Category Archives: Gadgets

I am a Gadget freak.

Setting up a home network with two routers

Recently, I solved network connectivity problem at home by setting up a slightly complex network using an old BSNL wa3002g4 router. Earlier I wrote about how I used this BSNL wa3002g4 router as a WiFi switch and lot of people said that the post was very useful. So I decided to document this setup as well, so that it will be useful for someone who wants to do the same thing πŸ™‚

Problem

First, let me explain the problem that I was facing. I have half a dozen devices running multiple OS (two desktops, a Mac, an iPhone, couple of Android phones, couple of Raspberry Pis.. you get the idea right πŸ˜‰ ) that I wanted to be in the same network and share my single internet connection. Also, I live in two floors and my WiFi signal was too week to penetrate the concrete across the floors.

In my old setup, the cable from my broadband provider was connected to a Netgear router, that acted as a network switch as well as a WiFi router. This was in my top floor where the desktops were present. But when I am in the bottom floor, the WiFi signal was too weak to be used in my laptop or in my phones.

Solution

My first thought was to buy a WiFi expander and use it to boost the WiFi signal in the bottom floor. When I was about to buy the signal booster, I remembered that I had an old BSNL wa3002g4 router, which I was using earlier as a WiFi switch. I know that it is a multi-functional device, so I was trying to see if I can use it to expand my WiFi range.

Unfortunately, it can’t act as a WiFi expander. But then I realized, I can still use it as a switch. I started to experiment a bit with it and after some trial and errors, I made it to work in the way I wanted πŸ™‚

My current setup

The cable from my broadband provider (currently ACT broadband, who gives me 15 Mbps πŸ˜‰ ) is connected to the input of my Netgear router which is placed in the top floor. It gives out both wired and wireless connections to the devices in the top floor. One of those output port from Netgear is connected to my old BSNL wa3002g4 router which is placed in the bottom floor. This second router gives wired and wireless to the devices in the bottom floor.

After I had this setup, I realized that both the routers were creating their own sub networks and the devices are not in the same network. Also I had to use two different WiFi ssid’s which kind of defeated the whole purpose.

DHCP relay

It was at this point, that I discovered that my BSNL router has a feature called DHCP relay, which allowed me to configure the connections so that they can be in the same network.

DHCP relay, allows you to specify a different DHCP server from where the device should get dynamic ip address instead of generating ip address on its own. I specified the ip address of my Netgear router as the DHCP server in the DHCP relay config of my BSNL router.

This allowed the BSNL router to relay all DHCP requests to the Netgear router instead of generating the ip address on its own. Now all my devices were connected in the same network.

Configuring WiFi

The next problem that I had to solve was setting up the WiFi ssid’s. Again by trial and error I found that if I configured both routers with the same WiFi ssid and same authentication parameters, then the devices can connect to both the routers seamlessly. I changed the WiFi config in both the routers to be the same and then my devices started connecting to the network without any issues even when I moved across floors. The devices always pick up the router which has the best signal.

And now I am finally happy that all my devices are in the same network and that I can connect to my network from any part of my home, without worrying about the signal range πŸ™‚

Posted in Gadgets | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Using ez430 to control PPTs in Mac

After seeing me using my ez430, programmable watch to control ppt’s in my Mac, a couple of people asked me explain how I do it. As usual, instead of sending separate emails, I thought of documenting it here, so that it would be useful for others.

The following are the steps you need to follow.

  • Plugin the ez430 USB dongle to the USB port of your Mac
  • Pair the USB dongle and your ez430 watch
  • Install python and Serial library
  • Download or clone the ez430 tools repo from github
  • Open up your ppt presentation
  • Open terminal, navigate to the directory where you have ez430 tools package files and then type the command python ppt-mac.py
  • And you are done πŸ™‚

Let me know if you face any issues.

Posted in Gadgets, Python | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Smart ways to rule the streets ;)

I have been pretty quiet on this blog for quite some time. It’s mainly because of my new addictions. First addiction is physical computing (more about it later). The other one is that, I have started roaming around the city with my new bike πŸ™‚

New Bike

Ever since I moved to Bangalore, I was planning to get a new bike, instead of bringing my old bike from Chennai. As with anything I buy, I started my research and finally settled on two. Bajaj Pulsar 220 and Yamaha FZ-S. I test drive both and both were pretty good, but in the end Yamaha FZ-S won on the basics of exclusivity.

If you go to any parking lot, you can see hundreds of Pulsars, but only a few FZ-S and I liked my bike to be unique. πŸ™‚

Yamaha FZ-S

Specs

You can check out the full specs of the bike from the manufactures site.

From my experiences so far

Pros

  • The bike is designed for being exclusive and to attract people – and it does it very well.
  • Complete digital display
  • Awesome road grip
  • Has an excellent self-starter. I have not faced any problem with it in the last 20+ days.

Cons

  • Mileage – If you want a bike which gives good mileage, then this bike is not for you. I am hardly getting around 35 Km/Litre of petrol. πŸ™
  • Because of the shape of the tank, if you try to push the bike forward while sitting on it with your legs, you might hurt yourself.

Apart from it, I really like the bike and it has so far held up to its tagline – Smart way to rule the streets πŸ™‚

Posted in Gadgets, Random/Personal | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Updating HTC Hero (GSM) to Android 2.1

After waiting for more than a couple of months, HTC finally released the much waited Android 2.1 update for HTC Hero GSM Mobiles in India.

I waited for this update for long time and updated my mobile last week. Thought of sharing the process here so that it is useful for others.

Preparing for the update

The Android 2.1 update consists of two updates. First update prepares your phone and the second update is the actual OS update. Both are OTA (over the air) updates and so you don’t need to download anything to your computer.

When you connect to the internet (either through wifi or through gprs/edge) you will get a prompt which will ask you whether you want to download the upload. If you for some reason clicked later, there is a nice trick to get the prompt again. The trick is to change the data and you will get the prompt immediately.

The first update is around 5 MB. Once the update is done, your firmware build number would be updated. If you have the same build and kernel numbers like the screenshot below then your update has just went fine.

htc-hero-firmware-version

Actual update

As I said before, the first update will prepare your phone for the OS update. In addition to the preparation part, it will update your Youtube player and will also add a new update menu to your phone settings menu, through which you can download the second update.

You can access this menu item by going to Settings->About phone->System Software Updates

htc-hero-check-for-update

Click the check button and it will show the below prompt.

htc-hero-ota-firmware-update

Click Ok, to download the update.

htc-hero-ota-update

This update is around 80 MB. If you don’t have a decent GPRS/Edge plan, then it would good if you could update when you are connected through wifi. Otherwise your phone data bill might go over your roof.

Once you click okay, phone will download the update and will install it. Your phone might restart a couple of times and once everything is done, you HTC Hero mobile will be running the new shinny Android 2.1

Precautions

Since it is an update to the base OS, it is recommended that you follow these precautions

  • Even though the update will not erase your application and data, it is highly recommended that you backup your applications and data before proceeding
  • As I said before, the downloads are more than 80 MB in size and if you don’t have a decent GPRS/Edge connection, it is better to use wifi
  • It might take around an hour for the entire process to get over. So make sure that your phone’s battery is full.
  • Also disable the unlock patters when the update is going on, since the phone might need to restart a couple of times.

I am off to play with the new update in my HTC Hero mobile, meanwhile do let me know how your updating went. Happy updating πŸ˜‰

Posted in Android/Java, Gadgets | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Using BSNL wa3002g4 router as a WIFI switch for Tata wimax connection

Note: If you are not in India or if you are not currently using either BSNL or Tata broadband connection, then you can save a couple of minutes by ignoring this post. πŸ˜‰

Before I moved to Bangalore, I was having a BSNL broadband connection at Chennai. I bought the wa3002g4 WIFI router from BSNL. Now after moving to Bangalore, I took Tata wimax broadband connection.

Tata wimax doesn’t come with a wifi router and my old BSNL router was lying around. So I thought of using my BSNL router as a switch to convert my wired connection to a wireless connection. After some struggle I succeeded and thought of documenting it here so that it will be helpful for someone who is looking to do the same thing and I can also refer to it in future, if I need to do it again.

Multi-functional device

First thing to know is that, the wifi router (wa3002g4) provided by BSNL is a multi-functional device. It can act as an ADSL modem, a wifi router and also as a switch.

Connecting the wires

First, you need to remove the ADSL cable from the BSNL router and then connect the output cable from Tata wimax modem into any of the four slots of BSNL router. If you need to share the connection with a desktop without wifi card, then you can connect the cable from the desktop network card to one of the other slots in BSNL router. Like wise you connect up to three other computers.

Configuring the router

Now login to your router admin console and disable DHCP. Enter a SSID for your connection and password protect it using WEP or WPA. (WPA is recommended)

Now switch on everything and enable wifi in your laptop. Connect to the router using the password you created. After the connection is established log on to the Tata wimax admin console and enter your username and password. Now you should be able to browse the internet using wifi.

I guess the router can also be used as a switch with other broadband providers, but I am not sure. If you have tried to setup connection with other providers, then do let me know about it in the comments. πŸ™‚

Update: If you are not able to log into the Tata Indicom web dialer page simultaneously in both the computers, then call up Tata Indicom customer care and ask them to enable "NAT" for your connection. Once enabled, you can use connect using multiple computers, without individually logging in each of them separately.

Update 2: I have since moved on from Tata Indicom connection. I currently use this router to share WiFi signal across floors in my home.

Posted in Gadgets | Tagged , , , | 83 Comments

My new Computer

I brought a new computer as planned after my recent computer crash.

Thanks guys for the recommendation and here is the configuration of my new computer. (If you are weak hearted then stop reading. πŸ˜‰ Yuvi is already envious πŸ™‚ )

Ok so here it goes

Processor

Intel core 2 quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz, 8 MB L2 Cache, 1066 Mhz FSB. This is the latest one which is available in Chennai.

Motherboard

I wanted one with support for DDR3 RAM so that I can upgrade my RAM to DDR3 once it is available in Chennai. In P35 chipset only P5KC supports it. After much search I got hold of one. But later I found it to be faulty and so finally I settled for P5k-VM with only DDR2 support.

RAM

Since DDR3 RAM is not available in Chennai, I didn’t have any other option apart from DDR2. I had 4 slots in my motherboard, so went in for 4 GB of DDR2 RAM (800 MHz)

Graphics Card

Since I am not an avid gamer I settled in for a cheap GeForce graphics card. Model number is GF 8500GT PCI with 512 MB RAM. The only criteria which I looked for was DirectX10 support.

Monitor

I went in for a ViewSonic 19 inch wide screen monitor. The wide screen allows me to view 2 windows simultaneously without shrinking them.

DVD writer

I didn’t have much option for DVD writer and I went in for the standard 20X Liteon DVD writer.

Hard Disk – HDD

Here comes the big one. Can you guess what is the storage capacity of my computer? I have crossed the GB limit. It is 1.11 TB. Yes Terra Bytes. πŸ˜‰

I bought one 500 GB Hitachi HDD and two Western Digital 320 GB HDD’s. I am going to use one 320 GB HDD as a dedicated backup drive. More details later. πŸ™‚

So far it’s been a thrilling experience and even Vista seems to be running fast. Below is my Windows Experience Index (Max 5.9).

  • Processor: 5.9
  • Memory (RAM): 5.6
  • Graphics: 4.6
  • Gaming Graphics: 5.1
  • Primary Hard disk: 5.7

I am yet to get used to Vista’s interface and I am busy installing/customizing software’s for my computer. I am yet to get the data from my old computer and so things are little haphazard now. I will share with you my experience with my computer once things have settled a bit.

PS: Do you know the name of the cabinet? It is called Sivaji. πŸ˜‰ I couldn’t control laughing after hearing the name. (You need to be in Chennai to understand this)

Posted in Gadgets | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Recommendations for my next computer

Since my current computer has burned due to lightning I have decided to build a new one. I am interested in building a new one rather than buy a branded one and I need thy help. So guys give me your recommendations and let me know which one I should buy or stay away from. I will also appreciate if you could share me your experience with your PC.

Before we proceed, let me state my needs. I need a PC which I can use as my main development box. I will be running resource hungry programs like Zend, Eclipse, Visual Studio.NET, Photoshop etc. So I want it to be pretty powerful. It will be dual boot and I may also run VMware and set up parallel visual machines. I am not going to watch movies or play games and cost is not going to be much constraint.

Sorry MAC fans. It is very difficult to get a MAC here in India and is much more difficult to find service centers if I am into some trouble.

These are some of the options which I am considering now.

Processor

I am considering Intel core 2 quad or Intel core 2 quad extreme, which is by the way the most powerful processor available here. I don’t have much idea about AMD and if you have using or know about it then let me know. In particular, I have to choose from any of the following 3 processors.

  • Intel core 2 quad Q6600 2.4 Ghz, 8 MB L2 Cache, 1066 Mhz FSB
  • Intel core 2 quad Q6700 2.66 Ghz, 8 MB L2 Cache, 1066 Mhz FSB
  • Intel core 2 quad Qx6700 2.66 Ghz, 8 MB L2 Cache, 1066 Mhz FSB

Motherboard

Since the processor is Intel core 2 quad I have to choose the motherboard beloing to the P35 chipset family. In particular I am planning to choose any one from the following. I may go in for overclocking too. So suggest me which one I have to choose.

  • P5K3 Premium/WiFi-AP
  • P5K3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP
  • P5K64 Ws

RAM

For RAM I have to choose between DDR3 1333, DDR2 1033 or DDR2 800. I am going to buy the maximum amount of RAM that is supported by the motherboard. Let me know if there is any brand or make which I should buy or avoid.

Harddisk

Tentatively it is either Segate or Western Digital 350 GB or 750 GB HDD STA. But I am also considering STD or RAID

Monitor

It is going to be 19 inch LCD Monitor, either from Samsung or LG. Let me know if any other brand is recommened.

DVD ROM(S)

Blue Ray seems to be costly. So I am planning to get a DVD Writer combo. But let me know if there are other options.

Mouse and Keyboard

Suggest me some good ergonomics keyboards and mouse. I have already started developing numbs in my wrist πŸ™‚

Others

This includes Cabinet, speakers, network cards etc. Let me know if you have any good suggestion for these.

My current PC

I bought the current one which I am using in the late part of 2001 and it has served me very well. I have had quite a few thrilling movements and surprises with it. But overall it has served me well and I am still waiting for the service guys to tell me what are the parts that were burned due to the lightning. πŸ™

Posted in Gadgets, Random/Personal | Tagged , | 11 Comments

One more gadget

I have added one more to my list of electronic gadget and this one is the costlier of all. Yes I have a new little cute black beauty with me now – 30GB iPod Video 5G.

ipod Video

Today is my first day of ownership and I should accept that I have fallen in love on first sight itself. I am currently installing iTunes so that I can export some of my audio and video collection into this new cutie.

I am not very much into listening to music when I am traveling, but now I can listen to podcasts during my one and a half hour travel to office every day. So suggest me some good podcast shows.

I am going to listen to some nice tracks now and I will write about my experience with iPod after I use it for some time.

Posted in Apple/Mac/iDevices, Gadgets | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

My new mobile

I just brought a new Sony Ericsson K700i mobile, since I lost my old one.

This one has all the features that I had in my old one (Sony Ericsson T630) plus lot of other ones too for the same price. The new features being Video recording, FM Radio and bigger storage space (41 MB) compared to just 2 MB which I had in my old one.

Lot of people suggested me to buy a Nokia mobile, but I became a Sony Ericsson fan after using one for about a year now.

I wanted to buy K750i but that was too costly. Hmm may be I will get it once I loose this one πŸ˜‰

I have to buy a Bluetooth adapter so that I can connect my mobile with my PC and after that have to look for some software to backup up my contacts and also the pictures that I take using my mobile.

Can anyone suggest some good softwares which I can use to connect my mobile with PC.

Posted in Gadgets, Random/Personal | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Got on the Broad BANDWagon! Finally

Recently I have had some very bad experience in buying peripherals for my computer.

First it was my USB-IR port (BAFO 120b), which I brought to connect my mobile (Sony Ericsson T630) to my computer using IR. I bought it from a local shop for Rs 550 and when I connected it to my computer it was not recognized by my Window XP operating system. I tried all I could do but it didn’t work. I searched about it in Google and posted about it in various forums but no luck. Finally I gave up and packed it and placed it in my shelf.

Next, I decided to take up broad band connection (Believe me till now I was using only Dial-up Connection). And I selected BSNL Dataone 500, as the plan suited my needs. And regarding the modem, BSNL gave me two options either I can opt for their modem (Huawei SmartAX MT880) or I can buy my own modem. I gave a thought for some time and then decide to get my own modem and I bought a DLink DSL – 502T router / modem for RS 2450.

I was waiting with excitement to use my broadband connection. After about two weeks BSNL approved my request and enabled ADSL for my telephone line. Then came the real problem, I was trying to connect using my modem and it was not able to do that and was getting an error. I called up BSNL and they said that the problem is with my modem and not with their connection and went to the shop (yes still I am buying from a brick-mortar shop and not an e-Shop) from where I brought the modem and asked them to replace it, since I had warranty. They accepted it and gave me a new modem and even that one was giving the same problem for me.

I searched about it in Google and posted about it in various forums and almost every one gave me the same answer, connect the modem, run the wizard and you are through. I have changed almost all the configuration parameters and even then I just couldn’t do it. People from BSNL started saying that I shouldn’t have opted for my own modem and virtually all people with whom I discussed about it started pointing their fingers on me saying that it was my fault (expect my parents). I was in real frustration for about a month and finally decide to get the modem from BSNL itself and I listed my modem in ebay for Rs 2000, but I got a response from only one person who wanted it for just s 1500.

I was at my peak in frustration and something inside me asked me to give just one more try. So I just connected it (thinking that it would be my last time doing this) and the LED’s started to blink and I was staring at the screen and my hand was trying to point my mouse pointer to the shortcut (for my connection) which I have placed in the desktop.

Suddenly my yahoo messenger popped up and was trying to connect and I was trying to close it and to my surprise it got connected, I was not able to believe this because I haven’t clicked on the connection which I have created in my network connection yet. Then I opened firefox and typed Google and WOW! Google’s home page flashed.

Finally I realized that my modem has an in-built PPPoE dialer and there is no need for me to create a connection in network connection. And all these days whenever I switched on my modem it was connected to internet but I didn’t realize it. (How bad!)

My sprits went high after finding out that I have actually made a right decision while buying my modem and now I can prove to all those people who pointed their fingers at me that I did took the right decision.

And after making sure that I am connected the first website which I opened was www.Vinuthomas.com , the forum in which I was posting my query and I found that a person named Ashok who was helping me all these days and suggesting me all the possible combinations for configuring my modem has posted a reply to my post saying that my modem doesn’t need a connection to be created in Control Panel. Thanks Ashok.

And then I cancelled my ebay listing for my modem and told my parents about it. Even they shared my excitement and finally even I got on the Broad BANDWagon!

This has some how given me the confidence and energy to start fiddling with my USB-IR port and I will post my experience if I succeed in that too..

Posted in Gadgets, Random/Personal | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments