December 11, 2018

How to Control Xiaomi Web Camera Sharing Permissions

This post came about as a result of another earlier post on How to share a Xiaomi webcam/video camera to multiple Mi accounts. A reader wanted more privacy control over his web camera after being shared with other accounts but could not find the necessary settings. After a few back and forth, it got apparent that even across Xiaomi products, the level of controls are not consistent and I thought this was worth a post by itself to show where to find the settings and get more feedback on the inconsistencies.

To set the context, I am using Xiaomi Home Security Camera 1080p (it's the China website because not all products are available in every market, just compare the photo with your web cam).

The below steps have been tested and are same in Mi Home IOS versions 4.8.7 and 4.9.2, but I noticed differences compared to version 3.19.0, so do take note which application version you are using.

November 23, 2018

In Cloud Computing, What is the Difference Between Scalability and Elasticity

In Cloud Computing, we often hear the terms 'Scalability' and 'Elasticity' being thrown around, often being used interchangeably. Recently, I was listening to an online course describing Cloud Computing concepts, and the way these two terms are described got me thinking about the differences.

So far, there is no general consensus on how to draw the line. I have seen explanations which put Scalability as adding resources while Elasticity as adding AND removing resources. I have also seen descriptions that says Scalability is to be able to scale an instance's resources, while Elasticity is to be able to add/remove additional instances.

I am of the opinion that demarcating the differences purely from the perspective of resource adding and removing is too simplified and a little ambiguous, while the latter view of instance resource vs new instances is really still talking about Scalability (Vertical Scaling vs Horizontal Scaling - explained at the end of this article).

June 24, 2018

Powerpoint File Size Does Not Reduce Even After Deleting Slides

Updated 10 Jul 2018 - After some testing, I find that those "extra" template slides appear when you try to copy some slides and paste to another deck with "Keep Source Formatting". So if you frequently encounter this problem, you could be like me, often having to take content from different decks and piece together a customized deck for the work on hand.

If you work with Powerpoint slides a lot, you may have seen some pretty big slide decks, especially if it contains lots of photo or video content. This presents an issue when sending over email with attachment size limits. Most of the time, deleting slides or compressing content will help to reduce the size. 

If you had came upon this article after googling, you probably had just encountered a similar frustrating experience as me. Even after removing most of the content, the Powerpoint file size essentially remains the same. Most online posts revolve around talking about how to compress the ppt files. Not many discuss why certain ppt decks remain stubbornly big even after deleting content. The only closest I could find was this Microsoft Community post which did not help much.

Quick tip - A simple workaround I found to reduce Powerpoint file size was to copy the slides into a new ppt and save the new file. Beware that even though I had Copy and Paste with "Keep Source Formatting", I still sometimes encounter funny results, for example shape sizes becoming distorted. So do check through your final slides before sending it out or using for presentation.

June 19, 2018

How to Add Borders Around Images or Photos in Microsoft OneNote

Updated 10 Jul 2018 - Another quick tip, the steps below can be reversed, you can copy an image into OneNote first, select the image, and then choose to insert a 1x1 table, which will achieve the same result.

Ever since I started using Microsoft OneNote in my work laptop, I have found it useful for taking quick notes or just jotting down random notes while working.

One peeve I have is why Microsoft does not allow me to put borders around images. Sometimes, you just need the border around a picture to make the note readable, especially if it has the same white background as OneNote.

You would have thought this is a simple and straight forward feature. Word has it, Powerpoint has it, Outlook has it. Even Excel has it. So it seems all the main buddies of OneNote in the Microsoft Office Suite have this, except OneNote itself.

If you are like me and need the border, fear not - Tables to the rescue!

May 6, 2018

How to Turn on HTTPS for Blogger Blog with Custom Domain

Updated 24 Jun 2018 - Bonus tip for setting up non-www to www redirection

Google has been offering HTTPS for subdomains under blogger (e.g. As for custom domains, for sometime, the only available methods were either to use alternative means like Cloudflare or an unannounced method involving Blogger in Draft mode. These methods, while working, were not so ideal. 

It took a while, but Google has now finally and properly extended HTTPS to blogger websites using custom domains too.

To turn on, simply go to Settings > Basic. Look for the "HTTPS" section, there will be two settings as shown below.

April 1, 2018

Resetting a Lenovo System to Factory State

I spent quite sometime figuring out how to reset a Lenovo S500 desktop to its initial, out of factory state. It was not a smooth experience due to inconsistent product terms and lack of an intuitive process. Most likely, you landed here because your system is having issues and resetting seems to be the last resort after having spent the last few hours trying every online advice and failing. Hence, I hope my experiences might help you shorten your troubleshooting time and avoid the complications I encountered. 

Do note this process is irreversible, you will lose all your data. So backup your important data if your system is still accessible, before starting the process.

The Lenovo S500 that I worked on is a small form factor (SFF) desktop, but I think the process I described below should work in general for Lenovo laptops. Do leave a comment if it works for you!

February 23, 2018

Beginner Tips and Hints to Playing Cities: Skylines

Steam recently offered a free weekend play of Cities: Skylines, so I gladly took up the offer. Long story short, a few nights of sleep deprivation later, I had some thoughts and tips on what to look out for as a new beginner to this game.

Shun Away From Walkthroughs/Guides/FAQs Until You Have A Few Hours Under Your Belt

Seriously, I mean it. Close this tip page and come back after you have tried the game. Cities: Skylines can be overwhelming and everything that you read beforehand will likely be forgotten or not make sense to you before your first game. I suggest getting your hands dirty, have a general feel of what is going on, before reading up on tips and guides to better understand some of the nuances and game play.

Resist The Urge To Restart Or Reload At The Beginning

At the beginning. you are likely going to stumble a lot while discovering the game. The urge to reload or restart is strong but I suggest to let it go, because you are likely going to redo most of your initial base anyway. The game ships with a few mods and unless you enable the all buildings unlocked mod, the game restricts your progression by limiting the starting structures, gradually releasing more upon reaching each population milestone. By the time your base has developed to a certain size and you have unlocked most of the important structures, you are likely going to revisit your initial section and redo the roads or relocate some structures.So there is no point in wasting time reloading/restarting, or redoing your structures early in the game. Speaking of which...

January 7, 2018

Early Map and Dungeons Exploration in Risen Game

I really like Piranha Bytes' Risen game, even though it is a pretty old game from 2009. Many players may not have heard of this game since it launched without much fanfare. I too first found it by chance and was quickly absorbed by the open world gameplay, much like a medieval Grand Theft Auto. 

Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I did not go very far in my first play. Since then, Risen 2 and 3 were released. Even though I have them all in my Steam library, I never had the chance to play the series anymore. Recently, I decided to revisit the first Risen game again and wanted to share some interesting observations from my second play.

Risen is unlike most RPGs, at least for its time, in that it is not very linear. While it is true that you have your usual main and side quests, except for small parts of the world which is locked out by magical barriers, you can actually visit most of the places right from the get go, after waking up on the beach.

The only limitation put in place was tough monsters which blocked access to secret treasures or dungeons, Given your initial outfit of rag tag clothes and probably a stick or broken sword picked up from the beach, you would do better to heed the game tutorials and not venture too far from the guided path until you get to the Bandits' camp or Harbour Town. In fact, given your lousy state of affairs, it is unlikely you can explore many places in the beginning.