Thursday, February 28, 2008

Countdown until real Internet: Two days

I've been using Tinyproxy to route my computer's internet connection through my [hacked, TMobile] iPhone.

In theory, it should be good enough for a few days-- EDGE speeds top out around 250k/sec downstream. In practice, though, TMobile's T-Zones network is terrible at maintaining two connections simultaneously. So for me it's a choice between instant messenger, IRC, GMail, etc., and actually being able to pull web pages.

My temporary solution has been to tunnel all traffic through an offsite SSH host (running on port 143 as to fool TMobile's proxy), which seems to help a lot.

I do have an old Powerbook with a broken fan and a broken memory slot. So I've used it occasionnaly at the local internet cafe, underclocking it so that it doesn't overheat, and navigating OSX using a hefty 128mb of built-in RAM. It's (surprisingly) not useful at all, even on a fast connection.

Anyway, this has been a good lesson in a jailbroken iPhone's incredible versatility. It's nice to know that the same device I used to record my blog in Europe can be used (in a pinch) as an EDGE proxy server. On that note, I'm looking forward to the iPhone SDK, which may or may not be released on March 6.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Alex's office: Wherin lies the world's worst computer setup

I haven't signed up for cable or DSL yet.  This is mostly because my apartment has excellent line-of-sight with several residential buildings.  There's enough wifi out there to seriously entertain thoughts of saving 35 dollars a month on having a dedicated connection.  

However, I've learned first hand that saving money on something doesn't necessarily increase its overall value-- Which leads me to a short tour of my new "office":

Let's start with my wireless antenna.  It's poked through a hole in the screen.  Since the cord has to run through the window, I can't close it completely, which makes the room colder.  The blue masking tape is to hold it in place in case of a gust of wind blows it open.

The other end of the cord runs to my computer, which, because of a power supply failure a year ago, now occupies a blue plastic storage container.  I didn't feel like buying a shuttle-branded PSU for five times as much simply to keep the case in tact.  

The rest of my computer is on the floor because I don't have a desk yet.

When I have guests over, I share the bootleg signal to my broken-down laptop (which has neither working speakers, fans, expansion RAM slots, or batteries) via ethernet, which in turn shares it over a wireless network called "The World's Most Ghetto Internet".

I mean, I'd get a job and buy some new equipment, but I'm almost proud of how terrible it is at this point.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Return of Blog Title

Finally, I've made the important and momentous transition from homeless to homed.  

I just moved into a cozy little studio in Portland's Chinatown.  I love the spot-- It's everything I was hoping to find in a housing situation at a totally reasonable price-- but it's hard to get used to having a place of my own after so many months of transiency.

Maybe the biggest change is that I have some time (and space) to work on some of my pet projects.  In the coming weeks, I'll be getting started on a few interesting things that I'd like to blog about.  First comes the rebirth of the Cantenna, along with a number of other hardware hacks geared towards energy efficiency and home automation.  Energy conservation is important to me, and living in Portland (the greenest city in America in terms of renewable energy) offers me a good opportunity to live completely carbon-neutral.

Second will be the introduction of a real home page at, where I'll be compiling a portfolio of my work in graphic and software design.  I'm starting to regret that I haven't archived my old projects, since there are many that I've put a lot of time and effort into.  This will be an attempt to better catalog and showcase my future work.

Lastly, I'll be blogging about some of the social and political happenings that are important to me.  We're currently in the middle of a very interesting presidential race-- The type that only seem to come around every thirty or forty years.  Certainly, it has the biggest potential for sweeping reform that I've experienced in my lifetime.  I'm also hoping to occasionally draw attention to certain corporations, groups, and individuals that I feel have been under-scrutinized or ignored by other forms of media.

As I mentioned, this is a big change for me.  I'm not quite used to keeping a regular schedule.  So, I can't promise that I'll be timely (or articulate), but hopefully I'll be able to more consistently write about some of the subjects that I hold dear--  And better yet, pique your interest from time to time.