Saturday, 6 November 2010

Upgrading The Netgear Router Firmware With FireFox

Okay, so I'm now the owner of a Netgear DGN1000 Wireless Router & Modem.
And when I logged into the router for the first time, itchecked to see if there was a new version of the firmware.
Which there was.
But it just hung with a "This could take few minutes" message.
So, I popped off to the Netgear website, got the latest firmware, logged into the router and attempted to upgrade using the file.
"This will take a few minutes", my arse.

So, what to do? After a scout round the Netgear forum, it looked like I was out of luck. "Internet Explorer is required" seemed to be the only answer bobbing about.

Pathetic, isn't it?

Still, A solution wasn't too far away for this FireFox user.

Simply go to Tools > Add-ons, search for User Agent Switcher and install it.
When Firefox restarts, go to Tools > Default User Agent > Internet Explorer and choose one.
Now log into the router and upgrade your firmware.


Starting Out With Plusnet

Well, it was going to happen eventually. We moved into a new property recently and getting a home phone and broadband installed was something that just had to be done.

I've never had contracts for either of these before (don't ask) and had a look round at what was available. A recent copy of PC Pro magazine listed the top ten suppliers according to a reader's poll. Top of the list was Zen Internet (seven times now!), but it's not particularly cheap. O2, my mobile provider, was also up there in the top five, but I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket. I'd heard good things about Plusnet who were also listed in the top five. Having seen the TV advert and checked out the site, I decided to go with the Plusnet Extra broadband and Talk Evenings & Weekends home phone packages along with a router.

So, on the 10th October, I went through the registration process on the website which was an entirely simple and painless process. As I was having a phone put in, I had to choose three dates for BT to send an engineer. My first choice of the 25th October (between 8am and 1pm) was the soonest date available, so that meant a two week wait. I don't know if this is normal for BT but it seems a little excessive.
A confirmation email regarding my direct debit setup quickly followed and a "Welcome to Plusnet" email arrived a few minutes later with various information regarding my Plusnet account.

On the 11th October, I received an email, "We've place your Home Phone order" and shortly after I recieved a call from Simon, who had a heavy Yorkshire accent, at Plusnet confirming the installation date. I also received an email saying Plusnet was now following me on Twitter.

The BT engineer turned up on the 25th October, just after 8am. That's pretty damned efficient! He checked the master socket and then the other sockets round the flat, one of which doesn't appear to work properly, but I wasn't planning to use it anyway.

The engineer's visit was followed on the 26th October by an email from Plusnet, "Your Home Phone is now active", containing my username, call credit and phone number.
Two other emails arrived that day with regards to payment by direct debit.

Two more emails arrived on the 27th October, one regarding advance notice of direct debit payment and the other informing me that my broadband order was being processed.

By this time, I was aware that my broadband would be ready for use on the 03 November after 12pm.

Then, on the 30th October, the router arrived. Or it tried to. I got home to find the postie had stuck one of the dreaded "We tried to deliver..." cards through the door and it informed me that I had to wait 72 hours before calling in at the sorting office to collect it..
Now, the first issue here is that if Plusnet had informed me that the router was en route, I could have arranged for someone to be here. As it was, I received a Service Notice on the 1st November saying the router had been dispatched.

Too late, Plusnet. You lose a point.

The second issue isn't a Plusnet issue. I called in at the sorting office on the 3rd November (the date my broadband was due to be connected) only to be told they couldn't find my parcel and couldn't provide a reasonable explanation as to what had happened to it.

So, I popped into Argos and picked up a Netgear DGN1000 wireless router/modem, as I really wanted to get online as soon as possible. I then raised a question on the Plusnet support explaining what had happened. They promptly replied, saying they would send out another router. Which was nice.

My broadband, however, wasn't activated until the 5th November. This does happen, I pretty much expected it, and it wouldn't have been an issue if Plusnet hadn't said that if the date of activation changed, I would be emailed about it. But no mail was forthcoming regarding this.

So, Plusnet, you lose another point.

Emails arrived on the 5th November regarding broadband activation, payment for broadband and one telling me that my Plusnet Protect software was ready for download.
Essentially, Plusnet Protect is an anti-virus package provided by McAfee, for which users are charged £2 a month for.
Sorry, Plusnet, it's all Linux in this household, so that's a non-starter.

So here I am, 27 days on from signing up and all is good. I still don't have a Plusnet router, but that's okay as the Netgear only needed my Plusnet account username and password to connnect to the internet.

Overall, the whole thing was really quite painless.

BT needing two weeks to send an engineer to install a phone and Royal Mail losing my router are par for the course, according to the general public, so they score no points.

Plusnet, you lose a point for failing to inform me in time that my router had been dispatched and you lose another for late delivery of my broadband. But you get half a point back for quick and efficent support with regards to my missing router.

Plusnet, you scored 8.5 out of 10. Well done!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Recording My Desktop

There aren't many desktop recorders for Ubuntu and the one I use is called recordmydesktop. It can be found in Synaptic and the Ubuntu Software Centre.
However, it only outputs to the .ogv format which is no good for uploading to YouTube and I couldn't find a converter. So, after a little Googling I came across a command which will convert it to .avi
To make it a little easier, be sure to record your desktop to your home folder and then when it's done, open a terminal and type:

mencoder thenameofthefile.ogv -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts pass=1 -o output.avi

And watch it fly! Soon enough, you'll have a file called output.avi which you can rename and upload.

Note: You will need to have mencoder installed

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Jolicloud 1.0 Has Landed!

It's taken the best part of a year to arrive, it's sporting a new interface and it's still a Ubuntu based distro.
Yes, Jolicloud has finally shed it's beta tag, but is it all it's cracked up to be?
Let's have a look...

Being a Founding Member (how grand does that sound?), I was lucky enough to get my upgrade before most other users. I had installed the beta on my girlfriend's EeePC 1005P and when I received the invitation to upgrade (via email) I simply logged on to my Jolicloud account using her machine and looked at the updates.
Lo and behold, I got this screen:

A quick click on the Update Now button started the process:

When it had finished, which didn't take long, it asked for a restart:

After logging in, it asked me to connect to the internet.

This threw me a little, as my wireless was connected (as you can see by the icon in the system tray, but after checking that I was connected to the net I hit the "Okay, I'm Online" button.
Then it asked me to sign in to my Jolicloud account...

And then the desktop appeared.
I should point out that successive restarts did not ask me to connect to the net or sign in to Jolicloud. It's a regular Boot > Login > Desktop affair.
On first run, shortly after the appearance of the desktop, it asked to synchronize some apps. I'm not entirely sure what it meant, but I went along with it anyway.

So, this is the dektop:

It's different enough from the old netbook interface to warrant the amount of work that has gone into it, but at the same time it makes you wonder why they stuck it on top of the first non beta release. Surely beta releases are what this kind of thing is for? Then again, it makes sense that they are slowly rolling out this upgrade, which I have to assume will give them time to make some fine adjustments as the opinions and bug reports roll in from the community.

Ignoring the big, green Add button for now, there is an icon laden bar next to it which holds other stuff.
The first button will bring you back to the Apps desktop. The second button, with the satellite dish, is the Social desktop where you can, if you're that way inclined, socialise with other Jolicloud users.

Nope, I'm not following anyone and I am not being followed. This, for me, remains a mystery. Why would I want to follow other users? I'm sorry Jolicloud, but I'm just not interested in seeing what other users are doing. I've got the rest of the net and it's community to find out what the latest and greatest apps are.
I've no doubt that there are users who find the social side of Jolicloud attractive and useful, which of course is one of your goals.
But, it just ain't for me.

Anyway, the next icon along is a folder. Any guesses as to what this might do? Because if you think it's going to make your file manager appear... You. Are. Wrong.

Yes, it does look a little like a file browser, but if you click on one of the folders...

...Nautilus appears!

Um, I'm not sure about this. It seems that the file browser desktop opens the file browser. In which case, why not just make the icon open the Nautilus file browser? Or put a shortcut to the home folder somewhere on the Apps desktop?
Down the left side of the screen are buttons that will synchronise folders with various online storage facilities which is very handy for those living in the cloud. Another hit for the Jolicloud team who are really pushing this distro at web based users! Well done!
But, again, it just ain't for me.

Back to the icons and the last one is a cog and this is where you can look at your Jolicloud account details, which devices you use Jolicloud on and so on.

Now, the devices bit shows which devices you run Jolicloud on. Jolicloud will automatically sync all your Jolicloud devices, thereby every time you make a change to your setup, it will save your preferences somewhere in the cloud. Next time you log in with a different device, these changes will appear there also.
They've really got the hang of this cloud thing, haven't they?

So, the big, green Add button.
Hit it and you're taken to a mind boggling selection of apps to add to your desktop.

All you have to do is hit the Add button next to the app you wish to add. You are not asked for the root password and it it installs it with the minimum of fuss. It's as painless a process as you could wish for. The app will appear on your desktop automatically and if your desktop is full, it will appear on a second desktop, which will be automatically created. Like this:

At the bottom of the screen are some white dots, which represent your desktops. Moving apps from one desktop to another is as simple as dragging them to the relevant dot. Removing application icons is as easy as clicking on the name of the app on the desktop and choosing Remove from the menu that appears.
So, adding, moving and removing apps from the desktop is a very easy process. If you're an Android user, you will understand how it works already.

However, I am at a loss when it comes to removing the application completely. In my example above, I added Skype. I have now removed the icon from the desktop but there is nowhere, I'm sure of it, that allows you to remove the app from your system.
Yes, I could open Synaptic and do it through there and I could do it from the command line, but these options are unknown to the uninitiated. I can only imagine that this will be rectified in a forthcoming update.

22/07/10 Edit: A Jolicloud rep has confirmed that the developers are working on this issue and an update will be issued! :)

So, what else? Running on this machine, all the hardware (minus some hotkeys) works out of the box. It's quick, much quicker than Ubuntu's NBR and it comes with plenty of codecs, flash and all that jazz, giving it's user experience the edge over many other distros. Updates are all handled by the system in the background, so you don't have to worry about that any more.

My missus loves it. She can surf, do her emails and office paperwork, watch video, listen to music... nothing too taxing. She owns an HTC Desire and has likened this release to using Android. And that's a good thing.
It's incredibly easy to use, if a little confusing at first, and it's as stable as you could hope for. And it's screaming to be put on to a touch screen device.

If I was building an iPad clone, this is the OS I would choose for it. Jolitouch, anyone?


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Oyster in my N900. Second attempt. Fail!

Okay, here we go again. Only this time, after soaking, I'll attempt to keep the chip/aerial encased.

Step One: Soak the Oyster card in nail varnish remover. This stuff has acetone in it. The last lot didn't. I'll give it exactly two hours.

Step Two: Discard what I don't need and use a scalpel to remove excess plastic. This took me a while (or at least it seemed that way. I'm no artist and certainly no surgeon so it's a bit ragged.

Okay, I tried it this way first:

This way, the aerial goes around the camera, tight up against the edge of the case. This proved to be problematic in that, no matter how many times I tried it, the caseback wouldn't sit flush with the phone. It stayed on, but it didn't feel at all safe and the last thing you need is the back popping open and the battery falling out.

Then I tried it this way:

This way the aerial cuts across part of the camera shutter mechanism, but it didn't interfere with it and the case went on flush to the phone, but I could feel it was a bit of a squeeze.

So I trotted off to the newsagent where I attempted to top it up. The bloke in the shop looked at me as if I was a nutter as I pressed the phone up against the reader and asked "Is it registering?"
"No," came the reply. "That's a phone. This is for Oyster travelcards. Do you have one?"
There was a queue behind me, so I wasn't really in the right place to stop, remove it from the phone and check to see if it was working. I'll save that for a place with lots of readers.

I'll take what's left of the card to the tube station tomorrow and see if it works at all.


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Oyster in my N900? Not quite...

Well, I got to the tube station and it drew a blank. Nothing happened. I took the back off my phone and tried it face down against the reader, but no joy. I removed it from the phone and tried it "naked". Still nothing. And then I noticed that the aerial had come away from one side of the chip! Damn and blast it's fragility!
So, I'll pick up another one (I've got lots of nail varnish remover left) and give it another go.
I found this video, so I know it can be done. It looks like I may have to run the aerial all the way round the case back to get it to work properly, though.
Results to follow...

Friday, 4 June 2010

Oyster in my N900!

A colleague of mine told me about how he saw people using their phones to go through barriers on the Tokyo metro. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that sounded pretty cool! Google revealed that London's Underground system will be getting a similar facility sometime around the end of 2011, maybe. But I can't wait that long! So, I've given it a go myself.

The first step is to get your equipment.
You will need a pre-pay Oyster, some nail varnish remover and a jar with a lid.
A quick trip to a newsagent and Poundland (gotta love that place!) should furnish you with what you need.
I paid £4 (you have to top it up when you buy it, so I stuck a pound on) and got two bottles of nail varnish remover and a jar for £3.
(I already had an Oyster, but I wasn't about to risk losing my monthly travelcard for this slice of foolishness...)

The next step is to put the nail varnish remover and the card into the jar and seal it. Then leave it to soak.

Two hours later (and it need to be at least two hours), it should be ready to come out.

You can see here how the outer layers have come away completely, leaving the important bit, the layer with the chip and aerial intact. Throw the other bits away.

The chip is at the top right and the red lines running around the edge are the aerial which is attached to the chip. I don't know much about these things, so I'm going to assume the aerial needs to be kept intact. The aerial wire is about as thick as a thick hair, so be careful when picking the plastic layer away. If you left it to soak for long enough, it should come away fairly easily. If not, you'll struggle a bit.

When you've finished, you should be left with a chip with a fair bit of red wire attached to it.
Sorry, it's a really bad picture...

The final step is to remove the back of your phone and tape the chip and aerial to the inside of the rear casing and put it back on your phone.

As you can see, I've avoided putting the aerial round the camera part although I'm sure with a little hard work and attention to detail, the aerial would go all the way round the outside edge.
Does it work? Um, I don't know yet! I'll post the result as soon as I know...

Monday, 31 May 2010

What to try next?

I've been a bit quiet on the "let's-try-another-distro" front lately. This is largely due to the fact that my Eee 900 died, the missus got an Eee 1005P (she used my 900 for her work stuff and had to get something) and I had to save up for my 1005HA.
And on top of all that, I got sidetracked by my new Nokia N900!

Anyway, after getting used to using Ubuntu, she wanted Linux on her new machine and the only distro that worked properly out-of-the-box was Jolicloud.
I tried OpenSuse, Mandriva and Eeebuntu 4 (all worthy distros) but just kept running into issues that I really couldn't be bothered with. This machine needed to be up and running quickly and I knew Jolicloud would work.
I installed it using the Jolicloud Express Installer which meant booting into Windows Seven, going to the Jolicloud site and folowing the instructions. So it's a dual boot system but, since the install, Windows hasn't been fired up once. Not once. Which says a lot for the Linux experience where casual users are concerned.
Adam McDaniel's involvement in developing Jolicloud's kernel has ensured a smooth ride for the 1005P, which is exactly what was needed, and after installing Wine (needed to run the MS Snapshot Viewer) the only other thing to do was to use the desktop switcher thing to lose the NBR interface. Et voila! One happy bunny!

Now, as much as I love Jolicloud, the first thing I did with my 1005HA was to install Ubuntu 10.04. Windows 7 didn't even see daylight.
For me, the latest Ubuntu works as well as I would expect it to and it does exactly what I want it to.

But all this business with stuff actually working is a bit boring and I'm finding myself wishing I had something to fiddle with (oo-er missus!).
So, Meego 1.0 is on one SD card (I'm really hoping Meego gets an unofficial release on the N900) and Igelle on another.
To be honest, I don't expect to get much mileage out of either of them, so...
Let the fiddling and frustration commence!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Sunday, 21 March 2010

R.I.P My 900

Well, it's finally happened. My 900 has died. It looks like there's been a short circuit and it won't power up, charge or even attempt to light any of the LEDs.

We had some good times together and now it's spirit has gone to that great mainframe in the sky.
If anyone wants it's body for spares and you are based in the UK, get in touch.

Luckily I have my Nokia N900 to carry on the good work and, hopefully, by next week I'll have a 1005HA. :)

So my blog will carry on, business as usual, but with a new look at everything, starting with Ubuntu Lucid being installed when it arrives.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Ultra Easy WEP Cracking.

Please use the following advice with care and remember that it is illegal to crack WEP passwords without the owner's express permission.

Okay, so I've got my Eee PC 900 which is currently kitted out with Ubuntu 9.10.
And then I added Aircrack-ng:

sudo apt-get install aircrack-ng

And it was good.

But it got better when I downloaded a GUI for it from here, extracted it to my home folder and... I have no need of Backtrack!

I should also point out that this worked on my brother's 701 4GB and my other brother's 1005HA.

Um, and that's it. Short and to the point.