Once You Go Dual, You Never Go Back!

It’s true – Once you go dual, you’ll never go back! 🙂 I’ve been running with a dual monitor setup for a couple of months now and I can’t believe how I got by without a dual setup. In the picture below, I’ve got my 2nd monitor relegated as my TV monitor for my media-center PC.

New Dual Monitor Setup

Put Your Linksys Router on Steroids

This is something I have been meaning to do for many years now but I finally took advantage of the Christmas break to put my Linksys Wireless Router (WRT54G) on steroids. Since I was upgrading my Windows machine from XP to Vista and my Linux machine from Dapper to Edgy (Ubuntu), I figured why not break – I mean upgrade everything.

First a little background – Linksys had used Linux as the OS of its network products including the ubiquitous WRT54G router. When Cisco acquired Linksys in 2003, they were forced to open source all of the Linksys code because of the GPL. This led to people to create updated versions of the code for these Linksys routers and soon people started adding features to the $60.00 router there were available in network devices costing a lot more than $60.00. Linksys (and Cisco) continued to make these Linux routers for a while and then switched to another real-time UNIX variant, VxWorks which removed the requirement for Cisco to release their software into the open-source community.

So I’ve been thinking about upgrading my existing Linksys router to another with Gigabit ports and so upgrading and potentially turning it into a brick didn’t seem that big a deal. In fact, a part of me was hoping the upgrade wouldn’t work so that I would have the excuse to replace a perfectly working router with another with additional goodies. There are a lot of different software packages out there for your Linksys router but I decided to use DD-WRT because of the features. I wanted to add WPA/WPA2, QOS and the ability to boost the radio transmission power. The default Xmit is set to 28mw and I bumped up mine to 70mw as the Xmit site suggested and I noticed a HUGE improvement in my wireless performance. Before the upgrade, the wireless was really weak in the other end of our house but know I get perfect connection that really awesome throughput. In fact, the strength of the signal was so high, I had to switch to another channel to let me neighbor’s wireless routers and phones work. The enhanced security was also a nice bonus – The other features like the ability to run a wireless business don’t interest me but the ability to VPN in really does. I haven’t had a chance to use that yet as I typically use a SSH tunnel to setup a proxy to securely access resources when I am using a public network but it’s a nice feature to have if you need security or as just paranoid of open/free/public networks. (As you should be)

To me, the coolest thing was the ability to SSH into my wireless router and browses the directory structure. The DD-WRT upgrade turned my router into an SSH server and so I can SSH into it to check out the configuration or even SSH out from the router itself.

Here are some screenshots taken from the interface – Before you decide to upgrade your router, please remember that there are no warranties and you could end up with a $60 brick.

Sony UMPC – Beautiful, expensive paperweight?

Sony UMPCOver the weekend, my friend Charlie Lu was able to get his hands on the Sony and Samsung UMPC. After getting some hands-on time, here are some of Charlie’s comments on the UMPC’s:

  • Resolution is so high – 1028×600. The “hello from sf” message you see on the screen – I wrote it in 50-point font.
  • Having a keyboard (thumboard) makes a big difference, even when the keyboard isn’t that good (it’s hard to reach letters in the middle unless you have big hands – but if you have big hands, the keys may be too small). Still, typing an URL was easy enough.
  • It is a lot smaller than it seems in photos (the Samsung is just the opposite), and it’s tastefully constructed. (Samsung’s chrome plastic buttons don’t look too good in comparison..)
  • Unlike any other touchscreen I’ve used, writing/drawing on this screen renders perfect strokes. No weird, jagged lines. I was really impressed by this – you can make a sketch almost as good as you could on a piece of paper. It’s probably because of the high-density screen, and a good software (I can see that its smoothing effect is software-assisted, but it is really good.)
  • Like the Samsung, this one has been crossed out on my wish list. The keyboards is not good enough, and EDGE is very slow.

Samsung UMPC

New PC while I wait for Vista Tablet

I finally broke down and ordered a new PC to replace my aging DELL desktop and Pentium-M laptops. What I really want is a smoking dual-core Tablet PC that will run Vista but got tired of waiting and so I’ve decided to get a desktop that will let me do the heavy lifting while I wait for faster and better dual-core Tablet PC that will come when Vista ships.

Based on the crap that DELL includes, I think it’s going to take about a whole day with the Windows uninstaller, a registry cleaner like CCLeaner.

Here are the specs for my new machine

Dimension E510
Pentium® D Processor 940 with Dual Core Technology (3.2GHz, 800FSB), Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
Qty: 1
Unit Price: $x,xxxx.xx
Dell Dimension E510 Series Pentium® D Processor 940 with Dual Core Technology (3.2GHz, 800FSB) CZ940H [222-3193]
Memory SAVE $40! 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz 2GB5P [464-8218]
Keyboard Dell USB Keyboard EK [310-5324]
Monitor No Monitor N [320-4278]
Video Card 256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X600 SE HyperMemory X600SE [320-4382]
Hard Drive 250GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/ 8MB cache 250S [341-3280]
Floppy Drive and Media Reader 13 in 1 Media Card Reader MCR13 [341-2773]
Operating System Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005 WMCE [412-0688]
Mouse Dell® 2-button USB mouse SM [310-6264]
Network Card Integrated Intel® PRO 10/100 Ethernet IN [430-0412]
Modem No Modem Requested N [313-3137]
Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 6.0 AAREAD [412-0705]
CD or DVD Drive Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW w/dbl layer write capability DV16DVR [313-4129]
Sound Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio IS [313-2758]
Speakers No speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system) N [313-2198]
Office Software (not included in Windows XP) No Productivity Suite – Corel WordPerfect® word processor only COREL [412-0803]
Anti-Virus/Security Suite (Pre-installed) No Security Subscription NS2 [412-0850]
Hardware Warranty 3Yr Ltd Warr,At-Home Service,and HW Warr Support plus Nights and Weekends SQ3OS [412-0359]
Dial – Up Internet Access 6 Months of America Online Membership Included AOLDHS [412-0687]
Miscellaneous Award Winning Service and Support D51SAP [464-2044]
Operating System Re-Installation CD Genuine Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition re-installation CD MCEMED [310-7143]
TV Tuners and Remote Controls Dual TV Tuner + Remote Control – watch one channel while recording another TVT [320-4069]
Dell Digital Entertainment Starter Entertainment Pack -Basic digital Music, Photo, and Casual Gaming SEP [412-0865]

DELL, computer, tablet+pc, vista, windows, windows+vista, ccleaner, media+center, windows+xp

EVDO – How I love thee!

So I’m stuck here in Kansas City airport on my way to San Francisco and I not that upset as I have my trusty Sprint EVDO card with me and I’m getting an average of 1 MB download speed. Who needs WiFi when EVDO gives you all the bandwidth you need and it’s almost everywhere. I have been getting 1 MB from my Sprint card consistently and the connection seems as reliable if not more so than the standard 802.11x connections I typically use when I travel. EVDO rocks! 🙂

Avvenu Does Rocks – Sharing your data made easy

I first read about Avvenu on Russell Beattie’s blog a couple of months ago.  In his blog entry, Russell looks at Orb, SoonR and Avvenu for remote-access services and ends up selecting Avvenu. Read his blog for more details on how he ends up picking Avvenu, which he describes as the easiest, simplest, yet most useful of all the services.  Since I’ve had mixed results with a combination of remote-desktop, VNC, CVS and other solutions, I decided to give Avvenu a shot. 

Avvenu is a free service that allows you to remotely access your home or office PC or as many computers as you wish from any other computer or mobile phone.  In addition to getting to your machine(s), you can also easily share files and photos with other people.  To enable sharing, you install the Avvenu client on your machine and it sits in the task-tray and manages connections for uploads or download.  Access to your computer is protected by SSL and a username/password combination.  You can also selectively share out one file or one folder or your whole computer to anyone.  You control who gets access and for how long. Your guests see exactly what you have shared and nothing else. The people with whom you share don’t need the Avvenu client nor do they need to sign up for the Avvenu service – To view or download the file(s) you have authorized as shares for them, the person only clicks on the link sent by e-mail.

One of the nice features of Avvenu is the use of HTTPS as the transport protocol.  This makes is easy to tunnel through routers, firewalls and internal NATing schemes.   Here are some screenshots of Avvenu in action on my machine:


The screenshot above shows off the ‘homepage’ for my machine and displays all the drives that are available to me remotely, when I’m logged in as me.


This screenshot shows me a file I am about to download when I’ve drilled into my drive.

If you need to access your machine remotely, you cannot go wrong with Avvenue.  I’ve been using it for the past 2 months now and I don’t what I would do without it at this point.  Besides a few simple tests, I haven’t played with the mobile side of Avvenu but that’s another awesome feature set that opens up new avenues (pun intended ;)) for being productive remotely.

Avvenu, SoonR, Orb, Russell+Beattie, file+sharing, remote+access, sharing, https, mobile

I want the Broadband EVDO Router

I was just reading Scoble’s blog entry that talks about EVDO and his experiences and one of the entries in the comment caught my eye. David Rupp pointed out the Kyocera KR1 Broadband EVDO Router that has built In WiFi and basically rebroadcasts EVDO over WiFi (using 802.11g). In addition, it offers 4 10/100 Ethernet ports and works with a ton of EVDO cards. This is awesome and I can’t wait for these devices and EVDO services to become mainstream

I have been testing EVDO services with Cingular and Sprint using my phone (Bluetooth DUN) and I am getting an average of 300k-400k which is not bad, but it would be nice to keep the phone and have 1MB + bandwidth that the dedicated EVDO cards offer. Best of both worlds.

EVDO, spring, cingular, wifi, bluetooth, evdo+router, kyocera, scoble