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/

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!

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:

Is it worth to keep a PC case open?

I got a new server for Dandandin and I kept it open from all sides while I was doing tests. Average disk temperature 23 ° C. When I saw that was stable, I closed, placing fans on the front and on the back, to have a positive airflow. Disk temperature lowered a couple of degrees, and the disk has much more activity than last week!

caso-chiusoSo, even if it might seem that an open case will have “more airflow”, you will have a better airflow with a closed case.

update: looks like smartctl is not reporting accurately the hdd temperature. I need to do more tests with hddtemp.

My brief adventure with m.2 SSDs

Some time ago I bought a motherboard with an m2 SSD connector. I only noticed this connector after purchasing it, so I did not bought a suitable drive, I just used a regular SSD.

Then I read a review, a comparison between a SATA 3 SSD and an NVMe SSD. Astonishing performances, up to 4 times faster! Whoa!

The review mentioned the Samsung 950 Pro but it has a problem for me: it’s 3 times more expensive than a regular SSD!

I found the Crucial MX300 m.2, for just 15 euro more than a regular SATA SSD. Yes! I Bought it immediately!
The installation was easy, just open the case, insert it into the slot and tighten the locking screw.

Windows starts but… I can’t see the drive anywhere! Where is it?
I go into the BIOS settings (ok, EFI) and it’s not shown! Did I install it wrongly? I take it apart and I install it again, but… nothing!

What happened? I assumed that m.2 (the form factor), also meant NVMe (the data protocol), but it’s not . The Crucial MX300 is an m2 SSD m.2 SATA, so it (should) seen by the system as SATA!
In my board it’s not compatible, so I have to return it.

Next time: if you want to buy an m.2 SSD, check that’s it’s NVMe, otherwise, at least in a desktop PC, it’s better to buy a regular drive.

The washable phone

On my first article wrote on Dandandin in the 2009, I talked about the “new” 3D phones fron Japan. We never got them, we got an autosteroscopic 3D screen 2 years later with the Nintendo 3DS and only one smartphone, the HTC Evo 3D, which I never saw in stores.

The 3D mania,let companies create products like the 3DeeShell for the iPhone, but were commercial failures.

Now, it’s trendy to make waterproof phones, but while Sony says that’s better to don’t get their waterproof phones wet, Kyocera in Japan launches the DIGNO rafre, the first smartphone washable with warm soap.

See the ad:

The official page doesn’t go in deep detail over the specs, but tells us more details: foam-resistant, scratch-resistant, and so on

Wow!!! In Florence I can line without actually stay in the line!!

Incredible! Today I went to the city hall to get a certificate. When I got in, I saw the waiting room… I had 30 people waiting before me… boring… I hate waiting in line. Then, I read a notice, using the Qurami app it’s possible to take a number and book the spot on the line. Cool!!! This is what I love about tech!!!

I always hated to waste my time waiting for hours for my turn! Now I can get on a virtual line and focus my time on something more important for example this:

Comune Pokemon

The real flick keyboard

As an April Fool’s Google Japan made a Flick physical keyboard.


Designed for those who, accustomed to a flick keyboard on Android / iOS, is no longer able to use one for traditional computers. The website introduces it very well, even though he exaggerates with the functionality, with a laser tracking system that would look unrealistic even in science fiction movies.

What’s really interesting thing is that they made available the source code: one could actually make this keyboard at home with Arduino, although it lacks a fundamental thing: the files for the 3D printer. Yes, I can recreate it at home, but the little box and cute keys? You have to design them yourself.

With the “recipe” that have published, what comes out is something like this:


Which it is quite different than the cool prototype shown in the video.

However, it works. With 12 analog nubs from a PS2 pad, they convert the 24 analog inputs to digital using three MCP3208 ICs, using only 5 digital inputs on the arduino nano, while the nub click is directly connected to the remaining 12 digital/analog inputs. After that, the program communicates via serial port with a card, and is seen as a bluetooth keyboard.

Despite the cool looking prototype, in my opinion it’s actually awkward to use. If each key is using a PS2 analog stick, the click is much harder than one key on a standard keyboard, ok, maybe you can write a sentence, but a longer text? Best wishes!

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I got a Kobo GLO HD

I wanted to buy an ebook reader, from a long time, for two simple reasons:

  1. The battery lasts for weeks and weeks
  2. You can read the screen very well in the sunlight

When I saw that the basic Kindle was in promotion at 59 euro (now it sells for $79) I almost ordered one, but then I didn’t, for the following reasons:

  1. It shows ads, unless you pay an extra $20. I tried it in a store, and those ads on the home and the screensaver were really annoying
  2. I have to convert every single ebook in the Amazon proprietary format
  3. I have to convert every single manga in the Amazon proprietary format
  4. You can’t install apps
  5. The screen is unreadable in the dark

My ideal reader would be based on Android, so I could install Dropbox, Pocket, an epub reader (ebook) and a CBR reader (manga).

You can find them on the market, but they all suck, with exorbitant prices (the e-ink screens are very expensive at wholesale) and have poor performance.I saw that it was possible to hack the Nook Simple Touch Glowlight and install Android 2.1.But I didn’t really like this idea. First of all I would have paid $90 for a reader that was discontinued three years ago, and would have a low screen resolution, then surely customs would give me another 50 Euros of tax / duty / taxes “gift”, and then it the end all I got would be an obsolete “hybrid” tablet with Android 2.1, and all the apps would be discontinued also: how long could I continue to use Dropbox, Pocket and other apps before a change of API would kill them?

I eventually found the KOBO GLO HD, which in Italy is sold directly on Amazon for 10 euro less than the official price (119 euro).

Can you install apps on it? No, but its operating system based on Linux is very nicely done and I don’t need to hack it.

  1. It can read CBR and CBZ comics, without conversion, just copy the files via USB
  2. It can read EPUB and PDF ebooks without the need for conversion or special sync programs
  3. It natively integrates with Pocket and syncs everything for automatic offline reading.Instead of reading a webpage on the PC, I click on the Pocket icon in my browser, and boom, I get them on the Kobo. Awesome!
  4. The screen is very bright
  5. The screen resolution is incredibly high

It would have been much more perfect if it had physical buttons instead of being 100% touch, but you can’t have everything in life.