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Bill Gates touched my MacBook Pro

Aliexpress Impulse Buys

[ misc ]

I was perusing Aliexpress a week or two ago and bought some cheap, fun things. Three purchases, which came to a total of around $13, with free shipping. This was part of some kind of buy three things for a reduced price offer. Here is what I got:

misc cheap electronics

Mini Weather Cube

This is the top left. It’s delightful!

USB-C powered, wifi connected. There are zero interactive controls on this thing. You plug it in and it creates a wifi network. You connect another device to that network and from there configure it to connect to your actual network. Then you hope and pray and trust in your good karma that this thing doesn’t just exist to infiltrate you.

From there on, it’s just on your local network and it sets up a mini server with a page to configure all the device’s options. The config program is pretty extensive. There are a few different weather screens and a few different clocks, and an image slideshow with predefined or custom images. You can also set it to cycle through modes. It has day/night mode to dim it while you sleep.

I freaking love this thing.

Link: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256806253672298.html

Cheap Bluetooth Earbuds

I’m not sure why I chose these. They’re pretty bad. To be fair, they actually sound better than I expected. But I still don’t know which is right and left because they are unmarked. The tips they came with are tiny, but I have plenty of spare earbud tips around so I was able to swap them out. They paired and connected OK, but they don’t seem to auto-connect later, so you have to manually have to connect them each time. There is a tap to play/pause, but there’s no beep or feedback. I didn’t test other double/triple tap or hold gestures. They have bright LEDs on them that flash intermittently when they’re in use, which is annoying in a dark room. But I just figured it’d be good to have some emergency spares around, and for the price, I can’t complain too much.

Link: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256806172256904.html

Three-key + Knob Control Pad

This is pretty neat, but was a major pain in the butt to set up. It connects to your computer via USB-C and is theoretically configurable. We’ll get to that.

I’ve built some DIY devices similar to this:

But this looked pretty neat and is a combo of keys plus knob.

I plugged it in and it did nothing! It came with zero instructions, but the product page on Aliexpress gave a URL to get config software. That URL 403ed. I couldn’t find any other link to the software. I almost resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be a little lucite brick.

But after a pretty extensive search, I found this one guy who created his own software for configuring these kinds of devices. What a hero!


It’s Windows only, so I booted into my Windows partition, ran the config program and set up the keys to do previous track, play/pause, and next track. The knob controls volume, and clicking on the knob mutes/unmutes. But really you can set up they controls to do just about anything you want. Once you send the config to the device, it’s all set and should work on any computer/OS. Booted back into Linux and it’s golden.

It’s nice since my Thinkpad does not have media keys. It has volume keys, but having the knob is really nice.

Link: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256806557559192.html


Just some fun stuff. I imagine those links won’t last forever, but there are plenty of other similar devices all over the site, and similar ones on Amazon and other places.

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