Archive for September, 2006

No gmail, no problem

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Something strange happened tonight. My gmail account had no messages in it for a change. I’ve been steadfastly using gmail for various emailing for quite a while now, but tonight, there’s no mail in there and everything else has been backed up seperately.

Although I really quite like a number of the Google services, I’ve reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable using a Google Account to track my life. I dislike hosting any email with a third party but I tollerated gmail – because it’s Google, right? Yet still, I’ve realized that the only email solution I feel comfortable with is one I run myself – and now I think I’ve almost got the reliability I need too.


BookMooch – Trade your unwanted books!

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

So, I figured I should do my bit to help publicize John’s latest endeavor. You might have heard of Magnatune (if not, go check it out, Creative Commons licensed music rocks!) but you probably haven’t heard of BookMooch (yet). This is doing for book reading what magnatune has done for music listening, well, as closely as possible.

I first heard about the concept quite a while before it really happened – and I’m so glad it’s been well received so far. Effectively, BookMooch allows you to trade your unwanted books for tokens that allow you to have other books. There’s a fairness system to handle differences in international postage and a lot of people have signed up already. Including me. I’ve not got any books on offer at the moment because I’m about to ship stuff to the States – if I get time, I’ll try to offload a few unwanted ones via BM before I leave to save on shipping.


Portrait Photos

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Photo: High-Resolution Portrait Photos taken by John Palmer.

So, I need some photos taken for one of the writing projects I’m working on. They needed a high resolution Black & White portrait, and I decided I might as well get some stock photos to use. So I swung by a local studio yesterday and had these taken.


Fun with telemarketeers – “The Religious Zealot”

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

So, I’ve been trying to think of more interesting ways to get rid of telemarketeers. The number here is on the Caller Preference Service and a bunch of other “don’t bother” lists, but they still call from time to time with fantastic offers I just shouldn’t miss…

caller: Hello, Mr. Masters!
< bit of questioning from me to find out if it's a legit. call >
caller: Are you currently using a mobile phone?
me: yeah.
caller: Which network are you with?
me: The GOD network.
caller: And are you on pay as you go or contract?
me: Neither.
caller: So how much do you pay per month?
me: Nothing. It's paid for through devine intervention.
caller: Uh, I see, that's great.

Give it a go! Be creative!


The world’s worst embedded Linux device

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

Door rings, it’s the mailman to deliver a package I missed the other day and rescheduled. I ordered the D-Link DSL-G604T ADSL router and a Linksys WRT54GL. Both of these are (intentionally) running on Embedded Linux environments because I want to manage them remotely. They’re going to be at my parent’s place, I’ll be overseas.

What I want to do is establish an ADSL connection, run some WiFi and forward a couple of ports (temporarily) into an internal machine. Nothing that should be even remotely tricky on a Linux system and in fact is not. Now, I’m not going to write about the Linksys box at this point because I know for a fact that they run just great and I’m not planning to use the vendor firmware on it anyway. However, I will (for the sake of humanity) write a little about the shockingly appaling D-Link DSL-G604T that I received in the mail this morning.

I’ve managed to find the world’s worst ever Embedded Linux device! This little fucker is apparently based on some MVL variant and the underlying Linux is actually just fine – I mean, how could you honestly screw up busybox and iptables? Even D-Link didn’t manage to do that. No, logging in on the console is the only nice thing about it. Let’s see… the web interface is very simplistic, filled with (minor), annoying bugs and even the Advanced settings are trashy. Adding Port Forwarding rules shows them in the web interface, but iptables on the device (via the undocumented telnet) confirms that they don’t actually setup the rules right. Various fora suggest all kinds of fixes (and document other classical bugs) but none work. It’s just badly done.

I could just work around D-Link’s crappy product and script the device startup, but for the fact that there’s no free space on the flash by default and I’d have to remotely reconfigure it on every reset. That’s not a problem – I mean, you can’t assume that those buying your product will want to hack it in this way. BUT they could supply it in a way that meant it worked in the first place. I decided to look for a firmware upgrade. I used the nasty windows exe installer directly after several attempts at using the web interface – and that’s about the point when the device bricked itself. No amount of factory reset button usage is bringing this thing back from the dead at this point.

So, I’ve lost a few hours, I’ve got a brick. I’m going to return it, right? Actually no. I’ve decided I’m going to help out on the OpenWRT firmware and take this fucker apart/reflash it by hand. If D-Link won’t produce a device that works, then the least we can do is to provide an alternative – and hopefully kick some idiots into trying a little harder next time. Not impressed. Meanwhile, please don’t buy this product.