May 29, 2007

Belkin Wireless G + MIMO router

I bought one of these a short while ago -- I felt the need to try and improve wireless reception. My good-old LinkSys WRT54G has rarely produced a signal stronger than 60% percent and I could well feel the difference in speed between direct plug and wireless access to internet. Looking at the reviews of the product I assumed that it is the rigth thing for me, and on one of my trips to London I picked it up at Dixons or similar outlet for about GBP 60. After using it for a little while I can tell you that just like the force -- it has the bright side and a number of let downs.

The good

Signal quality is indeed higher. I am consistently getting in 70% or above range, sometimes close to 90%. Configuration is also very easy -- there are only 4-5 options to chose from that probably cover most use-cases.

The bad

Let me tell you that my provider does not like making its clients life easy. I am connected through what is called here as "local network" -- I get a 10.* address from a DHCP server and can browse the 'hood from there -- but to get out into wider 'Net I need to lginto a PPTP VPN, get another address assigned to me and only then would it work. WRT with OpenWRT running instead of the stock firmware had no trouble getting this setup -- the only issue was that my brain-dead provider has gone over 20 machines resolving to vpn server (I guess they did not want to do proper load balancing there) and uClib has started choking on that. I had to switch to opening VPN connection from my desktop machine, which is suboptimal, but works for now. Belkin device is incapale of such a feat. It can open up a PPTP connection, but not in the perverted manner required by my provider. Subsequently it is impossibe to do any such thing as setting time (router is stuck in 1970), properly upgrading firmware, etc. Not only that, but with WRT I am used to being able to assign IP addresses to client machines based on their wirelss MACs -- no such thing in G+MIMO either.

Conclusion

Belkin G+MIMO Router is a good thing for an average buyer -- the one that would not need to do any intermediate or advanced tweaking. It may also work out ok as either a plain AP or a wirelss net repeater -- although it's probably a bit pricey for the latter.

May 20, 2007

Chicken and Rice

One of the things I like to do to take my mind away from the daily grind is cook. I don't like it being a routine affair -- that'd kill the whole feel of it. What I like about it is that on one hand you have a recipe -- which a rule set that you have to follow. On the other hand, you can try and do things differently -- and end up with something totally differnt (good, bad or ugly) from what original had in mind. Such was tonight, I felt ;ike doing a stuffed chicken and I had rice in mind as a stuffing medium. A quick search on Google has not returned anything of great interest aside from roast chicken stuffed with rice and vegetables, from which I took the inspiration for the followin recipe.

Ingridients

1             whole cicken, washed and patted dry
1 cup         uncooked rice -- I had some Indian (not Basmati) rice
1 cup         water
1 pinch       safran
1/2 cup       raisins
1/2 cup       pine nuts
1/2 cup       sliced carrot
1             medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp        vegetable oil
2 cloves      garlic, sliced
1 tbsp        melted butter
salt, spices  to taste

Method

  1. Heat the stove to 230C. Heat water in a pot, once it starts to boil add rice and a pinch of safran. Steer, cover, reduce the heat to low and set to simmer for 10 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.
  2. In the meantime, heat oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and. Add onion and fry until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add carrots to onions and continue to fry steering ocassionally for another 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat. Once rice has absorbed all water, add carrots and onions along with nuts and raisiins to rice. Mix well and let it cool a little.
  3. Pack stuffing into the chickens cavity. Close the cavity with a toothpick, tie legs with a kitchen string. Brush chicken over with melted butter and rub with salt and spices. Put any remaining stuffing into a waterproof container, cover and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken in the oven, uncovered. After about 10 minutes lower the heat to 180C. The chicken should take 45-50 minutes to cook from that point. 30 minutes before chicken is ready, put rice in the oven.
  5. Once chicken is ready, take it out of an oven, cover and let cool a little. Cut the bird up, take stuffing out and mix it up with the rest of rice. Serve.