Technology & Gadgets

Stuff about technology, and gadgets.

Enabling wired LAN on Canon Pixma Pro-100

Canon PIXMA printers are equipped with three types of connections: USB, WiFi and Ethernet (wired). I try and keep EVERYTHING I can off my WiFi, so I wanted to make the wired Ethernet connection work.

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From the factory, the wired Ethernet connection is disabled (stupid) and doesn’t automatically enable itself until you do the following:

  • Turn printer on. Wait for it to do its stuff and be on (about 30 seconds)
  • Hold down the paper feed button until the power light blinks EXACTLY 11 times. It’ll respond by blinking afterwards.
  • Turn printer off. Wait for it to shutdown gracefully
  • Turn it on again, wired LAN should be active.

To verify, hold down feed button for exactly 6 blinks. It’ll print out a settings page, wired should be marked as “active”.

Apparently this may also be possible from deep within the settings once WiFi is active, but really? Also, it appears impossible to have both WiFi and wired active at the same time (no big loss, but WHY?)

Wireless done right

I decided to do some research on the *right* way to set up wireless networks when you have multiple standards, multiple access points, multiple bands and a (fairly) large area to cover. There doesn’t seem to be one right answer, but here’s my old setup and new setup. This all seems to track nicely, WPA2 identical password and same SSID for all variants.

Old setup (limited in main building by old wiring limiting maximum backhaul to 100 Mbit/s Ethernet)

  • Linksys (hacked for high power) WAP54g (single band) in main building – kabal-wireless (802.11g, 2.4GHz only)
  • Apple Airport Express in main building – kabal-wireless-n (802.11n, simultaneous 2.4GHz & 5 GHz) running in dumb mode
  • NetGear WNR2000v1 N300 in garage office – kabal-wireless-n (802.11n, simultaneous 2.4GHz & 5 GHz) probably running as a router

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New setup (Gigabit Ethernet wired backhaul for everything)

  • Zyxel NWA1123-AC – kabal-wireless in main building living room (simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4GHz and 5 GHz)
    • 20/40 MHz channel 6 2.4 GHz, Auto channel assignment 5 GHz 20/40/80 MHz
  • Zyxel NWA1123-NI – kabal-wireless in main building bedroom (simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz and 5 GHz)
    • 20/40 MHz channel 1 2.4 GHz, Auto channel assignment 5 GHz 20/40 MHz
  • Zyxel NWA1123-NI – kabal-wireless in garage office (simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz and 5 GHz)
    • 20/40 MHz channel 11 2.4 GHz, Auto channel assignment 5 GHz 20/40 MHz

So with the new setup, there’s 1 SSID for everything, and one password using WPA2 authentication. 2.4 GHz channels are set to the only nonoverlapping channels (1,6,11). 5 GHz channels are auto-assigned (and non-overlapping). For the most part clients seem to deal with roaming well, unlatching and latching onto access points (relatively) seamlessly.

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Notes (the good, the bad and the ugly)

  1. Throughput on 802.11ac is close to 1 Gbit/s (whoah).
  2. This setup is somewhat at the mercy of crappy clients (802.11b) pulling down the throughput of the access point THEY are connected to. Fortunately, I don’t think I have many left.
  3. All units are PoE capable, and a $15 injector does the trick. Coupled with some awfully thin Ethernet cable, this can be very unobtrusive.
  4. Some folks have posited that having separate SSID for a,b,n,ac and 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz is a good thing. Most do not. I think it depends on the quality of your hardware. For example, you’ll often see people with separately named -5 networks.
  5. Many folks name adjacent networks differently. This is annoying. Just thought I’d put that out there.
  6. Don’t use routers as access points. Even in dumb mode bad stuff can happen.
  7. Eventually, I may move the units to 802.11ac APs, but wow, those NWA1123-NIs sure are cheap.
  8. There aren’t a lot of players in the high end access point market: Ubiquiti, Cisco, Engenius, and to a lesser extent, Netgear, Zyxel, etc.
  9. Of course, building a great wireless network in front of a crap router doesn’t help anybody. I use a custom-built pfSense router.
  10. Comcast letting anyone use their neighbor’s bandwidth (default xfinity network) is kind of insidious. It makes me feel dirty, like I’m stealing their internet access.

IPv6 working at home (sort of)

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I finally got IPv6 working at home over the weekend. I ended up doing it with custom router hardware from PC Engines (in my case the very capable APU with 4GB memory [$131+$10 enclosure], a 16GB mSATA SSHD [$24.99], and three gigabit Ethernet ports) running pfSense.

Couple of hiccoughs along the way:

  1. Completely forgot about the all-important null modem cable.
  2. Needed to find driver for my USB-DB9 serial adapter that runs under macOS Sierra (Prolific PL2303 chipset well-supported)
  3. Needed to find an appropriate terminal emulator (screen works well)

(more…)

Weather station setup

Photo by Kevin Moloney, New York Times

Photo by Kevin Moloney, New York Times

This is documented here, so that others may learn from my mistakes. I use wview software running on a Raspberry Pi (RPi). My setup is not the cheapest, but over multiple iterations I have tuned the components to reach the current setup. The total materials in my setup (not including temporary parts and mounting which will vary, will run ~$550 (today).

These are the components of my weather station setup at home, and how to put these components together to build a weather station that uploads data to CWOP, WeatherForYou and Weather Underground, among other places:

  • Raspberry Pi – $35 – Newark
  • Power supply for Raspberry Pi – $2.45 – eBay
  • Case for Raspberry Pi – $5.99 – eBay
  • 8GB SDHC Class 10 Transcend flash – $8.63 – Amazon
  • Davis Wireless Vantage Pro 2 – $387.63 – Provantage
  • Davis Weatherlink for Vantage Pro USB – $114.95 – Provantage¬† [IMHO a ripoff]
  • Instructions – google “wview raspberry pi” should get you to a well-written raspberry pi wview setup doc.

You’ll also need a pole, mounting hardware or tripod depending on where you want to mount the weather station.
You’ll need an HDMI-equipped monitor or TV to setup the RPi, as well as a USB keyboard with extra USB mouse port (chained) as the RPi only has two USBs. The RPi will need to be hooked up via Ethernet to the internet unless you want to buy one of the wireless adapters too. You’ll need to get an ID from CWOP if you want to publish your data to NOAA, as well as one from WeatherForYou and Weather Underground if you want to publish there too. After you’ve mounted the weather station and sent some data, you’ll need to submit photos of the installation to CWOP. (more…)

PHP 5.3 connecting to remote MySQL database

So there are many solutions out there discussing solutions to the error in PHP 5.3 while connecting using the built-in mysql library to a MySQL server:

mysqlnd cannot connect to mysql 4.1+ using the old insecure authentication. please use an administration tool to reset your password with the command set password = password('your_existing_password').

Unfortunately, none of these solutions seem to work on a remote MySQL server. I have WebFaction running my MySQL server, so it’s impossible to configure the old_passwords in a my.conf file. What you have to do instead is:

SET SESSION old_passwords=0;
SET PASSWORD=PASSWORD('existing password');

This should reset the password to the 41 byte hash compatible with mysqlnd in PHP 5.3.

Free of Bluehost at last

So this post has been a long time coming (almost 2 years), mainly due to my own lack of motivation and the sheer amount of work necessary to move a bunch of websites between hosts.

After trialling WebFaction for almost 1.5 years, and finding them to be reasonable and responsive, I have now moved this blog from BlueHost to WebFaction. Many folks have written about how bad BlueHost is, and so with this blog (finally) safely off of that host, I now feel free to add my $0.02.

Setting up wview (5.5.4) on Ubuntu (9.0.4)

This is an update to a previous post covering the new process for setting up a dedicated server running Ubuntu server edition connected to a Davis Vantage Pro2 weather station console via a serial port. There are a few changes because of the architecture of the wview program changing databases from MySQL to SQLite. The machine was an IBM Aptiva 2198¬† (PIII) with 512MB of RAM, an upgraded Ethernet card and 250G internal hard disk. (more…)

Firefox deletes cookies every time I exit

Well, I figured I’d put in a helpfully named post to solve the problem that other folks have reported. Mahalo incorrectly lists only the obvious solution (make sure these settings are true before you implement the solution below)

It is NOT a settings issue, it is a bug in Firefox (I’m using various versions of 3.x, currently 3.0.11).

Symptoms: Regardless of your security settings, all cookies get deleted every time Firefox is closed.

Cause: The cookies.sqlite database has become corrupted. (older versions of FF use a cookies.txt file)

Solution: Close Firefox, find cookies.sqlite and delete it (in my case, in C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\[some obscure name]\cookies.sqlite under Windows Vista x64, SP2).

That’s it.

Making stuff work in Vista x64

I recently converted my Dell XPS 420 from Vista x32 Ultimate to Vista x64 Ultimate SP1 (Dell shipped me the correct DVD when I asked for the 4th time). Obviously, a lot of stuff doesn’t work out-of-the box, but a little research did wonders:

Alternatives:

  • Cisco VPN -> Shrew Soft VPN (64 bit optimized)
  • CanoScan Toolbox & Drivers -> VueScan

Optimized for 64 bit:

  • 7-Zip
  • Firefox (called Minefield)
  • Internet Explorer (installed with OS)
  • MediaCoder
  • Adobe Illustrator CS4, Acrobat 9, Photoshop CS4,
  • K-Lite CODEC Pack
  • NVIDIA drivers
  • iTunes
  • Paint.NET
  • Logitech SetPoint

Doesn’t work in 64 bit:

  • Flash on 64 bit browser (you need to use the 32 bit browser)
  • Plugins for 64 bit FireFox (IE Tab)
  • Cisco VPN
  • Dell drivers that make icons look like the flash drive they represent (i.e., they all appear as Removable Disk, versus SD-card, etc.)

Gigapan imaging

Well, there seem to be a number of ways of creating gigapixel panoramas. Possibly the easiest to use is the GigaPan robotic mount ($379), which was used to create the tremendous image of the Barack Obama inauguration, along with a Canon G10 (it doesn’t fit larger cameras).

Another way is to hack up a Orion TeleTrack¬† Altazimuth ($249) astronomic mount with a serial port ($15), bluetooth ($35) and use Papywizard software (free) running on a Nokia N800 ($135). You’ll still need Autopano or similar stiching software to put the whole thing together.

I’m tempted to try both!

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