Tethering the blackberry to your eeepc.

tethering blackberry to xandros eeepc

One of the things that I always fail to do before going to a conference and finding myself without Internet access is setting up a tether to my phone. Google is hosting djangocon, so lack of tubes hasn’t been a problem, but last night I remembered to go dig for a way to get Xandros eeepc talking to my T-Mobile blackberry curve over USB. It seems there are a few options out there for bluetooth, but I don’t have bluetooth built in, and when I’m mobile, I’d rather not use my battery even faster.

Strangely enough, for such a popular phone and computer pair, the options are pretty slim for USB tethering on linux. There is nothing out there that is pre-packaged, but if you don’t mind compiling a little code, you have 2 options. The first, who’s instructions I found on eeeuser forums actually required installing OpenMotif, which just seemed like a horrible idea to me, so I kept digging. After a bit more digging around, I stumbled upon Barry Backup, a tool that provides syncing, charging (you can’t charge off of USB without telling your ports it’s OK to push more power) and tethering / ppp for *most* blackberries.

To get it running on Xandros, you will need to have build tools installed, you can install quite a few of the dependencies with packages from the etch repos, but you’ll need to compile Barry itself. It is probably also worth noting that I couldn’t get the tarball to compile. Grab the Barry source, and you should be good to go.


the google haircut bus.

So I knew google gave its employees the free food, and rides to work on the google bus, and there’s an herb garden or something around here too, but the haircut bus just puts things at a whole new level.

lulzDjangocon is pretty much teh awesome. I hadn’t noticed that Geo Django added OpenLayers to the admin in the past couple of weeks (although I had heard it was coming), and although I knew there were some wonky problems with AppEngine and the ORM (which totally breaks everything), I didn’t know that just putting Guido and Malcom in the same room could produce the statement “hmm, that could be working in the next 4 days”.     I did have a suspicion that every developer in the room was working on a secret project, and a show of hands proved it was correct.

Cal Henderson is damn funny for a guy who hates Django almost as much as smug rails developers.  He not only carries a sack of infinite insider jokes, he’s a serious business kinda guy.   Watch out or he’ll add FL to all your words.

If there has to be a mascot, it should really be a dingo, and it doesn’t have to have magical powers.  Just saying dingo entertains, and if you say it AND django in rapid succession, you’ll be surprised at the result.   Try it.  Right now.   Really.   Do it.

Djangocon 2008


Last night after HackNight, I stayed up until 5am.  I cleaned my home office for a while, peeked in my newly arrived dojo book (Mastering Dojo),  and got free tickets for DjangoCon 2008!!   The second batch will be released at 6:00pm (UTC) – August 1st, 2008.   This is django’s first conference (and 1.0 release party!), and it is being held at the GooglePlex in Mountain View on the 6th and 7th of September.   If you’re interested in going,  and you should be if you are doing any django or appengine stuff.   I suggest getting on #django on freenode a few minutes before they release the tickets.  The server was -slammed- this morning, and there was no way to get to the registration url until it was pasted into IRC. Bryan Veloso, I owe you a beer.

HackNight in the Park.

The weather has been awesome lately, so it’s time to start having HackNight in the park again. There’s a Rubber Duck Regata tonight too, so if you have a rubber ducky, bring it and race!

Additionally, Vivace Roasteria on Denny is closing it’s doors to make way for Sound Transit’s Broadway station, so stop in and grab some of the tastiest espresso on the hill before it turns to rubble.

HackNight Details

I don’t know if it’s the lack of blogging, the fridge full of beer, or the fact that it’s spring, but HackNight has been pretty populated for the past few months,  and we’ve even been getting a few out-of-towners.  This week, Shaddi Hasan from the RO.B.IN project popped in and got to see the kind of silliness that occurs when the beer gets low and the days get longer (That’s ).   Last week, we got to hang out with Russell Senior from PTP, and a  bit further back, we got a presentation from Veljo of wifi.ee before we hit the Stumbling Monk for a little Belgian beerfest.    I’ve been getting this feeling that with the doom and gloom in the  getting me psyched for the International Summit for Community Wireless Networking at the end of the month in DC.    I only hope DC has an analogue to Taco Gringos because I’m pretty sure we can’t get away with some of the late night shenanigans of the last IS4CWN in the nation’s Capitol.

Last week we started playing with the Wiligear WBD-111.  It’s a nifty new board we just started carrying at Metrix.    Cheap, powerful, and supports the UBNT 900Mhz XR9.   The shipped-with-it linux from the Firmware Factory at Wilibox is pretty cool, and if you don’t want the complexity of a fully populated web interface, you can streamline your web interface with skins.   I haven’t dived into their layer 2 meshing stuff yet, but they do claim some 802.11s compat.     I guess we’ll have to check out interoperability with um… OLPC or something?

Regardless, it’s pretty cool stuff.  If you don’t have any hardware yet,  it seems like the cheapest and fastest way to get on the NodeSeaCCP 900Mhz tubes, which are finally up and running and pointed up the Pike/Pine corridor.     I’m really interested in finding out what NLOS really means around here, so I guess we’ll have to slap together a mobile rig and start channelling war peddlaz on 900.   If we can crest the hill, it opens up a world of possibilities.    I’ve heard good reports from rural areas, but wow, cities sure are a different beastie.

For the past month or so, Schuyler has been all about showing up with Clearwire stuff.    Last week, we ripped one of em apart with the goal of replacing its built-in panel.

Clearwire modems don’t have external antenna connectors (not much of a surprise),  but if you have a little bit of patience (and some desoldering braid), you can solder on your own fairly easily.   If you don’t have braid, it’ll take 5x as long, 3 or 4 soldering irons and torches, a dremel or two, and maybe a half rack of beer.   If you’re tossing on an out of band antenna and you want any gain, the rule is “Go big or go home”.   Schuyler attached the Lanster Lance to the Clearwire SMA and was good to go.

I heard a rumor that you could do some fairly pokey stuff on the Clearwire network even if your modem isn’t activated.    We’ve determined that you can’t do much beyond pinging other hosts with a de-authed one, but honestly,  that sure is a lot.

EyeFi on Linux

d200 and EEEPC
Now that I’ve got an eeepc, I’ve been able to cut down the weight I carry every day without losing much functionality.  One thing that I have been missing however, is the ability to configure my Eye-Fi card for random networks that I come across.     I’m running the stock Linux, Xandros, and Eye-Fi doesn’t officially support anything other than Windows and OSX.   Fortunately,  Dave Hansen has released Eye-Fi Config on his EyeFi Linux Hacking blog.   It’s a simple command line tool that doesn’t help you with online service configs or local copy, but allows you to search for, add and delete WiFi networks from your linux machine.   It’s exactly what I needed.  Thanks Dave!

Cheap Links

We’ve been playing with PowerStations for a couple of months over at Metrix, and have found them to be pretty cool, but the new NanoStation2 (which we just got in stock) is just awesome.   A little bigger than a beer bottle, and under the cost of a good bender, the NS2 is a community wireless networkers best new friend.   Waterproof, pole mountable (with zip tie mounting!), 400mW atheros radio, 10dBi built in antenna,  External SMA, POE, Linux based OS, and a spiffy LED display.

Fresh out of the box, AirOS is pretty good.  I wish it had SSH and iperf,  OLSR, and a kitchen sink, but these things will come in time and by other people.  You can set the NS2 as an AP or a Client, do WDS, encryption, MAC Clone, bridge, route, and a slew of other things in the simple but AJAX’d web configurator.  AirOS is linux under the hood, so you can enable telnet in case you need to set some routes or do something outside of the capabilities of the standard stuff.    It shouldn’t take long for an OpenWRT build, so just keep your eyes on the NS2 Support Page.

These should make for an Interesting HackNight next week, and if you’re local and interested in picking one up,  just let me know.

I’ve started keeping track of the randomness that is my commute on 8 BLOCK WALK

Asus Eee PC

mason likes the eeepc

I’ve had my hands on an Eee PC 4G Surf for the past 24 hours or so (when I’ve been able to get it away from my son) and I have to say, I’m impressed. The eeeuser.com wiki has step-by-step instructions for pretty much anything you’d want to do, including Xandros tweaks, alternate OS installations and hardware hacks. So far, I’ve concentrated on getting the most screen real estate out of Xandros, and getting all my familiar tools installed. I’ve actually found typing pretty easy on it’s small keyboard, and the 7″ screen is really nice. Moving back and forth to my 15.4″ laptop is really weird now, and it feels like my Gateway is even bigger than I thought it was before (seriously. the thing is huge). My back already approves of the Asus.

I also got the Backtrack 3 Beta USB image booting off of a 1GB SD Card. I left my USB DVD drive at work, and following the instructions got me nowhere. Here’s what I did.

On my XP box:

Downloaded the HP Drive Key Boot Utility and formatted / made my 1G bootable.  For detailed instructions see this page.
Downloaded the BackTrack USB Image (946MB) and copied the rar file to the flash.

Removed the SD card and put it into the Eee PC

On the Eee PC:

Opened a terminal, and copied the rar file to a temporary directory on the SSD
Used unrar (included in xandros!) to unpack the rar onto the SD

The instructions failed me at this point by telling me to run bootinst.sh. lilo barfed, and finding out what was causing the problem seemed like it was going to take longer than I wanted. luckily I noticed the dos directory with loadlin.

Create an autoexec.bat with the following lines:

cd c:\boot\dos


That’s it. reboot the box, hit esc when you get the bios screen, and choose the SD. Blam, you’re ready to inject packets and be a wireless pain in the butt. One cool thing about BackTrack (beyond it just being a good tool) is that Muts (one of the developers on BT) has an Eee PC, so you know any super irritating problems will get worked out by release.

d200 with eye-fi

d200 with eye-fi
I’ve been using an Eye-Fi for about a year now. I’ve been on the Beta and on the Gamma, and although I’m not allowed to talk about some things I’ve learned, I can talk a little about how I use it.

For the majority of the year, I used the Eye-Fi in my Nikon D50, but in the last month, I’ve upgraded to a D200.

The Eye-Fi does not *officially* work in CF cameras, but all you need to do is get a SD-CF adapter. You need to tear the metal cover off of the adapter, or it will block the antenna. Needle-nose pliers or a butter knife should work fine. It’s just a little glue.

The Eye-Fi can work in a couple of different ways. The card automatically sends JPGs to your local machine, or a variety of online services. in my case, Flickr. It does not transfer RAW, nor does it auto-delete images off of the card.

I’m OK with not having auto-delete. Network and server reliability aside, it’s nice to have your originals under your control. Auto delete might be a nice option for stuff I didn’t care about, but I rarely find myself not caring about the pictures I’m taking.

At first, not having RAW support bothered me, but after using the card for a while and understanding how it all fits in with my workflow, I’m OK with it. I shoot RAW+JPG, and I tend to shoot a lot of pictures. I shoot with manual lenses, so my trash:keeper ratio is pretty high. When I’m shooting I will look through them on-camera and take out the obvious blurry pictures, but when I’ve filled up, I pop my card in a computer to get the originals off. During the shoot, and when powered by the computer, the card transfers pictures in the background.

This changes my workflow in a couple of different ways.

Generally, JPGs are on Flickr by the time my RAW transfer is finished. This pushes the resizing, tagging and adding titles/comments to an interface I like (and as a bonus, a CPU and disk that aren’t mine). I haven’t mastered lightroom, and I have a feeling that I never really will. I will probably end up cutting it out of my workflow entirely once I figure out a better way to grab my RAWs and put them on my RAID. Right now it’s a convoluted process and it’s far from efficient. Because my pictures are already online I can do a quick check and delete of the stuff online, before lightroom finishes importing. This leads to more stuff being posted. I’ve found if a picture is posted online, doesn’t suck too bad and doesn’t need any tweaks, it stays. If it does needs further modification, I can either change it in lightroom and use ‘replace’, or for really quick mods, use Picnik. Prior to the Eye-Fi, I had to transfer all my pictures (go get some coffee or something), go through them all (sometimes spending far too much time trying to make a bad picture good), add to a collection, export that collection, upload those files, then go through and deal with all the Flickr tagging/titling/commenting. If I got distracted at any point during this process, it almost always led to pictures not getting uploaded by the time I did my next flurry of picture taking, and things would either end up in non-chronological order, or more likely, just not online.