Software runs my life

Year: 2013

Upgrade DIR-615 wireless router to a DD-WRT Access Point

DIR-615_frontMy D-Link DIR-615 N300 wireless router has serious issues with dropouts whenever you use any kind of wireless security (WPA, WEP etc.). This is a big problem that a large number of people have also reported, and there were no official firmware updates available. This lead me to stumble upon DD-WRT, an open source based router firmware for Broadcom based routers like mine (hardware C2, firmware 3.03WW).

Installation was pretty simple:

  1. Do the 30-30-30 reset: Hold down reset button while power is in for 30 seconds, out for 30 seconds and then in for another 30 seconds. This drops you to an emergency firmware update stage.
  2. Upload the latest DD-WRT firmware for your hardware version. Mine was the C2 version here, but you can search for your device here. Wait 5+ minutes, there is no activity/process notification.
  3. The device should start running the DD-WRT firmware and ask you to set a new admin username and password.

There are more comprehensive instructions here if you need them.

I then needed the device to be an additional wireless access point on my network, so I followed the setup instructions here. The only trick was that the wireless radio wouldn’t turn on at all. Turns out there is a bug in the firmware, and you need to enable the “MAC Address Cloning” option in order for the radio to turn on. Go figure! Anyway it’s working perfectly now and has so many more options than the default firmware.

Now if only I could upgrade my carrier provided Cisco modem with the same firmware so my Sonos worked…

front cover of book

How to Win Friends and Influence People : Book Review

front cover of bookContrary to the title, this book is not a study in “how to be popular” in a modern world. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The central theory that the book proposes is that simply by being an authentic and positive person you will receive what you are hoping for without even asking. Every one of the 30 lessons is indeed simple, however putting each ┬áinto practice in a consistent way, on a daily basis, is anything but simple.

How to Win Friends and Influence People was, for me, a complete revelation. Perhaps the fact that it is written by a male engineer helps, as it clearly lists the ideas and provides simple, but nuanced, examples of it being used in practice. Some of the examples are pretty weak, however at least half of the ideas in the book benefit from a simple real life situation that helps you visualise how it might be implemented. It’s probably the most enlightening book I have ever read.

So what’s the big secret of the book? I would argue that it’s probably different for every person. For me, I was in a professional situation that many engineers can probably sympathise with – I was a strong technical leader, but was insecure in my communications and relationships where technical knowledge wasn’t the defining factor. These interactions were necessary, rather than enjoyable. I remember doing a personality profiling course, where it was revealed that some sales people (extroverts) actually needed to talk to people to recharge – the concept of this seemed so foreign to me!

The lesson that this book taught me, was that you get as much out of a person as you invest into them. Be genuinely interested in them, share your ideas freely, focus on the positive, don’t publicly criticise, use their name and be humble. It all sounds so simple, but ingraining it into your personality so it is a fluid and natural reaction takes a lot of repetition of both reading the book and implementing the ideas. I guess this is why neuroscience has emerged in such a massive way lately! Anyway I am now reading it for the second time in a row, and I am still learning new things and finding things I do wrong on a daily basis. I recommend this book to anyone, but particularly “green” engineers who are self-aware enough to know they could interact with the world better.

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

FlickrToPlus.com – Flickr to Google Plus Migration Tool

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

FlickrToPlus.com Screenshot

I have been using Google Plus a lot more lately, and now feel that the social layer (permissions and annotations) adds substantially to the photo experience. I know this is not a new revelation, but as a long time Flickr Pro customer I felt that the options of “Friends” or “Family” visibility, when I don’t really have either on Flickr, were not enough. Therefore over the 2012 Christmas holiday break I decided to work on a new web tool, FlickrToPlus.com.

There are two really annoying things about doing this migration for me:

  1. Losing metadata – especially titles and geo data
  2. Downloading/Uploading every file

This tool solves both these problems with the help of the Flickr and Picasa API’s. In fact my server doesn’t even see the photo files, you can pass a Flickr original image URL directly to the Picasa API. This means the service is fast and reliable. All you need to do is log in with both Flickr and Picasa, and then check the box against the set you would like to migrate. The site will then provide a progress update on the migration status. Google Plus albums and Picasa albums are currently pretty much the same thing, so these migrated albums are available straight away in the Google Plus interface for sharing with your friends.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

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