Network fixes

A while back I upgraded the firmware on my Linksys WRT54G router to 4.30.5 and one of the wireless connections stopped working. I’m running a MIXED system — that is, a system with both 802.11b and 802.11g devices — and all the high speed devices worked just fine, but an old iBook with 802.11b (Airport, rather than Airport Extreme) failed to connect. It could see the router, but never made the connection. It didn’t matter if the connection was open or secured by a password, the computer would appear to negotiate with the router for a second or so, and then would fail. Wired connections with the iBook still worked, so I hooked up a cable and set the matter aside.

Today I was browsing through the built-in Help file on the router and noticed this under Basic Rate:

“The default value is set to Default. Depending on the wireless mode you have selected, a default set of supported data rates will be selected. The default setting will ensure maximum compatibility with all devices. You may also choose to enable all data rates by selecting ALL. For compatibility with older Wireless-B devices, select 1-2Mbps.”

The iBook is several years old, so it probably qualified as an older Wireless-B device. I worked my way through the router settings, found ‘Basic Rate’ under Wireless/Advanced Wireless Settings, and changed it to 1-2Mbps. Then I grabbed the iBook, undid the cable connection, and tried connecting to the ‘net. Success!

I haven’t noticed a degradation in performance elsewhere – both Macs and PCs seem to connect without difficulty now.

As for the WRT54G itself, it’s a Version 2 unit which can be sidegraded by replacing the firmware with a GPL version, but I haven’t done that yet. I’m considering it, but I think I want a spare router just in case I brick the one I sidegrade. I would like some more capabilities, but risk management is a factor since I access office systems via a VPN, and don’t want to lose the option of working from home.

Little Black

We looked for a Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge again on Sunday, and ultimately found one locally. It wasn’t that they weren’t available, but no-one seemed to have Black, let alone any other colour but White, in stock. So, having run around town to find one we plonked down our credit card and bought what appeared to be the only Black version in town. We then drove to the warehouse to pick it up–and the warehouse was only two or three kilometres from the house. So the black Le Corbusier Chaise Lounge is now ensconced upstairs, where hopefully I will be able to use it to elevate my feet over my heart and reduce the lymphedema swelling by a fraction. Like the colour?

Brown is the new black!

Apparently, Brown is the new Black! (Fortunately, we like it this way – I don’t want to go looking any further)

Capturing Jupiter

I was rather lazy most of today – I only got around to trying a new set up for the PST around sunset — just a tad late. In my defence, I did go madly about town in the afternoon to look for a Le Corbusier chaise lounge (in vain, I might add), but in all honesty I simply put things off until too late. Eventually I wound up trying the Meade Electronic Eyepiece on Jupiter, but the image was too bright for the eyepiece and burned the planetary disk out completely, though the moons and a couple of nearby stars were easily visible. I switched to the Toucam and played with the settings for quite some time before finally capturing this image,

Jupiter 2006/07/15 23:24 EDT

which is actually the sum of several hundred images selected from 2530 images captured as a 3-minute movie. The dot, incidentally is a much enhanced Europa. It was extremely faint in the original image and had to be processed separately from the planet. It came out blue, so I arbitrarily reduced the saturation and shifted the colour to a more neutral–but still unnatural–hue.

I’m not unhappy with the result, though I suspect the scope could do better in more skillful hands (a more focused approach, perhaps). This is the result of using only about half of the first 100 images in the sequence. It seems to be noisier but with more (perhaps illusory)detail:

Jupiter with reduced sample

Both images are based on frames captured with a Toucam II at prime focus of a William Optics FLT 110 mm (2002-2004 vintage). No correction for dark frame or flat frame.

Solar observing

I picked up a Coronado PST today. I stuck it onto a photographic tripod and dashed out into the back yard, but was immediately disappointed. The photographic mount was far too awkward to use as an altazimuth mount, so the first thing I will need to do is look around for something more suitable as a carry-around mount, as well as figure out some quick way of attaching the PST to the G11 OTA package. Next, the contrast was very low, and I found it very difficult to tune the filter for the best results. Of course, the mount’s problems didn’t help. The magnification of the eyepiece provided with the PST is a mere 20x, so the image is small. I would have bounced it up to a higher magnification, but the mount made that very difficult (though of course I did try it).

The sun was also very bland today – a couple of active areas were visible, but no spots at the resolution I was achieving (did I mention the mount made observing difficult?), and I saw no prominences at all.

The final major problem was the heat and light. It seems when you’re solar observing there’s a big hot ball of fire glaring down on you which makes things very uncomfortable. Next time, I’m going to do this at night when its cooler and there’s less glare.

Speech recognition

I’m going to give speech recognition a try again. A few years ago I tried with Via Voice on the Mac, and wasn’t too successful. Quality was about 90% but the interface was a bit of a pain, and once I upgraded to a newer version of the OS the software wouldn’t work properly. Others were able to install the program on the same hardware/OS combination, but I was never able to install it successfully – it would hang up at the end of the training process.

Now I’m trying iListen, from MacSpeech. I installed it on the old desktop system, a G4 867 MHz, and it worked, sortof. The recognition was highly variable, and the software variously reported my microphone, an old VXi with a Parrot USB adaptor, as “good” and “poor” — in fact, all the way down to unusable. The correction window didn’t always show up when I tried to fix errors, so I wouldn’t rate the performance too highly so far. On the other hand, the microphone is old — probably about five years — and may be the source of the problem rather than the software itself. I’m going to try using a newer microphone and switching from the desktop to a faster G4 laptop and see if that fixes the problem.

More info when the new microphone arrives.