all this and a dongle, too!

I finally got my usb wireless nic working in Gentoo. The solution? Emerge the stable packages with a good kernel. It’s always the situation you try last that works.

Even though ndiswrapper is far from the best optimal solution for wireless in linux, I’m gonna hang onto my purchase for one perfectly good reason – the stick came with this cool little USB extension cradle called a dongle.

You see, the dongle saves us from seeing some nerd bend over his computer while plugging in his 5 gigabyte USB memory stick into the back of his computer. Now they can just comfortably hotplug the hardware from their seat.

Whoever invented these cradles did us all a favor, and I’d like to think my investment of $52.13 goes towards thanking them personally. Continue reading “all this and a dongle, too!”

a week of wireless

I’ve been playing a lot with wireless this week.  I remembered we had a D-Link USB wireless thing at work, so I plugged it in my desktop and played around with it to see if I could get it working.  Amazingly, I actually got it up and running within about 10 minutes with ndiswrapper.  I was pretty impressed.  So, I went out and bought one for me after work.

The thing I found out about it after I got home is that mine is a different revision, and so it’s a different chipset. Surprise! The cool thing though is that I happened to get one where you can use ndiswrapper or some beta oss drivers from the manufacturer (rt2x00).

Well, silly me, I figured I’d have this one up and running in 15 minutes or less at home, since by now I’m a seasoned wireless Linux user.  That was over six hours ago. I still can’t get the thing to even work without a kernel segfault, and for some reason I keep trying.  The really great part of all of this is I’ve tried eight kernels all on my Pentium 3, and it just now occurred to me that it might be faster if I was testing this on my speedy amd64 desktop. Whoops.

Anyway, I’m sure to get this working eventually.  That, or my head will implode.  Right now, it’s a tough call.

another ipod convert

That’s right, I’ve joined the masses. I bought an ipod nano (4gb) the other day, and I gotta say, I’m hooked. The thing that I actually like the most about this thing is the firmware. In my opinion, user interfaces should serve one noble purpose in this world: give me what I want now, slave.

My little nano fits that bill and a whole lot more. Well, not that much more, really. It displays the shiny album cover when I play music, which is nice because I can stare at the tiny screen and listen to the music at the same time. I think it’s impressive. I think it would be even cooler if I could browse by album cover art.

The only problem I’ve had with it so far is iTunes. My review of that software can be summed up in one simple sentence: “grip, it ain’t.”

First of all, it encodes the files on the fly, so I can’t stick them in one after another and keep them ripping in a queue. I’m sure there’s much better software to rip them, but I compare windows like running into a burning building — get what you need quickly, then get the crap out of there.

Secondly, by default it rips to only 128kbps AACs. That’s quite too low for my sophisticated music tastes which range from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to “The Brave Little Toaster.” The stereo output on the ipod is quite nice, but at that bitrate it seems like a lot gets cut off, and it sounds muffled.

I played around with the very limited options, and changed it to do VBR at 256 kbps instead, but it still wasn’t sounding as great as I imagined the legendary AAC would. So, I pulled it out of my Windows box, popped it back on Linux desktop, fired up gtkpod, and started copying over my MP3s. They sound much better, so I’m happy again.

I gotta say that gtkpod is a cool little app in its own right as well. I must be getting old though, because it took me about half an hour just to figure out how to copy music over. I kept thinking you put it in the “Local” and then it would sync to the ipod. Ah, well. It definately takes longer to copy files over than iTunes does, but at least I don’t have to move my MP3s around different computers just to transfer them on there.

Overall, I’d give the ipod a thumbs up, even though I’ve spent more time writing this post than actually using it. I’d definately recommend one.

my new discount amd64 box

I just placed the order on Not a bad deal, methinks. For $250 I got a decent amd64 chip, a slightly older asus mobo, and a gig of ram.

I’m actually going to use it as my new windows gaming box (KVMs are a godsend), so I don’t have to dual-boot from Gentoo anymore. The great thing is I can always replace it with my beefier mythbox if I need more power, and I’m sure it could pick up the slack just great.

Very exciting. :)