It's All In The Mind

Musings of an active mind

Building a reverse NAS (RNAS)

Posted by activemind on April 17, 2008

What the hell is this? Hold on let me explain and then maybe you can help me find a better term…or maybe something like this already exists and I just don’t know about it.
So what is a NAS (Network Attached Storage). It is a small device (like NSLU) or a enclosure (like Airlink ANAS 250) where it has a ethernet port and a USB port. You take a USB hardisk and plug it into the USB port. You take a ethernet cable and plug it into you router and Voila. Now you have a hard disk that can be accessed on your network.
So the basic philosophy is that the USB port expects a hard disk and the clients come from the ethernet side.

Well what I am looking for is something reverse of this.

Meaning, I want the USB port to “appear” as a hard disk and the ethernet port to provide the storage. So that I can plug the USB port into any device needing a USB hard disk and it will use my network storage as the storage.

Still doesn’t make sense.

Okay, let me give you an example. Take the case of a DVR/Tivo. So a DVR/Tivo records on a hard disk and some of the newer models allow you to use a external USB harddisk. But now if you want to view the recorded content on your PC you have to unplug the hard disk and plug it into your PC. Or if you have a networked home viewing system with a central server (one of these days I will write a post about my networked home video system…one of these days 🙂 then its a pain because the content is on the hard disk in the other room but you want to watch it in this room….so either you get off your ass, unplug the hard disk, move the content to central server and then watch it, or you just watch something else. Most of the time it ends up being number 2 (at least in my case). But the problem arises when your kid wants to watch something you recorded and you want to watch something that coming live…guess what…you end up recording your live stuff and the kid gets to watch his recorded stuff. Now watching a recorded game when you already know the result is not too much fun…..

So now, if I have a device or enclosure or something that has a USB and a ethernet port, I can plug the USB into the DVR/Tivo. The device would make itself appear like a hard disk to the DVR/Tivo and use the ethernet to access the central sever for all its storage needs. Like a reverse of NAS. Meaning the storage is on ethernet port and USB port on the device appears like a hard disk.
Before embarking down road, I thought that there MUST be SOME device already out there that does jsut this. So I looked and one option came pretty close…but not that close. Airlink 101 has a hard disk enclosure which has ethernet and USB ports. So all good. You record via USB and access via ethernet from anywhere. Not that simple. It turns OFF The USB port as soon as you plug in the ethernet cable. I know it sucks!! All the required interfaces present, just some stupid firmware programmer decided he would not allow both the ports to be accessed at the same time because the company could save 10c by not putting the bus arbritation logic. Not trying to get too technical…but anyways…

So I think I have THE DEVICE in mind that I think can do this. Yes, same old NSLU.(on a sidenote, NSLU is one of the few gadgets where if you search for it, no where does the company’s name show up in the first couple of hits. Its a VERY popular device in the linux community but somehow Cisco does not seem to be too fond of this Linksys device after the buyout) It has all the needed ports and can run opensource Debian linux on it. Now I need to find the right s/w and packages to do this but I think its doable.

What da ya thunk?

Posted in Gadgets, Tech | 11 Comments »

The New Nokia E90

Posted by activemind on April 10, 2008

I have had my Nokia Communicatior 9500 for close to 3 years now and I have been itching to get a new phone. I like the Apple Iphone. The only reason I ain’t buying it, it is Apple. I don’t like the company for various reasons and I don’t like the Iphone because
a) The phone is locked to a SIM card. Unless you hack it using jailbreak or other methods, you cannot use it with your existing SIM and yeah I have one of those historic ATT Blue Sims.
b) There is no 3g support neither a SIP client support. So you can use the WiFi in the phone just for surfing the web and yeah YouTube and yeah Flickr etc etc etc (for all the purist and fanboys out there). But you cannot do anything delay sensitive because the latency is too much.
c) You cannot just buy and replace the battery yourself. You have to send the phone in along with an arm and a leg and then they will change the battery for you.
d) There is no upgradeable memory. With the cost of CF and SD/MMC cards so low, it nice to have a couple of these and swap them as needed or maybe upgrade to a bigger one. With Iphone I am stuck with 4G or 8G version unless I decide to fork off another ungodly amount of money and use the existing one as a paper weight.
I am sorry but I can do all this with my 9500 and can do it pretty well. I don’t need a new phone for that. Now if you open up the SDK and throw in 3G (US version…I will get to that) and a SIP client. Now we are talking.
Anyways, I have had my eye on the next gen communicator for quite sometime now. Even though they have abandoned the S80 platform and moved to S60, I think its still livable. With all the new features like GPS, a MUCH improved camera with autofocus and LED flash, and ta-da a SIP client which works!! It does have 3G but from most of the stuff that I have read around the web, it does not seem to have the US 3G (something like they have different frequencies for different parts of the world much like GSM) and Nokia decided to foucs on EU and provide the 3G frequencies for EU (UMTS 2100) but not for US. Bummer!! So no 3G. Which means voice calls to over EDGE (I have Cingular/ATT or whatever that thing is called now) through my Asterisk server. Ain’t gonna work!!
So if anyone of you out there who have a E90 and Cingular/ATT and have 3G working, please correct me else my hunt continues.
There have been some news about Apple opening up the SDK (my bad!! SDK is already available) so that people can write apps for Iphone but I am yet to see a SIP client for it. Besides who am I kidding, its an Apple, I am never going to buy it.
I am also looking at HTC Touch Cruise. Looks good. Though a bit small than what I would like my phone to be. I have been spoiled by the big screen on the 9500 for my usage. Sorry, I don’t belong to the crowd where my phone has to be so small that I can talk my numbers to it and all the other mini-crap. The phone according to me has a minimum size and I wont go below that. And yeah, the 9500 (a.k.a the brick) is NOT a huge phone for me. Keeping in mind the number of personalities it has, its my phone duh! its my calender, its my alarm clock, its my “quick lookup the net” device, its my mp3 player, its my contact center, its my portable book reader, its my ‘on the go’ document reader, its my calculator…I could go on and on…but you get the message.
So yeah, if anyone of you know about E90 3g working on Cingular/ATT please let me know or you own a HTC touch cruise, drop me a comment about goods and bads of the phone and better if you have used a 9500, then how do the two compare.
So long!!

Posted in Cellular, Gadgets, VOIP | 4 Comments »

True Global Calling

Posted by activemind on December 11, 2006

For those of you who know me personally, know it very well that I am big on voip. Not just because I am a geek and its a cool thing. I feel that voip is the next thing that will change the way we communicate. I still remember the time when we had to pay by the min for long distance calls here in the country and no I am not talking ages back….I am talking 4-5 years back. Now, 99% of the cellphone plans come with unlimited long distance. I think that day is not very far off when you would be able to pick up your phone and dial any where on the this earth and talk for as long as you want…all on one flat rate, no by the min payments. Infact you can do it today by using clients like Y! messenger or Skype but not using your cellphone or POTS. There are a couple of VOIP providers which have a world unlimited plan but thats limited to a couple of EU countries and a couple of Asia-Pac countries. But thats not what I am talking about. I am talking about ANYWHERE. It has taken us 5 yrs to reach this mark that you can call anywhere in the country now or if you have a VOIP phone then you can call *some* countries unlimited, lets see how long it takes us to achieve the next milestone.
Oh yeah!! As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I did go ahead and set up a full fledged Asterisk PBX. Its up and running now and fully functional. I will write more about it in a later post.
So long….

Posted in VOIP | Leave a Comment »

Long time in blog land!!

Posted by activemind on December 11, 2006

Its been ages since I put up my last post….I will have to lookup the date when I last posted. Well life goes on as usual and yeah for all of you asking for the Cingular Extension I was working on..,,,I dont think it is coming. I have just kind of lost interest in it. I dont think there are too many people who want it plus I dont think I am motivated to finish it up. If any of you wants the code, please drop me a email and I will be more than happy to pass it on….it partly work but needs some tweaks here and there!!!
So there….after dragging my feet for so long….I said it 🙂

Posted in Firefox | 2 Comments »

Long time no see!!!

Posted by activemind on October 18, 2006

Have been busy with life  🙂

Here is a nice read for those of you who enjoyed my pervious article on marriage humor.

Enjoy and laugh away….believe me it is FUNNY!! and yeah if you are married or living with your giirlfriend don’t be surprised if you find yourslef relating to a couple of these….

Posted in Marriage Humor | Leave a Comment »

Upload location for Extension

Posted by activemind on August 10, 2006

I am looking for some ideas about where can I upload the extension. I dont have any webspace but I am pretty sure there are some free sites out there that would provide some space for something like this.
Leave me a comment or email me about any suggestions!!

Posted in Firefox | 7 Comments »

Cingular Extension

Posted by activemind on August 10, 2006

One of the users dropped me a email today about an update that had happened to the Cingular Site. Now the phone number is no longer 3 seperate fields but instead it is back to 1 field which is what my extension expects. I will test it out tonite to see if it works as is else it should not need a whole lot of changes.

Posted in Firefox | Leave a Comment »

VOIP Device Journey

Posted by activemind on May 18, 2006

I have been thinking about all the VOIP device or so called ATAs that I have used and wanted to write something about them. Well, as I mentioned earlier here, the first ATA I was introduced to was the Cisco ATA 186. I got it from Vonage and it was locked to their service at that time. When I canceled with them, they were offering that if you pay $15 they will give you the unlock code for it (don’t hold me to it because I dont think they do it anymore), so anyways, I paid them 15 bucks and they mailed me the unlock code and the instructions. This is where the real fun began. I played around with various settings and also upgraded the firmware for this to a new image (dont ask me more details about it….I wont give any more details). I configured my ATA with various services out there and learnt a lot about SIP at that time when debugging my setup. All in all, ATA 186 was (mind you was) fun. The reason I say was because it is a no frill device. Limited (but not straight forward) programming. No doubt it was the leader in the pack at that time but if we look at it now, it seems to be pretty basic.
By that time Grandstream had introduced and array of devices and I actually like this company. Not because I have some vested interest but because they make cheap, to the point devices. I have worked with BT 101, BT 102, HT 488, devices from this company and I would say they do what they are supposed to do. I used to buy them from Voxilla but recently I noticed that they have now become a Cisco house now. They sell pretty much everything Linksys only…that sucks!!
Anyways,  I would recommend looking into BT 102 if you are looking for a cheap VOIP Phone which just works. The GUI is pretty starightforward and the thing just works….not that expensive so that you can really justify the savings. The look and feel is the same as that of a regular phone so this is a very good option for people planning to send devices overseas. I prefer BT 102  to BT 101 because of the extra PC port it has. That way if you dont have a mini-server room in your house and just have  PC connected to the net, you dont have to buy a router. Just put the phone between the PC and the DSL modem and you are all set to go. This is what I currently use.
Another option is HT 488, this is good for someone who is slightly more ambitious in terms of not only being able to call overseas but also get a local dialtone to dial out. Again the GUI is pretty much the same as BT 102, add a couple of features. I use this device every once in a while but soon I realised that I wasnt making that many calls to outside world and was actually tieing up a phone line overseas. So I dropped it and swicthed back to BT 102. Another cool thing about HT 488 is that the dialtone thing in not just one way. It also means that you can have someone overseas call the local phone number attached to the 488 and have it transparently ring your VOIP phone here. Actually you can hard program it to forward  the calls to one fixed number all the time or again get the dialtone and dial any US number you want for a local call. I did not see much point of dialtone in the other directions so I just programmed it to call my cell phone everytime. Its a pretty cool setup for anyone who needs it. You give out you overseas local number to peple there and they can talk to you for the cost of a local call or in turn you get the local overseas dialtone and you can talk to them for a local call too. A tonne of saving there.
The next is my favourite and I think THE most powerful ATA out there….(enter the dragon music) Sipura 3000. It has so many options and parameters that it does take some time actually learn and understand this thing. I can probably write a whole new article on things you can do with this device but I would rather just give out some reference and leave the rest to your wild imagination.
Read here for all the neat tips and tricks or make it speak the caller Id. Thats why I said you can go wild with this thing 🙂
I do have a couple of other things to write about (what I use now) like Asterisk but thats another post.
So whatdaya think?

Posted in VOIP | Leave a Comment »

Nokia 9500 Fax and Cingular

Posted by activemind on May 17, 2006

I have been thinking of enabling the fax service on my 9500 on Cingular network. I have read over the internet but could not find a whole lot of info. There were a couple of topics about 9500 Fax over T-mobile but no one talked about Cingular.
Although, I dont have any real use for fax service but the geek in me wants to test it for the

coolness of it (I AM creative at times with sentences). Let me call up Cingular and see if it makes any sense to them or they redirect me to Nokia but I am guessing that they should have some info or should know what I am talking about because they sport the 9300 on their website now.
Will update on how goes it!!

Posted in Cellular | Leave a Comment »

MapCruncher : This is the next step in online mapping

Posted by activemind on May 17, 2006

Though I haven’t read the whole article in detail but this does sound like something promising.
MapCruncher: Interactive Web Maps Come to Life: MapCruncher – a prototype technology from Microsoft Research that makes it easy for users to create their own, personalized mash-ups – may revolutionize the way people use online maps.

Posted in Browsing | Leave a Comment »