Saturday, April 16, 2005

WRT-54G, I like you more now...

At work the other day, our tenuous internet connection cut out for no apparent reason. It had happened before and with an hour or two of fiddling with internet sharing settings, experimentally swapping switches, and numerous explicatives we got it working again. The connection in our back room consisted of a desktop picking up a public wireless signal, and then sharing it via ethernet adapter and a switch with two other connections, to use with computers on our desk for repair.

So this time, no matter what we did, we couldn't get the two lines after the switch to pick up an IP address. My intern had a great idea, of using a router (the aformentionned Linksys WRT54g) with some non-vendor firmware, to allow it to run in client mode (or act like a wireless bridge). After a few minor hangups, we got it working.
The Linksys WRT54g is a very versatile piece of networking hardware, and I recommend it to anyone...and having a cheap wireless bridge is the first step in making sharing your internet easy. Think about this scenario...you live in an appartment building, and while you like the convenience offered by the internet, all you really use it for is the occasional email and to post to a blog once in a while. You don't use high bandwith applications like BitTorrent, and while you like the idea of how fast broadband is worth, it costs quite a bit considering that you could probably get by with dialup at a quarter of the cost (if that). If you get along well with your neighbors, why not share the connection? With a wireless bridge you can, and you don't need to worry about putting your PC with a wireless card near the signal source, you can put the bridge there, and run that to a router, and then bounce the signal around your place wherever you need it. For more info on the WRT54g, check out wrt54g.com. I like mine, and I'm debating another, because of how flexible it is with different firmwares.

*always encrypt your wireless connection, unless you want everyone to have access. Also, check with your ISP rules regarding sharing of connections.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sony NW-E105 Mini Review

Today I jumped and bought a MP3 player. I've convinced myself that it'll help motivate me to get in shape this spring, getting me out and running. I've been looking at flash based players because I don't have the need to carry my entire music library with me (none of the iPods are big enough anyways) and I like the size, battery life, and lack of moving parts advantages offered by flash based units. For a while I was convinced I wanted to get the iPod Shuffle, but I went into a Sony Store the other day and saw the Sony NW-E105, a 512 MB flash based player, that claims to get 70 hours playback from one AAA battery. While I doubt it goes that long, having an easily switchable battery and a small screen are considerable advantages over the Shuffle. While the Sony SonicStage software is fairly intuitive, it would be nice if it supported Windows Explorer drag-and-drop MP3 loading. It does however allow regular data storage via Explorer.

The headphones that came with it are not very good quality, but my girlfriend gave me her iPod earbuds because they don't fit her, so I use them with it, and the sound quality is quite good. The controls are very easy to use, and at $139.99 (CDN, before tax) was a good deal. The Shuffle 512 MB compares at $129.99, with an internal battery and no screen.

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