War in Europe

On February 24, 2022, a state of war was declared in Ukraine after Russia launched an attack on Ukraine on the night of February 23-24, 2022.

On February 25, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered general mobilization. The order includes the drafting of conscripts and reservists, and men between the ages of 18 and 60 can no longer leave the country.

Two people I’ve been working closely together over the last few months are software developers from the Ukraine. My thoughts are with you and your families and friends and I wish all the people there that they get through these difficult times without much suffering.

Good bye MagiskHide

As early as May 2021, the developer of Magisk announced that he will start working in the Google Platform Security Team (also see XDA about this). This also means that MagiskHide – a method for hiding root access – is no longer supported. As of version 24.0, installing Magisk inevitably means that you can’t use apps that no longer run on rooted devices.

Since I need some apps in everyday life that can only be used without root access, this means for me that I will not use Magisk any longer. Data backups and adjustments in the system are a bit more cumbersome because this is only possible in the recovery ROM – but at least not impossible. Fortunately using the custom ROM by xiaomi.eu on my Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite is also not a problem – apps won’t complain as long as Magisk is not installed :-).

Working from home and power consumption

Due to the Covid 19 pendamic I work from home since about march 2020 at my computer and this will likely not change very soon in the current situation. This is clearly noticeable in the power consumption which is around 1000 kWh more per year.

Concrete figures:

March 2018 – March 2019 1664 kWh
March 2019 – March 2020 1629 kWh
March 2020 – March 2021 2621 kWh

The billing for the past year is still pending, but it will probably not be much less than 2600 kWh. The monthly payments were already adjusted at the beginning of 2021, which amounts to over 300 EUR more per year. However, I assume that due to rising electricity prices this will not be enough.

After all, it is positive that the consumption for our two-person household without working from home is well below 2000 kWh per year despite a refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine – the value that energy suppliers normally assume for a household of this size in an apartment. The fact that the entire apartment is equipped with LED lighting (usually lamps with a power consumption of 7 to 10 watts) certainly also contributes to this.

AlphaClock – old meets new

AlphaClock is the sort form of “alphanumeric clock” as the displays used can also show text. The following video was done with the first version of the firmware.

A while ago I started to deal with the topic “micro controllers”. The first trials were with an Arduino micro which I also used to test old LED displays like the HDSP-2116 or DL-2416.

One advantage of the Arduino Micro ist that it can be plugged in directly to a breadboard and has a micro USB connector for data transfer and power supply. However from LCD2USB I also know the ATmega in a DIP package. For normal operation with external clock this controller only needs a crystal and two capacitors.

My idea was to combine an ATmega328P with two DL-2416 from 1987 and a DS3231 realtime clock module. The whole thing was also a project to learn to know the development environment as Visual Studio Code and PlatformIO as well as the way how the microcontroller works in terms of interrupt control and PWM.

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Hakko FX-888D

In August 2021 I bought a Hakko FX-888D soldering station. Hakko has been active in this area for decades and the products are considered to be of high quality and durable. The operation takes getting used to, but the set temperature is reached very quickly after switching on and also kept well under load.

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In memory of Clive Sinclair

On September 16, 2021 Clive Sinclair died at the age of 81.

Sinclair was known for computers like the ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum und QL (“quantum leap”). Especially the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum were very successful systems. In adition in 1972 he also launched the pocket calculator “Sinclair Executive” which was much smaller than other calculators at that time. In 1983 the “TV80” was launced – a very compact television using a picture tube which displayed the picture to the side whereby the device could be built very flat overall for the conditions at the time.

One invention which was not that successful was the electric vehicle “C5” from 1985 where only 17000 copies got produced for 8 months. Also the digital wrist watch “Black Watch” from 1975 was mostly a disaster – much too short battery life, the danger of destroying the electronics with static charge and inaccurate time which was depending on the current temperature.

Despite the failures, Clive Sinclair’s impact on creating affordable computers for end users should not be underestimated. The ZX81 was revolutionary back then – a personal computer at a price virtually anyone could afford. The ZX Spectrum later became a fixture in the home computer market of that time, alongside the devices from Commodore and Atari.