Oct 28 2008

Everywhere You Go

Category: WiFiChrisM @ 2:19 am

I have been playing around with a program on my Windows Mobile powered HTC TyTn II. The basic idea of this Heath Robinson particular approach to mobile routers is that your phone uses an 3G/EDGE/GPRS/Dial Up (if necessary) connection to establish a working internet session, and then shares this with others via bluetooth or WiFi. If the other clients (laptops, other mobiles, pdas or even desktop PCs) don’t have their own connection to the internet, in the event of a power cut or not having a SIM card that works in that territory etc., then you can certainly enable them to work on the essentials as long as they stay in range of your phone. Obviously bluetooth connections need v.close proximity, and WiFi signals are very reliant on each device’s antennae, but it is good to know what can be achieved in emergencies. There are other more permanent approaches to meeting this sort of need, so feel free to click the link above.

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Oct 14 2008

More On The Car

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 2:58 am

So, as I previously mentioned, we are now the proud owners of a car, and John very kindly took a couple of shots so we could tell what it looked like exactly.



Interior of the car

Interior of the car

I still have to figure out how I want to mount my TyTn II for GPS and music purposts, and what sort of audio connection to try and setup. The car still has the original Ford 5000 RDS EON tape unit installed, so I need to figure out whether a simple Extended USB > 3.5mm > Tape adaptor will work without overflowing wires everywhere, if I can hardwire in a lead to the existing CD Changer interface on the back of the tape unit, try and setup a bluetooth based system, or whether a short range FM broadcasting adaptor would work well. Any recommendations from readers? I need to remember that I’ll probably need two cigarette lighter sockets, one for charging the phone (using GPS sucks the batteries quite quickly), and one for the audio adaptor I use (in some cases).

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May 28 2008

GPS Equals $$$ ?

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 3:46 am

As readers will know from past posts, I got a new phone this Christmas to replace my old PDA, phone and bluetooth GPS unit. It has already been pretty useful for the obvious things like getting directions with route finding software, finding out where I was with Google maps, and marking places of interest for future visits. However, what about those people who don’t want a full on multi-system like the Kaiser? Miniaturized GPS units, like those that GTX Corp are producing could well be catalyst in a huge consumer boom in purchases. Whether it be a small belt clip for athletes, a discrete vehicle tracking unit, or simply anything with such a small GPS Tracking Device integrated into it, the potential uses are only just starting to be realised. The fact that the technology has improved so much means that size constraints no longer apply to what sort of existing objects can easily be redesigned by manufacturers to integrate location tracking, and with the increasing availability of the internet whilst on the move, you don’t even need to be in a centralized office to co-ordinate the data coming in. All this means that many people see GPS-based companies as the next wise move for investors looking to get in relatively early to a blossoming sector. Do I have enough money to invest in companies? Not yet sadly, but if someone asked me which areas were worth considering, it would have to be in my top 5.

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Sep 07 2007

Two Weeks Today!

Category: Amsterdam,Friends,Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 2:10 am

Yep, 14 and a half days, and I’ll be waiting to board the plane from Kaliningrad to Amsterdam. I have checked with the hotel about their luggage storage facilities, and all is OK there. (I can not check into the apartment they own until 5pm, and Alex & ChrisD arrive 4 hours after me anyway.) I have tried updating a couple of GPS related PDA programs, with varying success. As I do not want to risk losing the use of the older versions, I will leave trying to fix the problems (related to .NET Framework issues) until I am back in Kazakhstan, in five and a bit weeks. I am sort of itching to sort the problem now, but I know from experience that if something works, it is best to leave until the need is not there before attempting un-necessary upgrades. Anyway, I need to double check on a few forums that I have made fair and accurate summaries of what, where and how much to spend in Amsterdam, and then make sure the data is replicated across the PDA, Smartphone and real world paper and ink 🙂 No flat battery is going to throw this break into a mess for me 🙂 I discovered that there was no point in checking for Java based GPS applets to install on my Sony Ericsson K700 (my backup phone that will have my UK SIM card in it) does not allow access to bluetooth services through JARs, unfortunately. Given that Alex is bringing her (newer) Smartphone as well, and the installation files I need are on my mini-SD mem card, I guess I’ll just have to survive somehow 😉

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Aug 02 2007

PDA App #4 – Port Splitter

Category: Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 2:56 pm

Later in the week I will start reviewing some of the GPS applications, however today I would like to focus on a related utility.
One of the problems with Bluetooth GPS units is that they require a serial port connection (though obviously not of the wired variety 😉 ), which is then locked exclusively to the program that initiated the connection. If you want to use your GPS with more than one program, you need to dis-connect and re-connect, which can cause stability and slow response times in either of the programs. Whilst you could theoretically have a utility rapidly switch between the two applications, I believe this would cause too much of a processing overhead. Another approach is that taken by Port Splitter (You’ll need to click the Port Splitter link when the page loads). The program makes a connection with your GPS unit in the usual manner, but then proceeds to create two (or however many free you have on your PDA) new serial ports, which it then duplicates the GPS data through to. All you then need to do is setup your other GPS programs to use one of these serial ports each. Quite a simple, but effective solution to a problem. With this program, you could use some route finding software to get to your destination, and use WiFiFoFum to accurately map WiFi hotspots on your trip.

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Jul 17 2007

For Steve – iPAQ Basics

Category: Friends,Personal,Windows MobileChrisM @ 3:44 am

In a similar vein to the previous post for Alex’s bro, this post is being written as a friend needs some help, and I am too appalled at the thought of typing it all into a messenger window, only to need it again in the future. I hope some other random person will one day find this post through a search engine, and find the contents useful. For anyone else, please indulge me a moment, normal random postings will resume shortly 😉

Firstly, some basic terminology / concepts to get a grip of, before proceeding.

PPC – For the purposes of this post, PPC can be safely assumed to refer to a Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC, such as an iPAQ.
RAR or ZIP files – These can be safely opened on your PC. See later for details.
EXE files – These are normally installation programs that will use ActiveSync to install a program for you automatically, the next time you plug your PPC into it’s cradle or USB lead. However, occasionally, you will find an EXE file that produces an error on your PC, when you try to run it. It may state something like ‘Not A Valid Win32 Application’. If this is the case, don’t despair, it is simply a program meant to run directly on your PPC, not your PC
CAB file – do NOT ever open or extract these files on your PC. In that path heart ache does lay. Follow instructions below.
Sync – for the purposes of this post, any mention of sync refers to you plugging your PPC into your PC. Whether it be via a cradle, USB lead, bluetooth or WiFi (if you have an old version of ActiveSync, before such usefulness was disabled), the end result is the same – the little circle in your system tray, that belongs to ActiveSync, should eventually go green, and stop rotating.
Anyway, back to the main reason for this post – how to install programs…

Open ONLY RAR or ZIP files on your PC :
Extract them somewhere temporarily (don’t delete until you know for certain program is working, not just as a demo, if you have ‘purchased’ a full version)

IF, and ONLY IF the extracted files is a CAB, then copy it via to your PPC (see below)
Always check the included documentation, but you can normally leave any other files on your PC – TXT NFO DOC files etc

How to copy CAB files?
Either eject your SD memory card, and put it in card reader in your PC, then copy the CAB file as you would any other type
OR plug your PPC into it’s cradle or USB lead, make sure ActiveSync says Synced or Connected. Right Click green circle icon in your PC’s system tray, and select ‘explore’ OR open the ActiveSync main window, select the File Menu, then ‘explore’
In either case navigate to My Windows Mobile-based Device (or words similar), then Storage Card, then copy the required file(s) as you would to any other directory or drive, such as a memory stick.
What now? Now open your favourite file explorer program on your PPC, navigate to the SD card, and THEN you can open the CAB file. It will install the program semi-automatically for you. When given a choice between the internal memory or your SD card, there are two factors to consider before deciding which location is best. In almost all cases, a large program should only be installed on the SD card. If the program is small, but is not needed often, or not likely to require fast transfers to operate normally, again install it to the SD card. If the program is something that will automatically load each time your PPC is started up, or is very small AND needs fast transfers or access times, ONLY then install to SD cards. Other may argue with this approach, but over time, you will find a few programs that give you no option as to where they will be installed – leave your PPC’s internal memory for those times. Also, the internal memory is dynamically split between storage space and operating memory. As a rough analogy, imagine you could use some of your PC’s 2Gb of RAM as a storage area (yes a RAM Drive before any geeks giggle and point). Now imagine you filled that 2Gb with crap you didn’t need very often. There would be little space left for anything interesting, such as large buffers or game playing resources.

If you happen to have found a PPC EXE file within your extracted RAR or ZIP file, copy them in the same manner as I mentioned above, except you will need to create a directory for the EXE file somewhere on your PPC first. You can dump it anywhere, but it makes it easier to spring clean / trouble shoot an issue if each application has its own distinct directory.

If the file you have is a normal PC EXE file, then when you run it, the program will actually copy and run the CAB file it contains for you automatically, the next time you sync your PPC.

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May 07 2007

Couple of finds today…

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 8:38 pm

First off, I found the source for some HID files. If you don’t have a Sony Ericsson phone, you can safely ignore this. You’ll need a bluetooth adapter for your PC as well. I’ve had an old WinAmp controller on my secondary mobile (SE T610), so it can act like a remote control for the PC. This way, if we’re having a meal in the kitchen, with some tunes on, I don’t have to run back and forth to alter the volume or skip a track. Anyway, they have a forum or feel free to ask me a question if you need guidance. The site is here.

Secondly, some software (BeatHarness) for any potential VJs (Video Jockey) out there. The system seems really quite configurable, and can accept live video feeds as well as pre-recorded videos & JPGs. If you’ve ever seen WinAmp or Media Player visualizations, you’ll get the basic concept. The site is here.

This post isn’t sponsored & wasn’t requested by anyone, I just thought others might find the software useful.

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Apr 24 2007

System Specifications

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 4:14 pm

When describing technical issues, I’m often called upon to supply the specifications of my IT equipment.
This post has been put together so I can easily refer people to the pertinent information…

System Specifications – PC

Intel D945 PVS Motherboard with 10/01/07 BIOS
Intel P4 660 3.6 GHz CPU
2 Gb RAM (2 X 1Gb 667MHz DDR2)
Asus 7900GT – PCIe x16 256Mb Grfx card – on Forceware 97.73
BenQ FP91V 19″ , Subini S-6811T 8″ & Sony KDL 40W2000 40″

NoName 550 Watt Twin Fan PSU
APC ES 525 Uninterruptable Power Supply – battery knackered
other UPS must update details here
Innovision EIO AP1680 PCI ATA133 RAID Controller (ITE IT8211 based)
Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS 320Gb 7200rpm 16Mb Cache SATAII
Seagate Barracuda ST3160023A 160Gb 7200 rpm 8Mb Cache PATA-100
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus8 40 Gb PATA-133
Buffalo External 80Gb PATA/USB
WD External 250Gb PATA/USB
2 x Lite-On SHW-16H5S DVD-RR
EIO USB2 & Firewire PCI card

NetGear router – UPDATE
SafeCom IC+ 56K Ext. Modem (SEMT-5600)
TDK Bluetooth v1.2 Adapter (TRBLU03)

Logitech USB Cordless Trackman Trackball
Genius Keyboard – KKB-2050HS
XFX Executioner Dual Impact USB Gamepad (PSX-like force feedback controller)
Logitech Formula Force GP Force Feedback Steering Wheel & Pedals

Sony Ericssion K700i (used as a Bluetooth Remote Control/Phone for UK SIM card)
PC Line PC-100 TV Card – TV tuner/RCA/S-Video/InfraRed input (Based on Phillips 7134 chipset)
Genius VideoCAM Look WebCam
Canon DC080W (3Mp Digital Camera)
Microsoft Fingerprint Reader (Model 1033)
HP 1513 MFD
Various USB Thumbdrives

Redundant Spares
SafeCom SWAMR-54108 ADSL Modem/Router/AP – Now with Mother-in-law
D-Link 604T ADSL Modem/Router/AP – Now with Mum
Origo ASU-8000 USB ADSL modem
D-Link DWL-G122 USB2 Wi-Fi 802.11g Dongle
D-Link DGE-528T 1GBps PCI LAN Card
SafeCom USB 11Mbps WLAN Dongle – Now with brother
Nisis DV Cam 2 (Rev.1) – Photo, Video & Webcam

Software & Services Used :
Win XP Pro SP2 – All updates applied
No-Ip (Dynamic IP pointing)

System Specifications – PDA/PPC

iPaq 2210
240×320 Display
Intel PXA255 CPU
64Mb RAM
OS – Windows 2003 Mobile Edition (WinCE 4.20)
1Gb SD Card
11Mbps CF Wireless Card
GPS – 16 Sat
Broken D-Pad – 4 hardware buttons re-assigned to navigational duties

System Specifications – SmartPhone

Orange SPV C550 (HTC Hurricane rebadged by Orange UK)
OS – Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphones (2nd Edition)
GSM & GPRS, triband 900/1800/1900 MHz
2.2 inch screen 240×320 pixels TFT transflective LCD, 64k colours
Camera 1.3 Mp
TI OMAP 750 Processor
64Mb ROM, 32Mb RAM
2 Gb Mini-SD Card
GPS – 16 Satellite
TomTom Mobile5, Battery Monitor, CellTrack, TCPMP, SmartVNC, GPRS Traffic Monitor, Smurf, Doom, GNUBoy, PicoDrive, NES Emulator, Worms World Party

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Sep 24 2006

Jumping On A Bandwagon

Category: Friends,In The Media,Kazakhstan,Personal,WeatherChrisM @ 3:17 am

Found this article today on Richard Hammond and Top Gear, obviously inspired by the aformentioned’s crash. Couldn’t stand the guy’s attitude to be honest, but have a read and see what you think.

Also checked, and this site is now back down to #2 on Google, when searching for Chris Merriman. Not sure what went wrong, I’ve not lost any links to this site, I guess I’ll just have to live with the shame somehow ;>

I now have a Kazakh SIM card for my phone, msg me if you need the #. Got GPRS working for both of our phones, and can use them as bluetooth modems for the PC, which should keep me happy, and Irina happy, at least on my behalf…

Couple of days, and ChrisD will be over here; the weather has actually improved a little, but I’ve not told him yet, want to make sure he actually buys a coat (his first in over a decade!) and packs some warm clothes. I thought about not posting the weather info yet, but then remembered that he never reads this bloody thing anyway, so think we’re safe. Also Ira said the forecast is for the weather to get chilly again next week. Just hope the sunshine lasts long enough for him to experience it.

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