See you in Mar del Plata

Jun 3, 2008 / 0 comments

I'm going to Debconf8

I'd been putting off booking flights for Debconf8 while the house wasn't sold, as I just couldn't justify the money when I wasn't sure what my outgoings would be like. However today I finally got round to booking something, figuring that I either needed to do so now or the prices would go up far too much for me to be able to. My flights are as follows:

DUB->MAD 2008-08-07 18:25 -> 2008-08-07 21:50
MAD->EZE 2008-08-08 01:25 -> 2008-08-08 08:40

EZE->MAD 2008-08-17 21:25 -> 2008-08-18 14:30
MAD->DUB 2008-08-18 16:10 -> 2008-08-18 17:35

This does mean I'm arriving a day early, but it halved the cost of the flights and hopefully paying for an extra night won't cost that much...

Finally rid of the millstone

Jun 2, 2008 / 0 comments

Just before the New Year we accepted an offer on our house in Norwich, which had been up for sale since September. It was a bit lower than we'd hoped for, but the buyer was an investor and so we hoped it would be quick and not involve too much hassle.

How wrong we were. We finally completed on Friday, with the money hitting our account today (thanks to the Ulster Bank being a bit shit about telling our solicitor how much was outstanding on the mortgage). I'd become convinced that it was going to fall through, that we wouldn't be able to find a new buyer and that we were going to end up having to rent out a house that it wasn't convenient for us to check up on (due to the radioactive body of water between us and it). So I am somewhat relieved to finally be rid of it.


May 30, 2008 / 0 comments

I've been asked about the v3 DG834G in the past (mine is a v2) and always answered that I don't know anything about it. Earlier this week Ben asked me about it and let me have a login to his. He also took pictures, which are on the OpenWRT DG834G page.

Some comments, based on this:

  • The ADAM2 bootloader is different. Looking at the output of strings on it I can't see the checksum message seen in the v2 version. I also can't see the FTP server strings I'd expect. However the default config appears to specify an IP of so it might be worth nmaping that when the router is coming up and seeing if anything is open.
  • The wireless card is no longer on a mini PCI card. I assume it's still connected electrically the same way, but I guess this is cheaper for Netgear to manufacture.
  • The CPU is slightly different, a TNETD7200ZDW instead of a TNETD7301GDU. No idea if this makes any major difference.
  • The board appears to have JTAG and serial port headers easily accessible. And possibly even JTAG for the wifi.

I think it should be easy enough to get OpenWRT up and running on this (possibly someone has even done so already); someone just needs to hook up a serial console and do some prodding.

USB/Serial converters

May 21, 2008 / 0 comments

My last laptop had a serial port, but only when it was inserted into its bulking docking station. My laptop of the past 2.5 years doesn't have one. I used to spend a lot of time in datacenters wanting to configure devices over a serial console, so as a result I've been using USB to serial converters for some time. And I've never really been that happy with them.

My first device was a Belkin, using the belkin_sa driver under Linux. It was free (always a plus) and was fine for basic 9600 8N1, but didn't work with my eTrex GPS or my smartcard reader. I just assumed they were picky about what they wanted to talk to - I didn't need to use them often with my laptop and my desktop has plenty of serial ports thanks to a 4 port Moxa card.

I then bought a cypress_m8 device, as Simon had one and claimed to be happy with it. While again it was mostly ok for datacentre usage it didn't work with the GPS/smartcard reader. Also I'd sometimes see dropped characters especially when driving it at 115,200.

I just assumed this was all a limitation of the devices; I'd have said it was the fact they were cheap and nasty but I know the retail price of the Belkin wasn't that cheap. I asked around on IRC and people said they'd had no issues with pl2303 based devices. So I bought one from DealExtreme for a bargain price, figuring it was worth a try. And it was. It works with my smartcard reader and my GPS. It doesn't drop characters anywhere near as readily, even at high speeds. And it was cheap as chips. I've seen others complain about the pl2303, but it's definitely the best of the 3 USB to serial chipsets I've tried.

Best bluetooth GPS for walking?

May 18, 2008 / 0 comments

Dear Lazyweb,

What is currently the best GPS chipset suitable for walking? Something I can pair up with my E70 to get tracks for importing to OpenStreetMap is the sort of thing I'm looking for. I can find various reviews that suggest the SirfStar III is best for the low speeds associated with walking, but they're all at least a year old. Has nothing better come along since? What about the SkyTraq Venus 5?

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