Sunday, 24 July 2016

Cheaper to salvage 2TB laptop HDD from Seagate portable HDD

As widely discussed since 2014, this trick still works in 2016, which is insane price arbitrage if you ask me.

Bought a 2TB Seagate Expansion Portable HDD for $117. The 2.5" SATA HDD inside, if purchased as a stand-alone unit, costs upwards of $165.

Prying this open requires a thin sturdy Swiss army knife blade (or something equivalent). A guitar pick was not rigid enough to do the job for me.

The way these newer casings are designed, the plastics catches on the end that you start prying are bound to break.

The other end should be OK if you are careful enough.

I didn't need the casing anyway, so I didn't care. But you can always put it together with a little creative application of black electrical tape, so I don't think it's too much of a problem, unless you are really picky about cosmetics.

After putting it into my laptop, SeaTools detects the HDD as ST2000LM007. Not much of a surprise here.


  • $50 savings for 5 minutes' work
  • You can never be 100% sure which brand/model HDD you are getting inside
  • You void the warranty
This approach is not for everyone, but the bang-for-buck ratio is really high for the adventurous to take a dive.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Lossless concatenation of MP4 video files


ffmpeg -i myfile1.mp4 -c copy -bsf:v h264_mp4toannexb -f mpegts int1.ts
ffmpeg -i myfile2.mp4 -c copy -bsf:v h264_mp4toannexb -f mpegts int2.ts
ffmpeg -i "concat:int1.ts|int2.ts" -c copy -bsf:a aac_adtstoasc output.mp4

Monday, 23 May 2016

RIP - QY8 Bluetooth Earpiece

Purchased: Sep 2015

From: GearBest

Died: May 2016

Issue: No audio in right earpiece. Suspect break in connecting wire between the two earpieces.

While it lasted: Good reception, audio and battery life. Comfortable wear (not too heavy). A little disappointed with the durability because I have always handled it gently.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

WhatsApp: How to get out of Google Drive backup during restore

Let's say you have accidentally enabled Google Drive backup on your WhatsApp. Now when you want to restore it to a new phone, you find that you have to download 500MB worth of data and wait for an insane amount of time because you don't have fast broadband. What do you do?

I found myself in this situation recently and cracked my head a bit trying to solve it. Thought I'd log this down and save someone else in the same situation a little time.

Firstly, whether or not Google Drive backup is enabled, a local backup file is always created in the SD-card under /WhatsApp/Databases/msgstore.db.crypt8. The full path is typically /storage/emulated/0/WhatsApp/Databases/msgstore.db.crypt8. You have to copy msgstore.db.crypt8 to the the same path on the new smartphone (create the necessary subfolders along the way) before WhatsApp is installed.

The next step delinks WhatsApp from Google Drive so that when you install and run it on the new smartphone, it will not insist on restoring from Google Drive.

From a web browser, login to Google Drive. On the top-right corner, click on the gear icon, then click on "Settings":

 A new popup window will appear.  Select "Manage Apps" on the left.

You should see "WhatsApp Messenger" in the list. Click on "Options, Disconnect from Drive".

You will be given a choice to "Delete hidden app data" in a checkbox. If you leave that unchecked, you can always delete the data later from the "Options" button again.

Once you have disconnected WhatsApp from Google Drive, you can go ahead and install WhatsApp on your new smartphone. When you run it for the first time, it will now search within the local storage for the backup and find msgstore.db.crypt8 if the file is in the right place.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Removing "Whats New" app from Sony Xperia Android smartphones

Sony Xperia smartphones come with a number of Sony crapware, one of which is the "What's New" app that runs in the background and popup from time-to-time as a notification, which is just plain annoying for some of us. Worse, unlike the other crapware, this one cannot be disabled in "App Info" (the "Disable" button is greyed out).

After some research, I found a way to disable this app. First you need to have a working ADB in your system. The trickiest part is to install the correct ADB driver. I referred to this post for help. On my Win7 x64 system, the AdbDriverInstaller method worked for me.

If you don't have adb.exe yet, you need to get it into your system. The official way is to install the Android Platform SDK, but a minimal install of ADB can be found here.

Anyway, to verify that ADB is working properly (both EXE and driver), at the command prompt (with the device connected to the PC via USB cable), type:

adb devices

This should display something like:

List of devices attached
YT91152XZY      device

i.e. there must be at least one device attached.

So much for the prerequisite. The rest is simple. Simply execute the following commands:

adb shell
pm hide com.sonymobile.entrance

That's it!

Older posts on the web recommends pm block com.sonymobile.advancedwidget.entrance, which does not work anymore. So this is a note to myself (and others) to hopefully save some time in case I reset the phone and need to perform this step again in the future.

Monday, 1 June 2015

"System repair disc could not be created. The parameter is incorrect. (0x80070057)"

The simple answer to this error is I was using a CD-R disc instead of a DVD-R disc.

I got stuck for almost 30 minutes googling around and trying out all kinds of suggestions. Then after downloading ISO image and trying to burn it to the disc using ImgBurn, I got an error message in human language telling me the disc has incorrect format. Could be better, but I got the hint.

Developers, we need error messages that a human being of average intelligence can understand.