It's All In The Mind

Musings of an active mind

Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

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?

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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 »

Cellphones and radiation

Posted by activemind on February 10, 2006

We are a heavy user of cellphone in our family…Infact we dont use and pick up our landline and the Voip line anymore…they are just for telemarketers to leave us voicemails….I even have ringing disabled on one of our lines….Its cellphone all the way for both of us. Being as gadget oriented as I am, I started using bluetooth headsets back in 2001 when they had just come out. I still remember the first time I heard the word bluetooth, it was actually back in 1998 when a friend of mine was doing a project for Motorola and he mentioned that he was working on Bluetooth..and I was like…what the hell is this….thats when I read more about it and realised that this WAS something interesting and had some potential. But was surprised me was that there were no products available till like 2000 & 2001. I still remember talking to Techs here at local BestBuy and Circuit City about Bluetooth headsets and they were like what the hell is that ? So it was Frys that first got them and even though the techs there also did not know or understand bluetooth at that time…I was browsing the aisle and I saw it sitting there. It was the first time I saw a bluetooth product and HAD to get it. So anyways I got myself a bluetooth headset and my phone at that time was a SE T68i which was one of the first ones to offer a affordable color screen at that time. It was cool but somehow at the back of my mind I was not very happy about the fact that I have a transmitter (even for a very low watt one) right next to my head (brain)…..I still remember getting slight headaches after having a long conversation on my T28 World (which I still have and love but I wish it just had lesser radiation). Well now I have a Nokia 9500 and even though I have bluetooth headset and it has much less radiation (not from the specs but just from experience that I dont get those headaches after a long conversation) I have started using the good old wired headset. Actually I use a slightly different one that what the normal nokia headset but use a stereo version of it so that I can use it for listening to my songs, podcasts and ebooks and also use it as my handsfree device. It works out quite nicely that I can answer calls even when I am listening to whatever I am and then hangup and my audio continues from where I left it. It just feel weird talking to someone in stereo for sometime but then you get used to it. But I have to remember to take off one of the buds while driving 😀
Does anyone else have any concerns about cellphone radiations and bluetooth headset (which are dirt cheap now and I see literally EVERYONE getting one thesedays esp in the valley here) or I am just being paranoid about it??

Posted in Cellular, Gadgets | 3 Comments »

Converting Cassettes to CDs

Posted by activemind on February 9, 2006

I am in the process of converting all my cassette collection to CDs as I dont have any cassette player left except a old sony walkman which I am using for this process. After lurking around a lot of audio forums and experimenting with a couple of softwares I settled on Audacity which I think is doing a fine job.  I had to experiment a lot with various settings for my mic and gain in Audacity beofre I could find a combination which I liked. Well I am not too happy with the quality but I am not sure if I can blame it on my player, or the cassettes which are old or my setup. Well my collection is also pretty old with some cassettes being from the 70’s (no I am not that old…they were recorded in 70’s but I bought them in 90’s) and the quality must have also weared over time.
Well, the goal of this process is to convert all my cassettes into soft Audio CDs which I can mount using daemon tools and play with my favourite player or transfer them to my Nokia 9500 and listen to them. Its a slow process but I am hoping it would be worth it. I have over 200 cassettes which I need to convert and am done with only a couple of them till now….one a day…lets see when I am done with them 😛

Posted in Gadgets, Tech | 2 Comments »

Nokia 9500 and SIP

Posted by activemind on February 9, 2006

I have been endlessly looking for a SIP client for my Nokia 9500 so that I can use my VoIP connection at any hotspots and not use my cellular mins.I just dont understand WHY are there NO client available. I can find a lot for Pocket PC but there seems to be no interest at all for Symbian. The closest I came to was a Series 60 platform client but what I am wondering is why companies like X-lite and SJPhone not interested in making one for Symbian? Is the cost too much to develop something on Symbian platform?

Posted in Cellular, Gadgets, VOIP | 2 Comments »