Sharing large videos on Whatsapp from an iPhone

WhatsApp has this frustrating limit of 16 MB or about 1-2 min for videos shared from the camera roll on my iPhone. There seems to be a reasonable workaround through the Google photos app wherein you can use the share option on the video of your choice and select the small option which usually compresses most reasonable length videos so that they can be sent in their entirety on Whatsapp.

The quality is of course pretty poor due to the heavy compression but it’s the simplest workaround.

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Updating iOS on an ancient iPad 2 from 4.3

Recently faced an issue when trying to update an old iPad 2 from its original 4.3 OS. Back in those days even OTAs were not supported and iTunes was the only way to update. Since Apple has switched off validation for iOS versions older than 9, the iPad was going into an “Error 9” unusable state and there seems to be a lot of frustrated users out there who seem to be trying to update to iOS 9 from 4.X.X and failing to do so.

Some Googling turned up a suggestion to update to the beta version of iOS 9, and voila it worked. Unfortunately, you most likely need a developer account to actually download the iOS 9.3 beta file as the public beta is unlikely to work with iOS 4.3. Nonetheless, if you manage to get hold of the iOS 9.X beta version then definitely give it a shot.

Switching to Celsius in Google Now on desktop Chrome

I had this vexing issue where the Google Now notification would show the temperature in Fahrenheit on my desktop Chrome browser notifications. It seems that this is a known bug, and is not fixed properly. The workaround that did the trick for me (as highlighted in this comment) was to switch to Fahrenheit in Google Now on the mobile app and then switch back to Celsius again. The desktop notification finally started displaying the temperature in Celsius. A very silly issue, and a reminder that practically all the OSes (both mobile & desktop) are now being developed in a country that does not follow the metric system.

Working around Steam issues with hybrid mobile GPUs

I have an Optimus enabled Acer Aspire 5750G with the NVIDIA 540M, and I have purchased quite a games (mostly ones on sale) on Steam over the last few months. The games work pretty well and the GPU is powerful enough to play them at the native resolution of my laptop.

I did find some games playing sluggishly even though they had pretty moderate requirements. The worst was in store when I tried playing the game Hoard. This game continually crashed to the desktop after showing its loading screen saying that reuben.exe has stopped working. I did some investigation into the matter and found a helpful thread on the game forum discussing this issue wherein lots of people with mobile hybrid GPU config (both NVIDIA & AMD\ATI) have faced crashes.

The fix that worked for me was this one:

Navigate to the folder that holds the Reuben.exe (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\hoard\win32) and right click on the app, select Run with this Graphics processor.  Then select Choose Default.  When the next screen comes up click add and then navigate to the folder and select reuben.exe.
Looks like while Steam was correctly getting autoselected to the nVidia chipset, Hoard was getting the integrated.

image

NVIDIA by default uses its GPU for Steam, but not for all the games on Steam – especially the Indie games. This also explains why many games are slower than expected, as the integrated Intel HD graphics is not that powerful. So, if you are having trouble with games on Steam, go to the Manage 3D Settings section of the NVIDIA Control Panel and add profiles for your games on Steam, setting them to use the NVIDIA processor as shown. Steam stores the games in the folder – C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common by default, and the main game executable will be within the subfolders.

On a side note, another issue I face frequently with Steam is that it takes quite a long time to launch games, and the duration seems to be dependent on the network speed. Haven’t found a workaround for that other than to launch Steam in offline mode, which seems to prevent it from trying to check for updates online on every launch.

Fixing the Authenticated Proxy Problem

While on campus, most of us have to use some sort of proxy to access the internet. Many a times, the proxy requires authentication and due to this programs that are not able to handle authenticated proxies (giveaway of the day installers, Apple software update, Xtrnormal State to name a few) just fail to connect to the internet even though you have a blazing fast connection. I had earlier proposed a solution of using an HTTP tunneller as a workaround, but the problem was two fold: 1) you were tunnelling through your proxy & this might have been in violation with the terms of use of your proxy, and 2) the connection speeds were terrible as they were now bottlenecked by the tunnelling server.

I then remembered that Privoxy is a local proxy server used to filter ads & web pages in general, & it could be used as a local proxy with the authentication added for the main proxy. However, while looking at the Privoxy page on wikipedia, I came across another program called Proxomitron (the developer has unfortunately passed away, but the program lives on) that does pretty much the same thing & is primarily GUI driven (Privoxy has quite a few config files with a frontend, but not as simple to use).

So, here’s a step by step guide to setup Proxomitron as a local proxy to take care of the proxy authentication problem faced by many programs:

1) Start Proxomitron and uncheck the filters (you could leave them checked if you want to use the filtering capabilities, but that adds an overhead to your system) & check the “Use remote proxy” option

proxomitron default

2) Click the “Proxy” button to configure your internet proxy server (format – <proxyname>:<port>) and right click on the text field to bring up the advanced proxy settings menu

 

proxomitron proxy settings

3) In the advanced proxy settings, enter your username & password for the authenticated proxy & you’re done with the setup

proxomitron proxy

4) Open the “Internet Options” in IE & put in localhost as your proxy & port number as 8080 (unless you’ve changed it)

LAN settings

That’s it and you should now be able to use the programs that make use of the IE proxy settings to connect to the internet. In case any program has its own proxy settings without an option for entering the proxy authentication, just use the same settings as in step 4 & it should work. In fact, you can also use this setup for your iPod Touch/iPhone – you’ll just have to replace the “localhost” address with the IP of your computer, and of course have them both on the same network – to make your net connected Apps work.

Installing Giveaway of the day & Game Giveaway of the day behind authenticated proxy

Giveaway of the day and Game giveaway of the day are pretty interesting sites wherein they give away a commercial software for free for a period of 24 hours, periodically. The software installers are encapsulated within the giveaway of the day software that connects to their servers to check the validity of the giveaway period. One of the limitations of this software is that it does not work behind authenticated proxies, i.e., proxies wherein you need to enter your userid/password to access the internet (quite common in education institutions).

It seems to use the “Internet Option” settings of Internet Explorer to detect the connection settings. So, the simplest way to use the software behind such a proxy is to use a HTTP tunnel client that creates another proxy layer with the userid/password settings already entered. HTTP-Tunnel Client is a useful software in this regard and can be used to serve the purpose (something I had used earlier to make the State software work behind an authenticated proxy). Just follow the instructions to configure the proxy in the software and change the settings in Internet Options.

HTTP-Tunnel

 Internet Options

Once this is done, the installer should run fine and connect to the server without any errors. It may fail the first time, in which case just try once more.

This is a pretty useful workaround and should work for other software that use the Internet Options connection settings, but do not support an authenticated proxy.