Tuesday, August 30, 2005

While rushing for the train to get home on Monday afternoon, my mate called me, and asked about me giving him a hand at his job, with those cabinets that have a serial port, and you need some software to configure.

I told him I'd help him out. (I was supposed to be sorting out a website for one of the seniors' clubs on the coast, but I put that off).

Anyway, I got together all the stuff I thought I'd need, RS232 leads etc, DB9 -> DB25 adapters (and vice versa), my null modem adapters.

I'd breifly looked at the software before, and when I'd tried to run it on XP, it had just said "error opening port", in that case, I figured it was because the laptop had no serial port.

Apparently it had said the same thing, when trying to run it on a machine that had serial ports, so then I began to suspect that it was an issue with direct hardware access, and the fact that NT doesn't allow it.

I grabbed my _old_ laptop, with Windows 95 on it, packed it up, along with all the cables, and we went off to the job.

I used my USB floppy drive to get the software off the XP laptop, and load it into my old laptop (since it doesn't have USB, or a CDROM or anything).

I set the laptop up, plugged in the null modem lead, between the serial port and the cabinet.

After mucking around with the laptop, for bloody ages, because it was being a pain, it'd lost all it's settings because it's been unplugged for so long.

Eventually I got it running, copied the software on, ran it, and found that it started, and connected immediately to the cabinet. Sweet.

I was expecting to have to muck around with the pinouts, but they've made it RS232 standard.

I used my old laptop to reconfigure a few cabinets. There was a different model one, which had a DB25 instead of a DB9 on it, and it was the wrong gender, and the gender bender I had was the wrong way.

We went out, and bought the right gender bender. When I tried to attach to the cabinet, all sorts of weird things were happening.

I traced the signal (RX/TX) connections, and I couldn't work out why, but the serial connection to the laptop, was causing the light in the cabinet to turn on and off.

When I tried a different null modem adapter on one end, it was causing the UV to turn on and off.

I traced the signal ground connection, it looked like it was being used as the common for all the buttons on the front panel.

I wondered if the signal ground line was non standard, not 7 (on the DB25) like it was supposed to be, so I tried a couple of other pins, that weren't attached to the front panel, but the laptop still wouldn't connect. I tried using pin 5, and 6 as the gnd, but this didn't work, and was causing other relays on the unit to click on and off.

I gave up, I don't think it's a serial port for configuring the board, I think that's why it had a different gender DB25 on the board (and a cable in it).

After work, went out to Jaycar, and I bought the bits to make up 2 null modem cables, for both the laptops, and a USB -> serial adapter, for the one with no serial port.

Then we came back to my place, and I grabbed my laptop, and an old 11mbit access point, so I could browse wirelessly at my mate's place.

I went back to my mate's place, we were going to try to make up a bootable live windows 98 cd for his laptop, so he could configure the cabinets.

I remembered reading a way to have windows 98 running off a usb drive, but I couldn't find any references to it, maybe I imagined that.

I setup the access point, and got googling.

Anyway, I found a few ways to make up live CDs, and the method I was going to go with is here.

While I waited for my mate to backup everything, in preparation for wiping the disk in his laptop, and installing 98 on it, I decided to see if I could find some way to get the software running under XP, since I wasn't really looking forward to all the crap I'd have to do.

First I had to put the software on the machine, I still had it on the floppy, from when I installed it on my crappy old laptop this morning, so I put my USB drive in, and tried to copy the files to his laptop.

I had to smbmount the hard drive in his laptop, but it just wouldn't work. I eventually discovered the problem. When I used smbclient to list the shares on his machine, I found that I was looking at the shares on my machine.

There was something dumb going on with the DNS, his computer name was resolving to the IP address that I had.

I checked in his ADSL modem, and found it was screwed up, had the same IP address in there twice, resolving to 2 different hostnames.

I mounted his laptop's drive using the IP address, and I was able to copy the files across.

When I tried running the software, I got the same thing, "Error opening port".

Hmm. I googled around, and found some software called "direct i/o", which is supposed to hog the serial port (or other address ranges) in windows, and allow legacy applications direct hardware access.

I installed this, and then couldn't remember the COM1 address, had to think about it for a minute, back to my days of mucking around in DOS, and I remembered it was 3F8.

I added in 3F8 - 3FF to the software, and IRQ 4. I tried running the application again, still no good.

I wondered if the COM port was running on some weird address in the laptop. I used winmsd, but couldn't see any references to the serial port addresses.

I looked in Device Mangler, and there were no Ports listed in there. WTF?

I asked my mate if his laptop really had a serial port. He swore that it did (I'd been doing everything over a vnc link, while sitting in a recliner with my laptop).

I asked if it was disabled in the BIOS or something. He rebooted, and had a look in there, couldn't find any settings related to the serial port.

I googled around, to try to find out about the serial port on the Dell 5150, and everything that I could see about it, said that it had no legacy ports.

I'm beginning to think that there really is no serial port on this model.

I eventually asked him to show me the serial port. "It's right on the back here" he tells me, turns the laptop around, and shows me the VGA out port.


It was at that point I got to jokingly abuse him for wasting my time.

I told him to install the USB -> RS232 adapter we'd bought, so he did that, but instead of installing the drivers that came with it, he used the windows update crap, and it figured out that the adapter was a motorolla modem, and not a serial port.

It took me a few minutes of fiddling, and I managed to get it to install the correct drivers. Now we were getting somewhere, we had a serial port, but it was COM6.

I tried running the software again. "Error opening port". Argh. I reconfigured direct i/o, and added in the COM6 address. Still couldn't use it.

I figured it was because the COM number was too high. I hadn't seen any config in the software, to tell it was port to use, so I assumed that it wanted to use COM1.

I tried to reconfigure the port, but Device Mangler kept crashing. I eventually figured it out to be caused by direct i/o, stopping windows from accessing the port.

I reconfigured it, freed up the COM6 address again, so that windows could hog it, and I was able to get to the settings. I found where to change the port number, but when I tried to change it to COM1, Device Mangler crashed again.

I figured it was because direct i/o was still holding the COM1 address, so I removed that, and then I was able to move the port.

I tried running the software up, and this time it worked. Hooray, I didn't even need the direct i/o software.

After that, my mate told me about the issues he was having with using some "snapshot viewer", which is for looking at M$ Access reports, when you don't have Access or something.

He could install it on his machine, and it worked, but he couldn't install it on his laptop, or the other laptops, they kept coming up with some error about "C:\Windows\System32\Autoexec.nt The system file is not suitable for running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows applications. Choose 'Close' to terminate the application."

I googled around, and eventually found this to be caused by a few files missing.

I found the knowledgebase article here, and followed the innstrutions, expanding the necessary files.

I was able to install the snapshot viewer after that, and it worked to open the files.

Why the hell are M$ putting out 16 bit software in this day and age??

Now that I had that fixed, I decided to fiddle around with the ADSL modem, and see if I could fix that up.

My mate recently changed away from BigPong, to Internode, and his ADSL modem still had all the BigPong settings in it, like their DNS servers, which are crappy, because they're overloaded with requests from their customer's worm infested machines.

I tried to work out how to change them, but the SpeedTouch is really a piece of crap. Even in console mode, it wouldn't update properly.

I bit of googling, and I found that a newer firmware was available from the New Zealand site, so I grabbed that, but it was a stupid exe, so I put it on my mate's machine, and had him run the update.

Even after that, it still had BigPong all over it. It was only when I went through the stupid easy setup wizard, that I was able to get all that crud out, and have it using the correct DNS servers.

At one point, I connected the SMC 2632W card in my laptop to the AP, and it stole the IP address my mate had on his machine, but what was even weirder, was that I ejected the card, but the IP it had was still responding to pings.

I decided to leave the AP around there, since I had 4 APs these days, so I can use it when I take my laptop around.

I looked at lending my mate the 2632W card, I put it in his laptop, had to go and find the drivers for it, from SMC's site, installed them.

It was able to see the AP, and I could connect to it, but then it would just flick off it again. I tried this a few times.

I eventually found it was because it had no aerial attached, which was weird, because I've been running it with no aerial, and it worked fine.

That was useless, because the aerial/pigtail has a lucent connector on it, so it just falls out, unless you hold it in there.

I bid on a wireless card on eBay for him, that's covered in the next post..

Sunday, August 28, 2005

No more crappy looking "your TiVo is waking up" boot screen.

I was reading through some old TiVo doco I'd written (here), and there was some bits of rc.sysinit there, I saw references in there to updating the PROM on the tivo.

I'd always meant to investigate this, and never got around to it.

I just did some googling, and managed to find out that you can update the PROM in the series 1 TiVos, it used to be commonplace, when there was an update to the OS apparently.

A few bits I found are here, here, here, and here.

Anyway, I read lots of references to not doing it, because there's no way to recover from a botched update apparently.

I ummed and ahhed about it. I dumped the PROM files out of both of my TiVos (using "getprom -dump [filename]"), and found that the first tivo I bought had a newer version, 1.84b, and the second tivo, the older looking one, had 1.79a.

I kept reading, had a look in /prom, and found that I had the newer version, so I eventually decided to just update it.

I'd never been able to access the PROM with a serial cable on the older tivo either, I wondered if this would fix it (I tried again, still no good, just to make sure).

So anyway, I typed in "getprom -Update TiVoProm_1.84b.bin", held my breath, pressed enter, and saw:

Atmel AT49HLV010, lockable region is in the wrong place
Updating old version:

TiVoProm Monitor version 1.79-a
< Erasing FLASH
Updating FLASH
............................................done. New version:

TiVoProm Monitor version 1.84b
Good checksum - 0x009B1B1E

And just to confirm, a quick "getprom -version" returned "TiVoProm Monitor version 1.84b".

I rebooted, quickly pressed enter in the terminal emulator, attached to the serial port, and saw "Verify password:". I accidently hit enter again, and saw "Password did not match".


I looked back, and noticed that the old crappy looking blue boot screen with the Atari spec graphics was gone, replaced by the more modern looking tivo guy standing there.

The unit booted up, all seems to be working fine.

There's a version 2.05 of the PROM, but I think that's for the series 1 DirecTV units. I'm not game to try flashing that, at this point.

Update: Ok, I took a chance, I decided to update to 2.05. I figured the file wouldn't be on here unless it worked on the unit.

I flashed it:

getprom -Update TiVoProm_2.05.bin
Atmel AT49HLV010, lockable region is in the wrong place
Updating old version:

TiVoProm Monitor version 1.84b
Erasing FLASH
Updating FLASH
............................................done. New version:

TiVoProm Monitor, release version 2.05 (ntsc)

Good checksum - 0x00C00F3F

Another reboot, I was a bit worried, it sat there saying "Welcome. Powering up.." (on a plain, boring looking screen, rolling because I'm using a PAL display) for a long time, and I didn't get the password prompt when I hit enter.

I must have just hit enter too late, because it did go past.

One more to try, the pal version of 2.05..

getprom -Update TiVoProm.pal.bin
Atmel AT49HLV010, lockable region is in the wrong place
Updating old version:

TiVoProm Monitor, release version 2.05 (ntsc)

Erasing FLASH
Updating FLASH
............................................done. New version:

TiVoProm Monitor, release version 2.05 (pal)

Good checksum - 0x00B5245B

I rebooted, still couldn't get the password prompt (maybe they got rid of that in 2.x?) and the screen was still rolling, strange, since I thought it was supposed to be a PAL version of the PROM.

I put 1.84b back on again, and was able to access the menu again.

That'll do, no more mucking around :-)

I've been in to "Zero 7" stuff, since first hearing "Out of Town" on the SomaFM BeatBlender internet radio I've been listening to.

I've listened to "I Have Seen" a few times, and I really like the bass intro/riff.

I had a look for the tab, found a couple, (here, and here) but they didn't sound quite right. I worked it out for myself, and I decided to have a go at tabbing it.

I found references to a few different tab programs, when I was looking for a tuner program last night.

I installed "eTktab" first, which is pretty good, once you get the hang of the keys, and setting the base fret.

I tabbed it up, here's another attempt at putting a tab in a blog..

G |-------------|-----------------|--------------------------|
D |-------------|-----------------|--------------0--2--3-----|
A |-6--6--4--6--|--4--6--6--4--6--|--0--4--5--6-----------4--|
E |-------------|-----------------|--------------------------|

It's a bit rough, there probably should be a couple of rests in there, and some notation, that the first 2 bars are the intro, repeated a bunch of times, and then the rest is the riff.

The riff changes key someway through the song, I haven't worked out exactly what it does, I think it just steps up a fret or 2.

But it'll do for now.

Anyway, I kept looking at the software, I found "lilypond", but it's for printing out sheet music, not related to tabbing, and doesn't look like it works with tab files anyway.

I also found "songwrite" (no link, it was an "apt-get install songwrite"), which is supposed to generate midi files from tabs. I tried using that, but it didn't work, again, I think related to the sound issues I'm having.

I just get "broken pipe", when trying to output any midi. The user interface on it wasn't too intuitive either, but I'm sure I could have worked it out.

It wouldn't import my tab file, but it's supposed to import GuitarPro tabs. I went to try that, but then realised I don't have my tab collection on here, I must have moved them off when I repartitioned the disk.

I gave up, and decided to recompile the kernel last night.

First I tried again to tune the guitar, but even with the cord out a bit, it still didn't work, nor after using the JACK gui, to setup the patching.

(I kept getting the error "jack_create_thread: error 1 setting scheduler parameters after thread creation: Operation not permitted" when trying to start JACK with qjackctl too, I had to disable the "realtime" option to fix this).

Anyway, so I decided to recompile the kernel. I knew this would be a bit of a pain, because I'd have to recompile the wireless drivers, and a few other bits and pieces that have to be done independently.

I downloaded the latest kernel source,, (which I discovered I could get as "free" traffic, from the pacific.net mirror). When I tried to unbzip the source, there was some sort of an error, like the file was incomplete or corrupt.

There's another mirror I have access to as "free" traffic, 3FL, so I went to download it from there, but found they didn't have yet, only up to

I checked the changelog, and it looked like bugger all changes that would effect me, so I pulled down

While going through the kernel configuration, I decided to add in moduled support for a whole bunch of stuff, "just in case", so I should be able to attach any sort of PCMCIA card, or USB device, and have support for it.

While I was going through configuring, I came across the DRI support. Bugger, I'd forgot about this pain.

I knew that after I built the kernel, I'd have to build the standalone DRI/DRM stuff against it, so that Xorg would run with direct rendering. Oh well.

I finished compiling the kernel, with all the options I thought I needed. (Though forgetting to look for the realtime support, which was one of the reasons I was doing this, so JACK could run realtime).

I installed it, rebooted, and the machine came up, nice. I had no wireless, I built the ieee subsystem for it, and installed it, then built the ipw2200 driver, and installed that, and loaded it, and my wireless popped straight up.

Now I had to work on DRI. I read the instructions for building it, and started following them. I had to check some stuff out of CVS.

I started checking out xc, and then I recalled what happened last time I did this.. it ended up being 700 something Mb worth of files, taking me a day to download, when I could have been just a 42mb bzip file.

I killed that off, and just grabbed out drm, and mesa.

I built the drm kernel modules, and installed them, and was able to load up the module for my i915 chipset, worked.

I tried to build Mesa, but it complained about missing files. I recalled needing to have the xc module also available, and manually copying a few files out of xc into Mesa, for it to compile.

I tried it without, hoping the existing mesa stuff/xorg modules would work with the kernel driver.

I tried restarting Xorg, but didn't get direct rendering. I recalled doing this before, and it wasn't until I rebooted that it started working, so I rebooted, still no direct rendering.

I checked, and the kernel modules weren't loaded. Strange, maybe I didn't "depmod -a", I did that, and rebooted again, still didn't load.

I put a reference to i915 in the modules file, to force it loading, but this still didn't work. I figured it's because I've got mismatching versions of the kernel module, and the Xorg module.

Other than having no direct rendering, it all seemed to work.

I went about testing the sound stuff, and found exactly the same behaviour as before. I can plug the guitar into the line in, and hear it out the speakers on the laptop, but no software can see the signal.

(I went through all the software, and none of it worked, same as before).

I gave up, shut the lid, and went to bed.

In the morning, the machine was still running fine, I used it for a while, and then shut the lid again.

When I came back again, my mouse was gone. It would still work, because buttons would react to the cursor hovering over them, but the mouse pointer was gone.

I had to reboot to get it back again.

Now I'm in 2 minds, since the audio stuff didn't work, do I just roll back to the old kernel (and lose all the extra kernel modules I built, for stuff I don't have), or try to recompile Mesa/xorg to get the direct rendering back again.

Neither of which will effect the busted audio support (gnome sound recorder still hangs, under the new kernel), and it might just be a waste of time.

Update: I've just tested watching a couple of video clips that are hanging around on my laptop, and even though I've not got direct rendering, they still played fine. I intend to download the latest xorg CVS tarball, and build it, and mesa, but I haven't got around to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I did a bit of shopping today.

A new music shop opened up, and had a sale, so we went in there.

My mate had a look at the guitar pedals, and bought himself one.

I had a look at the basses, and was really impressed with one, a 5 string.

I played it for a while, and then went and found my mates, in looking at a synthesiser setup.

The guy working there showed us all that, rack mounted gear, that emulates stacks etc, and you can set it to the sounds you want, seemed pretty cool, but really pricey.

I had another look at the bass I'd been playing, a black 5 string, Alvarez, and decided that I wanted it.

I asked the guy what sort of a deal he could do on it, he came and looked, worked it out, and dropped $120 off the tag price.

I asked about getting some strings, to replace the cheesy ones on it, and then they joked what I'd try to get out of them next, a case?

We looked at the strings, the guy was going to give me a cheap set, but then realised I needed a set of 5, so that set were no good. He picked out a more expensive set, and took half the price off.

They went to find the box for the bass, and while they did so, I had a quick look at the cables, and decided to get a new one, I grabbed a short cheap one, $10 worth, thinking he'd just throw that in, but he only charged be cost for it, whatever.

I paid for that lot, and then we chatted for a bit.

The guy said to come back if we needed anything, and I asked if they had microphone preamps, since we need one for the Shure mic I bought last weekend.

He said they did, and we went and looked, he had a 5 input unit, with some basic mixing functions, and dropped $15 off the price of that, so I bought it. My mate had been looking at a whistle thing, so they guy threw that in with it.

My other mate had grabbed a glass slide, and while the guy didn't throw that in, he gave it to us for cost.

Not a bad days effort. I put the new strings on my new bass (couldn't put the new B string on though, because it's too long/too fat at the adjustment), then I had to tune it.

I had a look around, to see if I could find some instrument tuning software for linux.

I found a few different bits of software, but I didn't have any luck. I think there's something funny going on with the sound support on my laptop.

I tried a couple of different bits of software:

Linux Tuner. It fired up, but then didn't do anything, wouldn't respond to the sound input.

gtune, I didn't get as far as even downloading this.

vtuner, I couldn't get this to compile, it needed some other library, which wasn't available for Debian, and the source of that other library wouldn't compile for some reason.

tuneit, didn't seem to work, never responded to any input.

gtkguitune, starts, but never displays any input.

After this, I started to wonder if there was some sort of a problem. I found it hard to believe that out of all these programs, none would do anything.

I checked that the volume control was setup properly, it was turned right up on the microphone, it wasn't muted, and was selected for recording.

I could hear the guitar through the speakers, it was like the software wasn't looking in the right place.

I wondered if it had something to do with the ALSA support I'm using, and if this stuff was designed for OSS.

I kept looking, specifically for ALSA based stuff, or JACK based, and I found a couple more..

fmit, this was a real pain to compile, I needed to find where libraries were, set environment variables, install the JACK dev stuff. I got it compiled, ran it, and it pegged my CPU. I managed to kill it, and found it had output a whole stack of errors about a broken pipe.

I found another one, qjacktuner, of which there's only CVS access to. I downloaded all the files, one at a time, out of CVS, and then I went about trying to compile it. I needed to install libsndfile to get sndfile.h, then it compiled. I ran it, and it just didn't do anything.

I found this really good article, about guitars and linux. It has links to another couple of bits of software, gtune, as I found before, and xtune, but both the links in the article seem to be dead.

I discovered that tuneit will work with both OSS/ALSA, and JACK, so I tried using it with JACK, but I still didn't get anything.

Anyway, as I said, I think there's something wrong with the sound support (chmod 777 /dev/dsp didn't help), because even the gnome sound recorder doesn't work.

It'll claim to record, but you can't hear anything, and if you try to record again, the app will just hang.

Maybe I need to recompile the kernel, with different sound driver options, but then that means rebuilding the wireless drivers again, argh.

Anyway, I gave up, I booted up the windows machine I usually use Guitar Pro on to tune my guitar.

Even this was a pain, because I discovered that the sound pickup was really lousy for some reason, I found that I had to have the plug pulled out of the guitar slightly, for it to work.

I wondered if this could have been the problem on my laptop, so I had another go, with the plug out a bit, but it made no difference.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I've got a couple of new versions of XBMC recently, and they aren't bad.

I was running a version from last year for a bloody long time, but it wasn't great, and I don't think it had proper ty support.

I got a newer version a couple of months ago, but I could never manage to get it to play any videos, I don't know what the problem was there.

Anyway, I got a new version a week and a bit ago, and put it on, it was pretty good. Looks like mplayer is used from playing ty stuff now, and it worked a lot better than the old way.

The other huge thing with this one, was that the beta dvdplayer functionality is in there, so now I can just pop (any region) DVDs in the drive, and it plays them!

The old XBMC I had on there would play DVDs, but it couldn't handle encrypted discs, and it didn't run the menus, you had to just run the vob files, which was a real pain, because I found that I had to use my laptop to decrypt the DVDs to the hard disk, and then either copy them to the Xbox, or play them with the laptop's disk mounted.

I love the samba server functionality built into the Xenium chip too, that makes it so easy to install. I just smbmount the xbox's disk, and unrar the XBMC distribution straight onto the xbox.

Anyway, I put another new version on, after adding the xbox into IPCop's DHCP list, and setting up a couple of DMZ pinholes so I could access it (since it's on the LAN/Green interface, and my laptop is on the Blue/Wireless interface).

I haven't noticed much difference between this version, and the one I put on a couple of weeks ago, I think it was a security patch or something.

Anyway, while my LAN is in the state it is in, with bugger all machines patched back onto it (or turned on), there's not much media shared.

I've been listening to internet radio on the Xbox (a bit more convenient than having a great long cord stretched across the room from my receiver to my laptop).

I just did a quick google, to see if WestNet offer any free radio stations, and I found that they do, there's a forum thread here, and the link to the stations is here. It's probably not much use unless you're on an ISP with access to 3FL or whatever, but anyway.

Oh, and I noticed that one of the streams they have, is the SomaFM Beat Blender stream, which I've been listening to a bit lately, in order to waste my bandwidth, so now I can listen to it for free, groovy!

I'm also looking a bit more thoroughly for a PlayStation emulator for the xbox, since I found those bin/cue files the other day.

I found references to "pcsxbox", but couldn't find anywhere to download it. When I looked on the xbox's disk (via ftp, since I can't find any smb server functionality in XMBC), I found that I already had it on there.

Same old thing though, you need the PSX BIOS file. A quick google, and I found that I could download SCPH1001.bin from driverguide, LOL.

I've got quite a bit of free space on the Xbox disk anyway, so I might fill it up with movies and PSX CD images, save them filling up a disk I could use somewhere else.

One advantage of IPCop is the logging.

I've been looking in the logging a fair bit, mainly to try to work out what's causing connectivity issues, but also out of interest.

I can't believe how much junk there in on the internet.

I'm seeing BigPong customers trying to access MSSQL server, several different worms, Sasser, Dabber, and something trying access port 32775.

I can't even find what it would be looking for on that port.

I'm also seeing stacks of attempted gnutella connections, but I haven't had LimeWire running for hours.

I haven't managed to turn on the snort stuff yet, because I'm having difficulty becoming a member. I created an account, but I can't login, I tried changing my password, still no good.

I've emailed there support, and I'm waiting for a reply. I dread to think what snort is going to identify going on.

Update: I finally got a reply from their support, and they told me that it could be something to do with cookie support.

I tried logging in again, still didn't work. I wondered if the transparent proxy was doing something, so I tried disabling that, but still couldn't login.

I decided to try a different browser, I fired up konqueror. I was able to login, in the process, it popped up and asked if I wanted to accept the cookie. Hmm.

Anyway, I was able to login, and get the "oink" code that I needed, then I configured snort properly.

It didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, about those SQL exploits. What I did find interesting, was that there were 2 separate hosts, both in China, attacking me within a couple of seconds of installing the rulesets. (Or perhaps they attacked me in the last couple of hours, and snort has analysed the current running log file).

Well, I finally got around to building the ipcop machine.

(and I didn't start this blog with "I'm trying" either! :-)

It wasn't too difficult, but there were a couple of things that were a bit counter intuitive.

I backed up a few files off the machine I was planning to use as my IPCop box, an old PII 350, and then I grabbed it out from under the desk.

I moved the disk from the tivo disk imaging machine into the new machine, and installed all the extra network cards in it, and swapped the 64MB RAM stick with the 256MB stick I pinched out of the card server the other day.

The Intel NIC already in it is a different revision to the other 2, but that doesn't matter, and I put in a Realtek card, since I couldn't get the other Intel NIC out of the other server.

I booted up the machine, IPCop booted off the disk no worries, I reran the setup, adding all the extra NICs in.

I connected my existing LAN to the Green interface, and attempted to access the web interface to do more configuration, but I couldn't manage to connect.

I logged into the IPCop box, and attempted to telnet to the local machine, to test if the port wass open, but discovered that there's no telnet client on IPCop.

Not being able to test if the port was open, and assuming it was, I figured it was because I'd set the IP on the Green interface the same as on my old router, and the arp table had stable entries in it.

I couldn't plug my laptop directly into the Green interface, and keep the LAN out of it, because I couldn't find a crossover cable.

I put a WRT54G in between, to act as a switch, to make up for not having a crossover cable, but I still couldn't connect to the web interface.

I figured that because the WRT was connected to the other WRT with WDS, that the stale arp entries were still causing my traffic to go to the old router (a 486 running LRP, with no web interface).

I then powered off the other WRT, wired to the LAN, thinking I now had isolated my connection between my laptop and the IPCop box.

I still couldn't connect. Hmm. I even tried rebooting the IPCop box.

It was at this point I remembered that ipcop runs the web interface on port 81, not 80.

As soon as I tried to connect, I was redirected to https, and was able to login.

I went about configuring everything, moved the adsl modem over, connected to the red interface.

I ran the machine like that for a while. It was all running nicely, IPCop seems pretty good.

I backed up the config to floppy disk, testing that functionality.

I had a 40gb disk in the machine at the time, which I thought was a bit excessive, I'd rather have something like a 10G disk in there.

The original disks I'd taken out of the machine, were a 10G and 13G.

I connected the 10Gb disk to the internals of the USB external drive caddy thing, and attached it to my laptop. I found a stack of partitions on this disk, along with a bunch of crud.

I quickly browsed through, looking to see if I could use the disk again, it looked like I didn't need much of what was on there.

I found a few bin/cue files, backups of PlayStation discs. I thought about deleting them, then wondered about a PSX emulator for Xbox. I googled around, but couldn't find one. I'll have to look harder.

As I kept looking through the disk partitions, I eventually discovered that it was actually the system disk out of the machine, and while I'd backed up the important stuff, I wasn't quite ready to blow the disk away yet.

I unmounted all the partitions, and took the disk off.

I grabbed the other disk, the 13Gb disk. I noticed that it was set to slave, and I had a quick look, couldn't find a jumper to put on the drive, figured the USB adapter wouldn't care anyway, so I just connected it.

My laptop tried to mount it, but when it found that it was a slave drive (presumably), the kernel USB drivers crapped themselves.

I removed the drive, reattached it, and it didn't do anything. I pinched a jumper off a different drive, set the drive to master, and reattached, but it still didn't do anything.

I decided to try unloading/reloading the usb drivers, but I couldn't unload them.

I rebooted my laptop, and when it came back up, it happily mounted the disk.

Oh well, no more slave drives attached via USB.

I found this disk to only have 1 partition on it, and be full of DivX 3.11 DVD backups. I started moving them all on to my laptop drive.

This was going to take about 1/2 hour, so while I waited for that, I realised that I needed some patch cables, and I'd run out, they were all used, or at least all run, behind the desk.

I started pulling the whole LAN patching job out, to do it all again, since now there were a couple of machines I didn't need anymore.

While doing this, I must have bumped the card server or something, because Dad came in, and said the satellite tv had stopped.

I mucked around with that for a couple of minutes, I initially thought it might have been cause by me unpatching the network card, perhaps it needed a link up, but repatching it didn't work.

I then found the machine had locked up, I rebooted it, started the stuff back up, but it still didn't work. I wondered if I'd accidently bumped the serial port card or something.

I rebooted the machine again, and this time it started working again.

I also had to find power, because when I installed the IPCop box, I wanted to move a switch, hub (to convert 10baseT to 10base2), adsl modem, WRT54G all in with it.

I realised that all 4 of these have those stupid plug pack adapters, so I'd need 2 powerboards, because you can only fit 2 of those adapters in each 4 way board.

I moved some stuff off to be powered by the rack, because it's got 6 points in it.

This allowed me to free up most of one powerboard, it was only running another powerboard, which was running the card server, and the power adapter that runs the phoenix programmer.

Argh, I had to shut it all down again, to move it to another powerboard.

I traced a few more cords, unplugged some monitors I don't need, then shut the card server down, moved the power cord/adapter, booted it back up, and got it running.

I now had a pretty large pile of cat5 patch cables, power cords, and power boards.

It had taken a little bit over 1/2 hour by now, so all the files were moved off the disk I wanted to use.

I deleted the partition off the disk, and disconnected it. I shut the IPCop box down, removed the 40gb disk, and attached the 13Gb disk.

I needed to reinstall IPCop obviously, so I found the CD, and put it in the drive, and configured the BIOS to boot off the CD.

I tried this a few times, but it wouldn't boot. I suspected because the CD drive is a piece of crap, and won't read most CDs, letalone when it's on its side.

I tipped the machine back up, and now it was able to boot off the CD. I got about halfway through the install, and then tar failed, because the CD drive couldn't read the CD properly, and I was forced to reboot.

I tried again, it did exactly the same thing. Crap. I grabbed a spare old CD writing drive I've got hanging around, and attached that out the side of the machine.

I booted up, ran the install for the 3rd time, and this time it was fine. It got to asking me about restoring a floppy backup, the disk was still in the drive, so I told it to.

It sat there for a minute, and then said it failed. Hmm, I hadn't even seen the drive light go on.

I checked, and realised that the floppy drive power had been disconnected, between switching the hard drives, and standing the machine upright.

I didn't want to start the install all over again, and the power connector for the floppy drive wouldn't reach, since it was the one that came off the connector in the hard drive.

I carefully disconnected the power from the hard drive, attached a different power connector, and then carefully attached the power connector back to the floppy drive.

I told it to restore the config from the floppy again, and all was happy. It read all the files off the floppy, dumped them on the hard disk.

I don't think I had to do anything after that, but reboot the machine.

When it rebooted, I powered it off, and grabbed the cdrom drive off the machine again. I didn't bother to connect the other crappy one again.

The machine booted up, and immediately the internet connection was working again, sweet.

I clicked around a bit, made sure everything was right, and then I got organised to put the machine back where it belongs.

I put the side back on it, found all the bits I needed to connect to it, found appropriate length patch leads, plugged all the plug packs in to the power boards, and moved the whole lot over to reinstall it back under the desk.

I pushed it in a bit, and grabbed the coax run off the old router, and attached it to the hub. I pushed the machine right back in.

I ran the phone line around the outside of the room, instead of across the middle, patched it.

I moved one of my WRT54Gs, and patched that in to the blue interface NIC in the machine.

I powered it all up. It sort of looked like it was working.

I couldn't do anything from the wireless connection, but I figured I had to add my MAC address in there or something, so I ran a length of cat5 into the laptop. I was able to access the web interface, and went through setting it all up.

I then tried to get a DHCP address on wireless, but it just wouldn't work. I was scratching my head about that for a while.

I couldn't access the internet either, and then realised there was no ethernet link on the adsl modem. I reached around behind, and found it wasn't pushed into the red NIC properly.

I went back to trying to get the wireless working. I was running tcpdump on eth2, seeing the dhcp request, but it just wasn't replying to it.

It took me quite a while, and I realised that I was looking at the wrong interface, eth2.. that's the Orange NIC, why is there DHCP requests on there??

I climbed under the desk, and discovered I'd somehow managed to patch the WRT54G into the Orange NIC, not the Blue NIC.

I moved that, and immediately I got an IP. That only wasted about 45 minutes, of clicking around, silly config checking, head scratching.

I setup some port forwarding, for LimeWire and aMule, but they still claimed they found a firewall.

It took me a minute to work that out too, oh yeah.. first, I still had a wired connection, and I'd set the port forwards to my wireless interface, and then I realised that the adsl modem is on a different subnet, and still has port forwards in it, to a now wrong IP.

I changed those forwards in the modem, and changed my laptop's default route, to go via wireless.

Now I couldn't get anything. I'd see the traffic coming in on the Blue interface on IPCop, but it would never allow any replies.

I couldn't even access the config interface from the Blue network, which I thought was strange.

I mucked around with this for a while, gave up, changed back to the wired/Green interface, which worked, changed the port forwards to the wired interface, and went to bed.

When I checked in the morning, I found the problem, while I'd entered my laptop's details in the Blue Access bit, somehow my entry had become disabled, I just enabled it, and bang, it was all working.

I then tested DHCP on Blue (which had been failing last night), but it still didn't work. It wasn't until I disabled DHCP on Blue, and reenabled it that it started working.

I changed the port forwards again, and tested it, working, fine.

Now I wanted to get the ADSL modem running in bridge mode. I googled around a bit, and found a forum, linking to this page, which contains a video "Enabling Bridge Mode".

I watched that (happily worked in mplayer, even though it's a windows mediocre video v9 file). Didn't look too hard, set encapsulation type to "1483 Bridged LLC", then set bridge to enabled.

I did that, and rebooted it. Now I had to configure IPCop to deal with doing the authentication.

I knew I had to run the setup again, to change the Red interface settings, so I tried doing that, while ssh'd in over the wireless. Oops. You can't do that, because it pulls the Blue interface down.

I went and logged in locally, and reconfigured it, setting it to use PPPoE for the config of the Red interface.

This looked like it came up, but then I had to work out where to put the settings of the account. More random clicking around in the web interface, and I found it under the dialup settings.

I setup my details, and attempted to connect, it didn't seem to work. I tried rebooting, in desperation, but it still didn't connect.

I tried using the PPPoE standard connection, instead of the plugin, but that didn't work either. While clicking around, I noticed that Blue Access, and some other options had disappeared.

I reconfigured IPCop again, and tried setting the Red interface to DHCP instead of PPPoE.

This didn't work either. When I went back and checked the card bindings, I found it had lost all the bindings, except for Green. I reassigned the cards, and this time it worked.

I switched back to using the PPPoE plugin (had to stop the connection first), and then it was all fine.

So far I've haven't seen any other issues. I'm pretty impressed so far.

(Oh, and I still haven't finished repatching the network, I just did the bare minimum, and then got sick of crawling around under the desk, because I already had to change the torch battery once).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm trying to find things to do to waste bandwidth.

Normally I wouldn't be, but I realised, that because I joined up towards the end of the month, and WestNet work to the calender month, while I didn't pay for a full month's access, I ended up with a month's worth of download.

I've had streaming radio going for the last couple of days, that's wasted a bit. Somafm.com is the station I've been listening to, now that NetRockRadio is gone (ok, wel NRR has been gone for over 3 years now, but I used to enjoy streaming it when I worked for an ISP, back in 98/99, that had a huge 128k connection).

While listening to the stream off soma, I've been impressed by some of the suff I've heard, mainly "Zero 7", so I used LimeWire to download a stack of their songs, wasting a bit more.

I'm doing quite well, I checked my usage, and I've managed to go through over 500Mb, a pretty good effort, when I wasn't really doing all that much on the web today.

While trying to find more things to waste bandwidth, I recalled those internet cameras that most people don't put a password on, and google can find them.

After a bit of googling, I found them to be "axis" cameras, and you need to google for "inurl:view/view.shtml", which turns up stacks of them.

Some of them you can even control, which is pretty cool.

Anyway, the best ones I've found so far, are here, a huge nest with a couple of huge birds in it, and here, a Lego setup.

here's a comms room of some description. Maybe I need to get a few more racks :-)

here's a clock and a fishtank.

here's some sort of weird pendulum.

here's some rockets.

I'll keep adding more cool ones as I find them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm trying to start building my ipcop machine.

I found a disk to use for it, a 40gb disk I found spare.

I did a basic install of ipcop on it, using the machine I use for imaging tivo disks, but I only had 1 network card in the machine at the time.

I decided to collect all the NICs together, I want to use 4 Intel NICS I've got.

The only problem with this, is that 2 of them are in machines. 1 of these is the machine that will be the ipcop machine, so that's fine, but the other is in one of my servers.

I shut the server down, grabbed the card out of it, and put in a different card, in the same slot.

I powered the machine back up, but it didn't detect the new card. Strange.

I tried running up the software I needed on the machine, since it only uses the serial ports, and the machine doesn't really need network access, but I discovered that I couldn't do that.

The software is some crappy VB app, and it seems to require a network interface, because it just kept coming up saying something about "address type not supported".

I tried again, forcing an update of the ESCD data in the BIOS, but that didn't work.

I tried booting the machine with no network card, and then again with the card in, because I've had machines before, that won't notice a card swapped, or moved between slots, unless it's booted without the card in at all.

This didn't work either. I began to wonder about the NIC.

I had a few different ones, so I tried another, still no good.

I wondered if there was something wrong with the slot I was trying to use, so I popped out another backplane cover, and tried a different slot.

I still didn't have any luck. I was getting a bit annoyed by now.

I tried yet another card, and in both slots, and forcing updates of the ESCD data, but had no luck. In desperation I set the BIOS to "PnP OS: Yes", because I usually rely on the BIOS to configure PnP cards, not windows.

This didn't help either.

I put the original card back in, the Intel I wanted, and it detected it without issue. I tried having both the Intel, and one of the other cards in the machine, but it only detected the Intel still.

At one point I got close, I used a different card again (I had a few to try), and windows detected it, but the video had changed to 640x480x16 colours.

I looked, and apparently there weren't enough IRQs, so the video card was conflicting with the NIC.

I realised that the USB controller was enabled, so I disabled it in the BIOS, hoping to get another couple of IRQs, but it didn't achieve anything.

I pulled the serial card out of the machine (it's got 4 serial ports, between the 2 onboard, and the 2 on the serial card), and then put a NIC in.

Now the machine wouldn't even power on. I tried it without the NIC again, just the video card, but it still wouldn't boot.

I was getting really annoyed now.

I mucked around with the machine a bit, checked all the connections, even took the video card out and put it back, but it still wouldn't boot.

I put the serial card back, in, and now the machine booted. I don't know what was going on there.

I tried it with a a NIC again, still didn't work. I managed to get the machine to boot without the serial card after that.

Even though the BIOS wouldn't detect the cards, windows would. I don't know what the story was there.

I installed one of the cards, which windows detected, but then I realised I couldn't install the drivers, because the machine has no floppy drive, and I didn't have the drivers for it anyway.

I put in a different card, windows detected it, had a driver for it, and set it all up. Good, I'm getting somewhere.

I put the serial card back into the machine, in the slot where the NIC had been originally, booted up the machine.

When windows came up, it told me that the NIC wasn't working properly. ARGH.

I wondered if it was an IRQ issue. I recalled that one of the cards I was trying to use, an old 10Mb PCI card, could be configured, and I thought the IRQ was one of the things that could be configured.

I found the driver floppy, and then realised the machine didn't have a floppy drive. Argh.

I took the card out, installed it in another machine, and booted it up, and ran up the install program. I found that all that could be configured was the medium type, duplex setting, and something to do with the boot rom.

I couldn't change the IRQ or anything, that must have all been PnP.

I put the card back in the machine, it still didn't work.

In desperation, I put in an old ISA card, but windows didn't detect it. I didn't even know what it was, an Intel something or other, with 8/16 written on the PCB.

I installed a 16 Bit card that I saw windows had a driver for, but I needed to tell it the address and IRQ the card were on.

I had no idea, didn't have a setup program, so figured I was wasting my time.

I put another card in there, and when windows came back up, it claimed it found the 16 bit adapter I'd installed (which was clever, since I'd taken it out of the machine).

It also identified the PCI card I'd put in there, a Realtek 100Mbit card, but it was 8139 based, and windows only had drivers for 8129 cards.

I tried using that, but it didn't work.

I gave up. I put the serial card back in the slot it came from, and I put the Intel NIC back in the slot it was in.

I booted the machine it, it sorted itself out, and I was able to start up the software again.

I ended up wasting almost 2 hours in the end, and achieved nothing.

Oh, actually, not nothing, because I realised that machine has 512MB of ram in it, and doesn't need it, so I pinched out a 256MB stick, that I'll put in the IPCop box.

I'll have to get another card going in the IPCop box, probably not too much of a worry, I could live with a 10Mb card even, on the WAN interface, connected to the ADSL modem.

I decided to put the 3 Intel NICs, and one other card into the machine I use for imaging tivo disks, to fully build/configure/test the IPCop box, before I pull apart my DNS server.

When I went to do this, I discovered that the machine only has 3 PCI slots in it.

I gave up at that point. I think tomorrow I will back up the stuff I need off the DNS server, and rebuild it. Hopefully it's got 4 PCI slots in it.

I tried to get to work this morning, but tora wouldn't connect to oracle for some reason, saying the listener wasn't running.

I went in, tried restarting the listener, but that didn't work. I tried restarting the database after that, and it seemed that something funny had gone on there too.

I was able to shut the database down, but then I couldn't start it again, it was complaining that it couldn't find the init file for the instance.

I looked, and I couldn't find it either. In desperation, I decided to try copying the default init file, and renaming it to match the Oracle SID.

I modified the database name in it, to match the SID, and then I tried to start the database.

I was quite surprised to find that it actually started up.

I was then able to restart the listener again. It still didn't look like it was right though.

I tried to connect with tora again, and still received an error, though this time it was an error resolving the service name.

I wondered if something had happened to the tnsnames.ora file, so I checked it, but it looked fine.

I went back, and had one more go at connecting with tora, and it connected.

I don't know what that was, maybe it takes a little while for the listener to start up properly.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I'm trying to start installing IPCOP on a machine.

I dug out a few network cards, I'd ideally like the machine to have 4 Intel 8255x cards in it, so I went through all my spare cards.

I didn't find any Intel NICs spare (dunno why, I used to have a stack of them), but I managed to find that I do have 4, there's 1 in the machine I want to use, 1 in the machine I use for imaging tivo disks (which I can replace with an old 10mb card or something), 1 I collected from my mate's place the other day, and 1 in the card server.

The 1 in the card server is going to be a pain, because I'll need to shut the machine down to get the card out of it, so I'll have to do that a bit later, when I'm not about to record something with the tivo.

Also, I don't know if the card in that machine is the reason the network access is so painfully slow.

Anyway, in the meantime, I wanted to have another go at making my USB drive bootable, because I don't want to waste a whole CD, burning a 40MB iso on it.

I found some instructions here for making a drive bootable.

In my case, I just moved all my files off, made sure the partition type was 06, fat16 (using fdisk). I tried to use syslinux to make it bootable, but it complained about only supporting 512 byte sectors.

I recreated the filesystem, (mkfs.vfat /dev/sda), and then syslinux was happy.

I dragged all the files out of the ISO, put them on the drive, and moved the files from the boot directory to the root directory of the drive.

Now I had to make sure the machine would boot off USB. I tried to use the machine I normally use for imaging tivo disks, but found no such option in the BIOS for booting off USB, only SCSI (which I've used before on a different machine).

I decided to try updating the BIOS on the board. I tried to identify the motherboard from the string at the bottom of the screen, and while I couldn't find an exact match, the closest was that it was an aBit VA6.

I downloaded a BIOS update, put it on a floppy, and tried to flash the machine, but it was complaining about "the program file's part number does not match with your system".

I tried using a different version of awdflash, because I heard that could cause it, but it made no difference.

I had another look, to more closely identify the board, and it turns out that the board isn't even aBit, it's an Aopen board.

The page I found identified it as an "AX64Pro", so I found and downloaded the BIOS update for that board.

I tried to install it, and got a bit closer, it wasn't actually an AX64Pro, but because I was using Aopen's flash utility, it was able to identify the board properly, as an MX64.

Finally, I know what the board is. Would it have killed them to put some useful ID on the board? (I looked all over it, couldn't find anything, even the brand).

So knowing the proper board ID, I go to find the latest BIOS update, only to find that I already have it, and there's been no updates since May 2000.

Oh well, no USB booting. I'll give up and just burn the CD, like I was trying to be a tightass and avoid doing a couple of hours ago.

I'm sitting here watching the tv, when all of a sudden, all the power goes off.

It wasn't a blackout, the lights stayed on.

Everything running off the wall power went down, all the pcs, the tivo, the tv etc.

I found my torch, and tromped off to the powerbox. I found the breaker switch down.

I reset it, it stayed on, and I came back inside.

I realised that I didn't need to start up a couple of machines I normally keep running.

My old PII 333, I don't need running, it just stores MP3s, I never use it anymore, because I only ever used it to go on icq, browse, read email, and play music, all of which I do from my laptop now.

I'll have to find some way to keep all my music available, so I think I have a use for the NSLU2 now. I'll install it somewhere, with the 200GB disk, and put the rest of my MP3s on it.

Another machine I don't need on, is the proxy/imap server. I'm sick of that machine running anyway, the bearings in the disk are going, and it drives me up the wall.

My mate in Melbourne mailed me a disk to replace the one that the bearings have gone in, but I've been too lazy to replace it.

I think I'll finally get around to doing it, now that I have the ADSL on, if the apt proxy gets fixed, then I'll do a net install on to the replacement disk, in a different machine, then grab all my mail off the old disk, and swap them out.

The machine is only a P166, but it's really reliable, it's only the disk that's a pain. I use that machine to archive all my mail, and I was using it for irc, but I rarely use it anymore.

I suppose I could put the imap server on the ipcop box, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea.

The third machine I don't need running, is the crappy windows machine I was using, with the ISDN card in it. I had the dialup modem hanging off it for the last week, while I waited for the ADSL, but now that I've got that, I don't need that machine at all.

I'm planning on rebuilding a couple of my linux boxes soon.

I had a look to see how to access the files under the "free traffic", I found the details of the apt setup, and added them to my config.

There's something wrong though, because when I try to update the sources, I get "500 internal error" or similar.

When I test the address in my browser, I get:

"Bad configuration file
The configuration file /etc/apt-proxy/apt-proxy.conf is apt-proxy directory /var/cache/apt-proxy/debian/ doesn't exist!."

Hmm, great.

At least the directories holding the isos works, so I can just download the iso of the first CD, and do a basic install.

I found the iso of ipcop in the mirror server, so I downloaded that too. Now I just need to work out what machine I'm going to run it on.

I've got a PII 350, I think I'll put some more memory in it (it only has 64MB), and stick a few more network cards in it, and use it.

All it does at the moment is act as the DNS server for the LAN, and my external SSH server, oh and it's the remote proxy password protecting my tivo on the internet, and it collects the MRTG stats from the tivo.

Hmm, it does more than I thought.

Oh well, once I get ipcop running, I'm sure I can configure it to run as a dns server, password protect my tivo, and run an ssh server.

I don't really care about the MRTG stats, I never look at them anyway.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'm trying to get eMule, well, not eMule, since it's only available for windows, running on my laptop.

First I was trying to get lmule running, which required "wx widgets" or something.

I built the required wx libraries, and found that the compilation wouldn't complete.
I wondered if it was because I'd not specified the correct switches when I configured and built the wx libraries.

I built the wx libraries again, with different switches on the configuration, and waited another 20 minutes or so for it to compile.

I tried to compile lmule again, and it still wouldn't compile, failing with the same error again, something along the lines of:

"xh_frame.cpp:32: error: `wxDEFAULT_DIALOG_STYLE' undeclared (first use this function)".

I tried using apt to install a few of the debian packaged wx libraries, but this still didn't allow the compile to work.

I googled for the error, didn't turn up much, but one thing that I did find was the advice "you'd better use amule instead. Grab it from linuxpackages."

I started looking around for that, and found amule, looking a bit more promising. I downloaded it, and started following the instructions here.

The first thing, was that I had to make sure that I didn't have any of the wx libraries on there, so I went about removing everything that I had installed.

After that, I then found that I had to install the wx libraries. Hmm, the same libraries I'd already built and installed twice.

I set them off to compile again, and then installed them all again.

I configured aMule, which configured, but complained that it couldn't find GD on my machine, so that it wasn't going to generate status bar images.

I installed a debian package, "libgd2-xpm-dev", which includes gd.h, but it made no difference. I tried setting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include the include directory containing gd.h, but it made no difference.

I gave up, and built it without the gd support anyway.

It works, still generates the progress bar, but doesn't display the percentage on it.

I don't like all the windows style icons and animations, what's up with that?

Oh well, it works, I can download stuff, so I don't care.

Not much today, I went to a music shop, and looked for a new bass guitar.

Nothing they had in the shop grabbed me much, mainly jazz guitars they had in. There were a couple that looked ok, and were fairly priced, but they were Ibanez brand, and that's what I've got now, and I find it to be a bit cheesy, so I don't want to buy another one.

I didn't end up buying one, but I did browse the sound cards, they had a Delta 66 there, for $600, and a Delta 2496 there for $400.

I'm after the Delta 44, since (or even a 41 :-) since I only need 4 analog inputs. (hmm, $199 USD, not too bad).

I'll have to have another look on eBay. I could have got a 1010 a while ago, but it's huge, rack mount, and I don't need anywhere near 10 inputs.

In the mean time, I still might have a go at getting the 4 cheap and nasty sound cards I bought working (even 2 of them would give me 4 channels).

I detailed it before, but running multiple sound cards introduces sync issues, because of the tolerances of the quartz crystals on the board. Apparently you can remove the crystals off all but one board, and run them all in parallel off the same crystal.

My issue was needing to use the microphone inputs, which are only mono, so 2 cards only gives me 2 channels, but if I can use the line inputs, then 2 cards will give me 4 inputs (left + right on each card).

Anyway, since they didn't have the sound card I was after (and it would have been really expensive).

In the end, I bought a microphone, a Shure SM-57, for $210, after haggling the guy down from $260.

I couldn't do anything with it, because it didn't come with a cable, and my XLR -> 6.5mm cable was at home, and I didn't have anything to attach it to anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My ADSL is connected.

I plugged the phone line into the modem as usual, and was suprised to see the link light come on.

I didn't see the ready light go steady, or the WAN RX light flash, so I figured that while the line was patched at the exchange, the account wasn't created yet.

When I checked the settings in the modem, I found that my username and password were missing.

I set them in there, and tried connecting, but it still wouldn't connect. I figured that I had to wait for Telstra to advise WestNet that the patching had been done to the DSLAM at the exchange, and then they would create my account.

I looked around at all the screens in the modem, did a diagnostic, which confirmed that the line was patched.

I noticed that the firmware version was 3.x something, ages old. I decided to try updating the firmware again (not having learnt from the other day).

This time, it just said "preparing for code update", then hung, and it wouldn't boot up properly again.

Argh. I tried booting it a few times, and a factory reset, but it was no good, just like the other day. This time though, only the LAN link light came on, not the 100Mb link light.

I went through the process from the other day, to reflash the firmware again, and fixed it again. This thing is rubbish.

I put my settings in again, saved them, rebooted the unit, and it came up and connected.

Woo, ADSL! It wasn't terribly fast for some reason, I did another couple of speed tests, like I did on the dialup the other day. One came back and said the connection was 392k, and the other said 424k or something, a bit off 512Kbit.

I suspect it's caused by my parent's phone, which doesn't have a filter on it.

I only had a couple of minutes to muck around with it, because then I had to go out, I was taking a day to do some work with a mate that I used to work for.

We went to the first job, where a laminar flow cabinet had a stuffed controller board. It had been replaced, but something had faulted, and caused a short, and the fuse for the exhaust fan had blown (quite spectacularly).

I couldn't find any wiring fault, had no idea what caused it. We put the old board back (because the original fault, requiring replacement of the board, had not turned out to be caused by the board, but the switch on the front), and the cabinet was fixed.

We took the board, I'll replace the fuse socket on it at some point, and it should be ok to use somewhere else.

After that, we went to a hospital, where a class 2 safety cabinet (glovebox) had a fault with the interlock controller.

Initially it had faulted, and was not delaying between locking the doors after they were closed, to allow the airflow to equalise, and unlocking the doors again.

My mate had come down last week to replace the controller, and the replacement had been damaged, the potentiometer controlling the locking/unlocking delay had come off the board, so he couldn't fix it.

We put in a new board, and this time, it would never unlock. Not having much luck here. I tested the reed switches on the doors, to make sure they were working, and it wasn't something silly like that.

I think it's a faulty potentiometer. We gave up there, since we didn't have another spare, and we left.

We went to another job after that, which was just certifying the install on a new laminar flow, in a chemist, to avoid contamination when mixing up medications. That was a simple job.

On the way out of there, we went into Dick Smith, to see if I could get the replacement potentiometers. I could only get vertical mount, which were no good.

On the way back to the car, I spotted a Jaycar store, so we went in there. It looked like all the components where behing the counter, so when the woman serving asked me what I was after, I told her..

"A couple of 1 Megohm horizontal PCB mount potentiometers". She gave me a blank stare.

She then said "If we can find a number in the catalogue, then I can find it". We looked through the catalog, while looking for the pots, she said, "they're those twisty things aren't they?". Hmm.

I found them in there, worked out which ones I needed, and we went and found them, all of 75c each.

As I was about to buy them, I remembered to get a fuse holder to replace the one that was burnt on the controller board. They tried to find them, but couldn't.

My mate came in at this point, spotted a compact flash/smart media USB reader on sale, and bought that, since he'd been given some software on a smart media card recently, and had nothing to read it with.

While he was buying the pots, and the card reader, I spotted a USB light, it was $20, a bit steep, but it's easier to buy it here and now, instead of mucking around on ebay, to save $10.

The light seems pretty cool, it's fairly bright, but it doesn't have a switch on it, you have to unplug it, which might be annoying.

We left there, and drove back to his parent's place. We tested the card reader, it worked. Apparently the software on it is for Windows CE, to allow using one of those pocket PC things to configure the settings on some biological safety cabinets.

My mate had one, but it runs "PE" apparently, rather than "CE". I don't know what the difference is, maybe they're binary compatible. Anyway, there's also an Intel version, but when we tried to run that up on XP, on a laptop with no serial port, it just said "unable to open com port", and exited.

I assume this to be caused by the fact there are no serial ports, and one of those USB -> serial adapters would fix that. I suggested to try it at some point, we'll take a laptop, and a couple of different serial cables, and try to configure a cabinet at some point.

After that, I went back to my mate's place, and I found the filter that belongs with my modem (it must have been left around there, when I thought the power adapter was). I haven't got around to putting it on the phone yet, seems to be working ok without it.

I still only have the modem attached to my laptop, so in the short term, before I build an ipcop box, I've temporarily setup my laptop to forward traffic from my lan, via the wireless interface, to the modem, attached to the wired interface on my laptop.

In order to do that, I had to set the ip_forward file to 1 as usual ("echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward" iirc).

I then found that I had to add in an iptables rule to masquerade the traffic.

I think the command I used to do that was "iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -j MASQUERADE".

Oh, and then I changed the default route on my gateway machine, which connects the 2 subnets, so route everything to the wireless interface on my laptop.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I bought a USB -> keyboard/mouse adapter off eBay a few days ago. The auction is here.

I went to pay for it with paypal, but because I have an Amex card linked to my account, it was going to charge me USD.

I wasn't sure that the seller would accept USD, so I sent an email and asked. I couple of days later, I got an email from them, which just looked like the invoice for the item again.

I asked again, and waited for a reply, not realising that they had actually replied, and told me they would accept USD.

Anyway, since I didn't think I had an answer, I figured I would just pay with a bank deposit, into their account.

I didn't have their bank details, so I tried to go through the eBay checkout to get them, but eBay was being very unresponsive.

I then decided to reply to the seller again, explaining that I wanted to pay with Amex, paypal was going to pay them in USD, and I couldn't get their bank details, because eBay was mucking around.

As I brought up their email to reply, I noticed that they had replied to my initial question, and said they would accept USD.

I went to paypal, and paid for the adapter.

It turned up at some point in the last few days, I'm not sure when, because I hadn't been outside since Monday. (A watch I bought a few days ago also turned up, bought it from here).

I opened up the box, to find just an adapter. It's not in a packet, it didn't come with anything, just an adapter, USB plug, and 2 PS/2 sockets. No idea what brand it is or anything.

I plugged it into my laptop, checked dmesg, and saw the following:

usb 1-1: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 2
input: USB HID v1.10 Keyboard [04d9:1400] on usb-0000:00:1d.0-1
input: USB HID v1.10 Mouse [04d9:1400] on usb-0000:00:1d.0-1

I already had a USB mouse plugged in, I wondered what X would do. The USB mouse continued to work fine.

I grabbed my old Model M keyboard, something I've been missing using since I bought the new laptop, and plugged it into the adapter, it immediately started working, sweet!

While typing up the last blog entry, about the dialup speed, the spacebar refused to work on my Model M. Every other key was fine, just the spacebar. I wondered if it was perhaps something dodgy I'd done, because I found this Model M on the side of the road, it didn't have a cable, and I fitted a new one on it.

I went back to using the laptop's keyboard to finish the post. After that, I unplugged the keyboard from the adapter, and a spacebar came out. Weird.

I plugged the keyboard back in again, and it was fine again.

I vaguely recall something about converting Model M keyboards from PS/2 to USB, by fitting a PS/2 -> USB adapter internally, and running a USB lead out of the keyboard. I also recall that page mentioning that some adapters had issues with working with the Model M properly.

Maybe the adapter I bought is not fully compatible with the Model M. If I have to unplug it and replug it everynow and then, I can live with that (I had a desktop PC with that problem, and I put up with it for ages, before I got a new keyboard).

Oh well, I did only pay $1 for the adapter :-) (plus $9 shipping/handling).

Ah, it's nice to be able to type on a real keyboard again, and not have the Dell on my laptop, burning me.

Update: I just did a quick google, for details about USB Model Ms, and I turned up this page.

Well worth a read. A couple of bits I found interesting:

"it's quite common to find units that've seen hard service for longer than some people reading this page have been alive".

Close. Both this Model M (that I found on the side of the road, missing the cable, and the F8 keycap, and doesn't have any LEDs), and my other Model M (I don't remember where it came from, but it came with a curly long cord, and has LEDs) have a label on the bottom.

They both have the standard "Copyright IBM Corp, 1984." on there, but I think that's the original design of the keyboard.

The one without the LEDs, has a date printed (dot matrix!) on it, "29Oct86". The other one, has a datestamp "10-17-91".

So as I said, close, I wasn't even 5 years old when this keyboard was manufactured.

Another thing I found interesting:

"Model Ms aren't quite within the, um, popularly agreed envelope of the PS/2 specification. Most modern PS/2-ported motherboards will work with most old keyboards, but some 'boards need modifications. And some modern computers (coughDellcough) have out-of-spec USB ports that're well known to misbehave with all kinds of peripherals. And some PS/2-to-USB adapters combine the worst qualities of the most half-assed implementations of each interface."

Hmm, maybe that bit about the "most half-assed implementations" explains the issue I saw, since I'm using a $1 USB adapter, and a Dell laptop.

Oh, and the word "modifications" in the above paragraph is a link to this page. It's the page I recalled, detailing issues with some USB -> PS/2 adapters.

There's a picture of the exact adapter I ended up with, here.
Apparently Jaycar sell the adapter for $20, so $10 was an ok deal.

On that page, the guy details adding a couple of 4k7 resistors to the PCB in the keyboard, I might try that, I recall that the PCB matches one of those pictured on that page, from when I added a cord.

(I removed the weird socket, and just hard wired the cable to the board. In the process of removing the socket, it got destroyed, I felt a bit blasphemous).

Oh, and one last bit I liked:

"You could leave one of these things to your children in your will. Or be buried with it, like some kind of nerd Pharaoh."

I think I like the idea of being buried with a Model M. If I end up in hell, sentenced to an eternity of typing, I'd like to have a Model M.

I'm still on dialup while I wait for my ADSL to get provisioned.

I check the line every morning, hoping to see the sync light go steady, but as yet, no such luck. It's only been 6 days since I put the application in, so it's probably fair enough.

Anyway, while I'm waiting, I got 200 dialup hours from WestNet for free.

It was really quick to start with, and would stay connected all day, but now it's not so good.

I got an email from them a couple of days ago, informing me that I'm on a trial period, so the 200 hours must be something they normally give to people who don't know if they want to go with them for dialup or not.

Anyway, in it, it told me that I'm subject to 4 hour sessions, and 500MB of download. The 500MB will be plenty, but the 4 hour sessions are a bit annoying.

Luckily I've only been kicked off at 4 hours once, I also had a kickoff at 6 1/2 hours. (Every other time, I've disconnected when I've finished).

The last couple of days it's been a bit slow though, and web browsing has been almost unbearable. IMing and mail is still fine, but web is just painful.

I just did a couple of speed tests, here, and here. The former said my connection was 33k, and the latter says it's 24k.

Poor. I just hope the ADSL is a lot better.

I think I need to put my ipod in to get fixed/replaced.

I've been having a lot of issues with it recently, and now I think the battery's packing up.

For the last few months, everytime I've wanted to use it, I've had to use the reset trick to get it to turn on, after that, it will start, but then have bugger all battery showing on the meter.

Sometimes the meter is totally wrong too, the other week I turned it on, and it claimed it had absolutely no battery, it was still able to run for over 3 hours after that.

When it did finally run out and go off, I tried to recharge it, off USB from my PC.

I plugged it in, and then I had to reset it as usual, the apple logo came up, and then the menu, and then it rebooted itself to go into USB mode, or whatever it does.

The apple logo displayed again, and then it just went off. The PC didn't see it attach, it just did nothing.

I tried attaching it to another PC, then had to reset it again, and it did the same thing as before, logo, menu, logo. Except this time, instead of going off, it displayed a battery with an exclamation mark on it.


Then it went off, the PC didn't see it attach, and I was pretty sure it wasn't charging.

I found the firewire adapter/charger, and plugged that in. I had to reset the ipod again, but this time it came up with the menu, and it didn't reboot (because it wasn't attached to a PC/host), so it started charging off the firewire adapter.

I used the ipod the next day, when I went on the train to visit my mate, and again on my way home, the day after that, and it seemed to last fine.

I took it with me to work on Monday, thinking I'd have to get the train home on Monday night (taking probably 3 hours), but then I ended up getting a lift, so I didn't need to use it.

I just went to visit a mate, to go for dinner, and I took my ipod with me.

I hadn't charged it all week, but after listening to it for only about 4 hours (maybe 5) since last charging it, I would have expected it to go for another couple of hours.

I had to reset it as usual, and it came up saying no battery, it went for about 40 minutes, while I walked to the train station, and rode the train a few stations.

When I came home again, a couple of hours later, what was left of the battery didn't even last for the train ride (only 15 minutes or so), and then I had to walk all the way home in silence.

I think I bought it close to a year ago, so I'd probably better get it in for repair soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I checked out hackaday tonight, and saw a reference to something about a $50 iBook, linked to this page, with a quite funny Tshirt.

You can buy one on eBay here, or a different style here.

Anyway, the gist of it is, that a school sold off some old (4 year old) ibooks, and about 5500 people turned up, and it was (as someone said) an "iMob", which I found quite humerous.

There's a more indepth description of it here, and here.

Anyway, the reason for this post, was just to point out some of the funnier stuff I found related to this, like some of the iBooks listed on eBay, here, here, and here.

I love the question on the first one.. "Did you run over an old lady or a baby to get this computer to sell on ebay. Wow you must be really proud of yourself."

Ah, that cracks me up.

A couple of comments I've read on other sites..

"...and all this chaos and panic over 4 year old laptops. Imagine if they were told Aliens just landed with Jesus on board and bigfoot was the pilot. It's always nice to see the human race as rational and level headed as usual."

"I'm sure all of those $50 ibooks are going to be used by deserving students. Get a fucking clue... Look at the picture again. The dude on the far right really looks like he is concerned about his education! Looks to me more like "oh cheap shit I want my stuff!!! " "

Ahh, it's too funny.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

While I was down at my mate's place over the weekend, I tried to help him setup a surround speaker/subwoofer set he'd bought.

It's designed for something with 5.1 output, the subwoofer has 6 RCA inputs on the back, and then all the speakers connect to spring terminals on the back of the subwoofer.

When we tried to connect it to the DVD player, we discovered that we couldn't.. Sony, in their infinite wisdom [/sarcasm] have designed this DVD player with no standard audio output connections.

It doesn't have stereo out via RCAs, it doesn't have optical or coax out, all it has is proprietry sockets for 5 speakers, and 2 subwoofers.

Totally useless. I figured I could replace the proprietry sockets (they look a bit like RJ11s, with a keyed bit, and each only has 2 pins), with some RCA sockets.

I opened up the DVD player, hoping to find a daughterboard attached to the back of the case, with a ribbon cabling attaching it to the moherboard of the player, but I wasn't that lucky.

The proprietry sockets are in a block thing, which is hardwired to the board, I could desolder it, and replace it with RCAs still, it would just mean pulling the whole thing apart.

I'd also have to find some RCA sockets in a block similar to the stupid proprietry one.

I gave up for the time being, and put the case back on. Perhaps Sony make adapters (albeit sold at some ridiculous price), or something, to allow you use non Sony speakers.

Even if I did replace the sockets with RCAs, that doesn't deal with the line levels properly, and it's going to have the voltage/current to drive speakers, not another amp coming out.

I called up Sony to find out about adapters, or the plugs as spare parts, and the guy makes out like he has no idea what I'm talking about.

When I pressed him a bit, he admitted that he did know the connectors I was talking about, and that you can't get plugs or adapters for them, but you can get speaker cables terminated with those plugs (same difference idiot).

I asked him if they were available, trying to find out a price, but he said he'd have to check the model number. I couldn't remember what it was, I said I thought it was the "SCD-200", but that wasn't right, nothing came up with that model.

I actually think it might have been the SBC-200, but I'll have to find out from my mate, and I'll try again.

Update: I asked my mate, and he told me the model number is actually "HCD-SB200", I was somewhat close :-)

This post is titled "Finding a CPU Fan in Maitland".

A couple of weeks ago, the fan in one of my machines died. After running for quite a few years, the oil dried out, and it slowed down enough to cause the heatsink/CPU to get too hot, and the machine locked up.

I ripped the fan out, put some more oil in it, and it was fine again. It went for another few weeks, until I got home this weekend, to find it buzzing away, very loudly.

It's in a machine I need running all the time, so I couldn't do anything about it.

When I went to work, and was near some shops, I decided to find a new CPU fan.

I went to Dick Smith first, expecting them to either not sell CPU fans, only sell ones I don't need, or have one I do need, at a ridiculous price.

The guy in there told me that they don't sell them, and recommended the computer shop down the road.

I went down there, and the guy in there told me that he doesn't deal with any AMD stuff, and doesn't have any of the fans for socket 370 left.

He suggested another computer shop, too far away to walk to, or Harvey Norman. Somehow I really doubt HN will sell CPU fans, I don't think I've ever seen one in there.

It's right near work, and I had no other choices left, so I went in anyway. I looked around the computer section for a while, and then I went over to the counter.

There was a guy behind the counter, and a chick standing on the other side. I was waiting to speak to the guy.

I'm not being sexist, but I really didn't expect the chick to know what a CPU fan was. Before the guy behind the counter asked if he could help me, the chick did.

I explained that I was after a CPU fan, and she gave me some look like "CPU fan" was some crazy thing I'd made up, because she'd never heard of it, so obviously there was no such thing.

There was another guy behind the counter, up a ladder, he chimed in, and said that if they did have them, they'd be over in their computer repair section, in a different shop nearby.

I left, went to the computer repair place, and I asked the guy in there about a CPU fan for an AMD Athlon. He said he didn't think they had any, but would look.

He came back with a box of filthy, dusty and broken old fans. He dug through it for a minute, found 2 fans/heatsinks, and a fan on it's own.

They looked ok, just a bit dusty. He pulled off the cover of a pc nearby, and tested them, they seemed ok, he gave them to me, which was pretty cool.

He had to point out that I didn't get a warranty on them though. Hmm, I really expect a warranty on stuff I get for free :-) (He could have given me a 100% cash back refund though :-)

When I got home, I fitted the fan on its own (not attached to a heatsink) into the machine, doing a hot swap, to avoid the downtime.

While doing that, I accidently put my finger in the blades of the fan, and they're called blades for a reason, it took a chunk out of the tip of my finger.

It didn't help though, either during swapping the fan out, or sometime before or after doing so, the machine locked up, probably from a heat issue.

After getting that sorted, I tried relubricating the stuffed fan again, which worked. I think that fan would be more happy working horizontally, in a desktop case, instead of vertically like it was, in a tower case.

While I was down at my mate's place over the weekend, I read on http://hackaday.com/ about OSX for X86 being leaked, and the VMWare requirement being hacked out of it.

I wouldn't mind having a look at that, so I found a torrent file for it, and started downloading it. (1.3GB worth! My mate didn't mind, because he still had over 12GB of his download allowance left, and less than 24 hours to use it).

Anyway, it started downloading (about 2am I think this was), but was going at bugger all speed, about 5k/sec. This'll take days, on 1.5Mbit, I should be seeing about 160kb/sec or more.

I suspected it was a problem with port forwarding, that my mate's ADSL modem/router wouldn't have the correct settings, and it was stuck with a "Low ID" or whatever they call it.

I went to look, and found that his ADSL modem, a Dlink DSL-302G, has a bloody convoluted interface for maintaining the port forward rules.

Oh, and it doesn't work in Firefox. You can delete the rules, but you can't add them, it just results in a "501 Method not implemented" error every time.

I was thinking this was caused by me doing something silly in the way I was specifying the rules, but eventually I decided to go to the dark side, and I used IE, which was able to add the rules in. Obviously the web interface has some non standard extension in use, so that a standards compliant browser fails to interact with it properly.

Anyway, I wasn't really sure what I was doing, because all the fields weren't very explanatory. I googled around, and I found a section on http://portforward.com for the Dlink DSL-302G here.

I found the BitTorrent page (here), and went about following the doco.

Once I saw what it was trying to do, it became fairly obvious.

I went back, and I used IE to completely reorganise the existing rules that were in the modem already (since I found you can forward a whole range, and quite a few of the rules already in there were in a range).

I added in a rule for BitTorrent, forwarding ports 6881-6889 through, and then I saved and rebooted the modem (probably don't have to though). After that, I restarted the BitTorrent client ("ABC" he was using), and found it was looking a bit healthier, was sitting around 55k/sec now.

It was now about 3am, so I went to sleep on the lounge. My mate has a couple of superbright blue LEDs in the front of his case, and the room was so bright that I almost could have read a book with the illumination they provided.

I stacked up a couple of CD spindles in front of the case to block them, it wasn't great, but I'm used to having several hundred LEDs flashing away all night, so I didn't really care.

When I got up the next day, at about 11am, I found that the download had long finished (I wonder what speed it got up to, at its peak).

I left it seeding for a few hours, and then I burned it on a DVDr.

When I got home, I tried to copy the bz2 file off the DVD, onto my laptop's hard drive.

First I tried unbzipping to the console, and piping it to tar to untar. This went for ages, and then tar/bzip2 complained about an unexpected EOF. Bugger.

I tried copying the file straight off the DVDr, just to the hard drive, but this didn't work either, went for ages (got to 1.3GB on the hard drive), and complained about an I/O error or similar.

I tried cleaning the DVDr, in case it got a mark on it, because I didn't have a case for it, and it just rattled around in my bag on the way home. It still didn't read.

I kicked off a bzip2recover, in case there was enough of the file there that I could decompress it, and get out the image that I need to dd to the drive.

I decided to try it in a different drive. I've got a DVD burner in one of my machines, that runs windows. I booted the machine up, and explorer promptly hung (I hadn't even put the DVDr in, so it was nothing to do with that). Ah, windows.

Eventually I started copying the file off the DVDr onto the hard drive with windows. It went for about 5 minutes, and then complained about an error writing to the disk, or a network issue or something.

The machine had almost completely locked up. The mouse/keyboard wouldn't work, and the only signs of life were that the animation of the file copying would update every couple of minutes (even after I took the DVDr out), duh, windows.

I left the machine alone, to see if it would sort itself out, now that I'd removed the DVDr it was having difficulty with. It did, after an hour or so, and I told it to shut down, but it just b0rked again, and I gave up, and had to hold the power button for 4 seconds to power it off.

I thought I had a spare DVD drive hanging around, and I intended to connect it to my laptop with the guts of the USB -> PATA adapter (external drive case) I bought recently, but I found that I actually had the DVDrom drive installed in a machine.

(Meanwhile, bzip2recover had started writing almost 4000 chunks of the file to separate files).

I didn't want to power that machine down, since it runs to share my paytv subscription card between 2 satellite decoders. I decided to just try reading it in that machine.

It looked promising, it started reading the disc. The CPU load was too much, for the card software to continue operating, so the tv blanked out. It took about 1/2 hour, but the DVDr read completely, without error.

(I had to reset the cam in my satellite decoder to get the card stuff working again though).

I then smbmounted the windows machine that had the file on the hard drive, and I started copying across the network to my laptop. Oops.. there's something about that machine I forgot about.

For some reason, it has a network issue. I can only get network connectivity to go at a trickle on it. I don't know if it's the NIC (an Intel EtherExpress Pro 100), or the slot it's in, or the patch cable, or what.

Damn, this is going to take hours. I wondered if it was a duplex issue, with the 100Mbit switch it was patched to. I found my old 10Mbit hub, uplinked it to the switches, and quickly repatched the windows machine to the hub, from the switch (since going at 10Mbit would actually have been a massive increase in speed from what it was doing).

It didn't really make any difference, I left it copying, and went to bed. When I got up, it was still copying. Argh. I had to shut my laptop down to go to work. I looked, and it was only about 100Mb off finished, so I left it while I got ready.

It finished. Thank god for that.

A while later, I ran a bzip2 -t (test) on the file, and it came back ok. I realised that I should have just tried to uncompress it, it would probably take just as long.

I uncompressed it, and it worked fine.

I attached a spare 200GB drive I haven't found a permanent use for yet to the guts of the USB -> PATA adapter, and I imaged the disk from my laptop, with the file.

For a laugh, I decided to see if I could boot my laptop off the external disk (since my laptop is a Celeron M, with SSE2, but not 3, and I don't know about my other machines, since they're all AMDs).

I rebooted, brought up the boot once menu, and told it to boot off USB. The OSX kernel started to boot, and then promptly kernel panicked.

I tried again, passing the "-s" switch (thinking it was safe mode, but it's actually single user mode), and it just panicked again.

I figured it was something to do with booting off USB, because I've not seen anyone mention having done that.

I tried to boot it in an old PIII733 I've got, which I usually use for imaging TiVo disks, but the BIOS in that machine would only recognised the 200GB disk as a 128GB, and wouldn't try to boot off it. I don't even know if that CPU would have SSE2.

I gave up, and went back to reading. I saw that people were able to boot it up on AMD XP CPUs, and it dawned on me, that I have 4 machines with AMD XP CPUs.

I went to my AMD 2600+, pulled the SATA controller out (to disconnect both SATA disks), and pulled the cable off the ATA disk the machine boots off, and replaced it with the 200GB with OSX on it.

I disconnected the other disks in case OSX went wobbly, or was trojaned or something, although I realise I hadn't taken that precaution when I tried booting it on my laptop, because I didn't want to have to take the laptop's disk out.

I tried booting the machine up, and it just kernel panicked, exactly like my laptop. I tried again, with "-s", and it did the same.

I went back, did some more reading, and found the "-x" is actually safe mode, not "-s". I tried booting again, with "-x".

This time, the framebuffer kicked in and it came up, looking very MacOS like, and said "An error has occurred, you must reboot your computer. Press the reset button, or hold in the power button for several seconds".

I didn't, I just left it there, and I went back to doing more reading.

I left the machine sitting there like that for around an hour, and then all of a sudden I heard a horrible noise that always invokes fear, and a pain in the pit of my stomach, a disk head clunking.

I ran over to the machine, and found that the disk, the almost brand new 200GB disk, was sitting there clunking, and squeaking. I powered off the machine, waited a minuted, and tried powering it up again.

The disk was not happy, still clunking and squeaking, and now the BIOS wasn't even detecting it.

I wondered about getting it replaced. I went to the manufacturer's site, went through the first step of the RMA, found that the disk is still in warranty (until Jan 2008), then when I had to select my country, I discovered Australia not in the list.

Next to it, it says "Asia Pacific customers must go to their place of purchase for product replacement". Great. I have no idea who I bought this disk off, or when.

I think I bought it at the computer fair in Newcastle, in January (or maybe Feburary), since I rode there, and I haven't been riding (or to a computer fair) since I lost my license, which was in March.

I had a look, and I was able to find the receipt, and even the static bag the drive came in. Yep, bought it in January, at least I know the people, have dealt with them a bit.

Annoyingly, their shop is at Epping, and I was right near there over the weekend, the disk couldn't have packed up 4 days earlier could it? (well no, probably not, since it was just sitting on a desk, not even attached to a machine).

So that's the end of my experiment with OSX X86. I don't know if it killed the disk, or if the disk was faulty, or what, but I don't think I'm game to try again.

I'm in the process of getting ADSL connected.

I put up with ISDN for a long time, and I'm really sick of it. 64k is no great increase over 56k dialup, and I think the ISP I was using for my ISDN account is really crap, half the time their service is as slow as a 28k dialup.

When I wasn't at home, this was fine, since I wasn't using the connection interactively, it was just to keep my TiVo's guide data up to date etc, and allow me to access my email archives remotely.

Now that I've started working from home, I decided to get ADSL. The reason I put this off for so long, was that I didn't want to have to deal with Telstra coming out to convert the ISDN back to analogue, and then get ADSL provisioned on it.

So anyway, I put in the call to get the line converted back.

I immediately put in an ADSL install order, with WestNet, but this was rejected, because I showed as having an incompatible line.

I called them up, the support's terrific, I was immediately speaking to a real person, and I explained the situation.

The guy got the rejected application back, resubmitted, it, and put a hold on it, until I contacted them, to let them know that the line was back to analogue.

Telstra turned up 5 days later to do it. They charged $150 to convert it back.

The tech came out, ripped the NT1 unit off the wall. I told him not to bother connecting the second phone line to anything, since the only point it had is right next to a point on the first line.

He didn't listen, and did a dodgy job of patching the second line into the first line. At some point I'll just rip it off again, or perhaps rip all the other points off, and install a central ADSL filter.

(Upon thinking about that later, that wouldn't work, because the phone line comes in off the street, into the roof space, and there's a splitter, with quite a few lines coming off it there. Only one of those lines goes to the kitchen, so I don't know why Telstra insisted on installing the NT1 there, since it's not the first run from the street).

Once the guy was finished, he told me to wait until the end of the day, or the next day, for the ticket to get updated, so the line would show as an analogue line again.

I called up WestNet again the next day, and let them know about the resubmitted application. The woman checked, and it all seemed to be ok.

I asked about a dialup account, since I didn't have any access now, that I didn't have an ISDN line anymore.

The woman told me that they'd give me 200 hours of dialup free, while I waited for the ADSL to be installed.

I didn't need to provide a username or password, they already had those, from the application I had submitted.

I hung up, and immediately realised that I didn't have the dialup number. That's the only thing I can fault with their support.

I SMSd my mate down in Melbourne, and he found it for me, and SMSd it back to me, and I got online with dialup. It was a ton faster than the ISDN ever was. Pathetic.

I dug out an ADSL modem/router I got about 18 months ago, a Netcomm NB1300. I discovered that the power supply for it (12v, 800mA, AC(!)) wasn't in the box. Great.

I haven't done anything with this device for over a year, when I last tried to install it at a mates place, when he discovered his Telstra supplied SpeedTouch had died.

I must have left the adapter around there at some point, over a year ago. This mate is someone on MSN, who I can chat to now, so I asked him about it, he didn't recall ever seeing it.

Eventually I found it, at home, in a box of assorted AC/DC adapters. I found a 48v adapter while I was looking, God knows what that's from.

Anyway, I powered the modem up, and went about configuring it.

First thing, I had no idea what the default IP on it was. I googled for that, finding that it's, and discovered that there's a security flaw with the NB1300, detailed here.

Basically, you can ftp to the device, login with the default admin login/password (which I didn't know yet), download the config file, and the ADSL username/password are stored in plain text in it.

Next thing was to find the admin login/password for it (since I couldn't remember it), but the default passwords page had it.

(I was sent a couple of links to password pages by a guy I went to TAFE with a few years ago, when I was chatting to him a few days ago, they're here (so good I downloaded it) and here ).

I tested the flaw, yep, I was able to login, and download the config file, and the username and password were in plain text.

I notice that Netcomm have updated to "fix" this problem though, when I checked the port forwarding config in the web interface, I saw that they've just port forwarded ftp and telnet on the WAN port to a useless internal address.

After that, I went about trying to configure the NB1300 to connect to my ADSL, when the line gets provisioned (I haven't been contacted about that yet).

I wasn't sure of the settings I need to enter, so I went to search Westnet's support. I couldn't find anything related to the NB1300 in their knowledge base, only that they port filter incoming traffic, which can be used to exploit another security flaw in the NB1300. (Maybe I don't want to use this thing after all).

While I was looking in there, I noticed an article about configuring a Cisco modem/router (here, hopefully the link works). I've also got one of those, a Cisco 675. I never had any luck with it before. I got it off a guy who'd bought a stack of them, off eBay, from the US, to sell cheap here.

He didn't think they worked here after that, because you couldn't set the correct VCI/VPI settings for most providers in .au (8 and 35).

The Cisco 675 conveniently has a different management port pinout than every other Cisco device, so a standard Cisco console cable doesn't work. I dugout the 675 again (I'd found the power supply for it down the back of the desk a couple of days ago).

I'd come to the conclusion that the device was stuffed, when I'd mucked around with it before, almost 2 years ago. When I checked the pinouts on the special console cable, it didn't seem right for the 675 anyway.

I found a page with the pinouts for the 675, here, so I made up a new cable, with the correct pinouts.

I tried to test this on my laptop, with the USB -> RS232 adapter I've got (a "Prolific 2303" IIRC), but again, I couldn't get anything in minicom, even with the RX/TX lines shorted.

I plugged it into the Cisco anyway, to find that all I'd get was an accented y character as I plugged the cable in/out. I couldn't get a prompt, or anything.

I wondered if it was something to with the serial adapter, even when the RX/TX lines on the adapter are shorted, you don't get loopback, like a proper serial port does.

I decided to try it with a real serial port, but that didn't make any difference. The loopback test worked, so I had the pinouts right, but the 675 still did nothing.

I figure the thing is dead. If anyone wants it, you can have it, just ask.

After that, I went back to the NB1300. After reading about security flaws all over the place, I decided to update the firmware.

I downloaded the new one off the support site, the page specific to the NB1300, here.

I didn't realise this was actually a zip file, because clicking the download button just sends you "NB1300", and because it had no extension, I assumed it was the image file to load into the modem (oops).

I tried loading this, and it didn't look like it worked. I wondered what the file actually was, so I opened it up with a hexeditor, and found the first couple of bytes to be "PK". Hmm, this is a zip file (PKZIP).

I unzipped it, and found an image file, and the release notes. I had another go, this time uploading the image, which looked a bit more promising.

I rebooted the router, and it came back up, but still had the same settings as before, like my mate's ADSL username and password.

It was also telling me that the ADSL module wasn't loaded, and that there were undefined symbols. Something's not quite right here.

Hmm, I'd read that you need to reset the device to factory settings before/after flashing, and I hadn't done that.

When I got around to resetting the device, assuming that you just hold the reset button in for 3 seconds or so while you turn the device on, I discovered that it was now b0rked, and wouldn't boot up.

(Apparently the correct method to reset the device, is just to hold the reset button in for 10 seconds, and it will reboot, and reset itself to factory defaults, and it doesn't mention anything about holding the button in while turning the unit on).

I'd tcpdumped my laptop's ethernet interface with the modem attached directly previously, and saw that the modem arp'd - when it powered up, and it wasn't doing that anymore.

The lights didn't look good either, just power, and ethernet/100mb link LEDs on. The ethernet activity LED would flash if I tried to ping the modem, but it wouldn't respond.

I googled around, and found that this is fairly common, with the NB1300s. There's a forum about it here, and a page describing how to fix it here.

You'll need to download the rar file linked to at the top of the fix page.

It looked a bit complicated, pull the modem apart, short a jumper, boot a pc up, that's got an Intel chipset, and a USB1.1 controller.

I went through, following the instructions (pulled the modem apart, shorted the jumper, in a different location than in the doco), but it'd be a bit hard for me to use winimage on linux. I started out by just using dd to write the IMZ boot floppy image to a floppy, but this wouldn't boot.

I also tried to burn the CD as bootable with the IMZ image on it, but mkiso was erroring on that. I discovered why, it's because an IMZ file is actually a zipped disk image (hence the Z).

unzip was able to decompress the IMZ file, and I ended up with an IMA file. I tried again with dd, to image a floppy, which was a lot more successful.

I booted up my old PII333 machine (with Intel chipset, and USB 1.1 controller) with the properly imaged floppy, and the CD you have to create.

It took a while to boot, but eventually the menu came up. I started going through, attached the modem, via both USB and ethernet to my PC (I don't know why you need both).

When told, I powered it up, the floppy initialised the USB controller in my PC, saw the modem attached, and wiped the flash memory, no errors. Good.

After that, it flashed the flash memory again (with a quite old firmware), the LEDs flashing as they are supposed to.

I continued following the instructions, powered off the modem, removed the jumped I'd installed, unplugged the USB, waited a minute, powered it up again, and waited for a couple of minutes.

Eventually the LEDs were back flashing properly again, as they were when I was able to access the device properly, this looks quite promising.

I went over, turned the modem off again, moved it back over near my laptop, and plugged it in again/turned it on.

I tcpdumped the interface again, and I saw it arping - again. Woo!

I accessed the web interface, up and running, back to factory defaults. The repair rar comes with a firmware, newer than the one flashed as part of the repair, so I loaded that in, which looked more successful than the one I tried to load from Netcomm's support page.

I wasn't game to try loading the one I got from Netcomm again, in case I have to go through the whole repair thing again.

That's it for now, until I get contacted that the line has ADSL provisioned on it I think.

Oh, actually.. I intend to build a box running IPCOP, and put the modem in "bridge mode",and rely on IPCOP to do the authentication, instead of having to muck around with port forwarding in the modem.

I found a couple of pages about running the modem in half bridge and full bridge modes. I'll probably end up in full bridge mode.

When I setup my laptop, I wanted an icq client for linux.

I did the first thing anyone should do, and I went to google, and searched for "icq linux". I got a few useful links, and "licq" stuck out as being a good start.

After an "apt-get install licq" I was up and running. This was all good and well, and I had my huge contact list displayed.

I'm not egotistical.. I'll admit, out of that "huge" contact list, there's only about 2 people I constantly talk to, and most of the people on there I haven't spoken to for at least 5 years.

Anyway, that was fine. After using it for a while, I got a bit sick of it, and GAIM was suggested to me. Ah, GAIM, I'd forgotten about it.

On another note, I stayed using windows on a machine, just so I could keep using the official ICQ client, to maintain my history. I only stopped using the official client when I found that Miranda had an import function.

I haven't given up on maintaining my history, at some point I'll find (or write) a way to convert my history file from ICQ/Miranda into GAIM log format.

I replaced licq with GAIM, and was pretty impressed. Licq did everything I needed, like being able to chat, but GAIM has extra functionality, like file transfers, and better handling of slow connections (at least when the person you're talking to is using Miranda).

After going to visit a mate, who's on MSN, I finally decided to give up on my stubborness, to a small extent. I wasn't going to get rid of ICQ, I've been on there since about 1998, but now, using GAIM, I can add MSN contacts to my list.

This has expanded the list of people I talk to constantly to about 5, a couple of them good mates.

Since the file transfer function works quite well, my mate was able to send me a bunch of photos from when I went on a holiday with him a few months ago.

(My old blog had details about the trip, and I might make an exception on the technical bit and repost it at some point).

As a result, I've changed my profile photo, if you've previously visited my other blog, you might have noticed this.

In this photo, I'm at Dreamworld, wearing the Bundy Rum shirt I bought at the Bundy Rum factory after the tour the day before.

Anyway, to get this a bit more technical.. I pulled the photos across GAIM file transfer from my mate, and I used GIMP to crop/rescale the image small enough to use it as a profile photo, and then I uploaded it to my hosting space with scp :-)

Welcome to techblog.

This is my second attempt at keeping a blog, hopefully it will be more successful and less tragic than my last blog.

This blog will concentrate on technical things that I find myself doing, including URLs that might help out people trying to do the same thing as me.

Some of the posts from my last blog might find themselves in here, edited to only contain information of interest, such as details of me getting Debian Etch runnning on my Dell Inspiron 2200.

Enough waffling.. posts..