My own Network Topology

December 4, 2005

Instead of studying for finals, I decided to create a little diagram of my network at home. I used the trial version of OmniGraffle Pro, with some free downloadable stencils to make a pretty accurate mapping of what we have here.

OmniGraffle is actually a pretty nice program, and with a little work, you could do a lot with it.
But I don’t think I’ll ever use it enough to justify the $129 price tag. That’s a bit much, in my opinion, I’ll just stick to the trial version.

In the diagram, the little black boxes represent WRT54g routers, and the little white box is a little Linksys switch I have. Everything on the top line is in my office upstairs. The hardware on the lower level is downstairs (well the iBook can go anywhere).

If you wanted to, you could create much better maps then this one, but in about 30 min. this is what I came up with.

So what does your Network look like?

(FYI I had to use the capture-screen-image feature of my Mac to get a version of this in an image format, as the export feature dosen’t seem to work for the demo. Plus you can only add 20 objects, so I couldn’t fit my printer on there.)


Trick for printing graphs in Microsoft Office

December 4, 2005

My wife recently came up with a very intelligent way to print
multiple Excel graphs on one page, without dealing with formatting
issues in Word, or anything goofy like that. There is probably–
should be– a built in way to do this, but I haven’t used Excel enough
to know it, and this works fine.

She wanted to have four Excel graphs on one page, to save paper and
because it looks nice. So she simply copied each graph and pasted
them into an empty Powerpoint slide. There is a default Powerpoint
template that allows for a graph and a title. If you double click on
the graph place-holder Microsoft opens up its crappy graph maker,
which does you no good. BUT, if you single click on the place-holder
and then paste, your graph will fill up the entire slide. You can
decide if you want to keep the title or not.

When she had all of her graphs on different slides, she went to print,
and then chose the four slides on one page printing option. Genius!
Everything was lined up right and all it takes is a little copying and
pasting.

Again, I played no part in this unique solution. I actually wasted
time trying to figure out a way to print graphs in Excel, but to no
avail.

I don’t know how often anyone needs to print multiple graphs to a
page, but you could also apply it to pictures or other similar
objects. Even better, print it to a pdf file, then load it back onto
a slide and you can print 16 graphs on one page! Genius!

This brings up the fact that I’m dying to have a native, Apple built,
Cocoa Office suite for the Mac. Please! Microsoft Word is slow,
jittery, goofy, and lazy. And the other Office products aren’t much
better! Pages is nice, but it really is for laying out interesting
documents, and not lab reports or regular everyday stuff. Open
office is coming, but not really here for the Mac yet, and I would be
happy with just Text Edit, except when I need to use tables, graphs,
pictures, etc.

Please Apple Hurry!


Return of the WRT

December 3, 2005


A few weeks ago, I was saddened to learn that Linksys had changed the best home router available for the worse. In case you don’t follow the router scene much (I know I don’t), here’s just a bit of backstory:

The Linksys WRT54G has been considered one of the best home / small office routers availible for the geek with too much free time. Why? Because people found out that it was running Linux. And even better, due to weird copywrite laws that I won’t pretend to understand, they had to release the source code for the software– aka “firmware” –that ran on it. Meaning anyone could take their software, look at it, improve it, and release it again. All for free.
And many people did that.

Thus, you could take this $50 router, add someone’s improved software, and make it almost as powerful as a router you might pay $600 dollars for. That’s a pretty good deal.

Then tragedy stuck… To save a few bucks, for the newest versions of this router Linksys has changed the internals of this model and crippled it from allowing this change in software to work. (And they changed the operating system, so anything Linux wouldn’t run anyways.)
And I cried at night.

But now, they’ve released the old (good) WRT54G under a new name: WRT54GL! It’s got all the cool features that it did before they crippled it, but it costs $70 now. So, basically they want geeks that want to hack these routers pay a few more dollars to be able to do it. This is still a good thing, because at least you can still buy it somewhere.

I have two of the original one’s, and they are great. One is running the original Linksys firmware. The other is connected to the computer we have hooked up to the TV and is running the dd-wrt firmware, so that it can run in client mode and connect to the other router upstairs.

This saves me from drilling a hole trough the ceiling to connect this computer to the network. I thought that was a good idea, my wife did not.

So, if you are in need of a router, and want the option to someday modify it to make it much more powerful, go grab a WRT54GL today!

And if you want more info about the WRT54g and its possibilities, check here or here for a mostly complete list of the firmwares you can get. Its really pretty exciting stuff… If you’re in to routers.

And hopefully someday electronic makers will figure out better ways to name their hardware, so we aren’t all left memorizing silly strings of random characters. I mean really, how hard would it be to come up with a naming scheme similar to vechiles for digital cameras, routers and the like.

It would be much cooler to say the Linksys “Firebrand” then WRT54g anyday.