How to PUK yourself…

So I’ve had this VodafoneSoftbank keitai for the last couple of years that I use whenever I go back to Tokyo, or to occasionally see what’s the latest and greatest inside one of Japan’s mobile walled gardens.  I rather like this phone:  It’s a unique reminder that being a global monster of a company does not mean you will succeed in Japan.  (Vodafone and, recently Nokia, have both gone the way of those who tried and and failed to do business in the Land of the Rising Sun.)

Anyway, I somehow managed to activate the SIM lock on this thing.  Problem is, I don’t remember setting up a PIN, and struck out three times guessing.  Now it says something to the effect of “Enter your PUK code or else” every time I turn it on.

There has been copious amounts of frantic googling.

According to the cute furry woodland creatures who dole out information in the Sofbank forums on 携帯電話最新情報, in a nutshell, I’m royally screwed. It would appear that if one mis-types the PIN three or so times, a PUK (“Personal Unblocking Key“) is then required to continue.  If this PUK is subsequently mis-entered ten or more times, then the SIM card self-destructs.  Kind of like Mission Impossible, but without the smoke.  I think.

The woodland creatures point out that I actually have to physically visit a Softbank shop and pass some kind of test of will or feat of strength or some such before they will remove the PUK lock for me.  Damn.  It’s a good think I’m heading out there next week.

Important take-aways from this post:

  1. Don’t forget the PIN to your SIM card.  If you do, call support right away.  Don’t wait for it to lock up further.
  2. Don’t assume that you will do well in Japan just because you’re a multinational economic juggernaut.

Ignoring the above advice is a really good way to PUK yourself.

So NOW what is Windows doing?

If you’re a Windows users, then you’re likely accustomed to your box periodically grinding to an inexplicable crawl.  And likely you’ve become accustomed to looking morosely over to the hard disk LED as Windows furiously swaps memory, or randomly formats volumes, or sends secret blinking morse code love letters rapid fire to your toaster, or Gates only knows what it’s doing.

For years I’ve looked for some kind of tool that would give me better insight into what was going on under the hood.  The guys at SysInternals have a variety of apps that are helpful (if not downright awesome), but none that would allow me to causally glance at a dashboardy widget and say “Oh, it’s the whuzawazzit again.  Guess I’ll go get some coffee.”

Enter Moo0‘s System Monitor.


I first saw System Monitor some months back on Lifehacker.  And while it was a useful little resource monitoring tool, it wasn’t really useful enough for me to remember that it was actually installed.   That is, until last month’s update.

Version 1.27 of System Monitor includes one very important and revealing feature:  Bottleneck Reporting.  As you can see above, System Monitor tips you off to the most likely “villain” of any performance slowdown.

In my case (and certainly in the case of most everyone else) the bottleneck is typically going to be the HDD; hence our Pavlovian stare-at-HDD-LED response.   Now, however, I at least know what’s causing my disks to spin and my head to turn.

Outlook, which as always been the primary suspect, is of course guilty as sin.  And to my surprise I see both Firefox and Skype lurking around the “Main Loader” far more often than not.  And then there are the myriad of Windows sub-processes that seem to be taking industrious liberty with my hard disk behind closed doors.

But now that I finally know what the heck Windows is doing, I can finally, at long last, do something proactive to improve system performance.

Like, say, switch to a Mac.