ASUS EeePC 900 2 GB memory upgrade

The ASUS EeePC 900 is a dear friend of mine and has served me truly for a number of years. It is not my primary work horse, but on trips it is excellent with it’s small size and low weight (even on a 14 day trip I always travel with hand luggage only). It is also a comfort when travelling to know that I am not carrying an expensive piece of equipement. This little fellow has been my travel companion to many different countries – near and far away. So I really don’t want to retire it and recently I decided to "pimp it" a little. When running a couple of applications it quickly consumes the 1 GB of RAM, so a little bit more wouldn’t hurt.

It ships with 1 GB of RAM installed and it is possible to upgrade it to 2 GB. It is actually a question of replacement rather than expansion due to the fact that there are no free memory slots. The upgrade is performed by replacing the 1 GB SODIMM with a 2 GB SODIMM.  

For specifications of the ASUS Eee PC 900, see this wikipedia page.

The memory module needed is a DDR2-400 SODIMM but 533 and 667 MHz will also work. I used a Crucial 2GB DDR2 PC-5300 667 MHz CL5 SODIMM. Note that memory modules are sensitive to static discharge. Preferrably you should at least have a grounding wrist wrap or even better if you have access to an ESD secure work place. In reality most of us will just rely on the kitchen table and being careful not to touch any connectors or metal parts of the memory module. That will also work in most cases 🙂 

  1. Unplug the power cord and remove the battery. 
  2. The memory module is hidden behind a hatch on the bottom of the PC. The hatch is secured with two screws, one hidden behind a EeePC label (possibly acting as a warranty void seal). Remove the two screws and the hatch. 
  3. Remove the preinstalled 1 GB SODIMM by pulling locking plates on the sides a bit apart until they release the module.
  4. Insert the new 2 GB SODIMM and make sure it locks by pushing it gently down until the locking plates clicks into position.

  5. Reinstall the latch and the two screws.
  6. Install battery and connect power cord.
  7. Say your prayers, press the power button and hopefully your EeePC boots up so you can enjoy your brand new 2 GB of RAM!

 

Mobile internet broadband in Latvia

When I travel abroad I need to stay connected to the Internet, not just for fun but I have to be connected for my work. Relying only on Wifi is not a solution as I recently discovered the hard way on a trip to France. The Hotel advertised "WiFi internet" but this however, turned out to be a connection limited to only web and mail (all traffic forced through a proxy). I needed VPN to work.

The most convenient and cost effective solution is to purchase a prepaid mobile broadband from a local provider. That way I will have 3G Internet connection during my stay.

To not be forced to buy a USB modem with every prepaid mobile Internet, I purchased a Huawei E585 3G/WiFi pocket router which is not SIM locked (works with any provider). This little thing has a battery that last for a couple of hours and I only need to buy prepaid SIM-cards in the countries I visit.

I went on a trip to Latvia and my choice fell on Okarte Internet via computer. They are covering 92% of Latvia for the moment.

There are two choises – a SIM card bundled with a USB modem for Ls 9 or just the SIM card for Ls 4. It includes one week of surf (up to 50 GB) and can then be refilled. According to Okarte’s website it could be purchased on many sales points, for example Narvesen or Plus Punkt kiosks.

The first store I stopped by could only sell refills. The second store didn’t have the SIM card only so I actually bought the package with a USB modem for Ls 9, figuring Ls 5 was a cheap price for not having to run around more stores. The modem was never used, instead I put the SIM card in my pocket router.

Even though Okarte’s website is in Latvian, Russian and English nothing in the package speaks any English, only Latvian and Russian which is of little help for me.

The major problem I encountered was that there was no technical information in the package, especially regarding APN which is crucial. I looked at my network manager in Ubuntu which actually has preconfigured choises for Okarte and found out that the APN is open.lmt.lv.

With this APN set I could surf away from my resort location in Jurmala enjoying download speed at around 4-7 Mbps and upload 0,45-1 Mbps.

 

Dovado routers with ZTE MF820D 4G modems (Telia)

To be able to use the ZTE MF820D 4G dongle from Telia with Dovado routers, both units need to have updated firmwares. Unfortunately even in stores, those units seems to have outdated firmwares.

To upgrade the ZTE MF820D 4G dongle – follow this guide (Telia Sweden): http://www.telia.se/

To upgrade the Dovado router, visit Dovado’s homepage: http://www.dovado.com/firmware and follow the instructions in the firmware file.

 

A nerd’s survival kit – extra power for your smartphone

PowerPackThe arrival of the smartphone (iPhone, Android) etc is a blessing for the true nerd who now can be constantly online and up to date with important things (aka the Internet). On a professional level it is a way of giving good service to your customers be being able to quick reply to emails etc.

The problem with the smartphones are battery capacity. With a couple of apps running and checking things now and then you can easily be drained in 2-3 hours. For an upcoming trip abroad I started to investigate solutions. I looked at solar cell chargers which turned out to be quite big in order to supply sufficient current. They also have built in batteries. Since I will not be hiking in the himalayas I figured the thing I really needed was extra battery capacity. I will after all stay in hotels where there is possibility to recharge over night.

PowerPackMy choice fell on a 5 Ah PowerPack from Kjell.com. One thing to investigate thoroughly before choosing the pack is that it can deliver enough current to charge the smartphone. It will require at least 1 A and there are power packs on the market with lower current ratings supposed to be used only with MP3 players and similar. If you want to do this stunt with an iPad you need even more current (2 A).

First I tried to use up my phones battery and then hook it up to the powerpack to recharge it. This wasn’t a good idea since a dried out smartphone will consume too much current which the powerpack can’t deliver. So instead, already in the morning when leaving my hotel, I hooked the smartphone up to the powerpack and run it on both the internal battery and the powerpack. This way my power lasted for the entire day.

When abroad I don’t have data roaming (otherwise the charges would be sky high). There is a little smart Android app called WeFi. It runs in the background and scans for open hotspots and connects to any it finds, no matter if it has an SSID that is not already known by your device. Once hooked up it verifies if it has Internet connection and plays a little sound. Then your phone pulls down new emails etc. Just walking by for example a McDonalds and you’re all up-to-date again 🙂

Compaq HP 6910p with builtin 3G/GSM modem and Windows 7

A while ago I decided to start fresh with my HP Compaq 6910p laptop so I installed a new harddisk and Windows 7. My 6910p has an internal 3G/GSM modem (HS2300). When visiting the HP Support & Drivers page for the 6910p and Windows 7 I discovered there are no drivers or software for this 3G modem under Windows 7.

However, it turns out that both the driver and the connection manager for Vista works in Windows 7.

Download and install:

  1. HP WWAN Broadband Wireless drivers
  2. HP WWAN Connection Manager
  3. HP Broadband Wireless Client for Vodafone (or if there is one for your provider, pick that one instead)

If your 3G/GSM provider is Vodafone you’re done now. In my case I use the Swedish provider Tre (3). To use the Vodafone Connection Manager with another provider you must find out your providers APN and what number to dial (normally *99#). For Tre in Sweden the APN is "bredband.tre.se".

To use the connection manager with another provider just edit the connection profile that was installed by default and change (if necessary) the number to dial and the APN. To use Tre in Sweden the profile should look like this:

 

 

Pimping the laptop with a Solid State Drive

Intel Solid State diskSome week ago my laptop complained while trying to save a file that there was some error writing to the disk. I had two choices – wait until the harddisk breaks, preferably when I am overloaded with work and a deadline is coming up (that is a law of nature). Or I could buy a new disk now and replace it before disaster happens. I choose the not so adventurous way and decided to do something about it now.

I’ve been glancing at the dropping prices of Solid State Drives as they are faster than mechanical and probably lasts longer. My choice fell on the Intel X25-M 2,5″ 80 GB SSD SATA/300 MLC 34 NM from the swedish supplier called Dustin. I must mention the super quick delivery Dustin (in assistance by the swedish post) had. I ordered the device late tuesday night in their web shop. Wednesday morning around 10 i got the delivery note by mail. At 13.00 the very same the delivery guy rang my doorbell. That is impressive!

The installation was easy. Just unscrew the drive bay, uninstall the old harddisk and replace it with the SSD. Be sure not to touch the connectors of the SSD disk as it is sensetive to electric discharge. I partitioned the disk with dualboot running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS in one and Windows 7 in the other. Boot time is impressive as you can see in the videos. My laptop has a new life!

Canon Powershot G9 user friendly translation for disabling sound

Canon Powershot G9 sound offThis translation train wreck has somehow slipped through Canon quality check. The menu is in Swedish and controls sound effects of the camera. Instead of just writing Sound (“Ljud” in Swedish) with the selection On or Off the translator wrote “Ljud av” which backtranslates to “Sound off”. In order to disable the sound you should set “Sound off” to on. Why make it easy? 🙂

FON 2.0n router sharing 3G over Wifi

When you’re travelling as a professional nerd, you regularly needs to access the Internet. Internet cafés can be expensive and 3G… don’t think about using it abroad. It ususally costs a fortune.

I joined the FON network where you share your broadband connection at home to other FON-users and in return you are able to use the 1.5 million (and growing) FON hotsposts around the world for free.

In 2009 FON launched a new router, the FON 2.0n. It is packed with features (to read more about it, see FONs website), but most important is the USB port where it is possible to attach a 3G device. This enables you to share your 3G internet connection over the FON 2.0n wifi router. I usually bring this router on trips where I need to share my 3G internet connection to several computers over Wifi.

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Vivotek PT7137 network camera connection problems

Vivotek PT7137I use the Vivotek PT7137 network camera connected through wifi/wlan to my network. Even though it is located only 7 meters from my accesspoint (with a couple of walls in between) the camera lost connection once in a while. And it wouldn’t reconnect unless I rebooted the camera. Upgrading to the latest firmware (v2.6 2009-04-14) didn’t improve either.

At the time my accesspoint was a DLINK DI-624+ broadband router and before I had time to dig into the problem any further, the DLINK passed away permanently and I got myself a Linksys WRT54GL which I pimped with Tomato. Now I had much better control over the wireless environment. I could boost the output on my Linksys to 80 mW (from the original 42) and the wireless survey helped me select a good channel with as little interference with my neighbours as possible. This helped a bit – the loss of connection occured more seldom. But they did still occur.

External WLAN antennaFinally I bought a small external antenna for the Vivotek in my local computer store. It has a 5 dB gain and a magnetic mount so I could move it around without moving the camera. This finally solved my problems and my camera haven’t lost it’s connection in months.

I still haven’t found the reason to the loss of connection. 7 meters should be no problem in a wifi/wlan environment. All other gadgets I connect through the same wireless network works without any problems. Possibly my Vivoteks wireless is broken or something in Vivoteks implementation makes it really sensetive to interference? I don’t know and honestly, I will not spend more time on it unless it causes me a problem again.