Friday, December 25, 2009

Mobile Transition - Nokia E65 to Samsung Omnia2

Traded in my Nokia E65 for the Samsung Omnia2 (GT-I8000) on Christmas day 2009. Switched to M1 from Singtel.

Original contract price: $398
SunSaver Plus discount: -$100
Data Plan discount: -$100
Switching from Singtel: -$100
E65 Trade-in: -$100
Final amount paid for handset: $0.

Still getting used to the phone and applying numerous registry hacks. It's not all that bad actually ... getting an iPhone just ties you in to a fixed user experience. I still prefer some flexibility and the ability to get under the hood.

I'm quite sure you can get under the hood for the iPhone and Andriod phones as well. And I agree: Windows Mobile is slow and laggy, but somehow, only on Samsung handsets. HTC phones with lesser hardware specs seem to run circles around my Omnia2. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Speed Up SSH Logins

  1. Disable UseDNS
  2. Give the -u0 option in /etc/default/ssh

Monday, March 30, 2009

DD-WRT on DIR-300

I wanted a standalone AP-client/Ethernet converter/Wireless bridge. I couldn't find a suitable product on the market (with my budget of < US$50). The products I did manage to find were either too expensive, too old, not available, or too over-featured (remember you heard this term here!).

Well, there were a few: like the Zyxel G-570S which cost S$99 (too expensive), Engenius ECB-1220R which was not yet available (but the price seems alright at S$75). Asus WL-320gE/WL-330-gE looked like they fit the bill too, but was too expensive.

The Linksys WGA54 was an obsolete, EOL product. Last firmware was in 2005, and it doesn't support WPA. I bought 3 of them only to find out that they worked quirky too. There was no way to get the signal strength, for example.

I came back to something that I've overlooked for a while, because the published product specs didn't support an AP client mode - the Dlink DIR-300. It was based on an Atheros AR2317 which IS supported by DD-WRT, which had client mode wireless, which was a full linux distribution (something which I was right at home with), and it was both CHEAP (S$50) and readily available. So I popped over to Challenger on the weekend, bought one unit, and brought it into the office today to get it converted.

It wasn't too daunting after all. It took me a few tries and reboots to get the DD-WRT firmware properly flashed onto the board, and a couple more steps later we are in business. I got my wireless AP client up and running.

I was able to connect to an AP using WPA2-PSK via the webpages. The only complaint I had about the interface was that it put the onus of knowing the security settings on the user, and did not detect the suitable configuration for the AP. It had telnet (how about SSH?), but the username and password did not match the web-based login. AP scanning works well. I could use the iwconfig and iwlist commands to scan for access points and get the signal strengths. Just perfect for my wireless testing. I could even do performance testing from the router itself.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is what I have always been talking about (but failed to achieve/implement/convince). It's way overdue that application programmers use a common library API to manage configuration settings instead of having to reinvent the wheel a million times. I have heard all the arguments before, and I have an explanation for each and every one. So come on and flame me, but of course I would rather have an engaging discussion.

If Elektra were a girl, she'd be the one I'd marry. (based on first impressions till date)

Overview of the Elektra Initiative

Elektra is a universal hierarchical configuration store, with related goals like GConf and the Windows Registry. It allows programs to read and save their configurations with a consistent API, and allows them to be aware of other applications' configurations, leveraging easy application integration. The whole point of it is to tie applications together, so that they can co-operate and share their user-preferences.

The developers are associated to unix philosophy and the very practical point consists of writing a configuration library. Every software needs this functionality, it is not easy to do it right and performant and we want to avoid any unnecessary code duplication.

major focal points

  1. API implementation to access the key/value pairs namespace with a variety of Backends and Bindings
  2. Definition of a standard key/value pair hierarchy, namespaces and semantics
  3. Produce quality patches for popular softwares as, Samba, KDE's KConfig XT and Gnome's GConf

Sunday, January 04, 2009

AVG Antivirus Accidentally Kills Windows

Saw this on OSNews.Com. Users of AVG Anti-Virus beware:

Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish users of the popular anti-virus software AVG have discovered a nasty surprise. AVG has mistakenly identified a core Windows system file, user32.dll, as a Trojan, and summarily deletes it, b0rking Windows. AVG has announced they're working on a fix.
Interestingly, I cannot find this on AVG's website, neither in the News or Updates section. So judge for yourself.

The Brains and Bones of my NAS

I've just found this article on AnalogZone featuring the custom ASIC (IT3107) of my Netgear ReadyNAS Duo, which contains a SPARC-based core along wth integrated NAS circuitry. Apparently the IT3107 supports 4 SATA controllers (argh, I should have gotten a 4-bay NAS instead, but the cost would be prohibitive at this stage).

Here is an excerpt from the article on some of its major features (I didn't know this before):

Infrant's basic concept is to integrate all the functions required to support a small RAID array with the electronics required to put the data on a 10/100/1000BaseT network, and to throw in a print server function for good measure. They've already rolled out a product to address the higher-priced SMB-level market which supports up to eight SATA drives. They're now introducing the ExpandaNAS IT3107, a consumer-grade device with half the SATA drives for the SoHo and consumer market. Depending on what works best for your needs, Infrant will happily sell you either the raw chip or a complete OEM-able board that only requires a case, power supply and disks. And power won't be too much of a problem since power consumption for the IT307 is only 5 W.

Powered by a 32-bit SPARC-based RISC core (with several extensions that we'll look at shortly) the chip supports RAID 0/1/5 operation for up to four SATA drives. Its network connection is a single Gbit Ethernet port. A PCI host interface and a pair of USB interfaces for supporting peripherals such as printers complete the I/O complement.

Rather than pass disc data through the CPU, its disc interface bypasses the PCI bus and uses DMA to shove blocks of data from the drives to the on-chip 64 bit DRAM controller. This leaves most of the SPARC's processing power available to manage the disks, handle the print serve tasks, and support its GbE connection at full rate. Infrant has also enhanced the chip's performance by beefing up the SPARC processor's instruction set. While its instruction set is still SPARC v8-compatible, the processor has had the way it executes several instructions optimized to keep critical segments in the fast lane. They also equipped the CPU with additional hardware logic including a hardware table walk-through for lookups, a lock-down cache, and a 3DES encryption core.

For Sale - Asus Pundit-R Barebone

I'm letting go of my Asus Pundit-R barebone of 3 years (see the specs on the right).

It is basically working, but intermittently does not POST (I found that taking out the cover helps), probably due to a loose SDRAM chip or slot.

Make me a reasonable offer (my reserved price is SGD$150), and I will include a ViewSonic 15" CRT monitor (needs 5mins to warm up), Western Digital Jumbo Buffer (8MB) 60GB and Pioneer DVD Rewritable into the bundle. Make me a good offer and I will throw in my Canon D646ex flatbed scanner.

Note, there is no bundled Windows OS. I can install and update Ubuntu for you if you like. I have been running the machine as my Linux workhorse.

Please leave a comment or email me privately at cohawk (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Run Multiple Versions of Internet Explorer AT THE SAME TIME

Anyone who has been a web developer for any amount of time would understand how tricky it is to get web pages to render correctly on different browsers, especially when the user base has a varied installation of browsers.

Installing a new version of IE replaces the previous version, so this is not encouraging at all for the adventurous (of which developers by nature are) who like to install cutting edge versions of software to test drive.

I've just thought about this problem myself, and viola, it turns out that I am too late! The problem has already been solved.

Here's a quote from TredoSoft:
Ever wanted to test your website in various versions of Internet Explorer?

It is possible to run Internet Explorer in standalone mode without having to over-write previous versions thanks to Joe Maddalone who came up with a way of achieving that in November 2003. Basically, Internet Explorer is run by exploiting a known workaround to DLL hell - which was introduced in Windows 2000 and later versions - called DLL redirection.

Get the Multiple IE installer.