Tuesday, 31 May 2011

RIP Symbian, Hello iPhone 4

The joint announcement from Nokia’s Kai Öistämö and Microsoft’s Andy Lees last month had formally declared the death of Symbian. The new N8’s and E7’s may well be the last emperors of the Symbian dynasty.

In reality, the Symbian applications community has been languishing for a long time, far behind the new comers. Trying to find a decent internet radio software today, the only option I could find was Nokia Internet Radio. I installed in on my N95 and it soon crashed my phone and caused it to reboot. Such problems have been reported back in 2008. Yet, it seems that nothing has been done.

On the other hand there are far more software in the iPhone and Android communities. Take internet radio for example, TuneIn supports just about any mobile OS except Symbian. It has access to over 40,000 stations and runs very smoothly on my new iPhone 4. It’s a far cry from the pathetic Nokia Internet Radio.

I had never owned any Apple product until yesterday – after some nagging I bought a white iPhone 4 for Rose. I always thought Apple products were for women and children for two reasons:

  1. they look cool
  2. they are easy to use

But after playing with the iPhone 4, I changed my mind – it’s not easy to use at all! It’s just as bad as any other products, if not worse.

First of all, you cannot even start using the iPhone without a MicroSIM card. At least, my trusted N95 could work without SIM card and function normally except for telco services. So the first hurdle for me was to cut my normal SIM card with scissors and make it into a MicroSIM. I was amazed that it actually worked!.

After that, I had to register on AppStore by providing my private information. Even if you want to install a free software, you are still required to put in your credit card detail - what the heck?!

Then I found that the iPhone refused to load any of my music files that were accumulated over the years – not even the polyphonic ring tone that I have been using for years. That was the final straw. I had no option but to jailbreak, after which the whole user experience became much more acceptable. At least the process was much easier and quicker than cracking my N95.

Now the women and children in my household can better enjoy the over hyped iPhone 4 before they get bored with it, just like the old XM5800.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


A while ago, I blogged about the NBN Australia and how much benefits that city folks like myself will (not) receive. There is another little quirk that NBN Co. never mentions – throttling.

Throttling refers to the traffic control measure applied by all ISPs and telcos to limit the speed/bandwidth available to the end users – squeezing the pipe, if you like.

Have you ever wondered why your Limewire/Frostwire bandwidth is so low (as low as a few Kbps – lower than dial-up speed) although you have allowed the highest settings in the software? That is because ISPs throttle many P2P traffic including Limewire/Frostwire. Such traffic policy control has been standardised by the telco industry body 3GPP under the topics of PCRF and PCEF (TS 23.203), where DPI is usually used to detect the type of traffic (e.g. Limewire, IMAP, FTP, Skype, etc.) and apply the service policies and charging to the individual traffic sessions. These standards are implemented by all the major network equipment vendors.

Throttling is applied because such P2P traffic can amount to more than 80% of the total traffic of an ISP, which is not surprising considering a HD movie can be as big as 10s of Gigabytes. So it is pretty certain that even if you have an unlimited internet plan with 1Gbps burst rate, it can still take days/weeks to download that movie you are dying to see.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cheating Red Alert 3

I recently started to play Red Alert 3 (v1.0) just for the amusement. I am not a serious game player, so naturally I needed to cheap my way through some chapters.

Unlike games such as War Craft 3, which have built-in cheat codes, RA3 has none (or at least I could not find any on the net). Fortunately, there is CheatEngine – an very handy open source bundle of tools that have been especially built for cheating in games! Since CE has been built by hacker for hackers, documentation is scarce and not easy to find.

From a quick search, there are a couple of ways to cheat in RA3:

  1. Modify money - use the CE’s memory scanner to search for the memory addresses that store the money amount. Once found, modify them to give yourself virtually unlimited money. This approach has been demonstrated on YouTube. The video is blurry, but the method is exactly the same as the first tutorial of CE, which is bundled with the CE installation.
  2. God Mode, Unlimited Resource and Quick Research – this is done by code injection. The assembly source code is available on the CE Forum. However, the forum does not say how to apply the hack. Here, I will show a step by step guide on applying the hack.

Once both RA3 and CE are running (doesn’t matter which is first),

  1. go to CE and select the process named ‘…ra3_1.0.game’ and open it.
  2. Click the ‘Memory view’ button on CE to open the memory view window.
  3. From the Memory Viewer window, select the menu Tools –> Auto Assemble (Ctrl-A).  This will pop up the Auto assemble window.
  4. Paste the assembly code found in the CE Forum (also listed below) into the Auto assemble window.
  5. Press Execute button. Click Yes on the confirmation message to inject the code. You should get another message saying successful.

That’s it. When you switch back to RA3, you will find that your money is about 100,000, researches are very fast and the units can take a constant pounding for several minutes without losing health.

The assembly code is shown below. Notice the highlighted lines – to turn the particular cheat off, change the value to 0. Also note that the code for later versions of RA3 is different and they can be found on the CE Forum as well.

// Command and Conquer - Red Alert 3 
// Game Version  : 1.0.3174.697 
// Script Version: 1.0 
// CE Version    : 5.4 
// Resource, Research and GodMode 
// 08-Nov-2008 



// Hacking Points 
 jmp _MonResource 

 jmp _GodMode 

 jmp _MonRPoints 

 jmp _MonPlayerID 

 push eax 
 mov eax,[iPlayerID] 
 cmp eax,[ecx+20]           // Player's?... 
 pop eax 
 mov ecx,[ecx+000000e4]     // Original code 
 mov [pResource],ecx        // Save ptr for debugging 
 jne _ExitMR                // ...Jump if false 

 cmp dword ptr [iEnableMR],0 
 je _ExitMR                // Jump if Monitor Resource is disabled 

 mov ecx,[ecx] 

 cmp dword ptr [ecx+04],#100000 
 jge _ExitMR                // Jump if greater then 100000 

 mov dword ptr [ecx+04],#100000 

 mov ecx,[pResource] 
 jmp _BackMR                // back to main code 

 push eax 

 mov eax,[esi-08]           // Get ptr to Unit 
 or eax,eax                 // Null Ptr? 
 jz _ExitGM                 // Jump if true 

 mov eax,[eax+00000418]     // Get ptr to Player 
 mov eax,[eax+20]           // Get ID 

 cmp eax,[iPlayerID]        // Player's?... 
 jne _ExitGM                // Jump if false 

 mov [pLastOne],esi        // Save ptr for debugging 

 mov eax,[esi+30] 
 cmp eax,00000070          // Is it an effect? 
 je _ExitGM                // Jump if true 

 cmp dword ptr [iEnableGM],0 
 je _ExitGM                // Jump if God Mode is disabled 

 movss xmm0,[esi+0c]       // Get Maximum HP 

 movss [esi+04],xmm0       // Original code 

 pop eax 
 test eax,eax              // Restore EFLAGS 
 jmp _BackGM               // Back to main code 

// Quick Research 
 push edx 

 movss [esi+2c],xmm0       // Original code 

 cmp dword ptr [iEnableMRP],0 
 je _ExitMRP               // Jump if Quick Research is disabled 

 mov edx,[esi+28] 
 mov edx,[edx+20] 
 cmp edx,[iPlayerID]       // Player´s research? 
 jne _ExitMRP              // Jump if false 

 mov edx,43af0000          // 350.0 
 cmp edx,[esi+2c] 
 jle _ExitMRP 

 mov [esi+2c],edx          

 pop edx 
 jmp _BackMRP              // Back to main code 

 mov eax,[edi+00000080] 
 mov [iPlayerID],eax       // Save Player ID for further use 
 jmp _BackMPI              // Back to main code 

// Variables 
 dd 0 
 dd 0 
 dd 0 
 dd 1 
 dd 1 
 dd 1 

// Original Codes 

 mov ecx,[ecx+000000e4] 

 movss [esi+04],xmm0 

 movss [esi+2c],xmm0 

 mov eax,[edi+00000080]