The futuristic Xiaomi facial recognition

On my Xiaomi Mi 5X, after installing one of the BETA weekly updates, a new feature appeared: unlocking the phone with facial recognition, iPhone X style.

Intrigued, I immediately activated it, but I had with very low expectations: while on iPhone X there is a 3D scanner that can recognize an “alive” face from a photo, on other phones is much more “basic”, since it uses the front camera.

Anyway, I do not have anything important on the phone, so the possibility that someone else can unlock the phone by showing a picture of me is not a big deal.

I immediately saw how convenient it was: I raise the phone, the screen turns on automatically, I look at it, it unlocks. Fantastic. Indeed, better than iPhone X, because you do not have to swipe your finger to confirm, and anyway, I could always unlock via fingerprint on the back sensor! The best of both worlds!

Then one evening I went out and the phone unlocked in an almost completely dark room. Wow, in this room it’s so dark that I can not recognize people with my own eyes, how the phone could manage this?. Then I thought… an iPhone X uses some kind of Kinect (Apple acquired the company that invented the Kinect sensor a few years ago) and manages to see in 3D in absolute darkness, while my phone uses a common photo sensor, not able to see in the dark.

What a Kinect can see in the dark

I tried the recognition on an Asian face and it unlocked! I had low expectations on security, but I did not imagine that he was totally incapable of distinguishing an Asian face from a European face!

I immediately disabled it…

Coin Crypt

Cryptocoins! No, Coin Crypt it’s a 4-5 years old game, that I got as a gift on Steam a few years ago.

How does it work: without a tutorial, you’re on a Pacific island, on the ruins of an ancient coin-based civilization. Soon, you have to understand that some coins can be used for attacks, other for defense, some of them heal, and some… have just a monetary value: so you have to prepare a strategy, don’t waste coins on weak monsters (no coins = game over), spend them in donations, and so on.

If you have an Xbox controller the interface it’s very easy, you OK with the right trigger, you choose the coins with the buttons shown on screen. If, like me, you use a Dualshock 4, either you have already got muscle memory about the different buttons (X = square, A = X, and so on), either you’re going to suffer a bit.

Technically the game is easy: there are three random levels, a final boss, and victory! Basically, it all depends on your luck/patience/strategy/choices.

The more you play, the more coins you can spend to unlock other characters, with many different personalities. For example, the ghost will find more coins, but will lose them on the road; the monkey will use all the coins in the hand during a battle, it can be a good thing, but also a disaster.

As a game, it’s easy to learn, but hard to master: in order to fully completing it you need a lot of patience and time. If like me, you have small patience and less time… after a few game overs, you’re going to be bored.

There’s also a daily challenge, all the players try the same world with the same character, competing for the highest score.

About crypto coins in coin crypt… during a game, you can find a computer. If you spend a coin on it you can mine a crypto coin… with a value, like almost in the real value, totally volatile and unpredictable, as it changes randomly at the beginning of the level.

Searching for the perfect speed

Since I got the crazy idea to radically change this website engine, from Windows+mojoPortal to Linux+PHP, I noticed that I need a LOT of more CPU time to generate each page:


It uses a lot of processor time, but requests are much more faster… if the page has been “cached”:


In my experiments I saw that the forum that I was using (bbpress) slows down the site a lot: it loads a lot of useless javascript in all pages, and doesn’t allow “caching” the pages. So I temporarily disabled the forum, searching for a temporary solution. I’m thinking to use Discourse

What does “root” means?

In computer terms, with root we can mean:

  • Root as user
  • Root as in file path

If we mean root as an user, we mean the main user, the one with the “master” control of the machine. For example, if you have root on Android, it means you can do whatever you want it it.

If you mean root as a file path, it’s the base, just place the file outside any folder. If you’re using the D: drive, by saying “place the file in root”, it means just place it on D:

How to control a lamp via Arduino

In the last posts I wrote that I bought a lot of Arduino stuff, to try to build something interesting, but I didn’t show anything.

This is the first example, the easiest: how to control a lamp.


The circuit and the code it’s super easy and it’s on GitHub.

Code explanation:

  1. in setup() we declare that pin 7 is an output
  2. in loop() we turn on pin 7
  3. We wait 10000 milliseconds (10 seconds) before running next instruction
  4. We turn off pin 7
  5. We wait another 100000 milliseconds
  6. We start again from point 2

The result is that we have turn on and off the lamp every 10 seconds.

Obviously, this is an useless circuit, but we can expand it, for example by controlling the lamp via Bluetooth or via WiFi.

How to change the email in WordPress

I don’t see a logical reason behind it, but WordPress is designed for sending emails from the address [email protected]

Did you spent hours to search where in the settings it’s possible to change this address? Wasted time, there the address is hardcoded, you can’t easily change it!

There are 2 ways to change it:

  1. Install a plugin like this:
  2. Write a few lines inside the functions.php in the theme (better if it’s a child theme)

Since I try to avoid to install WordPress plugins, I chose option 2.

In functions.php, add this:

// change the email
function wpb_sender_email( $original_email_address ) {
    return '[email protected]';

// change the name
function wpb_sender_name( $original_email_from ) {
    return 'Your Name';

// Hook those functions to WP 
add_filter( 'wp_mail_from', 'wpb_sender_email' );
add_filter( 'wp_mail_from_name', 'wpb_sender_name' );

I let a Japanese play Majiang

On the Japanese gaming consoles there are hundres of games about Majiang (or Mahjong, 麻雀, 麻将, マージャン, according where it’s played). The game it’s totally different to the “Mahjong” we know in the west, that “puzzle/find couples”, but it’s some kind of poker, I never understood the rules.

I always wanted to play this game, but I was unable to learn the rules, so I asked to a Japanese friend to play to Mahjong Fight Club DS – Wi Fi Taiou for Nintendo DS ed I recorded the gameplay:

Unfortunately, I didn’t record mic input, it would have been much more interesting…

Is it worth to pay for the JR Pass?

A 7 days Japan Rail Pass costs 29110 yen (about 240 euro, depending on the exchange rate). It may seem expensive: is it worthwhile?

It all depends on our travel plans: if we’ll just visit the outskirts of Tokyo, it is a waste of money, even going to Yokohama, Kamakura, Saitama, we’ll never would spend this amount.

But, if we plan to visit also Osaka, we can see on Hyperdia that the pass is cheaper than a return ticket!

Obviously, there are cheaper ways to go to Osaka, for example, a night bus costs about 8000 yen, and even a plane ticket Haneda => Itami costs much less. Or you can try to take the train without reservation saving fifty euro each way.

But the Shinkansen is much more comfortable for many ways: in 3 hours you arrive, without bother to check-in, book months in advance, depart at odd hours, transfer to airports, overweight luggages, etc …

With the JR Pass you can take all trains except the Nozomi (the fastest Shinkansen), berths, and private companies trains (eg: the Seibu-Shinjuku line, Seibu-Ikebukuro, Keio, subway, etc.), so you can save even with a simple, one week trip like this:

  • Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo (2630 yen)
  • Transfers on the Yamanote line to visit Shinjuku, Shibuya (200 yen for each trip)
  • Hikari for Osaka (14140 yen)
  • Train for Kyoto (560 yen)
  • Return to Tokyo (560+14140)
  • Narita Express for the airport (2630 yen)

Total: 35000 yen => a 55 euro savings!

It all depends by what do you want to see during the trip.

Google Play Store is always waiting for Wi-Fi

For several days, at least on my phone, Google Play store can’t download any app, is always waiting for Wi-Fi.

But I’m connected to Wi-Fi!!!

I saw that you can fix it by going to Settings> Apps> Google Play store and then “uninstall updates”

After a while, unfortunately, Google Play store will automatically update to the broken version, stopping again to function. I hope they can fix this problem as soon as possible 😢

No Super Mario Run on rooted phones

Finally, after waiting for months, Super Mario Run is available on Android too! (A totally inexplicable delay – being programmed with Unity, compiling a version for Android it is a matter of a few hours!!!)

I go now to install it! Play Store can’t find it. Strange. I search it from my computer, and I got his:

What does it mean that the app is not compatible with any of my devices???

I have an horrible feeling… maybe they got the same brilliant idea of Pokémon GO and then block the app on rooted phones? The game doesn’t really have online multiplayer, just racing against “ghosts”, and everyone could potentionally cheat via a MITM attack or a cracked APK.

Ok, maybe it’s just a simple check before the installation, just download the APK from some other shady store and it will work, right?

No, as soon it can see that your phone is tampered, it exits immediately!

WTF!!! 💩💩💩💩💩💩💩