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May 2008
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July 2008

I say Tomato, you say DD-WRT

So, after being a bit frustrated at stability, and seemingly non-functioning Quality of Service (QoS) control with DD-WRT, I switched to Tomato. Specifically, the SpeedMod build by Rodney Chua (a Malaysian hacker) with some updates and improvements over the current Tomato build. Improvements include back-patched code from Linux 2.4.21 into the 2.4.20 of the Tomato firmware.

This is all running on my Buffalo WHR-HP-G54, which has a built-in amplifier and decent amount of RAM. Anyway, I had been running DD-WRT for well over a year with no serious issues. However, the router did have a tendency to hang about once a month. In addition, I never was sure if the QoS worked well. (DD-WRT and Tomato are open source firmware which runs on a popular wifi router chipset, first widely used in a Linksys WRT model wifi router. The firmware uses a Linux kernel, and makes a cheap home router into a serious bit of networking gear. See the Wikipedia entry.)

So, a month ago, I switched our apartment from Comcast to RCN. It was a no-brainer: faster net service (10 Mbps instead of 6 Mbps), no Torrent munging (I always saw my Torrents die), plus better cable TV service (HD, DVR, HBO), all at a lower price. Since then, I’ve been very satisfied with RCN. My Torrents do not die with odd errors, I don’t experience frequent outages of connectivity, and I get to record Dr. Who.

Anyway, doing a bit of Googling about QoS led me to a bunch of blog and forum posts where people said they liked Tomato better. As of yesterday, I’m running Tomato. So far, so good. I like the lightweight UI for configuration. I like the detailed QoS settings. And I love the bandwidth usage data.

Tomato Bandwidth Graph

Oh, and I’ve now had this blog for about 5 years.

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Nikon Speedlight SB-800 remote slave mode

So, I just bought an SB-800 strobe off craigslist, complete with an iTTL sync cord. (What that means is that I get automatically metered flash shots with the flash mounted via the cord, which can stretch to maybe 8 feet.)

Now, the SB-800 is also capable of Nikon’s infrared-based Creative Lighting System (CLS), but my D40 body is not able to act as a master to trigger the flash via IR. So, what to do if I want to put my flash further away than the sync cord allows?

Strobist to the rescue. The SB-800 has a good ol’ fashioned strobe-triggered slave mode, called SU-4. Set it to that mode, manually set the flash power, and the flash will trigger when it sees another flash go off. Of course, this is not iTTL, so the exposure is manual. But the nice thing with digital is one can tweak the settings and get a nice preview image. Voila! Wireless remote flash.

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LibraryThing and the CueCat

I’m a fan of LibraryThing, a book catalog with social tagging. To make adding books easier, I just bought a CueCat from them. It’s great.

I actually had one of the original CueCats, which came with an issue of Wired. I went down to the RadioShack to get it. It had a PS/2 interface, though. I have no idea where it is, now.

Anyway, the one I got doesn’t seem to work with Delicious Library, a great Mac application which catalogs books, music, movies, and games. Their help page says that an appropriately modified CueCat can be used to input ISBNs and UPCs, but I’ve had no luck.

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