Archive for the 'Technology' category

Configuring Ooma

 | February 7, 2011 5:09 PM

Ooma is awesome.  I have had it for over two years and love the fact that I have never had to pay a monthly fee, never had to pay for long distance, never had to worry about it breaking, etc.

However I never tried to optimize the configuration of my Ooma until today.

Quality of Service

The Ooma is setup to be in front of my router “so that Ooma can intelligently prioritize voice traffic over other traffic.”

Ooma QoS Topology

Ooma’s Configuring Quality of Service document recommends configuring the upstream internet speed based on your SpeedNet results.  It turned out the default setting of 384 Kbps was about 10% of my actual upstream speed.  Ooma’s Learning more about Ooma Quality of Service (QoS) document recommended:

For the most optimum results, it is best to configure your "Upstream Internet Speed" to be 15-20% less than your measured upstream bandwidth.

I did three tests and got 3.46 Mb/s, 3.97 Mb/s and 3.60 Mb/s.  The average of these three is 3.68 Mb/s so I configured my Ooma to 85% of this value which is 3125 Kbps.

I was going to update the reserve bandwidth for calls from the default of 130 Kbps to 215 Kbps.  But after reading this forum about Quality of Service Settings I concluded it won’t make a difference.  I can’t change the codec used from the default codec (iLBC) to the high-bandwidth codec (G711) so I can only assume it uses the default codec.  In this forum it says to contact Ooma which I did and Ooma promptly changed it.  Ooma said the high-bandwidth codec takes up 90- 100 Kbps which is less than the default of 130 Kbps.

In conclusion changing the QoS settings doesn’t change the voice quality, it only changes how much data is available upstream when you are making a call.  But it was worth investigating since I found out how to improve the voice quality.

Port Forwarding

I set up port forwarding from my Ooma to my router for VNC and SSH.  First I forwarded ports 22 and 5900 TCP from Ooma to my router.  I found the router’s ethernet address on the 172.25.35 network using Airport Utility.

Then I configured the iMac to port forward.

  1. Configured to use DHCP with manual address 10.0.1.201 (Settings –> Network –> Airport –> Advanced –> TCP/IP.  )  I chose 201 because that’s supposedly out of the range of normal DHCP addresses.
  2. Used Airport Utility to port forward.  Went to Manual Setup –> Advanced –> Port Mapping and added Apple Remote Desktop and added SSH port mappings.

Port Forward has instructions for setting up a static IP address and for port forwarding with the Airport Extreme but they are outdated.  However I couldn’t find anything better.

Real VNC has a page on port forwarding for VNC and on that page is a link to a test page to see if your port forwarding is working.

What I found was I was only able to truly test if port forwarding was working when I was off my LAN.  Even when trying to use the outside IP address while within my LAN did not work.

Share

Amazon MP3 Downloader and iTunes

 | February 4, 2011 10:56 AM

I started getting MP3’s from Amazon because they occasionally have promotions that allow you to download a few for free.

Amazon MP3 DownloaderThe Amazon MP3 Downloader conveniently automatically adds downloaded MP3’s to iTunes.  After the MP3 is downloaded (typically in the Music/Amazon MP3 folder) a copy is made in the iTunes/iTunes Media/Music folder.

What is strange is that though the copy is the same size it is a different binary.  I posted a question about this on Apple’s discussion site.

Also I noticed that iTunes has some music under its iTunes Music folder and some under its iTunes Media/Music folder.  This is because iTunes 9 and later began using the iTunes Media/Music folder instead.

iTunes Folders

I decided I wanted everything under one folder so I used iTunes consolidate feature.

I then deleted the old iTunes Music folder after making sure everything was copied.  I did notice that some of the copies were slightly different sizes.

Another unproductive way to spend a Sunday morning. Smile

Share

D80 from Nikon At the encouragement of my brother-in-law I started shooting all my photos in RAW on my Nikon D80.  Unfortunately this meant that each photo I shot was larger than 10 MB.  My MacBook has only an 120 GB hard drive so it didn’t take long to realize I was going to run out of hard drive space.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 The day of reckoning soon arrived when I noticed after my latest download of photos that Lightroom began to be noticeably slower.  This is either because Lightroom could not handle the added number of photos or because it needed more disk space.  I guessed it was the latter and this article seems to verify this.

I consulted my two experts in the hard drive field and was conviced not to buy Seagate which I had always thought was the best.  I apologize if I recommended Seagate to any of you.  The reviews on sites like Amazon and Newegg confirmed that Seagate is not as reliable.  Western Digital was recommended to me because they tend to be more conservative by using proven technology and not pushing the performance envelope.  The online reviews seemed to confirm that Western Digital was the way to go.

Western Digital 320 GB Scorpio Black SATA 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Notebook Hard Drive WD3200BEKTAfter more deliberation I ended up purchasing the Western Digital 320 GB Scorpio Black SATA 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Notebook Hard Drive WD3200BEKT.  I don’t know when Amazon began selling hard drives but I think Newegg, TigerDirect and others are in trouble because Amazon matches their best prices and they give free shipping so it’s a no brainer.

Unfortunately during my deliberation the price had gone up from $70 on Black Friday to $76 when I purchased it.  And now it’s $82 which is $1 less than the list price.  I am not sure what is going on but hard drive prices in general seem to be going up.

Anyway the hard drive arrived on my birthday and I could not wait to install it.  I started following the excellent instructions at iFixit for installing a MacBook Core 2 Duo Hard Drive Replacement and was almost done when I realized on the second last step I needed a T8 Torx screwdriver.  Sadly I undid everything and sent an email to my hardware hacker friend for help.

Fujitsu MHY2120BH 120GB SATA/150 5400RPM 8MB 2.5 The next day hardware hacker came through with not just a screwdriver but a screwdriver set!  Last night I resumed my project and replaced my old hard drive, a Fujitsu MHY2120BH 120GB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache 2.5″ SATA 1.5Gb/s Notebook Hard Drive, with the new one.

Mac OS X 10.5 Help: Recovering your entire system Before removing my old hard drive I did a Time Machine backup and thought it would be a simple matter of restoring the backup to the new hard drive.  Unfortunately like another birthday boy it did not go as smoothly as I hoped.  According to Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5 Recovering your entire system document when I booted from the Mac OS X Install Disk I should have seen a Restore System from Backup option.  However it was not there!

I did what the other birthday boy suggested and installed Mac OS X on the new hard drive.  When it was done and it rebooted I realized it had installed Tiger instead of Leopard.

I then put in the Mac OS X Leopard CPU Drop-in DVD for upgrading from Tiger to Leopard.  I double-clicked on the Install Mac OS X icon and when it rebooted I was able to restore my system from my Time Machine backup.

In retrospect I wish I had purchased a USB SATA hard drive enclosure and used SuperDuper! to clone the old hard drive like iFixit instructs.  That would have saved me a lot of time!

Now I have 320 GB to play with.  That should last me hopefully one to two more years unless I get into video. 🙂

Update: Lightroom is still slow. 🙁

Share

I come to bring the train ... on Flickr

The other day at a friend’s house I could not get onto their wireless network.  The MacBook and iPhone were connecting without problems so I finally Googled for “windows is unable to connect to the selected network.”  The first link on Google’s search results led to a very helpful page titled “Windows is unable to connect to the selected network.”

It turns out that Windows has a bug where it assumes that all the wireless access points it detects use open authentication.  For some reason my friend’s router was using shared authentication.

To solve this problem I did the following.

  1. Double-click on the wireless icon windows-wireless  in the windows system tray (normally in the bottom right hand corner).  A Wireless Network Connection Status window will pop up.
  2. Click on the Properties button in the Wireless Network Connection Status window.  A Wireless Network Connection Properties window will pop up.
  3. Click on the Wireless Networks tab in the Wireless Network Connection Properties window.
  4. Click on the Add… button to enter in the information about the wireless network with the shared authentication.  A Wireless network properties window will pop up.
    1. Enter the Network Name (SSID).  This is the name of the network you tried to connect to before getting the message that Windows cannot connect.
    2. Set the Network Authentication to Shared.
    3. Uncheck the box that says “The key is provided for me automatically.”
    4. If there is a key enter it in the Network Key and Confirm Network Key boxes.
    5. Press the OK button.
  5. Now either Windows will automatically connect to this newly configured wireless network or you can rescan and connect manually.

The above steps should work.  It worked for my laptop and the Windows laptop of the owner of this wireless network. 🙂

Share

Building a WordPress Blog People Want to ReadTonight I finished reading Scott McNulty’s book, Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read.  It’s a good book for beginners wanting to learn how to use WordPress.  But I think the title is misleading, it doesn’t teach how to write blog content that people want to read.

Something new I learned while reading this book was about the admin functionality to convert categories to tags or tags to categories.  Simply go to your Dashboard, go to Tools > Import and select Categories and Tags Converter.  The URL for converting categories to tags is /wp-admin/admin.php?import=wp-cat2tag and for converting tags to categories is /wp-admin/admin.php?import=wp-cat2tag&step=3.

I also learned about Steve DeGraeve’s Favicon Generator which seems somewhat useful.

Share

WordPress Emoticons

 | July 28, 2009 3:00 AM

Building a WordPress Blog People Want to ReadI have been using emoticons for awhile in my posts but I did not about the breadth of them until I read about them in Scott McNulty’s book, Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read.

Scott points to WordPress Codex’s helpful document, Using Smilies.  Now I know how to LOL. 😆

You can also replace the emoticons with your own set by replacing the files in wp-includes/images/smilies. You just have to use the same file names.

Share

TweetDeck's posterous - All things TweetDeck and Twitter When it comes to Twitter desktop clients everyone I know uses TweetDeck.  But being the questioning type that I am I decided to do some research and that is when I discovered Mashable!  They had two great articles to help me decide, Twitter Desktop Apps and Seesmic vs. TweetDeck.

In the end I decided to install both Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck.  TweetDeck is prettier, gives off a cool vibe, like you’re cool for using it.  Be part of the cool crowd and use TweetDeck.

Seesmic Seesmic isn’t as cool looking and has kind of a cartoonish icon.  My first impression was not as good and I ended up using TweetDeck more.

But I went back to Seesmic and am staying with it for a few reasons.

  1. When you look at your replies in Seesmic you can determine to which tweet was the reply you made.  I cannot figure out how to do that in TweetDeck.
    Update 07-27-2009: Previously when I clicked on the “in reply to” in TweetDeck it would not work.  But for my newer replies it is working and it displays it nicely in the client instead of opening a new browser window like Seesmic does.
  2. In TweetDeck whenever you shorten a URL with bit.ly it does not associate this shortened URL with your bit.ly account.  Since it does not do that you cannot track how many times people clicked on your URL.  In Seesmic you can configure it to know about your bit.ly account by giving your username and API key (which you can find in your account settings).
  3. This is more qualitative but Seesmic has been developing their product at a faster pace.

For now I am going to stay with Seesmic but considering the rapid pace and competition amongst the various Twitter desktop clients, I might be switching again soon.

What Twitter desktop client do you use and why?

Share

Monty 2009-07-13

Twitter is pretty fascinating.  Please kill me if I start twittering things like “Going to bathroom.”

Share

su.pr versus bit.ly

 | July 11, 2009 1:13 PM

First there was tinyurl.com.  Does anyone use them anymore?

Then came bit.ly.

bit.ly Shorten, share, and track your links

Now there is a new competitor, su.pr.

Su.pr

Su.pr and bit.ly both do similar things:

  1. shorten URL’s
  2. post to Twitter
  3. track your links

Su.pr has the following advantages:

  1. posts to Facebook
  2. very rich tracking statistics which are updated quickly
  3. tracks retweets
  4. automatically posts your link to StumbleUpon
  5. can schedule posts in the future

You can easily set up your Twitter to automatically post to Facebook but in some cases you may not want to do that.  I started using su.pr for my new LoveNorthKorea blog because I didn’t want to automatically post to Facebook from my @luvnorthkorea Twitter account.

Bit.ly has the following advantages:

  1. Bit.ly URL’s seem to be 1 character shorter.
  2. Bit.ly tracks if your shortened URL has also been shortened by others and tracks how many people used your shortened URL.
  3. Bit.ly makes it easy to copy the shortened URL so you can reuse it.
  4. When you click on a bit.ly link you go directly to the page.  When you click on a su.pr link you have a StumbleUpon toolbar on top so it feels like you are in the StumbleUpon world.

I can see some advantages to having the StumbleUpon toolbar on top of the page.  It allows users immediate access to their StumbleUpon account and makes it easy for them to vote up or down the page.  On the other hand though it is a bit intrusive.

What do you think of the StumbleUpon toolbar? Click here to see an example of what I mean.

Update 07-27-2009: I have become too frustrated with the intrusive StumbleUpon toolbar.  I am no longer using su.pr.

Share

Blogging to a Six-Figure Income

 | July 10, 2009 7:10 PM

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure IncomeIn a day I read the whole book ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett.  Normally I take a very long time to read a book but this book was very easy to read.

I had heard of ProBlogger before because of the website ProBlogger.net, .  I hadn’t looked at the site until after I read the book but it’s a pretty impressive site.

I am not under the illusion that blogging to a six-figure income will be easy.  In fact the authors make it pretty clear, in spite of the title, how difficult it is to do so.  Here is an interesting quote from TwiTip, a blog edited by Darren Rowse.

… it isn’t the same as being one of the big-guns of blogging, earning 6 or 7 figures a year in stable and ever increasing income.  There are very, very few of those (and they all have big followings, as I mentioned in the last post).  While the average income for blogs in 2008 was $6,000, that was influenced heavily by the top 1% of bloggers who earn $200k plus.  Look at the top 10%, and the average income is down to only $19k.

Twitter Tips for Beginners: Lessons from the Evolution of Blogging Part 5 – Monetisation

Though the book is full of a lot of useful information the two important things I learned about blogging.

  1. Blog niches not general personal blogs like this one.
  2. Create compelling content that will get your readers to bookmark or subscribe to your blog.

I was thinking before about the niches idea.  ProBlogger convinced me that not only was this a good idea but in fact it’s the only way to proceed.  I am thinking of creating separate blogs about North Korea, fatherhood, blogging, and my causes (i.e. human rights, creation care, etc.)

However I had not thought about the compelling content issue.  Can I really create compelling content?  Am I a good enough blogger?

Share