Epic IPv6/DG834G fail

Feb 19, 2008 / 0 comments

Since I've moved to Castlerock I've started using my DG834G to provide my ADSL again, as it was quick to setup and easily found in all the boxes. Up until now I've just been using it with the normal Netgear firmware, but I'm getting to the point where enough of the rest of the house is sorted that I want to think about the network layout. Part of that is enabling IPv6 (I'm with an Entanet reseller these days, and Enta claim to do IPv6), part of it is not bridging the wireless and wired networks (I'd like to be able to trust the wired one a bit more) and part of it is just being able to run useful bits on the router itself.

Anyway. I had built up an OpenWRT SVN image last month and tonight I decided was the time to try it, having been putting it off for ages. Epic fail. Managed to get the backup of the Netgear image done fine, eventually got the new image on there, waited and waited and no joy. Wouldn't even ping on the LAN side. Further investigation showed that it would ping for a few seconds when first power cycled and then die. So I had to find my serial console level shifter so I could have a look. All signs point to it failing when loading the wireless or ADSL firmware blobs. Bah.

I spent a while trying to get the old firmware back on it; ADAM2 seems really unhappy if it receives unexpected traffic (like, say, DNS requests because my network thinks the router is the DNS server/gateway) while you're ftping an MTD image. I got there, but decided I'd try out my WGT634U setup again, which is what I used in Norwich. Found the frog, fired up the router, changed my old Black Cat details to the new Enta ones and crossed my fingers. At first all appeared well (well, except for no IPv6 PPP; must email Enta to see if they need to tweak settings at their end for my username), but after a while it became apparent that the ADSL connection was flakey; it was resyncing every couple of minutes. Bum. It might just be the frog; I do have another one somewhere, but I ended up just falling back to the DG834G with the stock Netgear firmware ie exactly where I started this evening. I've pulled latest OpenWRT SVN and I see a few kernel/VLYNQ patches regarding AR7, so I shall try another build and see what happens.

Epic fail. I shouldn't play with networking on a school night.

Sennheiser PXC 250 headphones

Feb 4, 2008 / 0 comments

I was bought a pair of these for Christmas. For the past few years I've been using a pair of Hitachi TMP028s - cheap clip on headphones that I've found far better than the popular ear bud style, but nothing special. The Sennheisers are much better again. They have a neat little padded cup that means they make a good fit with your ears, the headband is reasonably adjustable (I've had issues with my glasses with other headphones) and they come with a carry case and fold flat which means throwing them in my bag for my train commute much easier. All in all I've been very impressed in my use over the past month. And then today I finally put some batteries in to power the noise cancellation function. Wow. Much more effective than I expected. I was able to knock the volume on my iAudio down a fair bit and still hear the music better than usual. The noise of the train was still present, but reduced significantly to the point where it wasn't an issue at all. Definitely recommended.

Inaugural all-Island Conference on Free and Open Source Software, Belfast

Feb 3, 2008 / 0 comments

My. That's a mouthful of a title. I went to this event on Friday, which was run by OpenIsland. I don't really think I was the target audience; I'm already a convert and aware of the opportunities which Free Software offers. However, there were a few bits of interest to me.

Brian Doran, director of the Southern Regional College talked about including discussion of Open Source in their computer related courses. He didn't commit to more use in the colleges' IT infrastructure (and indeed Netcraft reports the website as being hosted by a Win2k3/IIS combo), but it's still a significant step forward IMO - rather than just being spoon fed MS based product people will hopefully be encouraged to think about the options available and evaluate them on their merits. We'll see if it pans out in practice.

Also notable was Reg Empey, NI Minister for Employment and Learning, giving a speech involving Open Source. It got hijacked into discussion about how they were going to invest in higher education in NI and fund more PHDs in a targeted manor, but I still think the fact that a member of the NI Assembly got up and used the words Open Source (or possibly Free and Open Source Software; I can't remember exactly which speaker used that once a sentence) is quite incredible. Whether or not he's fully aware of it, someone on his staff must have done some research, and decided that it was something government was prepared to think about, or at the very least not boycott.

During the day I realised that I'm prejudiced towards Free Software. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. I will, in general, accept slightly less functionality as long as the Free option fulfils my primary needs. And I've got used to hanging around with people who also work this way, or at the very least consider Free Software on a level playing field with proprietary stuff. I was reminded that a lot of people work the other way; either they're not aware of the Free alternatives, or they view them with a natural suspicion. So it was really good to see people standing up and talking about how they'd built their businesses on Free Software, and even better, about how they were pushing back upstream fixes/features they'd needed as part of their business. I don't know if anyone in the audience was converted, but it's certainly the sort of thing I like to see - it's important to appreciate that as well as Free Software being a great resource, it's also often beneficial to share any changes you make from a business point of view, as it tends to make things easier for you in the long run.

Hopefully the conference did some good in terms of making people aware of Free Software (well, mostly Open Source was talked about, but both got mentioned). I wasn't convinced that there was a need, but having talked to various people I think it's just that I have got used to being surrounded by converts and perhaps lost sight of the fact that there are still plenty of people out there who aren't yet giving Free Software a chance. There are plans for this to be an annual event, so I look forward to the next one (and I think there will be various more targeted meetings over the next year too; I know there was considerable interest in covering the use of Free Software in health).

Dirty Sea Monkeys

Jan 31, 2008 / 0 comments

I am pleased to discover that my Sea Monkeys are not the only dirty buggers having a threesome.

(We have office sea monkeys. They freak out my coworkers.)

Kickstarting my body for the week

Jan 28, 2008 / 0 comments

My body hates Mondays. Over the weekend I get up at 9am or later. My coffee consumption is also minimal. This morning I was up at the usual 5:30am and was on my 4th cup of coffee before 10am. And we're not talking weak coffee - my cow orkers have been known to pour the pot out if it doesn't meet with their approval for strength. This thunking between the weekend and my weekday routine means that Mondays are sort of a blur for me. Thankfully I seem to fall into more of a rhythm by Tuesday.

(This post is a substitute for any technical content. I'll try to think of some soonish.)

subscribe via RSS