MonoPrice 802.11N1 Adapter

I’ve been struggling with my ailing MacBook for awhile now. It’s had a bit of a hard 4 years: bad palm-rests, bad fans, poor battery life, bad CD drive. The most recent is bad WiFi signal strength. It could be a bad Airport card, or just a bad antenna, but either way I can’t get a connection more than 20 feet from the router. I could try replacing the card and antenna, but that would end up being about $80 and a couple more cracks in the computer’s shell.

Instead, I went for the 802.11N1 1T1R from MonoPrice. It set me back a total of about $11, and was billed as being OS X compatible, which is only partly true. It is compatible, but they don’t give you the drivers. The card uses the RTL8188SU chipset from Realtek, and unfortunately, in my mind, Realtek has become known for cheap components without the drivers you need. Fortunately, there is usually a company using the chips that is also willing to provide some sort of support for them. In this case it’s Airlink101. They uses their own part numbers, but it looks like the AWLL5077 uses something similar to the RTL8188SU. I’m not sure how long this link will work, but the main idea is the model number. Based on some posts on the Ubuntu Forums, but it may also apply to the 8712/8191/8192 chips, but don’t quote me on that.

On another note, we have the issue of using Airlink101′s resources. Of course, if something breaks, then it’s my/your problem not theirs, but in the grand scheme of things, they are really helping to solve the problem of driver support on Mac’s. To be honest, I would not buy this card again, the driver issue is annoying, but the card is actually quite fat and blocks my second USB port. If you need a WiFi card for your Mac, look into Airlinks101′s products. I can’t guarantee they will work, but you can get a much smaller card with the same chip and save a bit of space and trouble.

Pseudo-locations

I have yet to hear of a service that does this, but if there is, they need to ramp up the PR.

Probably one of the most frequently used reasons people avoid using location services is privacy based. People don’t want to spell out their exact location, or worse the location of their house or workplace. But, what about a geolocation service that will allow you to redirect your location for any given place. Say you are at home, you could setup a 1 mile bubble around your house that would send you to any one of a few locations near-by (coffee shop, bookstore, bar) or just remove the location data all together. There are some inherent issues with storing specific locations in order to redirect/remove them, but that is just a matter of trust and security of the service provider. Our billing information is stored with any number of companies and we really don’t think about it twice. Such information is often synonymous with our home addresses.

The actual technology behind this sort of service is beyond me, but ideally it would be built into the the device doing the updates, probably a mobile phone. It could also be an intermediary service that would handle the location translation/repositioning/deletion. I think location based services have a lot of promise, but until someone figures out how make it foolproof to keep certain information private, I don’t think it will catch on as fast as it could.

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten in thinking about this, but in my mind it seems like a really good idea for a new business. If you like it, take it and cut me in on the money.

Google Chrome(ium) for Macs

Although Google has not yet released a version of Chrome for the Mac, as part of an open source project you are still able to get a developer’s build of the underlying program, Chromium, on its Google Code page. Google also appears to be offering a very early version of Chrome, all be it slightly hidden from their main download page. Both are still quite feature limited, most notably in the areas of Flash support and bookmark management, but are showing some promise even at this early stage.

Updating between builds still look to lack some of the convenience found in similar open source tag teams like Webkit and Safari, but one would expect those sort of features to be appearing in future versions. As an interesting note, Chrome seems to already have the visual half of this feature implemented, but I have yet to be able to actually use it. More on that in the future.

Chromium.pngAboutChrome.png

UPDATE: Firefox 3.0 RC 1

Firefox 3.0 Beta 5 has been out for a bit and now it is time to move on to Release Candidate 1. As usual, a bunch of the Add-ons are not quite up-to-date, or at least classified as such, but with a little tweaking with the Nightly Tester Tools add-on, everything is just fine. So far I’ve found that most of the simple ones do just fine and the rest I feel are really worth the gamble to try out.

As for Firefox 3.0 the Release Notes give the usual information about what’s new and how it works better, but for me I just like the new base. I looks a lot better on OS X and should also blend in better with Vista. It’s a good time and try it out.

Note: If you’re running OS X it’s easy to try out and save 2.0.* for safe keeping. I just moved it into the Utilities folder and Firefox just figures it out when you switch between the two.

Enjoy

Firefox 3.0 Beta 4

Well, Firefox 3.0 Beta 4 has been out for a few days and I’ve finally gotten around to downloading it and getting it up and running. So far I would have to say it look pretty nice on my mac. I’ve yet to try it out under Windows, but I would suppose it will look about as nice there too. Most who keep up with Firefox should know that one of the main features of 3.0 is it will blend much more into Vista or OS X as the case may be to look more like IE and Safari in their natural environments. I am aware that Safari is available on the PC, but I would have to speculate that the numbers are pretty small in comparison to IE. Visually it looks quiet amazing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it can really do once it hits its final release. So far I’ve only run into a few issues that I’ve still got to look into.

The first is it will open quite small in the upper right hand side of my screen. It does not matter if I’ve just installed it, restarted, or just want a new window, it will always start up the same way. I’m suspecting it is either a bug, or an issue with one of my plugins, but I’ve got do do some more testing to nail down which it is. Fortunately, for me I pretty much keep it open all the time, so it is not a debilitating issue.

The other main issue is of course add-ons. Each time I upgrade, it takes just a little time to wait for all of the add-ons to be updated. Some of the developers get a bit of a jump on it and design their tools a few versions in advance, but there are a few key tools that have a bit of lag. My favorite is the Google Toolbar. The build-in search box is a nice feature, but I like to have some of the word searching tools and drop-down history the toolbar provides.

There are a bunch of reviews all across the web, but we will just have to find out the real juice in the next upcoming releases.