May 04, 2013

Google Glass Must Have a Line of Symmetry

We are used to symmetry - 2 hands, 2 feet, 2 eyes, 1 nose with 2 nostrils. This is how we are designed. Google Glass decides to take an asymmetrical approach and that may be the biggest reason why people won't go ahead and plunk down ever a few hundreds bucks for this desigh.

The reason is simple: If you wear glasses you wear them usually in a design with both lenses with the same material.

image from www.headofrothchild.comUnless you want to be funny, wear a costume, go to a masquerade!

image from img.costumecraze.comGoogle Glass has more one one side than the other, so while not quite as whacky as the pair of glasses above, it still looks strange.

image from readwrite.com
Even this, although bulky would look better. A nice top border and you're getting there, although still not quite there. Why not hire Luxottica to help you out, Google?

Google glass symmetrical

 

March 29, 2013

DRIVER.CAB and Windows XP 32-bit driver archive

Have you gotten stuck installing a piece of software or a hardware driver with a dialog box looking for "some files"?

It looks like this:

image from lh5.ggpht.com
What is most likely is that Windows XP did not install this driver on your computer and another installation requires it. If you have Windows XP (32-bit version), download this archive in .RAR format.

Download Driver.cab in RAR format

Just download the file, uncompress it with WinRAR into a folder and point the installation dialog box to get the file from this folder. Voila, problem solved.

March 03, 2013

Pictures from the life of a software developer

Have you ever found yourself feeling like this?

When a friend of mine asks me to fix his website built with Joomla

image from www.topito.com

There are hundreds of these funny GIFs here and here which are understandbable by software developers, although maybe if you google the context enough, the average person will find funny as well. 

March 02, 2013

Solution to mini-PCI Express wifi hardware radio off - Tape pin #20

This is one of more weird solutions I have ever "found." I reinstalled the WiFi mini PCI-express card in our Toshiba 230D laptop and found the hardware radio was permanently off. That means I could not connect to any WifI network. I thought that I had a bad card, but the Intel Wifi Link 5300 drivers installed fine, and were properly running. So the laptop and OS "sees" the card but the diagnostics said "radio is off."

I found this thread that claimed to "tape over" pin #20 to force the hardware radio to be on all the time, regardless of what the laptop hardware was telling the card. This makeshift solution, worked like a charm. Not a driver issue, not a BIOS issue, not a Windows issue, but a strange issue with a broken hardware switch in the laptop. The manual "override" was the perfect solution.

Your mileage may vary.

 

January 29, 2013

New WiFi routers perform admirably, especially the Asus RT-N66U

Do you use WiFi (wireless internet) a lot at home? You may want to check out the new breed of wifi routers which have exceptional performance. While these routers cost about 2 times the existing routers (100-200 dollars), they are most definitely worth it.

For the past decade, WiFi has worked over the same frequency (2.4Ghz) as your cordless phone and many other cordless devices. When there are lots of 2.4Ghz devices in the vicinity of your WiFi router, interference at long distances (more than 10 feet) will step down the speed and stability of your WiFi connection. Your link may waver and even get interrupted. Some routers simply stop responding and restart on their own. In our neighborhood, we have about 15 networks around us competing for "spectrum". The chart below shows our network (A+A+Aa) on channel 8 competing with 13 other networks. Before we upgraded our router the signal (y axis) was just slightly better than everyone else's upstairs. Click on the image below to see what I mean.

Wifi routers spectrum use
Wifi routers spectrum use

New "dual band" routers do something special - they hop to a new spectrum at 5Ghz where no devices seem to tread (yet). Dual band routers allow you to run 2 WiFi networks - one at the old 2.4Ghz band for backward compatibility and one at the new 5Ghz band where there is much less interference. You can even name each network separately and distinguish them. Not all older devices have the necessary radio to pick up a 5Ghz WiFi network, but rest assured that your connection will be superior at 5Ghz.

Many new routers also "follow" your laptops and tablets by beaming their signal to each device. This provides a steadier and stronger signal as well.

I installed the Asus RT-N66U (aka Black Knight) after reading several reviews online which were very positive. Indeed the speed upstairs in our house went up 7 times (from 3Mbps to 20+Mbps). Our effective bandwidth from Bell is 25Mbps/down, so your really want to take advantage of that extra speed. Skype will work much better now anywhere in the house, as will any video streaming. I moved all of our devices over to the new 5Ghz network by simply selecting the new network name and authenticating from each device. My Dell laptop though did not see the 5Ghz network but performs much better even at the 802.11n 2.4Ghz network.

The new Asus router uses a 19V power supply, 7 more volts than my previous DLink DIR 655 router. That's more power, and to be expected for a radio that is more powerful. This router will use more electricity. Unless you have some activity running at night over WiFi, there should be no issues with turning off a router at night using the scheduling software. Just removing the power too could work but you'd have to remember to do this. 

A new WiFi router is a must if you are not getting your advertised bandwidth that you are paying for in all parts of your home. 

Let's say you get 5Mbps. If you do speedtest from your laptop or tablet in the farthest reaches of your home, and you get close to 5Mps AND your connections are stable I wouldn't consider upgrading your router. But if you pay for 10 or 20Mbps and then still get 5 or less then your WiFi router should be upgraded. I'd recommend the Asus. I will know more in 1 month but early indications look positive. 

Asus RT-N66U aka Black Knight
Asus RT-N66U aka Black Knight