Wanted: Designer or Framework?

imageBefore anyone says anything – yes – I am not a designer / WP expert in the slightest sense. I design infrastructure, put up servers and architect solutions for a living – I don’t make them look nice. Hence the reason this blog currently has a default theme and no framework or cool thingies / widgets down the side.

I need to invest in creating a better online presence for “Regular IT Guy” but at this point I am more focused on useful and relevant content. Imagine that? Smile Get the story right, then work on execution.

If you have suggestions on what to do / what frameworks to use or if you would like to partner with me to make this a better place – I’d love to talk with ya. Drop me a note in the comments or send me an email rick@regularitguy.com

How to re-broadcast a public WiFi network

I was catching up with Joey the @AccordionGuy earlier today – chatting over coffee. He used to work on the same team as me at Microsoft before heading out on his next adventure. His current gig has him living in a luxury furnished bachelor pad here in Ottawa with all the amenities – including Big Screen TV, stereo, private coffee bar and free High-speed internet.

Seriously – what more could you ask for?

imageHow about a better internet service – one with a WIRED connection? You see – his internet is provided by a common travelers ISP who shall remain nameless (starts with Data, ends with Valet).  It’s the type of service where you login and you are allowed to use ONE IP at a time. That’s a bit stingy and old school in a world where we all carry multiple WiFi connected devices (iPad, Slates, Tablets, Xbox 360s, smartphones, laptops, desktops).  Remember – I did say that he is living here away from his home base for the summer – he’s got lots of requirements for connectivity – AND NO WIRED INTERNET CONNECTION. Normally this would be an easy fix – buy a travel router and plug in – done deal. I remembered that I used to have a hardware travel router that could re-broadcast one WiFi network as your own and therefore share it with multiple devices. Unfortunately as with some things that I touch – this travel router died for some reason and I was left scratching my head for options.

CTR350Part of my Traveling kit of technology I use for my day job while presenting on the road is a Cradlepoint CTR350 travel broadband router. It has the ability to very simply plug in to a wired connection and act as an Access Point for wireless devices. Very simple – but requires either a wired connection OR a USB DataStick activated with Bell or Rogers in order to have an internet source. It doesn’t have the re-broadcast capabilities I am looking for in this situation. Plus – I wasn’t about to leave it in Joey’s hands for the summer – you never know what kind of surfing he’d be doing.

Wireless N Portable Router (CTR35)                                             A little further research and I discovered that the current product line is called the Cradlepoint CTR35 and has the feature I am looking for – WiFi as WAN. This simply allows you to re-broadcast a visible secure or unsecured WiFi network with your own SSID and settings – for up to 16 wireless clients. I won’t bore you with the details – but here’s the step by step process on how to enable it on their CTR35 device (remind me to go pick one up, would you?).  There – one problem solved – Joey just needs to find one and he’s off to the races.

If you are a road warrior – invest some cash and get something like this – especially the updated CTR35 with this re-broadcasting capability – it will pay off in spades. I use my older one with USB stick to offer up Internet connectivity at locations where public WiFi isn’t available and I want to give access to friends around me.

But what if I don’t have one?

imageDigging further still – there is some free software that builds upon the little known WiFi Access Point hotspot mode of Windows 7. I found out about this from @Oising at TechDays Montreal back in November of 2010. You can take a Wired internet connection and broadcast it out over your supported Wireless card – provided it’s running a supported set of drivers. I mention it Builds upon the solution since it ALSO adds the ability to re-broadcast a public WiFi network.  The software called “Connectify” – it’s FREE (ad supported) and is available from http://connectify.me/

After downloading it from the webpage (links to download.com) and running the install – it does recommend you install a specialized browser for Facebook (they make something like that?) which I quickly declined. I authorized it to install a couple of connectify network drivers (required for the magic of simplifying the re-broadcasting) and then launched the program. It runs minimized in your system tray and has an easy to use non-technical Wizard interface to set things up for you.

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I don’t quite get the dude with the roman outfit – but whatever turns your crank I guess.

Remember the part where I mentioned “supported drivers”. Well – it turns out that my sample laptop (Dell Latitude XT2 tablet) I was setting this up on does not have a supported wireless card that would support turning my laptop into a Wireless Access Point – only an Ad-Hoc network which doesn’t cut the mustard.

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Bummer. To save yourself some time – here is their list of supported cards / wireless chipsets.

All that being said – their interface – once you are past the wizard to do the initial configuration seems simple enough – you bring it up from the task bar icon.

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Stuck like me with a laptop that isn’t supported and still want to use it? If you read through to the bottom of their list of supported and unsupported cards – you’ll notice one USB wireless adapter that is supported – Intellinet Wireless-N USB Adapter. You can pick one of these up and be on your way.

A quick check of the other laptops and netbooks across the house revealed that I’m S.O.L. I can’t actually test this puppy out! Looking at the techspecs of Joey’s Dell laptop – he has a 75% chance it will work (he has 4 options of wireless cards – three are on the good list).

This blog post ends with a “to be continued” until I can find hardware in my crib that actually is supported – or if I hear back from any of you about your personal experiences. Please do tell – did it work for you?

What about you Joey? any luck or are you going the Cradlepoint hardware route?

Swapping out the php.ini file for uploads

Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment. My other online buddy @rbuike – who also dabbles in WordPress on occasion has suggested I check out some php.ini file modifications. I updated the file based on this link he sent over from the support forums:

memory_limit = 100M
upload_max_filesize = 192M
post_max_size = 100M
file_uploads = On

As a result – I do now see a changed admin interface for media uploads – which should solve some issues I have with podcast episodes being too large to upload… but does it fix any of the whacked out picture issues from LiveWriter?

SNC00086

This is a picture I took while flying back from Newfoundland – it’s actually 1600×1200 and I changed it to 640 x 480 within LiveWriter to see if it helps. Previous attempts failed at this point – let’s hit publish to see how she works.

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Nope – try… try again…

Windows Live Writer and WordPress Image Uploads

imageOk – not exactly the first post I wanted to put up – but I’ve spent the better part of an evening with @energizedTech helping me figure out why I have been unable to easily upload blog posts with images imbedded in them written by LiveWriter. I was leaving the default options of using the RPC connectivity to upload the files correctly into the Media library on the WP blog – nothing was working if the image pixels were over 300 x whatever – it just failed!

Web interface was no help either – I’d go into media libraries, manually upload a larger file (600 x 399 as an example) and it would error out on me after uploading with a simple red HTTP Error – seeming to fail.  But – with a refresh of the library contents – low and behold – the file would be there! To include it into a post – it would be a manual edit/add into a post to include the picture from the media library and finally – the thing would be done.

not exactly your easiest fix to get this working. Kinda stupid really. Got any ideas – I am all ears!

My work around for now? Using the FTP upload option properly configured to my particular hosting provider (1 and 1) and blog location.

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Rockin’ it old school – just for some screenshots and simple image uploads! Thanks LiveWriter for having some flexibility on image storage options.