ExpressVPN Review

My experience with ExpressVPN has been pleasant for the past 7 days. I share the account with my wife and daughter primarily for consuming media. But one pleasant surprise is that you get Youtube Picture-In-Picture functionality when connected to US servers, atleast on Android. This is a YouTube premium features as far as I known, but I am finding it pretty convenient that I have access to it without paying extra.

I paid $99uSD for a 15 month month subscription, and I feel I am getting my money’s worth. There are cheaper alternatives but the reality is you do get what you oay for, so I opted for ExpressVPN which has reasonable pricing with reasonable ly good service.

You can use my link here to signup so both you and I get an additional 30 days for free. You’d want to use the Opera browser with their free VPN service to signup since ExpressVPN has different offers depending on your location.

Live desktop summer feels

It’s been years since I last played with my desktop. Since PC hardware has grown by leaps and bounds since I last tried, I figured to give it a shot. Inspired by the Google Pixel live wallpaper I use this Ocean weather theme for Rain Wallpaper, an app you can find on Steam. Another theme on my rotation is this Elegant weather theme I found on DeviantArt.

Windows scaling fix for Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, & Illustrator

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Here’s a Windows hack to fix the DPI scaling feature issue with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Simply add this registry entry in this .reg file or add it manually with the following:

Then simply copy paste the manifest file(s) for either Photoshop, Premiere and/or Illustrator into their respective installation directory; then restart the application to see the result. I tested this on Windows 10 Home with the anniversary update.

For Premiere Pro CC 2014 you’ll have to go to Compatibility Settings and disable ‘Display scaling on high DPI settings

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Amazon EC2 server setup guide

Here’s a guide which help me setup an AWS  (Amazon Web Services) EC2 server for one of my clients. I used to use their free S3 CND service a few years back; though the process has changed a bit since then; so without further flim-flam.

We’ll be needing PuTTY and FileZilla FTP client for this endeavor. Once you’ve got that sorted, login into your AWS console and proceed to the EC2 link under the Service tab. Once there click launch instance, this will launch a wizard which assist you in creating your machine.

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Select the Amazon Linux AMI (Amazon Machine Image)

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Click on the next steps selecting the defaults until you reach the Security Groups section; once there add the HTTP and HTTPS rules.

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After which you will asked to review your settings and prompted to import or add a key pair. Create a new one and save it somewhere safe. Without the key, you will not be able to access the machine, you will not be able to add a new one too.

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Download the Key Pair then launch the instance. The instance will take 5-10 minutes to initialize; during that time, process to Network and Security > Elastic IP’s and click Allocate New Address. When the new IP is created, take note of it then right click on the IP and select Associate Address, then select the instance you just made.

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When this is done, your machine is not up and running. You can now connect to this virtual machine via PuTTY and Filezilla.

Open Filezilla, on the File menu bar, click on Edit > Settings, then go to SFTP then click Add File. Locate and add the key pair file (.pem) file you downloaded earlier. You will be prompted to convert the .pem file to a .ppk.file, click yes and save that file too.

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Now connect via FTP by putting the Elastic IP you created earlier as the host, SFTP as the protocol and ec2-user as the username; this is the default. Leave the password blank. If everything goes well you should be able to connect without any issues.

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Now open up PuTTY, use the same IP as the host and connect via SSH. Under Connection > SSH > Auth: Click add file then select the .ppk file created by Filezilla earlier from the original .pem file, then click Open.

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Login as the ec2-user and hit enter. If everything worked out, you now have root access to the machine.

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From here you can proceed to install and setup the services you need to run a your web server. Below is a quick cheat sheet I used to get mine running.

an UBER alternative to transportation

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I spent the day using UBER as a means of transportation instead of driving, and I am very impressed by the implementation of their system. Finally, a transport system that actually works in the Philippines!


I like how the system is setup to be secure for both the driver and passenger:

  • You know the name of the UBER account holder and plate number before hand.
  • A copy of your trip with a map and route is saved on your account for reference.
  • No need to carry cash or valuables when riding. Your phone is optional after you requested for a ride, since payments are debited to your credit card
  • The driver does not know your destination before hand.
  • You get receipts and detailed trip information via your UBER account and email.
  • Rating based system for both driver and rider serves to be an effective deterrent against unwelcomed behavior.

Yes, the cost is a bit more than traditional taxi cabs, but that’s what you pay for convenience. I’d gladly pay 50 to 100 pesos more if it means that:

  • I do not need to wait in line for a ride
  • No more haggling with the driver before and after riding the cab.
  • have some control over the type of vehicle I ride.
  • pay for and get a ride for loved-ones or friends …at my expense 🙂
  • it is still cheaper than driving if you compute the cost of gas and parking fees. Not to mention the physical toll that Manila traffic has on your body when driving.

There are drawbacks to the system like:

  • having a credit or debit card
  • having a smart phone
  • having an internet connection
  • not regulated by government ...who needs this when the regulating bodies are; to put it lightly… incompetent!

But these requirements are really a non-issue when compared to the benefits you get in return …Beside, majority if not all the people UBER is trying to target already have these.

I’m glad it’s implemented here legally. It is a welcomed transport system that actually works for the people using and providing it. It also provides stiff competition to other transport groups who have become complacent and simply uncompetitive due to their monopoly over certain routes and transport types.

Free Windows 10 upgrade!

I was pleasantly surprised after restarting my laptop to see a Windows icon on my system tray.

After clicking on it, I was greeted by an app windows stating that I am eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 once it is available. I’m currently running Windows 8.1, so I am guessing all Windows 8 users get the free upgrade.

All you have to do is to re click the reservation button on the lower left hand side of the app window. Mine is already gone since I clicked it already… and that’s basically it! Just wait for the update to be downloaded then viola!

Hooray for free stuff!