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Archive for December, 2009

Telkom Mega 105WR: Follow up after almost a year

December 16, 2009 1 comment

I previously wrote about the Telkom Mega 105WR router here, and after almost a year’s worth of use, I thought I would do a follow up.

Most of my original comments still stand on the device, it is quite powerful and feature rich for a telco supplied device. However, one thing that has not improved is the routine freezing of the device. Almost like clockwork, the router needs to be restarted every 7-8 days, as I can’t access the web console, and wireless struggles to remain connected.

Doing some research on the router revealed that it appeared to have a high return rate, for this reason and diverse others. I looked on the manufacturer’s website for an updated firmware, to no avail. I even tried emailing their support address, to which I have still not gotten a reply to this day.

A few weeks ago, I decided to take the router back into the shop to try and get a replacement model before the guarantee ran out. I duly packed up everything and went to the Telkom shop. I was duly informed that they could not exchange the router directly, I first had to call the national ADSL support line, go through the troubleshooting tips, and then get a reference number. Come back with that they said, and we’ll do a swap. Then came the interesting news: “Telkom no longer supply this router, so you will be getting another model”

I am guessing that the problem rate with this router was high enough to cause Telkom to move to another model. I looked in the shop, and it appeared that the most likely replacement model would be another Telkom branded router, called the Duoplus 300WR. After looking up the specs of this thing on the internet, I was left less than pleased. The wireless antenna is only 3dbi, half the strength of the current model. It would mean me having to buy a new aerial, which I don’t want to do. I could be wrong however, as there were also Netgear routers in the shop, which may also be an option. I’m not fully sure.

To cut a long story short, I am still running the old Mega 105WR at home, and I’m not yet sure what I plan to do about it. I am tempted to buy a proper name brand router, but at this point I’m trying to find one that has all the features I need and is not too expensive.

My advice is that if you have one of these devices, and it routinely freezes up like mine, get the reference number, swap the model out and hopefully the newer router will perform better. I can’t recommend this router anymore, it just doesn’t perform as expected. Rather buy a name brand router, it will serve you better in the long run.

Marketplace for Windows Mobile

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Windows Mobile is no doubt a powerful platform, and it has been around for many years. As such, it has a huge software ecosystem of applications that have been developed over the years, but like everything else pre Apple iPhone App Store, there was no simple easy place to get these applications.

Enter Marketplace for Windows Mobile. Introduced with Windows Mobile 6.5 in October, the number of apps it offers has steadily grown, as has support for Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1. A web front end is also available for users to manage various aspects of the service through their pc’s.

I’ve found the service to work pretty well, it does what it needs to. However, there appear to be some quirks still, which hopefully will be resolved in the future. Not being able to install your apps to a memory card for example is a bit silly. Updates to applications also seem to be a bit hit and miss at the moment. A case in point is the Bing application from Microsoft themselves. An update was available from the menu in the application, but there’s no sight of it in the Marketplace yet.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that content seems to differ depending on which country you are in. If you are in the US, there are a ton of applications and games available, but for me in South Africa, there are only free and demo applications available. I think it is because Microsoft still need to set up methods whereby people can buy applications and games easily in each country.

Overall, I look forward to seeing how the service evolves over time. I hope that more and more content publishers come on board. There are tons of wonderful applications out there on the internet, but it is highly disorganised. If these people can contribute towards the Marketplace, it will quickly grow and become even more useful.

I’ve looked at the Ovi Store on my father’s Nokia N97, and while it has a lot more content, I’m not particularly impressed with its layout. It seems quite cluttered in comparison to the Marketplace.

I highly recommend that if you are a Windows Mobile user, to keep an eye on the Marketplace. It can only continue to grow from here.

FOG and Active Directory

December 5, 2009 2 comments

A while back, I wrote a post on a very useful piece of software called FOG, which you can read here. Since then, FOG has been updated to version 0.28, and my original article ended up on their wiki.

Our school is moving to an Active Directory based domain in the middle of December, and we have been searching for ways to get our workstations ready. After much discussion, it was felt that grouping the machines together hardware wise, then cloning them would be the best way to get all the machines ready. The idea behind this is that this will be faster than cleaning out individual workstations, as well as providing a clean stable base system. Unfortunately, XP remains the base operating system.

Joining a computer to the domain is not hard, but it is time consuming. Combined with renaming the workstation, it becomes really time consuming. FOG thankfully can automatically rename a workstation, and provided that the Windows Support Tools are installed on a workstation, it can join the domain for us. We finally got around to attempting to make use of this, and in short, while it works, there is an issue related to the password for the account used to join the domain, which I will explain shortly.

With enough experimenting and reading of the FOG wiki, we got our test computers to join the domain. It worked quite well, and combined with the name changing module, it has the facility to save us lots of time.

In order to join the domain, you need an account in Active Directory that has the rights to do so. As a test, we were using our Administrator account. However, our account has a strong password, including the use of the : character This character caused an issue with the NETDOM command that is part of the Windows Support Tools that FOG needs to join the domain. Using the : character caused NETDOM to think that we were specifying another parameter, when we weren’t. This came to light after manually using the NETDOM command when FOG failed to join the domain.

I haven’t experimented with the NETDOM command, to see if using inverted commas around the password will work. However, even if that works, FOG will not be able to pass that on to NETDOM. In short, make sure the account you use to join computers to the network is using a password without at least the : character.

I’ve read on the FOG forums that some code is being developed to join computers to the domain without using NETDOM, as this command is no longer available for Windows 7. So far it is having some mixed success, so time will tell what happens.

To close off, I am yet again impressed by FOG. The improvements brought about by the later versions have increased speed and added some nice new features. I look forward to see what more is still coming, including possibly much better Linux cloning support. For a free product, it is quickly becoming a must have in a network environment that needs cloning.