Create a keyboard shortcut to toggle the navigation pane in Windows Explorer

There may be times when you want to hide the navigation pane in Windows Explorer. For example sometimes if I’m working with a directory of images I want to hide the navigation pane so that the entire Explorer window is filled with thumbnails of the images in the folder.

Unfortunately Windows Explorer doesn’t provide a hotkey for this, but there is a fairly easy way to do it:

1. Install the free, Open-Source program called AutoHotKey. During installation it will ask which version do you want to install. If you are on a modern, 64-bit machine then I recommend choosing the Unicode 64-bit option.

2. Right-click on an empty area of the Desktop and in the menu select New -> AutoHotKeyScript. Enter a name for the new script, for example Toggle Navigation Pane.ahk.

3. Right-click on the script’s desktop icon and select Edit Script. On a new line after the default text in the script enter the following:

#NoTrayIcon
#Persistent
#NoEnv
#SingleInstance, Force

#IfWinActive ahk_class CabinetWClass
#a::
Send !d!vn{enter}ln

Now save it and close the editor window.

4. Right-click on the script’s desktop icon and select Run Script.

Now, when you are in Windows Explorer, when you press Win + A key combination it will toggle the navigation pane off or on. Note that this is for Windows 8 through 10. For Windows 7 see the thread below for the appropriate AutoHotKey script code.

Reference:

superuser.com Keyboard shortcut to hide/show Explorer navigation

The Awesome Power of Nature

DSC_0042

Through micro-worlds.

Photo: Orange chain

orange chain

Resurrection Remix Android ROM

Resurrection Remix

I recently wrote about some of the more popular ROM’s for the T-Mobile and MetroPCS Samsung Galaxy S4 SCH-M919 phone. That post included mention of Resurrection Remix.

I just wanted to say again that this ROM is really amazing. Today another update was released. This is a very fresh ROM that is frequently updated. This ROM makes the phone run faster. Benchmark scores are higher. I notice a marked improvement in the performance when playing my favorite game: WB Tempest.

If you are fortunate enough to have this phone or any other for which there is a Resurrection Remix build, I highly recommend trying it out.

In order to install this ROM you have to first root the phone and install TWRP. Links with information on how to do this are in this previous post.

Once you’ve installed TWRP and the phone is rooted you should install the TWRP Manager app from the Android Play store which will make it much easier to reboot your phone into recovery mode whenever you want to install/upgrade ROMs. When TWRP Manager is launched there is a reboot option in the menu and then another option to reboot into recovery.

These custom ROMs are what having any information appliance should really be about. They should run operating systems designed by amazing people in collaborative, international projects which people do because of their dedication to cool, open software.

That said, I don’t want to make it seem like Resurrection Remix is the only ROM worth trying. There are a lot of amazing ROMs being put out by a lot of dedicated people, and I recommend trying out as many as you can.

If only the desktop computer operating system environment was the same as Android. That would be the healthiest thing. That actually is what Linux is about however unfortunately Linux never took off on the app side of things. Its 2015 and I think its way overdue that regulatory authorities step in and force a breakup/decoupling of MS Office from Windows/Microsoft, and that other major software and hardware vendors get away from the Microsoft addiction and start supporting Linux as their primary OS.

How many people?

The flood of illegal immigrants

America is being flooded with illegal immigrants. In some parts of the country people only notice a small amount of illegals. However, there are some areas where the flood is massive.

I love my city and its multiculturalism. I am proud that my country is a place where people can come from all over the world and live together. That is what makes America great.

But I am against illegal immigration. I am against the massive waves of illegals flooding into the country for what seems like the past 10 or 15 years at least, reaching a level now that is almost incomprehensible. The borders of America have collapsed and I am strongly opposed to it.

People may say that I’m a bigot or a racist. But then citizens of every other developed nation on Earth which have the sane immigration policies I’m advocating are also bigots and racists. Except they are not and I am not. Because opposing illegal immigration is about: Immigration. Having a sane immigration system is about: Immigration.

People who call those speaking out against insane immigration policies bigots or racists are in fact themselves racist and bigots. People should not be allowed to jump the queue, cut ahead of the line just because. I don’t accept this and the breakdown of the immigration system and the failure to enforce existing laws, and the way the laws are deliberately being ignored and flaunted is sick.

According to statistics 3/4 of the illegals coming in are illiterate and lack a high school diploma. The jobs they steal from Americans, such as laborer, maintenance worker, painters, helpers, landscaping and yard work, dishwashing or kitchen help, and many others are exactly the kinds of jobs which help people on the margins of society stay afloat.

Yesterday the BBC ran a heartbreaking story about the homeless emergency in Los Angeles. That emergency is happening not just in LA. In my city it is happening. The homeless crisis has reached a level that is absolutely shocking. The entire downtown of my city – a huge area – is basically an enormous homeless zone.

Over the past decade, exactly as the flood of illegals coming in has reached outrageous proportions, the homeless emergency has also grown.

I have always been a strong environmentalist and liberal in terms of my beliefs. But now I wonder.
Yet politicians who are “liberal” are the ones allowing and in fact encouraging this epic, massive flood of illegal immigrants into America. And when you try to communicate with them, if they bother to communicate back at all, they will make the most outrageous statements about the “rights” of illegals, about America being an open country (even while no developed nation in the world, even the most liberal ones, accept people without qualifications and allow the loss of jobs to their own citizens), about how it is humane to allow this to happen and not split up families.

Basically, all of their explanations are false or misleading. None of them gel with the policies of every other developed nation in the world, even the most liberal.

What it really amounts to is that the Democratic party wants to significantly increase its voter base, while at the same time providing a vast pool of cheap labor to corporations – the oligarchic interests whom they really serve.

Furthermore, I believe that people should be left alone in their personal lives to live the way they want, so long as they respect others and do not violate others. This may seem like a liberal belief, but actually I think it is a conservative one. Basically, people deserve their privacy and the right to live how they want, so long as they do not violate others.

And here’s the problem: Under these liberal politicians the violations which occur are extensive. Even while they claim that they stand for humanistic ideals, the communities they are responsible for are sick, unhealthy, rotting places where basic human rights of health and integrity are routinely violated in what are becoming more and more lawless zones where only thugs or the extremely wealthy prosper.

They have failed massively to protect people at the most basic level of bodily integrity as the cities become cesspools of violation and offense against the body physiologically, physically, and psychologically. No responsible leaders would ever allow this to happen, and none who claim to be truly humanitarian would.

The United States is in dire trouble. It is being destroyed. Illegal immigration is out of control. The oligarchy is in control of a government run by bribery, and the same oligarchy controls Big Media, controls “the news”, controls the stories that get reported and published.

Communities are sinking and there is only one candidate running for President who has the capacity to really change things: Donald Trump. He has spoken at length in his press conferences and rallies about his platform which includes:

The recognition that Obamacare has not met its goal. Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed, as have deductibles and co-payments. At the same time actual coverage is weak. The middlemen – exactly the ones documented in Michael Moore’s groundbreaking film Sicko, are raking in obscene profits. Americans are being massively ripped-off. Donald Trump supports a radical change to the healthcare system which includes more affordable and universal coverage for all Americans.

The recognition that the tax system is broken and needs to be reformed. People like hedge fund managers who make obscene profits – not by actually creating jobs or producing anything of value, but solely by trading and manipulating – are not paying close to their fair share of taxes. At the same time, the poorest Americans who are struggling to get by, under Donald Trump’s plan, will not pay any tax, which will ultimately help the economy by improving things.

The recognition that there has been a huge loss of American jobs over the past decades. As Donald says, America has built China. It is the huge loss of American jobs to factories in China which has led to the huge increase in wealth of China, an extremely hard-line, totalitarian dictatorship which does not allow freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and has many other extremely serious deficiencies with regard to fundamental rights.

Jobs are also being lost as American companies build factories in places like Mexico where they get cheap labor and pay very little tax.

Furthermore, American companies are hiring massive numbers of foreigners for high-skilled and even low-end tech jobs and many of the companies and agencies responsible for this actually discriminate against Americans and in favor of foreigners in their hiring. All this while the American education system rots.

The recognition that the invasion of Iraq was a disaster for America. Donald has spoken and continues to speak of this at length, unlike any other Republican candidates. He clearly recognized at the time the fallacy of invading Iraq and the enormous bloodshed and damage to the US, while we should have been repairing our crumbling infrastructure at home.

The recognition that Big Media is being manipulated by an oligarchy which wields enormous power behind the scenes and which routinely manufactures “news”, or alternately censors information, according to its agenda which is not a democratic one.

The recognition that American government has become a system of bribery in which politicians are beholden to wealthy donors – the oligarchy – and who fail to truly represent the interests of the American people.

Please vote for Donald Trump. Register as Republican and make sure you vote for him in the Republican primary.

Its time to send a message to the politicians who are destroying our country and destroying our communities that we are waking up and that things will change.

Android Pay?

Has anyone else found the big release of Android Pay to be a big flop? None of my bank cards work with it. I’ve now tried 4 different cards. One of them is from a bank the logo of which is on their supported cards page (and its sad that they only provide a logo as if people are actually too stupid to read and can only comprehend logos). That bank plus one other one are very major banks. Another is a credit union.

One would have thought that they would have actually had all or at least most banks on board before the release. But no.

I think Google are stupid.

Some cool ROMs for the Samsung Galaxy S4 (MetroPCS) SGH-M919N

What is a ROM? A ROM is basically an operating system for a phone. Just as there are different operating systems that you can install on a computer there are also different ROMs – in addition the stock ROM that comes with the phone – that can be installed.

There are three foundations to being able to install ROMs, and these are:

1. Root the phone

2. Install a custom recovery

3. Install Titanium Backup and run a batch backup of all user apps and system data

Root

To start everything out one must first root the phone. Android is a form of Linux which is a form of Unix, and on Unix-based systems root is the master user of the system. With root privileges one has complete and full control over the system. Normally the use of root is discouraged unless absolutely necessary when administering a system, however there are a number of apps including Titanium Backup which require root privileges to run. Having root gives you complete control over your phone and can make some things easier.

Custom Recovery

Every Android device has what is called a recovery environment. Its basically a special, tiny maintenance OS that exists separately from the main ROM of the system. It is through this maintenance or recovery environment that ROMs are installed (flashed) to the device.

Every Android device comes with a stock recovery, however to start flashing ROMs you will almost certainly need a custom recovery. The most popular recoveries are Philz, Clockworkmod, and TWRP, with the latter seeming to be the most popular recently. Here is information for installing TWRP. There is also a TWRP Manager app available which makes rebooting into the recovery environment and performing various tasks in it easy.

Titanium Backup

Titanium Backup should always be the first app you ever install on any device. Once it is installed you can run a batch backup of all apps and system data. This will save everything in a folder called TitaniumBackup either on the internal memory card or an external SD card. You should then copy this entire folder to a safe location on a computer as backup.

You may need to enable Developer Options on your Android device in order to connect it to your PC and transfer files to and from it. This is done by going into Settings -> About phone and then tapping on Build number multiple times until a message appears which says Developer Options have been enabled. Then exit back one level in Settings and go into Developer Options and turn on USB debugging. Now the device should show up in Windows Explorer under My Computer.

Once you’ve installed any ROM, the first thing you will always do is set up your main Google account so that you can access the Play store, then install Titanium Backup right away and run a batch restore of all apps and data. Before running the restore, go into the Google Settings app and under Security make sure “Scan device for security threats” is disabled otherwise you will get a ton of annoying confirmation popups during the restore process.

I selectively choose which things to restore – all my important apps, my custom launcher (Nova which I love), plus the following special items:

Accounts – extremely useful because it actually does restore settings for all your accounts. Note that the sync settings will probably get changed after the restore for each account so you will have to go in an manually set them to your preference afterwards.
Bluetooth Pairings – useful to restore any bluetooth device pairings/settings
Call log – again, extremely useful to have the call log restored
Messages – extremely useful. Restore all SMS messages.
Wallpaper – I use a highly customized, live wallpaper (Light Grid Pro which is amazing) so its nice to have it restored
Wifi Access Points – useful if you have a lot of different access points configured

Once the batch restore is complete you should reboot immediately. It always blows my mind when, after wiping the phone, installing a brand new ROM, then restoring everything with Titanium Backup, the system comes up and everything is almost exactly the way it was before.

However you may still need to do a few tweaks – for example any keyboards you have installed (I love Swiftkey) will have to be re-enabled in Settings -> Language and input. You may also need to go into Settings -> Accessibility and re-enable some things (such as Lastpass input), and into Settings -> Accounts and re-enable things or turn on/off syncing for different accounts (I use CalDAV sync to sync with my Owncloud calendar and I have to go into the account and re-select the calendar to sync).

Note about freshness

One major downfall of 3rd party ROMs is that many of them are released and then no longer maintained. If you look through the ROMs available for the TMobile Samsung Galaxy S4 (which includes the MetroPCS model) as well as those available for S4 models in general (some of which may not support the MetroPCS model), many in the list are no longer maintained. Often someone creates a ROM, releases it, and then moves on.

In light of serious security vulnerabilities found in Android, such as the latest kernel vulnerability and the now infamous Stagefright vulnerabilities its important more than ever to have a system which will receive timely security fixes.

I therefore recommend sticking with ROMs which are part of larger group projects, rather than one-off builds created by single developers, cool though they may be.

One feature to look for in any ROM is OTA (Over The Air) updating. This means that in the Settings there will be an Update option through which can check for, retrieve, and install updates.

Noteworthy ROMs

Below are some noteworthy ROMs for the MetroPCS Galaxy S4. Note that the codename for this model is the same as for the TMobile model: JFLTETMO. Any ROM for the TMobile model (SGH-M919) will also work for the MetroPCS model (SGH-M919N).

Cyanogenmod 12.1 CyanogenMod (often referred to in forums as “CM”, not to be confused with the custom recovery ClockworkMod “CWM”) is actually the base of a lot of custom ROMs. It is kind of like a bread-and-butter ROM. It may not have extra special enhancements which other custom builds have, but the “nightlies” are always maintained and if you use it you should feel confident to know that you will probably receive any important Android security updates before anyone else does. It is a good choice if you want something that is secure and will always be maintained. You can also create a Cyanogenmod account which will link with your device. This was the first custom ROM I tried. Features OTA updates. One thing I will mention is that the many of the themes available for CM 12.1, which work with many of the other builds mentioned here, are amazing.

Optimized CyanogenMod 12.1 Installed this ROM today and its excellent, on par with Resurrection Lollipop mentioned below. AnTuTu benchmark score is very high, and performance is snappy. I miss the cool ringtones from Resurrection and the latter also had a few more settings and tweaks available but nothing of major importance. This ROM includes STweaks instead of Kernel Adiutor. One thing I like about STweaks is it has a Sound section where you can up the gain to the speaker. You just have to be careful because you can blow out the tiny speaker if you up it too high. Under Wifi advanced settings you can change the Wifi country setting since the radio bands for Wifi differ between countries. Well-maintained project with many contributors and frequent updates. Features a lot of performance optimizations/customizations and OTA updates.

Candy5 Somewhat similar to Cyanogenmod but with more enhancements. It is maintained by a good number of people and has fairly frequent releases. This was the previous ROM I used. It also comes with a Sweetener Pack which are cool customizations that can be done to most aspects of the interface, beyond what almost any other ROMs offer. It also includes a system-wide ad-blocker that can be enabled. Another cool thing is Kernel Adiutor, available in Settings, which gives fine-grained control and the ability to tune the kernel, CPU, GPU, and more. I especially like the Sound settings here in which it is possible to up the gain for the handset speaker. Features a custom kernel and OTA updates.

Jflte Team The Android Open Source Project This is about as pure Android as you can get. Google periodically releases the source code of Android which is what projects like Cyanogenmod and this one use. However most projects will then customize it. This project tries to keep it pure but adds a few things from Cyanogenmod. Features OTA updates.

Resurrection Lollipop v5.5.6 Yesterday I installed this ROM and was glad I did! It is a really cool, feisty ROM, very smooth and fast. Has some cool ringtones that I like. Under Settings -> Configurations there are a lot of cool tweaks. AnTuTu Benchmark score was notably higher with this ROM than with Candy5. The link to GApps on their page was not working, so I used TK GApps micro which is working fine. This ROM features Kernel Adiutor for kernel tweaking and has more settings tweaks than most ROMs. Features OTA updates.

JFLTE-GPE 5.1 Based on Google AOSP

Team-Radium 1.4 Derived from Cyanogenmod with additional features. Features OTA updater.

MoKee OpenSource Project

Ayeh MODs albe95 S6 Port I tried this and it is a very good ROM. It is basically a backport of the Galaxy S6 to the S4. Even though its a Samsung-based rom it still lacks Wifi calling (as virtually all other ROMs mentioned here also do). Also, it was built based on settings for a different country. Wifi channels are different in different countries, and with this ROM 802.11a and 802.11n (5GHz) connections were not working. There is a way to fix this but it is pretty involved. Hopefully a future release will fix this. Note that this is not an actual release from albe95 but rather an adaptation for the TMobile done by one person.

Albe95 LolliROM 5.0 Another Samsung-based ROM with many backported apps and features from later models like the S6 and Note 4. Same as with the ROM above, this is not albe95’s actual release, but an adaptation of it for the TMobile by Ayeh.

ROMs that do not support the M919 TMobile/MetroPCS model

Unfortunately a number of popular S4 ROMs you may hear about do not support the MetroPCS model. These include:

Slim Roms

Euphoria Android Lollipop

Albe95 S6 FULL PORT 4.5 Unfortunately the main release of the very cool Albe95 S6 backport does not support the MetroPCS model, although Ayeh has done a release for the TMobile (linked above).


Note about Camera apps

One thing I did miss with non-Samsung-based ROMs was the Samsung camera app. Android has a new camera API called Camera2 which supports more features and there are a number of very cool camera apps which support it. However the Candy5 ROM I’m using and I believe many of the others mentioned above do not support it. I still managed to find a couple really good and free camera apps at the Open Source Android repository F-Droid: Focal and Open Camera.

Note about Wifi calling

Wifi calling is a nice thing to have, however pretty much all non-Samsung-based ROMs will not support it and even the Galaxy S6 backport ROM above doesn’t support it. But since MetroPCS plans feature unlimited voice this is not really a big issue even though it would be nice to have. In the past, with another phone, I found that keeping Wifi calling disabled actually ensured better voice connections when out and about and connecting to various Wifi hotspots.

More Lunar Eclipse

2015.09.27 Lunar Eclipse over San Francisco

2015.09.27 Lunar Eclipse over San Francisco

Going through all the pics I took the night of the eclipse. I’m really enjoying a lot of the city at dusk landscape shots. Here is another one of the fully eclipsed Moon just as it had emerged from behind the bank of fog.

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