Phone review: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

tl;dr: RECOMMENDED. 5/5 star.

It’s a really solid phone. If you like MIUI, it’s a superb choice.
Can be picked up used for SUPER, insanely cheap. And you get so much value…

XDA scene: Meh.
There are a few attempts here and there but I would not call it an overly healthy development scene. Which is weird to be honest because there are so many phones being sold, yet barely any development happening.

Pros:

  • IPS screen. Will never burn in for long-term use. From hardcore gaming. It will stay the same.
    144hz fast refresh rate; super-bright screen.
  • Big battery with great battery life and excellent super charging. Never had a battery problem.
  • Good speaker quality, good call quality.
  • Great signal, GPS, 5G speeds. I’ve hit almost 1000mbps internet speeds on 5G. Insane. (with dual sim installed!)
  • Excellent performance. It always felt fast. No complaints.
  • Good camera. The pictures I took came out great. The 108mpx mode also looks stellar. But you really need a tripod or steady hands to pull of a sharp shot with that. It’s not impossible though.
  • MIUI. If you love it, it’s great. You can easily flash Global, EEA (EU) or Xiaomi.EU roms on the device. They all work fine. I run Android 11 EEA at the moment. EEA has Google Dialer/Messages.
    The LineageOS that exists for the phone is almost bug-free, but development has not been too active lately. Check around XDA if you wish to pick up the device only for this.
  • You can root, unlock, and keep the warranty. Typical Xiaomi fashion, you need to wait a week or something like that to be able to unlock the phone (for root, roms, etc.)

Cons:

  • It’s “heavy”. Just like the Zenfone 7 Pro, this is above 210g in weight. But it’s typical in the category.
  • The screen, due to being IPS can feel like it’s “ghosting” a tiny bit. Under fast movement that is. Imagine like super fast scrolling in Reddit or whatever. Honestly, it never bothered me a single bit, but people brought it up. Like, compared to a 144hz AMOLED panel, this feels “worse”. Then again, a 144hz AMOLED costs about 3-5 times as much. And it will burn in, while this won’t ever.
  • The proximity sensor honestly sucked on the Android 10 EEA rom that came with the phone. Global, Xiaomi.EU and Android 11 EEA works great though. So I just recommend you to update it when you get it.

Hope that helped. If you have any questions, doubts, feel free to write a comment.
From me, for such a cheap price (used), it’s a major recommend. It ticks every box.

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Phone review: ASUS Zenfone 7 Pro

tl;dr: RECOMMENDED. 5/5 star.

Pros:
– You can pick it up super cheap used.
– Excellent camera quality. The pictures on it are SO GOOD. GCam works. It takes better pictures than my Note 10+ used to. Very surprised and absolutely loving it.
– 90hz (which you can enable everywhere!!!) display. Bright. Very nice quality.
– Excellent battery life. It easily lasts me a very heavy day and more.
– Superb software. No themes, but it’s lean and clean. Fast. I love it. Many little handy features here and there.
– Excellent call quality, signal and reception.
– Excellent GPS signal, lock-on time.
– Excellent OS and speed.
– Excellent performance. Never a hiccup, no lag ever. I am no mobile Fortnite pro, but I haven’t had any issues in emulators, in the OS, during work or anything.
– Excellent proximity sensor. It works so good. Always on point.
– MicroSD slot AND dual-sim. Super-rare. (Only some Samsung A series have this feature.) You can pop in a 512GB microSD easily, and still have dual SIM. It’s a media machine.
– Superb speakers. Loud, clear.
– LED indicator on the bottom. Bright, visible, nice.
– Fullscreen viewing experience. No notch, no hole.
– Fast, great working side fingerprint reader.
It has stock call recording enabled. I can’t confirm if Android 11 will still have it, but Android 10 has it.
– The special camera works in any other custom app (like SNOW, Gcam, etc.). You can set a manual angle on the camera in apps. Very helpful for work.

Cons:
– It’s heavy. Well, phones in 2021 finally received what I was asking for years. Bigger batteries. But with the flip camera and the 5000 mAh battery pack, it’s a chonky boi. 220g. Without case.
– There is no separate front camera. To me, this is awesome, a godsend. I have a full screen, no annoying stuff. But if you are a vlogger who wishes to record himself/herself while making a video – you can’t do that. The camera can only stay in one direction. That said, this phone can take SUPERB quality vlogs if you use a selfie stick or a tripod or something. So there is that.
– The camera system is hard to protect. Thus cases can get heavy.
What I recommend is… Get a simple TPU case, you know one of those “floppy plastic transparent cases”, and also buy a “camera protector glass” off eBay. This way you have a phone you can just hold easily and the cameras are also protected. This works best for me. I’ve bought that RhinoShield case, but it is too chonky, too heavy for me.
– Rooting the phone, just like Samsung for example, will void your warranty. I have not found a single reason to root it yet though.

Hope that helped. If you have any questions, doubts, feel free to write a comment.
From me, for such a cheap price (used), it’s a major recommend. It ticks every box.

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Review: Xiaomi Smart Home Security Camera PTZ 2K Pro Bluetooth IP AI

The Camera itself is 5 star. IT’S GREAT.
Setup is easy, picture quality is excellent. But oh God, the software. It is bad.
I’ve had a 1080p 360 degree camera from Xiaomi before I decided to upgrade to this model.

1) In the app, you can’t just scroll the picture. Like you can’t just tap and move the screen to check the entire camera footage. Because the phone, depending on the ratio, you can only see a cut-off portion. Even in Landscape, I can’t see everything.

So when you try to pan around with your finger, it will move the camera’s picture. It is SO annoying.

2) There is NO way to set motion detection partitions up. Which is super weird. I’ve seen old Xiaomi screenshots where they’ve had this feature. But now, you can only set a basic sensitivity and if you want to see ALL movement or just people’s movement alarms.

This can be super annoying too, because let’s say your camera faces the outside door, but there is car traffic outside the windows. You can’t use motion detection because you will always have false alarms.

3) There is a semi-official Windows program for the Xiaomi smart cameras. But it does not work with THIS one. It ignores the camera by defaul. There is a way to force it into the program, but it won’t work, it throws an error called “-20009”. Guides say it’s a region lock (meaning the cam is China only in apps) – but I’ve put my European country in the app and the camera paired instantly so I think the app is just throwing a random error at this point.

It’s still annoying.

4) Even if you share the camera with another user (your SO, kids, business partner), if you enable push notifications, they will get the notifications. Disable them? They are disabled for both of you. So silly.

Ps.: There is a MicroSD slot. You have to move the camera UP and you can see the tiny slot below the camera lens. This can record all the time, or it can record only motion. BE CAREFUL. If you record ALWAYS, you need an “industrial SD card”. Look it up. Basically, you can buy special SD cards for dashcams, cameras, and for security cameras like this one. They were designed to withstand a lot of writes (because you keep saving the new footage over and over again). If you put in a normal cheap SD card, it will be dead soon. Not the camera’s fault, those cards were not designed for heavy use.

I’d say the camera is for guarding a simple home, or maybe your pets, baby probably. But due to how limited the app is, the camera also gets very limited. I don’t know why Xiaomi did this, this could be the best thing ever if they only invested a bit in the apps.
Also imagine a PC app where you’d get the push notifications and you could open the cams fast? It’d be heaven.

Hope my review helps someone.

Honestly this camera (and all other Xiaomi cameras) would benefit from alternative clients. But I suppose Xiaomi is not to keen on sharing a way for us to develop custom apps. There are a few custom firmwares online for various smart cameras, but they are mostly obsolete/abandoned at this point. If you are still deciding, just get a HIKVision. It works.

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The Settlers 2 – Save Game editor (works with 1.51)

Basically this is a super old save file editor which seems to still work today.

Limitations:
– You need to run it in Dosbox. Just place it in the same Settlers 2 folder.
Just copy the GOG or whatever Dosbox shortcut you have for Settlers 2, then change the shortcut to point to your new cheat .conf file.
The .conf file for just the editor:

[autoexec]
@ECHO OFF
mount C ".."
C:
S2EDITe.EXE

– It can only change a value to 255. In the game the main building can easily hold 255+ from something – yet the tool can’t do that.

That’s pretty much it.
I downloaded this via Google – I DO NOT CLAIM CREDIT FOR THIS TOOL.
I am simply reposting it to safe keep it / share it.

Source: https://www.lonebullet.com/file/trainers/settlers-2-save-game-editor/5888

Download link: https://blog.agx.co/shares/2021-02/settlers-2-save-game-editor.zip

Password: ‘lonebullet

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Xiaomi MIUI 11/12 – How to override/ignore DND (Do Not Disturb)

If you are familiar with everything and just came for a solution, look below.

Let me start off by saying, there are two pieces to this puzzle. There is A) Do Not Disturb itself, and B) the option for notifications to ignore Do Not Disturb.

So Android has this feature called Do Not Disturb which is something I’ve been using for many years now. Basically, it lets you mute all sounds off from your phone – yet the phone will ring if an important person or a loved one calls you.

I believe it’s an amazing feature since I never actually have to go Silent ever and people who are important can always reach me. This feature is available on almost any Android device. Google, HTC, Samsung, Sony, OnePlus, you name it. It’s there. Even available on Xiaomi. Not in the same way. In MIUI 11 you were able to both allow important calls and SMS messages. MIUI 12 only lets you allow important callers.

But here comes the trouble. The second piece of the puzzle – B). The option to ignore DND. On most Android systems you have a plethora of choices when it comes to notifications. If I want to get notified by just one label in Gmail? Possible. I want to make it sound different? Possible. Do I want to only get one type of notification from an app? Possible. And you can all set these to ignore DND. So if you have a home alarm app for example, you can make it override DND so if someone tries to break in during the middle of the night, it all works.

Except on Xiaomi.

For some reason the Chinese manufacturer thought they will just kinda implement the A) part of the puzzle. And that’s it. There is no B) on Xiaomi, they simply left it out.

So how to get this functionality on Xiaomi?

Two apps.
– Alertify
– Missed call reminder, Flash on call (aka. “Prof Reminder”)

You can use whichever, they both work. Prof Reminder has a bit more customization to it, but I let you choose. Once installed, just set them up.

  • Make sure to enable “Autostart” for both the reminder app, and your app that you want to get reminded of. For example: “Home Alarm” is your app, then enable “Autostart” for that app as well.
  • Make sure to disable ANY battery management for both your chosen notifier app and the app “Home Alarm” for example.
    (^ These options are available if you long hold your finger on an app and then go Info.)
  • For me, only a few alarm sounds worked. I copied a folder of MP3s into the /sdcard/Notifications folder and just tried a few.

Make sure to test. I cannot stress this enough.
I know this sounds trivial enough – but these notifications are crucial.
Test the notification in the app, test it after you turn off the screen, test it after your phone was sitting on your table for a longer period of time (let it sleep/doze). It must always fire, work.

Hope this little guide helps someone.

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Online.net/OneProvider additional failover IP for virtual machine netplan

Here is the original Online.net article for this:

https://documentation.online.net/en/dedicated-server/network/ip-failover/virtual-machine

But on Ubuntu 18.04 you will not have ifupdown by default. It uses netplan. Now, you can return to ifupdown but you may face issues. For example in my case – internet would not come back up after each reboot. This made auto apt updates and reboots straight impossible.

Only read this section if you don’t know KVM or servers at all. How to prepare your server / KVM NOOB SECTION:

I use KVM and virt-manager. And I install xorg + XFCE on my servers. Feel free to hate on me, I don’t care. The GUI is just way too comfortable and X forward is just too messy. So the way I set up my environment goes like this… Keep in mind, this section is about your server. This has nothing to do with the guest so far.

  1. First and foremost I’d say use SSH key authentication, install fail2ban, and change the SSH default port. You can just Google all of these, fairly simple things to do. If you happen to have a Github account and you have an SSH key there, you can use that to log in. That makes this process a breeze.

    To import your github key, use: ssh-import-id-gh GitHubAccountName

    As always, do test things before you manage to lock yourself out by accident. Worst case, you can request “IPMI access” (remote console) to your host machine at any time.
  2. Let’s install Xorg and XFCE4 and text editor Geany by issuing:
    sudo apt install xorg xfce4 xfce4-goodies xfce4-terminal geany
  3. Let’s grab a VNC client for ourselves. I prefer TigerVNC. It’s FOSS, very fast/quick, has auto resize, clipboard support. It’s just good.
    You can grab the executable from here: https://bintray.com/tigervnc/stable/tigervnc/

    Simply use wget to download it on your server, like on Ubuntu 64-bit I use this command. This is for the 1.10.1 version, always make sure its the latest.: wget https://bintray.com/tigervnc/stable/download_file?file_path=tigervnc-1.10.1.x86_64.tar.gz
  4. Now extract VNC, and start vncserver. It’ll ask for a password just give it some super simple pass. It doesn’t really support complex passwords. Such is life with VNC. Don’t worry, we’ll set this up just right. Once it starts, kill it. Like so: ~/tigervnc-1.10.1.x86_64/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :1
  5. Time to set up the xstartup file. This file tells VNC what to start when you start the server. We want xfce4. So let’s do just that.
    Edit the following file: nano -w ~/.vnc/xstartup

    Change the bottom of the file, so it looks like this. Basically we comment out the last 3 lines and add one to the bottom. Yes you need & on the end too!

    # xsetroot -solid grey
    # xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
    # twm &
    xfce4-session &
  6. Two steps left.
    a) Install ufw and enable ufw. This is a firewall. On our host server, we do NOT want to expose anything besides SSH. At least not unintentionally. You can allow others ports just like this for other services you run on the host.
    sudo apt install ufw
    sudo ufw allow 22 comment 'ssh'
    sudo ufw enable

  7. Almost there. Now you can start the vnc properly.
    ~/tigervnc-1.10.1.x86_64/usr/bin/vncserver -localhost
    This will ensure our vncserver is ONLY available from the host machine. DO NOT try to expose VNC over the internet.

    Now, you have a VNC running, it is safe (since we firewalled it AND we have the -localhost switch on). At this point, you just have to grab “vncviewer” on your local PC, and set up SSH port forwarding.
    My SSH tunnel looks like this:
    4L5901 127.0.0.1:5901
    And I connect in vncviewer from my PC like this:
    127.0.0.1:5901
  8. Let’s install KVM and virt-manager.
    sudo apt install qemu qemu-kvm libvirt-bin  bridge-utils  virt-manager
  9. Open virt-manager from a console with: sudo virt-manager
  10. Create a VM in virt-manager. It’s straightforward. You pick an ISO, set storage size, CPU amount, etc. You can change all of this later on.
  11. Once the VM is created, installed, shut it down.
  12. Click the “i” button in virt-manager.
    Go to Network, set Network source to Host Device … macvtap.
    Source mode: Bridge
    Click Apply on the bottom-right and close virt-manager.
  13. Open the .XML file for the VM by hand.
    It’ll be in this folder: /etc/libvirt/qemu/
    Example:
    sudo nano -w /etc/libvirt/qemu/ubuntu1804.xml
  14. Let’s find the network section.
    Should look similar:
<interface type='direct'>
  <mac address='00:11:22:33:AA:BB'/>
  <source dev='eno1' mode='bridge'/>
  <model type='virtio'/>
  <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x03' function='0x0'$
</interface>

You need to change the 00:11:22:33:AA:BB section to match your failover IP’s mac address. You can see / generate the mac on OneProvider/Online.net’s online interface.

Once you change it, save the file, and let’s start libvirt. Yes, you have to.
sudo service libvirtd restart

Yay, now you can boot your VM and follow the next chapter.
At this point you have:
– A secure, well set-up host machine.
– KVM.
– A VM configured for your MAC address.
But you have no internet in the guest for now…

How to convert the ifupdown instructions to netplan…

So let’s just use netplan. Install the VM with dhcp internet, or just install it without internet connection.

Once you boot it up, edit the netplan config by:
sudo nano -w /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml

So there is only one bit you will have to change yourself. The “addresses” part. See the “123.234.456.678” part. It’s an invalid IP, it is an example, blah blah blah. You need to change ONLY that. Keep the /24 at the end. Keep the other parts. This is what you need.

You can, of course assign your own DNS addresses at the “nameservers” part. My example relies on Cloudflare and then Google. For me, those two are good enough.

Here is my config:

network:
ethernets:
ens3:
dhcp4: false
dhcp6: false
addresses: [123.234.456.678/24]
gateway4: 62.210.0.1
nameservers:
addresses: [ "1.1.1.1", "8.8.8.8" ]
routes:
- to: 0.0.0.0/0
via: 62.210.0.1
on-link: true
version: 2

Once you change the file, apply it and verify.
sudo netplan apply
ping google.com

If it pings, you are golden.
Keep in mind your VM/guest also needs a firewall to be protected. The host’s firewall has NO effect on the guest!

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No frills update Pixel 3a / Pixel 3a XL with root (Magisk) to new version

Video tutorial if you are a scrub (NOT by me):

As you may have noticed Google likes to update the Pixel. I mean that’s not a bad thing, but that also means you gotta update by hand quite often if you have a rooted Pixel. And hell, why would you own a Pixel if you don’t root it?! Duh!

1. Let’s grab the latest platform-utils (for fastboot):

https://developer.android.com/studio/releases/platform-tools

2. Grab the matching boot.img from here:

https://github.com/AndroidDumps

If you can’t find the same version, just open the image file from the extracted zip (Matroska feel) and there is the boot.img that you need.

Pixel 3A XL is Bonito:

https://github.com/AndroidDumps/google_bonito_dump

3. Copy up the boot.img to your phone, patch it in Magisk.
Once patched, grab it back to your PC from the phone’s Downloads folder.

4. Finally we can get to work.

Grab the latest image.
Download the latest image (it’s at the bottom of each device list):

https://developers.google.com/android/images

Extract the downloaded ZIP.

5. YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK HOW TO FLASH BY OPENING “flash-all.bat” AND FOLLOWING STEPS. Keep in mind, you have to remove the “-w” toggle from the last step if you don’t want to wipe user partition.

So.
– Boot your phone into bootloader mode (PWR_DOWN+POWER).
– Then issue the commands while being in the extracted zip folder.

fastboot flash bootloader [..].img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot flash radio [...].img
fastboot reboot-bootloader
fastboot update [...].zip

Now you have the new OS, but not the new boot img.
Shutdown phone, boot fastboot again, and use:

fastboot flash boot magisk_patched.img
fastboot reboot

Done.

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Hetzner Cloud – how to use Floating IP as the default

So Hetzner offers a “floating IP” feature which is basically an IP address you can assign to various servers.

But!

If you follow Hetzner’s official wiki [ https://wiki.hetzner.de/index.php/Cloud_floating_IP_persistent/en ], you will just end up with a “new IP”. The default will remain. Your server will be reachable from both, but this behavior can cause issues with various tools.

So, I just change out the default IP to the floating one. If I ever need to re-assign the floating IP, I’ll just open up the Console from the Hetzner website and change it back out.

Steps to use floating as default IP. Both incoming & outgoing.

1. Install resolvconf. For some reason we need to set our own DNS otherwise the server won’t be able to do DNS lookups. Worry not, this is a very easy and simple step.

# let’s install the package
sudo apt update && sudo apt install resolvconf

# let’s open the ‘head’ file
sudo nano -w /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf.d/head

# add a DNS such as Cloudflare and Google
nameserver 1.1.1.1
nameserver 8.8.8.8
nameserver 8.8.4.4

2. Check the default gateway address. Without touching anything, you should check what gateway do you currently use. This can be done easily with the following command:

ip route | grep default

Note down the IP address you get. Example: “111.32.1.1”.

3. Back up the default, current network configuration.

sudo cp /etc/network/interfaces.d/50-cloud-init.cfg /root/50-cloud-init.cfg

This copy, as it is here, will copy the file into /root/. You can place it anywhere, name it anyhow. This is only an example of course.

4. Open the .cfg file for edit.

sudo nano -w /etc/network/interfaces.d/50-cloud-init.cfg

5. You need to edit the eth0 part. So it becomes:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
address <your.floating.ip>
netmask 32
dns-nameservers <leave them here>
gateway <write here the noted gateway ip>


You can save the file and exit. (CTRL+O and then CTRL+X).

6. At this point you can restart networking, or do a reboot. I would recommend a reboot, just to be on the safe side.

7. Once your VM boots up, only the floating IP should be in use and you should be able to ping IPs and domain addresses both.

Good luck!

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Phone review: OnePlus 7 Pro 12/256

This is just a regular person / power user’s point of view and words. I am not paid to post anything here, this site only serves as a platform, to share my thoughts and experiences about products.

Positives:

  • 4000mAh battery. The phone’s idle battery life is good as one might suspect. Sadly, the 90hz 2K panel can drink plenty of juice, so battery life will not be outstanding to say the very least.
  • Dual speaker. This is just a OnePlus thing, as other manufacturers has long offered this feature without a fuss. HTC One had it, which is a 2013 phone.
  • Dual-SIM support. Again, most phones do this, especially the ones from the Eastern market. But, it’s a nice to have feature.
  • No notch. It’s sad that this has become a positive thing. Like notches became a thing at all. I don’t have any issues with having a frame around the display. But notches can go to hell. To put it simply.
  • The phone is indeed fast, the interface feels fast (it’s due to how the OS has these fast animations).

Drawbacks – and they outweigh the cons by a far margin:

  • Absolutely Awful GPS. This phone gets the lemon award. I mean, the OnePlus 6T can get it too, since they both share one very common thing. Their truly awful GPS modules. Seriously. It is THAT bad. See: https://www.notebookcheck.net/OnePlus-7-Pro-Smartphone-Review.420598.0.html#toc-communication-gps
    Just a proof that it is not just me. I mean the test is more than easy:
    – Install GPSTest app on your OP7 Pro and some other phone.
    – Take them outside.
    – Lo and behold: The OP7 Pro will have only red bars, and way fewer than any other device.
    This makes OnePlus a VERY BAD GPS device. Being in a city, or a on convoluted highway … it can mess up your day, trust me. I mean I have had Google Maps lose the whole route (the blue line disappears), because the phone had so little clue of where we are. Even regular GPS use can cause the phone to overheat. I am not kidding. Just being a GPS on the dash, on a regular (not sunny) day caused the phone to go overheat.
  • Very high price. I can’t put this nicely. This phone runs a bare-bone operating system, has mediocre camera quality, and it’s just… an average phablet with the latest SOC. It does not warrant this price by any means.
  • Lack of regular/often updates.
    While the team promised timely security updates, and lately prompt updates for the phones (after people started teasing OnePlus for not even pushing updates anymore), in reality, you barely see an update here and there. Yes, the phone runs the latest Android as of now, but that’s about it.
  • Core issues never get fixed. Gmail on OnePlus does not give timely notifications as for some reason, it is ALWAYS FORCED to get “optimized”. On Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Google Pixel, HTC – on all the other devices, it’s on “default” and you can force optimize it, or choose NOT to optimize it. Like any other app. Not on OnePlus.
    This has been reported several times on their forums, but support reply or a fix has never been published.
    Workaround? Unlock your phone, Install Magisk, and grab the “OnePlus gmail fix” module. Hilarious? Indeed. But also normal in the OnePlus land.
  • Hilariously bad support. Both online and in warranty cases.
    OnePlus support is notoriously horrible. Read the sub-reddit if you want to find some further evidence. I only heard stories from users too (like they told me personally) and it does not paint a pretty picture. Online? Try to submit an issue. You will be just ignored.
  • Absolutely lackluster camera.
    – The regular camera is “meh”. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It’s meh.
    – Telephoto camera is
  • Lack of IP rating. I saw the OnePlus statement (they said the omission of IP rating was done to save money, lol). It does not help one bit. I don’t want to submerge my phone, but I cannot exactly baby it all day either.
  • Dual speaker is meh. It’s not good by any means.
  • Automatic brightness is just as bad as it was on the OnePlus 6T.
  • 90hz is 100% a gimmick. While it sounds great on paper, and can be seen with the naked eye within the first few seconds of use – the fad quickly disappears and gets old. As you might know, high refresh rate makes motion appear more fluid.

    It’s hard to put into words, but as soon as you try a gaming display with a game that runs with 144FPS too, you will be able to see it. It’s a good thing, but hard to achieve.

    It’s hard to achieve, because 144 FPS in games is plenty. It’s a ton. It’s only achieved in a few titles (Fortnite, CS:GO, Quake), and you still need a beefy hardware to pull this off.

    So, if it’s so hard to do it on PC, how will your phone benefit from 90, or 120 or whatever higher-hz? Short answer? It does not.

    tl;dr: Scrolling will feel a bit smoother. Some apps will, some won’t support the higher refresh rate. But, all apps that do will put more strain on your battery.
    Reviews that say “going back to 60 is hard”… is just marketing bs. You won’t notice a thing, as OnePlus itself will switch to 60hz mode very often.

So in the end, who should buy this phone?

If you want a stock-ish Android and can deal with the bad GPS, this phone might be just for you. But, is this the ONLY phone that provides you with an easy unlock and custom roms? Well, not really.

  • If you don’t need root, Samsung‘s older models used, or refurb are sure worth a look. They have top-notch hardware and a very extensive software (some like, some don’t). And a 1-2 year old flagship is very affordable.
  • ASUS, Xiaomi are both also easy to root. However, DO CHECK on XDA if your picked model has community/rom support. Some phones have a great third-party support, some don’t. Stock roms on both phones are awful and often break standard Android functionality.
  • Google Pixel 3, Pixel 4 might be also a great pick – albeit neither is too cheap. Pixel 3a… well, I’ll publish a review about that in just a while. And I’ll link it here. I would NOT purchase that one.

Brands to avoid:

  • HTC: Made some superb devices in the past. Legendary ones, in fact. HTC One (M7), HTC 10 are some of the best Android devices, ever. Even the old HTC One X was superb – despite the hw issues it had.
  • LG: Zero post-purchase support. Most new phones have some kind of hardware flaw, or some quirks. LG went downhill after the G2, G Pro 2. The G3/G4 was still a phone that “made sense”. They either had great display, or were affordable, or had great cameras. Something to stand out. But ever since, they just released highly-priced phones with zero support afterwards.
  • Sony. Same reason. Zero support. Great phones though! Camera is not as good as they tout it to be, and the Xperia 1 is quirky as all hell. But, the Compact Sony phones are niche. They are the only small form factor phones on the market that still sport high-end specs.
    That said, go into a Samsung Store, and check out the S10e, or S10. They are really not that big, or not so much bigger, and they are also top-spec devices.
  • Samsung: Yes, I just recommended AND not recommended Samsung. Sue me. The ONLY reason I don’t recommend them is the e-fuse they have. If you root a Samsung, your warranty is gone. Bye bye. That itself is a reason enough NOT to buy one. As the core OS might be “bloaty”, and you can’t root, well, it’s hard to recommend them 100%.

Hope this posts helps you avoid making a pricey purchase, and saves you some pennies!

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How to reset/change MariaDB root password?

ERROR 1698 (28000): Access denied for user 'root'@'localhost'

… comes the message.

Server version: 10.1.35-MariaDB-1

So, you did not mess with your server. You are fairly certain others have not messed with it. So what could have happened? Well, count me in. I have all the security updates enabled. Only have auto-updated WP sites, secured MySQL, key-based SSH, all the fluff.

Yet, the password for root (only) broke. Probably an update.
Let’s fix it.

1. First option. Was ineffective for me.

sudo service mariadb stop
sudo mysqld_safe --skip-grant-tables --skip-networking &
mysql -u root
use mysql;
update user set password=PASSWORD("password") where User='root';
flush privileges;

2. Second option. Worked for me.

sudo mysql -u root
# Optional, check if you even have a root user
SELECT User,Host FROM mysql.user;
DROP USER 'root'@'localhost';
CREATE USER 'root'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'root'@'%' WITH GRANT OPTION;
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

I am not to held responsible if your computer/server blows up.
Replace “password” obviously in the commands.

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AKO 5003 & 5004 CD + Product Catalog

So this is mostly just a “public share” of an old AKO CD. You actually need this disc to use an AKO 50003 or 50004. The software is Windows 10 compatible.

Only the software package for 5003 and 5004:

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/AKO_5002_and_5003.7z

Ako full CD package (everything from CD in one archive):

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/ako.7z

PDF from the CD:

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/Pdfs/

You need RS232/serial port to use the AKO devices. It is a wide connector, which can trick you into believing the device needs an LPT (parallel) port, but that is wrong. It’s a serial port. Just get a converter that turns the wide port into a short one and call it a day.

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The bad side of the cloud: LiquidSky 2.0 Review

This review has been a long time coming. I wish I never had to post this article in fact. I wish Cloud Gaming would have never had such companies.

What is LiquidSky?

It’s a Cloud Gaming Service. Okay, what’s that, you might ask.

Instead of having a powerful PC or gaming laptop at home, you can just rent a very powerful machine far from your home and you can play games on almost any PC. Sounds good, right? Well, it can be good. There are good providers – I will put them at the bottom of the article – but bad ones also started popping up. Take LiquidSky for example.

But it wasn’t always bad. LiquidSky is called 2.0 at the moment. A few months ago LiquidSky forced a new interface and ecosystem on to the users. They promised unparalleled gaming performance. Everyone was hyped of course. People loved LiquidSky 1.0, but the GPU performance was not that good. It could run most games on normal details, but if it would have received a bit of a bump, it would have been a gamer’s dream come true.

What was LiquidSky 1.0?

  • The service had a solid client. It worked perfectly, it never dropped the viewer and the input lag was negligible.
  • The CPU performance was absolutely great.
  • I/O performance was superb. I could install games with 100+MB/s and do several other tasks without any slowdown at all.
  • The service had 1TB of storage.
  • The stream quality was excellent. On lower bitrates the grass became a bit blurry, but nothing too bad. It was really good. If you pumped up the settings, the picture quality became very sharp, it was like playing locally. It’s not just rose-tinted glasses, it was that good.
  • The service had a very low monthly price tag. 9.99$. I cannot recall all the details, maybe it was for 80 hours of gaming, but for me, that covered all my entire month. I mean 80 hours as a working man, for 9.99 only? Yes, please.

So it was a good service overall. There were things that you could improve upon, but it was a solid offer.

What went wrong with LiquidSky 2.0?

Everything.

First, the launch.

It was supposed to be a glorious launch. After LS1.0 shut down, we had to wait a week or so – and then we would have all access to 2.0. We were so hyped. But the launch just did not want to come. When the first date hit, we were informed that they hit a few issues. Nothing big we thought. So we waited a week. Then another. And another.

Then finally we hit the “now we will finally launch now for like really real” date. We were all on the site that day, but as you would already suspect by this time, nothing happened. What did happen though is that people got trolled mad by the very staff of LiquidSky. If someone told me I would be also skeptic, but I believe it’s still on their forums. They basically kept asking people for more forum posts and kept saying if they reach this or that number, the service will launch. People took days off their jobs, they were waiting now for weeks. Everyone was anxious, tired, and still hyped. And we got trolled.

Of course the service launched after some 12 hours later, but no one could connect, it crashed immediately. Good times.
Long weeks came after this ‘launch’ while no one could really connect. Some people, somewhere, sometime were able to start up the lowest tiers. There was a single person who had a real screenshot from the working 2.0 machine on the forums in the first month. Wow.

The real problems only came later, though.

 

Closing thoughts?

I had this thought in the back of my head ever since the botched 2.0 launch, but never really thought about it. When we started receiving ‘updates’ that were nothing but tiny bug fixes and just dirty workaround (i.e.: one update added “boarding groups”, another took them out), I started to get suspicious.

 

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How to change YI DashCam Chinese to English (CABACA version)

To do this, you will need the following items:

  • Yi Dashcam. CABACA serial/model, grey color. I only had the gray to try, but there is a forum post where the original tutorial was posted – where it says the black version will NOT work! Proceed with caution if you have the black one.
  • A USB charger with at least 1A output.
  • A computer with an SD card reader. (most laptops have a reader)
  • The attached “FWCARC10 (4).bin” file.
  • The attached “Emergency Aid” “FWCARC10.bin” (this can be downloaded from here directly: https://www.yitechnology.com/yi-smart-dash-camera-firmware)
  1. Take out the memory card from the camera
  2. Insert card into your computer
  3. Format the Memory Card (fat32, no label, default settings)
  4. Copy the “FWCARC10 (4).bin” file to the device, rename it to “firmware.bin”
  5. Eject SD card safely from your computer
  6. Put the SD card into the camera
  7. Put the power cable from the 1A charger into the camera.
  8. Power on the camera, accept the update with the LEFT button. (You can use Google Translate on your smartphone to read any errors/info messages.)
  9. It will start working, ~3 minutes or so. Let it work. Once it completes, it will say “Adaptation fail, access denied”. Don’t panic, things are going OK.
  10. Remove power cable, SD card. Put SD card into computer again. Format it again.
  11. Copy over the “FWCARC10.bin” to the SD card, rename it to “firmware.bin”. Eject SD safely again.
  12. Add SD to the camera, plug in the 1A charger, boot the camera. It won’t display much but the yellow led will blink left and right. After 3-5 minutes it will boot up, now in English.

Enjoy! Now you have an English serial/firmware Yi camera.

FAQ:

  • Why is the firmware called “(4)” and “FWARC” and whatnot?
    The original uploader called it (4) and I kept the name. The (4) is a modified firmware file I guess, and the normal one is the simple “Emergency mode” that you can grab from Yi. You always have to rename the candidate to “firmware.bin”.
  • I have read that you just have to write a “engmode” and serial number file to the device to make it english…?
    That seem to work on various models. But no on this “CABACA” one. I was in the same shoes, trust me.
  • My device won’t flash, won’t do …
    Make sure you are using a CHARGER and not your computer! You need a separate charger for the firmware stuff no matter what. There is no going way around this.

Also, make sure you use a “SD card for cameras”. Here is one example: https://www.sandisk.com/home/memory-cards/microsd-cards/high-endurance-microsd

You can start using a dashcam with any SD card, but most cards will die very fast from the continuous recording. Just get a high endurance one and you will be good for a long time.

 

Tutorial was originally posted here: https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/convert-yi-dashcam-serial-cabaca-convert-to-english-version.31453/

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AKO 5002 & 5003 CD + Catalog PDFs

The software to access your AKO 5003 and AKO 5004 can be downloaded here:
It is Windows 10 compatible.

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/AKO_5002_and_5003.7z

The PDF can be viewed here (hopefully Google will index it sooner or later):

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/Pdfs/

The whole ISO image is here:

https://s.agx.co/2018_04/001-AKO/ako.7z

(Uploaded them in 7z, they have no password and of course they are just a raw rip of the original old CD disc. I have no clue why AKO decided NOT to share the programs and PDF files online.)

Make sure to use RS232 – aka. serial port to connect to your AKO device. The RS232 converter that AKO gives has a wide-RS232 which can trick you into believing the device needs an LPT port. But, it uses serial. So just get a wide-to-short RS232 cable / converter and it will work just fine, even on Windows 10.

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Cloud gaming. State of the Cloud – 19/03/2018

This will be a very tl;dr post.

What is cloud gaming?

Basically you have a full virtual computer running ‘in the cloud’. Which simply means it’s on a remote location. You can use it, game on it, everything. You pretty much only need internet speed, and a good ping. And a h264-decode capable hardware.

What providers are out there?

Shadow.tech (unlimited)

Pros:
– Dedicated GTX 1080 or Quadro P5000 GPU
– Unlimited flat-rate usage
– 1gbps/100mbps speed
– Very good quality client that can push up to 50mbps AND 70mbps (with Shadow Box).
– Windows 10 Home (licensed) with Store OS.
– They offer a “Shadow Box” thin client for EU customers (for now, expansion soon).

Cons:
– The CPU has speed issues. It’s being worked at according to the team. AAA games still work fine that can scale out – most of the time. But if the bug hits real hard, even Ghost Recon can dip to unplayable 5FPS.
– RAM amount is only 12GB.
– Storage is only 256GB but this is being worked at, paid expansion will be introduced “soon”.

What is it for?
Gamers, work folks, everyone. They pretty much intend to replace your laptop/PC with Shadow.

Location:
EU (France (Paris)), US (California) – expansion is on the way.

Paperspace + Parsec (pay / hour)

Pros:
– Tons of resources. Like 30GB of RAM.
– Can have P6000 Quadro GPU.
– You can add tons of storage, up to 1TB (or even more, did not check).
– Parsec is an OKAY client. Not the best, but it’s OK.

Cons:
– GPU performance is like a rollercoaster. It has serious dips, making it very bad for gaming.
– CPU performance is very mediocre. Just bad in general.

What is it for?
3D work, CAD usage, game development. Work basically.

Location: Europe (Netherlands (Amsterdam)), worldwide.

Simplay (unlimited)

Pros:
– Strong CPU. Strong as Geforce Now.
– Up to 512GB of storage.
– Fast SSD storage.

Cons:
– Worse client than Shadow. And Parsec also is “meh”.
– GPU is worse than Shadow.
– Just 12GB of RAM, like Shadow.

What is it for?
Games, work, anything. Like Shadow.

Location: several, but currently undergoing heavy restructure.

Geforce Now (pay / hour, currently free in Beta)

It’s just crap. It’s a locked down DRM hell. You log in to GFN, and you can access a few pre-installed titles. That’s it. That’s PC gaming for you, in 2018, by Nvidia. Thank you Nvidia for destroying what PC gaming is about. The mods. The freedom. The openness.

Thankfully the service costs a fortune according to press news and leaked information, so it will not pose a long-term risk. But still, this service needs to die. Real fast.

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How to use Intel Extreme Tuning Utility in Task Scheduler

First of all, make sure you test your values and settings for a week at least. Try it under Prime95, try it with Blender, try it with Office work, try compiling, try idle state (yes, that too). You have to practically test every workload, because each behaves different and any can result in a BSOD.

Now, once you have your rock-solid values…

Why do I have to put it in Task Scheduler?

Intel’s tool has dementia. It will apply the values and keep them. For some time. Then it randomly reverts them. No, not only when there is a BSOD – which is a very cool and awesome failsafe mechanism. But just randomly.

Why use Intel Extreme Tuning Utility?

Well, you can undervolt the CPU for example. I use it for that. My CPU can do -0,45mV stable (which is not a whole lot, but it helps a lot.) You can see my values in the example script.

Okay, shut up, give me my script…

Save the following code into a .bat, and set Task Scheduler to apply it.
– MAKE SURE to check “Delay task for:” and set it to at least 1 minute. (this provides you a safe window. if you ever decide to go full retard, you have 1 minute to save your PC at each reboot. godspeed.)
– At log in
– Kernel-Power event 507 (this is from waking up from hibernate)
– Wherever/whenever else you would like to run this
– Make sure to check “Run with highest privileges”
(Yes, I used a now outdated Reddit post for the kernel power event and delay tip.)

REM INFO
REM find IDs by using
REM "C:\Program Files (x86)\Intel\Intel(R) Extreme Tuning Utility\Client\XTUCli.exe" -i tuning xml

REM Source: https://blog.brankovucinec.com/2017/07/04/check-if-service-is-running-and-start-it-when-it-is-not-running/
REM Check if XTU service is running and start if not
@ECHO OFF
SET SvcName=XTU3SERVICE

SC QUERYEX "%SvcName%" | FIND "STATE" | FIND /v "RUNNING" > NUL && (
ECHO %SvcName% is not running
ECHO START %SvcName%

NET START "%SvcName%" > NUL || (
ECHO "%SvcName%" wont start
REM EXIT /B 1
)
ECHO "%SvcName%" is started
REM EXIT /B 0
) || (
ECHO "%SvcName%" is running
REM EXIT /B 0
)

REM -45 mV undervolt for Core + Cache
cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\Intel\Intel(R) Extreme Tuning Utility\Client\"
XTUCli.exe -t -id 34 -v 45
XTUCli.exe -t -id 79 -v 45

{ 4 Comments }

Guide/tutorial: How to buy/build a super fast pendrive?!

Recently I had to reinstall a few machines and I also needed a Hackintosh boot drive. Turns out, pendrives are still slow as heck.
Of course I knew there are a few faster models, so I went to Amazon and then searched for reviews.

Turns out, thanks to the way pendrives work, they will always be slow – no matter the model or brand.
So, how could I make a faster pendrive? I knew that I can use a big hard drive as a boot disk, but it’s tedious, and you cannot format it FAT32 either (as 32GB is the max limit for that.)

These are the products I used:

  •  https://www.transcend-info.com/Products/No-760
    ^ The enclosure. It has a screwdriver, screws, cable, and a stylish case which you can use anywhere, it looks neat.
    There is a smaller enclosure called “CM42” but I went with the CM80. There is almost no price difference, but you can put any length M2 into the CM80.
  • https://www.transcend-info.com/Products/No-642
    ^ The SSD inside. Any M2 works (2242, 2260, 2280 factors).
    I used a 32GB MLC model, because I wanted Windows to be able to use FAT32 on it. Thanks to this size, I can connect it to any legacy or embedded device and it just works. Of course, you can use any size.

That’s it. Once you open the box, you just follow the enclosure’s manual and insert the SSD. It will be a 5 minutes exercise, and it just werks.
Finally, a fast pendrive that is easy to carry and can be handled rough. Yay!

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Driver mirror: Atheros AR8171/8175

Been having BSODs recently, thanks to the Qualcomm Atheros driver that Windows 10 supplies by default.
To install the driver, simply unzip the package, right click the .inf file, and select Install. Windows will install the new driver within moments. You can check the version in Device Manager easily. If it’s 2.1.0.26, you are good.

Link: http://blog.agx.co/shares/2018-01/win10-2.1.0.26-whql.zip

Source: https://www.ath-drivers.eu/download-driver-nr-315-for-atheros-AR8171-and-Windows10.html

 

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How to build static Qt application on Windows (even with Qt Creator)

I started working on a new Qt project and everything went very well. But once the project reached a good state, I had to start publishing builds of my application. Most Linux users have Qt installed, or they can install it very easily (usually it’s available in their repository). But it’s a different story on Windows.

In most cases, you want a static built Qt program. Because it will run just fine by itself, without the need of installing anything else.

Solution:

  1. Install MSYS2: http://www.msys2.org/
  2. Update the system, with “pacman -Syu”, and install all the packages. Once the update is done, open up Task Manager and kill “bash.exe” and “pacman.exe”.
  3. Install the recommended packages ( https://wiki.qt.io/MinGW-64-bit ):
    pacman -S base-devel git mercurial cvs wget p7zip
    pacman -S perl ruby python2 mingw-w64-i686-toolchain mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain
    pacman -S mingw-w64-i686-qt5-static mingw-w64-x86_64-qt5-static
  4. Install Qt Creator (yes, trust me on this one):
    mingw64/mingw-w64-x86_64-qt-creator
  5. Done!

Now you can simply start Qt Creator from the MSYS folder. Located at: msysfolder/mingw64/bin/qtcreator.exe
This Qt Creator will detect the static Qt installation in the msys folder, and you can already compile your project, because this Qt Creator will use your existing Qt Creator settings. You can simply switch between the two Qt Creators, they will cause no issues whatsoever. Just switch “build configuration” at the bottom-left, and that’s it.

This setup provides an easy, robust static Qt compilation environment.

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How to configure Parsec for best quality + performance! (BUILD 137-1)

This will be our best friend from now on: https://parsec.tv/config

How to edit and apply the new config:

  1. Start the Parsec client
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click Advanced Settings (config.txt) on the bottom

Now we can move on.
First and foremost, you have to edit the config on both your server and client!
You can include the server settings in your client.
If you do NOT want your client to become a host, set “app_host to 0” simply.


My  configuration (you can just include all the client options too and vice versa):


# For help and a full list of settings visit: https://parsec.tv/config/

# All configuration settings must appear on a new line.
# Comments are allowed after a '#' character (end-of-line style).
# All whitespace, besides the newline character '\n', is ignored.
# All settings passed via the command line, or via the website, take precedence.
# The configuration file will be overwritten by the application when changing settings.

# EDIT THIS AS NEEDED
# This sets the MAX resolution.
# Mine is 2560x1080. According to the site, DO NOT EXCEEED 2K, that is 2560x1440.
server_resolution_x=1920
server_resolution_y=1080

# You can force refresh rate.
# By default it uses server rate, so it should be OK by default.
# server_refresh_rate=60

# Audio delay - modify if you have to, but leave it if you can.
# client_audio_buffer=20000

# By default, if an admin is connecting to a host PC, Parsec mutes the audio on the host
# computer's speakers. If you'd like to turn this default off, please set the 
# server_admin_mute value to 0.
# server_admin_mute=1

# Set this to "warp" to have the newer (preview) version, you have to add this on both sides.
# If it messes your client/server up, you have to re-download Parsec!
# app_channel=release

# If you manually manage port forwarding for the server, you'll need to forward ports 8000-8002
# for UDP traffic on the server network. 
# If you would like to invite others to join your gaming session, you need to increase the ports
# forwarded by 3 for each concurrent connection. For instance, if you have 5 friends connecting to your server,
# you should forward ports 8000-8014.
# network_server_start_port=8000

# Highest video quality
app_lan_quality = 3
app_wan_quality = 3

# Since I have 100mbps internet.
# It will use a lot less usually, so don't worry much
encoder_bitrate = 100
# Disable fps limit (this is default btw)
encoder_fps=0

# Encoder Video Output quality
# Higher value = worse picture
# 3 is very good, 25 is default
encoder_min_qp = 0

# Encoder quality
# Lower value = worse picture
# 3 is very good, 1 is worst
# I use 3, never noticed much impact from it
encoder_quality = 3

# Enable hosting
app_host = 1

# Edit as needed, but never exceed 2560x1440.
server_resolution_x=1920
server_resolution_y=1080

 

That’s all folks. This config works like a charm for me. I have a sharp picture with no latency and no noticeable slowdowns.
Mind you, the slowest hardware I use as a client is a Core2Duo mobile processor. So if you use something very weak, you might have to edit this here and there.

I also went for max quality, because I never noticed much performance drop from higher values at all. Again, your mileage may vary.
Learning how to configure Parsec only takes like 15 minutes. Just read the linked page, and copy values, adjust them to your needs. Simple as that.

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LiquidSky + Parsec (not anymore)

NOTE: LiquidSky has gone downhill. Service quality is absolutely trash, crap. There is no service.

Just use Shadow.tech; Paperspace + Parsec; Simplay.
Stay away from LiquidSky. It’s a scam.

 

First of all, why would you do this?

  • Parsec has no service globally yet.
  • Parsec has a lower latency. Much lower.
  • Parsec has no video discolor / artifacting whatsoever.

So in many ways, Parsec’s client is just superior to LiquidSky’s. And it’s completely free.

1. Login to your SkyComputer

Start and log in to your SkyComputer using the LiquidSky client.
If you haven’t managed to get the LiquidSky windows client running on your Mac in some form, first follow this easy guide to install it using Wine.

2. Create a Parsec.tv account

Go to parsec.tv and create a new account

3. Install Parsec Gaming Server

Now you need to install the Parsec Gaming Server on your SkyComputer.
Go to the Parsec downloads page in a browser on your SkyComputer
and download the Parsec Gaming Server.
Install it on your SkyComputer.

4. Turn off automatic timeout

Make sure automatic timeout in your SkyComputer is set to None, or else your SkyComputer will shut down during your mythic Karazhan run. You can start/shut down your LiquidSky from your Android client. You can also shut down your machine once you are done by simply using the Windows “shutdown” in your SkyComputer.

5. Change the following config file:

By default, your SkyComputer hides your cursor.
We want to turn this off by editing a simple line in the sky.cfg file.
Open the file sky.cfg in the directory C:\Windows\liquidsky.
Change the ShowCursor=0 value to ShowCursor=1.
Restart your SkyComputer to make this change active.

Original guide was posted here: https://parsec.carrd.co/
(This is more or less a backup for myself and the public.)

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