Category Archives: Mobility

Packt celebrating International Day Against DRM


TODAY Packt Publishing is offering all its DRM-free content at $10… All 2000+ eBooks and Videos at

Get an inexpensive and DRM FREE fix for all your tech urges in virtualization, end-user computing, Dig Data, eCommerce, Cloud computing, programming, elearning systems (including Moodle!), automation, operating systems, systems and performance monitoring, game development, Rasberry Pi, networking, advanced security, etc etc. SO MANY!!!

Here’s a short link to share:





Storing Phone Extensions in Gmail/Google Apps/Android

Appending a semi-colon (;) and an extension to any phone number in the Google address book allows one to be prompted to complete the dialing with the remaining digits. This is a great help rather than trying to store a series of commas (,) or letter p’s or w’s.

Since the prompt is a yes/no, it’s useful to dial the company line and break to the main operator by selecting ‘no’ when prompted.


New Offline Gmail Additions Welcome

Google’s Offline Chrome extension is a wonderful addition for any Google Apps user application with this latest update.

Key points for me:

  • All attachments within a user-selected period (1-week, 2-week, month) are downloaded for offline access/use
  • The performance is notably faster, more responsive
  • Better support for multiple-signin (imo)
Install the Gmail offline app from the Chrome Web Store.

Stuck Windows Public Networks

Windows 7 offers three types of networks as managed within the Network and Sharing Center: Home, Work, Public. Each type allows for customization of security policies such as what services are allowed through the Windows Firewall.

While the Home and Work types are relatively straight forward, what is Public is not always so. Sure, I have a string of thirty Starbucks and other Wifi hotspots that are obviously Public (as I set them to be upon connection), but you may encounter Public networks defined within your system that you were never given the choice to select in which category it fell. This special case of Public in fact is a network to which you connect that does not have a defined default gateway attribute. Microsoft further decided that these “unknown” Public networks cannot be made “known” with a reassignment to another class such as Work. So what’s the best way to handle this situation should you encounter it?

There is no single answer to the best means of addressing this Windows quirk, but there are common sense approaches that will allow consistent and predictable results. I outline the here one such avenue.

One of my typical use cases is creating special networks for my clientele. For example, in the graphic above I needed to demonstrate accessing a public static NAT through a next-generation firewall from a system within the same zone and interface upon which the “public” server resided. As the demonstration system is running virtual servers which are multi-homed, firewalled with true Internet access via another interface, adding a generic default gateway is never an option. So how can you have your cake and eat it too?

The answer is simple, add a weighted gateway to the interface then assign the connection to the zone in which you want it. :-)

Et tu Belkin? WoW woes…if Comcast DOCSIS 3.0 weren’t enough

Long ago, shortly after the release of the Belkin Vision N1 v1 (the latter half of 2007, if I recall correctly), I made a very conscious decision to move to a platform assuming it would be supported fully by OpenWRT, Tomato or DD-WRT in short order. My main reason there was well considered but lay mostly with the fact that it was based on the Atheros (AR7141) chipset and a fair amount of RAM (18/8), had a guest network, had 1GbE/gigabit ethernet, tested well with various people, and that it had a really cool LCD that my wife and 6 year old could understand as well as be fun to program from one of the aforementioned replacement firmwares.

I also assumed that, at the worst, I could float one of the maintainers in the respective source projects an N1 so that someone could work on it. Well, when I had the money budgeted, Belkin changed to the “Version 2″ of the N1 Vision. To add insult to injury, Belkin also stopped QA’ing firmware for the V1.

Now we are a heavy gaming family (chess, World of Warcraft, and whole slew of other puzzle, logic, strategy, and other games be they computer, paper, card, or board based). World of Warcraft is one of the ways in which our family and friends schedules time together. We are wickedly coordinated as one could expect.

I had been running N1 firmware 1.00.11 somewhat happily since February of 2008 – until Comcast upgraded my area to DOCSIS 3.0 (update) around the start of October. Not knowing this was happening (SHAME ON YOU COMCAST!) or had happened, once I started experiencing issues, I wasted exorbitant amounts of time troubleshooting home Internet connectivity. During the process at most times, I would attach my generic troubleshooting machine (a vanilla XP system that I could re-image each time) so that Comcast would not be able to blame my setup. All my problems ended up being the result of that Comcast upgade and my cable modem.

(As an aside, I did experience VPN issues using my Cisco client with my work with the running firmware but had a simple workaround – broadband modem card .)

So once the Comcast team ended up stepping up (thanks guys) and seemingly fixing my issues, I decided it time I upgrade my Vision N1 to address the VPN Client issues and purportedly address some range performance issues. Before I commenced with the upgrade, I double checked the aforementioned Open Source projects to see if there had been a release supporting the router. Since there wasn’t I decided to go with Belkin’s 1.00.15 firmware. Here’s where life goes downhill rapidly.

After upgrading to Belkin’s N1 Vision 1.00.15 firmware, life in World of Warcraft and Internet in general became miserable. So, bouncing around periodically between boards looking for updates at Tomato and DD-WRT in particular, I decided to go with a safe standby router that only supported 802.11g when I needed to have a solid experience, and revert to Belkin for daily use (due to the coverage and performance typical). As you can imagine, that was a minor pain.

I chose to give up and buy a new wireless card supporting 802.11n (a WMP300N) and to go back to running Linux as a Wireless Router on PC hardware. Until that system is put in, I decided to take a crack at seeing where Vision support lies with DD-WRT and possibly jump to a WRT310N running DD-WRT while working it… By total cooincidence I find the following, summarized from Belkin’s website:

N1 Vision

Part # F5D8232uk4

F5D8232 version 1 – Pre-Release Firmware Update

This is a pre-release firmware update for the version 1 of the N1 Vision Router F5D8232. The firmware has not yet completed Belkin QA testing; it is posted here because it fixes a number of problems that have been reported with the router. The main changes are:

  • General improvements in performance and stability
  • Fix for a problem where the router would drop some connections on 2-hour intervals
  • Updated driver for the Wireless Network card

Two issues I have with this:

  1. Why doesn’t Belkin inform the user that there is an option for upgrading your firmware, pre-release warnings assumed?
  2. Why wouldn’t Belkin QA and RELEASE THIS VERSION considering the issues it addresses!?

Raise your hand if you like:

  1. Performance.
  2. Stability.
  3. Not being disconnected EVERY TWO HOURS (many a time having to reboot the router as the only remedy).

Seriously, Belkin – I don’t care if SerComm did develop the Vision N1 for you. SHAME ON YOU for letting people who put faith in your product or name to properly understand the gravity of the issue. I would bet many would be buyers or existing users have lost faith in your ability to SERVE CUSTOMER NEEDS.