NVMe SSD Password Puzzle

When SATA SSDs where still in fashion a few years ago, a power-on drive password could be set in BIOS, which was then stored on the drive. While this didn’t encrypt the data, and every notebook manufacturer had its own way to translate what was typed-in to what was stored on the drive, it was a common function. As the world moved on to NVMe M.2 SSDs in notebook, it looks like this has become an optional function. While I could activate the password on my somewhat more expensive Samsung SSDs, the option disappears from the BIOS setup screen when I put-in an SSD of another manufacturer. But it looks like the story is more complicated.

Continue reading NVMe SSD Password Puzzle

Nextcloud – Upgrading to Ubuntu 22.04

I’m running four Nextcloud instances, all of them in separate virtual machines on Ubuntu 20.04. The problem: Ubuntu 20.04, despite still being rather young, comes with PHP 7.4, which has been declared end of live recently, and Nextcloud has announced that they will no longer support this PHP version in their next release. So while I would probably still have a year or so to do something about this, I’ve decided to be proactive and do a release upgrade of the operating system to Ubuntu 22.04, which includes the latest and greatest PHP version (8.1) at the time of writing. As expected, there were a few bumps along the way and the Apache web server installation on all instances needed some manual tweaking after the OS upgrade. The interesting touch: Even though the virtual machine images were very similar, each Apache installation required a different nudge.

Continue reading Nextcloud – Upgrading to Ubuntu 22.04

Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 5 – Moving to the Next Plane

Daher TBM-930 cockpit in MS2020. Right-click and open in new tab for full size.

I’ve been virtually flying on VATSIM for some time now, and the small Diamond DA40 is great fun, especially for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) operation. With its Garmin G1000 flight management system, flying Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) to and from larger airports is also a lot of fun, especially since the software was updated to the “NXi” version in the simulator last year, which supports pretty much the whole range of IFR procedures. It’s also fun to be the ‘odd-duck’ in the traffic flow, as the DA40 is obviously much slower than airliners, which has air traffic controllers sweating a bit to squeeze me into an approach queue on a Friday evening. The downside: Due to the relatively low speed of the DA40, the number of airports to fly to and from in VATSIM is limited by the time it requires to fly between them. So the obvious ‘next step’ was get into a somewhat faster plane.

Continue reading Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 5 – Moving to the Next Plane

Features an Emergency Radio Must Have

Recently, I decided to buy an emergency radio receiver that would double as a radio for the kitchen. On of the main “must have” features for me is of course to be battery driven, so it will still work should power fail. There is a wide choice of radios for this purpose but the more I looked, the more I noticed that I would like to have a number of features beyond just a battery driven radio.

Continue reading Features an Emergency Radio Must Have

Moving the Blog to ANOTHER Virtual Machine

So here we go, it’s 2023 and this blog has once more moved to another host. Initially started as a blog on Typepad in 2005, it has so far moved to a hosted server platform on which I installed WordPress (2016), to a virtual machine I could administer on my own (2018), and then, two years ago, into Docker containers on a VM (2021). Now it was time to move on again!

Continue reading Moving the Blog to ANOTHER Virtual Machine

Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 4 – VATSIM

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) night flight on Vatsim with a Diamond DA40. Autopilot is active.

In episode 3, I’ve looked a bit on how flight planning and navigation software for ‘the real world’ can be used in a flight simulator. Using such software is a huge step beyond the built-in navigation tools when it comes to flying in the simulator as realistically as possible. Next in my list of things to improve was radio communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC). MS Flight Simulator 2020 has built in Air Traffic Control, and interaction with it is done by selecting pre-formulated requests and answers from a drop down menu. That’s not very realistic and lightyears away from the challenge of talking to real people at the other end of a radio channel. But there’s a fix for that: VATSIM.

Continue reading Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 4 – VATSIM

Things That Moved Me in 2022

Another crazy year, both good and bad in so many ways, is coming to an end, so here I go with time honored tradition of looking back to what moved me this year in tech!

In The Wireless Domain

Obviously, there’s been a lot going on in the wireless domain again. While some parts of the 3GPP 5G standard still struggles a bit to see the light of day, there have been very interesting advances in the real world despite of it:

LTE 5-carrier aggregation is now out there in the wild now, and network operators have started to use somewhat less mainstream spectrum and aggregate it. An interesting example was the TDD-TDD carrier aggregation of LTE band 40+40 I noticed in the UK.

Also, cellular coverage along railway lines in Germany has improved quite a bit in recent years, and I’ve written about my experience on a trip from Cologne to Hamburg here.

I’ve known for a long time that LTE has re-introduced a timing advance again, but it was only this year that I actually found out how to get to this value in the tracing tools I use. It’s perhaps a small thing, but it definitely helps to get a general idea how far a cell site is away.

This year, I’ve also been traveling a lot again, and I was delighted that I could use 5G NSA networks in most countries I traveled to. In some countries like Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria, networks were stunning, while in countries like Italy, networks have lost a lot of their luster in recent years.

And while I’m talking about roaming: I’m delighted that some device manufacturers have now also noticed that their network discovery algorithms in manual network selection mode took far to long and changed them to list networks immediately after they are found. This way, one can get online again significantly faster after crossing a border.

One more thing on roaming: While having become a pretty seamless affair in the EU these days, eSIMs for roaming elsewhere have become an interesting option. After having written about the technology many years ago, the technology has finally arrived in the main stream. So while traveling, I used the opportunity to play around a bit with downloading eSIMs for roaming and was surprised on the one hand how easy it has become, and on the other hand just how many different companies are involved in the process.

Continue reading Things That Moved Me in 2022

Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 3 – Real World Apps in the Simulator

Flight Planning with SkyDemon – Open image in new tab for a full resolution version

In part 2 of this series, I’ve been looking at resources available from books to videos on Youtube to learn flying in the virtual domain. For me, a mix of real world examples and examples shown with a simulator made most sense. So for a couple of months I was flying happily on the simulator on the X-Box and picked up some interesting apps along the way that people use for flight preparation and during flight in the real world. As my goal is to fly as realistically in the simulator as possible, I had to change tactics a bit to also use those tools in the virtual world.

Continue reading Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 3 – Real World Apps in the Simulator

Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 2: Books and Manuals

There are many different ideas and reasons to pick up flight simulation as a hobby and I’ve laid out mine in the first part of this series. While most people seem to be interested to fly airliners and start right in an Airbus A320 cockpit, I was much more interested to make the experience as ‘real’ as possible. The appeal of flight simulation to me was to get as close as possible to flying small planes, so I started in a small Cessna with a classic ‘six-pack’ instrument panel. After a week or two, I moved to a Cessna 172 with a a Garmin G1000 ‘glass cockpit’, i.e. electronic instruments. Again a few weeks later, I ‘upgraded’ to a Diamond DA 40 NG 4 seater, also with a Garmin G1000 instrument panel and full autopilot. The flight lessons provided in MSFS2020 are very good for the basics, but to fly as realistically as possible, there’s a lot more to learn. Fortunately, there are many resources, both for real and virtual flying out there and in this episode, I’ll have a look at the classic approach: Getting some books on the topic.

Continue reading Reality Bites – Flight Simulation – Part 2: Books and Manuals