Sunday, 23 March 2008

Netgear HDX101 Powerline Ethernet Review

I live in a building with lots of concrete walls. That is not funny when trying to get wireless coverage in all rooms. Plus due to the amounts of sunshine here – the windows are very isolating – and isolates WiFi quite well. The flat is rented as well – so drilling holes are not really an option.

So for a long time I had no Internet access in some of the rooms. But then a while ago I thought – hmm, living on 33. floor with nice terrace I might be able to cover my neighborhood with WiFi and get coverage in the other rooms – I went out to find a Powerline Ethernet adaptor. By luck I found some cheap 85Mbps based on HomePlug standard – and used them to put 1 AP in the workroom – and 1 Alcon outdoor access point outside. J But with 85 Mpbs you get maybe 5-12 mbps in real life. So the solution is not really great if you do big file transfers or backup.

So I researched a bit and found the 200 Mbps units – and found that Netgear HDX101 was available in Dubai. So based on my previous experience I bought 2 x 2 sets – and thought the exchange would be quick and painless.

But no..

The design and looks of the HDX101 is great – a lot better than the old 85 Mbps units. The LEDs are a bit bright though, so in a dark room it will light up the room quite a lot.

The software for managing security on the device was available in a Vista version – and download and installation was quick and painless. But it installs a windows pcap device driver! Remember to remove that again since it is not a happy thing to have your computer equipped with packet capture software.

So I installed the 3 devices. One at the main router, one on the terrace, on in the 3rd WiFi free room. The Netgear software then came up and asked if I wanted to upgrade firmware. And that was the first problem. I off course said YES. The upgrade took ages – and failed after 8 minutes. ("Protocol Timeout Error") I tried that a few times – gave up and found my trusty Sony UX90s with Windows XP to do the upgrade. That helped a bit but with 2 of the units – the upgrade kept failing. Okay…

Then I started testing speed. My main router is in the living room so I was doing backup test while watching the news via my Motorola Digital Cable box. My computer was backing up over the Netgear units. Suddenly the Netgear unit my X61t was connected too disconnected and shut of power to the Ethernet port. I growled a bit and then re-set the HDX101 and tried again. This time it only took 30. seconds, then the X61t was disconnected again. I tried a few times – but with same result. I took the spare unit and started again. That seemed to work a bit better – but speed was not a lot better than my old 85 Mbps units.

Then I started noticing that my TV signal stopped – maybe 30 seconds to 2 minutes. That had never happened before. Then TV resumed, then TV stopped, then TV resumed. I then got a nagging feeling that the Netgear HDX101 was the culprit. So I turned off the HDX101 close to the TV box. And voila! TV signal got stable. I turned the HDX101 on again – and Voila! Stuttering TV signal. So some interference between my Motorola IP tv boks and the HDX101, makes my TV signal back.

So in short.. Do you want to buy 4 slightly used HDX101? My old 85 Mpbs units are back in place, and I have 4 units I can't use.

I think the HDX101 might be okay in some situations – but not for me. The advantages in speed was marginal compared to the 85 Mbps units. But the problem with noise is a big one. My 85 Mbps units have never given problems like that.

Pros: Speed and Vista "Compatible" software

Cons: Noise, PCAP driver for software to work, 1:4 defective from factory. They become VERY VERY hot.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Belkin N1 Vision Review - The Tale of No Support

You might know by now that I have a liking for gadgets. So when the Belkin N1 Vision came to the market – I rushed out and bought one – for 2 reasons. First reason is it looks nice – that pleases the Misses J and it could be in our living room without house anger. 2nd the display on the unit would give me early warning signs if my line was being abused. Nice 2 have.

I got the unit. And it is nice. Quite easy to setup – and display is fab. But some oversights on Belkin side – was obvious.

First problem – the nice graphs are ONLY on the front panel display. None of the information is available in the web interface. Why? In general – the Web interface will disappoint you a lot if you are used to "Full feature routers".

Second problem – the keys on the front panel are almost un-usable – so sticky are they. You can't just push them and they move. You need a firm grip with both hands usually to press any buttons on the device.

So far so good – nice device – nice feature set – great design - but….

The Belkin N1 Vision has a big problem. My Girlfriend kept complaining that Skype Calls was disconnected every 10-15 minutes. VPN got disconnected all the time. I checked with another router and it did not have issues.

Then I wrote to Belkin support:

My Letter 1: "The router "losses" internet connection every 5-15 minutes (or actually halts internet traffic) - this means fx. skype calls are disconnected every 5-15 minutes. This happens on both wired and non wired connections. This does not happen using another router on same line. It happens all the time - even with only one device connected. It happens on wireless and wired connections. Firmware: F5D8232-4_WW_1.00.11"

The letter of course detailed all info on the router OS etc.

The Belkin Reply 1: "(standard answer) – please reset router to factory defaults" (signed Harold Tomlin)

So I did…

But of course – no change.

My Letter 2: "Done it - but still same problem. Every 5-10-15 minutes the connection halts - disconnecting skype - streaming media etc."

The Belkin Reply 2: "Upgrade your firmware standard letter" (please notice I was running latest firmware: F5D8232-4_WW_1.00.11 as written before and still signed Harold Tomlin)

Guess the guys have problems reading mails…

My Letter 3: "I'm AM running latest firmware! Please read my MAILs!" (I'm starting to get annoyed)"

The Belkin Reply 3: "Please try to change your wireless channels (standard answer 3)" (still signed Harold Tomlin)

My Letter 4: "IT IS NOT A WIRELESS interference problem! Guys please put me through to some people who do not only send me standard letters. Put me through to SOMEONE who is just a tiny bit technical and process my case"

The Belkin Reply 4: "We understand that Every 5-10-15 minutes the connection halts - disconnecting skype - streaming media etc. We have had several reports of a problem with the F5D7230 version 7000. The issue appears to be caused by a bug in the SPI firewall code incorrectly dropping packets for mistakenly regarding them as not belonging to an active connection. As a workaround, this specific test can be disabled on an undocumented page in the web interface: Go to and login to the router. Go to the hidden page Untick the option `TCP Connection` under the `Stateful Packet Inspection` header and click Apply Changes." (still signed Harold Tomlin)

I thought at first glance that this was the answer.. Perfect!! Until I noticed it was for another router. The F5D7230 – not my F5D8232-4. And the page they referred to – do not exist in the N1 Vision.

My Letter 5: "My router is not a F5D7230 - but a F5D8232-4 and I don't have a page called Is such a page on F5D8232-4? And in that case what is it called then. (tried .htm .html etc.) Please reply to the question and do not just send me another standard answer."

The Belkin Reply 5: "Thank you for contacting Belkin Technical Support. We regret the inconvinience this might cause. if you need further assistance please feel free to write back to us and we will be happy to assist you. If you have any other questions or problems you may also call us toll free at 1800-223-5546 (Extn. 2064). Alternatively, call us on 310 898 1100 Ext. 2263" (still signed Harold Tomlin)

Another standard answer – but without any answer at all. I gave up. The N1 Vision is now sent away on an extended vacation to the garbage chute. And I'm NEVER Buying another product from that company. The firmware is still not updated – so there must be people out there with the same problems.

So from my point of view:


Belkin is simply not worth the hassle!



Dubai blocks access to

Someone in the UAE does not like It might be due to some of the "nice" articles written on Secret Dubai Diary and other sites. Anyway from DU networks it totally blocked – and not only DNS blocked. Through my VPN I got no problem seeing all the content and posting to this site. But without it…. Funny - since through Etisalat - the other big Monopoly Telecoms company here - still got access to

Why they block all of domains I don't really know. But it might be a "We want to make certain no offensive information reach the UAE – so better just block ALL"

Do they block access to The Economist too? The Economist published not the nicest articles about the UAE and Dubai.

The problem is just – the more you block – the more people want to know. When are they going to learn that.

Calling you from 41.000 feet

On my mobile that is!

Dubai based carrier Emirates Airline was first airline with In-flight voice mobile phone calling Thursday 20th of March 2008. A flight between Dubai and Casablanca the service was introduced.

The AeroMobile system supports using your own phone in the sky – so far for SMS and calls. But only 5-6 people can be on the line at the same time. In about 12 months time the system will support GPRS data as well.

The system automatically kicks into service when reaching cruising altitude. So far the system has been tested with SMS only in Australia for about 1.000 flights but Emirates was first with Voice on their Airbus A340-300.

The roaming charge is about $4 pr. speech minute, hopefully keeping talk to a minimum. But it gives me a nagging feeling that we now can't get rest when we travel, due to some people's lack of respect for each other. But SMS and Data would be nice.

Get Evernote Beta 3 Free today

Since a lot of you like Evernote – I just noticed this one on Giveaway of the day

Giveaway of the Day - Evernote Beta

Evernote Beta lets you capture any information from your real and digital life and then find it all easily anytime.

The latest version of Evernote, currently an invitation-only beta, gives users more options than ever before to create and find their memories - a Windows version (main download links), Mac version, Web version, Windows Mobile version, Mobile Web version, browser web page clippers, and more. All clients can be synchronized to one another via the web, ensuring that anything created in one place is accessible from all others.

In addition, all users now have access to Evernote's powerful image recognition, which recognizes text inside of images so users can take camera phone snapshots of anything from whiteboards to wine labels.

To register for the beta, first create an account by clicking this link.

Then download and install the client you want, or use the web interface at

Mac version (OS X 10.5 aka Leopard)

Windows Mobile

Main Download / Mirror 1 - 56.1 MB), normally $49.95.