Can you use a model A1457 iPhone 5S in Japan?

Edit: I stumbled on this nice site recently:, which allows you to check compatibility of a lot of phones in various countries.  It confirmed my iPhone 6S also works in Japan. 

And now for something slightly different (still tech related), I went to Japan this summer (btw, I wouldn’t recommend that: go in spring or autumn) and wanted to use a sim card in my unlocked iPhone 5S (model A1457) and wondered if it would work.

Different sub-models of iPhones have different antennas (GSM/UMTS/CDMA/LTE etc), which means an iPhone bought in one country may not necessarily work in another country due to different standards. So I tried to find information on this topic but couldn’t find confirmation on whether the A1457 model would work in Japan.

Well having been there and used it with the U-Mobile (NTT Docomo network) sim card I got for it: Yes, the A1457 does work in Japan with both LTE & 3G. I had no problems using it in Japan even in somewhat remote areas.

Now fortunately newer iPhones (6/6S) are a better kind of “world phone” than the iPhone 5S was, so I should have no trouble in the future either.

Keep WordPress & phpMyAdmin up-to-date with a single command II

A few years ago I wrote about keeping WordPress & phpMyAdmin up-to-date with a single command. While those methods still work it is time to make a few changes (and revive this blog while I’m at it, it has been too long).

First off, using Subversion to track stable versions might keep WordPress itself up-to-date (unless something breaks due to subtle changes in the repository as I found out with WordPress 4.1), it won’t do anything for your themes or plugins.

If you like to keep everything in WordPress up-to-date through the command line (instead of FTP, which I don’t even have installed) there now fortunately is a tool called wp-cli. Updating all plugins for example is as simple as:

wp plugin --all update

There is loads more it can do, see the wp-cli site for documentation of all commands and features.

Second, while the method of using git to update phpMyAdmin in my previous article wasn’t inaccurate, it was highly inefficient. The commands would first download the whole phpMyAdmin repository (including all branches and commit history) and then switch to tracking the stable branch. This was slow and wasted a lot of space.

So here are the updated commands:

git clone --depth=1 -b STABLE
git pull -q origin STABLE
composer update --no-dev

With this we tell git that we want only the latest commit (depth flag) in the stable branch (b flag). This executes must faster and occupies only about 70 MB of space instead of nearly 500 MB. I recommend calling the git pull command from a cron job every day, so that your phpMyAdmin is always up-to-date.

Stop Spam from Google Groups

I’ve been receiving spam for a while that somehow my email provider’s spam filters wouldn’t or couldn’t filter. I had noticed they were somehow send through Google Groups, but couldn’t quite figure out how. Well it turns out that anyone is apparently free to start a group for their own use and then “invite” anyone without their consent. Seriously Google, WTF? Anyway, after figuring this out the solution was clear: unsubscribe and change my settings to obviously not allow just anyone to invite me in their spammy groups.

One slight hurdle I had to overcome was that the email addresses I was getting the spam on were rarely used email aliases of some sites I own and for which all email is directed into my primary email account. This meant that those email aliases were not associated with my Google account and I wasn’t planning on signing up a separate Google account for each alias. Fortunately you can simply add multiple email addresses to your Google account by going to and adding them there. The Google Groups “memberships” are then also associated with your account.

To unsubscribe from the Google Groups “memberships” you never signed up for, simply go to Google Groups, select “My Groups” , click on each group and select “manage membership” for the “leave group” link. My condolances if you seem to have been added to a lot of groups, because I’m not sure if there is a faster way to simply unsubscribe from all groups. Also don’t forget to click the gear button and change your settings to not allow anyone to invite you (using any of the email addresses associated with your Google account) anymore.

Further reading: Act Now to Stop Being Spammed Via Google Groups

Mac OS X Time Machine backup on a Debian server

December 2015: I just wanted to note that the solution below stopped working for me after a while. However I recently purchased a Synology NAS and configuring as a Time Machine backup destination is fairly easy.

I just got a MacBook Air and had already read about how you can setup your own network based Time Machine backup on a Linux server. The problem is that there is some outdated information floating around, which caused me some headaches getting it to work with errors such as “The network backup disk does not support the required AFP features” and “backup failed with error 45” (in Console).

First: you need version 2.2.x of the “netatalk” package. Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) comes with 2.1 by default, which won’t work (with Mac OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” at least). Second, lots of how-to information includes instructions on creating a /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service file. With netatalk 2.2, this file is redundant: you do not need to create it.

Back to netatalk. Really old information will talk about needing to compile it from source to have it support the required authentication protocol. That is no longer relevant with the most recent version. If you are still running Debian 6.0 (still the stable version at time of writing) you can get netatalk 2.2 from Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) by doing the following (all as root): first add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb-src wheezy main contrib non-free

Then run the following commands:

aptitude update
apt-get build-dep netatalk
apt-get -b source netatalk
dpkg -i netatalk_2.2.2-1_amd64.deb

Change the filename accordingly if the version number has slightly changed. With netatalk 2.2 installed, follow other guides on the net (such as this one or this one) to configure a Time Machine AFP share on your Debian server.

Two factor authentication: just do it!

This post on Wired editor’s Mat Honan’s blog had me worried. While there are plenty of things you could blame him from doing wrong (mainly not having backups even though the OS he was using makes this extremely easy) the thought of somebody being able to just wipe everything is frightening.

While to my knowledge Apple has not implemented two factor authentication (which, seeing this, they probably should!) a lot of us also have an Google account which is very important to us. Access to a Google account could not only give somebody access to your mail (Gmail) but Docs, Drive and lots of other services as well.

Therefore just don’t hesitate and setup 2-step authentication on your Google account today. Once setup it is actually quite easy to use, especially if you also install the Google Authenticator on your smartphone. To make sure you don’t lock yourself out, print the backup codes Google provides and setup a backup phone (for example of a family member).

Should you ever have to use a backup code or phone, here is how. Also if (like Google suggests) you keep the backup codes in your wallet and your wallet is stolen or lost, you can disable to those backup codes by creating new ones (through Account > Security > “edit” button on 2-step verification > Show backup codes > Generate new backup codes), which as you can see mention specifically “Only the latest set of backup codes will work.

If you use Lastpass to manage your passwords, you can configure Lastpass to use two factor authentication too using Google Authenticator by following these instructions. While editing your account settings you might also want to increase Password Iterations to 1000 on the General tab. If you signed up a while ago it might still be set to a lower (and less secure) value. You can also restrict access to one country only if you know for sure you are never going to login to Lastpass from abroad.

Finally as backup solution (but not necessarily your only backup solution, as it could in theory be wiped remotely) I recommend Backblaze, which is just $50/year for automatic unlimited backups (works on both Windows and Mac).

Edit: a detailed report has been published on Wired and is also featured in episode 365 of TWiT (This Week in Tech).