stewart’s rule of home networking

Three hours of frustration trying to configure a balky wireless router is better spent with a 15m Cat-5e cable fished through the cold air return.

on stravaig

My company’s network is down today. All of it. All my files are there. All my work is there. I’m enjoying freedom while I can.

Have you heard of a large company not having redundant servers?

cos even i remember when Orkut was cool

What I really need is social metanetworking software. I can’t keep up with what’s the right network to be on …

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

that was easy

upgraded mac

I upgraded Catherine’s eMac last night, which up until then was probably the last Mac on the planet running 10.1. It now talks to the network better, and runs quite a bit faster.

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …

the outside world

Finally got something useful done with the Thinkpad with the broken backlight. Thanks to lots of help from Paul, and a critical bit of advice from Stephen, it’s now living on my network and visible to the outside world.
What had me initially confused was that both my modem (a SpeedTouch 546) and my Netgear router have NAT firewalls. I had to declare the router as a DMZ on my modem, and the Thinkpad a DMZ on my router. Also, the router’s DynDNS support was only reporting its IP address as seen behind the modem, so I had to turn that off and use dynDNS from the modem.

Security hole? Perhaps; but it’s not as if OpenBSD is the least secure or most widely-used OS. I’ve really only got sshd and thttpd running, so there’s not much to chew on

Free the Laserjet 4!

I love the HP LaserJet 4+. Built like a tank, good print quality, and now available used/refurb for pennies. Sure, they weight about as much as a Sherman, and suck power like there was no tomorrow, but one of my 4+s has nearly a million on the page count, yet prints crisp and clean.

Last weekend I scored a 4+ with built in duplexer from eBay for very little. It didn’t want to print at first (giving a cryptic 13 PAPER JAM error), but removing the rather beat-up full-ream paper tray fixed that. It may need a new cartridge (at almost twice what I paid for the printer), but I’m happy.

Wonder if I can direct-connect one of them to the ethernet port on Catherine’s eMac? I know my router won’t talk AppleTalk, so we can’t network just one printer.

first day new job

I had a good day. There was a lot of administrivia, setting up e-mail accounts, form filling, and learning about the network, but that’s all once off. The afternoon was mostly spent fighting with my new BlackBerry (a 7130e, you nerds), which works as a very nice phone, but the e-mail isn’t set up.

My cube has a view, and the transit is great. I’m happy.

OS bad craziness

DSL running on top of Windows XP
Yes, it’s really a linux box booting inside windows. Thank Damn Small Linux and QEMU for that.

It opens up an X session, and passes through most system services — so I was able to print to my network printer.

The $99 network printer

I scored a refurbed LaserJet 4M+ from Centennial Computer Solutions for $99. Plug it in, connect the ethernet cable, set some things on the front panel — and I’m printing from anywhere in the house. I like.