The Blog Lives



Unlocking Phones

By Mike Lin

Canada finally (well, since September or something) has cell phone providers with interchangeable networks (for newer phones)! Incredible. It’s taken forever, but you can now not only take your number with you to a different provider, but also your phone… provided you can unlock it.

Cell providers don’t want to make it easier for you to leave than they legally have to, so they apply a ‘lock’ on phones you get from them which prevents their use on other providers’ networks.

Fortunately with many (most?) phones (but not iPhone) you can get a code that unlocks them for a small fee. I’ve done this on my last two phones. The first being a Rogers Blackberry 8900, and my new one, which is a Telus Motorola Milestone, an Android phone.  I unlocked both to use on Fido.

Steps (for Motorola and Blackberry):

  1. Buy phone from store like BestBuy.
  2. Get imei number (a phone id number) by typing *#06# into the phone.
  3. Send imei to unlocking service like mobileincanada.ca
  4. Pay $20, receive unlock code.
  5. When you put in your sim from a different provider, type in the unlock code and you’re done!

Pretty easy.

Unlocking an iPhone, in contrast, requires resources from the iPhone hacking community and is definitely not for most people.

So there you have it. You too can be free to have your cell provider of choice, with the phone of your choice (except iPhone).



USB stick randomly ejects on Mac

By Mike Lin

One more Mac thing. My biggest problem thus far with the switch to Mac has been my USB stick randomly disconnecting (32GB OCZ Rally2), with the error message “The disk was not ejected properly”. It works fine on other computers so I was worried it’s a hardware problem. Then I found out that Spotlight also indexes removable disks (seems like a bad idea to me), so I turned off spotlight and it seems fine now. To turn off Spotlight run the following in a terminal:

sudo mdutil -a -i off

As for losing Spotlight’s funtionality, I’m hoping Quicksilver will fill in the gap.

Mac error message from randomly ejecting usb stick.

Mac error message from randomly self-ejecting usb stick.



Adapting to MacBook

By Mike Lin

I’m a long time Windows and Linux user. I’ve been on XP for the last 3 years, with linux virtual machines (VMs), and before that it was Ubuntu Linux for 2 years with an XP VM, and before that XP again. Anyway, just got a MacBook, and thought for myself and others I’d list the customizations to make me comfortable, based on my background:

Turn off startup sound. Unlikely to reboot often, but when I do I know it’ll be in a library or other public place. I don’t want people to shush me.

No disk activity light, and the SSD I got is silent, so I can’t tell if it’s active. It’s useful to know when your disk is active so you can tell when you’re out of memory. MenuMeters puts disk and cpu etc indicators in the menu bar (systray).

No forward delete?! remap right option key to forward delete with keyremap4macbook.

Eject key is kind of useless. Remap that also to forward delete with same (I really like forward delete).

Caps Lock -> Command in keyboard prefs. The 2 most accessible modifier keys are now both command. This isn’t ideal. I’d rather have one be command and one be alt, but I tried that and it messes up other things.

OpenTerminalHere. It’s like Open Command Prompt here on Windows.

Change fonts in terminal and dev to Dejavu sans mono. I just like it better ok?

Tried and failed to find a way to make firefox fullscreen.

QuickSilver. It’s like command line on the desktop. Like Launchy on Windows.

I still miss pageup/pagedown and an accessible alt key. Also, I’ve lost a few of my favourite Eclipse hotkeys, and of course I need more VMs than ever, but I think with a little tenacity I’ll make it.



80′s Remixes

By Mike Lin

I found some 80′s remixes on an old hard drive. Here’s my favourites to help liven up your dance parties.

Michael Jackson – Thriller (bad boy remix)

Bananarama – I Heard a Rumor (dance remix)



Finished Remembering the Kanji

By Mike Lin

W00t! I’m now the proud owner of a brain containing the 2000 most common kanji. I can’t believe I’m done! It only took 9 months. I could have had a baby in that time. I kind of feel like I did have a baby, a kanji baby! I can’t wait to get on to sentence mining now, ala AJATT. I’m tired of telling people I’m working on my Japanese and not having any improvement to show for it conversationally.

It’s an amazing feeling, this literacy. I got some manga in Japanese off ebay and sometimes I can go pages without missing a kanji and my handwriting has improved a million times! People now say “it’s good… for a boy” instead of “it’s good… for a North American” !!!