Computers, Gadgets and Beyond!

Archive for the ‘Technology’

Asus Eee PC 901

August 18, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Technology

There are now officially six thousand, three hundred and forty-nine different Asus products bearing the name Eee. Or there abouts. Including a game controller called Eee Stick, which apparently . I'm primarily interested in the sub-notebook variants though, like the ASUS Eee PC 901. Shown here are the limited edition Korean pink and lime-green versions dropping in a couple of days, whereas the rest of the world will have to content with the black and white versions for a while yet. Anyway. In a couple of months I'm off on vacation to Australia for five weeks, and would really like to bring a laptop to be able to check the weather for the next few days, book interesting excursions a few days in advance, check email, upload travel photos to home server etc. My trusty old ThinkPad T41p (best laptop ever) has performed that job for several years, but its days as a holiday computer are numbered. I need a sub-notebook. Any will do, as long as it's cheap, small, lightweight and has a battery capacity of 4-5 hours at least. Screen, keyboard and looks are secondary objectives. (more…)

Logitech Duet, a problem solved

April 04, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Media Players

You have a nice living room, with a stereo to match. And you have all your CDs ripped in the format of your choice and stored on a server somewhere in the house. Or perhaps you have a decent iTunes collection, or think Pandora is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But actually getting the sound to your stereo in a convenient manner has been somewhat elusive. PC by the stereo? Low WAF, and there is the small matter of where to put the screen and the keyboard. Roku Soundbridge or the old SlimDevices Squeezebox? Three line LCD panels aren't really readable from the couch. Laptop by the sofa? Doable, but very overkill. Sonos? Better check that lottery ticket first. Logitech Squeezebox Duet If that problem sounds familiar, then just buy a Logitech Squeezebox Duet Network Music System. It Just Works and problem solved. If you're not convinced, see the Logitech Squeezebox Duet-link in the Pages-menu on the right for more information.

Excessive SCSI logging under Ubuntu

March 18, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Tech Problems, Ubuntu

For some natty reason, my 64bit Ubuntu 8.04 server sometimes insists that a SCSI logging level of infinite detail is good for my health. Which means my messages, syslog and kern.log files get 50-100 lines like this per second:
Mar 18 23:52:25 home kernel: [ 8661.700076] scsi_add_timer: scmd: ffff81004da8a700, time: 7500, (ffffffff88123ed0)
Mar 18 23:52:25 home kernel: [ 8661.700117] scsi_delete_timer: scmd: ffff81004da8a000, rtn: 1
If you too are suffering from this then do the following: 1. First, stop it right now by starting a shell and typing:
sudo sysctl -w dev.scsi.logging_level=0
2. To make sure it doesn't start up again after a reboot then edit the file /etc/sysctl.conf and add this line anywhere in the file:
dev.scsi.logging_level = 0
And you should be all set.

Legacy NVidia Ubuntu woes

March 11, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Technology, Ubuntu

Somewhere along the line, NVidia got a lot stricter in their monitor handling. If you used to be able to run X at high resolutions but all you can get after an upgrade is something like 1024x768 then it is likely that you have been caught by the clock check bug. You typically get lines like these in your Xorg log (/var/log/Xorg.0.log):
(WW) NVIDIA(0): No valid modes for "1920x1200"; removing.
(WW) NVIDIA(0): No valid modes for "1600x1200"; removing.
To get the X server to tell you exactly why it's removing those two modes, try starting X with -logverbose 6 as arguments, and it will log something like this instead:

    (II) NVIDIA(0): Validating Mode "1600x1200":
    (II) NVIDIA(0): 1600 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
    (II) NVIDIA(0): For use as DFP backend.
    (II) NVIDIA(0): Mode Source: EDID
    (II) NVIDIA(0): Pixel Clock : 162.00 MHz
    (II) NVIDIA(0): HRes, HSyncStart : 1600, 1664
    (II) NVIDIA(0): HSyncEnd, HTotal : 1856, 2160
    (II) NVIDIA(0): VRes, VSyncStart : 1200, 1201
    (II) NVIDIA(0): VSyncEnd, VTotal : 1204, 1250
    (II) NVIDIA(0): H/V Polarity : +/+
    (WW) NVIDIA(0): Mode is rejected: PixelClock (162.0 MHz) too high for
    (WW) NVIDIA(0): Display Device (Max: 150.0 MHz).
If this used to work for you, and all you did was upgrade Ubuntu (or some other distro), then edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and add the line
Option         "ModeValidation" "NoMaxPClkCheck"
inside either the Screen or the Device group. Restart X and it should start up in a higher mode again. For more interesting options to set, try looking at the NVidia X driver documentation. Leave a comment if you're lost and I'll try to guide you through the tricky parts.

Ubuntu Hardy upgrade woes

February 20, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Tech Problems, Technology

This week, two showstoppers appeared in the Ubuntu Hardy upgrade system. First one was a botched upgrade of a language package under OpenOffice and the other was a problem related to Python/APT/dpkg.
First one looked like this:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
You might want to run `apt-get -f install' to correct these.
The following packages have unmet dependencies:
  language-support-writing-en: Depends: openoffice.org-hyphenation-en-us but it is not installed
E: Unmet dependencies. Try using -f.
The easy fix out of this one is to start up System->Administration->Synaptics Package Manager and uninstall "openoffice.org-hyphenation". This will trigger a removal of about 85 packages including OpenOffice itself. When that is done, use the same Package Manager to install OpenOffice again and in goes the 85 packages again.
The second one looked like this:
Setting up python-apt (0.7.4ubuntu5) ...
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/bin/pycentral", line 1593, in 
  File "/usr/bin/pycentral", line 1587, in main
    rv = action.run(global_options)
  File "/usr/bin/pycentral", line 982, in run
    self.pkg.byte_compile(bc_option, self.options.exclude)
  File "/usr/bin/pycentral", line 624, in byte_compile
    rt.byte_compile(files, bc_option, exclude_regex)
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'byte_compile'
dpkg: error processing python-apt (--configure):
 subprocess post-installation script returned error exit status 1
This has now been fixed, and a new python-central should be available at the repositories. I hacked my python-apt to bypass this before the official fix was out, but all you should have to do is update/upgrade as normal and everything will be fine.

Dolphin from BoonEx failing after update

February 20, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Tech Problems, Technology

After upgrading to Dolphin 6.0004, Ray 3.1 and Orca there are multiple problems you can experience.
First one is that whenever you enter the forums, you get a popup box saying:
main div is not defined
please name main content container
This is due to bad caching in the application, and you have to remove a few cache files from the server to fix it. From your web server document root, these files are in orca/cachejs/ and groups/orca/cachejs/. Delete all the files that have a file name that looks like junk, i.e. something like e3d43deace3edbc...
Second problem is that they messed up the Ray part of the upgrade so that all widget licenses are invalidated and can't be reinstated. To fix this you have to download and apply a hotfix. Download the hotfix here. You get a zip file, unzip in document root and it will overwrite a handful of files. After this you have to input all your Ray widget licenses again, but this time it should work.
There are undoubtedly more, but those were the ones I experienced. Note that this is not an endorsement of this product at all, rather the opposite. It's a complete mess with a non-existing support organisation and a web presence that boggles the mind. It's spread across half a dozen web sites and I can't find a single thing there.

Mobile GMail problems

February 20, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Tech Problems, Technology

If you're hit by the dreaded


after downloading and running the latest GMail mobile application, then try downloading it again and this time answering No to the question about whether to keep old data or not. Fixed the problem for me on my (t)rusty old SE K750i, may do for you as well. The newer v1.1.1 is significantly better than the old v1.0.0 so it's well worth trying to get it to work.

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Server downtime

January 12, 2008 By: webmaster Category: Technology

Sorry about the downtime in the past couple of days. Life in the ADSL+ world isn't all roses and the Thomson/Alcatel Speedtouch ST585 modem needs quite a bit of configuration to behave after a factory reset. Unfortunately I had missed out a few entries, so that what you got instead of the normal service was the web pages on the actual modem. All fixed now I hope. 

Picture below is what the University of Maryland IT department had to deal with after being hit by a tornado. Glad my problems weren't as severe...

Tornado cleanup 

Popcorn Hour NMT (Networked Media Tank) A-100

November 29, 2007 By: webmaster Category: Media Players, Technology

So it arrived. Hong Kong to Norway in little under 72 hours, not too bad except that half of that time was spent on the last 20 kilometers according to the DHL tracking website. I'll start a review page which I'll fill with the highlights today and update as I get more mileage out of the player. You'll find the link in the menu on the right.

The box

As you can see, they didn't spend a lot on the packaging...  

I’ve got mine (soon)!

November 21, 2007 By: webmaster Category: Media Players, Technology

There is currently quite a frenzy around the new Networked Media Tank from PopcornHour. The first batch was sold out in so short a time that the NMT/PopcornHour community forum flowed over with angry posts. Apparently PopcornHour had been playing it safe and only ordered about 50 units or so in the first batch, not really enough for the thousand or so eager wouldbe customers. So for the next batch it was not a repeat of the "hit refresh at the right time"-shopping experience the initial release had been. Instead they sent out invitations to the people having registered on the site on a first register first dibs basis. I luckily registered quite early (number 200ish) and got my invitation about a week ago. Today they billed my Google Checkout account, which should mean that they're shipping. So if all goes well, I should have a unit in hand in a week or two and provide you with a review of the unit. Head over to http://www.popcornhour.com or http://www.networkedmediatank.com if you want to see what the commotion is about.

Update: It's now reached DHL shipping facilities Germany, so should be on my doorstep in a day or two!

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