DD-WRT alternative firmware for WRT54G

I do a small amount of Bittorrenting and find that it quickly overwhelms my WRT54G router. If I want to get proper performance from the router after any amount of time running Azureus (my bittorrent client) I need to reboot the router by pulling the plug for about 15 seconds and then plugging it back in again.

Apparently this is a known issue with the WRT54G using Linksys’ native firmware and they have simply never bothered to correct it.

I was also having ongoing issues with my home computers being unable to resolve each other’s DNS names and, not being an expert on network items, I wasn’t having much luck resolving this no matter how I configured my router. I’m an application guy really. I understand enough about networking to help me interface with it programatically but I certainly don’t know this stuff frontwards and backwards.

Anyway, bring in DD-WRT. I found this through Wikipedia’s WRT54G entry pointing to Third-party firmware projects. After installing the firmware (you want to be REALLY careful if you do this. Follow the directions closely) I am now able to assign “Static” DHCP addresses to my computers based on their MAC addresses. Basically this just means that they always have the same IP address but everything else is still treated as if they used dynamic addressing. So I don’t have to monkey around with manually setting DNS servers or any of that kind of thing.
This allows me to resolve my communication issue on my internal network via host files. Not my favorite choice but it sure beats my nightly backups failing because my desktop machines can’t find the server.

Also, the slowdown issue with my bittorrent client has been resolved. Here is what is needed. Essentially, the original Linksys firmware keeps track of your old connection for 5 days, you can now adjust that down to something much more reasonable as the nature of P2P traffic, especially a swarm technology like bittorrent, is to engage in a LOT of connections and this will quickly overwhelm your unaltered WRT54G Linksys router.

As a side benefit, the DD-WRT firmware also allows me to schedule regular reboots of the router which I’m now playing with as well. This means, even if there are any creeping buffer overflow or other cumulative issues they can at least be masked by these refreshes. And that is sufficient for my purposes in my home environment.

I’ll post again if there are any issues but so far things have been going very well. I installed the new firmware on this past Friday and have had no issues and excellent performance.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on June 18, 2007 at 7:55 am

New Blackberry 8830

** Update 6/18/2007 11:30 pm**

Just got off the phone with RIM. According to the rep I worked with I will need to send any suggestions for my new Blackberry (they’re not really issues since it *is* operating as designed – at least as far as the brightness of the “pearl” is concerned) to bbsuggestions@blackberry.com.

1 – the “Pearl” (little control ball) is kept in lockstep with the screen and there is currently no way to disable the pearl lighting – I find this makes it difficult to see the screen unless I keep my thumb over it. I’ll be sending a note to bbsuggestions on this.

2 – The red LED indicator will flash for 15 minutes after it has been triggered. So if you are expecting your repeat notification to let you know you received a message while in the shower, just make it a short shower 🙂  I’ll be sending a note to bbsuggestions on this.

3 – I originally forgot to mention this issue below but the GPS doesn’t seem to work. Apparently RIM has an internal memo that discusses the fact that Verizon, by design, has not enabled the GPS in their devices for 3rd party apps (in particular I want to use Google Maps with this).

** End Update **

I am using a new Blackberry 8830 handled device so that I can offer backup support at work should there be issues with them.

Overall I’ve got a good handle on the device, nice screen and a lot of intelligent features. But one thing is just not working the way I think it should.

I have my profiles generally set so that only level 1 messages notify me when they come in. I allow all other messages to flow into the device but I check those when I have a free moment. I really do want to know about the level 1 messages as they arrive.
Sometimes I’m away from my phone (shower, workout, whatever) and, by default, the screen is off (new feature with this model that’s different from my old 7250). So in my profiles I have set it such that the LED will flash for these messages. But the LED seems never to be on even though I could have a dozen level 1 messages in my inbox. I assume that there is a finite amount of time for which the LED will flash but I have yet to find it, either by searching the web or in the Blackberry knowledge base. I suppose I’ll have to give RIM support a call tomorrow…

BTW, so far,
Pros:

  • REALLY nice screen, automatically changes brightness based on ambient lighting
  • Slim
  • I like the “Pearl” control – still trying to find a way to turn of it’s light. It’s a little distracting in low light.
  • The option key on the left side – was annoying when it activated voice dialing but after I swapped it to take me to my inbox I like it just fine.
  • Faster processor than my old 7250

Cons:

  • That silly LED issue
  • The keyboard is very awkward to use. I presume I’ll get used to it. But I pretty much have to stare at it, rather than the screen, when I’m typing.
  • Another ding against the keyboard is that, in low lighting, the keys are lit such that the letters are a very dark blue (keys are opaque metal). I honestly cannot read them at all. I type using my memory of where the keys *should* be, the only help from the lighting is to let me know that there is *some* key located there, not *which* key.

Posted under Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on June 17, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Soccer Fan Attack

I *really* don’t have a problem with this.

When folks with no talent whatsoever interrupt a public event just for a little fame. I think it’s entirely appropriate that they get to experience something that would normally occur in that venue…

Posted under Amusing

This post was written by Marc
on June 17, 2007 at 11:10 am

Home Mad Music Video

Again my proclivity towards altered-time recordings leads me to this interesting video.

The most amazing thing to me is exactly how smooth the images on the posted bills are knowing how they were done manually (not CGI).

In the artist’s own words:

“Myself and a couple have friends have entered the above into the Modest Mouse video competition. Using green screen footage provided by the band we cut a simple music video. We then degraded the images and printed out each frame sequentially. (all 4133 of them) We then nailed each “shot” of 50-100 posters to various structures and posts.”

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on June 16, 2007 at 9:35 am

XKCD

XKCDThis is another great web comic that I’ve enjoyed for over a year now. It touts itself as “A comic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math and Language” and it is all that.

I definitely don’t “get” all of the comics – although I suppose that’s true of any artform – but I do like and appreciate most of them. Especially if you like science you’ll enjoy this comic.

Make sure to hover your cursor over the comic after reading it. There is usually some additional background in the tool tip that will appear. Sometimes the tooltip can be a little long so Firefox users will need the “Long Titles” extension to get around a bug in that browser to let you see the whole thing.

Posted under Comic Books

This post was written by Marc
on June 11, 2007 at 10:42 pm

iPod in the Shower

One of the greatest things to come along in my lifetime is the ability to time-shift many things to when it’s better for *me* to do them. TIVO is great for this. While I’ve time-shifted my TV programs for years using a VCR and about 20 VHS tapes, the ability to easily pick and choose the exact program you wish to see when you want to see it is a luxury that the Pharaohs, for all their opulence and riches, would have envied.

Similarly, I love my iPod. Ironically I use it for podcasts far more than I use it to listen to music. I’ve already talked about podcasts elsewhere (check the “Podcasting” category).

I like to listen to my iPod while I exercise, drive and when I shower. These are three activities that are nicely complemented by an interesting audio background.

As part of our bathroom renovations I had an extra recess included in the bath tub area just for my The Sharper Image “Digital Shower Companion”. I notice they don’t sell my model anymore (couldn’t see a model number on the unit anyway). The closest thing they have now is this Shower Radio for about $30.

Anyway the radio is now mounted

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I also picked up a Griffin iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod. Add in a snack bag and, voila, you have the makings of a water resistent iPod player for your shower.

* WPG2 Plugin Not Validated *

Slip the iPod into the bag

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And prop near to the radio.

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This position works well since you can push down on it with one hand to change podcasts or fast forward through dull bits. Trying to prop the iPod upright leaning against the wall next to the radio was too unstable. You can also mount the iPod right on top of the radio. The radio antenna works quite nicely to stabilize the iPod on its side.

The frequency band is pretty cluttered here near Atlanta. I’ve had the greatest success using 90.5 as my broadcast/reception station.

BTW don’t even think about using the iTrip for car trips. The airways are so cluttered with signals nowadays that I found myself having to hunt for new unused frequencies about every 45 minutes on a long trip. And the proliferation of little weekend-only stations made even usually commute reliable frequencies useless when out and about on Saturday and Sunday. Use a direct connection instead.

Posted under On the Home Front, Podcasting, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on June 10, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Suddenly Silver : Celebrating 25 Years of For Better or For Worse

Suddenly Silver : Celebrating 25 Years of For Better or For Worse Suddenly Silver : Celebrating 25 Years of For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston

I always enjoy “For Better or For Worse”. You don’t get this book to see new material, much of it I’ve already seen in Lynn’s other works. Instead you get it because of the commentary and perspective that it puts on a comic that has not only been around for 28 years (as of this posting) but has grown and matured as I have over the past 3 decades.

There are insightful mini-essays from folks near and dear to Lynn that help to give you some insight what it must be like living in the same circles as someone who can produce such great work. I get the sense that she’s not the easiest person in the world to be around sometimes, but for all involved those less than rational moments seem to be more than outweighed by the wonders and tribulations expressed by this “parallel family” from Lynn’s mind.

The comic is still as fresh as it ever was and I still look forward to reading the strip each evening.

Posted under Comic Books

This post was written by Marc
on June 9, 2007 at 9:36 am