Blog News Hardware Windows

Setting up WDS between a Linksys WRT54G and Airport Express

Last monday I bought myself an Apple Airport Express (AX), which I want to set up as a Wireless extender for my current wireless netwerk so that I can connect my KISSDVD/HD recorder (a 200 GB DP-558) to the internet and so I can access the Electronic Program Guide Kiss provides on the internet.

I can very easely set up the AX as a client to join the network, with WPA or even WPA2 security. But this disables the ethernet port on it (I don’t really understand why it disables it though, except to prevent double connections), which is exactly what I need it for.

Thursday night, after a lot of struggling I finally got it to work.

For (my) further reference, here’s how to set up a WDS netwerk between a WRT54G and an Airport Express :
– on my linksys WRT54G, I use dd-wrt 2.3 SP2
– WDS is configured with the wireless mac of the Airport Express in the Linksys and the wireless mac of the linksys (there are at least 3 macs !) in the AX.
– Lazy WDS and Loopback are off
– Using WEP : create the WEP key on your linksys, but on the mac clients you need to enter in the password box NOT THE PASSWORD BUT THE HEX KEY !! You don’t need to do this with WPA, there you can use the password, but since WDS at the moment only accepts WEP encryption…
– With the later firmwares, since at least 2005 you NO LONGER need to input the fricking $ anymore ! I wish people would update their posts, because this is now causing a lot of confusion.

Extra Links :

Hardware Windows

2-port KVM switch

Belkin SwitchI have needed a KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Monitor switch) for some time now, as it has become bothersome to switch between my pc and my mac every time.

Sure, I did install ultra-vnc on my pc, so I could fire up Chicken of VNC and get to my pc using my Mac’s screen and use it for simple tasks like Active Sync and Word processing, and it does that Very Well.
But it doesn’t show very good video and it goes haywire when you want play games, even simple ones. And my son is asking more and more to play a game on our pc so I am spending more and more time switching cables.

So I set out to find a solution that was compatible with mac and pc. As previously mentioned, I already looked a solution made by Belkin, but at the time it wasn’t out yet.

This time it was available, but not the specific mac-intel version.

I could either buy a Switch2 solution that fit under the mac mini, with no sound replication and which costs more than 110 € in the Fnac (although you can find it online lots cheaper), or I could buy the regular Belkin 2-port KVM Swith, with built-in Audio sharing (F1DL102Uea) and a max resolution of 2048×1536 for about 65 €.

After lots of comparing and running between the two product stands, I chose the latter, because
a) it was cheaper and
b) it included audio as well
It also claimed compatibility with Mac OS X. And while Belking makes a lot of noise about their latest Switch2 version for mac to be the only one that can deal with a Mac keyboard, this version has no problems with it as well – when I switch to my Windows XP, my Apple keys become Windows keys, and vice versa.

So, this solves my switch problems. All I need now is a new pc.

I’ve been mulling about buying a new iMac with built-in screen, but with lots of extra costs on our house coming up, the cheaper solution will be to continue using my mac mini and buying a new, higher performance pc. For about 1000 € you can get a more than reasonable top-of-the-line pc while a similar iMac with same memory costs close to double (of course, the screen is not included in the regular pc, but nowadays the price difference shouldn’t be that big).

Hmm. I’ll wait a bit more, see if there are any new updates to the iMac line that make it worthwhile to choose it.

Hardware Pocketpc

Qtek 9100

Qtek 9100
I am the proud owner of a Qtek 9100 pda-phone now !

It’s a pda with phone capabilities that has Windows Mobile 5 phone edition, AKU2, so the latest version and is a quad-band phone that can do GSM, GPRS and EDGE.

At first I wanted to buy the new Tytn from HTC (also the makers of the Qtek, they’ve just rebranded them), but since that phone is about 200 € more expensive, I’ve decided to take last years model, which just had taken a serious price cut (589 € for the UK version instead of 699 € at the local Fnac). As I am on a dual subscription (work/home) I only use my phone for talking and texting via GSM and wireless with my PDA for everything else, so this makes sense for me.

The advantages of the new Tytn are a more powerfull cpu, video conferencing if you have the right dataphone connection, ready-made for the HSDPA protocol via firmware update, and the addition of a jog wheel to let the user more easely operate the phone one-handed.
I think the only thing I’ll be missing will be the jog-dial, and depending on the number of applications installed or used, the enhanced cpu.

The whole setup came in a nice box which included a remote headset (cable) and a belt-clipped case to put the phone in.

So far, my impressions are favourable – the phone seems stable (my biggest fear is that WM5 will crash when I desperately need to phone) and I’ve installed my normal applications (ListPro, pRSSReader, a password list) and they work just fine.

The screen is QVGA and smaller than my iPaq hx2410, but it seems the pixels are more tightly packed together, resulting in a very fine screen. Already I find the screen of my iPaq to be ‘flat’ and pixelated, while before I didn’t see this.

The slide-out keyboard takes some getting used to, but it seems to work fine if you use your thumbs, and responding to an sms is easier that way.

One thing that is hard to find is where you can download updates for your Qtek from : this is from the local Belgium importer, which I found out is Smart-Phones. You’ll need your IMEI number from your Qtek phone to login and be able to download the latest updates. I checked and it was already at the latest version (which I suspected as it had the WM5 AKU2 update).

As for Qtek forums : the one in NL ( is at the top of the google list, but ofcourse you need to register to even see it, and since I have a Belgian IMEI, I can’t.

I will try to re-sell my iPaq on Ebay to recoup some of the investment.

Hardware Pocketpc

How to reset a WM5 HP iPaq device.

You hope you never have to use it, but it’s damn convenient to have noted the html page when you do need it.

That secondary problem of the empty programs list is a real hard one. There are several people who have had similar problems, but there doesn’t appear to be a solution for it.

Hard Reset, then try to restore all… pffrt.

To perform a clean reset and return your HP iPAQ to factory settings:
1. Press and hold the Calendar, Power, and Messaging buttons.
2. While holding down these buttons, use the stylus to lightly press the Reset button on the bottom of the HP iPAQ until the device restarts.
3. When the HP iPAQ restarts, release all of the buttons, and then remove the stylus from the Reset button.
The HP iPAQ restarts and powers on.

Hardware Pocketpc Windows

Active Sync Woes : use a Bluetooth connection !

I’ve had it with the irregular, unresponsive, plug-and-pray manner that Active Sync and Microsoft in general work with USB connections to PocketPC’s. Either it’s Active Sync not syncing or ‘Unknown USB device’ for my cable, it’s just gone on too long.

And I’m not the only one – I’ve read several comments over the last few days that people are getting fed up.

After all my troubles trying to get my Active Sync USB connection going again, removing and reinstalling AS and USB drivers, even going so far as to install AS beta 4.2, I still could not get a connection. So I went the other route and bought a PEABIRD bluetooth usb module.

It was actually 0.50 € cheaper in the FNAC than the D-Link BT120 module which I knew about, plus it promised EDR – Bluetooth 2.0 instead of regular 1.1 Bluetooth that D-Link offers.

After the Toshiba drivers and utilities are installed, setting up Active Sync was a snap (well, almost). I first put both devices discoverable, paired the devices (for some reason or another, the only way that pairing works well for me is when I start the pair process from the pocket pc), and then discovered the services that were offered on each and created the relevant shortcuts for them, both on the pc and on the ppc.

Once that was done, I then set up an Active Stink, sorry Sync connection choosing to use Bluetooth to sync.

To get an actual sync working, I have to do the following steps :
1. Start Bluetooth serial connection on the pc (it has attributed itself COM40 !) using the shortcut it created.
2. Start AS on my pocketpc (making sure that Bluetooth is active)
3. Click the Sync button

and voila ! Sync auto-starts and everything works just fine.

Speed of sync is fine, although I suspect that my pc is only BT1.1 capable, it still works reasonably fast. I set both Bluetooth services back to non-discoverable again, plus only paired devices can connect. This should give some security.

All in all, it slightly more work starting the Sync, but so far all my Sync attempts have worked first time. No more install and re-install hassle (let’s hope so).


Flip – share monitor, keyboard, mouse (and audio) between 2 computers

Belkin Flip Usage

This is what I want. From what I heard it should be available somewhere during April 2006 for around 60 euros.

Currently I am using an old serial kit to switch my screen between my pc and my mac mini. Since the mac is fully usb I have a seperate keyboard and mouse and it is a hassle with all the wires on my desk.

Blog News Hardware PSP

Sony : Memory sticks now up to 8 GB

The PSP fansites are abuzz with the fact that Sony has announced new memory stick produo cards with a capacity of 4 and 8 Gigabytes. I’ve seen several reactions in the bulletin boards by crazed iso collectors (aka pirates) that are just craving for these capacities to store their whole collection of games and ripped movies.

Too bad they will probably need a firmware upgrade to use the 8 GB stick, which will render their isos useless.
(Unless ofcourse, they will write their own firmware – now that I’ve read about what some of these coders are doing, I won’t underestimate them !)

And of course, for all of us : the godawful price you’ll have to pay to get one !

Blog News Hardware PSP

Firmware, PSP games & Recharging

Firmware :
For the moment I’m staying with my psp 2.0 firmware.
The only reason to downgrade to 1.5 would seem to be the UMD loaders that allow you to play pirated games. I’m not going to go that way.
The only reason to upgrade would be the new RSS capability and some new codecs and download capability to memory stick. I’ll wait, thank you. It works fine as it is.

Games :
Meanwhile I’ve bought several games, here’s a quick overview and a personal score :

  • XMen II Apocalypse : quite a good game, sorta RPG, topdown view, lots of stuff to do (3/5)
  • Ridge Racer : I bought this second hand, as I wanted to at least own one driving game, but it’s so darn good that I keep coming back to it time and time again for a quick fix ! I understand better now how people could become slaves to racing games like this… (4/5)
  • King Kong : some white lines mar the game, and the controls are not all they could be (but you can try different layouts). I’ve only progressed a little bit, need to play some more, but so far it’s scary. (TBD)
  • Lord of the Rings Tactics : bought, but still haven’t played it. I almost regret buying this. (TBD)

I still need a good rpg : Popolocrois for psp seems to fit the bill, if it ever gets released here in Europe. Meanwhile I’ve installed a SNES emulator (via a bootloader for firmware 2.0) and ChronoTrigger. Amazing what Square could cram into 3 Mbyte !!

All these games should be more than enough to keep me occupied !

I think, once I’ve finished a few games like King Kong or Tactics, that I will sell these secondhand and pick up a new one from there. Prices for psp games are extremely expensive, they should really, really lower the price, and this is coming from a working guy, not a young guy with a chronic shortage of pocket money !

Recharging :
I am amazed : It seems as if Sony has done a major job of keeping the power consumption extremely low when you put your machine on standby. Keeping your psp on ‘standby’ (instead of really switching it off where you need to keep the off position pressed for 5 to 10 seconds) seems almost not to use any power at all. Reactivation is (almost) instantaneous.

I continue to be amazed : I thought my battery would run flat in less than a day, but I can comfortably play my game mornings or evenings in the train (both morning and evening seldom happens – when there are friends on the train they take precedence) and not even get to two bars down (ie the battery still reports as full). However, if you play an hour or 3 the battery does suddenly drop a bar down. Maybe it is the game I play : XMen does not use the UMD disc all the time, which seems to consume the most power.

Blog News Hardware

Pressure… Crack !


I have transformed my impulse buying into a higher level !

After months of not looking at it, after weeks of remarking regretfully to myself that I would have loved to have this when I was a kid, I succumbed to dreaming about it.

It took me a week of talking myself out of it multiple times (and back in again). After actually standing in the aisle with the gear in hands and then putting it back and walking away, a day later I finally cracked : I caved in, and bought a Playstation Portable (PSP). As you probably guessed from the picture with this piece.

It’s such a cool piece of kit that I could no longer resist it. Even though I have dozens of reasons why I don’t need it (for one, I’m too freakin’ old!) I said ‘Damnation to all reasons’ and bought it.

This is no longer impulse buying we’re talking about, this is crazed lemmings behaviour ! No, you don’t have to let me know what you think about that – I’ve probably already said it to myself…

I’ll post a bit more about using it (and what games I’m playing) later on, once I can spend some more time with the beast.

First impressions though :
– it looks and is extremely cool.
– you need a screen protector from day one – seriously.
– you need a good screen protector – the bad ones seriously degrade the screen quality !
– I can live with the battery charge – I don’t get to use it anyways longer than an hour or so per session… snif.
– An option to install a real hard drive in there (or otherwise : using a 4 or 8 GB memory card) will seriously let you expand your options what to do with it (play multiple games without changing discs, store more content).

Also, with regards to the last item above, Sony should be a bit more ‘open’ in letting people run unsigned code from their memory sticks : for now, if you want to run MAME, UAE or SCUMM emulators (there are dozens more) you need to have firmware 1.5, which you can only downgrade to if you have firmware 2.0 (Sony is at version 2.60 now).
Of course, it also allows you to run UMD-rips stored on your memory stick…

My psp (hmmmm ! that has a nice ring to it, my psp) has firmware 2.0. I’m still mulling about what to do : upgrading to the latest version (which more and more games require) or downgrading or just keeping it like that. I’ll probably be upgrading though, it’s not like I have time to do much more than play the occasional game on it.


Update on the minimax

I’ve been very happy using the Iomega minimax drive, but I did not find anywhere the Dantz Retrospect backup software that was promised to come with it, as was mentioned in the Apple page (and on the Iomega page) when I ordered it. I looked on the Minimax drive itself, I double-checked the box and the included Solutions CD, but nowhere was there any trace of the software.

Since then, I’ve contacted Apple After Sales support, and I am happy to say that I have gotten a very helpful After Sales Support person by the name of Harriett. She has contacted Iomega and they will send me the Dantz software on disk.

On the (slightly) minus side, I noticed that while my Firewire connections worked, my USB connections on the Minimax were not working. I thought that there was a chip inside that rerouted the usb connections via the Firewire cable (or vice versa, depending on which connection you made).

After reading the manual a bit more (yes I know, I should read it more thoroughly), I’ve discovered that there is no technical wizardry involved in having an extra USB and Firewire hub on the minimax drive. You have to connect both a Firewire link and a USB cable for both hubs to function, which means that you gain 2 Firewire ports instead of 3. The USB uplink is provided seperately, so you gain 3 USB ports.

I’ve used them all ! USB Webcam, small USB hub, USB mouse, FW DVD drive, FW camera link, oops full already ! Luckely I’ve got enough connections for now…