Archive

Archive for June, 2010

Putting DD-WRT onto a Virgin D-Link DIR-615 rev D

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, I got my replacement D-Link DIR-615 wireless router after the last one fried, today.

I immediately (well, this evening) put DD-WRT on it. There’s been a few new releases since I last blew it onto my old router, so I installed the latest and greatest – build 14594. The thread is here, and the download is here.

The last time I did this, I couldn’t get it to update from within the D-Link main UI, so I had used the emergency room (ie. power-on-reset, then upload firmware). This time, I failed to get the Emergency Room to accept the firmware 3 times, so I tried uploading it via the normal D-Link UI instead… and it worked!

So far – so OK. It seems to be working. I’ll have to test the features, and also see how it is wrt the old niggles I had with DD-WRT – actually quite major ones.

Namely:

  • Wireless would get slow
  • Pages would slow to a crawl half-way through loading, on my iPhone

Would be nice to see these fixed. At least the front panel lights are all green now…

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Using my Hoda / eGalaxy Touchscreen and Bluetooth Dongle with Acer Aspire One Netbook on latest Ubuntu

June 20, 2010 2 comments

I decided to install Ubuntu Netbook Edition, which is, quite simply, great – the trouble was, even though Linpus was “fine”, there’s not much support for Fedora 8 (its base) any more. Cue latest Ubuntu install, which, as I’ve said, is great.

However, it also meant trying to install the touchscreen drivers again. I found that the recommended method by eGalaxy, although admirably comprehensive, didn’t work. As I considered trying to build drivers from the source, I found a blog of someone who’d found a quick solution to the same problem. I tried it, and it successfully installed.

However – one major niggle left… Although the touchscreen is now accurately configured (took a couple of attempts to get the config to ‘take’), it does seem to jump to the top-left corner, which I assume is (0,0), at the start and end of every touch. The trouble is, I’m not sure if it’s a driver issue, or bad fitting of the touchscreen… and it’ll take me a while to find the time and patience to open that casing up again. So… for the moment, I just touch very quickly, and either the drivers or Ubuntu seem to miss the ‘corner touch’.

While I’m at it – I also bought a USB Pico dongle, which is tiny, from Mobilefun. And in Ubuntu, it installed so seamlessly I didn’t actually realise it had until I saw a bluetooth icon in one of the app directories. I haven’t paired it with anything yet, but I tried a quick scan, and it picked up my phones and other laptop. All I need to do is dig out the tiny USB cables that came with the touchscreen kit, and I can connect the dongle inside the RAM cover, out of sight!

Categories: Computing

Bluetooth Dongles for Stereo Headphones

June 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, is to set up my Home Media Centre with a bluetooth dongle – the idea being that I can watch movies using my Bluetooth Headphones while in the room, and not disturb anyone else.

Well, I found the impossibly small Pico at Mobilefun for £8.95; I accidentally bought two, so I’ll try the other in my Acer Aspire One running Ubuntu. The first one has gone into my Win7 Pro 64-bit HTPC.
I plugged it in, and sure enough, it installed using default drivers so quickly that it took a while to notice the new Bluetooth System Tray icon pop up. It gave me options to send/receive files, etc.

However, pairing with my stereo headphones gave just a headset icon with a failed install for no drivers. After a few attempts, and asking it to automatically download drivers (none found), I uninstalled, and ran the CD installer instead.

Once I’d run the main installer in the root directory (not in the x86 subdir in my case, which failed near the end of the install) it installed BlueSoleil successfully. It’s an app that caters to the beginner, and less responsive than the default drivers, but once paired and set up, it seemed to connect to my headset fine. In use, there is a slight delay in the audio through my headset, which is slightly distracting in films. Not ideal, but I guess I can live with it.

So – if you only need the basic functions and default drivers/networking, it works like a dream. If you want stuff that needs the Bluesoleil install, like Bluetooth audio, then it still seems to setup very well, and works OK – probably better than the cheaper similar dongles on other sites – but is a bit rough around the edges.

Categories: Uncategorized

Apple iPad shows “lack of vision”

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’re wondering who gave that quote – OK, it was me, just now. But it does feel right.

I was playing with my brand new iPad the other day. And I felt …underwhelmed. Here’s why…

Firstly, after being overwhelmed with “magical and revolutionary” adverts, and seeing demos of brand new apps at the keynote by Apple’s favourite developers, I was expecting to be able to fill my iPad with replacements for all my iPhone apps, that take things to a whole new level.

But…. No. Not really.  I mean – Elements is nice; shame I haven’t needed Chemistry since Sixth Form. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, and Spotify are all big apps for me, but there are no iPad versions out yet. I assume they’re working on these right now? Well… I would expect Facebook and Skype will be, because however many (few) iPad users there are (2 million and growing?), the number of Facebook / Skype iPad app users will be nearly as high, by default. But, as popular as the iPad is, unless it becomes as huge as the iPhone, then the impetus for the smaller developers to develop apps specifically for it, will also be less.  Most will regard the iPhone version with screen doubling as “good enough” – unless the iPad really does bring their specific app to a whole new level. I notice a raft of ‘HD’ medical applications, for example – and you can see how they can be dramatically more usable running natively on the iPad.

But take a look at Apple’s Mail. Does anyone else find moving mail into folders frustrating? Did anyone else expect to be able to simply rest a finger on the body of the mail, and drag it straight into a folder at the side (kinda like Outlook) – rather than tapping on the move icon, then tapping on a folder – with some accuracy required.

How about Safari? Does anyone find tapping on the icon to switch to a new icon/pane a bit 2009? Did you expect to be able to spread your fingers on the current window, and just ‘push away’ the current tab back to the panes window, before tapping to open another one?

The fact is – the iPad could be “magical and revolutionary”, but it isn’t – yet. Apple are on the right lines – they’ve positioned the hardware – but it will take some visionary developers to make real use of it – and then that will be within that individual app, rather than existing in Apple’s iOS as a whole, which is what it should have been. Ironically, Apple are bound by their legacy platform – the iPhone. While the iPad could support a whole new way of interaction, the fact is that 90% of apps will simply evolve in an unimaginative way from the iPhone versions – following Apple’s style guidelines, effectively treating the iPad as two iPhones bolted side by side (the right one showing the page/document/email), the left showing the menu/folder/overview – plus a larger/wider full-screen view).

What we should seewould be the Google search app showing you a 3D cloud of your search results – allowing you to rotate, zoom, zap a node, view thumbnails of the results side-by-side. What we should see are 3D mindmaps, rotatable in real-time. Memos that you can drag around a virtual desktop. What we should see is Minority Report, Avatar… and indeed, what we get, is a big iPhone. Or two bolted together.

There are a few apps that I’ve found so far that do give a hint of what the iPad is capable of. The HD news apps – I’ve tried Financial Times, because it’s currently free, but I assume the WSJ, etc are similar. Click on the stories – expand them, swipe through them, hyperlink to stock performance for the company in question.

Google Maps, on a fast DSL link, also truly makes you feel you can fly through this data. I believe Google Earth really could be revolutionary and magical – I hope they’re working on it! [Edit: they just released it the day after I posted, and it is great!]

Books, of course, is good. Apps like Alice in Wonderland are exactly what the revolution will bring (more of).

Zinio – the glossy magazine reader – again, has it right. It’s shiny, it’s available, it’s easy. They just need to allow annotations and bookmarks.

So, Steve. How about it?

Categories: Uncategorized

Commenting photos – farewell Microsoft Picture Manager 2003

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

OK, so who actually uses MS Picture Manager for their photos?

Well, um, me. You see, on a work laptop, it comes with Office, and it isn’t actually that bad: with the filmstrip along the bottom, and edit tools in the sidebar, I could crop and colour-correct my photos, and most importantly, rename them chronologically (eg. NYC 2010 – 01.jpg, etc). I could whip through an album pretty quickly, using default software and not spending a penny.

However – one thing I do miss, is the ability to write comments into the photos. The ‘Comments’ field in Windows XP Explorer (when viewing a Photo -> Properties) has remained resolutely blank, because it seemed that every app I had checked in the past either:

  1. Stored the comments in their own database, not in the original image, and hence tied you into their software
  2. Cost too much
  3. Was bloatware

Hence, I stuck with Picture Manager – I could see what it was doing, see what it didn’t, and that was that. I was determined that any software I used would store the info in the photo, in the EXIF data, so that it would stand alone from any particular software.

However – I stand corrected. It seems that although the comments field is still little-used, there is a rival, newer standard, that has long since taken over the market, and appears to be becoming the de-facto standard. This is the IPTC/XMP standard, and was developed for professional press photographers to mark up their photos, with titles, comments, tags, and more – as I read in this webpage. It appears that when Photoshop, Picasa, Irfanview, and other popular, up-to-date photo editing apps insert their comments, then they are inserting them into the image file itself, using this standard. So, I needn’t worry about futureproofing….

Anyway, what confirmed this it for me, is that Windows 7 natively supports this format, and will display such comments in the Properties window, as I wanted to in XP.  Windows XP doesn’t – hey, it’s old! – but there are shell extensions such as IPTCExt to allow you to view and edit these.

And Windows 7? Does it really support it natively?

Yes!

No More Picture Manager

There is one proviso though – I can’t go back to Picture Manager. I did try – I tried editing the photo above with Picture Manager (actually opening, editing, and saving, rather than doing a “Save As”) – and sure enough, it lost the IPTC comments. So – from now on, only new-generation photo apps need apply…

Categories: Uncategorized