Monday, October 26, 2015

Ending the Ad Regime: Removing Ads on Mobile Partner

If you're a mobile broadband (dongle) user like me, you'll probably have a relatively new version of Mobile Partner or comparable application installed on your system. While the newer versions are really nice (they allow voice calls, USSD operations, direct top-ups and whatnot), providers like Mobitel and Dialog seem to plague their customized (dongle-embedded setup) versions with ads. Every time you connect to the Internet, the software interface gets updated with an ad, which can sometimes consume as much as 1 MB. While this may not seem a lot, it certainly adds up if you have the habit of making and breaking your connection frequently.

Fortunately, getting rid of these annoying ads is also quite easy (at least for Mobitel guys). Here I outline the method to disable ads, on a typical Mobitel Broadband software installation (bundled with the Huawei E3131 dongle sold by Mobitel) on a Windows system:

  1. Open the Mobile Partner folder at the installation location. This would usually be C:\Program Files (x86)\Mobitel Broadband.
  2. Open SysSettings.xml using a text editor.
  3. Locate the following section at the end of the file:
  4.   <webview_flash>
        <zone1>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkfive.html</zone1>
        <zone4_1>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkone.html</zone4_1>
        <zone4_2>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linktwo.html</zone4_2>
        <zone4_3>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkthree.html</zone4_3>
        <zone4_4>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkfour.html</zone4_4>
      </webview_flash>
    
    and comment out the contents of <webview_flash> tag by adding <!-- and --> at the start and the end, so it would read like:
      <webview_flash>
        <!--<zone1>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkfive.html</zone1>
        <zone4_1>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkone.html</zone4_1>
        <zone4_2>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linktwo.html</zone4_2>
        <zone4_3>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkthree.html</zone4_3>
        <zone4_4>http://selfcare.mobitel.lk/MyAccount/linkfour.html</zone4_4>-->
      </webview_flash>
    
  5. Save the file, and close and reopen Mobile Partner if it's already running.

This shows a blank space on the connection tab after you initiate the connection, instead of ads. If you don't like it, you can add any preferred URLs inside the <zone> tags, instead of commenting them out altogether. For example, the following configuration would display the HTML file located at C:\connected.html in the software's connection tab when a data connection is made. (Don't forget to replace the \ characters in the path, with /.):

  <webview_flash>
    <zone1>file:///C:/connected.html</zone1>
  </webview_flash>

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finally, Now You Can Root Your HTC Desire 820s Dual SIM!

The HTC Desire series appears to be notoriously resistant to rooting. Rooting techniques for one device can be incompatible with most other devices. For example, while there are ample successful techniques for rooting the 820, none of them work for the 820s Dual SIM, despite all the similarities between the 2 models.

Kingo Android Root was the only thing capable of rooting the 820s Dual SIM. Unfortunately, as with most other rooting and hacking tools, it's available only for Windows, so the Linux geeks would have to seek help from the Windows guys.

Using the software is quite straightforward: make sure that you're connected to the internet, connect your phone to the computer via a USB cable (with USB Debugging enabled) and launch the tool. It will automatically detect the device model and give you a confirmation message. Just click the "ROOT" button, and the tool will start working, downloading the necessary dependencies. The rooting process should complete within a few minutes, at the end displaying a final confirmation message.

As the tool uses an on-the-fly custom dependency download, I was unable to track down the actual rooting method it had exploited. However it should probably be straightforward if you can check the temporary folders of the machine at the right time.

Unfortunately the superuser management app installed by the tool seems to be a bit crappy; some applications like ES File Explorer seem to be unable to access root privileges via it. However, the su binary installed by the tool works fine, so you can still access root privileges via the ADB shell or a terminal emulator app.