NSLU2 wouldn’t boot on new network

September 5, 2014

When I got a new router, the slug wouldn’t show up on the network. It seemed to boot OK occasionally, but would never appear as an attached device and I couldn’t reach it at all. A bit of investigation revealed that as it has a fixed IP address (192.168.0.9), and the new router DHCP address range was 192.168.1.XXX, it would never be able to register on the network! Apparently you can reset the slug’s IP address to the default (192.168.1.77) by holding in the reset button until the unit beeps once, but that didn’t work for me. Plugging the slug back into my old router proved that it was still able to boot, but although I could now access it, I couldn’t change the fixed IP address – I kept getting an “Error: fail to get disk information” message whenever I tried to change anything. I eventually solved this by booting the slug with no disks attached. I was then able to change from fixed IP to DHCP; then, connected the slug to my new router, and this time it booted and showed up on the new network! It now had the default IP of 192.168.1.77, and I was able to log in and revert it to fixed IP with this new address. Finally, rebooted with the drives connected and it was back up and running!

Echofon: undoing the mess

July 6, 2011

I’ve been a fan of the Firefox addon Echofon for years now, for me it’s the only way to use twitter. I find it invaluable, and also use the companion iPhone app. So I was somewhat dismayed when naan studio released version 2.0, which totally ruined the main things that made Echofon so usable for me.

Echofon 2.0+ no longer displays a count of unread tweets in the status bar. The icon is just grey if there are none, or blue if there are any. How many? You have no idea unless you click on it. I treat my tweets a bit like email, texts, or RSS feeds – I like to know how many I have to catch up on, so I hate this. I hate it so much, it would give me sufficient cause to uninstall Echofon immediately. But it wasn’t the only thing they managed to screw up.

The window is now absolutely terrible at keeping up with your unread tweets, too! They tried to implement a new system – kind of like the “scroll down/click to load more messages” functionality that is becoming increasingly common on the web. But here, it doesn’t work properly. It keeps skipping back and forth in the timeline, and jumping you back up to the top if a new tweet comes in. This means you hardly ever get to catch up on a long backlog of unread tweets.

I was all set to give Echofon the boot, until I realised I might be able to revert back to an older version… and after some finagling, I did indeed manage just that! There are a few caveats though, I have had to jump through some hoops to get it (and keep it) working, and it’s got to the point where I thought it might be worthwhile writing it all down. It might be useful to someone else, or I might forget how to do it myself! :-p

First things first: the last pre-2.0 version of Echofon that was released was 1.9.7.4. For some reason, it was never put up for download from the Firefox addons page, or from naan studios’ own site; fortunately, you can get it here.

Version 1.9.7.4 supports Firefox 4. Unfortunately, every time you start Firefox, it’s going to want to update Echofon – so we need to turn off checking for updates. I spent ages looking for how to do this, and none of the methods I found worked – turns out they were for Firefox 3.x, and Firefox 4.x has made things much easier! Just go to Tools > Add-ons > Extensions, right-click on Echofon 1.9.7.4, and select Show More Information. Down where it says Automatic Updates, set them to Off. Firefox will now no longer bug you about updating to the rubbish 2.0+ version!

Of course, now we’re on Firefox 5.x (or even 6.x) now, and unfortunately 1.9.7.4 doesn’t work with anything post 4.x…. Or at least, it doesn’t without some further fiddling!

The first thing I did was to simply change the maximum version of Firefox that it would run with manually. (Note that I don’t actually know if this step is still required; the next step might take care of it, so you might want to skip this bit and only come back if you need to.) Open the Echofon folder inside your Firefox profile folder (this can usually be found in Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\extensions\twitternotifier@naan.net). In there you should find a file called install.rdf. Open that using Wordpad, and look for the string 4.0.*. Change that from 4.0.* to 5.0.* and Echofon will run in Firefox 5!

Unfortunately, it will run, but it won’t work in Firefox 5. However, there is a further modification we can carry out. By borrowing some files from the latest, rubbish version of Echofon, we can make it work! I found out about this method by trawling through the review section of the Echofon addon page; a guy called Ramoks posted a link to this page. It has instructions in Russian and English; I’m going to replicate the instructions here, just in case that page goes walkabout, but credit for the procedure should not go to me!

1. Setup Echofon 1.9.7.4 (you should have already done this)
2. Download the latest version of Echofon from here (right-click on the download link and choose “Save link as…” to avoid Firefox trying to install it!)
3. Unpack the file you just downloaded using a program such as WinRAR, 7-zip or WinZip
4. Go to the folder \echofon_for_twitter-2.0.8-fx\platform\WINNT
5. Copy folders “5” and “6”
6. Paste these folders in the folder Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\extensions\twitternotifier@naan.net\platform\WINNT
7. In the folder twitternotifier@naan.net find the file “chrome.manifest” and edit it with Wordpad. Before the lines beginning “locale twitternotifier ar…” add the text:

# Firefox 5
binary-component platform/WINNT/5/echofon.dll ABI=WINNT_x86-msvc appversion>=5.0
# Firefox 6
binary-component platform/WINNT/6/echofon.dll ABI=WINNT_x86-msvc appversion>=6.0a2

8. Save the file. Restart Firefox.

…and that should be you up and running with a non-ruined version of Echofon! Enjoy!

EDIT: Actually, not quite. I’ve found it works for reading tweets only, it won’t post my tweets. However, it does seem that naan studio have finally added unread count back in Echofon 2.1, so maybe I can go back to using the latest version and the above info becomes redundant… Here’s hoping!

Fixing the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death

March 12, 2010

Before Christmas I picked up a cheap Xbox 360 with a broken DVD drive. I fixed that, felt pretty chuffed with myself, stuffed it down the side of my telly and enjoyed Xbox Live. Turns out that down the side of my TV stand isn’t a great place for an old 360 to live. It must have been getting pretty hot and stuffy down there, because after a couple of months it suddenly started freezing up during gameplay. I figured it wouldn’t last much longer, and I was right – the dreaded RRoD showed up few days later, and it was a terminal case too.

Since it had kissed its warranty goodbye before I even owned it, the only option was to repair it myself. I knew a fair bit about X-clamp replacement already, so set about reading up on the best method. I was advised to perform the “Ultimate Hybrid fix” by Nick, an extremely helpful guy who also provided me with the newer GPU heatsink with the heatpipe extension, and much invaluable advice – thanks Nick! The hybrid fix is more work than the usual fix most people tend to do, but even a quick read through the tutorial was enough to convince me that the extra effort would be worth it. The principles behind it are sound and it has much better chance of working first time and lasting for longer, so I drilled the case and found myself the bits and pieces I would need.

For anyone else in the UK looking to find the right bolts and washers easily, I found that Screwfix sell socket button head screws that are much much better value than buying from B&Q – the only problem is that they are pan head and won’t sit flush on the back of the chassis without M5 spring washers, which neither Screwfix nor B&Q sell, so I had to head to eBay for those. Screwfix do sell flat M5 washers as well, 59p for 100! The quality is not great in that quite lot of them had ridges or burrs, so you have to inspect each one to make sure it’s OK to use. You’ll easily find the 42 you need in bag of 100 though. I won’t go into detail on the fix itself – there’s plenty of detail out there already, and nothing I can really add that’s helpful other than one tip: the tutorial says to attach the CPU heatsink first; I’d suggest the opposite. The GPU heatsink is harder to get on, and having the CPU one on already only makes it harder. There’s good chance of losing a few washers while trying to get the bolts engaged in the GPU heatsink. As long as they’re only the ones above the motherboard it’s not too big a disaster, but if one of the bolts should slip out far enough for the washers underneath to fall out… well let’s just say there will be swearing, and you’ll have to disassemble the whole lot and start again! So do the GPU first. The CPU heatsink goes on much more easily. I was wondering whether I’d have to fiddle with the tightness of the bolts to get it working, but I needn’t have worried – my repaired 360 fired up first time! To say was pleased would be an understatement. (Don’t listen to any guides that would have you overheat the GPU by the way – if this method actually got it hot enough to melt the solder connections it would have fried the GPU! It’s an old wive’s tale that doing this helps.)

Playtesting showed that the fix had definitely worked – my 360 was doing just fine. I did, however, notice just how hot it got during use. I had already decided I wasn’t going to put it back in its previous home unless I could do something to drastically improve the ventilation, but this just highlighted how important that was. I had ordered some Talismoon replacement fans, and while I was prepping the motherboard for its repair I had soldered a molex connector to the underside of the power supply connector. This gave me easy access to 12V and also 5V standby above the board. I also got lucky and found an old heatsink fan which would sit just nicely on the GPU heatpipe extension, along with an assortment of molex adapters to connect it all up.

I connected the Talismoon fans to 12V so they would run at full speed all the time, and the little heatsink fan to 5V standby voltage so it would always be on whenever the power supply was switched on at the mains. This is particularly useful for one main reason: the instant you switch a 360 off, the airflow over the heatsinks stops. This means that the heat suddenly has nowhere to go, and if you’ve been working the processors hard you could actually get a short-lived temperature increase just after switching the 360 off! As it is thermal cycling which causes the RRoD, this temperature spiking is a really bad thing. With the little 5V fan providing some airflow even after the 360 is powered down (I can feel it coming through the rear fan vents), this risk is greatly reduced.

The one thing I will say is that running the Talismoon fans at 12V is loud. However, it is also cool – much cooler than I had expected, to be honest! So I think I’ll stick with 12V for now, until I’ve established whether I really notice the extra noise or not.

Hopefully, my RRoD repair will stand the test of time – I’ll post updates so people can see how long it lasts. One thing people always want to know is whether any fix can be “permanent” – I don’t think so myself, but it’s nice to know whether you can expect to have extended the life of your console by weeks, months or (hopefully) years!

UPDATE: started freezing during gameplay again on the 26th March😦

Hopefully tightening the bolts might get it working again… we’ll see!

Creating Your Own Buuf2 iPhone Icons

November 30, 2009

Following on from my post on customising the iPhone Buuf2 theme, I thought it was about time somebody wrote up some instructions on how to create new icons from Mattahan (Paul Davey)’s original desktop icons. Currently, a few Buuf2 “super-users” with the right knowledge and skills are fulfilling many people’s icon requests; if more people knew how to do it, we could spread the load quite a bit, and build up a huge library of icons to cover almost every need.

It took me quite a while (and plenty of assistance!) to figure out how to perform even elementary icon editing, so I figured maybe I should step up to the mark and write down my learnings to help others. So, here goes!

First of all, you need to decide which software you’re going to use. The two best options are Photoshop and GIMP. Photoshop is great, but GIMP is free, and what I use, so my information is going to be centered around GIMP – however, the two programs are functionally very similar, so the principles apply to both. (If you’re using Photoshop, however, you will need the .ico plugin – GIMP opens .ico files just fine on its own.)

The second thing you will need are the source files to work from. Mattahan posted most of these on Deviantart, however some are not available directly from there in the correct format; here are some links you will find useful:

Buuf: note that you cannot use these icons in .png form, you HAVE to convert them to .ico form before you can work with them. There is a converter utility in the archive; if that doesn’t work for you, one of us can probably email you the .ico packs.

SuperBuuf already in png form, ready to work with!

Buuf Deuce in png form.

Buuf Halloween: png’s again.

Right, now that you have the source files, time to try converting one for the iPhone! Pick an icon that you want to use, and open it in GIMP. (If it’s an .ico file, you will see a confusing array of image sizes. Simply select the largest one in the layers dialog, then go to Edit > Copy. Now, Choose File > New; in the Advanced Options section, choose Fill with: Transparency; the image size should be the same as the layer you just copied. Click OK. Now, in your new window, click Edit > Paste.)

We need to resize the icon to 60 x 60 to work on the iPhone’s springboard. So, go to Image > Scale Image. Set the size to 60 x 60 pixels, and click Scale. Now, File > Save As (make sure you save it as a .png). You may get a dialog saying that the PNG format can’t handle layers; select Merge visible layers and Export. Bingo, you have produced a suitable icon for Buuf2 on the iPhone!

Now, that’s simply how to re-size an existing icon. If you want to get creative and try editing or combining the source icons to create new ones, there are many different tools to get to grips with. Here are some of the useful ones that I’ve learned a little bit about.

Open up your first source image. Don’t resize it yet; it’s best to work at a large scale, then scale it down to 60 x 60 when you’re done; hides a lot of errors that way! The eraser, brush and pencil tools are handy for making little edits; I haven’t learned to get to grips with anything complex like the clone tool, blur or smudge yet!

Now, open the next source icon that you want to combine with the first. Choose Edit > Copy, go back to your first icon, and Edit > Paste. You now have your second icon as a new layer. You can use the Move and Scale tools to move it around; hold Ctrl while scaling to lock the aspect ratio. When you save it, do the merge visible layers thing again.

Another trick you can do is to change the opacity of the pasted layer, using the slider in the layers dialog; I find this is useful when combining pictures with the TV icon, about 75% opacity makes it look like the picture is on the TV.

Another useful trick is changing the colour of an existing icon. There’s a good tutorial on how to do that here.

Sometimes you might want to add a bit of shading around the base of your icon; here’s a good tutorial on drop shadows.

Well, that’s about all I can recall for the time being; I hope it helped someone get started on the road to becoming a proficient icon editor!

iPhone Tethering on Windows – WITHOUT iTunes

October 28, 2009

I’d never really been that interested in tethering until very recently, when I realised it would be quite handy when I’m away from home on business. So, I decided to try and set it up.

First off, as I’m jailbroken, I thought getting an app from Cydia might be the most straightforward route. I investigated MyWi, which sounded ideal, but it requires the RockApp, and I don’t want that anywhere near my iPhone. Next, I thought PDANet would do the trick – and it probably would have done, had my iPhone established a proper ad-hoc wireless connection with my laptop. Unfortunately, I have limited connectivity (it works for SSH, but not for anything else) and that was a no-go. USB connection would have worked… except I neglected to bring my USB cable with me. Nothing but fail, then.

The next time I was away from home, I decided I would give the native tethering a shot. I’m currently still on firmware 3.0, so the mobile configs method at help.benm.at enabled the tethering option on my iPhone. Plugging it into my laptop, however, did nothing but bring up the photo wizard – no sign of any network connectivity on the laptop. A bit of further research uncovered that, for USB tethering on Windows, iTunes must be installed. What? I just want to plug my iPhone in and have it work, thanks! I don’t want to install a 70MB+ program that I’ll never use on the laptop just to enable tethering! Plus, the whole point of needing to tether is that I don’t have the internet on the laptop – so how am I supposed to download iTunes?

Fortunately, a bit more research on my iPhone turned up some very handy information on the Whirlpool forums. It seems that some clever chaps had worked out they could extract the necessary iPhone drivers from the iTunes installation package, and only install those! The file was still 15MB, but that didn’t take too long to download on my iPhone. I SSH’d it over to the laptop, installed it, and (after sorting out a few peculiar networking issues particular to my laptop) bingo! Tethering worked!😀

Here’s a direct link to the installation file, just in case the thread on Whirlpool disappears.

Another way I could have achieved tethering was via Bluetooth – that doesn’t require any drivers at all on the laptop. However, I had forgotten my Bluetooth adapter as well.

’04 Honda Civic Dashboard Vent Mount

August 24, 2009

I have had my iPhone pretty well integrated with my OEM stereo ever since my first-gen model. However, I’ve only ever had it located down low in the central console, which makes it a bit tricky to operate whilst driving (glance, poke; glance, poke; glance, poke – and if you’re lucky the third poke did what you actually wanted to do). I had heard a lot about Brodit car mounts, and how they were pretty much the best way of mounting gadgets in your vehicle. However, none of the mounting options available for my model and year were really any better than what I already had – the best I could do was to put the phone alongside the gearstick. This wasn’t really worthwhile, so I stuck with my Belkin Tunedok holder.

However, when I got my 3GS and TomTom was announced, I renewed my interest. If I could only mount the iPhone high enough, I could use it for everything – music, calls, and navigation! I considered a windscreen suction mount, but I always worry about the security concerns with suction cup marks left on the glass, not to mention the fact that my satnav mount frequently drops off onto the dashboard (enraging my wife). So I applied a bit more effort into finding out if there was any way I could fit a Brodit mount higher on my dash.

After trawling the internet, I found that there were two companies offering brackets that fitted into the central driver’s side air vent. This was about the best mounting height I could hope for, and both manufacturers responded to email enquiries positively, saying they were sure the bracket would fit my model year Civic.

The first mount I found was from dashmount.co.uk. They confirmed via email that they were “100% certain” it would fit my vehicle, and quoted me £18 + P&P for the bracket.

The second mount was a Scorpion product, which after some investigation I found out was sold by the Chameleon Group. Again, they were very helpful via email, advising that if my car was an early ’04 model the bracket would fit, but if it was late ’04 it would have a newer style dash and would not fit. Their bracket was sold direct on eBay (seems to be quite common for manufacturers these days) for only £14 delivered, so seeing as my car is an ’04 and not ’54 reg, I decided to take the chance and ordered the second bracket. (I also had my doubts as to whether Dashmount’s 100% certainty would hold much water, given that the two brackets appeared to be all but identical.)

The bracket arrived the very next day – that’s really very impressive, I never expected a product purchased on eBay to turn up so soon! I’m generally pretty impatient with new gadgets, so I installed the bracket the same night. Here are some photos of the process, to aid anyone else trying to achieve the same as me (I had real trouble finding any info, hence this post!).

First, here is my dash, just to compare it with your own. My car is an ’04 reg 1.4si Civic.

The dash of my '04 Honda Civic

The dash of my '04 Honda Civic

Second, here is a picture of the bracket I purchased. The large hole goes over the air vent spindle, and the smaller hole is for a countersunk self-tapping screw for added stability of the installation.

The vent mount bracket

The vent mount bracket

Third, here I am trying to prise the air vent out of the dash… I really should have put some masking tape on the dash to protect it before this step, as quite a lot of force was actually required to get it out, but luckily no cosmetic damage occurred.

Prising out the air vent

Prising out the air vent

Now, here is a picture of inside the air vent. The hole is where the air vent spindle locates, and see the triangular section to the rear of that? The triangular cutout on the bracket is supposed to fit right on there, for a nicely braced, secure mounting position once the vent pops back in.

Inside the air vent

Inside the air vent

Supposed to. On trying the bracket in place, it became pretty clear that I must have the late ’04 style dash after all :o( The bracket just didn’t quite fit. The side wall of the vent in my dash is slightly curved, and the bracket is flat. No problem, I’ll bend it a little. Except that it still wasn’t right – the prongs at the rear weren’t the right profile, and the bracket wouldn’t line up with the hole for the vent spindle.

However, I wasn’t going to let this slight setback stop me. The metal of the bracket had already proved itself amenable to bending and forming, so I took a hacksaw to it and removed the offending prongs that were preventing aligning the bracket with the hole. Obviously there was no going back at this point! Fortunately, after filing down any sharp edges, I found that the bracket could now be positioned over the spindle hole. With the prongs removed there was now no support at the rear of the bracket, so I was definitely going to need to put the optional screw in to keep it firmly in place. And so, here is a pic of the bracket mounted in the vent:

The modified bracket in position

The modified bracket in position

You can see how I cut off the prongs, and installed the screw. (And look, I had put masking tape on by this point ;o) ) At this point I was still a bit concerned that the vent wouldn’t fit back in with the bracket in place, but I needn’t have worried – it popped back in surprisingly easily. So, here are a couple of pics of it installed:

Finished! I like the way it doesn't obstruct air flow from the vent

Finished! I like the way it doesn't obstruct air flow from the vent

A side view

A side view

Now all I need to do is attach the Brodit iPhone mount to the bracket. I had decided that I didn’t want to leave the cradle permanently in place – for one thing I didn’t want to advertise the fact that expensive gadgetry was used in the car, and for another, I didn’t want an empty phone holder staring my wife in the face every time she drove the car (especially since she’s the main driver). Brodit have a solution for this, which they call Move Clips. This would also have the advantage that I could clip another device to the mount, if required. However, their usual product is mounted to the bracket with adhesive, which didn’t sound too good to me – I wanted to be able to take it off again when I eventually have to get a new car. A bit more research uncovered a different version of the Move Clip that installed onto any bracket with an AMPS hole pattern, however it only seemed to be available from one retailer – GPSforless.co.uk. Also, it was a special order from Sweden – so I’m still waiting for it to arrive. The Brodit iPhone 3GS mount I ordered from eBay is here, though, so I’ll be test-fitting that tonight!

Using Netgear WGT624v3 as a Wireless Bridge

June 8, 2009

I love repurposing old equipment to save buying expensive new gear. One of the things that has always bugged me is why on earth wireless bridges cost so much, when wireless routers are so cheaply available?

If you have ethernet-enabled equipment you want to connect to your wireless network (e.g. games consoles, Slingboxes, DVR’s etc), a better option than buying a dedicated wireless bridge (or “wireless gaming adapter”) for a premium price is to buy a cheap router or access point that can be configured to operate as a wireless bridge.

(Another benefit is that dedicated adapters often only support a single ethernet device; a reconfigured router may support many!)

This was the option I took when I wanted to get my original-flavour Xbox hooked up to the internet. I started out with a D-Link DWL900AP+ many years ago, but that was only a wireless ‘b’ device and therefore no good for video streaming. When I found out that the Netgear WGT624v3 could be configured as a wireless bridge, I jumped at the chance to get one.

It took some time to get working – hey, nothing ever comes easily where computers are concerned, does it? But eventually, I had the 624 up and running in client mode, providing my Xbox with a wireless connection!

I had, however, been unable to get wireless bridge mode working. I gave up on it in the end, since client mode served my needs. It had one slight issue – if left idle the 624 would eventually lose the connection, and require rebooting. This wasn’t really a problem for me – I only ever required the connection when streaming to my Xbox, so I would just switch the 624 on when I wanted to use it, and leave it off most of the time.

That was fine until I acquired a Slingbox, anyway. The idea of mobile TV on my iPhone, with full control of my DVR, was something I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, the 624 in client mode just couldn’t cope, for the following reasons:

1. Even with the Slingbox staying online, the 624 would still eventually lose connection to the network. That makes client mode useless for a device that requires a constant connection.

2. With the Slingbox online, my Xbox couldn’t get a connection, and vice versa. It turns out that in client mode, only a single device can be served by the 624.

So, it became obvious that if I was to achieve my aim, I was going to have to revisit the 624 configuration process and get bridge mode working. From my previous research, I knew it was possible – I had seen posts by several people who were successfully connecting multiple devices to their 624’s. I had to figure out why bridge mode wasn’t working for me.

Trawling through the thread on the Netgear forums once again, I eventually stumbled upon a post that put me on the right track. Previously, the anecdotal evidence had been that the command set remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS was required; however, any attempt to apply this command failed, with an “invalid parameter” error. cameo91’s post correctly gave the command as add remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS instead. Following the directions from cameo91’s post, the WGT624 accepted the input happily!

The next step was to get my router (a Netgear DG834G) talking to the 624 in WDS mode. Fortunately, I knew this was possible – I had seen on the Netgear forums that recent revisions of the DG834G firmware had added WDS support. I also found this guide which confirmed that my router would function as I required it to in WDS mode, along with instructions on how to enable it.

Now I have it all set up, the Xbox and Slingbox both happily coexist attached to the 624 simultaneously. Also, I haven’t seen it drop the connection yet – it seems bridge mode may be more reliable than client mode, which is a positive reason for using it even if you’re not connecting more than one device to the 624.

I thought it might be useful to others who wanted to get their WGT624’s up and running in bridge mode if I made a few notes on the process. Since BeatJunkie’s original tutorial is fairly well written and organised in numbered sections, I’ve decided to make some easily referred to annotations rather than reproduce the whole thing.

Section 3: If you’ve been through this process before with the WGT624 (e.g. had it running in client mode), you may well have turned off DHCP in its settings. If you then have trouble establishing a connection to the WGT624 on subsequent reconfiguration attempts, there are a few possible solutions you can try.

If you disconnect your PC from your router, you will have problems as your IP settings will be lost, and you won’t be able to connect directly to anything. So directly connecting your PC to the 624 via LAN cable may not be an option, unless you have two network ports, or can connect to your router wirelessly (do you have a USB wireless adapter lying around? This worked for me).

Connecting the 624 to the router via LAN cable may also work.

The tutorial states that the 624 must be connected via LAN cable – however, on my final attempt at configuring bridge mode, I could not connect via cable for love nor money. I tried all the methods which had worked for me previously with no success. Finally, I decided to try it via wireless, just for the sake of it – and to my surprise, it worked! So, be prepared to try everything – and don’t give up if it appears hopeless.

Section 4: I believe you need to turn off DHCP on the WGT624 as well as entering the SSID and encryption settings. You don’t want two devices trying to provide IP addresses for your network – the router should be doing all that.

Section 14: I’m not sure if the set remoteAP command is still required, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. After that, enter add remoteWbr APS_MAC_ADDRESS in the same manner.

Section 15: Instead of set oper sta, enter set oper wbr. Following that, you must also enter set WDS enable.

Note: a couple of useful commands you can type are help (which lists all the commands you can enter) and get config (which lists the current configuration – although for some reason, get config and get WDS report different statuses for the WDS setting.)

Now you’re done with setting up the WGT624, you just have to enable WDS on your router. Obviously this will very by model and manufacturer. If your router doesn’t support WDS, check to see if there is a firmware update that adds it. I will provide some notes on enabling WDS support on the DG834G.

Firstly, check if you already have the option – login to your DG834G, and look down the left hand side for an Advanced Wireless Settings section. (I’ve been burned before when upgrading firmware just to have the latest version, and finding key features broken by the “update” – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is my motto now!) If you don’t have Advanced Wireless Settings, you’re going to have to upgrade.

Head over to Netgear’s site, and find the downloads section for your model (I won’t link to it as there are different versions of the DG834G, and if I linked you to the wrong one it could be disastrous!). Download the latest firmware, unzip it (if necessary) and follow the instructions on Netgear’s site for upgrading the firmware.

After the DG834G finishes upgrading itself, log out of the router configuration page. I spent AGES hunting for the Advanced Wireless Settings section… it doesn’t show up unless you refresh the admin panel. Colour me embarrassed. When you log back in, you should see the Advanced Wireless Settings section, so click on it.

Select Enable Wireless Bridging and Repeating, then Repeater with Wireless Client Association. Enter the MAC address of your WGT624 in the table, then apply the settings. Note: if your settings vanish and are not saved, reboot the router then try again – although it supposedly reboots after the firmware upgrade, I found I had to reboot it again before the WDS settings page worked!

Once you’ve done this, your WGT624 and anything connected to it should appear in the Attached Devices section of your DG834G. You’re done!

Customising the Buuf2 Winterboard Theme

January 27, 2009

lockscreen

springboard

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already using Buuf2, the most distinctive, characterful theme available for the iPhone. Buuf2 is based on the icon set created by mattahan (see his deviantart page here), and was formatted for the iPhone by axero (see the modmyi forum thread here).

The purpose of this guide is to assist you in customising Buuf2 to your liking. Since the release of firmware 2.0 and the AppStore, the number of apps available for the iPhone has exploded. Trying to keep pace with the number of icons required would be a Herculean task; thankfully, modmyi users nmilsaps and golum have stepped up to fulfil many icon requests on the official thread, and axero incorporates their efforts into his updates when he gets a chance.

However, we are seeing an awful lot of icon requests that are repeats, or where there is already a perfectly suitable icon to use. I’m not going to put anyone down for this, though – it’s a measure of the popularity of this incredible theme. What I would like to do is to provide a little guidance on customising the icons yourself, in the hopes of taking some off the load off the theme creator and the guys on the modmyi forums – and to improve the Buuf2 user experience for all!

Icons is going to be the first and most important part of this guide – but I will get to other topics too, such as system graphics, sounds, wallpapers and so on.

Right, so you downloaded a new app from the AppStore, and now you want it to stop sticking out like a sore thumb on your springboard by applying a proper Buuf2-style icon. Well, the first thing you need to realise is that there probably already is one! Let’s go take a look. SSH into your iPhone, and navigate to /var/stash/Themes.xxxxxx/Buuf2.theme (the xxxxxx part will be different for every iPhone). See the Icons folder? I recommend you copy that to your PC. While you’re here, create another folder called Buuf2 Custom.theme, and create an Icons folder in there. This is where we’re going to put our custom icons.

Now that you’ve got the Buuf2 icons on your PC, have a browse through them and see if there’s an icon that suits your new app. There are over 750 icons at the time of writing (though many of them are repeats), and I’m willing to bet there’ll be something in there that will fit the bill, even if it’s not exactly what you were looking for. Got one? OK, now make a copy of it, and rename it with the exact app name that shows on your springboard. Copy the new icon into the icons folder in the Buuf2 Custom.theme we created.

OK, now on your iPhone, launch Winterboard. You should see that as well as Buuf2, you now have a Buuf2 Custom theme in the list. Drag it up the list so that it is above Buuf2, and select it so that it has a tick against it, like so:

Winterboard

Now, respring, and you should see your new icon! That was easy, eh?

At this point, a quick note on why I choose to create a Buuf2 Custom theme, rather than just placing custom icons in the existing Buuf2 theme. If you modify the existing theme, then when the official package on Cydia (or Installer – blech😉 ) gets updated, the update will overwrite any changes you made. My way, you get to keep your own custom icons – plus whatever other customisations you may wish to make.

Alright, now what if you didn’t find an icon you liked enough in the existing icon set? OK, OK, I’m willing to admit this can happen. There are some pretty off-the-wall apps around, so it is always possible you couldn’t find one that suited well enough. Well, don’t worry just yet – there are a couple of things you need to check out before you post an icon request on the forum thread.

First, was there an icon that almost, but not quite, did the job? Or a couple of icons which, if combined, would be ideal? If so, post details with your icon request. It will save the guys with the icon-editing skills a lot of time if you give them something to work from.

Second, check out mattahan’s complete Buuf icon set (see here). Download it to your PC, extract the icons, and get browsing! Not everything from the full icon set has been ported to the iPhone version – yet. Again, if you find one you like, post details with your icon request and someone will convert it for you. (If you’re feeling brave, you can have a go at converting the icon yourself – any decent image editing program, such as Irfanview or GIMP, can re-size the image to the 60×60 pixels required for the iPhone springboard. However, the results may look a bit jaggy – I certainly don’t have the skills yet to make it look good enough!)

Thirdly, you can always – gulp – browse the thread on modmyi. Yes, I know it’s long, and people hate to search for stuff😉. There’s a quick way to see if an icon has already been posted – in the New Skins / Themes Launches forum, click on the little paperclip by the Buuf2 thread – this will bring up a list of all the attachments (see below).

Buuf2 thread - view attachments

I tend to keep an eye on the thread, and any time an interesting-looking icon pops up, I save it for future use if necessary. You never know when you’re going to need a Buuf2-style barfing smiley icon.

Finally, you can have a go at creating an icon yourself. Now, you can’t just edit the icons in Paint you know – they have a transparent area, and Paint just screws that right up. So, you’ll need a ‘proper’ image editor. Luckily, there’s a free one that works well and won’t screw up the transparent areas – GIMP. There’s even a portable version you can install to a USB stick, so there’s no reason not to use it unless you have access to something more professional, like Photoshop (I don’t). Using GIMP, you can open up the icons, copy bits from one and paste them onto another, and generally mash things around until you have something that hopefully looks something like what you wanted, and not just a great big mess😉. Again though, even if you’re not happy with your results, it can serve as an invaluable example for an icon request – “make a version of this that doesn’t suck, please!”. For some more detailed info on icon creation, nmilsaps posted some tips in the thread here and here.

OK, that’s about it for icons – here are a few extra tips on customising other aspects of the interface!

How to change the ringer volume level icons: put these into Buuf2 Custom.theme/Bundles/com.apple.springboard/


When launching the dialer, you may sometimes see a keypad screen with German text on it pop up briefly. This is just a loading screen – to change it to an English one, place the copy SIckbrain provided into Buuf2 Custom.theme/Bundles/com.apple.mobilephone/.

BiteSMS Buuf Balloons

SBSettings theme (I couldn’t get this to work terribly well with my setup, but I’m sure golum will update it).

Changing system sounds: I find the chime the iPhone makes when you plug it in too loud, when I’m coming to bed after my wife and dock it I’m always worried it’ll wake her up. So I changed it to make it quieter. Using Audacity (well, Audacity portable actually), I opened up the file Buuf2.theme/UISounds/beep-beep.caf, reduced the gain to -12dB or so, and saved it as a .caf file (note: to save as a .caf, go to Edit > Preferences > File Format tab, and change Uncompressed Export Format to CAF (I used 16 bit PCM). Put this file in your Buuf2 Custom theme, and hey presto, quieter charging tone!

Custom sliders: I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the Buuf2 slider icons. There’s a really cool slider theme on Cydia called Zipper Sliders (I think), however unfortunately it wasn’t working properly – I think something in the folder structure changed post-firmware 2.0, and the theme wasn’t updated properly. However, if you install the non-working theme, and copy the zip icons (can’t recall which folder they’re in, sorry) into Buuf2 Custom.theme/Bundles/com.apple.TelephonyUI, you’ll get the zippers I use. You can then un-install the non-working zippers theme.

How to change the text of the unlock-slider: create the folder path Buuf2 Custom.theme/Bundles/com.apple.springboard/en.lproj/. Copy the file SpringBoard.strings from Buuf2.theme/Bundles/com.apple.springboard/en.lproj/ into your new folder and double click the SpringBoard.strings file to edit it. When it opens in notepad, just change Buuf2 to whatever you like.

Some Russian users have packaged up a very comprehensive version of Buuf2, which skins just about everything – calendar, AppStore, Cydia, iPod, and so on. I like to keep my themes to the springboard really, so I haven’t applied it myself, but it does appear to have been very well done. You can get it here.

Wallpapers: Buuf2 has such a distinctive style, it’s kinda hard to find wallpapers that suit it well. You could do worse than to check out some more of mattahan’s excellent work on his deviantart page, of course🙂

EDIT: I really should give credit to Hack That Phone for this excellent Winterboard tutorial, that taught me most of what I know about customising themes!

Hewlett Packard Rant

October 25, 2008

A little while ago, my household needed a new multi-function printer, to cope with the intense printing and copying demands that primary school teachers place upon the beleaguered home IT equipment. My wish-list of functions was as follows:

  • Network/wifi enabled (to print straight from the laptop)
  • Double-sided printing (to save paper and labour)
  • Cheap ink (natch)

To cut a long story short(er), the first one I found that really satisfied all requirements was the Hewlett Packard C6280. Now, I had promised myself that I would never buy another HP printer after the trials we had with the previous one, but it seemed that nothing else was really available that ticked the most important boxes, so I bit the bullet and ordered it.

The first one delivered was faulty – guess that should have been a sign. One replacement later and it was all up and running. Things seemed to be going well – it was great not having to crouch down by the printer, hunting for cables, or cajoling it into please not devouring half a stack of paper and subsequently choking on it. Individual ink cartridges didn’t really deliver much of a saving on ink costs which was a disappointment, and not doing double sided printing but inexplicably not copying was frustrating. But on the whole, not too shabby.

However, I soon noticed that our PC had slowed to an absolute crawl. Task Manager showed that the CPU was constantly at 100% usage, with about 11 instances of svchost.exe running! I searched the internet for weeks, trying to find out what could be wrong. I disabled all unnecessary services to no effect. I had resigned myself to a full reformat and clean XP installation, when I tried one more thing… and lo and behold, I found that HP was to blame.

It seems that the “HP Network Devices Support” service has serious flaws. It keeps checking for the printer on the network – and checking, and checking, and checking… eating up your CPU constantly. The solution? Change the service from “automatic” to “manual” startup, as follows:

Go to Start > Run > type in “services.msc”.
Scroll down and right click on “HP Network Device Support” service.
In the Startup pulldown menu, change “Automatic” to “Manual”.
Click Apply and close.
Restart computer.

That finally sorted the CPU usage issue, and my PC began behaving properly again! Since it now appeared to be worth using for basic tasks once more, I thought I’d have a go at scanning some pictures in using the blighted HP device. Surely that would work, right? Wrong. Hp’s own scanning software refused to start, preferring to crash the PC. And using the TWAIN import function within other programs didn’t work, either. I had about given up attempting to get any useful functionality out of the C6280 beyond printing, when I noticed the annoying status monitor in the system tray, performing its usual retarded antics of telling me the printer was connected when it wasn’t, or vice versa, and failing to supply me with any meaningful information whatsoever. I did a bit of research, and found that by disabling hpqtra08.exe, it would no longer load at startup and annoy me. And lo and behold, all of a sudden TWAIN scanning started to work…

HP software. What a load of old crap. I can’t believe that it caused so many problems for me, and that the only way to get the product working properly (not to mention un-crippling my PC!) was to disable most of the bundled software!

iPhone Tips

October 14, 2008

Bookmarklets

A bookmarklet is a bookmark which, instead of taking you to a url, instead runs a snippet of javascript on the current page. The great thing about this is that bookmarklets can be used to add functionality that is otherwise lacking in the iPhone’s Safari browser. Since I found out about them, I’ve collected quite a few that are now indispensable for my iPhone web browsing!

Adding Any Bookmarklet Without Syncing Your Bookmarks

By far the easiest way of adding Bookmarklets to your iPhone is to use iTunes to sync your bookmarks with either Safari or Internet Explorer on your PC. However, there are two main drawbacks with this approach:

  1. My PC bookmarks are generally full of crap, and not what I want to clutter my iPhone up with;
  2. I use Firefox or Opera. I hate IE, and I’m not installing another browser just to sync bookmarks with my iPhone.

Unfortunately, most people who publish bookmarklets on the web simply assume that you’re syncing your bookmarks, and don’t provide any other way of getting them onto your iPhone. It took me quite a while to figure out a reliable process for adding bookmarklets without syncing bookmarks, but I’m glad I did, because it gave me access to some excellent ones I couldn’t otherwise have had!

OK, so how to do it. First, you need to familiarise yourself with the method of manually adding a bookmarklet on your iPhone. Both iCopy and iTransmogrify have very good walkthroughs for this.

Now, what do you do if the bookmarklet you want doesn’t have an iPhone-friendly page? You need to create your own ‘dummy’ link with the javascript appended, that’s what – like so:

http://google.com/javascript:… a pretty straightforward way of doing this is to send the link in an email to your iPhone email address – then you can just click on it, and it’ll open up a ‘404 page not found’ in Safari. (Note that it should be a rich-text email with an embedded link – the javascript can make the URL too long otherwise.) Bookmark that page, then edit the bookmark and remove everything preceding the javascript: and hey presto! You just added your first custom-iPhonified bookmarklet!

OK then, here are my recommended bookmarklets…

Scroll to Bottom of Page

Everybody knows that tapping the status bar scrolls straight back up to the top of the page. OK, that’s occasionally pretty handy – but I find that much more often, I want to scroll straight to the bottom of the page. I found a bookmarklet to do just that here.

Here’s an iPhone-friendly bookmarkable link (follow the bookmark editing procedure outlined above once you’ve stored it).

Paste Custom Text

Erica Sadun over at TUAW coded a bookmarklet for pasting custom text straight into a text-field. Tom King made a super-iPhone-friendly version. Saves me typing in my email address or username whenever I want to login to a site – a real time-saver!

Find in Page

This comes in very handy from time to time. I found an iPhone-bookmarkable version hosted here (which, incidentally, was the site that inspired me to find a method for adding any bookmarklet without syncing bookmarks).

Copy/Paste

Everyone and his dog bemoans the lack of copy and paste on the iPhone. Very few people seem to be aware that iCopy works pretty well, at least within Safari. I agree, of course, that cross-application copy and paste is what we really want – but until then, this is a pretty good stop-gap. Just don’t copy and paste anything confidential, as it’s a non-secure method.

Change Font Size

Small text size on a page? Don’t want to zoom about all over the place just to read it? Use the bookmarklet from here to change the font size to something readable on the iPhone. (Note: you have to enter the font size as #em or #px, not just a number!)

‘Bare Bones’ Version of Page

There are times when you’re only interested in the content of a page, not all the flashy pictures (and awful banner ads!) – especially if you’re on GPRS coverage. The bookmarklets here will convert links to stripped-down versions of their target pages, reducing the page load time considerably.

Save Pages Offline

While not strictly a bookmarklet (though there is a bookmarklet version), http://iwebsaver.com/ is a great way of storing entire web pages as a data URL that you can then view offline – even when you have absolutely zero network coverage. Handy!

There are many more bookmarklets out there; I’ve only posted the ones that I’ve found to be both particularly useful, and singularly hard to find and get onto the iPhone. Hopefully the information will benefit other iPhone users!

Forwarding Hotmail to your iPhone

The iPhone’s built-in Mail app is great for email on the move – unless of course, you’re tied to a Hotmail account. Of course, you can set up a Gmail or Yahoo account, but then you’ve got to migrate across to it. If only Hotmail would allow you to forward your mail to your new address…

By default, Microsoft don’t seem to want you to do this on a standard Hotmail account. Unless you pay for a Hotmail Plus account (which is kinda pointless, seeing as you’re looking to use a new provider as your primary account) or forward the mail to one of their other product domains (which is confusing – a ‘custom domain’ is not the layman’s definition of a custom domain, it’s a Microsoft Live custom domain! Not very clear eh!).

However, there is a way… one which I can take no credit for, I’m only posting it for your information.

1. Go to your options, sign up to Mobile Alerts For New Messages.

2. Bang in the pin number sent to your phone.

3. Configure your Alerts so that ‘All New Messages’ is selected.

4. Send an email to your Hotmail account and you should get a text telling you that you have new mail in your account.

5. Now go back to Mobile Alerts, turn them off, then go to Email Forwarding, and like magic, you can now forward your Hotmail to any email account.

Thanks to murray on rllmukforum for bringing this to my attention – though where he got it from I couldn’t say, it’s pure gold. (Update: Hotmail POP3 access is now supported in the iPhone email app; however, Gmail’s IMAP functionality is far better, so I still think doing it via this route is superior. One email to rule them all!)