What’s going on lately

I have received quite a few messages on Facebook asking me why I do not update my blog or respond to messages and comments on my page, I would like to explain a few words and here are the reasons.

As you can see, the latest post on my blog was published more than three months ago. The reason I do not write any more is that not much has happened since then and I am done with introducing location apps or how to use my tools, I simply said too much in the past. If you are interested in learning, the information in those posts still work. By the way, as I said in Facebook, I do not respond to those comments or messages asking to track a number or their lost handset. In the meantime, some people are asking me to help them unbrick their handsets. As a matter of fact, I only did it twice and stopped helping my friends because we do not have such issues any longer. So I may not have the files people ask or run into the errors they have, in that case I could not offer any assistance, and I am really sorry.

I have received a few requests asking for help from a few police departments during the past few months. As always I am glad to offer any help free of charge as long as I have the time. In helping tracking the locations of cell phone numbers provided by the cops, I realized that I need to cover more areas around the world. So I tried very hard getting data from various app developers. I also made a few foundlings in the course, I think I could use the data such as IMEI number and locations of handsets available to track stolen mobile devices although some of them are last known positions, but it certainly helps us find where our lost handsets have gone.

I also bought a Galaxy S7 (G930F which ships with Exynos 8890) two months ago, it’s a nice phone and I spent quite a few days to root it and remove the bloatware. As any S7/e owners may have already discovered it needs a little trick to root it. When you enter download mode and finish flashing the latest twrp (twrp-3.0.2-4 as of writing) using Odin, you need to press and hold Volume up + Home + Power immediately the phone restarts or disable reboot when flash the file, then use Volume down + Home + Power to reboot your S7 and swap to volume up when the screen turns black. Well I do not know that at first, according to my experience with rooting Samsung flagships, you just need to flash the recovery and let it auto reboot, then reboot into recovery. Well not this time, I was really frustrated and did many a few tries without any luck. So I turned to those rooting one-click apps, still nothing.

Finally, I decided to read the threads more carefully as many had success. Then I realized things have changed a little bit and you need to adapt to it. I re-tried the new solution at 0:00 o’clock and this time I succeeded. Later I used package disabler pro to disable those bloatware (if you are using 820 version or do not want to root your handset, try it) until I finally get them out of my storage.

remote-controls

I also tried Samsung’s find my mobile. To start with, I am still disappointed. I say still because I tried it two years ago when I was with my Galaxy S5 LTE-A. It’s really slow and could not find my positions now and again even when I had WiFi on. But it did work! This time I find it’s more or less the same until then I found you could not find your handset if you disable Samsung push service. I shared that on my Facebook page that night. However it’s still no match for Apple’s Find My iPhone. What got me angry is that when you locate your handset, it displays a notification says remote controls in lock screen, or find my cell phone via find my mobile if phone unlocked. What are you doing Samsung app developers? Keep moving Samsung, your apps really suck!

Well above are what I would like to share here. I am sad to say that I will not be able to respond to messages now and then because I am really having a hard time accessing Facebook (but I promise I will get back to you as soon as possible if you really need my help), and that’s why I disable all Google Apps too LOL (it really consumes too much battery juice by constantly connecting to Google).

2016-Nov-Wed | Category: Others | Tags: ,

How to remove S finder and quick connect

I do not remember how many Samsung handset I owne, however without any doubt the Galaxy S5 LTE is the one I love the most and longest. I bought this phone when it was released, and I bought four backup batteries. I take those batteries and the charger when I travel and I am never afraid of my battery going dead. I just love cell phones with user-replaceable batteries.

Well to be honest I do not love everything on my S5 prime, this is very very true when it comes to Samsung’s own touchwise overlayer and lots of bloatware. Take S finder and quick connect for example, I try my hardest to remove them from my mobile device whenever I upgrade to the latest. If you do not like them either, just read on.

To disable or remove those two apps is one thing and that’s quite easy, to hide the two buttons from the notification bar is another which is much harder. If you have other Galaxy phones, this should work too.

Howtos in KitKat

S5 came with Android 4.4.2 in 2014. At that time, you could choose Dalvik or ART although S5 LTE did not have a choice. I suppose here you are still with Dalvik (my wife’s handset is still running 4.4.2 Dalvik) and that’s where I begin.

1. Root your handset.
2. Install Xposed, then download, install and enable the module G-Touchwiz.
3. Open G-Touchwiz and disable quick connect, and S finder.

Now reboot and check. What happens? Yes, they are gone.

If you do not have Xposed installed. Try Tasker profile. Take S finder for example, set up below parameters.

Trigger:
Variable Set: %WIN
Value: S Finder

Action:
Open Google search

Howtos in Lollipop

I think some people are still using Lollipop, right? Well if you stay with Android 5.0.1 or 5.1 for whatever reason, try this.

1. Root your mobile phone.
2. Download this app to your handset.
3. Open up Root Explorer and go to /vendor/overlay, create it if it does not exist yet, do not forget to set the permissions.
4. Copy the file to the folder you just create and set the correct permission.
5. Reboot and see for your self.

If this unfortunately does not work for you, download this file, extract and install it (copy the folder to /data/app and remember the permissions if you fail to install it), of course you need to reboot.

Howtos in Marshmallow

Android 6 is now the most up-to-date system in the Android world and many models of Galaxy S5 are starting the receive the update. If you have the new system and want to get rid of these two buttons, here is the tip.

1. Root your phone.
2. Open Root Explorer and navigate to /system/etc/permissions.
3. Backup com.sec.feature.findo.xml and then delete it.
4. Reboot and check for yourself.

Very easy, right? Just give it a shot!

Now comes the final solution.

Solution works for all versions of Android

Find a ROM that does not have those apps and buttons lol. If you do not like the ROM for whatever reason, extract the systemui.apk and replace yours if you have the same OS version, remember to backup. Sometimes others may share their systemui.apk and that’s a good option too.

However this could lead to a disaster if that app does not work and collapses all time, which means you will not have the time to restore your backup. A better solution would be create a .zip file (not the common zip file, you know what I mean) and flash it with a third-party recovery like TWRP, for instance.

Actually for some Samsung Android devices (Galaxy A8), simply scroll down your notification area, tap edit and then uncheck the s finder and quick connect at the bottom will do the trick. Go check your phone to see if it works now.

There are of course other solutions out there too, share with me if you have one.

2016-May-Sun | Category: Others | Tags:

Interesting location based apps for Android and iOS

I now have a two-year-old baby girl and I spend most of my time with her, so I just do not have enough time to write and communicate with people on Facebook and Google plus, and that’s why I could not respond to messages and comments on my Facebook page. If you have ever left me any message and do not hear from me, I am really sorry. Anyways, I will squeeze for writing and managing my social accounts.

In this post I will introduce some interesting apps and website I come into daily, and you may find some of them very useful.

TheFtie

theftie

This is actually an anti-theft app. I stopped writing about mobile tracking apps since I realized that almost all of them have the same functionality. However this app differentiate itself from others with a few features.

Basically, it will send photos of the theft to the phone’s owner when an incorrect password is entered, or the SIM is taken out or the phone is turned off, together with the location. In addition, it will transfer your data and apps to Google cloud, not to mention sound the phone, lock and wipe the data.

For an unknown reason, Google takes down the app, so you need to download it from the website.

TrueCaller

truecaller
Truecaller now has more than 2 billion entries in their database and more than 20 million users. This app helps identify the true caller and reject spam calls and messages. You can also use it to reverse search people as it pulls data from social networking sites like Facebook.

Keep in mind it shares your phonebook to truecaller’s database without your knowing, do a search to find it yourself. If you are an Android user, do not give it permission to read your phonebook and call log. LOL.

WifiMap

wifimap

If you travel a lot and need wireless access anytime everywhere, this app could help. It has many paid and free WiFi networks worldwide, to be exact US, Europe, Asia, Middle east, Russia and even Africa.

Remember to open WiFi, it will show nearby WiFi access points within 500 meters. Also keep in mind it needs your location, so cellular data or GPS is required.

HideMyPhone

hide

Free, temporary (7 days) phone numbers to receive text messages and calls in six countries, US, UK, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Lithuania.

Paid numbers are available at different rates in Japan, France and Australia etc.

Check out the site here.

CamioCam

cam

CamioCam can turn any of your PC or mobile device into a video monitoring device, it will only stream videos into the cloud when it detects moving targets to save storage and bandwidth. By the way, the video file is encrypted so no one will know your privacy.

YAPQ

YAPQ is a voice tour guide, it helps you travel around the world without needing any human guide. You can download data of any city for offline use before your departure. In-house navigation is also available in museums and art galleries.

Well, that’s all for this post. If you have any interesting apps, drop me a line.

Happy Labor Day!

2016-May-Sun | Category: Others | Tags:

How to backup Pantech IRON2’s partition table

I recently bought a second hand Pantech handset IRON2 at some 900 dollars; it’s really a nice deal since it looks quite new, cute and quite a performer. In case you do not know this brand yet, it’s a Korea handset maker who was said to go belly up last year. I haven’t heard much about it since then.

It seems Pantech phones get bricked easily now in the update process, so I decided to backup the whole partition in advance. Although I only tested it on A910, it should work with all A series devices although differences should exist. However you should use it cautiously, as always.

phoneinfo

1. We need to find the file phoneinfo. You can either extract it from Pantech official ROM or pull it from your phone. I choose the latter.

2. Open Root Explorer and navigate to /dev/block/platform/msm_sdcc.1/by-name and find phoneinfo, take a note of the content inside the yellow rectangular box.

3. Open a terminal (I use system tuner pro) and type su and hit enter to gain root access. Then copy and paste below line to your terminal and hit enter:

dd if=/dev/block/mmcblk0p10 of=/sdcard/phoneinfo.img

here ‘mmcblk0p10’ is what you see in the yellow box in step 2. Now you should be able to see phoneinfo.img in your SD card which stores your partition table. You can use WinHex to view the partition information.

partition
4. Backup the whole partition. Pantech A910 has 29 partitions; here I only backup 28 of them as the last partition contain all your data, files and videos etc. I backup these data from time to time.

a. Before we start, make sure your TF card has at least free 10G capacity.
b. Then reboot into Recovery and connect it to your PC without doing anything in your handset.
c. Download this file and extract it. Then run A910backup.bat and wait, it takes a little longer backing up the last partition.
d. Reboot your phone and you will see 28 .img files.

If you are a regular visitor here, you may know my post about unbricking Qualcomm Snapdragon powered devices. You need a file ending with_msimage.mbn in unbricking your handset, that msimage.mbn file actually contains your partition table, whose counterpart is the phoneinfo.img here. Change the extension from .mbn to .img and open it with WinHex and you will see.

That .hex file contains the code your CPU will execute in unbricking your Smartphone. If you need these two files, try to find them in official ROMs with the same CPU inside.

2015-Oct-Mon | Category: Others | Tags: ,

How to install modified apps on your Android phone

I love my Galaxy S5, I love Android, I do not love ugly Android apps but I could not live without them. I decided to make those apps look better in my way a long time ago and had some success. However If you have been doing exactly the same thing  you will know that Android won’t let you do that. You will get the error message like app not installed or parse error if you try to install a modified app.

parse-error

If you still face this problem,here I will introduce a few solutions, just follow the guide and choose the one suits you best.

Patch the Android core

The reason why you could not install the modified app is that Android verifies the signature whenever you install an app. The signature voids even if you change a single byte of the app.

So the direct approach would be disable the the verification process and LuckyPatcher does exactly that.

Fire up LuckyPatcher and tap toolbox->Patch to Android, then check signature verification status always true,disable .apk signature verification and disable signature verification in the package manager and tap apply and your phone will reboot automatically. You can check the status by going to the same menu in LuckPatcher. If it patches the Android core successfully you will be able to install any modified app.

luckypatcher

disable signature verification

You can uncheck those setting if you wanna remove those patches later. Remember to backup your phone before you take any actions, it’s always a good practice.

Replace the official app

Here by official app I mean the original app you try to install. The trick is that Android system only checks the verification during the installing process, so we could take advantage of this.

First download and install the app on your phone.

Then open Root Explorer, go to data->app (and sub-folder if you have Android 5.0+) and locate the app you have installed, write the name down. Then rename the modified app to the name you remember and copy / move it to the folder you just open (you can open two tabs for easy operation), remember to change the permission.

Side note. If your cell phone runs Android 5.0+, you will find that all apk files are located under a sub folder under /data/app, the folder name is the package name and all apk files name base.apk.

permission

Now go back to the home screen and open the app, you should see the new look. If it prompts app has stopped, just reboot your phone to reopen it.

Sign the app for yourself

Above two solutions require rooting your phone. However not everyone want to root their phone, fortunately this solution does not need root access.

First, setup the Java environment on your PC.

Second, create an update.zip file. You can do this by creating a folder and names it data, then create a sub-folder app and move the modified app there. If you have Android 5.0 or later, refer to the second solution. Once you finish the whole process, zip it and names it update zip.

Third, sign it. Download this zip file to your PC and unzip it. Then copy the update.zip there and double click sign.bat. The whole process takes a few seconds, open the zip file once it finishes and check if the META-INF folder is being created.

Fourth. Flash it to your phone using recovery. Now copy the file to your handset and reboot into recovery. I will not go into details since everyone knows how to do it.

Use backup and restore apps

There are many apps that can backup and restore your apps, Titanium Backup for example. If you can figure out the location and format, it’s a good idea to use it to install modified apps.

So what solution should you use? Well if you do not want to root your mobile phone, then sign your app is the best. If you have root access, LuckyPatcher might be a good option although there’s a little risk, and it does not work sometimes too. I personally think replace the original app is easier and pose no risk on your handset as well. But it’s your choice, anyways.

2015-Apr-Mon | Category: Others | Tags:

How to change IMEI number for all Snapdragon powered devices

I once introduced how to change the IMEI number on various devices across various platforms. A lot has changed since then. Symbian and BlackBerry almost disappeared, iOS and Android dominated the mobile space. Tizen and Fire OS are struggling to make a dent. With the rise of Android, Qualcomm SOCs also dominated the flagship and mid-tire phones. While TI and Nvida exited the mobile SOC market.

Since Qualcomm Snapdragon took over the Android world, it’s time we find a way to change the IMEI number on all Android devices powered by Snapdragon SOCs, and I do find a solution. With a single program, we should be able to do that. I myself tested it on LG G2 and a few handsets made by Chinese OEMs which have the same SOC.

The software names Qualcomm QPST. If you have ever read my post about Qualcomm qusb_dload fix, then you should know it. This program is able to write directly to the bootloader and baseband. That is why it can get those bricked phones back while others can’t.

Let’s get to the point.

Before we start, you need to get the driver installed on your PC. Then download and/or install QPST and Winhex. I tried it on Win 7 32 bit and they all worked great. Did not try Win 8 or Win 7 64-bit versions.

When you are all set with the installation and connect your handset, go to device manager and you will see the serial port like COM8, write that down.

QPST config

Then open QPST->QPST Configuration->Ports, select add new port, then enter the port number you wrote down earlier and click OK. After that the program will show your SOC model like MSM8974.

Now click start clients and select software download. There you will be able to backup QCN, it should be done in a few minutes. Remember to save that backup elsewhere in case you need to restore it.

Once you are done with the backup, fire up Winhex and open the QCN file you just saved. Make sure you have other backups before proceeding to the next step.

Now search for your IMEI number. But there’s a little trick before doing that, I will give an example below.

If your IMEI number is 123456789012345 (15 digits)
get it in format like 1 23 45 67 89 01 23 45
and you search 1A 32 54 76 98 10 32 54.

Once you find it, replace with your new *valid* IMEI number in above format. Or just search and replace it in one step.

restore QCN

Finally, restore your backup, and type *#06# to check if it works. Please ensure you have got a correct valid IMEI number and backups are in place, otherwise you will not be able to make any call on your cell phone. So use it at your own cost.

2015-Jan-Sun | Category: Others | Tags:

Possible qhsusb_dload fix for all Qualcomm devices

If you own a Qualcomm powered Android device, the chances are good that you may have ran into or seen qhsusb_dload problem on various forums or blogs. It used to be a sad case as it means you will not be able to to boot your phone. If you connect your device to your PC, all you will see is qhsusb_dload in the device manager panel.

This usually happens when you flash the wrong ROM to your handset powered by Qualcomm SOC, however that’s not always the case. Some says they get the same error message when their handset turns off during regular use. Whichever scenarios you are in, it have one thing in common. You either return it to your carrier or have someone from repair shop to fix it. The repair shop here charges some 40 bucks using some Jtag device to flash the correct data.

There is nothing we can do in the past, but now things have changed a bit. Someone has claimed that he/she has found a way to solve this without any hardware, and does help some people get their devices back to work. I went through lots of threads and posts and finally managed to get this step-by-step guide ready. I myself never have the qhsusb issue with my phones, so I do not test it and not sure if it works for you. You use it at your own cost.

The whole idea is that qhsusb problem means the bootloader is corrupted, but the hardware is working correctly. We need to reflash the correct bootloader, so that you can boot into S/W or fastboot.

Before we start you need to get a few things in place.

1. Your phone and your CPU model number. For example MSM8960, which can be seen in many devices.
2. USB 2.0 cable and port on your PC (WinXP or Windows 7).
3. QPST. Install the driver and configure the port.
4. Two files according to your CPU model. For instance, if yours is MSM8960, then MPRG8960.hex and 8960_msimage.mbn. If you have other models, search accordingly.

It’s crucial to find the correct MPRG8x60.hex and 8x60_msimage.mbn files (here x means any number ranges from 0 to 9). It’s believed that you can extract the two files from the official ROM. However I am still waiting to see people details how. The other way around is to search the internet and find similar files used by other people with the same or similar phone using the same SOC. I have found two such files for MSM8660 and MSM8960.

There’s another post about how to generate the 8x60_msimage.mbn file yourself but it’s sadly gone. I tried to find a cache of it and will include it at the bottom of this post although it may not help you.

Anyway, I will go into details below.

Step one. Connect your phone to your PC and install the driver mentioned in point 3. You will see Qualcomm…. 90xx(COMxx) under port in device manager, write down that port number. If you could not see the port number, please perform step two first.

port

Step two. Install QPST and open it. Then go to QPST Configuration->Ports->Add New Port, enter the port you write down in step 1 and close it.

Step three. Open eMMC Software Download in the same folder. And enter the data as my figure shows.

eMMC

1. Click browse and enter the port number you write down.
2. Enter the two files accordingly.
3. Uncheck.
4. Choose the folder which contains the two files.
5. Click download.

Step four. Wait until it finishes and exit. Now disconnect your handset and connect to your PC again. You should see your drive in my computer. Do not format it if your computer promts, otherwise you have to go through the whole process again.

Step five. Leave a comment on Facebook or Google+ and let me know if you get your phone back.

This fix should work for all Qualcomm SOC although you need to find the right files. I now have the files for MSM8660 and MSM8960, please let know if you need them. If you wanna know how to generate the 8x60_msimage.mbn file, click here.

If you have a Xiaomi phone, check this out. For HTC M7 single SIM version, there is a single file you need to execute on Linux for recovery (and here’s how to use it). If you do need it, let me know. For other HTC devices, check this out. LG G2 users, check this out to unbrick your handset. This tutorial also extract some .mbn files which may help other phones with the same SOC. However I do not have the time to look into it. For other questions, find me on Facebook.

Update, find the qhsusb dload driver here. Please note, you do not need it if your PC recognize your phone.

Update, if you could not solve the issue using above method, please send your phone to a repair shop.

Update, many people ask me for files on Facebook after reading this post, I would like to provide the link here for MSM8064/8930/8960.

2014-Dec-Sun | Category: Others | Tags: , ,

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