Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wireless is really convenient until you drop your connection or get really low speeds. Thanks to DD-WRT, it’s easier than ever to extend your home networks range with a few simple tweaks and a spare router.
DD-WRT is a fully feature-packed alternative firmware for your router. If you don’t know what it is or how to get it on your device, you should start off with Turn Your Home Router into a Super-Powered Router with DD-WRT.
Boosting Your Signal
Fire up your web browser and direct it to your router’s configuration page. Go to Wireless > Advanced Settings.
There are three settings of interest, the first being TX Power. This is the broadcasting power of your transmitting antenna. The default is a safe value of 70, but we can kick it up a bit. Most people report that jumping up to a 100 is safe. Pushing it higher can cause excessive heat which can damage your router. I don’t have to worry about that since my “server area” is cold and I’m also a bit reckless, so I kicked mine up to 150. It’s been that way for a few weeks and I haven’t had a problem yet, but your mileage may vary. Use your common sense and discretion.
Next up is the Afterburner setting. If your wireless router and adapters support Afterburner – also known as SpeedBooster, SuperSpeed, Turbo G, and G Plus (but not Super-G) – you can enable this to get a boost. Things may slow down if they don’t support it, though, so be sure to do your homework. B-only devices won’t see any problems and N-based devices shouldn’t be negatively affected, either.
Finally, we get to Bluetooth Coexistence Mode. If you use bluetooth a lot, then you may have noticed a drop in reliability or speed with both wireless and bluetooth devices. Turning this setting on should keep the two from interfering too badly with one another.
Use a Spare Device as a Repeater
Most of us have upgraded our networks with new routers over the years. If you have your old one lying around, why not throw DD-WRT on it? I had a spare Linksys wireless access point, but after putting alternate firmware on it, I had a full-blown router on my hands. We can put our spare device to work as a repeater, which can act as a range-extender for a new section of your house or yard.
Under Wireless > Basic Settings, change the mode to Repeater.
You’ll see two sections, Wireless Physical Interface (wl0), and Virtual Interfaces (wl0.1). The physical interface is going to be receiving the signal from your main router. Plug in the SSID, configure the network mode, and decide if you wanted it to be bridged (connected with the old network) or unbridged (isolated from it). Next, come up with a new SSID for your repeater. This way, you can choose which access point to use, depending on where you are.
Click on save, then go over to the Wireless Security page.
Enter the wireless security settings for your main router, then enter the details for your new repeater’s signal. Lastly, we need to make sure that your repeater is connected to your main router. To do that, go to Status > Wireless.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a button that says Site Survey. Click on it.
Find you main router’s wireless SSID and click Join. That’s it! Place your repeater on the other side of your house, but not so far that it doesn’t get a good signal. Then, you can connect to your new repeater and test it out.
Use Your Repeater as a Wireless Receiver
An added benefit of DD-WRT is that you can configure your repeater to act as a wireless receiver for a computer that doesn’t have one. Return to where you configured the repeating function, under Wireless > Basic Settings.
Change the mode to Repeater Bridge. Now, you can plug in a device into the router’s ethernet ports and it’ll act just like it’s wired into your main router. If you’re not using it then you should turn if off, as it can cut your bandwidth otherwise.
If you’re looking to speed up browsing, Removing Advertisements with Pixelserv and Find a Faster DNS Server with Namebench can both help your cause – with or without extended ranges – thanks to DD-WRT.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Wireless is everywhere and routers are the force that makes it happen, so why not supercharge yours to take proper advantage of it? DD-WRT will let you boost your router’s range, add features, and more.
DD-WRT has a ton of features—more than we can cover in this guide, which is focused on helping you get your router upgraded. Stay tuned, as we’ll go into more depth in a couple more days on all the great things you can do with it, but even if you don’t use the additional features, DD-WRT is worth installing to make your router work better.
What Is DD-WRT?
Here’s our router. Behold: the Netgear WNR2000, revision 2. It’s a mighty fine one, too, but it’s still not the best. Why, exactly? Your router is only as good as its firmware, the software that makes it tick. When you buy a router from Linksys/Cisco, Netgear, D-Link, or others, you’re bound to their software. It’s a nice arrangement; you respect their limitations, and they promise to help with your problems. But what if your warranty’s expired, or you want to shuck their limitations? Maybe you want to take your hardware and push it to its most extreme limits. That’s where DD-WRT steps in.
DD-WRT is an open-source alternative firmware for routers. Its software unlocks features that aren’t present on all routers: static routing, VPN, repeating functions, the list goes on. It also unlocks settings that aren’t accessible normally, like antenna power and overclocking.
Turning your home router into an almost professional-level tool is a great project that has one major caveat: support. Not all routers are built or designed the same way. Even two of the same model can have different revision numbers with very different internal components. Because of this, the first step is doing plenty of research. It’s best to have a router that’s fully supported, so if you end up buying one, be sure to check the DD-WRT Supported Routers page first. Also make use of their Router Database, which will help you find particular instructions for your model and revision. Most devices have model and revision numbers on the back panel, and if there’s no revision number, it’s safe to assume that it’s 1.0.
For our purposes, the important spec to consider is NVROM, or ROM. This is where the firmware is kept, so even if your router has 16MB of RAM, it won’t work with a 4MB image of DD-WRT without at least that much ROM. Because of this, there are a few different versions of DD-WRT available at varying file sizes. Some are trimmed down to fit in smaller ROM configurations. Others are built with specific features in mind, like VPN, SD card support, or a Samba client. For more information, check out the File Versions table.
The most important thing in any project is research. Do all of your homework for this one, because (here it comes):
DISCLAIMER: Changing your router’s firmware can result in unintentional consequences, such as “bricking.” It’s unlikely, and we’ve never had a device that couldn’t be fixed in some way, but it’s important to understand that it’s a very real possibility. Just to be clear: you assume all responsibility for anything you do; we’re not liable for anything that should go wrong.
As mentioned above, start with the Supported Devices page to see if you’ve got a DD-WRT-friendly router. If you don’t see anything specific, or even if you do, check into the Router Database. Here, you’ll find links to forum pages of those who’ve completed the process for specific models/revisions, as well as the setbacks and workarounds they’ve found. Most importantly, you’ll find links to compatible versions of firmware.
The friendly forum gave us some useful info for our particular model. Our router, the Netgear WNR2000 is revision 2, which means it’s compatible (revision 1 is not). It’s only got 4MB of ROM, so we had to stick to the mini version. We followed the download links and read up on what to do to complete the procedure in full detail.
Almost all sources unanimously recommend three specific things:
- Do a hard reset on your router before you update. This usually requires a 30/30/30 procedure.
- Hard wire your router when you update the firmware. NEVER over wireless.
- Use Internet Explorer (or Safari) unless specifically stated that other browsers are okay.
There’s a ton of reasons which the documentation will reveal to you, but the first two are written in stone, and the last has held true for almost any router, and it won’t hurt either.
Most routers have a pinhole on their back with you need to push and hold to perform a hard reset. The 30/30/30 procedure is primarily directed for devices with DD-WRT already on them, but it’s also required for some other models and won’t hurt to do anyway. It deletes the Non-Volatile RAM. From the DD-WRT website, the procedure is as follows:
- With the unit powered on, press and hold the reset button on back of unit for 30 seconds
- Without releasing the reset button, unplug the unit and hold reset for another 30 seconds
- Plug the unit back in STILL holding the reset button a final 30 seconds (please note that this step can put Asus devices into recovery mode…see note below!) [Note]
This procedure should be done BEFORE and AFTER every firmware upgrade/downgrade.
Do not use configuration restore if you change firmware builds (different svn build numbers).
Hard reset, as outlined above, or per the instructions for your specific router.
So after our hard reset, we waited for the lights to return to normal, and we hard-wired the router to our laptop. During this phase, we turned off the wireless connection so that just the wired connection to our WRN2000 was active. This prevents any mishaps and makes it simple to connect to the web-interface through the defaults.
Next, fire up Internet Explorer and go to your router’s default page, and log in.
Use the default username and password, usually printed on your device’s back panel or easily found on the internet.
Click on the Router Upgrade link.
Browse to the correct image and click Upload, and wait patiently. Very patiently. You’ll see the loading screen tell you to wait while the router reboots, and you’ll see the lights flash on and off for a while. Wait about five minutes, and err on the longer side. When you’re ready, log in to your router. DD-WRT’s IP address is 192.168.1.1, the username is ‘root’, and the password is ‘admin’.
You’ll be greeted with your brand new interface.
If things didn’t work out, you may have had a “bad” flash. Your router may be bricked, but odds are you can recover from it in some fashion. The first place to check out is How to Recover From a Bad Flash, and the second is the DD-WRT Forum. As long as your do your homework and be precise with the instructions, you’ll be fine.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Obama administration wants to make sure that the illegal streaming of music and movies over the Internet is a felony, and it also wants to give the federal government wiretap authority in copyright cases.
Victoria Espinel, the Obama administration's IP Enforcement Coordinator, today released her long-awaited wish list (PDF) of intellectual property law changes. Most focus on counterfeit drugs and economic espionage, but the list does contain three suggestions more likely to have some effect on home Internet users.
Streaming: The government wants to make sure that, as online piracy moves increasingly to streaming, the law keeps up with the activity. Currently, "reproducing" and "distributing" copyrighted works are felony charges, and they cover peer-to-peer file-sharing. But streaming seems more like a "public performance"—and holding a public performance without a proper license is not a felony.
As Espinel's paper notes, "questions have arisen" about this distinction, and those questions "have impaired the criminal enforcement of copyright laws." She wants Congress to "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances."
Wiretaps: The FBI and other federal agencies can tap phones and Internet connections for a whole host of serious crimes, but criminal copyright and trademark cases are not among them. Espinel wants to change this situation.
"Wiretap authority for these intellectual property crimes, subject to the existing legal protections that apply to wiretaps for other types of crimes, would assist US law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses, including targeting organized crime and the leaders and organizers of criminal enterprises," says the new whitepaper.
Radio: Radio stations currently pay cash to songwriters for the music they play, but the stations don't have to pay the actual bands who recorded the material. That's because the US lacks a public performance right for recorded music played by radio stations, unlike most other nations (a situation which means that most other countries won't pay US artists, either, until we pay their artists).
Espinel suggests the creation of public performance rights for music on the radio, which the US already has for satellite broadcasting and webcasting. But the broadcasting lobby has opposed the move ferociously, claiming that its unique exemption from payment is because radio has such promotional force for artists.
The list largely avoids big controversies—Web censorship, "three strikes" rules—in favor of a focus on health, safety, and serious criminal activity. Even Public Knowledge, a group not known for its embrace of increased IP enforcement, called the document a positive step.
"The recommendations largely address important areas of intellectual property enforcement that are often overlooked in more contentious debates at the edges of these issues," said president Gigi Sohn. "While there may be room for disagreement on specific methods of implementation, Victoria Espinel has compiled a thoughtful list of targeted recommendations for enforcement."
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sometimes, something so tragic happens that it leaves the whole world in shock. RIght now is Japan's time of need, as they were struck with a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami that were only the beginning of the indescribable nightmare many of the people must be facing right now. Not only the loss of lives, but the economic impact.
There are many out there contributing to the relief efforts for victims of the tragedy, and one of those is Capcom. A game publisher and developer based in Japan. To do their part, they have dropped the price of Street Fighter IV for iOS to 99 cents. Those sales are all going towards Japan's quake relief efforts. In addition, they are immediately donating 100 million yen to help those affected.
In a short post on Capcom's official blog, the publisher/developer had the following to say:
Thank you to everyone who has sent inquiries and wished us well during this crisis. We want to reiterate that all of our employees in the Osaka and Toyko regions are safe and well, and we thank everyone for their support.
In response to recent events, Capcom will immediately donate 100 million yen to help victims of the earthquake and communities recover from this tragedy.
For one week from today, March 15, Street Fighter IV on the iPhone will be available for 99cents/115yen, and all sales of the title during this period will be donated to support earthquake relief activities.
Capcom will also suspend operations or shorten operating hours as necessary at amusement arcades and other business sites that are located in areas served by Tohoku Electric Power and Tokyo Electric Power. In addition, Capcom will refrain from holding special events.
Again, thanks to everyone who has supported Japan during this difficult time, and please help to spread the news about relief efforts.
You can purchase the game here for 99 cents: Street Fighter IV
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You’ve likely seen webpages and picdumps everywhere, with goofy, ridiculous, and funny animated GIFs. Here’s how you can have some fun by making your own in a matter of minutes, using your favorite Youtube videos and Photoshop.
While animated GIFs may be pretty useless, they can be funny and fun to make. See what you can do with your favorite Youtube videos and Photoshop, and a surprisingly little time.
Downloading and Converting a Youtube Video
Youtube video converters are freely available online. Find an appropriate video on Youtube and take note of the URL in your browser’s location bar.
Zamzar.com is a decent online-only tool for video conversion. Simply input your Youtube video URL, and you can have your file emailed to you. You will have to give your email and agree to Zamzar’s terms of service. If you don’t like this, there are a number of ways to download and convert Youtube videos, including conversion apps for Windows, like SUPER, or WinFF. Zamzar.com is the simplest way, however, to ensure you get your video in the correct filetype.
Navigate to the ”Download Videos” tab, and paste in your URL for your Youtube video. Make sure your video file is MOV. Other filetypes can cause problems with this process. Input your email address, and click convert. Zamzar will email you a download link for your converted file.
Importing Converted Videos into Photoshop
Open Photoshop, likely the best tool for importing video frames and exporting them as a GIF.
Edit: GIMP users rejoice! Commenters have pointed out there are animation plugins capable of doing this sort of work. Check out the Gimp Animation Plugin (GAP) tutorial, and check out the plug-in here. Keep reading to see how Photoshop tackles this problem!
For 64 bit operating system users, you will likely encounter this frustrating error if you have the 64 bit version of Photoshop CS5 installed. If you are using an older 32 bit version of Photoshop or have the current one installed on your 32 bit operating system, you’ll not encounter this frustrating problem.
In your 32 bit version of Photoshop, navigate to File > Import > Video Frames to Layers.
Open your converted file in the subsequent dialog box. If you have more than one version, remember that MOV files are one of the best to use for this import.
You should see a preview of your video. Pick “Selected Range Only” to pick selected areas of the footage you wish to use for your animation. Move the cursor on the preview video and shift+drag to pick the piece of video you want to import. Importing large videos is not recommended, and Photoshop also has an upper limit of 500 frames.
Make sure that “Make Frame Animation” is checked on, and click OK.
Creating and Editing Animation from Your Imported Video
Your file may appear as a simple Photoshop document, but check in your layers.
Every frame in your selected region has been exported to a layer, complete with animation information. Let’s check that info out next.
Navigate to Window > Animation to open the Animation panel.
This panel is a simple window, noting every frame in the movie and how long each frame delays for. Since we imported from a movie the way we did, most of the work is done for us already. If you don’t see your frames already keyed up, it is far quicker to reimport than create an animation with 100 frames.
Chances are you’ve imported far more frames than you want to use for your animation. Locate the first frame you want to use in the Animation panel, and pick the frame before it.
Navigate back to the first frame, hold down shift, and pick that first frame, selecing all the frames you wish to trim out.
Click the icon to delete the selected frames from the animation. Click “Yes” to proceed.
Do the same for all frames you don’t want, including those that are included after your intended final frame.
The will allow you to test your animation in Photoshop. It may run slowly, as Photoshop can struggle to animate video well on some computers. Don’t let this discourage you, as your GIF will run better once it is rendered and in a browser.
Navigate to File > Save for Web & Devices.
Here, you’ll get the program that will allow you to export the frames to your animated GIF. It automatically builds your color table, and does all the hard work for you of creating individual frames.
Make sure that you set your “Looping Options” to “Forever,” then click “Save” to save your image wherever you care to leave it.
Your result will be a glorious GIF movie ripped from practically any video Youtube hosts.
Have questions or comments concerning Graphics, Photos, Filetypes, or Photoshop? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they may be featured in a future How-To Geek Graphics article.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
There's been a tutorial floating around the internet that shows users how to get the new version of iMovie for iOS to work on their first-gen iPad. The problem is, it doesn't work with the new, universal version of iMovie.
Though we've found an older method (one that used to work to bring iMovie to the 3GS) and adjusted it for the first-gen iPad.
Heres how it works:
2) You must now locate the iMovie IPA file on your computer. Go to:
(User)>Music>iTunes>Mobile Applications > iMovie.ipa
(Windows path may be slightly different, but the rest of the guide still works the same)
3) Change the extension from .ipa to .zip.
4) Unpack your newly-created .zip file
5) Look in the folder called Payload, you will find iMovie.app. Right click and select "show package contents":
6) Within that, you will find a file called "info.plist" Open that with any text editor.
7) Find the field called "UIRequiredDeviceCapability" delete "Front-facing-camera" as shown below:
This basically means that your device no longer needs a front-facing camera to work.
8) Navigate back out to your iMovie folder and compress the objects as shown:
9) The file will default to the name Archive.zip. Change that back to iMovie-iPad.ipa (it's original filename, before we started messing around with it)
Finally, sync your iPad:
Congrats, you now have iMovie on your old iPad.
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