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Showing posts from 2013

Unlocking the Verizon iPhone 4S - MD278LL/A

Before you buy that unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S, you might want to read this.

After considerable research, I conclude that Verizon's "unlocking" program does not actually unlock the iPhone 4S.
Instead, Verizon's program seems to merely bless specific non-American 3rd party SIMs to be used with your iPhone.  It looks like American 3rd party SIMs from AT&T and T-Mobile USA are locked out forever, even after the Verizon "Unlock".
In fact, within Apple's "Wireless carrier support and features" knowledge base article ht1937, Apple itself says that Verizon "offers unlocking on certain iPhones, some with certain restrictions."

That's certainly ominous.  It reads like Verizon might be willing to unlock the deadbolt on your iPhone, but the security chain is still attached so only some SIMs can come through.  To me, that isn't an unlock.  That's a lock with exceptions.

Do you want to use an AT&T or T-MobileUSA SIM in your V…

Do WIFI security cameras work? This EasyN one works for me!

I bought an inexpensive WIFI security camera - an "EasyN F-M166" - for my vacation home.

Does it work?  Well, yes it works very well!

Via a web browser on my Mac, I can view video, tilt-and-pan the camera, and control things like the infrared lighting.   It doesn't need any special software or plug-ins for my Mac, and I can even view the thing from my iPhone.

I have the camera mounted outside, in a protected area of my porch.  I'm not sure if it'll survive cold weather, but it still works OK even though it has been as cold as 15° F.  After a power failure it reconnects to WIFI just fine, so I don't have to worry too much about it getting disconnected from the Internet.

Via a web browser on my Mac, I can view video, tilt-and-pan the camera, and control things like the infrared lighting.   It doesn't need any special software for my Mac, and I can even view the thing from my iPhone.

With the camera's built-in web software, I've configured it to emai…

Time to think about Time seriously!

Attention programmers!

Good logic lasts forever.

Many of you were not in the programming business in the 1980s.  Back then, we realized that Y2K was on its way and there was a lot of code that would break with dates beyond 1999-Dec-31.

At the time we were looking to save storage - heck, I supported systems that stored the year in 4 bits, because  it was a huge memory saver, and 16 years of operation was a long time.  We simply expected that our systems would be retired before then.

But come the 1990's, we realized we were still running programs written in the 1960s, and someone would have to address all of the date calculation problems.

Turn the clock ahead to today and we see that in less than 25 years the classic 32-bit Unix clock will turn over.    And the storage problem no longer exists like it once did.  In the past we often tried to squeeze in a full Gregorian date (Y-M-D) into 15 or fewer bits.    Today, using 24 or 32 more bits to store a Gregorian date seem completely …

LED Light Bulb - First experience

There are a certain set of bulbs in my building which need to be on 24x365, so I figured this would be a good place to try an LED bulb.  The bulb is in an open ceiling fixture and is never turned off.

I recently bought a Cree LED Light Bulb to try out in one of these fixtures.

The bulb cost me about $10, and gosh darn it - it looks and behaves a lot like a regular incandescent bulb.  It is bright enough for my use, and draws a mere 6 watts - that's a ton less than 40 watts, and even 33% less than the 9 watts of a similar CFL.

Doing the math the electricity costs me about $8 a year to keep it lit, versus $12 in power for a 9 watt CFL or $50 in power for a 40 watt incandescent.  So payback will be very fast.

So far I have about 10,000 hours on the bulb.  I'll report if and when this bulb fails, but according to the specs I should expect to get about 6 years out of this.  And that's great, because changing a bulb in this location is a royal pain.

Next time I'll consider …

Airport Express - best WIFI base station yet.

I was looking for a good and inexpensive "simultaneous dual band" 802.11n router on the market that I could upgrade to DD-WRT or Tomato firmware.  The short story is that there isn't one that I could find - all of them are either "single band" or not DD-WRT capable.  At least not for cheap money.

So I went in the opposite direction last month and bought myself an Apple AirPort Express. No, it doesn't support DD-WRT, but it is a simultaneous dual band device, and the price is about $95 - which is very reasonable compared to the other "non-lousy" WIFI access points on the market.

I've been using DD-WRT for years, and I've refused to buy a router that didn't support it.  DD-WRT gives me a lot of flexibility and power that you can't get with stock firmware.  So going in the opposite direction with the Express was certainly a change of behavior.

In contrast to my DD-WRT devices, the Express is much easier to configure and use. It is ac…

On Accounts and Passwords

I have some well-formed opinions on account security.  They have evolved over time as I have better understood the risks.  Unfortunately, I think the following list is good for all users everywhere.

The basic principle is to assume that nothing is secure.  Even if you keep your username and passwords secure doesn't mean that your bank, ISP, or Email provider keeps its systems secure.

Login Practices Always check for proper HTTPS/SSL security.Never use a link published in an email.Use disposable accounts whenever possible.  Your account for your knitting forum shouldn't have any relationship to your account for your bank.Only access sites with a good reputation, and a reputation that they need to uphold.
Password Practices

Never use the same password more than once.   If a hacker steals your password from DumbCo, you don't want that hacker to try that password at BigBucksBank.Change your passwords.  People steal encrypted passwords.  Over time, they could crack those encrypted…

On CFLs and Lumens

In my building I have a eight light fixtures that need to be lit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some of these fixtures have a single socket, others have a dual socket.

Original Plan: Twelve 60 watt bulbs, $756 in electricity per year

Originally, we were running 60 watt incandescent bulbs.  They provided more than enough light, but cost us a ton of money in electricity.  Further, they had a lousy life, needing replacement several times per year - a lot of labor when you are paying a maintenance company.

More Efficient Plan: Twelve 13 watt CFL bulbs, $163 in electricity per year

About 5 years ago, we switched to 13 watt CFLs.  These bulbs, on average, lasted nearly 3 years and saved us about 70%.    We still had way more than enough light.

Current Plan: Eight 7 watt CFL bulbs, $60 in electricity per year

Two years ago we stepped up our game.   We realized that we would get adequate light from 7 watt CFLs, and that multi-bulb fixtures only required a single bulb.  That means four sockets …