Office Hackery

Useful Hacks, Reviews, Tips and Tricks of anything under the moon and the sun.

Home Automation Gone Naughty

Amazon Echo: Home Automation Gone Naughty
Photo Credit: Amazon
One of the latest trend in gadgets in 2016 is home automation devices and Amazon is arguably leading the race in terms of sales with their own Amazon Echo and its smaller version Echo Dot. These devices can follow your voice command easily. Echo can do a lot of stuff for you like streaming music, tune in to the radio, read you a book, set the timer, or even order a pizza. For as low as $49.99, you'll have an smart voice assistant at your home. Convenient? Almost. The downside of Amazon Echo is that it sometimes can't understand what exactly you mean like this young boy in the video trying to ask Alexa (the voice assistant's name inside Amazon Echo) to play him his song.

A word of advice. Don't let your kids play alone with Alexa because she (it) might misunderstood them and Santa won't be happy.

Happy New Year!


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Huawei is taking the smartphone design to the next level

In my humble opinion, the best phone or phones of 2016 are not necessarily the best in design category. Yeah I'm talking about iPhone 7 which literally an untouched version of iPhone 6 and Google Pixel which safe to say an iPhone's look alike. Arguably both these phones, hands down, are the best phone your money can buy in terms of features and hardware but when it comes to external design, the award could have been given to Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Unfortunately, Note 7 exploded its way out from the competition which left us out with one-step less better S7 Edge and personally force me to switch from Note 7 to Sony Xperia Z. However the contest for the most prettiest smartphone isn't over yet because the Chinese manufacturer Huawei have something to say before the year ends. Behold, the Honor Magic smartphone.

Huawei is taking the smartphone design to the next level
Photo Credit: Huawei

Honor Magic is not just all about pretty face. Internally powered by a Kirin 950 which has 8 cores on board. The Honor Magic features a 5.09-inch 2K AMOLED curved screen. This phone is stylish and ergonomically designed with a 3D curved glass body.

“The Honor Magic encapsulates our commitment to cutting-edge innovation and technology,” said George Zhao, president of Honor. “Through this launch, we at Honor are telling our fans around the globe that we are genuinely committed to challenging ourselves and willing to disrupt the status quo to ultimately be able to bring the best mobile-internet experience to them.”

OK let the final contest begin. Until I got hold of this phone, I will reserve my final verdict for the prettiest among them all. For now, I just hope Apple, Samsung and Google can get their acts together and come back swinging with bigger improvements on their own smartphones.


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Omnicharge: The only portable power bank you'll ever need

Most of power banks today are designed for charging usb ready devices like smartphones and camera. For months, I've been looking for portable extra power supply to charge my macbook pro whenever I'm on the go and unfortunately I haven't encountered one until I stumbled upon Indiegogo, a like portal.
Omnicharge: The only portable power bank you'll ever need
Photo Credit: Indiegogo/Omnicharge
On that site, I was able to discover a lot of cool startups including the one I was looking for: a portable power bank that can charge almost any electronic device. Omnicharge power bank can also charge my macbook pro or any laptop for that matter because aside from two (2) usb fast charging ports, it also has AC/DC Power Outlet. It will come in two version, the Omnicharge PRO which has a capacity of 20,400mAh and 100W output power, and the Omnicharge Standard which has a lower load of 13,600mAh and 65W output. And thats not it, forgot to bring your cable? as long as your device supports Qi wireless charging then you are good to go in the PRO version. You might be thinking how long it would take for this powerbank to reload itself. Well the power bank itself can reach full charge in only 2-3 hours with Omnicharge charger.

With Omnicharge you can charge multiple devices simultaneously without worrying about overcharging because it comes with smart power management system that adapts to optimal power levels for each device. Shipping of this product will start in January 2017. You may want to pre-order now like what I did. You are not just saving more than 30% of its price, you'll also be one of the first owner of this great product.


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Smart Mirror: Coming soon in your home

Smart Mirror: Coming soon in your home
Whenever I browse my social media account, I often come accross with one or two bathroom mirror selfie shot (I don't know if thats how you call it). I don't mind people doing it and honestly it is none of my business. I'm posting about it because I gets AHA moment when I encounter posts like that. I often wonder what if there is such a smart mirror thing. It is like an ordinary mirror in your bedroom or bathroom's wall but smarter. It can take a picture of you and automatically post it in your facebook and/or instagram accounts with a caption like
"i woke up like this:-)" 
or a mirror that can record a seconds of your cute sexy act then post it in your linked snapchat. It should also able to show your calendar and daily weather while brushing your teeth. Advanced feature could be health condition detection. With just by looking at the mirror, it can detect some illness like eye irritation, skin rushes and among others then show the information in the mirror as overlay display similar to the augmented reality features of Google Glass and Smartphones. You can interact with Smart Mirror by touching it or by voice command. Pretty neat ha? I wish I can claim that Idea as mine but I can't because there is already a DIY project like it. Although it is not 100% the same with mine, it is still pretty like it. If you want to try doing similar project yourself then watch the complete video with step-by-step instruction to build it.

Hit the comment section if you have ever done similar project. As to my Aha project, I will surely update you here if I decided to make one.

photo credit: romero007 Double via photopin (license)


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Microsoft Surface Studio: The iMac killer?


You must be wondering whats with the violent title. Pardon my excitement, I just can't find any better word to emphasize the design of the new Microsoft Surface Studio. Beautiful and Amazing are not enough so I will stick to killer to make it more halloween. Microsoft is telling us that this Surface Studio is an entirely new device that gives you a huge canvas for all kinds of work but it is obvious that it will compete with Apple's iMac lineup. It features a roomy and adjustable 28-inch PixelSense Display which can deliver a clarity more than 4K resolution.

Watch this video and be mesmerise.

Ofcourse such beautify design comes with a price. Pricing starts at $2,999 for a Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage, and a GTX 965M GPU, ranging up to $4,199 for a Core i7, 32GB RAM, 2TB storage, and a GTX 980M.

Saying that it will overtake the iMac is a bold statement right now. I will wait to get a hand on it before I declare my final verdict.

Happy Halloween!


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How Internet will end?

Believe it or not. It can happen. Whether you're in IT field or not, you are vulnerable, we all are. Last week, several popular online services such as and Spotify were not accessible from users in some part of the world. If you're living in those affected places then you might had a feel of what it is like to live in pre-internet era. The massive outage was because of a widespread DDoS attack to a DNS company called DYN. Getting bored already? Please keep reading because this is important. Imagine a world without Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat? Can you really live without social media? if you say YES then stop reading or otherwise give me time to explain.

Understanding How It Works

Let me make it easier for you to comprehend. First lets go back to technical jargons I mentioned. First what is DDoS. That is the abbreviation for Distributed Denial of Service. It is a common type of hacking strategy for hackers to bring down internet services or just plainly any kind of computer. It is done by sending millions of request to the target computer until it choke. Take note that every type of computer has its limitation, your personal computer can hang if it is processing too much tasks beyond it was designed for. The same limitation applies to big computers or servers out there. If hackers are able to send too many requests to a target server, it will come to its tipping point and eventually shuts down. On the other hand, DNS refers to Dynamic Name Servers. It is like an address book on your mobile phone. Most of us don't remember phone numbers so we prefer looking for the names in phonebook and once we found it, phonebook can show the details of that contact including the number so you could make a call. Are you still with me? Hope so. So if DNS companies like DYN is an address book of websites in world wide web. Imagine if they get hacked (in this case using DDoS attack) and attackers were successful bringing down the DNS computers (or going back to phonebook analogy, deleted the address book). How would billion of internet users will be able to locate or access their favorite internet services? Oh yeah.. They can’t. When this happen, your smartphone will just be phone. Your computer will be standing alone. A life without internet.

Possibility because of Internet of Things

Internet of Things
I can hear you laughing now. But after the massive outage last week, it is safe to say I'm not talking shit. Dark ages for internet is not too far. Here is how may internet meet its ending. Have you heard about IoT or Internet of Things? Every gadgets now have the capability to connect to internet on their own. I’m not just talking about smartphones, computers and network devices. Most of ordinary appliances and gadgets are also now internet enabled such as digital cameras, smart watches, TVs, speakers, game consoles, refrigerators, oven, lights, and all other appliances. Internet enabled means these devices can connect to internet at ease. Now ask your self, have you recently bought a smart appliance or gadget? have you change the default admin password of it? Or have you even bother reading the manual or you just proceeded to default setup, plug and play. Yeah I understand, convenience is our priority in buying things now. We want them to work right out of the box. But this is also mankind’s weakest link.

If you are the convenient type of guy, then you might also be one of the suspected aid to the crime last week. Yes it may sound absurd but the simplest explanation of the massive downtime last week was because of 10s of millions of refrigerator, coffee maker and other smart devices attacked one of the biggest company of DNS servers. Ofcourse these smart appliances won’t start attacking on their own. These smart appliances were infected by Mirai botnet. It is a type of computer malware that turn computers including smart devices and appliances into controlled zombies. Hackers start by using piece of wizardry (coding) to search for any internet-connected device that have default settings. Once they have the list of these devices and probably included there is your smart oven, hackers can plant Mirai botnet on them. And there on they would be able to use horde of devices to attack someone else's computer which in this case the DYN’s DNS servers. Cool yeah? Not if your the victim.

How can you help?

How you can help to stop IoT attack

You don’t have to be an IT expert to help in preventing the doomsday of internet. All you need is to do the simple things.

- Read your device manual.
- Change your smart device default password.
- Keep your devices up to date as possible.
- Reset or reboot your devices from time to time. Reboot kills malware and viruses.
- Invest in highly secured home routers or modem. This is the little box provided by your Telco company when they installed your internet. I bet you didn’t waste time changing your router’s default admin password :)

In short you could be a great help to mankind if you start being more conscious to things that you connect to internet in your home.


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Note 7 is dead. Switching to Sony Xperia Z5

I'm a solid fan of Samsung's phablet device, the Note. I had one since Note 3 and every year I upgrade to the newer version until Note 7. I got my Note 7 a month ago from my Globe postpaid subscription and for a few weeks, I was happy with it. In my opinion, Note 7 is by far the brightest among all the smartphones out there. It was indeed the android smartphone to beat in 2016.

The design, hardware and software are almost perfect (at least for me) until it started exploding. At first, I thought the exploding incidents were just isolated cases so I hold on to my device. When the recall program in the Philippines started (early October,) I refused to avail it. Then when the OTA update came which forcefully limit the Note 7 charging capability to only 60%, I still ignored it and blocked the update. And days went by and new exploding incidents were reported including the replacement units, it hit me, maybe switching to another phone is inevitable for me.. maybe Samsung is doomed. And viola after a day, Samsung finally stopped the sales and production of Note 7. I told myself thats it! it is time to move on. I factory reset my Note 7, put it back in its almost new box and send it home to his creator.

Note 7 is dead

My first choice for replacement was Samsung S7 or S7 Edge but I felt although these two (2) flagship are great, they are still inferior compare to Note 7 and sticking with Samsung brand will just make me miss my dead phablet even more. So after days of thinking, I jumped from Korea to Japan by getting the Sony Xperia Z5. It is not an upgrade at all. Z5 is not even comparable to Note 7.  In terms of hardware spec and software, Xperia Z5 is a a lot inferior than Note 7 but the flat design, oh, i like it more. It is like trying out a new dish. It would be unusual for your taste at first but after a few bites, eventually you might like it anyway.

Sony Xperia Z5: Replacement to Note 7

Sony Xperia Z5 Back

Sony Xperia Z5 Side

What I got is the non-premium version of Xperia Z5. I wanted to try a smaller phone so I decided to get the normal sized Z5 with the following specs:

Dimensions: 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm (5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 in)
Weight: 154 g (5.43 oz)
Display Size: 5.2 inches
Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (~428 ppi pixel density)
OS: Android OS v5.1.1 (Lollipop). Upgraded to v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
CPU: Octa-core (4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)
Card slot: microSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)
Internal Memory: 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
Primary Camera: 23 MP, f/2.0, 24mm, phase detection autofocus
Secondary Camera: 5.1 MP, f/2.4, 1080p, HDR
Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 2900 mAh battery

After 5 days of using the Xperia Z5, Here are the things I like and I don't like about it.

What I like about it?

  • The flat design
  • IP68 certified - dust proof and water resistant over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes
  • The expandable memory support.

What I don't like about it?

  • The software UI design. I miss the Note 7 interface already.
  • No S Pen
  • It gets too hot. (at least it doesn't explode)

I know it is unfair for Z5 to be compared to the likes of Note 7 however this post is not about comparison. It is about my experience switching from Samsung to Sony. Would I upgrade to the next big thing of Sony - the Xperia XZ? maybe. I'm not sure how Samsung can resurrect the Note brand. I hope they can because Note is a great product if it is not exploding. Until Samsung's future becomes certain, I might stick with my new found love.


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