Archive for November, 2008

Rogers 3G Internet USB Dongle

Monday, November 24th, 2008

My Mom lives on Wolfe Island.
She has no access to DSL (her phone lines are low quality) or cable.
Until recently, we had been considering getting her Rogers’ WiMax solution, which would have given her ~2Mbps for about $50/month.

When we called to order it over the weekend, however, the sales agent told us about the USB thingee internet solution.
I’d seen ads, and assumed it was simply WiMax on a USB dongle, which would be inappropriate for my Mom, since the inside-antenna WiMax solution wouldn’t work for her (poor signal).
We were going to go for the higher-startup-cost, outdoor antenna solution.

But no, as it turns out this USB thingee uses the 3G network for internet.
This is good news since I noticed that my iPhone was getting 5 bars at my Mom’s place.

It turns out the USB dongle has a SIM card in it.
Interesting!
So if I one could get their hands on a USB dongle, it might be possible to move an iPhone SIM into it and plug it in to the USB port on a laptop for unfettered internet with a 6 GB/month cap!

Update: apparently Rogers is calling it the Rocket.

New WD Passport Drive .. with **FireWire 800**

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
WD Passport Studio
WD Passport Studio

Woo, there’s a new WD Passport drive (the drives we use at gaming on Friday nights), and not only is this one bigger (500 GB), but it also sports a FireWire 800 port.
It’s called the
Passport Studio.


WDTV
WD Media Player

Also new from Western Digital is
an HD Media Player.
[buy.com link]

Alas, Costco Canada
doesn’t seem to have
any of this new WD stuff yet.

Mac OS X command-line gotcha: path_helper

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Ran into an issue where my terminals were coming up **really** slowly.
It ended up being a line in the script /usr/libexec/path_helper.

It turns out Apple has set up a whole process for modifying users’ PATHs by adding text files in /etc/paths.d, which is really a good idea, since install/uninstall scripts can just add/remove text files instead of mucking around with users’ login scripts.
For some reason it was taking about 30 seconds to execute this line of bash:


[[ /Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin:/Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin-i386:/Users/t_ellir/bin/noarch:/Users/t_ellir/bin/osx-rae:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/X11R6/bin:/usr/lib:/Developer/Tools:/usr/X11/bin:/Applications/ccollab_client:/Users/t_ellir/mudbox/dev/bin/macos:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin = *(*:)/usr/local/bin*(:*) ]]

But it had no problem zipping through other directories, e.g.:


[[ /Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin:/Users/t_ellir/bin/Darwin-i386:/Users/t_ellir/bin/noarch:/Users/t_ellir/bin/osx-rae:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/X11R6/bin:/usr/lib:/Developer/Tools:/usr/X11/bin:/Applications/ccollab_client:/Users/t_ellir/mudbox/dev/bin/macos:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin:/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/Current/bin:/opt/local/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.4/bin = *(*:)/usr/sbin*(:*) ]]

so it has something specifically to do with it being /usr/local/bin.
I didn’t have that directory so I created it, but that didn’t help.
I finally kludged around it by removing the directory and then patching the script to test for the existence of the directory before trying the test:

--- path_helper 2008-11-04 11:54:18.000000000 -0500
+++ /usr/libexec/path_helper    2008-11-04 11:54:47.000000000 -0500
@@ -15,6 +15,7 @@
        for f in "$DIR" "$DIR".d/* ; do
          if [ -f "$f" ]; then
                for p in $(< "$f") ; do
+                       [ ! -d "${p}" ] && continue
                        [[ "$NEWPATH" = *(*:)${p}*(:*) ]] && continue
                        [ ! -z "$NEWPATH" ] && SEP=":"
                        NEWPATH="${NEWPATH}${SEP}${p}"

Props to
kilala.nl
for having a blog post about this.

Long-term storage

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Iain always tells me I should just get a hard drive and copy things to it for long-term storage.

Even though it’s more expensive per gigabyte (see
Media Costs“)
it’s a lot faster and easier to deal with.
It saves you tons of time, too.
Backing up hundres of gigs of data to 4.4 GB DVD’s gets really old after a while.

However, it occurred to me that there is a very good reason not to use hard drives for long-term storage:
connectors change over time.

SCSI and IDE are getting more and more rare these days.
Some day the same thing will happen to SATA.
Yet, even the most modern optical device — the Blu-ray drive — can still read the very first optical format: the CD.