Archive for March 2006

Fon router running

24th 2006f March 2006

Ok, the installation went smoothly apart from the 5 min window the firmware gives you to register. I was setting it up on the back of my Apple AirPort Extreme working as a LAN modem. I did it this way for various reasons (not least of which is the proxy server on my satellite broadband connection). After the 3rd attempt at powering up the router, getting an IP address on my iBook and then contacting the Fon registration server within the 5 minute time limit I completed the registration successfully.

I have now moved the router to my ‘in-laws, who have a standard, always on ADSL connection which is much better suited to a Fon hotspot. Of course I entered the new location details into my account in the Fon database. Unfortunately the location appears at maps.fon.com in the middle of the countryside about 5Km from my parents-in-laws house! It seems to be sitting right on top of another Fon hotspot which, according to it’s address is supposed to be situated about 4Km south in a nearby town. I can only assume that Fon’s systems are having a little trouble resolving our addresses and resorting to placing markers in the middle of the postcode area.

To help Foneros out with finding hotspots I’ve started a Frappr map where we can position our markers more precisely. It’s also become popular with Foneros outside Spain and the US who are not yet catered for on maps.fon.com. So far we number 99 members 🙂

My Fon router has arrived!

2nd 2006f March 2006

I’m happy today. There’s a nice, boxy UPS parcel sitting on my Wife’s desk with my name on it. It contains a Linksys WRT54GS Wireless Router. No not your typical wireless router, I already have an Apple AirPort Extreme and I’m very happy with it; I’m blogging this right now via its built-in V90 modem. This particular wireless router was bought, direct from Linksys, for 50€, by a fledgling company called Fon. The small but hardworking team at FON’s corporate office in Madrid then wiped it’s firmware (it’s brain) and installed their own firmware which has some very cool features: Fon’s firmware will allow me to share my internet connection with anyone in range of the router’s WiFi signal, granted I could do this with my AirPort by deactivating WPA encription and making it an open access point. But the Fon router also allows me to limit the speed of shared connections so that I always have a reasonable connection to the Intenet even when the users sharing my connection are downloading big files. Also the Fon router allows me to see logs of who has connected, and lets me block users who I consider have abused my offer of shared Internet access.
But the greatest feature of all of the FON service: I can go on-line using anyone elses FON router for free! Gratis! There are about 5 members of FON (Foneros) within a 30 minute drive of my home, and I’m sure they’ll all be recieving their brand new FON routers shortly. If they haven’t already bought Linksys routers and flashed them with the FON firmware themselves.
Oh yes, and this faboulous router and Fon’s connectivity costs me only 25€, half the wholesale price of the router itself!
I have to go into Gibraltar for a job this afternoon but I will blog on the Fon router setup as soon as it’s up and running.

For more info and news from Fon read their company blog.

Intel iMac

2nd 2006f March 2006

On Tuesday I got a call from Patti, her old iMac (CRT) had died, propably a hardrive falure, but like all sensible computer users, she has a fairly recent backup of all her work (Gulp!). I reccomended an Apple Centre that I know does good work: Newton Systems in Gibraltar, but Patti went shopping and came home from FNAC with a brand new Intel iMac 🙂
But now she needed help, what could have gone wrong? Here’s a short list:

  1. She couldn’t print to her new printer.
  2. She couldn’t get on-line.
  3. She couldn’t open some of her backed up files.

The printer she bought with the new Mac came with 2 driver CDs both for Windows! Patti went back to FNAC and they helpfully downloaded the Mac OSX driver for her printer and burned her a driver CD. Unfortunatly this turned out to be the “Mac OS X (PowerPC)” driver and not the “Mac OS X (Intel)” driver which is burried a little deeper on the Epson site. Epson are obviously playing the numbers here; making the powerPC driver easier to find avoids confusion for the vast mayority of Mac users, but at the same time throws down a hurdle for the few early adopters of MacIntel out there. The solution was to download the new “Intel” version of the driver, but first we need an Internet connection.
When I arrived at her home, Patti’s boyfriend was on the phone alternating between arguing in Spanish (not his native, or second language) and being put on hold by an ISP customer service centre. They had decided to upgrade from dial-up to 2Meg-ADSL for the new iMac, but their current ISP had come back with problems with their phone line that would limit them to a 1Mb/s ADSL connection. In the meantime as the upgrade had alredy been put into effect their dial-up account had been deactivated. Now they had no connectivity and were considering ADSL offerings from alternative ISPs. The temporary solution was to connect Patti to GoNutsForFree a “free” dial-up ISP I use whenever I can’t get a better connection in Spain. Now we were able to download the correct driver (very slowly) and get her printer working.
None of this would have been possible if Patti hadn’t also purchased an Apple External Modem on her second trip to FNAC as the new iMac does not have one built-in. I understand why Apple are phasing out the internal modem: It’s the same underlying philosophy they followed when they dropped the internal floppy disk drive with the G3 range.
The issue with old files not opening was an OS9/MacIntel incompatibility. Patti’s old iMac had a dual OS configuration and unfortuatly OS X for Intel does not support OS9 emulation, we did however manage to open almost all her old documents and pictures by right-clicking or ctrl+clicking their icons in the finder and choosing a Mac OS X programme to open them. Patti can now resave her files from OS X applications to have them open normally when she double-cilcks their icons next time.
This is just another example of how being an early adopter of new technology can hurt. I think they call it: Being on the “Bleeding Edge”.