Avatar owns me!

It's a great movie with spectacular visuals. It's a must see for anyone even remotely interested in sci-fi or if you're interested about what today's state-of-the-art rendering technology can produce. I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Joe Grand is my hero

About a year ago I became involved in electronics. This was because the development of the Ultimate Keyboard requires strong electronics knowledge and not only I couldn't hire anybody (without the resources doing so), but I also wanted to understand electronics and over time as I read the articles on Hack a Day I realized how cool electronics really is.

I've been doing software development for a few years and it's always fun, but doing purely software development in itself is not that interesting for me as it used to be. We have a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor, that's mildly interesting. We also have the Internet for several years which is much more interesting. What if create a propeller clock, a line following robot or all kinds of ultra-crazy stuff, both the hardware and software? That sounds to me like the ultimate fun.

Joe Grand is probably the most well-known hardware hacker who became famous as one of the hosts of Prototype This. He is a really cool guy and has tons of interesting materials on his site. I'm grateful for every piece of knowledge that I can learn from guys like him.

nitehawk rocks the house

Finally, I got my first laptop a week ago which I named nitehawk because of it's color.  It's an Acer Aspire 8935G-874G100BN and I think it pretty much represents the level of hardware integration that can be achieved in 2009.  With its 18.4-inch LED LCD screen and its load of impressive features it's almost more like a desktop than a laptop and it's exactly what I wanted because I change my location of a two weekly basis and I don't need much mobility other than that.

The first thing I did when nitehawk arrived is I sent it back to Acer so they could remove Windows 7 and give me back its price. When all things summed including the traversing costs I haven't earned almost any money, but I didn't do it for the money. This was my gentle gesture to show Redmond that they're welcomed to taste my middle finger.

nitehawk's keyboard is as crappy as most laptop keyboards from a typewriting point of view, but I do truly appreciate its power efficiency in overall and suspend, hibernate especially. I carry it in a Targus TCB001EU XL notebook backpack because I couldn't get any other backpacks in Hungary that was big enough to hold this beast. :)

Fix your mouse as it was new for $3

I've just replaced the microswitches of my Logitech MouseMan Optical dual sensor mouse.  I bought it about 6 years ago for about $80 and I was extremely satisfied with it until the switches broke.

Today I managed to get some Omron D2F-01 switches.  The original switches are Omron D2FC-F-7N parts but they have been obsoleted.  The new switches have a crisp tactile feel which I love, altough they are a little bit harder to press than the old ones.

Being able to replace the switches is one of the "secrets" that manufacturers don't want you to know because chances are you wouldn't have to buy any other mouse ever again.  There are other temporary fixes to solve the issue, but replacing the switches with new ones is stongly advised.

Supercharging storage space on the ASUS WL500GPV2 with OpenWrt

Lately I've extended my HOWTO on supercharging the storage space of your ASUS WL500GPV2 with OpenWrt.

I'm so delighted to make this work because from now on:

  • the whole root partition is able to store 8G - the size of the Kingston pendrive I've plugged in
  • the extension is completely transparent and it doesn't break the router on restart when the pendrive is not plugged in
  • everything is faster including package managment because the CPU doesn't need to do any compression on JFFS

First I wanted to use JFFS instead of ext2 but smart folks told me that wear levelling is integrated into pendrives.  (JFFS can only be used with MTDs anyways.)

This hack has dozens of practical uses such doing any logging on the router or SCPing backups from external hosts to the router on a timely basis.

As I dwelve more and more deeply into OpenWrt I start to realize how brilliant it is.  The use of SquashFS to store the image and the the mini_fo'ed JFFS on top of it as a copy-on-write file system is the most advanced solution one could ever devise to maximize filesystem storage space.  It makes me laugh when I compare OpenWrt to the official firmware of the typical SOHO router.

Thanks for all the documentation on the net, especially for the Packages on external media HowTo.

Siemens Gigaset: You shouldn't complain about the firmware

I've tried to let the Siemens Gigaset team know about some software problems through their customer care form:

Dear Sir / Madam,

I've noticed several problems with the Gigaset S685 IP model which I'd
like you let you know about to be able to fix them.

First, the messenger disconnects after about a week or inactivity.  I
haven't monitored the exact timespan and it may not be a fixed
timespan but it happens from time to time.  I don't know whether it's
caused by the inactivity in the messenger or ISP / Jabber service
outage but it's surely disturbing.  I'd expect the messenger to
reconnect automatically as soon as possible without needing to
explicitly restarting it on the phone.

The other problem is that the web administration interface of the base
station is not accessible from the gateway.  I'd like to connect to
the web interface through VPN from my router and it seems that it's
possible to connect from every IP, except the gateway IP.

Please let me know whether you know about these issues and when will
you fix them.

Thanks in advance,
László Monda

First I specified Hungary as my country and my Hungarian email address.  They redirected my email to a Hungarian company who didn't know shit about the issue and couldn't forward it to the engineers.

Then I specified Germany as my country and used my GMail email address.  This time I haven't got any responses.

I always try to avoid buying any closed source devices exactly because of such experiences.  I needed a cordless SIP phone which supports bluetooth headsets so I haven't had much options.  Maybe a smart phone with a SIP softphone would be a better choice, but that'd be more expensive.

TP-LINK TL-WPS510U review

Update (2009-12-29): I told the store that the unit I got is broken and they sent me a new one. After testing the new print server with 2 of my routers I must say that it has the same connectivity issues as the first unit. Nobody should consider to buy a TP-LINK TL-WPS510U because it is a broken piece of shit. I'll try a different model from another manufacturer and will report about my experiences.

This post is more of a warning than a review.  I wrote "review" so Google can index this post as a "review" and people will be able to find it by searching for a review on this product.

I'll keep this post updated but I don't advise anyone to buy this print server until this issue have been resolved.

At: Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 9:44 AM
From: me
To: support@tp-link.com
Subject: TL-WPS510U: Serious connectivity issue

Dear Sir / Madam,

I use my TL-WPS510U in infrastructure mode with WPA2 and it has major
connectivity issues.

After about 2-3 hours of operation the print server disconnects from
the router and the only way to make it connect again is to unpower and
power it.  I've roughly measured the time that it takes for the print
server to disconnect as you can see below:

root@bloomy:~# while true; do date; wget -O /dev/null http://printy; sleep 2h; done
Sun Sep 27 17:39:00 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: server returned error: HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized
Sun Sep 27 19:39:00 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: server returned error: HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized
Sun Sep 27 21:39:00 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: server returned error: HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized

root@bloomy:~# while true; do date; wget -O /dev/null http://printy; sleep 3h; done
Sun Sep 27 23:32:25 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: server returned error: HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized
Mon Sep 28 02:32:25 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: cannot connect to remote host (10.66.66.50): No route to host
Mon Sep 28 05:32:28 CEST 2009
Connecting to printy (10.66.66.50:80)
wget: cannot connect to remote host (10.66.66.50): No route to host

I've tried to sustain the connection by various methods.

First, I tried to ping the print server for a sustained period of time
but it didn't help.

Then I tried to fetch its web interface periodically hoping that it'd
help. I've had some moderate success with this method as you can see
above, but it doesn't help in the long run because the print server
disconnects after some hours anyways.

As I cannot see any firmware upgrades on your site I urge you to fix
this problem.  I'd like to stick with your print server if I can
upgrade to the fixed firmware rather than buying a wireless print
server from another manufacturer.

Thanks in advance for your reply.


At: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 8:39 AM
From: Ceclia Li @ TP-Link
To: me

Dear László Monda

Thank you very much for your email requesting information about our product.

Sorry for the late reply! Now I send the firmware of 510u to you. Please try to install it. Please pay attention to your hardware version of your printer server.

Thanks for your support of our TP-LINK.

Sorry for the inconvenience caused and hope for your understanding

Any further help please feel free to let me know.

To get technical support more quickly, please go to http://www.tp-link.com/support/faq.asp

Best Regards,
Cecilia Li

Attached file: TL-WPS510U.rar


At: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 9:44 PM
From: me
To: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link

Dear Cecilia,

I'm having a hard time upgrading the firmware.

There are two files within the rar file you sent me:
* V1/DWP1000T_1_54.bin
* V2 (WPS)/MPS48-TP-Link-6.04.48T-0015-124.bin

There is absolutely no information regarding which file should I use
but I assume that the latter is appropriate in my case because WPS
stands for Wireless Print Server and the version number resembles the
version number of the current firmware which is "6.01.43T 0054 LOADER
3.5 WEB 54.0001".

First, I've tried to upgrade the firmware through the web interface.
After specifying the filename and clicking on the Firmware Upgrade
button, the Status > System page has been loaded. Unfortunately, the
firmware version was the same as before and the print server hasn't
been rebooted because the uptime hasn't been reset.

After that, I tried to upgrade the firmware through TFTP using the
following command in the Linux console:

laci@noisy:~/download/TL-WPS510U/V2 (WPS)$ atftp --trace --option
"mode octet" --put --local-file MPS48-TP-Link-6.04.48T-0015-124.bin
printy
Trace mode on.
Option mode = octet
sent WRQ <>>
received ACK
sent DATA
tftp: error received from server
tftp: aborting

Please let me know how can I upgrade the firmware.

Thanks in advance!


At: Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 10:01 AM
From: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link
To: me

Dear László Monda

Thank you very much for your email requesting information about our product.

First, access the setup page of 510U, then click mis->firmware upgrade, then you can see this page:

Obvious screenshot included

Click browse, then select the firmware, then click Firmware Upgrade.

Any further help please feel free to let me know.

To get technical support more quickly, please go to http://www.tp-link.com/support/faq.asp

Best Regards,
Cecilia Li


At: Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 11:00 AM
From: me
To: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link

Dear Cecilia,

I've done exactly what you wrote, even before you wrote it. Let me quote from my previous email:

"First, I've tried to upgrade the firmware through the web interface.
After specifying the filename and clicking on the Firmware Upgrade
button, the Status > System page has been loaded. Unfortunately, the
firmware version was the same as before and the print server hasn't
been rebooted because the uptime hasn't been reset."

Upgrading through TFTP didn't work either as I mentioned in my previous email.

Now what should I do?

Thanks in advance!


At: Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 10:03 PM
From: me
To: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link

Dear Cecilia,

10 days gone by since my last email.  Can anyone of you help me regarding this issue?

Thanks!


At: Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 11:11 PM
From: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link
To: me

Dear László Monda

Thank you very much for your email requesting information about our product.

Sorry for my late reply!! If the firmware I sent to you is same to the old one, please do not upgrate it.

Please prefer to the attachment to check whether you have set TL-WPS510U to work in Infrastructure mode to connect to your existing wireless network correctly.

Then you'd better place the print server near your router(or computer) as closer as possible and make sure the wireless signal is stable, If the distance between the printer sever and your router(or computer), the printing may be stoped sometimes.

If the problem still exist, you should try to contact your reseller to test the product.

Sorry for the inconvenience casued and hope for your understanding

Any further help please feel free to let me know.
To get technical support more quickly, please go to http://www.tp-link.com/support/faq.asp

Best Regards,
Cecilia Li


At: Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 12:03 AM
From: me
To: Cecilia Li @ TP-Link

Dear Cecilia,

There are some points that I'd like to highlight:

* The firmware you sent me is not the same one as the one that is installed on the print server by default.
* The firmware cannot be updated through the web interface nor through TFTP.
* The print server is not far away from the router so the connection should be stable.
* Even if the connection drops, the print server should reconnect immediately as it happens on reboot.

I find it highly unlikely that this problem is specific to my print server.  I think that it's a widespread problem but most people probably not use the server with WPA2 in infrastructure mode or as soon as they realize that it's broken they use it in ad-hoc mode.

In case you would like to send me novice user guides as earlier, please don't because I'm a computing professional and the instructions in such guides are evident to me.

I appreciate your help but based on my experiences with your print server I'd rather replace it with a Linksys WPSM54G.

I wish you all the best.

Flash is loosing ground

Watching the word of DHTML it seems to me that Flash is becoming more and more obsoleted as alternative standards and their implementations begin to emerge.  I've seen some major projects in the near past that strengthened this belief in me.

  • Glimmer has the potential to replace Flash animations.
  • SoundManager 2 makes it easier to play sounds using JavaScript.
  • Processing.js is the JavaScript port of the Processing language.

Huge props to Péter for mentioning SoundManager 2.  It's a really interesting component for us because we were on the same path regarding the Flash music player of Wondeer.  We strive to push the application logic of our player from the ActionScript side to the JavaScript side for better maintainability.  SoundManager 2 is exactly what we're looking for so it's really exciting for us to see this project.

Both of the above mentioned JavaScript components became possible because 1) the Canvas has matured, 2) JavaScript engines have matured and 3) CPUs got faster.

It's exciting to imagine the possibilities when HTML5 will be supported by all major browsers and when JavaScript will be compiled everywhere.