The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Peep peep peep!

| June 11, 2013

(You’ll have to make the sounds yourself, because apparently all my technology is old. My point and shoot camera doesn’t do audio with its video, I don’t have a smartphone, and my tablet’s camera sucks. I could steal Liz’s camcorder, but then I’d have to pull the stuff off it via firewire, but new laptop doesn’t have that – only USB 3.0 – for firewire, I’d need to use my desktop (because it has a firewire add on card).

But, anyway.. PEEPS!

Networks, Wifi and VLANs (oh my!)

| June 8, 2013

So, after about a week of fiddling, I believe I’ve gotten it all sorted.

Essentially, project goals were:

  1. Increase reliability
  2. Increase coverage

The extant arrangement of scattered WRT54Gs running OpenWRT was suboptimal, mainly because the core one would keep running out of memory, so various services would crash. So, you could associate with the AP with the big antennas, but then you’d never get an IP because the DHCP server crashed.

The solution was to buy a TP-Link TL-WDR4300 which has 128MB of RAM, and therefore has enough headroom that it doesn’t crash all the time. It also has 3 antennas, which you can orient in 3 different spacial dimensions (one straight back, one 90 degrees pointed up, one 90 degrees sideways) so they’re all at right angles to each other. Since the radio signals go in a “doughnut” shape away from the antenna (and generally don’t spread as much in the axis parallel to said antenna) 3 is loads better than 2, since we don’t live in Flatland.

Anyway, once that was set up, I checked coverage. It was pretty weak in my office (which is as far away from the access point as you can get and still be in the house) and in the garage (which is about 50 yards away from the house).

However, I now had 3 WRT54G and an old Netgear ME101 bridge – so, 3 pretty flexible devices and 1 that can only be a bridge.

With a little fiddling, I ended up with:

  • The ME101 in Liz’s sewing room, allowing a wired computer she has there to be wireless (we haven’t pulled cable there yet).
  • A WRT54G running DD-WRT with big antennas out in the garage. It’s running a “Vintage Stable” DD-WRT in Repeater Bridge mode, a DD-WRT exclusive.
  • A WRT54G running Tomato in my office, acting as an AP because the signal is weak there. Since my office is wired, a normal AP works.
  • A WRT54G running Tomato in the bedroom, acting as a bridge for the “smart” TV and Blu-Ray player in the bedroom (again, we haven’t pulled cable there yet).

So, 3 different types of devices, 3 different types of firmware, but it all seems to be working. We’ll see just how reliable it is.

Notes:

  • OpenWRT – Tremendously customizeable, down to what packages you install on top of the base system. Very hacker friendly, but complicated.
  • DD-WRT – Not as customizeable as OpenWRT as far as packages, but the default “standard” setup is pretty good. The notes on what versions are most stable are also pretty good (OpenWRT doesn’t give you much guidance here). Supports the Repeater Bridge mode, which is nifty.
  • Tomato – Simple, easy to use – probably the easiest of the three as far as a replacement firmware which allows more functionality yet isn’t too complex for an average user. I ran this firmware for years with very few problems. Of note, however, is that it lacks VLAN support, which is useful when you’re paranoid like me. After all, I have this cell repeater from Verizon on my network, which is a black box, I don’t control, and unlike my Blu-Ray players, it doesn’t need to access the DLNA server to stream media.. so, let’s just have that guy VLAN-ed off so it can only talk to the world, shall we? Like I said – Tomato is really good for normal people.

Testing the Google+ crosspost.

| June 8, 2013

Since I actually tend to use Google+ (largely for playing games, more on that in a later post) way more than I ever used facebook, I’m attempting to set this up to (now) post to LJ, Google+ and here. Further, I’ve added another plugin which allows folks to comment on the blog using a variety of new identities – Google+, Facebook, etc. all that. Not sure if I’ll keep it or not, just have to give it a spin.

So, we’ll see how that all goes. Meanwhile, I have a router to configure.

Edit: So, the Google+ crossposter does not work correctly, and therefore I’ve disabled it. Basically, there is no proper API for it provided by Google (well, not one that allows for writes anyway), so the plugin is basically a clever but fragile workaround.

Testing out the Android app..

| June 7, 2013

Testing out the WordPress app for Android. It seems to be working so far.

Additionally, I installed 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) on my TF101, using these instructions.

So, it’s been a few months

| June 6, 2013

It looks like September was my last blog post.

The problem with trying to keep up with blogging about things is that it proves difficult when one is actually doing things.

Firstly, I want to apologize for flooding various folks’ LJ friends page with an “all Matt, all the time” session. When I set up my new blog software, I imported my LJ posts with generic categories. In fits and spurts, I’ve been going through and recategorizing them. However, I still have something like 500 old posts to go through and fix up. Apparently, however, when I do that, it causes them to be ordered by modification date, not original posting date, in some peoples feeds. In the future, when I make those changes, I won’t go changing the LJ side of things, just the wordpress side.

In other news, after getting fed up with my venerable WRT54G routers running out of RAM and periodically rebooting, I bought A TP-Link WDR4300, selected because of its large amount of RAM and the fact that it runs OpenmWrt.

Finally, in case anyone ever doubted that my paranoia and predilection towards cryptofetishism was justified, they are watching. Not that this is new, of course – Carnivore, anyone?

Anyway, I will endeavor to publish more frequently – I’ve just been busy living life and all that jazz. Perhaps I shall install the WordPress app on my tablet, and that will make life easier.