31 March 2006

Linksys snafu with v5 routers

I started my home networking out on Netgear equiptment.  In the beginning it was a very basic network with just a couple of hubs.  Of course this was in the time before broadband.  At the time, using dial up internet was not only slow, but sharing it was near impossible.  As a result, routers and switches was not a consideration and the only thing we were concerned with was hooking PC’s together for a game of Age of Empires (the original), Birth of the Federation or Civilization.
Then came broadband.  Suddenly all computers needed access to the internet.  Initially I used multiple IP’s via the hubs, but over time I decided to eliminate multiple IP’s and use a router instead.  Suddenly routers became the new craze.  Before I bought my first router, I investigated a little bit.  I found the best performance/price value from Linksys.  Furthermore, their WRT54G router was Linux based so there were many community BIOS upgrades to be had.
My little WRT54G version 1 hummed along piecefully for several years until recently I just quit.  We had a pretty bad storm and I’ve seen electricity do some weird and wonderful things.  All my equiptment is UPS protected so the only way I can figure it got knocked out was through the cable line.  Of course it jumped the cable modem and hit the router… not impossible… of course, the router may simply have died too.
Whatever the case, the bottom line was that my router died and I needed a new router.  I immediately looked to Linksys again.  I had several wireless cards, so I couldn’t switch to the SRX router, but I found the WRT54GS that had speed booster technology and would work with my existing wireless cards.  I forked over the cash and brought it home.  I had to get this one directly from Best Buy since 1.  I could not get on-line to order one and 2.  I really wanted it right now!
I installed the new router and then went out to my favorite firmware site for Linksys routers…LinksInfo.org!  On the site I searched for downloads for the WRT54GS version 5 which I now had.  Then I found to my dismay that the version 5 routers, both for WRT54G and WRT54GS, was VxWare based and not Linux based.  That meant no 3rd party firmware! 
Well OK, so I can’t use 3rd party firmware.  No problem, I’m sure it will work just fine… WRONG!
I’m not the first to report serious problems with the new version 5 hardware.  It worked for a short while and then it totally quit on the land line connections allowing only wireless clients access!   I tried everything.  I upgraded and flashed the firmware with the latest version from the Linksys site but there was simply no way to get it working correctly! 
Then I started the search for version 4 routers.  I eventually even bought one off Ebay.  When it arrived, it was also a version 5.  After fighting with the company, they conducted a search with Linksys and it turned out that version 4 routers was simply not to be found.  Right when I was ready to give up on Linksys as a whole, I found the solution…
Linksys WRT54GL
Yep, you guessed it… the "L" is for Linux.  Linksys found such a strong backlash against their decision to move away from Linux based firmware that they created an entire new router just to satisfy the 3rd party firmware community.
So instead of going out and buying used routers off Ebay, I was able to go out and get a couple of WRT54GL’s to replace the version 5′s.
My recommendation, forget the WRT54G and WRT54GS.  Get a WRT54GL instead! 

25 March 2006

Canon beats HP hands down

I blogged a while back about why everyone should own a color laser printer.  Of course it’s easy when you’re the only one who uses it, but in my case, my wife probably does more printing than I do by a long shot.  She’s a very visual person whereas I try and keep things electronic as far as possible.
Needless to say, it wouldn’t make sense for our laser to be on my desk in the basement when I don’t do most of the printing.  As a result, the laser is on her desk in her office upstairs.
When I really need good quality printing, I will print to the laser, but sometimes you just have something small you need to print.  You don’t want to waste the laser’s toner printing it and you definately don’t want to wander all the way upstairs to get the printout either.  For these times, you need just a small (and cheap) inkjet.
Now I mentioned my bias towards HP printers, so when it became time to replace my HP Deksjet 810C, I natuarlly looked at HP again.  I found the HP Deskjet 3930 at buy.com for $42.99.  It was cheaper than any other model and it seemed to be what I needed… besides, it’s an HP!
I got my new printer and started using it right away.
Over time (given I don’t print that much) I noticed the angle at which the paper is bent when printing from the feeder to the output.  It was a little dissappointing, but hey, it’s a cheapy printer right.  What do you expect for $42.99!
Then I reached the fateful day where the printer software started warning me that the color ink was low.  So what?  So it’s low.  The printing still seems fine, besides, who cares?  If I want quality I’ll print on the laser.  So I simply kept on printing.  Eventually the software warned me that the print cartridge was empty… really???
If it’s empty, why are these color printouts still coming out of the printer? 
OK, so finally the ink did run out and I had to replace the cartridge.  I replaced the cartridge and reset the printer… nothing… the printer still seemed to think that it’s cartridge was empty. 
I tried everything I could think of.  I uninstalled the printer, the driver and the software.  I disconnected the printer and let it sit for 2 days and then tried reinstalling again.  No matter what I did, it simply refused to accept the fact that it had a new cartridge! 
After a week of messing around with it and countless hours wasted, I got mad and vowed never to buy HP printers again!
I had replaced my HP scanner (which didn’t last as long as I had hoped either) about two years ago with a Canon scanner and the Canon has been humming away like a dream ever since.  No problems at all… NOT EVEN ONE!!!
So I thought I’d look at the Canon line of printers.  I found the Canon Pixma iP1600 at buy.com for $46.99.  So I tried the printer that was only $4 more.
The first thing I noticed was that the paper being printed on was not being bent as far because of the top feeder the printer had.
The second thing I noticed right away was that the printing quality of the Canon, on thesecond highest quality setting was better than the HP on it’s highest setting.
Lastly of course was the fire test when the ink ran out… no problems changing cartridges whatsoever!
I’m sold… I’ll stick with Canon printers in the future!

15 March 2006

Removing the Language Bar in Windows XP

This one is my most popular post on my old blog at Blogger.com.
Since posting it on Christmas Day 2004, I’ve had 36 comments on it! 
Anyway, I posted a video version of it on this blog, but sometimes you just want to get striaght to the point, so for those of you who don’t have the time to watch the video, here’s the transcript…
  1. Click the "Start" button.
  2. Select "Control Panel".
  3. Double click the "Regional and Language Options" icon.
  4. Click the "Languages" tab.
  5. Click the "Details" button.
  6. Click the "Language Bar" button.
  7. Uncheck the "Show Language Bar" checkbox.
  8. Click the "OK" button three times.

SharePoint Remote Event Receivers are DEAD!!!

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