Archive for June, 2006

DIY free Wifi booster

June 29, 2006 Leave a comment

I have been dealing with a computer with chronically bad wifi reception (stone and concrete building) and got annoyed that I just could not position it to my satisfaction. I scavenged around the room (kids art room) and found a small pie plate and some duct tape. 10 minutes later, the computer’s reception indicator had gone from 0-20% to 80-100%.


Categories: DIY, networking

Linksys SPA-901: Solid, simple IP phone

June 28, 2006 Leave a comment

SPA-901Yesterday I tested a Linksys SPA-901 IP phone with Asterisk. It has a solidity to it that reminds me of old ma-bell type phones (It could be used as a weapon like in Casino). The exterior of the phone is pretty spartan, not even an LCD display at all. It is fully functioning, though, with a large bright message light that works perfectly with my asterisk system. Importantly: it sounds as good as any phone I’ve used – that means better than 99% of them. It uses the g.711u codec by default but does include many other codecs including g.729. It also supports call waiting with asterisk and has an intuitive status light that indicates a call on hold.

My only complaint is the lack of documentation for provisioning. If I were to deploy a bunch of these for a client, I would want to use a tftp or ftp server for configuration. The data sheet on this says that is an option, but I could not find any examples or instructions anywhere. Granted the internal web server configuration is a snap and the thing boots up very quickly, so it is not a show stopper, for now anyway.

To quickly get to the web page in configure it, make sure you have DHCP working on your network. Then plug in the ethernet cable, and power it up. After a a few seconds it will be booted up. The status indicator light should not be flashing. If it is double-flashing red, there is a problem with the network or cable (from experience with a bad cable).

Pick up the handset and type in ****, then 110. A robot will tell you the phone’s IP address. You can then put that address in your web browser and configure it. You can easily dial in the SIP settings, change the ring tone and volume, codec, etc. Surpringly you can view a call history with callerid in a nicer format than any little LCD display.

Overall I’d have to say I’m very impressed with it.

Categories: Asterisk, VoIP

Broken fglrx in Dapper

June 15, 2006 Leave a comment

One problem that popped up with the Dapper upgrade on one of my machines was with the binary ATI driver fglrx. The end result is many applications fail to launch. If you try to launch them from a command prompt then you get a string of errors, all beginning with: [fglrx] API ERROR

I found a very easy little fix.

cd /usr/lib

sudo mv
sudo wget

When it's done downloading, you're ready to go. No further action needed.

This was adapted from a post I found in the ubuntu forums.

Categories: Software, ubuntu

Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) upgrade

June 12, 2006 1 comment

Having heard nothing but good things about the release of Dapper I decided to go ahead and upgrade my main Ubuntu (actually Edubuntu) machine. I had very few problems. The network card decided to stop working, but I had a gigabit card sitting there that I wanted to install in it anyway. That went as painlessly as a network card installation can go. I had to redo my MythTV initial frontend settings but then it was back in action just like I left it.
I also have a cheap ($50 for motherboard AND CPU) Via C3 machine that has been trying to find a home. I downloaded the Xubuntu ISO and installed it on there. Xubuntu is a slimmed down version of Ubuntu with XFCE for a window manager instead of gnome. It is now a solid little internet workstation. I am very impressed with the ease of installation, and polished finish that distrubtion has. Very impressed. I will probably start recommending Xubuntu for low-end or older computers for use as internet stations.

 Easiest upgrade method for my systems:

 replace contents of /etc/apt/sources.list with:

## All officially supported packages, including security- and other updates
deb dapper main restricted
deb dapper-security main restricted
deb dapper-updates main restricted

## All community supported packages, including security- and other updates
deb dapper universe multiverse
deb dapper-security universe multiverse
deb dapper-updates universe multiverse

## The source packages (only needed to recompile existing packages)
#deb-src dapper universe multiverse
#deb-src dapper-security universe multiverse
#deb-src dapper-updates universe multiverse

# For more possible sources, all eperimental and to be used with caution, visit


from a terminal:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade 

Categories: DIY, MythTV, Software, ubuntu

Firefox upgrade problems – bookmarks and settings lost

June 7, 2006 Leave a comment

The firefox 1.5 upgrade moves all the user settings and bookmarks to a backup directory and basically starts the user off with a fresh profile. Some people find this disconcerting and would like their settings back. Mozilla has a help page about settings files that is quite helpful. On my mom's linux system the settings file was slightly different, though. It is a file called prefs.js, not user.js as that page says. The bookmarks are in a file called bookmarks.html. Those two files were all that were needed to make my mom happy again!

cd ~/.mozilla_backup_200606062208/firefox/wrqqjf89.default

200606062208 is the date/time the software was installed, and wrqqjf89 will be different for other computers. It will be <some code>.default.

cp bookmarks.html ~/.mozilla/firefox/9g9jmv95.default/bookmarks.html

That will copy the bookmarks. Again the code preceding ".default" will vary.

cp prefs.js ~/.mozilla/firefox/9g9jmv95.default/prefs.js

That will copy the settings/preferences. That is not as important for many people, but the home page, etc are stored there.

Categories: Software, ubuntu

MS SQL Server local file backup problem resolved

June 7, 2006 Leave a comment

I recently ran across a problem twice with backup maintenance plans in Microsoft SQL Server (2000+). The following error started to appear when the file backup job started to run:

… – Message: The job failed. Unable to determine if the owner (DOMAIN\Administrator) of job DB Backup Job for DB Maintenance Plan 'DB Maintenance Plan1' has server access (reason: Could not obtain information about Windows NT group/user 'DOMAIN\Administrator'/ [SQLSTATE 42000] (Error 8198)).

There seemed to be lots of people with the same problem but no solutions offered. Here's the solution that worked for us:

  1. Go to Administrative Tools -> Services. Click on SQLSERVERAGENT and select Properties from the Action menu. Click on the Log On tab. Select Local System Account. Click on the General Tab. Select Startup Type: Automatic and hit OK.
  2. In Enterprise Manager, go to Maintenance, and click on SQL Server Agent. Select Properties from the Action menu. Click on the Connection. Select Use Windows Authentication and hit OK (You may need to stop and restart the SQL Server service at this point).
  3. In Enterprise Manager, click on the name of the local server and select Edit SQL Server Registration properties… Select Use SQL Server Authentication (we used sa), and hit OK
  4. Delete the existing database plan and create a new one.

Automatix integrated into apt

June 6, 2006 Leave a comment

The new version of Automatix is even easier to install than the previous ones (this is for Breezy):

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

ctrl-k to remove all the lines for repositories from the previous versions. 

deb breezy main

ctrl-x, y to save the file.

from terminal:

gpg –keyserver –recv-keys 521A9C7C
gpg –export –armor 521A9C7C | sudo apt-key add –
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install automatix

Run Automatix from the system tools menu and have fun with it.

Full installation instructions. 

Categories: Software, ubuntu