Noblesse [Teddy] Oblige

Tips for using current technology from an engineer's perspective.

Voice Search Shortcut in ICS

My phone has quick app access on the lockscreen, and one of the things I do most frequently aside from camera is voice search “navigate to _____.”

The way my phone does quick access is it lets you put a shortcut or app, but not widget (so that’s why I can’t use the universal search bar). But apparently in ICS, they removed the Voice Search app.

To reclaim the voice search as a shortcut:

  1. Download QuickShortcutMaker at Play
  2. Click on the Activities tab
  3. In the Input keyword to filter box put: Voice
  4. Select Voice Search
  5. There’s a few Voice Search options, I think you’ll want the 2nd one (recognition) but you can click on Try to try it out.
  6. Rename it or just click OK

Nova Launcher Recommendation.

If you didn’t buy a Nexus phone, and you are not planning to root and flash an AOSP rom, you can get the sleek Ice Cream Sandwich / Jelly Bean UI via Nova Launcher. 

Nova Launcher is free, but Nova Launcher Prime costs $4 for some more features. I highly recommend giving the free version a try. =]

Windows 8 features that aren’t Metro.

With Windows 8’s upcoming release later this year, there have been lots of news and responses about Window 8. Most of them, however, are about the inclusion of Metro.

Instead, this post means to list out some features that aren’t as visual as Metro, but could be useful to the user:

  • Built-in antivirus (Microsoft Security Essentials as part of Windows Defender)
  • Fast boot-up speeds (<10 seconds on any type of drive)
  • Built-in Flash support
  • Built-in function for mounting images
  • Taskbar and wallpaper can span multiple monitors
  • Windows to Go (Win8 on a flashdrive)
  • Integration with Xbox and WP8
  • Improved networking (connects to WiFi faster)
  • Built-in USB 3.0 support
  • Improved Task Manager
  • Silent updates for IE10
  • Storage Spaces allow users to combine different sized hard disks into virtual drives for mirroring, pooling, and parity on a folder-by-folder basis (some built-in RAID functions)
  • Improved File Explorer with ribbons to make useful functions and shortcuts known to regular users
  • Cloud syncing with Skydrive and Live account
  • Improved backup features (like Time Machine on OS X)
  • UEFI support (replacement for BIOS)
  • Access to Windows App Store

(Source: Wikipedia)

SetCPU, best reason to root Android phone

In my opinion, one of the best reasons for rooting my Android phone is the ability to use SetCPU.

SetCPU allows the user to set the CPU clock speeds for various conditions. Not only can you overclock for better performance while the phone is being used, but you can also underclock while the phone is asleep to prolong battery life.

In my experience, I was able to increase the clock speed by 15% while the display is active to benefit a smoother UI without noticeably increasing the temperature. For those conscious about overheating, you can decrease the clock speed (either back down to normal or underclock) once a certain temperature threshold is exceeded.

I also prolong my battery life by underclocking the CPU while the display is off, and decreasing the clock CPU more and more as the battery level drops below my specified lower bound percentages with appropriate priority levels.

This use case is very specific to me, because my phone is old (only single core and notorious bad battery life). I don’t guarantee the same benefits for another phone, but I just wanted to make the options available after rooting known.

OS X defaults for power users

Been using these defaults for several months now, thought I should share.

Here is the list of defaults.

If you like any of these, just copy and paste the command into Terminal.

Some of the ones I’m using include:

echo "Show all filename extensions in Finder"
defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleShowAllExtensions -bool true

echo "Use current directory as default search scope in Finder"
defaults write FXDefaultSearchScope -string "SCcf"

echo “Disable the “Are you sure you want to open this application?” dialog”
defaults write LSQuarantine -bool false

echo "Disable press-and-hold for keys in favor of key repeat"
defaults write NSGlobalDomain ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

echo "Enable snap-to-grid for desktop icons"
/usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :DesktopViewSettings:IconViewSettings:arrangeBy grid" ~/Library/Preferences/

Getting Youku and XBMC on Apple TV 2

My dad wanted to watch Youku on his Apple TV 2, but it is not supported by default. I did some research and found that you had to not only jailbreak the ATV2, but also install XBMC to get this functionality. I thought that would be a fun project, so I spent a couple hours doing this.

Here’s a list of instructions and sources for getting XBMC 11.0 onto Apple TV 2 running 5.0.1 os version.

1. Jailbreak ATV2 with Seas0nPass (or google an newer method if the ATV2 gets software update)

2. Install XBMC with the command line instructions under ATV 5.x 

3. Install XBMC addon with Chinese channels (including Youku)

  • Download the most up-to-date zips (eden) for the add-on
  • Transfer addon zip files to ATV2 using scp or sftp with same IP as in step 2
     -i.e. scp -r ~/Downloads/*.zip root@    (default pw: alpine)
  • Go to system>settings>add-ons>install from zip and install the zip from the directory where you placed the add-ons (i.e. /var/mobile/Media)
  • Enable the add-on channels under Videos 

4. Add support to read Chinese characters (if you see blocks as placeholders)

  • Note: in OS X Lion, you can spotlight search for Arial Unicode.ttf, ⌘+Enter the result to bring it up in Finder, make a copy and rename it as arialuni.ttf, and transfer to directory specified in instructions (via scp or sftp) 

1-click save on OS X

I just discovered this shortcut by accident:

option+left click on an image/url/document will save it immediately

Spotlight Tips

After using OS X for a while, I want to make a quick post on Spotlight. 

I think Spotlight is an amazing built-in function of OS X. For those who don’t know, it is the search icon on the top right of Macs and can be activated with cmd+space shortcut.

The most basic use for it is launching programs and searching for files. As a result, I always have my dock hidden because I don’t need to click on anything to launch a program. This benefits me by letting me stretch my browser to the bottom of the screen to maximize viewing space.

In addition, searches for files are super fast and you can use a combination of operators like AND, OR, NOT, kind:, modified:, etc to make it more specific. Once you located the file in Spotlight, you can copy it with cmd+C, alias it, or open in Finder by pressing cmd+Enter.

Finally, Spotlight lets you do quick calculations and look up word definitions by default. You can copy the result of the calculations by highlighting it and pressing cmd+C.

See more details in the source.

(Source: Lifehacker)

YouTube keyboard shortcuts

In order to use the following shortcuts, make sure the video window is active (click on video or seek bar).

  • left/right arrows = rewind/forward by 5 seconds
  • j/l = rewind/forward by 10 seconds
  • home/end = jump to beginning/end
  • 0-9 = jump to 0-90% of video
  • spacebar = play/pause
  • f = fullscreen
  • up/down arrows = volume up/down

Some quick Microsoft Word shortcuts I just came across

As I am doing homework for my Computer Organization class, I found the need to use equation editor a lot. I had been going to insert, and then selecting Equation (OSX) or clicking the Equation editor icon (Windows). I know that optimally one would use LaTeX, but those who are still tied to Word, there’s a simple keyboard shortcut to toggle Equation editor:

  • Alt + “=” (Windows)
  • control + “=” (OSX)

In addition, I learned some alignment shortcuts:

ctrl/cmd + l/e/r

Use ctrl for Windows and cmd for OSX. Left align is l, center is e, and right align is r.

Decrease Spotify cache

I use an SSD so I am always conscious of my disk usage. Yesterday I ran a scan using Disk Inventory X and found that Spotify cache takes up just more than 3 GB of my 128 GB SSD.

I went into Spotify preferences and found that it was set to use no more than 10% of my disk space, which would be a staggering 12.8 GB. I immediately decreased it to the minimum 1GB, and then followed the article cited in the source which told me how to decrease it even further.

Basically, navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/Spotify/ on OS X.

Change the cache_size value in the settings file to the desired number of megabytes (for me I did 512).


Cyanogenmod 7.2 RC got released today. Looks pretty nice with its dashes of ICS =]

Cyanogenmod 7.2 RC got released today. Looks pretty nice with its dashes of ICS =]