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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Saturday April 2 2005

I'm loving this

new router/gateway/modem. Due, I suspect, to it being a hardware solution in its entirety it really is perceptibly quicker than my nasty old USB blue jellyfish. I will not weep at the departure of the jellyfish to a cupboard full of spare things. For one thing there was a stupid, stupid quirk which meant that when reinstalling the drivers you had to install the ones that came with it before you could install the more recent updates. A lot of pissing about. The new toy, on the other hand, needs no software installation at all. Just plug it in, fire up a browser to configure it from the PC, and it goes. Lovely.

Now that I have a network I need a lot more computers. Oh yes.

I'm loving this warm sunny weather too, and I'm loving Guinness as usual. And I'm back in touch with one of my oldest friends, which is weird but good. Clouds on horizon? The garden will require major attention, and my back is acting up a bit. Perhaps, optimistically, the exercise will do it good.


Posted at 7:54 pm by Jim Woods

Friday April 1 2005

Happy endings

I exchanged the wireless contraption at Currys. No more Belkin-thing, I am now D-Link equipped. With a DSL-G604T, to be precise. This little box of tricks has so far proven excellent. I hooked it up, bunged in my username and password and off it went. After a small amount of configuration to secure the wireless side of things it's all hunky dory. Based on my experience so far I couldn't recommend the thing too highly. It even came with a wireless USB dongle for another computer, all for 80 quid. I am therefore a rather happier camper today than yesterday, not to say a home-networked one.

Another cheap and useful acquisition has been a little Phonic MU 802 mixer. This little beast now sits on my desk, taking care of all sorts of routing of computer and other audio into the monitoring system I have. Listen to a CD while having the PC audio hooked up to hear new email alerts? No longer a problem. Patch an MP3 jukebox to the monitors to hear an example of what the artist wants a track to sound like? Easy. Record from anything to anything else? Done. I've wanted to hook up something like this for ages, and I'm relieved to have finally taken the plunge.

I do have a life outside electronics, you know. Just not much at the moment. Time to get some miles on the bicycle I think...


Posted at 2:28 pm by Jim Woods

Thursday March 31 2005

Just when you thought it was safe

to get back into the technology... Today I celebrated my least successful trip to Currys ever. I ought to know about these places by now, but then again I tried Comet yesterday, and they were out of stock of the thing I wanted - a cheapish MP3 capable CD portable. I mean, I always frown on these electrical superstores, but I had to buy the bloody thing somewhere. Got a Packard Bell one for £25, which seemed pretty good for the money. Got it home, and there went nothing. Dead as a dodo. Marvellous. Another trip to Currys tomorrow to get my money back then. No wonder they have a guy on a huge desk dedicated to returns, refunds and quibbles. He must be the busiest person in the store.

But all this is as nothing when compared to the debacle of my other purchases. I'd toyed with the idea of networking a recently acquired old laptop and my main PC together for a while, and had been half-persuaded that wireless might be the way to do it. I have a very small house, though, and was also quite attracted the low-tech idea of simple doing the job with a long bit of wire. Wire is simple, cheap, reliable and secure, and we're only talking about two PCs, right? Why the hell I didn't just do that now haunts me. Still, while poking around in the godforsaken Currys I found some cheap wireless gear by Belkin. I know some people with Belkin kit, and it seemed as reputable as anything else at the home end of the market, so I was pretty pleased. £50 for a wireless router, and £25 for a wireless card for the laptop. I was not entirely sure that I had a sound enough grasp of the whole thing to just buy the gear and leg it home, so I sought assistance...

Now while I was just mentally masturbating over the 50" plasma screens and so on I had been beset by various assistants keen to get on my nerves. Now I wanted one, it was the usual story. Whatever - when (after three calls on the shop public address) "the guy who knew about this stuff" appeared I thought I was quids in. He was very pleasant, and he actually seemed to know more about the products than I did. Believe me, this makes a change. I told him I wanted a box between my ADSL connection and PCs, and he concurred that I'd correctly identified the Belkin beast as this. He assured me, as did the product box, that it would do me proud. Just stick it between the modem and the main PC. I told him I was, like so many people, on Pipex ADSL and was told this would be fine. Works with anything. Cool. Off home I go, after ten minutes of struggle while the guy on the till got it to work enough to charge me. Must have been an omen.

Card into laptop. Laptop happy. Card happy. Laptop sits waiting to detect wireless network(s). So far so good. No worries there.

Software onto main box, wizard starts to helpfully talk me through connections. There are three. Ethernet PC to router. Piece of piss, using supplied cable. Power to router not rocket science either. Modem to router, though, not happening now or ever. Reason? Requires modem to have Ethernet connector. Mine is USB. F*ck. No go under any circumstances. F*ck.

I have these principal quibbles:

(1) Belkin, be aware that many many UK ADSL providers give one (hey, I PAID for the bloody thing) a USB modem. I've searched various forums on the net, and the consensus is that these are cut-down crap. Great. I have eventually found the tiny part on the box where it says that one needs Ethernet on one's modem, but it's on a tiny and inconspicuous list of requirements. Nowhere near the huge "how easy it all is" diagram or instructions. I should have read all the tiny stuff on the box, but then again I did ask the assistant the pertinent questions to be sure. It's not like I'm with a small or unusual ISP, after all.

(2) Currys, as with all your superstore competition, how about hiring people who really do know their stuff? Words fail me on this one. I clearly explained what I already had and what I needed, and was told I was sorted. As ever this was not the case. I am no longer surprised. And I haven't the energy to go on about it. You can search my archives for my past rants on this one. Wrong advice yet again costs me a load of time.

Given that I wanted to listen to MP3s on a portable CD and get wireless up and running, that's a zero out of two score for Currys. One each of their old favourite manoeuvres! The dead-on-arrival product, and the wrong product for the job as specified. Super.

Back there tomorrow to waste some time.



Posted at 1:56 am by Jim Woods

Tuesday March 29 2005

Been having a mad, bad good time

catching up with old friends, and have also been locked into the eternal struggle with technology. I am forced to conclude that in order to do the things I want to do with music (listening to it, making it, producing it) I need a bigger house and a lot more hardware. In the dim hope that someone out there has the stuff I'm after and wants to sell it cheap or donate it to the cause, and mostly for the purposes of having a wish list written down to refer to myself, here's what I'm short:

House with large living room and no / tolerant neighbours.

At least one decent direct drive turntable i.e. Technics SL1200.

Simple DJ mixer.

Two or more pairs of reasonable quality closed cans (headphones to you civilians)

Yamaha or similar 8 track (or more) recorder with onboard effects.

Silent, or nearly so, computer - Apple or PC. Ideally with 19" or more display.

Compact mixing desk, 16 channel at least.

CD walk-thing capable of handling MP3 CDs.

Some sort of portable digital recorder.

And for inspirational purposes, Radiohead's "Meeting People is Easy" film, and albums by Popa Chubby, Squarepusher and The Electric Six. And more, no doubt.

I shall continue to faithfully plot...


Posted at 10:21 pm by Jim Woods


bargains. Not from Argos. Not Bargos.



Posted at 2:26 am by Jim Woods

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