Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fabulous Adventures in Windows Phone 7.5

While back home in Hawaii I had a chance to replace my phone of 4 years (a BlackBerry Curve 8330) which has served me well.

Being on the Sprint Network my choices were a little limited when it came to new Phones, however they did have offerings from all of the major platform providers: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.

I had heard a lot of good things about the Windows Phone platform and decided that I had waited long enough before making the plunge. Sprint offers only one Windows Phone, the HTC Arrive, which is a candy bar slider.

Out of the box the phone was running stock Windows Phone 7, however I knew that Microsoft had released Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" late last year, therefore the first thing to do was update the phone to the latest and greatest. Apparently this upgrade cannot happen over the air, therefore I had to reinstall Zune on my laptop (I had not reinstalled it after I upgraded to a Solid State Drive last month).

After Zune was installed I began the long process of upgrading the phone to Mango. In all it took about an hour to download and install all updates. It also required several reboots of the phone. My experience with the original Windows Phone was so limited that I cannot really speak to the differences or improvements with Mango, however I must say that I am impressed with the level of integration offered in Windows Phone with regards to Faceboook.

After linking my Facebook Profile to my phone it downloaded all of my friends photos and their contact numbers and added them to my phone book. The end result is their Facebook photo being displayed every time I get a call, which is a nice touch.

Another nice touch is the ability to switch between SMS/Facebook Chat/Windows Live Chat all in the same message thread. It keeps the entire conversation in one window, as opposed to splintering the conversation across programs.

I have yet to start programming for it, but I'm excited to give it a shot, unfortunately it appears that you need to pay $99 to Microsoft in order to become a developer for their App Store, so perhaps I'll wait until I have a 'Killer App' before I take the plunge!

Until next time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Installing Tomato on a Linksys WRT300N

While back home in Hawaii, I was tasked to fix the 'broken internet' connection. Awhile back I had purchased a Linksys WRT300N to replace a cheap D-Link 524 that had seen its fair share of use at home.

My parents are not heavy Internet users, so I thought it best to leave the stock firmware on the device. However this has proved to be troublesome, with my parents having to power cycle the router at least once a week.

Recently I picked up an ASUS RT-N16 for my house back in Billings. I installed TomatoUSB and have been very impressed with the stability of the router. Therefore I thought I would give Tomato a shot here on the router in Hawaii.

First you need to ensure that you have the right version of the WRT300N, apparently only V1 and V1.1 routers are supported. I purchased the WRT300N just as it had come out, so I had a V1 router on my hand.

After a few hours of Googling I was able to stumble across a helpful post on the TomatoUSB Forums, the suggestion was to first install DD-WRT and then install TomatoUSB. I used the NoUSB "tomato-K26-1.28.9054MIPSR1-beta-Std.trx" which can be found at under the 2.6 Experimental NoUSB Link.You will need WinRAR to extract that file.

Following the guide posted on the DD-WRT Wiki I was able to successfully install DD-WRT, I have reproduced the relevant steps below (as the Wiki page seems to have disappeared):
  1. Disconnect your device from wifi and run a cable directly to your router.
    1. Anytime you do any flashing like this you want to ensure that you are hardwired to the device and not attempting to do this over wifi.
  2. Download DD-WRT v24 Mini [dd-wrt.v24_mini_wrt300n.bin].
    1. I downloaded it from here as per the wiki. However that link might be dead, and you may have to do some googling.
  3. Open your web browser to
  4. Log-in and find any settings you might want to keep and copy them down or cut and paste them to notepad or another editor.
  5. Do a proper HARD reset on your router. (30-30-30 Reset)
    1. I had to perform another Google search to understand what they meant by a proper HARD reset (30-30-30) Apparently it means to hold down the reset button while the device is plugged in for 30 seconds, then while still holding the reset button unplug the device and wait another 30 seconds, while still holding the reset button plugging the device back in and waiting 30 seconds. This means that you are holding down the reset button for 90 seconds. This clears the NVRAM on the device apparently and ensures that your device is good to rock and roll.
  6. Set your computer to a static IP address of Subnet mask to
    1. All we are doing with this step for you network guru's is giving ourselves a static IP address to ensure that we don't rely on the router to be running the DHCP service. This step should be familiar to anyone who has reflashed any of these devices.
  7. Log back into the router
    1. I had trouble using Firefox 12, so I had to fall back to using Internet Explorer 9 in order to upload the new firmware.
    2. It will have defaulted to the original login username and password. These should be <blank>/admin, please note that the user name is actually blank!
  8.  Go to Administration->Firmware Upgrade in the Linksys Menu
  9. Browse to the dd-wrt.v24_mini_wrt300n.bin you downloaded, and hit upgrade.
  10. Wait until you can access the dd-wrt webgui at
    1. This is important to wait, because you are flashing you do not want to power off the router at the wrong time, as this could brick your device.
    2. The default login information for DD-WRT is root/admin
  11. Power cycle the router
    1. Once again, make sure that the device has completed the flashing procedure. You can tell that this has been completed because you are able to access the dd-wrt webgui.
    2. To Power cycle just simply unplug the power, wait 30 seconds, and plug the power back in.
  12. Wait until you can access the dd-wrt webgui at
  13. Do ANOTHER hard reset on the router. (30/30/30)
    1. This is the second hard reset for the router.
    2. It is important to do these hard resets, so while you may try to skip them do not!  you will get yourself into a world of hurt!
At this point DD-WRT has been installed. Some people like DD-WRT and your router should be back in action at this point, I myself have no real experience with it, so I continued on to flashing TomatoUSB:
  1. Login to the DD-WRT webgui
    1. Again I am still using Internet Explorer because of issues with Firefox
  2. Go to Administration -> Firmware Upgrade
  3. Browse for the tomato-K26-1.28.9054MIPSR1-beta-Std.trx that you had downloaded and extracted earlier in this guide.
  4. Start the firmware upgrade.
    1. Make sure it finishes by waiting for the web interface to come back up. The default login information is  admin/admin
  5. Once this completes do one more hard reset on the router (30/30/30).
You should now be running Tomato! Have fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Back in Hawaii (Again!)

Its hard to believe that the last time I posted to this was back in December 2010, and oddly enough I was back home in Hawaii.

Fast-forward to May 2012, and I'm back home in Hawaii again! I've been enjoying some of the food that I can not find in Billings, Montana. However the situation has improved up there after the opening of the 'Hawaiian BBQ', which is run by two girls from China who worked at a similar restaurant in California and Las Vegas.

The only missing piece is still POG, which has proven impossible to find in Billings, however you can purchase it in a can, and I have regular shipments up to Billings to replenish my stock.

Much like exercising blogging is one thing I should get into the habit of, but just haven't found the motivation yet. Perhaps I'll give this a shot again when I return home?