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Mat Bettinson

Mat Bettinson 

Geeky linguaphile

Occupation: Linguistic grad student, researcher and sinologist. (University of Melbourne)

Location: Melbourne

Followers: 10,728

Following: 899

Views: 823,425

Added to CircleCount.com: 07/13/2011That's the date, where Mat Bettinson has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 22

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2015-07-13 01:03:06 (22 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

American gun-kooks threated by Australia

The NRA has kicked out an article attacking Australia's tough gun laws that were enacted after the Port Arthur massacre. I can only assume that this is motivated by the fact that many commentators keep referring to Australia as an example of the fact that you can actually reverse your gun culture, even if gun-ownership is endemic, and that it would seem to have the result of no further mass gun-crime events.

It's actually reasonable to call into question how effective the gun laws have been, and only really from one scientific position. There's not enough data. These events happen with very low frequency, we might have just been lucky. Most people in Australia, however, are perfectly capable of realising that it being quite hard to obtain guns does in fact make mass killing springs with multiple military firearms rather... more »

Most reshares: 14

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2015-11-05 03:40:32 (6 comments; 14 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Only in Taiwan: Belly laugh not recommended.

Most plusones: 20

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2015-11-05 03:40:32 (6 comments; 14 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Only in Taiwan: Belly laugh not recommended.

Latest 50 posts

2016-08-06 00:37:11 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

One of the biggest problems in web development is that it moves so far. Which means that 90% of the hits you get when looking for documentation are years out of date. I don't really understand why websites offering documentation don't expire their old content.

One of the biggest problems in web development is that it moves so far. Which means that 90% of the hits you get when looking for documentation are years out of date. I don't really understand why websites offering documentation don't expire their old content.___

2016-04-16 01:19:07 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Hacking XPS13 WiFi

I'm going to  come up with a hack to address the  major shortcoming of the otherwise brilliant Dell #XPS13 , the terrible WiFi. I've had a cursory look. The problem would appear to be inauspicious interaction between the bottom metal chassis plate and the antennas. and the shielding effect of carbon fibre. People talk about replacing the wifi module with an Intel unit but that doesn't fix anything, the problem is very clearly that Dell have manufactured lovely case that doesn't have a good place to get a signal through.
The only wifi transparent sections of the case are the plastic on the sides and the keyboard.

I have a couple of ideas. Probably the most elegant is to exit the bottom panel from the wifi module on the back right, and extend one or two quarter wave antennas behind the stand bar on the bottom case, or even removing ther... more »

Hacking XPS13 WiFi

I'm going to  come up with a hack to address the  major shortcoming of the otherwise brilliant Dell #XPS13 , the terrible WiFi. I've had a cursory look. The problem would appear to be inauspicious interaction between the bottom metal chassis plate and the antennas. and the shielding effect of carbon fibre. People talk about replacing the wifi module with an Intel unit but that doesn't fix anything, the problem is very clearly that Dell have manufactured lovely case that doesn't have a good place to get a signal through.
The only wifi transparent sections of the case are the plastic on the sides and the keyboard.

I have a couple of ideas. Probably the most elegant is to exit the bottom panel from the wifi module on the back right, and extend one or two quarter wave antennas behind the stand bar on the bottom case, or even removing the rubber bar and putting antennas in there although that would likely result in sub optimal signal when sitting on some surfaces. Another stealth solution would be to affix chip antennas to the outside of the chassis on the back right and back left corners but the problem is with the screen up the top metal chassis sits directly in front of the best place to put them. 

A more radical and decidedly unstealthy option would be to extend a wire out the side of the case to the lid, and then to affix flat F-type antennas to the lid. Those could be large, very high gain and provide potentially spectacular gain and directionality. It would be kind of cute to transform the XPS13 into something that has better wifi than anything else, but it's not going to do much for those expensive sexy looks. ___

2016-01-17 20:59:24 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Listening to radio: The coach of an Australian AFL team was on the radio. The Essendon football club initially got off on doping charges but some anti doping agency appealed and eventually all the players were found guilty. James Hird, the coach, was on the radio continuing to claim that they were all innocent, and that it's all the fault of their sports scientist. This is laughable. All the players failed to declare the injection regime. The anti-doping regime doesn't ask "tell us about any banned things you've been injected with", it asks players what they have ingested, or had injected, full stop. 

Listening to radio: The coach of an Australian AFL team was on the radio. The Essendon football club initially got off on doping charges but some anti doping agency appealed and eventually all the players were found guilty. James Hird, the coach, was on the radio continuing to claim that they were all innocent, and that it's all the fault of their sports scientist. This is laughable. All the players failed to declare the injection regime. The anti-doping regime doesn't ask "tell us about any banned things you've been injected with", it asks players what they have ingested, or had injected, full stop. ___

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2016-01-08 06:25:14 (1 comments; 9 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Astonishing university advert

Brilliant and moving. It's not often that a plug for a uni gets over a million views on YouTube. 

Astonishing university advert

Brilliant and moving. It's not often that a plug for a uni gets over a million views on YouTube. ___

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2016-01-05 22:04:15 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Hover boards explode. Why? Well, the reason is this. They are easy to make so countless factories in China are getting on with it, the sort of places that normally make extremely badly made toys that don't cause any issues other than breaking after five minutes. The problem is that these places often don't have engineers. Now they can acquire lithium cells easily, where as in the past nicad or nimh would have been used. Hover boards need a stack of cells in an arrangement that also has banks in serial. The way to do this properly is to use lithium cell protection circuits and, particularly in this case, some scheme for balancing cells when charging. They won't do any of this. They will use unprotected cells and do some sort of crude CC/CV charge scheme across the entire set. It's even more likely that the cells are reclaimed laptop cells from multiple sources, the sort of thing that's... more »

Hover boards explode. Why? Well, the reason is this. They are easy to make so countless factories in China are getting on with it, the sort of places that normally make extremely badly made toys that don't cause any issues other than breaking after five minutes. The problem is that these places often don't have engineers. Now they can acquire lithium cells easily, where as in the past nicad or nimh would have been used. Hover boards need a stack of cells in an arrangement that also has banks in serial. The way to do this properly is to use lithium cell protection circuits and, particularly in this case, some scheme for balancing cells when charging. They won't do any of this. They will use unprotected cells and do some sort of crude CC/CV charge scheme across the entire set. It's even more likely that the cells are reclaimed laptop cells from multiple sources, the sort of thing that's rampant on eBay, such as cells sold as 4000mAH Ultrafires (actually just rewrapped reclaimed throwaways with random capacities from 0 to 2000mAH.

So when the crude charger is looking at total cell pack voltage, its unaware that one shitty cell that used to be in a Dell laptop in Spain before it was recycled via a chop shop in India and sold on to China) has long been charged to capacity and is now comfortably exceeding the maximum cell voltage. It heats up. There's no thermal protection. There's no blow off. Obviously there's no cell balancing as there must be in even a device built with brand new cells. So it heats catastrophically, the cell bulges and ruptures. The electrolyte spontaneously combusts. This heats adjacent cells which cook off in cascade, limited only by the availability of oxygen. Since these are in crudely built metal boxes, the fire is contained at first, until all of the cells inside are cooking off and the case ruptures spraying hot combusting electrolyte. Heaven help anyone that tries to extinguish this with water. Homes are very unlikely to have the means to extinguish a serious lithium battery fire.

There is of course no effective means to regulate the production of electrical equipment in China or in assessing the large volume of personally imported devices that have never seen the inside of any sort of safety compliance lab. The problem isn't limited to hoverboards but this is perhaps a new class of device which is both a commodity toy and therefore expected to be as cheap as possible, and easy enough to make for the cut price toy manufacturing industry, and of course which is dependent on a significantly large pack of lithium batteries.___

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2015-12-04 23:48:01 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

Windows 10 activation hell

This is a long post but it's got things you might not know about W10 activation and offers some tips to smooth things for you if you have to do this.

I bought an expensive retail copy of Windows 10 specifically because I'm the sort of person that changes motherboards. This post documents the ridiculously painful process of obtaining of re-activating Windows 10. The important thing to note is this: In the past MS only checked if keys were valid and the painful voice system and human beings would always get you activated. Now their system knows when you have activated a particular key. Unfortunately their systems just haven't caught up with this capability and it ends up just being a pain in the arse.

In case you didn't realise, your free W10 upgrade is no good for a mobo change. MS thinks that's a new computer. Even if... more »

Windows 10 activation hell

This is a long post but it's got things you might not know about W10 activation and offers some tips to smooth things for you if you have to do this.

I bought an expensive retail copy of Windows 10 specifically because I'm the sort of person that changes motherboards. This post documents the ridiculously painful process of obtaining of re-activating Windows 10. The important thing to note is this: In the past MS only checked if keys were valid and the painful voice system and human beings would always get you activated. Now their system knows when you have activated a particular key. Unfortunately their systems just haven't caught up with this capability and it ends up just being a pain in the arse.

In case you didn't realise, your free W10 upgrade is no good for a mobo change. MS thinks that's a new computer. Even if you had a retail 7 or 8, when you get the free upgrade, your license is turned into a locked-to-device copy, and is no longer eligible for transfers. So I had no choice but to buy a new WIndows 10 to avoid this. Turns out I would need it almost immediately.

I ended up having to change the mobo on a brand-new PC because it was faulty. Windows helpfully deactivated. This triggered a painful bout of calls to MS technical support. This was the process. I'll tag steps to use short forms for repeats.

#1 Voice menu nonsense to get to the right bit.
#2 Enter massive string of eight groups of numbers.
#3 Get told that it's already activated on another PC. One menu option, 1, "if you believe this is in error..."
#4 Routed to very poor VoIP with distorted hold music. Speak to someone in India. I have to tell them that it's Windows 10. I explain that I've changed the motherboard. She tells me she has 'no access' and transfers me. I end up in #1 but with a super bad VoIP line. Get through #2 but I can barely comprehend #3 so this will not bode well for speaking to a human so I hang up to try again.
#1
#2
Key in one group wrong a couple of times, "I have reason to believe you..." CLICK. Nice.
#1
#2
#3
#4 have chat with support person in India. She can't really understand that it's the same computer with a different motherboard. I must now read out the ridiculously long activation ID on the bad VoIP line, despite the fact I've keyed it in previously. No connection from that system to India apparently.

I finally give her the installation id manually. Now her computer is telling her it's installed on another computer. This goes circular for a bit. Asks me if it could have been installed on another computer. I explain again the motherboard has changed. It's a retail copy of Windows 10 specifically bought for this. I'm on hold. After a short hold she comes back and is satisfied that it's a changed motherboard (ffs!) and then reads out a slightly less ridiculously-long confirmation code. I key this straight into Windows 10. It works, I'm activated.

Seriously Microsoft. If you insist on using this retarded system, why can't you shore up your IT system so the initial voice mail system is integrated with with India so we don't have to rrad out the stupidly long number on a bad VoIP line when we've already keyed it into the phone? And why can't you retrieve the license TYPE so that we have appropriate options when you know it has been activated? E.g. Press 2 if you have changed significant hardware in your pc or you wish to transfer your licence to a new PC.

Anyone would have thought that a tech giant could sort this shit out eh?

Conclusion: If you have to do this yourself, make sure you have a good clear sounding phone and be prepared for the long haul. Get your activation stuff on screen. When you speak to the person in India, make sure they understand you have a retail copy and the motherboard is changed. Do not let them transfer you. If you're trying to 'blag' an activation code for a changed mobo in a free W10 upgrade, it's not going to work. They wont do it. ___

2015-12-02 08:58:54 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

So the bureau of meteorology has been hacked. Maybe an IT refresh will see them move to a proper fucking API for weather data rather than badly formed XML on an ftp server. Still, curious the hysterical 'hundreds of millions' claimed fix cost some bom suit told the ABC. I mean... It still seems to be working. Not an excuse to run out and buy gold plated pie warmers mate!

So the bureau of meteorology has been hacked. Maybe an IT refresh will see them move to a proper fucking API for weather data rather than badly formed XML on an ftp server. Still, curious the hysterical 'hundreds of millions' claimed fix cost some bom suit told the ABC. I mean... It still seems to be working. Not an excuse to run out and buy gold plated pie warmers mate!___

2015-11-21 01:35:28 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Erm, has Google finally completely destroyed G+? It looks fucking awful.

Erm, has Google finally completely destroyed G+? It looks fucking awful.___

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2015-11-21 01:28:17 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

I've been playing with this NodeMCU widget. Previously I tried working with the ridiculously cheap WiFi ESP8266 widgets with Arduino but the AT command firmware was extremely unreliable. These NodeMCU things are basically a custom firmware on the ESP8266 with a Lua interpreter. The module is on a breakout board with a serial chip on it and a USB socket.

I had read mixed reports on the Lua firmware. It's been unreliable for some. However there's another project that ports the Arduino dev kit directly to ESP8266 so you can write raw C on the thing. This is known to work well. This board came from an aussie supplier for $14, available cheaper still from China. I tried the Lua first. I was particularly amazed that the Chinese guys behind NodeMCU have ported u8glib for connecting LCD and OLED displays. They've also ported things like DHT support, 1-Wire and so on.

I set... more »

I've been playing with this NodeMCU widget. Previously I tried working with the ridiculously cheap WiFi ESP8266 widgets with Arduino but the AT command firmware was extremely unreliable. These NodeMCU things are basically a custom firmware on the ESP8266 with a Lua interpreter. The module is on a breakout board with a serial chip on it and a USB socket.

I had read mixed reports on the Lua firmware. It's been unreliable for some. However there's another project that ports the Arduino dev kit directly to ESP8266 so you can write raw C on the thing. This is known to work well. This board came from an aussie supplier for $14, available cheaper still from China. I tried the Lua first. I was particularly amazed that the Chinese guys behind NodeMCU have ported u8glib for connecting LCD and OLED displays. They've also ported things like DHT support, 1-Wire and so on.

I set about recreating what I had managed to do with an Arduino nano over the course of a week. Connecting up one of the cute little 1" OLED displays, an SHT11 temp/humid sensor and a motion detector. I added precisely no components, just wiring up those devices to IO pins, no pull-ups or anything. I needed to flash a recent NodeMCU firmware. Got hold of an app called Lualoader that basically is a little smart serial terminal that uploads files to the device and displays serial output.

In the space of a couple of hours I had got reliable measures from the SHT11 sensor, got this printing out to the OLED display, was reading the motion detector state fine. Also connecting to WiFi was trivial in a couple of lines, and a HTTP GET request out sending this data to a server. Not only that, I managed to get the device to deep sleep and it's definitely into the realms of battery powered consumption overall. If you don't deep sleep, it's not really, it draws maybe 30ma sitting there awake, which isn't going to run for weeks on lithium cell.

This is a massive massive thumbs up NodeMCU. I'm conscious of the fact that you have to be careful of writing stuff in Lua not to consume too much heap space but for simple IoT projects with WiFi, i2C and SPI connectivity and even little displays, this really just can't be beat. And if Lua does end up biting you because your code is getting a bit big, then you can always move to the Arduino ESP8266 port (but there's no u8glib for that so far).

Very pleasantly surprised by this. I really hope it kicks off a new class of MCU platform. Hopefully in the future we can have something like this that is a bit less heap-space constrained and is more robust on errors. My biggest complaint is that simple errors result in a hard restart, and often there's no output to serial at all. If they can fix that sort of stuff, this ought to be the new way of doing shit like this. Kids should be playing with these in school!___

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2015-11-06 06:42:00 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Equal thieving opportunity employer.

Equal thieving opportunity employer.___

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2015-11-05 03:40:32 (6 comments; 14 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Only in Taiwan: Belly laugh not recommended.

Only in Taiwan: Belly laugh not recommended.___

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2015-11-03 23:09:12 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Fallout 4 price on steam is ridiculous

Fallout 4 is AU$60 from JB Hi-Fi with day-before mail-out via Toll courier. This compares to the digital version from Steam which would cost the equivalent of AU$114. So it's very nearly half the price to get someone to send it to you on DVD, with a perk-poster thrown in. Madness. 

#fallout4  

Fallout 4 price on steam is ridiculous

Fallout 4 is AU$60 from JB Hi-Fi with day-before mail-out via Toll courier. This compares to the digital version from Steam which would cost the equivalent of AU$114. So it's very nearly half the price to get someone to send it to you on DVD, with a perk-poster thrown in. Madness. 

#fallout4  ___

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2015-10-31 00:11:13 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

As expected, the Nexus 6P is a total nightmare to disassemble and repair. Fuck these guys, seriously.

As expected, the Nexus 6P is a total nightmare to disassemble and repair. Fuck these guys, seriously.___

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2015-10-29 06:42:42 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

LG G4 ghetto wireless cradle

I took the guts out of a $5 Qi wireless charging puck and stuck them on a paddle-pop cradle constructed to fit the LG G4.

LG G4 ghetto wireless cradle

I took the guts out of a $5 Qi wireless charging puck and stuck them on a paddle-pop cradle constructed to fit the LG G4.___

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2015-10-20 04:51:18 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

The right way and the wrong way to build a phone

Phones might seem a bit samey but they're not all built the same. I have pretty specific needs. After a couple of years I'm going to want to service the device so that it can become part of a pool of devices I use in my research. They're perfectly fine devices even if they aren't flagship any more. One sticking point is whether the battery is replaceable. I don't just mean if you can pop the lid and swap it out like phones of old, although that would be nice. Occasionally non-replaceable just means you need a few tools and it takes five minutes to do, the Nexus 5 is a good example of this.

However some manufacturers make it very very difficult. To illustrate this, let's take a look at two current flagship Android phones of almost identical specifications. The LG G4 and the Moto X Style (Pure). First, take a... more »

The right way and the wrong way to build a phone

Phones might seem a bit samey but they're not all built the same. I have pretty specific needs. After a couple of years I'm going to want to service the device so that it can become part of a pool of devices I use in my research. They're perfectly fine devices even if they aren't flagship any more. One sticking point is whether the battery is replaceable. I don't just mean if you can pop the lid and swap it out like phones of old, although that would be nice. Occasionally non-replaceable just means you need a few tools and it takes five minutes to do, the Nexus 5 is a good example of this.

However some manufacturers make it very very difficult. To illustrate this, let's take a look at two current flagship Android phones of almost identical specifications. The LG G4 and the Moto X Style (Pure). First, take a look at this teardown of a the G4:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS02J12I1MU
The switch back cover just pops offs, and the battery is actually user replaceable. By contrast, the also easy but not strictly user replaceable Nexus 5 can be seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlmKLfgUtBQ

By contrast, take a look at the teardown of a Moto X Style/Pure:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuewklttaSc

This is an apocalypse. The back cover is firmly glued on, it doesn't clip on. You can get it off but you'll need patience and a hairdryer. Secondly, the battery is astonishingly difficult to get access to. It's kind of built into a rear/mid chassis. In looking at these teardowns, it's very difficult to see why they did it this way. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuewklttaSc

It's also been like that for previous Motorola phones. If you want to see a bunch of stills rather than a video, check out this web page of a previous Moto X model battery replacement procedure:
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Motorola+Moto+X+Battery+Replacement/16974

So what did Motorola gain in building their phone this way? Was it lighter? Was the battery bigger? Nope, same capacity battery, and it is significantly heavier than the G4 at 179g instead of 154g. In my estimation some of that is because the Moto screen is fractionally larger, a large PCB that runs around the entire frame and a great deal of shielding for no reason that's clear.

There is absolutely zero reason Motorola couldn't have built their device closer to the Nexus 5. Sure, you may need to run a ribbon over it, but there's no reason to disassemble the mid-frame to get to the battery and gluing down ribbons all over the place is the act of an arsehole. Many things they have done elevate the job of a simple repair from a somewhat-handy person towards a full-on tech. That is not desirable.

To be fair, the Moto X Pure/Style is still somewhat repairable. It's not at all clear to me how on earth you would work on a device like the Nexus 6P which appears to have a metal uni body. Basically you would need to heat up the back body and use suction on the screen to pull it away from the phone. This is the kind of price you pay for metal unibody nonsense. Throwaway technology.___

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2015-10-19 12:18:24 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Sometimes Google is too smart for their own good.

Sometimes Google is too smart for their own good.___

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2015-10-19 10:35:02 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

USB fast charging explained

There seems to be a good deal of confusion around the USB fast-charging standards. Here's my effort to quickly explain the basics. First, prior to fast charging, the only device that needed to 'know' anything was the device being charged, e.g. how much current to draw. A standard USB charging brick works with a standard USB cable. It does this by shorting out the D+ and D- pins, which indicates USB BC1.2 (battery charging). A connected device can 'see' this, meaning that the device is cleared to draw up to 1.5A. Apple did a hack-on change to this with some pull-up and pull-down resistors setting the specific voltages on D- and D+. Apple devices could then tell if they were plugged into a charger that did 1A or 2.4A (iPads).

Today we have two fast charging standards. The first and most established is Qualcomms proprietary Quick... more »

USB fast charging explained

There seems to be a good deal of confusion around the USB fast-charging standards. Here's my effort to quickly explain the basics. First, prior to fast charging, the only device that needed to 'know' anything was the device being charged, e.g. how much current to draw. A standard USB charging brick works with a standard USB cable. It does this by shorting out the D+ and D- pins, which indicates USB BC1.2 (battery charging). A connected device can 'see' this, meaning that the device is cleared to draw up to 1.5A. Apple did a hack-on change to this with some pull-up and pull-down resistors setting the specific voltages on D- and D+. Apple devices could then tell if they were plugged into a charger that did 1A or 2.4A (iPads).

Today we have two fast charging standards. The first and most established is Qualcomms proprietary Quick Charge 2.0. Now the device needs to ask the charger for a particular voltage. This is done because it's basically a bad ideal to shovel many amps at 5V on a cable. The cables would have to be quite thick and short to avoid voltage drops. From a phone's perspective that supports higher voltages, it's still charging a single nominal 3.7V lithium battery, it just uses an internal switch-mode regulator that can handle higher voltages. In the end, it equates to higher current charging the lithium cell internal (4-5A say), but that's inside the phone meaning your cable can stay dinky, slender and long. 

QC 2.0 is a bit like Apple's USB power hack except that it's set from the device instead. The device sets specific voltages on the D+ and D- pins and the power charger brick, if it supports QC, will detect that and kick the voltage to the appropriate level. This works over a standard USB cable because it uses the D+ and D- pins.

The second is USB-C and USB power delivery. This is an emerging proper standard rather than a proprietary vendor standard. So far very few phones have USB-C reversible connectors. They are undoubtedly the best power/data connector yet made. Reversible and rugged well beyond USB micro. The new Nexus phones have them and they're being pimped with fast charging. 

The real situation is a bit more complex. It is certainly possible for a device to support QC 2.0 via a USB-C port, via  cable to standard USB A plug in a QC charger. I can't see this happening. USB BC1.2 is supported which means you can just use a USB A to USB-C cable plugged into a standard USB charger and it'll work at up to 1.5A. 

For fast charging and USB-C, a charger is identified via new pins and lines in USB-C cables, CC1 and CC2. It doesn't happen via the legacy D+ and D- pins. There's a simple mode which is a bit like BC1.2. Based on a fixed value between CC1 and CC2, a charger just says it's a high current USB-C charger capable of 1.5A or 3A max. This is what the new Nexus 6P does, bundled with a 3A charger. The bad news is you'll find it hard to find a USB-C charger and no Quick Charge 2.0 chargers are going to work, so you're limited to standard 1A charging with an adapter cable.

USB-C also heralds proper new system called USB Power Delivery. This is almost exactly the same as Qualcomm's Quick Charge protocols but needs those CC1 and CC2 lines, so it needs a USB-C cable connector on each end. With USB PD, the device can request that the charger up the voltage. Chargers fall into particular categories with specific capabilities so at no stage will the device draw power, or expect power, that it's not going to get.

All of this has some immediate ramifications. If you want to be able to quick charge your phone from a variety of places, such as buying additional chargers or car-chargers, then right now Quick Charge 2.0 is the only real way to go. It's too early for USB-C. The only current USB-C equipped phones are just arriving and none of them are even based on USB power delivery yet, which is just as well because there are ZERO USB power delivery chargers. 

Another question that comes up: Does fast charging hurt my phone's battery life. The answer is: Yes. However it's not going to be very significant. A greater detriment to your phone's battery will be in constantly leaving it topped up at 100%, or worse, letting it sit around flat, or even letting your phone get hot. So you don't really need to worry about it much. I would, however, be very suspicious of evangelists telling you that fast charging makes shit battery life not such a deal, or replaces wireless charging somehow. 

People who make phones, and market phones, are often dickheads.___

2015-10-15 05:06:47 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Fucking Ubuntu. An update changes the way serial ports work and breaks previous stuff. Why would you do that, WHY?

Fucking Ubuntu. An update changes the way serial ports work and breaks previous stuff. Why would you do that, WHY?___

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2015-10-12 23:55:53 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Repairing the Nexus 5 power button

I'm a big fan of the LG-made Nexus 5. I've come to know it's internals and love the ease of dis-assembly. Sadly when I was conducting fieldwork in the mountains of Taiwan, my Nexus 5 died. The power button became permanently stuck on which results in a boot-loop. The solution is to replace the switch. I had some replacements waiting for me when I got back to Australia. 

http://protyposis.net/blog/replacing-the-nexus-5-power-button/
This guy had a reasonable write-up of replacing the switch but the instructions on how to deal with the surface mount soldering could be improved: There's no need to use solder wick. The entire frame of the switch is metallic but it is actually a semi-through-hole switch. So one just needs to heat the switch frame with a hot iron (400C) or so while gripping the button with some needle-nosed... more »

Repairing the Nexus 5 power button

I'm a big fan of the LG-made Nexus 5. I've come to know it's internals and love the ease of dis-assembly. Sadly when I was conducting fieldwork in the mountains of Taiwan, my Nexus 5 died. The power button became permanently stuck on which results in a boot-loop. The solution is to replace the switch. I had some replacements waiting for me when I got back to Australia. 

http://protyposis.net/blog/replacing-the-nexus-5-power-button/
This guy had a reasonable write-up of replacing the switch but the instructions on how to deal with the surface mount soldering could be improved: There's no need to use solder wick. The entire frame of the switch is metallic but it is actually a semi-through-hole switch. So one just needs to heat the switch frame with a hot iron (400C) or so while gripping the button with some needle-nosed plyers and it'll pop right off in scarcely a second. Now I would suggest wetting the existing pads with normal 60/40 solder (to lower soldering temp point because they use lead-free solder). Then wick out the solder from the two holes near the edge of the PCB. Place the new switch in position and press down on it. I put a paddle pop on top to avoid burning my finger. Then heat switch up and the pins should sink into whatever solder is left in the holes. It'll look like the picture below then.

The final trick is to give up trying to solder the three pads on the back with a super fine iron tip. You will fail. Just solder the entire lot fairly quickly, using an excess of solder, and then use a solder pump to slurp off the excess. On the first attempt I found that solder was removed from the space between the chassis and the button contacts, but remained between switch and PCB. All that remained was a quick PCB clean up and re-assembly. Nexus 5 back to life!___

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2015-09-18 02:10:09 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Something about this that says 'Taiwan' to me. Taken somewhat around Donghe village in Miaoli county.

Something about this that says 'Taiwan' to me. Taken somewhat around Donghe village in Miaoli county.___

2015-09-14 13:43:16 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Not best pleased with Turnbull ousting Abbott. They're electable now.

Not best pleased with Turnbull ousting Abbott. They're electable now.___

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2015-09-12 02:57:36 (5 comments; 1 reshares; 7 +1s; )Open 

Classic Taiwanese approach to electrical safety. This is a beastly 600w electric kettle. Manufactured last year. It's all metal but it has a two pin unearthed mains lead. Since this will eventually kill someone, and is presumably against whatever safety regulations there are, they have thoughtfully tacked on an earth wire. If you would like not die then you can screw onto a nearby earth post. However if you don't mind dying but would quite like to move the kettle to the tap, or your cup, then you can ignore the wire. Simple.

Classic Taiwanese approach to electrical safety. This is a beastly 600w electric kettle. Manufactured last year. It's all metal but it has a two pin unearthed mains lead. Since this will eventually kill someone, and is presumably against whatever safety regulations there are, they have thoughtfully tacked on an earth wire. If you would like not die then you can screw onto a nearby earth post. However if you don't mind dying but would quite like to move the kettle to the tap, or your cup, then you can ignore the wire. Simple.___

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2015-09-08 00:14:33 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Taipei gift store.

Taipei gift store.___

2015-09-05 08:49:07 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

+Google Maps really needs a motorbike mode for the nav. It's worse than useless in Taipei trying to get out of the city on a scooter. There's no way of selecting your mode other than 'car' so it doesn't make a distinction between the roads that can and cannot be taken by scooters. This ends up being a hugely frustrating experience.

+Google Maps really needs a motorbike mode for the nav. It's worse than useless in Taipei trying to get out of the city on a scooter. There's no way of selecting your mode other than 'car' so it doesn't make a distinction between the roads that can and cannot be taken by scooters. This ends up being a hugely frustrating experience.___

2015-07-29 23:04:04 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Answer on @Quora by 9th grade student to "How do German kids feel when they learn about what Hitler/Germany did in World War II". Outstanding, interesting comments on her answer too including an exchange with a holocaust survivor.

Answer on @Quora by 9th grade student to "How do German kids feel when they learn about what Hitler/Germany did in World War II". Outstanding, interesting comments on her answer too including an exchange with a holocaust survivor.___

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2015-07-25 11:39:14 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Fabulous new Chinese app from nomadic Android dev +Mark Carter​. Look up Chinese words anywhere on your mobile. Man... Now I just want a button to add a Pleco flash card. Hmm, and I can't help think there might be a more elegant on-off method than the notification bar... Gesture maybe Mark? 

Fabulous new Chinese app from nomadic Android dev +Mark Carter​. Look up Chinese words anywhere on your mobile. Man... Now I just want a button to add a Pleco flash card. Hmm, and I can't help think there might be a more elegant on-off method than the notification bar... Gesture maybe Mark? ___

2015-07-16 05:12:27 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

When  'low dropout' isn't low enough

This is a techie 'lectronic post, beware. Linear regulators are in just about every sort of electronic device. The goal is to take some unregulated power and produce a nice steady regulated output. The most typical example is taking a lithium battery which may range from 3.7 to 4.1V and giving you 3.3V to run your chipery.

The worst case scenario here is a regulator that must manage the small 400mV difference between a nearly flat lithium cell and the 3.3V power output. These devices exist, they're called low dropout regulators. I bought a couple off ebay and put one in a project and forgot about it. The problem is that as my lithium battery ran down, the circuit behaved strangely, the voltage would drop as a WiFi module slurped some power periodically. 

It turns out that the ST LD1117V33 I was using needsab... more »

When  'low dropout' isn't low enough

This is a techie 'lectronic post, beware. Linear regulators are in just about every sort of electronic device. The goal is to take some unregulated power and produce a nice steady regulated output. The most typical example is taking a lithium battery which may range from 3.7 to 4.1V and giving you 3.3V to run your chipery.

The worst case scenario here is a regulator that must manage the small 400mV difference between a nearly flat lithium cell and the 3.3V power output. These devices exist, they're called low dropout regulators. I bought a couple off ebay and put one in a project and forgot about it. The problem is that as my lithium battery ran down, the circuit behaved strangely, the voltage would drop as a WiFi module slurped some power periodically. 

It turns out that the ST LD1117V33 I was using needs about 1V of headroom. It was well out of the comfort zone. I replaced it with a Microchip TC1262-3 (I think the dropout range is in the region of 65mV!) and everything was solved. The moral of this story, even if you think you know what something does, always read the datasheet. Side note, why can't these fuckers agree on a standard pinout for a simple 3-pin TO-220 regulator!___

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2015-07-13 01:03:06 (22 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

American gun-kooks threated by Australia

The NRA has kicked out an article attacking Australia's tough gun laws that were enacted after the Port Arthur massacre. I can only assume that this is motivated by the fact that many commentators keep referring to Australia as an example of the fact that you can actually reverse your gun culture, even if gun-ownership is endemic, and that it would seem to have the result of no further mass gun-crime events.

It's actually reasonable to call into question how effective the gun laws have been, and only really from one scientific position. There's not enough data. These events happen with very low frequency, we might have just been lucky. Most people in Australia, however, are perfectly capable of realising that it being quite hard to obtain guns does in fact make mass killing springs with multiple military firearms rather... more »

American gun-kooks threated by Australia

The NRA has kicked out an article attacking Australia's tough gun laws that were enacted after the Port Arthur massacre. I can only assume that this is motivated by the fact that many commentators keep referring to Australia as an example of the fact that you can actually reverse your gun culture, even if gun-ownership is endemic, and that it would seem to have the result of no further mass gun-crime events.

It's actually reasonable to call into question how effective the gun laws have been, and only really from one scientific position. There's not enough data. These events happen with very low frequency, we might have just been lucky. Most people in Australia, however, are perfectly capable of realising that it being quite hard to obtain guns does in fact make mass killing springs with multiple military firearms rather less likely.

The NRA instead claim there is 'growing consensus' in Australia that the gun laws have not been effective. I think many of us would find this a curious claim, it's the first I've heard of it. They hyperlinked growing consensus with two articles, which presumably passes for a citation in gun-kook land. The first is a 2005 SMH article citing the head of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, who basically made a lack-of-evidence argument and pointed to rising illicit gun ownership. Likely NRA supports wont read to the bottom of the article where the police commissioner pointed out that if nothing else the laws had shored up registration, storage and licensing. The second quoted article was an academic article published in a British journal by members of an Australian gun lobby group. So realistically, the NRA's claim is false. Two citations a year apart 10-years ago cannot adequately demonstrate 'growing consensus', particularly when one of them is basically a bit of astroturfing from a pro-gun lobby group. 

Ultimately, the NRA says 'there will be blood' argument, a classic rehash of the standard gun-nut argument that guns somehow make us safer. That the lack of guns will mean that a gun-totin' crazy will do more damage because people can't stop them. I find it depressing that they're looking to Australia to make this claim, with a complete absence of evidence and bucket loads of conjecture, when all they needed to do was look to their own shores to see that mass gun-ownership has done precisely fuck all to stop gun massacres in the US. E.g. total number of gun-crazies killed by armed member of public = nil.___

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2015-06-15 00:18:34 (7 comments; 2 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

Fake Nexus 5 batteries under the spotlight

The LG Nexus 5 doesn't have a user replaceable battery as such but it's not too difficult to do. There's plenty of online guides and there's also plenty of kits with a 'genuine' LG BL-T9 2300mAH battery and a few tools to help you disassemble your phone. I got one from an Australian supplier that wasn't shy about banding around 'genuine' in the listing. It looked exactly like the OEM battery. It was quickly apparent that it wasn't. So I removed the battery and had a closer look side by side. The wrapper is a very nice fake. On the back side you can see the battery lacks the LG serial number printing and the wrapper is a little more messy, presumably as it was done by elderly ladies in a Chinese 'shanzhai' (fake) factory. Presently I'm unsure how one lays ones hands on a real LG battery.
 ... more »

Fake Nexus 5 batteries under the spotlight

The LG Nexus 5 doesn't have a user replaceable battery as such but it's not too difficult to do. There's plenty of online guides and there's also plenty of kits with a 'genuine' LG BL-T9 2300mAH battery and a few tools to help you disassemble your phone. I got one from an Australian supplier that wasn't shy about banding around 'genuine' in the listing. It looked exactly like the OEM battery. It was quickly apparent that it wasn't. So I removed the battery and had a closer look side by side. The wrapper is a very nice fake. On the back side you can see the battery lacks the LG serial number printing and the wrapper is a little more messy, presumably as it was done by elderly ladies in a Chinese 'shanzhai' (fake) factory. Presently I'm unsure how one lays ones hands on a real LG battery.
  #nexus5   #android  

We should understand this in the context of my earlier post about 18650 batteries and how 95% of them on eBay (particularly anything branded Ultrafire) are re-wrapped fakes claiming capacities well over any real 18650 battery. They are in fact recycled from old laptop batteries.___

2015-06-12 05:40:08 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

How to archive an old site

I've got an old blog. It's been abandoned but I wrote a lot of good stuff on it, stuff I'd like to keep. That said, it seems like a bad idea to just keep trying to pay for the hosting and not taking an active interest in maintaining the security of the Wordpress.

What I'd like to do is just retire it. I'd like to archive it ideally, but I'm not sure how. I've been thinking about it and I don't think there's a lot of merit in leaving it online for everyone. So maybe I should just slurp it all up with a site scraper and shove it on my own personal cloud for long term storage. 

Anyone got a view?

How to archive an old site

I've got an old blog. It's been abandoned but I wrote a lot of good stuff on it, stuff I'd like to keep. That said, it seems like a bad idea to just keep trying to pay for the hosting and not taking an active interest in maintaining the security of the Wordpress.

What I'd like to do is just retire it. I'd like to archive it ideally, but I'm not sure how. I've been thinking about it and I don't think there's a lot of merit in leaving it online for everyone. So maybe I should just slurp it all up with a site scraper and shove it on my own personal cloud for long term storage. 

Anyone got a view?___

2015-06-11 05:31:14 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

I tried to order stuff from Element 14, an electronic component supplier. They seemed to avoid stocking nearly anything that's useful for a hacker. Like no temp/humid sensors in through holes, none of the dead common parts like DHT22s. Dead common stuff just missing or with inexplicably ridiculous pricing. 

I couldn't even buy some dead common transistors to fix an old amp. So I reluctantly head over to eBay... managed to get everything with a mix of aussie and Chinese suppliers. I thought I'd pay over the odds but no, it was cheaper than the basket of E14 equivalents, and E14 wanted more money for postage on top...

This isn't huge news or anything but it does mark the last time I'll even try and buy something from E14. That seems sad. 

I tried to order stuff from Element 14, an electronic component supplier. They seemed to avoid stocking nearly anything that's useful for a hacker. Like no temp/humid sensors in through holes, none of the dead common parts like DHT22s. Dead common stuff just missing or with inexplicably ridiculous pricing. 

I couldn't even buy some dead common transistors to fix an old amp. So I reluctantly head over to eBay... managed to get everything with a mix of aussie and Chinese suppliers. I thought I'd pay over the odds but no, it was cheaper than the basket of E14 equivalents, and E14 wanted more money for postage on top...

This isn't huge news or anything but it does mark the last time I'll even try and buy something from E14. That seems sad. ___

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2015-06-09 00:46:21 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

Winter is coming

Shop front on my local high street has recruited John Snow to spruik a range of skincare products. The undead can be hell on your complexion.

Winter is coming

Shop front on my local high street has recruited John Snow to spruik a range of skincare products. The undead can be hell on your complexion.___

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2015-06-03 14:23:40 (1 comments; 3 reshares; 14 +1s; )Open 

Shut up and TAKE MY MONEY!

Shut up and TAKE MY MONEY!___

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2015-06-02 04:54:21 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

It's grim in Melbourne.

It's grim in Melbourne.___

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2015-05-28 07:33:55 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Woohoo, mX to close

Which means they wont shove it in my face as I pass through the turnstiles while offering the 'newspaper' It's basically full of celebrity gossip and weird text-us-your-whinging pages. It started out as a proper tabloid, light for sure, but it had stuff in it. The more they went after the gossip horseshit market, the more they were in peril of being made redundant by people looking at Facebook on their phones.

It also means it wont litter all the carriages. I will miss some of the rent-a-totty that Rupert hires to hand them out though.

Woohoo, mX to close

Which means they wont shove it in my face as I pass through the turnstiles while offering the 'newspaper' It's basically full of celebrity gossip and weird text-us-your-whinging pages. It started out as a proper tabloid, light for sure, but it had stuff in it. The more they went after the gossip horseshit market, the more they were in peril of being made redundant by people looking at Facebook on their phones.

It also means it wont litter all the carriages. I will miss some of the rent-a-totty that Rupert hires to hand them out though.___

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2015-05-23 02:14:29 (5 comments; 1 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Short handheld video of the same guy/gal when they were a pair.

Short handheld video of the same guy/gal when they were a pair.___

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2015-05-23 01:58:52 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

And one returns

It seems this chap lost his mate. The pair or rainbow lorikeets regularly visited our balcony, squawking and carrying on in the hope they can cajoul me or the missus to put some seed out. Sadly this guy has been solo of late, which usually means his or her mate has been killed (I can't tell sexes of these). Same thing happened a couple of years ago in steps, one of them turned up with an eye missing. I would imagine that the colour scheme is rather helpful for bird of prey. They sure are handsome though.

And one returns

It seems this chap lost his mate. The pair or rainbow lorikeets regularly visited our balcony, squawking and carrying on in the hope they can cajoul me or the missus to put some seed out. Sadly this guy has been solo of late, which usually means his or her mate has been killed (I can't tell sexes of these). Same thing happened a couple of years ago in steps, one of them turned up with an eye missing. I would imagine that the colour scheme is rather helpful for bird of prey. They sure are handsome though.___

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2015-05-22 06:53:03 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Eurovision semis

Woo, it's here! The eurotrash kitsch overload and this time they've even asked the aussies to take part, I mean that's practically Europe right? Having reviewed the semi finals, this is what I reckon:

Latvia - Aminata, Love Injected (lol!). My pick of the bunch. World class female vocalist with a fairly simple anthemic piece, almost triphop percussion to it. There's something about the contrast of her pure high end with the 8-bit bass in the chorus. Makes the hairs rise on the back on my neck, wow!

Russia - Polina Gagaarina. Very powerful song. It's let down a bit by Polina's inability to sing in a non-sonorous register but fortunately she doesn't have to do that for long. Perhaps Aminata can teach her.

Sweden, Mans Zelmerslow, Heroes of time. This guys is very good indeed but unfortunately the song has been... more »

Eurovision semis

Woo, it's here! The eurotrash kitsch overload and this time they've even asked the aussies to take part, I mean that's practically Europe right? Having reviewed the semi finals, this is what I reckon:

Latvia - Aminata, Love Injected (lol!). My pick of the bunch. World class female vocalist with a fairly simple anthemic piece, almost triphop percussion to it. There's something about the contrast of her pure high end with the 8-bit bass in the chorus. Makes the hairs rise on the back on my neck, wow!

Russia - Polina Gagaarina. Very powerful song. It's let down a bit by Polina's inability to sing in a non-sonorous register but fortunately she doesn't have to do that for long. Perhaps Aminata can teach her.

Sweden, Mans Zelmerslow, Heroes of time. This guys is very good indeed but unfortunately the song has been forced into the Eurodance genre in a way that makes it a bit too busy. The start of it, where he just sings, is brilliant. 

Belgium. Loïc Nottet, Rhythm Inside. I don't know why this hasn't got a lot of chat, I think it's great! Boom, click click. It's got rhythm. Head and tails above the eurodance shite. 

Serbia. Bojana Stamenov, Beauty never lies. Big lass sings a rousing anti fat-shaming song. Slow start but builds up to a trance break that's really quite good.

Netherlands. Trijntje Oosterhuis, Why. Why-ay-ay-ay-eye. Come on, if you're going to sing in English you can do better than that dutchies :) It's competant and inoffensive though, Trijntje can sing, even if none of us has a chance of pronouncing that name. 

Lithuania. Happy song, doesn't take itself too seriously. Has actual music rather than Eurodance.

Ireland. This is a perfectly good song, but it's not upbeat enough for success I think. Shame, because Molly Sterling certainly has the pipes to do it.

Funny shit: Finland's granddad rock band. Italy. Nuff said.

The elephant in the room is Australia. Guy Sebastian's song is quite clearly the best on offer. I think it might have been rather more diplomatic to put something shit in like everyone else. I can't imagine the moaning if it does well.___

2015-05-07 22:39:08 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Looks like the UK is voting for more economy-destroying austerity. It never ceases to amaze me the power that politicians have to get people to vote against their own best interests.

Looks like the UK is voting for more economy-destroying austerity. It never ceases to amaze me the power that politicians have to get people to vote against their own best interests.___

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2015-05-04 00:24:22 (18 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Don't buy a Jura coffee machine

This is a Jura Ena 5 super automatic coffee machine. It's actually pretty good, it's made many great coffees straight from beans at the push of a button. The problem is the great lengths the manufacturers went to ensure that you can't even clean it yourself. The side panel, removed here, was robustly fixed to the side of the unit. The bottom line is they want you to send this for a service for things when it goes wrong. The problem is they make it impossible to clean the inside of it, which is actually what goes wrong on these things. They fill up with spent wet coffee grains that promptly hosts thriving mould colonies. It's nasty.

I've worked with electronic devices for a long time so I'm reasonably equipped to defeat a number of the casual schemes manufacturers use to keep you out. This was on a whole other... more »

Don't buy a Jura coffee machine

This is a Jura Ena 5 super automatic coffee machine. It's actually pretty good, it's made many great coffees straight from beans at the push of a button. The problem is the great lengths the manufacturers went to ensure that you can't even clean it yourself. The side panel, removed here, was robustly fixed to the side of the unit. The bottom line is they want you to send this for a service for things when it goes wrong. The problem is they make it impossible to clean the inside of it, which is actually what goes wrong on these things. They fill up with spent wet coffee grains that promptly hosts thriving mould colonies. It's nasty.

I've worked with electronic devices for a long time so I'm reasonably equipped to defeat a number of the casual schemes manufacturers use to keep you out. This was on a whole other level. The side panels are locked to the back of the case via a devious system. The company logo needs to be pried off the back revealing an insert that can be rotated and removed. Then there's one last protected screw that needs to be removed, whereupon the lock mechanism can be raised, allowing the side panels to slide back. That protected screw was unlike anything I've seen. It needed a female M5 reverse threaded tool to remove the screw. I don't have one, I've never even seen one. 

At this point I was thoroughly pissed off that I couldn't clean out the rotting coffee I can smell and glimpse by prying off a bit of case. It's well out of warranty, and there's no way I'll reward their evil by getting a dealer service anyway. When I can't fix it, it's going in the bin. So I just snapped off a peg from the locking mechanism. I couldn't get the locking panel clips on the front to disengage, it looks like there's a tool needed for that (or possibly more patience), so I snapped those off as well (see bits of red at the front of the case).

I sort of understand why they'd want to stop people from servicing the guts of this thing, but what's unforgivable, and which should be outright illegal, is stopping end users from making their unit hygienic. The build up inside was truly disgusting. Even in terms of regular two-weekly cleans, where you will need to wipe the tamper disk, this involves contorting your hand in from the bottom of the device up inside the guts to wipe the disk. They don't tell you this in the manual. I had to ring them up after owning it for a month because it no longer made coffee, at which point they explained how I could contort my hand to perform this cleaning maneuver so it would at least work. (Also let's not go there about how it's designed to use their own custom water filters and whines when it needs a new one - I don't use one at all since my water is super soft)

So anyway, fuck these guys. You may of course reasonably conclude that super automatics are bullshit and buy a proper espresso machine (no argument) or even one of those pod coffee makers. That said, my first experience of super automatics was of a Saeco in an office setting and where I ended up servicing it because no one else would. It was trivial, you could pop off the cover and lift out the entire mechanism and clean it up, lube where necessary (the machine!) and so on.

Building a food-related automatic piece of machinery and denying users access to the working is a prick of an idea. Don't buy a Jura.___

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2015-05-01 09:33:36 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

Nifty. Took a good long time to convince PTV to release their data... but now they have.

#Melbourne   #PTV  released their public transport as #Opendata  in the #GTFS  format.  Using #ArcGIS  and some #networkanalysis  I have been playing with creating commute catchments.  

If you need to be at the main Flinders Street station for 9am on a Monday, and you dont mind walking to the bus/train/tram stop, this is a map showing you how long it would take you.  

This kind of analysis is really useful for me  as I am trying to buy a house and don't fancy commuting for more than an hour. ___Nifty. Took a good long time to convince PTV to release their data... but now they have.

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2015-05-01 09:26:36 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Asus Zenfone 5

The missus needed a new phone. So I went looking for a non-massive, LTE capable phone that does the freq-bands now and in the future in Oz. It would also be a low-end phone, or at least low-end money. Things have changed though. I got her this 5-inch Zenphone 5 thing, snapdragon 400-based. It's a bit of a cracker actually. Pretty good looking, good screen, not quite as much res as my N5 but it's snappy. The model has been around for a year but the A500KL version is better spec with LTE and costs less than AU$300. Bargain!
phones.

Asus Zenfone 5

The missus needed a new phone. So I went looking for a non-massive, LTE capable phone that does the freq-bands now and in the future in Oz. It would also be a low-end phone, or at least low-end money. Things have changed though. I got her this 5-inch Zenphone 5 thing, snapdragon 400-based. It's a bit of a cracker actually. Pretty good looking, good screen, not quite as much res as my N5 but it's snappy. The model has been around for a year but the A500KL version is better spec with LTE and costs less than AU$300. Bargain!
phones.___

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2015-05-01 01:55:14 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Solar charger test run. The wife finished yarn bombing the solar panel frames. The four you see here fold up in a stack for transport. Total output is about ten watts which it seems to easily attain. Currently charging up the battery pack/usb module also in the picture.

Solar charger test run. The wife finished yarn bombing the solar panel frames. The four you see here fold up in a stack for transport. Total output is about ten watts which it seems to easily attain. Currently charging up the battery pack/usb module also in the picture.___

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2015-04-23 23:50:10 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Australia to keep retarded 'negative gearing' system

Negative gearing is a peculiarly Australian middle-class welfare system whereby you can simply invest in a property and offset the costs of that property (such as the loan) against your tax bill. Australians of means are virtually fools to invest in anything else, which of course means that the housing market is distorted. It's been repeatedly fingered as in need of urgent reform. Now Joe Hockey says it's staying, on the basis of warnings about rent prices and and so on. Of course what it's really about is that that every lib MP has a nice little slice of the action, and all their rich mates are similarly feeding from the middle class welfare trough. Squeal!

Australia to keep retarded 'negative gearing' system

Negative gearing is a peculiarly Australian middle-class welfare system whereby you can simply invest in a property and offset the costs of that property (such as the loan) against your tax bill. Australians of means are virtually fools to invest in anything else, which of course means that the housing market is distorted. It's been repeatedly fingered as in need of urgent reform. Now Joe Hockey says it's staying, on the basis of warnings about rent prices and and so on. Of course what it's really about is that that every lib MP has a nice little slice of the action, and all their rich mates are similarly feeding from the middle class welfare trough. Squeal!___

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2015-04-23 07:52:01 (1 comments; 1 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

The international face of Australia's climate denialism

Aussie government dismantled the Climate Council packed with climate scientists, economists and energy experts. They said it was because they couldn't find the money but everyone knows it's because they don't like what the experts were telling them. 

So what to do? One needs some sort of legitimacy when defending the fucking outrageous lack of meaningful action on climate change. Ahah, how about funding a think tank at a a cash-strapped aussie university which will be more amenable to what we want to believe? Behold, the $14 million "Australia Consensus Centre" which will bring the 'Lombard consensus methodology" to Australia. This methodology is chiefly one of writing a load of tosh and then footnoting with variously fake data or misrepresented conclusions which has been the subject of... more »

The international face of Australia's climate denialism

Aussie government dismantled the Climate Council packed with climate scientists, economists and energy experts. They said it was because they couldn't find the money but everyone knows it's because they don't like what the experts were telling them. 

So what to do? One needs some sort of legitimacy when defending the fucking outrageous lack of meaningful action on climate change. Ahah, how about funding a think tank at a a cash-strapped aussie university which will be more amenable to what we want to believe? Behold, the $14 million "Australia Consensus Centre" which will bring the 'Lombard consensus methodology" to Australia. This methodology is chiefly one of writing a load of tosh and then footnoting with variously fake data or misrepresented conclusions which has been the subject of an entire book. Yep that's Bjorn Lombard, the governments go-to yes-man in times of climate non-crisis.

Prof Tim Flannery pointed out that Lombard had "no credibility " in the scientific community. Lies! He's head of prestigious think tank that we've just created,  no one will listen to that lefty Flannery. [I imagine this is how Peta Credlin phrased this when she talked the PM into doing it]. I despair, I really despair. 
 ___

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2015-04-22 00:16:02 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 5 +1s; )Open 

Australia: Investigative journalism is not welcome here

Here is a thought experiment, based upon the new Australia reality that was enacted in law last week.

Suppose that a senior civil servant in Australia uncovers some major wrong doing and chooses to become a confidential source for a journalist. Imagine someone in the government gets wind of that. Revealing information is usually a crime. Like, for example, the student that was convicted of leaking the dubious secret scholarship for the PM's daughter. Journalists are typically protected to avoid this scenario, although it apparently didn't help the student in this case.

So, government man reports crime and asks police to apply for access to all of the communications meta data of the journalist (and now this must be held by all telecoms operators for two-years). Apply to whome? An unknown magistrate. The... more »

Australia: Investigative journalism is not welcome here

Here is a thought experiment, based upon the new Australia reality that was enacted in law last week.

Suppose that a senior civil servant in Australia uncovers some major wrong doing and chooses to become a confidential source for a journalist. Imagine someone in the government gets wind of that. Revealing information is usually a crime. Like, for example, the student that was convicted of leaking the dubious secret scholarship for the PM's daughter. Journalists are typically protected to avoid this scenario, although it apparently didn't help the student in this case.

So, government man reports crime and asks police to apply for access to all of the communications meta data of the journalist (and now this must be held by all telecoms operators for two-years). Apply to whome? An unknown magistrate. The secret 'beak' will be petitioned by two lawyers, one that will argue that we must reveal the journalist's source for they have committed a heinous crime and made us look bad, and the other that will argue against granting the order on the basis of public interest. No one knows who any of these people will be, other than the government appointed them. 

The public interest advocate can't tell the journalist that the order has been sought, which also means they can't possibily be prepared to mount a public interest defence. They only information they will have access to is whatever they are told by the investigating police.

The application for the order cannot be made known by anyone orr they may face 2 years of imprisonment. Journalist information orders we're talking about here, not terrorist sympathisers. The journalist's metadata is handed over without them ever knowing, the source is identified and the the government will no doubt ensure that there are repercussions for making them look bad.

This is by far and away the worst abuse of power that any industrialised nation has enacted in recent years. All of these powers have been justified in response to the terrorism threat, of course, but there's absolutely zero case for applying them in this way against journalists. What's worse, both major parties are onboard with it. Probably because they've both been hurt by leaks in recent times.___

2015-04-16 00:32:05 (2 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Quora: How do professors know if you plagiarized or not and what tools do they use?

Fantastic answer:

So far this week, using what appears to be your real name, you have asked the following questions:
"I have a 3000 word paper due real soon, but I haven't started on it. What are some tips to help me finish it faster?"
"What is the best website to have an essay done for you and all you have to do is pay a certain amount?"
"I  have a 3000 word research paper due in a few days and writing is one of  my weaknesses. What tools or suggestions can I use to help me write my  paper?"
"What is one good 3000+ research paper on bipolar disorder that I can see as a reference?"
"How do professors know if you plagiarized or not and what tools do they use?"
I think it is safe to say that, at this point, anypr... more »

Quora: How do professors know if you plagiarized or not and what tools do they use?

Fantastic answer:

So far this week, using what appears to be your real name, you have asked the following questions:
"I have a 3000 word paper due real soon, but I haven't started on it. What are some tips to help me finish it faster?"
"What is the best website to have an essay done for you and all you have to do is pay a certain amount?"
"I  have a 3000 word research paper due in a few days and writing is one of  my weaknesses. What tools or suggestions can I use to help me write my  paper?"
"What is one good 3000+ research paper on bipolar disorder that I can see as a reference?"
"How do professors know if you plagiarized or not and what tools do they use?"
I think it is safe to say that, at this point, any professor who suspects you of plagiarism will be able to confirm it with a quick Google search of your name.___

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2015-04-12 02:31:38 (2 comments; 2 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Fake battery eBay apocalypse

Recently I set about building a solar battery pack. I hadn't used lithium cells before so I just popped on eBay and saw there were heaps of sellers doing the standard 18650 cells with 5000mAH capacities. For not a lot of money. Many, most even, claimed to be UltraFire branded. Later on I found that the cells I ordered (picture below was from the listing, and the vendor was in Australia too) were nowhere near that capacity. Worse, they didn't all behave the same which is bad in a lithium pack. Now my alarm bells should have kicked off when I observed a radical range of prices. In many cases vendors are claiming to sell large boxes of them for a few bucks a shot. I paid about $15 for those four cells, which is less than half the real cost.

After a bit more digging, I found that actually the highest real 18650 capacity is around 3400mAH.... more »

Fake battery eBay apocalypse

Recently I set about building a solar battery pack. I hadn't used lithium cells before so I just popped on eBay and saw there were heaps of sellers doing the standard 18650 cells with 5000mAH capacities. For not a lot of money. Many, most even, claimed to be UltraFire branded. Later on I found that the cells I ordered (picture below was from the listing, and the vendor was in Australia too) were nowhere near that capacity. Worse, they didn't all behave the same which is bad in a lithium pack. Now my alarm bells should have kicked off when I observed a radical range of prices. In many cases vendors are claiming to sell large boxes of them for a few bucks a shot. I paid about $15 for those four cells, which is less than half the real cost.

After a bit more digging, I found that actually the highest real 18650 capacity is around 3400mAH. Ultrafire themselves do not claim to make any cell larger than 3000mAH. There's many reports of these cells basically being re-wrapped cells from recycled laptop batteries. 

I've run into my share of problems with Chinese fakes on eBay for electronic products, some of them quite sophisticated. Batteries have always been a poor one, NiMH cells are the same. Lots of claims of very large capacity. In essence, if there's a number spec attached to something, it's very difficult to get anything out of China that actually conforms to the spec. I've recently seen that with solar cells too.

Anyway, placed an order for some genuine Panasonic cells. They cost $40. As always, you get what you pay for. I just wish it wasn't so hard to differentiate good deals from too good deals.___

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2015-04-11 04:45:04 (15 comments; 1 reshares; 10 +1s; )Open 

Solar powered phone charger

This here is a Saturday morning's hack session. The little food container houses four 5000mAH 18650 Ultrafire batteries, protection board (essential for multi-cell lithium setups), 5A 4-way USB output board (with buck regulator) and another buck regulator with constant current and constant voltage settings appropriate for charging the lithium cells. All up it's surprisingly light at 270gr. By contrast, a commercial 4xAA battery box weighs 150gr loaded with NiMH cells and would struggle to charge a Nexus 5 fully once, where as this is good for over four full charges. It'll even charge an iPad. The switch toggles on/off USB output so there's no parasitic load when not doing something. 

Just to be clear, this represents zero engineering. It's entirely made out of various modules purchased from a nice man in China via the modern... more »

Solar powered phone charger

This here is a Saturday morning's hack session. The little food container houses four 5000mAH 18650 Ultrafire batteries, protection board (essential for multi-cell lithium setups), 5A 4-way USB output board (with buck regulator) and another buck regulator with constant current and constant voltage settings appropriate for charging the lithium cells. All up it's surprisingly light at 270gr. By contrast, a commercial 4xAA battery box weighs 150gr loaded with NiMH cells and would struggle to charge a Nexus 5 fully once, where as this is good for over four full charges. It'll even charge an iPad. The switch toggles on/off USB output so there's no parasitic load when not doing something. 

Just to be clear, this represents zero engineering. It's entirely made out of various modules purchased from a nice man in China via the modern miracle of eBay. All up the parts cost about AU$35 including the $1.75 food tub from a local supermarket. 

I knocked this up after some experimentation with some solar panels. Originally I intended to use the flexible variety which cost a little more but I liked the idea of building a sort of solar cowl around a backpack. Pictured is one that cost me $28 and is allegedly good for 4.5W. Is it fuck! I bought a set of four dinky little raw solar panels rated at 2.5W each and each one dishes out substantially more than the flexible one. I'm planning on making some sort of foldable solar pack for that.

I haven't done anything with lithium cells before. They're quite impressive really, although there's a bit of fuckery to make sure everything is safe. I found I was essentially on my own in that regard. Most hacker stuff is based on single cells, with match cells in parallel to uprate the capacity. I really didn't want to run a powerful boost DC-DC converter for this so I went with 4 cells in series with protection. After testing this, a single panel immediately fires up the main buck converter and trickle charges the battery, with more sunlight (or cells), the converter raises the output to the desired setting and kicks in constant current mode of about an amp, until cell voltages rise and then it tails off to very little. The protection board will sink that with no problems if I attempt to overcharge.

All I need to do now is build the foldable thing for the solar panels. Not quite sure how to do that yet, I'm inspired by the ones made out of heavy duty woven nylon, but I don't know how to do that. I'm toying with the idea of making a paddle pop frame for each cell and then have the wife 'yarn bomb' the surround, that would be nifty.___

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