Category Archives: Technology

Free advice about tech, iOS, Japan, Photography and more.

I created a skype account called “zadvice”. I would like to use it to help people interested in topics which I have experience with. English, Italian, Spanish and Japanese speakers are welcome. This is a free service, I don’t have much time but I can spend an hour or two per week giving my impressions and advice to people interested about:

  • Japan
  • Business in Japan
  • Working and living in Japan
  • iOS development
  • Mobile Development
  • Open Source software
  • Job hunting
  • Working experience
  • Job interviews (IT related)
  • Create a Resume/CV (IT related)
  • Startups
  • Multicultural working environments
  • Learning languages
  • Technical advice (IT related)
  • Living in Europe
  • Western culture
  • Japanese culture
  • Photography
  • Italian language
  • Japanese language
  • Spanish language

Send me an email: pietro (at) zuco (dot) org and let me know what you would like to talk about. I will let you know if I can give you some advice on that specific topic. I wish I had all the answers. I just want to help people having trouble to find specific information in certain areas.

I won’t talk about:

  • Questions related with illegal activities.
  • Questions related to legal maters, such as tax informations. I’m not a lawyer. For that, contact your lawyer.
  • Emotional stuff related with family/partners/romance and so forth.
  • Mental illness or phycological problems. I’m not a psychiatrist.
  • Please contact a specialist of the branch you need (legal, medical, friend) if the topic of your question is about legal matters, medical issues or emotional stuff.

People must be 18+ years old.
You must have a webcam, I want to see to whom I’m talking to and you will see me.

Based on the emails received, people will be served as first in, first out.

I’m not responsible about what you decide to do with the information I provide. I’m not responsible of the outcome of your actions. You are responsible for your own actions and decitions.

If you find the information useful, share your experience with your peers and let me know your feedback.

Review BQ Aquaris E4.5

I got a BQ Aquaris E4.5 and I’m very happy with it. I’m not an Android fan, I prefer iOS by all means. Anyway this is a review about the phone, not the virtues and defects of Android.

Most relevant phone specks:

OS: Android 4.4
Internal Memory: 8 GB
Ram: 1 GB
Rear camera: 8Mpx
Frontal camera: 5Mpx
CPU: Quad Core Cortex A7 up to 1.3 GHz MediaTek
GPU: Mali 400 up to 500 MHz
Resolution: qHD 540×960 – 240 ppi (HDPI)
Dimensions: 4.5”
Dual SIM

More information here.

The phone comes in a nice box:

Aquaris Box

Some phone porn:

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Compared with an iPhone 4

Aquaris E4.5

These are pixel level porn macro. I wish I could get closer… To appreciate these pictures you must see them in full resolution. Click the link to see them in flickr. I used this macro.

Instagram Pixel porn Pixel porn

The screen is really bright and the colours are vivid.

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

For 150 Euros this phone is more than I expected. It’s really fast, well finished, well designed, extremely light and robust at the same time. It also comes with an all risk insurance. I don’t know if this insurance is available also outside Spain. I spent some time looking for an Android phone with decent storage, a relatively new version of Android, a decent camera and dual SIM. I couldn’t find one bellow 200 Euros. I thought that BQ could be a crap for that price, but actually it’s much better than some competitors in the same range.

I finally took this short video. Maybe you can see here how fast it is and the quality of the screen.

Some pictures in full resolution taken with the Aquaris. No editing, just straight from the phone.

Aquaris E4.5

The macro is pretty good.

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

Aquaris E4.5

This one with the frontal camera.

Aquaris E4.5

How to unlock iPhone 4S Softbank with KingMobile

After so many attempts to unlock my iPhone 4S, after being twice a victim of scam from sites offering fake unlocks and after so much hacking with all the unlocks and jailbreaks techniques I found online, I finally found a way to do it. Thanks to my friend Birkir to point me in the right direction.

Based on KingMobile’s site, they also support iPhone 5/5S/6/6+. My experience is based only with the iPhone 4S, iOS 7, Softbank. I would like to know if someone else did it with a different version. Unfortunately it seems that this card cannot be used with an iPhone 4.

The procedure is pretty simple. Inside the package there is a small micro SIM frame with a chip that is the one making the magic. If you don’t have a micro SIM, you can request one or cut one yourself. That’s what I did. Just be pretty sure that you get the dimensions right.

KingMobile

KingMobile

King Mobile

Cut SIM

Cut SIM

Once you get the SIM in the frame, you have to put the SIM coming inside the envelop first. You will be asked to select your carrier. This is the carrier you want to unlock from. In my case it was Softbank. So select the old carrier, the one that is blocking your SIM.
Then follow the instructions. Once it’s accepted, a message saying that you selected a new carrier appears. After that accept and turn off your iPhone. Once you turned off your iPhone and the screen is black, QUICKLY replace the reset-SIM from KingMobile with your previously cut SIM card. This must be the new card you want to use. This is my girlfriend’s iPhone 4S by the way.

Unlock iPhone 4S

Unlock iPhone 4S

If you are not quick enough, you get this annoying message saying that the SIM is not valid. I repeated the operation again and it worked fine the next time.

Unlock iPhone 4S

Now you have your phone unlocked. Actually it’s not unlocked, technically the iPhone is still locked with Softbank and some menus in the settings still show stuff form Softbank remembering you that Masayoshi Son still owns your soul. Anyway the result is an unlocked iPhone as long as you use the KingMobile chip.

Unlock iPhone 4S

Few things you have to setup before start using your new “unlocked” iPhone.

      Set data roaming if you want to get your data connection enabled.
      Some carriers require you to setup your APN settings. That means that you have to enter manually the settings to connect with your carrier data network. In my case, it wasn’t necessary. I think that it depends on the carrier.
      I got some problems trying to call local numbers, and that was because I entered the number without the country code. It seems that the iPhone automatically puts a +81 (Japan code) in front of every number. To fix this is pretty easy. Just save your numbers with the corresponding country code. Even if you are calling a local number, add the +(country code).

Here you can find the instructions in English at KingMobile’s site.

The expert

This is a very well made video that shows a common situation faced, not only by engineers but, by almost everybody that has a logical and analytical mind when confronted by people that think they know your job better than you do. Enjoy :)

First impressions about Mavericks

I installed Mavericks over Mountain Lion on a MacBook Air early 2011. Let’s first start with the good stuff I found so far:

  1. More disk space. Before the installation I had 22GB free and now I have 34GB free. I have no idea what stuff was occupying 10GB of space, anyway it’s gone!
  2. Faster! Yes surprisingly it’s faster than Mountain Lion and Lion. I was a little bit afraid about the speed, specially after seeing how bad iOS 7 is doing on the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2.
  3. All my important apps work. So far I tried: TrueCrypt, VirtualBox, Chicken, Google Earth, LightRoom, Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, AptanaStudio 3, Libre Office, TextWrangler, Audacity, VLC, JEDict, CyberDuck, Skype, go2Shell, Temperature Gauge.
  4. Leap Motion drivers work.
  5. Full screen works as indicated by Apple. I finally have my top bar enabled on the second monitor so I can now work full screen without sacrificing one monitor. I had one pretty bad issue that will be explained later in the post.
  6. The american voice Samantha is sexier than before.
  7. Disk utility didn’t crash until now…
  8. Battery had a better performance. I didn’t measure the charge time, but it discharges at a slower pace.

Bugs:

  1. I can’t rotate the second monitor. I used it at 90 degrees rotation but I can’t use it now. It was very handy specially to see the iPad/iPhone simulator working on it… Look at the image. This is ridiculous:
  2. Bug Rotation

  3. When I activated the second monitor in LightRoom it worked fine. But the second one’s top bar overlapped the maximized Lightroom’s second view. I can adjust that by making the second view a window but there should be no overlap of the content.
  4. bug full screen

  5. Sometimes you get something like this. I was in the launchpad and the app behind got an alert. The mouse pointer was operative with the launchpad icons but the content of the program overlapped the launchpad view. I had to click outside the window to get rid off the launchpad and respond to the message. If this is not a bug, it’s poor design
  6. bug launchpad

  7. In Lightroom I don’t get the right colors on the controls. Look at the image on the left is from Lightroom running on Mountain Lion and the right one on Mavericks. Don’t you see something is missing?
  8. mavericks lightroom bug

  9. I also had an issue with the keyboards. I have a Japanese keyboard which I use most of the time. I also installed an Italian and Spanish keyboard when I have to write in those languages. The problem is that the Japanese keyboard, when is set to Romaji, it means to write in roman characters, thinks that the previous used keyboard is the default romaji. So I ended up with a Spanish keyboard when I want to use the Japanese distribution. This didn’t happen with Mountain Lion. I fixed it by installing the US keyboard which maps the Japanese one. This is conceptually wrong, because based with the previous schema, the US keyboard should match an US keyboard distribution instead the Japanese one. Finally I gave up all the keyboards and I followed the advice of my friend @rcivit Now I use shortcuts to create characters like éáñ and so forth. Anyway I still have to install the US keyboard on a Japanese keyboard to have the right mapping…

So far so good, I won’t rollback to Mountain Lion mainly because Mavericks seems faster and more battery friendly. Anyway I wouldn’t use it for your production machine after at least 5 or 6 months.

Radioactive Lenses

I read this article in Petapixel about old radioactive lenses and I realized I have one of them!! So I gave it a try with a portable geiger counter I bought in Japan a couple of years ago.
I’m not an expert on the matter, anyway the normal safe level is 0.05μSv/h and the lens was 5.00μSv/h It’s not dangerous, but it was cool to see that indeed they made these lenses with some radioactive elements.

Based on this question posted on the website of the Health Physics Society, the element used was thorium to increase the index of refraction of the lenses. Based on the answer the use is safe and in their own words:

…the dose rate near the viewfinder of an old Pentax camera of mine (Super Takumar lens) is roughly 100 microrad per hour—approximately ten times background. In other words, looking through the viewfinder of this camera for one minute results in the same dose that I receive every ten minutes when not using it. I would have to hold this camera up to my eye for several million hours to exceed the threshold dose for cataracts…

I’m happy with this lens, in fact the optics of Takumar lenses is great! I use it with an adapter for Nikon to shot video and they work great.
Remember that the world is radioactive and it’s natural to live in a radioactive environment, as far as we don’t surpass certain limits. Anyway if you have a Takumar lens or any other old lenses that you feel afraid to use due their radioactive nature, please send them to me I will be more than happy to keep them safe :)

Check the video bellow to see it in action: