Power Rangers

The first time I saw the Power Rangers was in the early nineties while I was an exchange student in France and I thought it was pure violence, because you know, I couldn’t understand any of the dialog. Not that the dialog in modern iterations is any better.

Oh, how wrong I was. This is a very dark deboot experiment. NSFW. There’s also a Youtube version that according to the Vimeo site is safe for work but really, they have a funny definition of “safe for work”. I found it hard to hear the dialog, must be a Power Rangers thing, the sound effects tented to drown out voices.

Neither version is safe for kids to watch. You’ve been warned! (via io9)

Galaxy S5 Lollipop Root without Tripping Knox

If that headline makes no sense to you apart from the “Galaxy S5″ bit and you own that phone here’s why it’s important:

  • Gaining root access to your phone lets you have more control of your phone. It’s like the difference between having access to the engine of your car instead of the bonnet being welded shut. (I said “it’s like”, analogies are never 100% accurate!)
  • Lollipop is the latest version of Android that’s rolling out to Samsung Galaxy S5 phones right now. I’m still not happy that there’s no real “silent mode” any more. The developer of Llama, the app I use to switch to silent each night, includes silent mode in his list of Lollipop bugs and gotchas but he has released an updated apk with a fix for this Android bug so hopefully that works.
  • Knox is the security system Samsung uses to stop people messing with their phones and installing custom software like a new firmware on them. Once it’s tripped a yellow warning triangle appears on bootup and your warranty is void. Samsung KIES does not work either, but there are better backup solutions out there.

If you’ve had your phone for more than a year then you don’t really need to worry about Knox as your phone is out of warranty. You may not like the warning logo on bootup but how often do you boot your phone?

I found a great guide that explains how to root the Galaxy S5. You need to backup everything as your phone will be downgraded to an earlier version of Android that can be rooted and then upgraded again to an already rooted Lollipop ROM. You also have to splash out the $5 required for Mobile Odin Pro to flash Lollipop again without tripping Knox as it’s flashing a custom ROM. From what I’ve read, Odin running on your PC will trip Knox when you flash a custom ROM. I have no idea how the mobile version doesn’t.

towelroot

Installing Towelroot to root your 4.4.2 install of Android brings up this ominous message. I thought it was funny they didn’t escape the apostrophe correctly..

Oh, you’ll need several hours too. It took me an evening to do it which includes backing up files and apps and restoring them afterwards. If you use Google Authenticator, install Authy instead. It’s much easier to restore it. On the plus side, since Knox isn’t tripped, you can use KIES to restore your data!

A must-have app for Android users, rooted or not, is Greenify. It hibernates apps on your phone when you turn off the display to save battery. It works without root, but if you have a password or PIN on your lockscreen it won’t work automatically. You’ll need to use a launcher shortcut that automatically kills the apps when tapped. Facebook is always the first app I add to Greenify!

The Lollipop ROM linked from the guide above doesn’t have quite as much Samsung bloat installed by default. I use some of their software like the camera and S Health but now I can completely uninstall apps like ChatOn and almost anything else.

A final word of caution: you may soft brick your phone when you try to root it. It’s not for the faint at heart. It worked for me, but YMMV. Once rooted, apps have to ask for root permission, but once they have it they have free reign over everything so you have to be sure to only use root apps you trust.

Is it better to be fearful or fearless?

“It seems like such an odd bargain. If you have no fear, more terrible things will happen to you, but you don’t personally experience them as terrible. If you have a lot of fear, fewer bad things are likely to happen, but it’s very probable that your life is more painful to you. So is it better to be fearful or fearless? Which side of the continuum do you choose?”

Invisibilia

From NPR’s new podcast, Invisibilia, Fearless. A transcript is also available.

NPR’s Serial podcast was the hottest thing last year in the podcast world. People started listening to podcasts who had never done so before to follow the story. I hated it. They dragged things out and I got bored and unsubscribed after 3 or 4 episodes. Invisibilia is NPR back on form. It’ll blow your mind. Great show.

Sultan Delight on McCurtain Street

Sultan Delight is a new shop opened on McCurtain Street, Cork, near the Everyman and if this post by Billy Lyons is right, near where the famous Hadji Bey had his shop until the 1970s.

Sultan Delight

The shop sells chocolate, Turkish Delight, teas and coffees, spices, cakes, biscuits and more. The chocolate on display is delicious! I had a Chocolate Orange and it was lovely. It’s very sweet and filling so you wouldn’t eat too many. The Chocolate Mint is really nice too and there’s a Chocolate Smarty in the fridge here at home I’m eyeing up but my son has first dibs on that. I’m sure he’ll share with his Dad. Yeah.

Sultan Delight

I also tried a delicious biscuit but I can’t remember what it was called so you’ll have to take my word on it that it was tasty. All the food is hand made, prepared by the owner, Yosra or the chefs at the nearby Sultan Restaurant. There’s also a small alcove in the back where you can enjoy a cup of your favourite beverage and a snack.

Sultan Delight

Go pay them a visit and look around. It’s wonderful to see such a selection of food in a small shop, you’ll love it!

How to improve your sleep in seconds….

In this post Richard Wiseman recommends reducing the use of screens late at night because of the blue light emitted by them as that can keep you awake for longer.

I read books on my phone but I use Screen Filter To bring the brightness way down. Once I start reading a book I generally get sleepy within a dozen words or so! Anyway, I just installed the Twilight app that changes the temperature of the screen at different times of the day. At night it will make the screen go slightly red. I’ll give it a go tonight. Maybe I’ll look at the screen and fall into a deep sleep..

The irony is, I’m typing this at my PC where I should really have something like f.lux installed if I’m that worried about it.

PHP Notice: Undefined variable: _SERVER in ..

I upgraded Linux on this server a while back and in the course of that upgrade PHP was upgraded too, to version 5.5.9.

Since I had a modified php.ini it asked me to check over any new options. There were a few but I fixed anything that looked like it might break things. I saved the php.ini and let the upgrade go on.

Clearing up bugs

Some time later I saw odd notices in the PHP error log. Usually it referred to wp-comments-post.php but files outside of WordPress raised the warning too:

PHP Notice: Undefined variable: _SERVER in ..

It turns out the fix is rather easy. Jacques Marneweck on his blog posted a solution. Simply switch off “auto_globals_jit” in your php.ini and restart Apache (if required).

From the PHP manual entry for auto_globals_jit:

When enabled, the SERVER and ENV variables are created when they’re first used (Just In Time) instead of when the script starts. If these variables are not used within a script, having this directive on will result in a performance gain.

The PHP directives register_globals, register_long_arrays, and register_argc_argv must be disabled for this directive to have any affect. Since PHP 5.1.3 it is not necessary to have register_argc_argv disabled.

A bug

It looks like the bug is ancient although I’m not using APC, and the JIT compiler can be fooled if you access the super globals like _SERVER through variable variables. Sneaky!

The default for auto_globals_jit is “On” so next time you upgrade PHP keep an eye on the error log.

B/W HDR Look in Lightroom

Anthony Morganti uses an interesting technique to create photos with a black and white HDR look in Lightroom. It can transform a photo so it looks something like this. (I added a vignette as well.)

B/W HDR Look 1

B/W HDR Look 2

It doesn’t suit all photos of course, it’s also only a starting point as you should develop your photos in whatever way you desire. To avoid repeating all those steps every time I created a Lightroom preset.
Grab that file and install it in the same way you’d install any Lightroom preset. What d’you think?