How to disable the SIM PIN in a Xiaomi phone

How to disable (or change) the SIM PIN in a Xiaomi smartphone? MIUI seems intuitive, but this option is hidden very well. I’m writing this post as for the third time I forgot where it was…

First, go to settings, then “additional settings”, then privacy:

Then, scroll until you see SIM LOCK (or similar, according to your language), and choose the SIM card that you want to edit.

Then you untick “SIM lock”

It was very hard to find this, I was confusing it with the SIM lock!

Videogame effects applied on real actions

Misozi-Salaryman has a YouTube channel where periodically uploads videos with complex choreograpies based on swords, katana and even umbrella.

Then @VascoDaArc with a lot of patience uses a “raw” and hard to use software like AviUtl and applies effects like in Devil May Cry.

こちらaviutl製でございます。 pic.twitter.com/cR9iSl4K92— Vasco (@VascoDaArc) 8 dicembre 2018

Really? AviUtl?? Not Adobe After Effects???

So, a “weird” video like the one with fighting umbrellas, becomes this:

Which fan to use in a Zyxel NSA 320?

Well, this is definitely a niche post, because the Zyxel NSA320 not only is out of production, but it’s not that popular in the United States.

This Zyxel is a NAS, a Network Attached Storage, a shared hard drive to use with all the computers in your network. It has two disk drives in RAID 1: if one breaks, there’s another copy, for safe and quick data recovery.

I bought one 4-5 years ago, and it’s a great device, but being on 24/7, the fan has degraded, first it become noisy, then it stopped working altogether! Without the fan, the CPU started to reach 75° C!

So, this is the fan they used in this device: it’s an ADDA AD-0612MX-G76, 12V, size 60x60x10 mm. This specific model costs 20 euro, too expensive. Anyway, since the connector is a standard 3 pin one, you can buy any similar fan.

I got this Startech fan for 6 euro, it’s more silent but at the same time it has a very faint but high pitched noise. Maybe another fan would have been better.

Moreover, because the CPU does not have any heatsink (!!! WTF) but it just has a fan nearby, i got also those small heatsinks, designed for the Raspberry Pi. The big one one the CPU, and four small ones on the RAM chips. Since I don’t really trust the thermal glue they came with, which could loosen with heat and touch other components, creating a short, I placed the NAS on a side, instead of keeping it straight.

Ps: I also have a Zyxel NSA325, but the fan size is different.

Hunting the Wumpus

Reading the ebook about computing in the 60s and 70s, I learned about the HP 2100, a computer that could serve up to 32 users at the same time.

This computer did not have screens, but wrote everything on this kind of “printer+keyboard”, a teletype.

Everything that should appear on the screen, was instead printed on paper by the teletype, that could be far, connected by phone.

This computer was very expensive, around $100k, so it was reserved for academic, military or business users. Of course, when someone is bored, will play games. This is a game that it’s still possible to play today, by writing

telnet mickey.publicvm.com

your PC will connect to this HP 2100 simulator and will let you play to this “pre-historical” games (a note: in some Windows versions, the telnet command is not preinstalled)

How does it work? First of all, imagine being in a cave with 20 rooms, all interconnected. This is a drawing from the original programmer:In a room could be a deadly pit, some huge bats that will bring you somewhere else at random, or the Wumpus. If the monster is inside that room, it could be startled and run in an adjacent cave (75% chance) or it could eat us (25%).

When the teletype prints out our adventure, you should image the map:

Of course, for today standards this is unplayable, but it’s interesting to see how computer games were played 45 years ago.

I did a gameplay video:

Or you could play this javascript version: https://osric.com/wumpus/

In California Games I can’t use the keyboard, what to do?

If you try to run California Games (1987) in DOSBox o in other emulators like IBMulator or PCem, you will see that the keyboard doesn’t work at all, so you can’t play as you couldn’t pass the “enter your name” screen.

That’s because this particular game supports only standard (at the time) keyboards, not extended keyboards. (Right now all the keyboards we use are extended)

MS-DOS, since version 5.0, has a command to insert in config.sys to simulate a standard keyboard with an extended keyboard:

SWITCHES /K

With this, the game will recognize your keyboard. Video (I totally suck at this game):

Be careful: a “standard” keyboard doesn’t have the function keys (F1, F2, and so on), so if you insert this command in the config.sys you could have problems with other games/programs. If that’s the case, it’s better to create a boot disk only for California Games (that already has a big memory bug, it won’t start if too much standard memory is available)

If you use DOSBox instead of a full PC emulator, you have to boot from that DOS in order to let it see the command. Assuming you have a working install of DOS 5.0 or higher on c: , you have to run it with:

boot -l c

Go back to the 80s

Reading the “historical” articles on Filfre.net and watching the Halt and Catch fire TV series, I got hit by nostalgia, from when I was playing with my AMD 386 DX, still in service until the end of the 90s.

So, I immediately downloaded PCem and 86box, searching for the BIOS ROMs of my old PCs. I got a lot of problems, but I will talk about that another time. Then I found IBMulator and I immediately reminded my friend and his old PS/1. Even if when it was introduced (1990) was already incredibly outdated (a 286 CPU when you could buy a PC with a 486… of course with a much higher price), I was impressed because of its “simplified” OS, very fast to load.

In a few minutes, I found all the files on https://ps1stuff.wordpress.com/download/downloads-for-type-2011/ (even n my language!!!) and I immediately did a manual restore on the empty virtual disk (if you bought a new system at the time, this was already done in the factory, you just needed to turn it on)

This emulator is awesome, it simulates all the disk and floppy noises, and also the CRT screen. But it also simulates the fan noise, that at the time was very noisy 😅

I got some initial problem to let it load the OS from the floppy. That error “press F1” at the start, means something changed in the system, for example, more memory, or a new hard drive, you need to confirm by running the “configuration” program.

In total, I took about 15 minutes, to copy 5 megabytes from 4 floppy disks… so slow! I forgot this part!

The real April Fools from the Google Japanese Input team

Like every year, the team behind Google’s Japanese keyboard for Android has come up with a new innovative way to write with the keyboard, drawing kana on a keyboard.

IThe video explains the mechanism in a funny way.

What’s more interesting, is that, as they did with the “flick keyboard”, this project actually exists, the source code is on GitHub, available for everyone!

Did you remember the joke “with morse code you type much faster“from Google (USA)? 4 faked screenshots, and nothing real… but obviously the japanese team created a real device 😂 (Video, source code)

And every year new, crazy ideas:

  • Write using a party horn (Video, source code) – perfect for when your hands are busy or it’s not appropriate to use vocal dictation (crying kid)
  • Write using bubble wrap like a punched card (Video, source code)
  • Write scrolling letter by letter on a flipping display, like the ones at stations and airports (Video, source code)

Fresh Goji Berries

Have you ever heard of goji berries? They are becoming popular here, in Italy.

Leaving aside the fact that marketing gives them miraculous properties while increasing 5000% the original price, I have always wondered why it’s always dry, it’s not fresh, even when you buy it in China. I am curious to taste them.

The answer is easy, and I discovered it by looking at the documentary below this article (audio in Chinese, subtitles in English). Simply… the berries are very delicate, the skin is very fragile, so they are dried immediately, for preserving them. The only way to try a fresh one is to go personally in deserts of northwestern China during the harvesting period and collect them yourself. (Read: I probably will never have the chance to taste them)

Creative ads: Future with bright lights

Kandenko, a japanese firm that does electric works, has done this ads for their brand identity. With simple cardboard shapes and a conductive ink marker they did a masterpiece:

If you want to know about the company name: right now it’s KanDenKo (関電工), that’s short for Kantou Denki Kouji (事) – Kanto electric works.