Friday, November 27, 2009

BSNL EvDO on Linux is quite easy now

The ZTE AC8700 modem provided by BSNL for EvDO connections is supported pretty well by most recent Linux distributions including Fedora and Ubuntu. So if you find any complicated instructions to configure this device, I would recommend you to ignore them. This includes my previous posts on this issue as well. Just use the network manager that comes with your distribution and configuration is pretty plain and straightforward. No messing with command line scripts etc.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ultra-tiny USB Flash Drives

Do you know those tiny weeny USB Flash drives (aka Pendrives)? Those who haven't, well here are some links:

http://www3.pny.com/category_buymulti.aspx?Category_ID=395
http://www.transcendusa.com/Products/ModDetail.asp?ModNo=181&LangNo=0&Func1No=1&Func2No=76
http://www.transcendusa.com/Products/ShowImg.asp?ModNo=213&vplay=yes

I just love them because they are so convenient to carry around. Well, I know some do not think it is a good idea, 'cause they are easy to lose/misplace. I do not misplace them since they are always in my wallet. My only peeve about them is that unlike normal pendrives that use the standard USB type A connector which only goes in one way, the metallic guides/shield (what do you call those things?) are absent on these. So they go in either way, although only one way works. I was hoping someone would put USB pins on the other side as well to address this problem. Is Transcend or PNY listening?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

With the first link the chain is forged.

With the first link the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably. --Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek NG Series 4)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Microsoft's FUD campaign on OpenDocument format

Microsoft seems to be busy with an ODF disinformation (FUD) campaign with Alex Brown, the convenor of the OOXML BRM being one of the culprits. Rob Weir has more information on his blog http://www.robweir.com/blog/2009/06/odf-lies-and-whispers.html.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

eSATA hotplugging issues in Ubuntu/9.04

I have noticed another issue with eSATA on Ubuntu/9.04 in addition to the automounting one. When the HDD is plugged in through eSATA before the OS boots, a 3Gbps SATA link is established. However if it is plugged in after the OS boots, a 1.5Gbps link is established. While this is definitely better than USB, it is still suboptimal. Hoping to find a solution for this problem sometime.

Transcend StoreJet35 Ultra eSATA+USB on Linux

I use a 1TB ST31000333AS Seagate SATA HDD for backing up my data using rsync. A crontab entry makes sure that backups are taken everyday. I used to use a standard USB to SATA HD enclosure for connecting it to my system. But since USB 2.0 is limited to 480Mbps, I was trying to find an eSATA+USB enclosure to replace my existing one. My first choice was Coolermaster Xcraft 350. None of the dealers I tried contacting in Hyderabad/Chennai were able to procure it for me. In fact they were not able to get me any eSATA enclosures or docking stations. I almost ordered a eSATA docking station from Amazon (a friend of mine was returning back from the US), but Amazon was not able to process payments from my Mastercard. It was by chance that I came across a dealer selling the Transcend StoreJet35 at http://www.techenclave.com/dealers-paradise/e-sata-case-transcend-1950-shipped-128631.html. My earlier attempts of procuring this from Hyderabad/Chennai had also failed. Since the price (in my opinion) was reasonable (it included shipping as well), I ordered for one and got it delivered. As I was transferring the HDD from the older USB-only enclosure to the eSATA one, it struck me that I had forgotton to check it for compatibility on Linux. A quick check on the product specifications was discouraging; only USB was known to work on Linux. I decided to trust my luck and after transferring the HDD to the eSATA enclosure, I plugged it to my system running Ubuntu/9.04. I found that the disk was indeed being recognised. However unlike USB devices which are automatically mounted when plugged in, I had to manually mount the volumes on the disk. I plan to see how I can handle automounting of eSATA disks.


ps: In hindsight, it was really fortunate that I did not get my hands on the Xcraft350. While browsing around the internet I came across a picture showing its internals. Is rather messy inside compared to the StoreJet35.
http://www.notebookreview.com/assets/23129.jpg.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

For those who still think software should be patentable

Those who think software should be patentable, I do hope you have a change in heart by reading what Donald Knuth, Professor Emeritus of The Art of Computer Programming has written on this issue. And if you do not know who Donald Knuth is, I do not think you are even qualified to think software is patentable (just because you are a lawyer does not mean you can). I do hope the Indian Govt. withstands the pressures from the US and EU and does not enforce it. And I sincerely hope that someone from the minstry of commerce/industry reads this article by Knuth. Here you go http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090603224807259

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BSNL EvDO Signal Strength Indicator on Linux- Resolved

I discovered that ZTE websites provides Dialers for BSNL EvDO. Supported OS's include Mac and Linux. The good news is that signal strength indicator works. in Linux The bad news is that the data transfer rate is reported in kilo bytes per second (kBps) but is not accurate. So for those of you who want to try it out can download it from http://www.ztemt.com/ennewzte/service/ziliao.action. Dialers and kernel drivers are only provided for the 32 bit OSs. But it is a trivial task to get it to work on 64 bit OSs. I'll post on this sometime later. Those interested in obtaining a better estimate of data transfer rates in kBps could use
ifstat -i ppp0 or ifstat -S -i ppp0
and in kbps
ifstat -b -i ppp0 or ifstat -b -S -i ppp0.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Misguided by intermittency

I was completely flabbergasted by a what I thought should be rather simple to do. which is bluetooth on Linux. Well I bought a USB bluetooth dongle, and tried connecting my recently purchased Samsung Duo mobile using Ubuntu/8.10. Strangely I could not discover the mobile. Even strange was that I could detect other laptops, and bluetooth headsets. But not my mobile. My mobile however could discover my system's bluetooth. But I could not get pairing working. Eventually managed to install Blueman, was able to discover my mobile. I managed to connect. But just once. Never again. I tried using it in Windows XP, and guess what I was able to connect but just once.

After wasting hours, I gave up. Then when I was installing Intrepid on someone's laptop which had bluetooth, I was able to discover my mobile without any problem whatsoever. Repeated attempts confirmed that bluetooth was working fine with my mobile. I later got a bluetooth stereo headset with a2dp profile. I could use it with my mobile without any problems. I could also get it to work on Windows XP. But again just once. Then I began to get suspicious about the bluetooth dongle. Well off I went to buy another, less expensive one. And without any problem I could connect to my mobile, also to my headset on Linux. The same case with Windows XP.

For a person who never had problems getting hardware to work, using a bluetooth seemed to be a tough nut to crack; thanks to the intermittent dongle. Fortunately for me my ego is still intact. All along I was suspecting incompatibilities with the mobile's bluetooth profiles. Anyway here is what I feel is the moral of the story : "If it is too difficult to setup, it's most likely broken."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Encoding Videos for Samsung Duo SCH-W339

The video files converted using the script for C5320 does not work with Samsung Duo SCH-W339. Well ... actually I lied. It does work, except that the extension has to be changed from .3gp to .mp4. I learnt it the hard way. I do not know why it is so. Anyway the C5320 has no problem with the extension being .3gp or .mp4. So here is the (not so updated) script for converting videos to mp4 for use in Samsung Duo SCH-W339. It just adds an additional line to change the extension:

#!/bin/bash

FILENAME=`echo $1|cut -d "." -f 1`
SIZE=qcif

CHANNELS=1
SAMPFREQ=22050
ABITRATE=48

FPS=25

ffmpeg -i $1 -s $SIZE -vcodec h263 -acodec aac -ac $CHANNELS -ar $SAMPFREQ -r $FPS -ab $ABITRATE -y $FILENAME.3gp
mv $FILENAME.3gp $FILENAME.mp4
exit 0

BSNL EvDO on Ubuntu/8.10

It seems the airprime driver has been removed from Ubuntu/8.10 (for good). usbserial with the option module seems to be doing a good enough job.

Converting videos for use in C5320

Huawei C5320 does not come with any video converting software. So for those who own it and most other mobiles you can convert the video using ffmpeg. Windows and Linux versions are available. For those who use Linux, I have provided a script for converting your videos. I have only checked conversion from avi (divx/xvid) to 3gp (resolution is qcif i.e. 176x144). For wmv files (atleast the ones I have), there are some audio/video sync issues. The script takes the video file as its argument. The following is the script:


#!/bin/bash

FILENAME=`echo $1|cut -d "." -f 1`
SIZE=qcif

CHANNELS=1
SAMPFREQ=22050
ABITRATE=48

FPS=25

ffmpeg -i $1 -s $SIZE -vcodec h263 -acodec aac -ac $CHANNELS -ar $SAMPFREQ -r $FPS -ab $ABITRATE -y $FILENAME.3gp

exit 0