowds are too much governed by unconscious considerations, and too much subject in consequence to secular hereditary influences not to be extremely conservative. Abandoned to themselves, they soon weary of disorder, and instinctively turn to servitude. It was the proudest and most untractable of the Jacobins who acclaimed Bonaparte with greatest energy when he suppressed all liberty and made his hand of iron severely felt.

It is difficult to understand history, and popular revolutions in particular, if one does not take sufficiently into account the profoundly conservative instincts of crowds. They may be desirous, it is true, of changing the names of their institutions, and to obtain these changes they accomplish at times even violent revolutions, but the essence of these institutions is too much the expression of the hereditary needs of the race for them not invariably to abide by it. Their incessant mobility only exerts its influence on quite superficial matters. In fact they possess conservative instincts as indestructible as those of all primitive beings. Their fetish- like respect for all traditions is absolute; their unconscious horror of all novelty capable of changing the essential conditions of their existence is very deeply rooted. Had democracies possessed the power they wield to-day at the time of the invention of mechanical looms or of the introduction of steam-power and of railways, the realisation of these inventions would have been impossible, or would have been achieved at the cost of revolutions and repeated massacres. It is fortunate for the progress of civilisation that the power of crowds only began to exist when the great discoveries of science and industry had already been effected."

I don't really care if Shakespeare was to be removed from curriculum,but Le Bon should be taught in every school if we are to avoid breeding another generation of goons.

P.S. To clarify my views on the issues mentioned at the beginning:

1. Not withstanding the shaky principle of "ad coelum et ad inferos", one simply cannot own water. One might be able to claim ownership of a creek, pond or billabong, but how could anybody justify ownership (i.e. exclusive right of use and sale) a span of water itself that theoretically you cannot even make two crossings?

2. The film was made and uploaded to YouTube back in April this year and it sort of just stayed there without much incident (I tried to watch but had to give up two minutes into it because it was so bad, if it did really cost millions I'd report money laundering). Fast forward to a week before Sep.11, everybody was talking about it. If this does not seem fishy, the Danish cartoons that caused quote a bit of stir were published on Sep.30, 2005, there were some exchanges of criticism however the riots did not take off until February 2006 after two Danish imams personally disseminated information (a mixed bag of truth and blatant lies) abroad. Coincidence much? I doubt that.

3.People will have to embrace nuclear power once fossil fuel runs out (which will eventually). Those short-sighted who disinvest themselves now will suffer by then. At least the additional import of coal and gas to generate power will fix their current account balance for the moment.

4. Translated:           
(You idiot, that balaclava is totally uesless for daylight robbery.)
(What should I wear then)

The rest is self-explanatory  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to: Unlock your iPhone with SAM

THIS METHOD NO LONGER WORKS AS OF  Apr.28, 2012; activation records will remain valid for three years from the day of activation.


I thought the IMSI unlock saga is done and dusted but apparently there are more to it. All credit goes to Loktar_Sun from who pursued an earlier lead that many, yours truly included, have gave up as a viable exploit.

What do you need: A jailbroken iPhone that can be activated in iTunes (that is, not officially blacklisted), a computer with the latest iTunes installed and working internet connection.  You will also need to know the carrier that your iPhone is locked to.

1. Step one: Install Sam Bingner's SAM (Subscriber Artificial Module) package. I recommend that you get it from since older versions have a different interface and may not work for this purpose.

2. Enter SAM by either going through the settings menu or find the SAMPrefs icon on your springboard. You will need to have the SIM card you intend to use in your phone.

3. Go to utilities and select "De-Activate iPhone", your ActivationState under "More Information" should now be "Unactivated"

4. With SAM enabled, choose "By Country and Carrier" in "Method"; find your carrier, for some carriers operating more than one Carrier ID you may need to select "SIM ID"; easy to tell since iTunes will not activate if the wrong IMSI is selected.

5. Go to More Information", copy or write down the IMSI in "SAM Details", then tap "Spoof Real SIM to SAM".

6. Go back to the main SAM screen and change your "Method" to manual. Paste or enter the IMSI string we saved in Step 5. 

7. Connect your iPhone to your computer and allow iTunes to do its job (namely re-activating your phone), double click "Phone Number" parameter at the main device screen and make sure that the ICCID matches that of your SIM card. If not you need to start over from Step 1.

8. Unplug your phone, close iTunes.

9. Disable SAM. The source article says to uninstall SAM and delete your lockdownd folders; it's unnecessary.

10. Connect your phone to iTunes again, you should get an error saying that your phone cannot be activated. This is normal. Just close iTunes and open it again.

11. You should see signal bars in a short time, congratulations.

12. Push notifications may stop working after this procedure but can be easily restored with "clear push" utility in SAM followed by connecting to iTunes.

Your phone will work normally with your SIM card and that SIM card ONLY since we have tricked iTunes to think that ICCID is one of the intended carrier's. The phone can be rebooted and connected to iTunes freely without losing the "unlock", at least for now.

Since it does not involve emergency numbers or IMSI spoofing it will not have any of the issues associated with SIM interposers. Tested working on iOS 5.01 but should work with tethered 5.1 too.