Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ooh, they're upset!

Looks like the folks at Fatman Audio in the UK are miffed about my HCT HMS-100 system:

Warning for all our customers

It has come to our attention that in certain countries a copy of the Fatman iTube and iTube with speakers has appeared. It is important to note that these sub-standard copies are not in anyway connected with the Fatman brand and as such, if they are purchased, we and our various distributors across the world will not support them.

Furthermore, to our knowledge, none of these copy products are approved by Apple Corporation under their Made For iPod programme and as such use unauthorised 30-pin connectors from a non-Apple approved source.

Although it is flattering that such products have appeared as a consequence of the Fatman brand’s success across the world, it is also misleading and confusing for our growing customer and fan-base and this, in our opinion, is unacceptable.

Put simply, if the product doesn’t have a Fatman logo on it, if it doesn’t come in Fatman packaging and if it doesn’t come from a dealer of one our authorised distributors in each country listed on this website, our advice is to not touch it.

Of course it's unacceptable to them - they're charging several hundred bucks for a silly-assed silkscreen of a fat dude, when the rest of us are getting the same damned system sans logo, most likely from the same supplier to the Brits (you really think they can make 'em themselves without cheap Chinese/Korean labor), and sending them a subtle reminder that they're just a smidgen overpriced.

"Copy" my arse. Ya know what? Let Fatman UK open up their amplifier cover and show us where it's really made. Friggin' crybabies, they got beat at their own game, and have nobody to blame but themselves.

Darned Linksys WRT-54G router!

OK, in all fairness, running 6 computers through one Linksys WRT-54G router probably wasn't the best idea. It ties our Charter cable modem to the home network, but from there it goes a bunch of different directions, all with varying demands on the connection. Let's see...

1. Vonage VOIP Motorola box
2. Both home security cameras transmit via the VPON ethernet video box
3. Two computers run WarCrack online during waking hours
4. Two computers (mine and Mrs. G-98) run Pandora Radio nearly constantly
5. One computer (mine) plays Battlefield 1942 online
6. One home business machine moves large Adobe PDF files to and from clients
7. My wife does the VPN telecommuting bit between home and her office
8. My Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook web-browses via the wireless connection
9. A Linksys WMA11B media adapter streams MP3s to the living room stereo
10. A duo of Adaptec SnapServer 1100s with upgraded hard drives play network data server for all in the house

So, yeah, there are a few packets moving here and there. A little D-Link DI-102 broadband accelerator between the router and cable modem keeps the phone voice quality and game latency pretty much in check, and at times the little "traffic" light in the DI-102 lets me know it's working hard to keep things streamlined. However, every now and again, I was getting dropped connectivity - even though the cable modem lights were displaying nominal function.

At first, I figured it was Charter doing an IP address re-allocation, so I simply rebooted the cable modem and all the other components of the laundry room comm rack. That fixed it, for a while. Still, I had to do the reset between 1-3 times a week. Digging a little deeper via the process of elimination, I discovered it was the router that was dropping offline, not the cable modem.

It turns out that the Linksys WRT-54G v5.0 router has an absolute minimum of internal memory, and the router caches a great number of connection types for up to 5 days at a time. Once that cache fills, everything comes to a screeching halt. Were I not running all sorts of stuff through it, it would probably do just fine - but I'm not. Because I have one of the later versions, it doesn't do well with the aftermarket DD-WRT firmware, so I've come up with another way to flush the cache and keep performance optimized until I can come up with a better solution:

It's a digital audio timer, and it simply powers off the router at 5:00 AM every morning, then powers it up again at 5:01 AM, one minute later. Voila'! The little Blackout Buster UPS powers everything there, so that the clock doesn't lose time save for really long outages.

So far, it's been working just fine. I am keeping an eye open for one of the older, large-memory WRT-54G models so I can run DD-WRT Linux and have it reboot/flush via script or menu option. In the meantime, necessity is the mother of invention!