I bricked my WRT54G

Right after I put a post up about how dd-wrt rocks, I bricked my WRT54G v5 by playing around with the nvram settings. “It’s dead, it’s a late WRT54g, it’s passed on.

Sigh.

Right now I have my buggy WET54GS5 back and running on the second floor. I’ll either shell out $60 for a WRT54GL or I’ll wait for draft-n to settle down and put dd-wrt on that. I’ll need a pair of them, one for the basement and one for the second floor… that could get expensive…

Back from a 5 day vacation this week

Cabo from the Air (http://www.sanbachs.net/cgi-bin/mexico/mexico3.cgi/City=SJC&Hotels=)Every year Lily’s company nominates about 100 employees or so and sends them to a company paid vacation/off site meeting. These nominations are to reward them for outstanding achievements. The employees get to bring their significant others and this year Lily was selected to go.

This is the second time Lily and I went and we had a great time. The company sent us to Cabo San Lucas and Lily signed us up for the spa.

I’m not a sophisticated person. The barber is about as pampered as it gets for me (and it shows). So with some prodding from one of my friends we signed up for a pedicure, a manicure, and a massage.

It was a weird experience for me. Overall it was fine but I’m ticklish and kept laughing during the pedicure. During the massage I was asked if the pressure was too much. I said “No, it’s a little light” and she really worked on me. It did not quite hurt exactly but I now know what it’s like to go through a meat grinder.

Going to Mexico was a breeze. We had no hassle from the TSA, the transfer at Dallas was uneventful, and customs in Cabo was a snap. The most telling part of going was that we could not take water through the screening gate but we could buy bottles of water after the TSA and carry those potentially lethal water devices onto the plane.

(The TSA at the metal detector said we were allowed to buy water from the stands near the boarding gate, yes we took water on that way, and yes TSA war on liquids is too stupid for words).

Coming back was crowded and a little chaotic. We went through US customs and immigration screening at Dallas and once we were screened we got our luggage and went to the TSA guard like everyone else to go to our connecting flight. They do what you expect; they ask some questions and “randomly” select passengers for additional screening with x-ray of the luggage and some more questioning. We thought they picked us because we had a company provided lunch box with chicken inside.

Random, oh yeah, right. When we got into the waiting area and were lined up behind some people I told Lily “It wasn’t the lunch box”. They picked out every Asian passenger in the crowd. The only non-Asians were people like me who were traveling with an Asian (Lily is Chinese). Not a small amount of people either. That delayed our getting to our connecting flight in another terminal and we ended up racing to the plane.

At the gate I mentioned that we were delayed because of the TSA. The attendant said they screen randomly to which I replied “Yeah they randomly got every Asian”.

I did not complain to the TSA. They are not really law enforcement professionals like police officers, they don’t necessarily have an education past high school, and operate underneath secret and unpublished laws. Per other accounts they don’t have to explain to you why they abuse their authority or even really justify that abuse.

At Dallas they were not rude or unprofessional to us at all and aside from the obvious discrimination and delay I have no complaint. But had I made an issue of their “random” selections they could have gone nuts and I would have no recourse. See Homeland Stupidity for some better examples of problems with DHS. See Dr. Pournelle’s and others experience for more references.

Oh well. The vacation was great fun and like thousands of other travelers I just put up with this and hope that things get better.

dd-wrt rocks

If you have a supported wireless AP or gateway and want to have fun extending it without getting too deep into building software, give dd-wrt a try.

I have a collection of Linksys wireless junk, enough that I should consider becoming a stock holder. When we moved into this house I was thinking of running cables from the basement up to the 2nd floor. But this house does not have a simple means to run cable from the basement to the attic and I really don’t want to punch holes in the walls.

So I setup a Linksys WAP54G in the basement, another WAP54G in the guest room, and a WET54GS5 on my second floor where Lily and my computers are. Eventually I purchased a WRT54G v5 and replaced the WAP54G in the basement. I think I wanted to play with the idea of using the WRT54G as a replacement for my Linux gateway. The old WAP55G got put away on the shelf.

The second floor WET54GS5 was a 5 port switch bridge; it seemed like a good idea at the time. The thing is simple to setup but it spontaneously reboots often and support for it is really non-existent. It’s a dead end product.

The shelved WAP54G only has 8MB of RAM and 2MB FLASH which in the past excluded it from hacking. Now the website www.dd-wrt.com has a replacement firmware v2.3 SP2 micro image which fits and is a stripped down. Using these instructions, I installed the image on the WRT54G v5. It works really well and I’ve replaced the 5 port switch bridge with the WRT54G.

On the WRT54G the WAN connection is now configured as just another LAN port. I configured the device as a “Client Bridge” and connect it to the AP in the basement. At the WRT Wiki is a pretty good description of how to set it up. It’s been running without a hiccup for over two weeks now. My game consoles, the laptops, etc. all work fine.

Harmony 720 and Vista

Logitech Harmony 720Costco has the Logitech Harmony 720 on sale and I picked one up Saturday. Don’t bother looking for it on Logitech’s web site, it apparently does not exist there.

It’s a programmable IR universal remote with a color LCD display and is programmed via a USB cable to your PC. You create an account on Logitech’s web site, download the 7.2.1 version of the software and program the remote.

The downloaded software is not 100% Vista compatible. When you run it, it causes the window system to go from Aero Glass to the Vista Home Basic look and feel. Everything still works but the eye candy is one of the few appeals of Vista.

Easy to fix. The software is written in Java and includes a copy of the 1.5 JRE which is not Vista friendly. Azureus had the same problem.

  1. Download the Java 6 JRE and install. Just the JRE not the whole kit.
  2. Using Explorer go to the Directory “C:Program FilesJavajre1.6.0_01” (Java 6 updates might have a different directory) and copy all the contents.
  3. Now go to the “C:Program FilesLogitechLogitech Harmony Remote Software 7” directory and rename the jre folder to jre-old (just in case).
  4. Create a new folder “jre” and paste the contents from jre1.6.0_01 (step 2) there. The folder should look like this.

Harmony 720 with jre 1.6

That’s it. The software runs fine now and I’ve used it to re-program my Harmony 720 already. Eventually Logitech will update the software (the web site says April 2007) but until then this works.

Now if I could figure out how to do this trick in Ubuntu, then I’d be satisfied.

Just how stupid can companies (scratch that, people) be?

I should make a new category called “Just Really Really Really Stupid”. I Saw this on Digg, it’s apparently old.

Google is your XP key friend. I’m not saying Google is bad, I’m saying that the company hosting this information is amazingly too stupid for words.

“The Company (who’s name shall not be said here like Beetlejuice), located in Maynard, MA, develops and licenses Internet based products which help make personal computers easier to use and maintain by large and small business users and individual consumers.”

I’ve never heard of them but if they’re going to make available their customers data then they sure are making personal computers easy to use alright. Especially for other people.

Update: After doing a RTFA I see it’s actually business as usual. The company is not posting the information. Apparently the end users are posting it.

Whew, I feel much better now. I mean some end users will do anything…

Gears of War

Gears of War from gearsofwar.comI’m slow on getting the latest games. A few weeks ago my pal told me he got Gears of War for his Xbox 360 and loved it.

He and his son completed it on coop play. He described it as having fantastic graphics and great game play. The fact that if you don’t get cover, you’re dead was a nice touch.

I told him I’d get the game this weekend. I picked it up last night. I moved the Xbox 360 into the bed room so the kids would not get woken up by the carnage.

Except for Call of Duty 2 on the PC I’ve never seen a game where cover was required. And even on CoD2 ducking for cover is not done well. GOW handles getting cover and poking out from behind cover amazingly well. When the game started I opted for the tougher way to get out of the building. I picked up a couple of weapons and hit the game.

This game is done so well that I’m not sure a keyboard and mouse would make the play better. And the graphics were amazing. This game shows off the Xbox 360 so well that if I had gotten this game before I picked up the PS3, I might not have bought the PS3 at all. The shooting from cover is amazingly fun. You dart from cover to cover trying not to get shot.

What makes the game more fun is that the enemy does the exact same thing.

If it were not late and Lily did not remind me that today we have lots to do, I’d have played for a few hours.

Geraldo Rivera does good

I stopped paying attention to Geraldo Rivera years ago because he, well, became a big TV joke.

Check out his Wikipedia entry. Aside from being a news journalist he also was a lawyer and did a lot in his career.

The other day he was on the Bill O’Reilly show and he really, really got it 100% right. He even got Keith Olbermann to decare him worlds best person in the world.

Here’s the clip

I hope Geraldo keeps up the good work. He’s a smart guy who can do much more than sensational TV. His “Don’t be the Lou Dobbs mob” comment was spot on.