January 2009

dd-wrt settings

I’ve been struggling with some mild performance issues since flashing to dd-wrt. It has coincided with dealing with some dodgy wireless issues on my new Aspire One, so it’s been hard pinpointing which element is the weak link.

I’m going to stick with dd-wrt for now (I’m using a Linksys WRT54G rev8), and things are better since making a few changes this afternoon.  I am running a straight 802.11g network. Some changes I made are as follows. I’m the first to admit that none of these settings are original to me - all of them came from suggestions found while searching.

  • TX Power: I tried bumping up the TX power to 84mW as I had read suggested somewhere. But the unit started making funny noises during file transfers, and I didn’t find that overly endearing. On the suggestion of a professor of mine, I backed down the TX power. I’m doing fine now on 40-50mW. (Wireless -> Advanced Settings) For more on what I mean by “fine,” see below. Your mileage may vary depending on how much area you have to “paint” with wireless signal.
  • Frame bursting: If you have only a few wireless clients (say 3 or less), frame bursting is supposed to help. (Wireless -> Advanced Settings)
  • DTIM Interval: I turned down the DTIM interval (to 1). (Wireless -> Advanced Settings)
  • ACK Timing: most performance tweak guides for DD-WRT suggest looking close at this one. Most I’ve seen suggest setting it to 0. I’m doing fine with 200 (default is 2000). (Wireless -> Basic Settings)
  • Channel: This shouldn’t be a huge issue for non-enterprise users, but it can’t hurt to tweak a bit, right? Use the least congested channel; if at all possible, use channel 1, 6, or 11 as they are non-overlapping channels for the 2.4Ghz band. However, in most situations, it is preferable to use an overlapping channel if the non-overlapping channels (1, 6, and 11) are heavily used. If you live in a residential area - especially an apartment building or dormitory - these non-overlapping channels (especially 6, I would think) will be quite cramped. Avoid using channels with a lot of congestion. Use the Site Survey functionality on the “Advanced Settings” subtab of the Wireless tab and look for a channel that’s not being used.
  • Mode: If you’re not using 802.11b at all, why run mixed mode at all? Switch to G-only if all your wireless devices are 802.11g capable.
  • IP Filter settings: A big one that’s had big impact on my performance. Avoid setting the “Maximum ports setting” too high if you have a model with only 8MB of memory. Realistically, from what I read, don’t put the Maximum Ports Setting (Administration ->Management) above 2048 (even that’s pushing it). I also set the UDP and TCP timeouts to 120. These settings are especially important if you use torrents or similar peer to peer technologies that maintain a lot of half-open TCP connections (or embryonic TCP connections, depending on who you ask).

Notes on the signal strength on the status tab:

I have been experience intermittent signal dropping since using dd-wrt. It’s not necessarily severe enough that Windows realizes the connection has dropped, but it’s apparent from a lack of connectivity (Windows XP Home, the OS on my Aspire One, is poor enough with wireless that it apparently doesn’t realize when the connection has dropped). Reparing the connection has been remedying it, but of course I want to troubleshoot it. When torrenting, I was noticing dropping signal every 10 minutes or so - not acceptable, of course.

I had thought at first that the problem was poor signal quality. Though Windows reports “five bars” for my signal quality, I was concerned that the signal quality on the dd-wrt wireless status page for my clients was around 50% if not lower. After doing a bit of reading and thinking, this isn’t so alarming. Here’s why:

100% is the Land of Oz. You’ll never achieve “100% signal” (or near it) for the same reason you’ll never achieve the theoretical 54Mb/s throughput of 802.11g or the theoretical 11Mb/s of 802.11b: we live in the real world.

A bit of reading suggests that if there are no problems with signal dropping, don’t worry immensely about a 50% or so reading on the dd-wrt wireless status page. That’s a percentage of a theoretical signal quality that nobody will ever achieve (especially with “cheapy” home wireless access hardware).

A better number to look is the SNR (signal to noise ratio) - higher is better. I read on the dd-wrt forums that 40+ SNR is great.


So, my screenshot showing 53% quality and SNR of 41 is really nothing about which be concerned. In fact, based on what I read, it’s damn good. If you’re having performance issues, this may not be the place to be suspicious. Take a look at some of the settings mentioned above.


“Women are not ‘Pork’” by Ruth Rosen….give me a break

I say that because the title of the article---a reference to people equating women with meat---has nothing to do with the actual content of the article. Or at least nothing nearly as sensational as you'd believe. The article is about a change in the stimulus bill that...wait for it....didn't cut contraceptive funding...but instead left contraceptive and family planning under Medicaid where it is

A missing row in the classroom

Some pictures are worth more than a thousand words.

Palestinian boy Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to the name sign of his killed friend Ahed Qaddas in the Fakhoura boys school in Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. Three friends of his class where killed when the Israeli army shelled Jebaliya in the past weeks. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Also see this Guardian video, where 10-year-old Mona Samouni describes the killings of 48 members of her family.

And a similar video below, but only in Arabic, French and Spanish.

Being political vs. partisanship, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti

I think there is a lot of confusion outside of the progressive world about this. Howard Zinn has declared that people can't be neutral on a moving train while Michael Parenti has said that reality is political. My guess is that folks read things like this and declare that progressives aren't really independently minded, but that's actually the reverse of what's being said. Looking at the world

Intellectual property ≠ free market

The always interesting Robert Darnton has an interesting piece in the New York Review of Books entitled Google & the Future of Books, in which he essentially argues for a reigning of copyrights, combining the ideas of a shorter term (28 years after creation is what Darnton believes is the platonic ideal, as opposed the current 70 years after author's death) with some wishy-washy democratic platitudes that I can't seem to shake much concrete meaning out of.

It's an interesting essay, though he makes a very common mistake, in automatically associating intellectual property rights with free market ideals:

But we, too, cannot sit on the sidelines, as if the market forces can be trusted to operate for the public good. We need to get engaged, to mix it up, and to win back the public's rightful domain.

In a perfectly free market, clearly there would be nobody to enforce intellectual property rights. Though as Boldrin and Levine explain, content creators still have a significant advantage over the imitators, and innovation in an IP-less world doesn't look like it would suffer.

Molly’sBlog 2009-02-01 00:52:00

New from the folks at Labour Start, the online labour solidarity site, comes the social networking site for unionists Union Book. Here's the announcement.

UnionBook - the social networking website for trade unionists‏:
Labour Start is pleased to announce the launch today of UnionBook - the social networking website for trade unionists.
Unlike other social networking sites, UnionBook (http://www.unionbook.org) is advertising-free, respects your privacy, and is specifically designed to serve trade unionists.
UnionBook offers many features that you and your union will find useful. Among these are:
* Blogs - build your own blog today. Free, with no ads.
* Groups - create a group to support your union and your campaigns.Groups
can have discussion forums and shared documents. They can be public or closed.
They're a very powerful tool.
* Post your profile and sign up your friends.
And we're adding more features all the time.
We know that UnionBook will never be as big as the giant commercial networks like Facebook, but once we have several thousand trade unionists using it, I'm confident that it will become a powerful tool for our movement worldwide.
We're not telling anyone to stop using other social networks. If you are active in Facebook or any of the others, that's fine. But use UnionBook for your trade union activities and see how easy it is to build and form groups, and to publish content online.
Once you've signed up, you will receive an email from us - you must respond to this in order to confirm your email address and activate your account. Our email message may wind up in your junk mail folder - please keep an eye out for it.
Please spend some time on UnionBook.org and explore the possibilities.
And then spread the word -- because together, we can create something amazing here. Thanks. Eric Lee

“The simple answer is that you the Jews are real motherf—– bastards”

From The Department of Some-of-My-Best-Friends-are-Jewish:

A one-day conference on ‘Justice for Palestine’, scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 29 @ The Theatrette, NSW Parliament House in Macquarie Street, Sydney, was cancelled following the publication of anti-Semitic remarks by the principal organiser, Maqsood Alshams (former Honorary National Coordinator of the ‘Coalition for Justice for Refugees’, currently Project Director with the ‘Asia Pacific Human Rights Institute’). The conference was titled “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, and organised by the Institute and the “Edmund Rice Centre in association with Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning - University of Technology Sydney and Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney”. The cancellation appears to have been triggered by the withdrawal of two speakers — Antony Loewenstein and Peter Manning — and, one assumes, the negative publicity attached to Alshams’ outburst.

Alshams, after having first declared that “Only Me, You and Us together can turn today’s dream into a reality tomorrow. And let us get it done!”, initially defended his right to a private argument (Rights activist apologises for anti-Semitic comments, Erik Jensen, January 28, 2009), but later apologised to the motherf—– bastards. Alshams explained that he was “intoxicated and angry” when he wrote the email messages to Richard Benkin, “a human rights activist based in Chicago” and “Sydney management consultant”, Anna Berger (Rights activist apologises for anti-Semitic comments, Erik Jensen, January 28, 2009).

Speaking of motherf—– Jewish bastards, one rather notorious example is Noam Chomsky. See “Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009, chomsky.info, January 19, 2009.

On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee…

What a bastard.

He’s not alone of course. Antony Lowenstein is a right bastard, and so is the IAJV: Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

On a lighter note, Old Jews Telling Jokes (”A new (old) joke every Tuesday and Thursday!”).

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The perils of being an Obama

The story about Obama's half-brother in Kenya getting busted for smoking pot has gotten a lot of play, but the Guardian's article is the first I've read where the author had enough sense to ask why rather than just who, what, where, and when:

Although Kenya is strict about drug possession, there does not appear to be any current police campaign to crack down on usage. The officers who arrested George did not disclose why they searched him, although they are often conducted in the hope of extracting a bribe.

And this certainly isn't the first time that George Obama's been used for his fame:

Last year, during the election campaign, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair claimed to have "found" George Obama, after meeting him at his step-grandmother's home in Kogelo, western Kenya. The report claimed - controversially - that he lived on a dollar a month, and that he was ashamed to be an Obama.

While he is poor and lives in ramshackle accommodation, George is in the same position as well over a million other people who live in Nairobi's slums. Before the US presidential election, he said that he saw no reason why Barack Obama should support him financially; he was content with his life and could provide for himself. That did not stop Jerome Corsi, the right-wing US author of The Obama Nation, from travelling to Kenya in the hope of presenting a $1,000 cheque to George. Fortunately for Corsi, whose stunt was unlikely to have gone down well in Huruma, he was quickly deported.
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The Picket Line — 1 February 2009

1 February 2009

Lately it’s seemed to me that there’s a growing awareness that in the United States, the core of central authority is rotten. It still stands, but if you tap on it you can hear that it’s hollow.

I’m not just talking about the government, but the foundations of our economy (not the bedrock, which will endure, but those foundations that we gave names like “security” and “credit” and “trust” and we slapped down on the swamp — you can still see bubbles of swamp gas coming up from where they’re sinking). And not just economic institutions, either, but many different central institutions of authority.

Here’s a chilling example. For two decades Marcia Angell was an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine — they might as well call themselves The Prestigious New England Journal of Medicine for how often they are referred to that way. Angell recently wrote an article for The New York Review of Books about rampant corruption and growing conflicts-of-interest in the medical-pharmaceutical establishment. Her conclusion:

It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.

Let that sink in.

Also, the news media is dissolving like an autodigesting mushroom — reporting on its own collapse with its last remaining reporters and talking heads. It’s being replaced by a much less-institutional, much less-centralized, much more bottom-up style of reporting, with a different model of trust.

These are just a few examples, and I’m sure you can think of more.

This morning, while reading the descriptions of the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc in Jonathan Schell’s The Unconquerable World, an encouraging metaphor suggested itself to me. I imagined a ripe seed attached to its parent plant, in a tight and populous cluster like that of the cattail for instance. When the stalk dessicates and withers and no longer can maintain a hold on its seeds, the orderly cluster disintegrates and the seeds disperse — a catastrophe! and yet exactly what nature intended, and the only way the individual seeds can fulfil their own destinies.

David Schenck recently gave an introduction to war tax resistance at the SUNY Social Justice Conference. A video of his presentation is available on-line:

Gerald DePyper continues to try to light a tax resistance fire under the American “pro-life” movement and has inaugurated a new web site, Pro-life strike / abortion boycott, with a program for “serious, sacrificial action” in conscientious objection to taxpayer funding of abortion. His opinion:

After over 35 years, the weakness of the pro-life movement seems to be in our comfort level. With few exceptions, pro-life warriors live a fairly comfortable life. But comfortable warriors don’t fight very effectively. Embarking upon a strike or tax resistance movement would dramatically elevate the risks and lower the comfort level. It would require those involved to put their lives and their livelihoods on the line. It would help us to embrace the term “Church Militant”, and truly view ourselves as soldiers in Christ’s army of love.

The strength of our pro-life witness is an important part of what’s at stake. If we fight from a position of comfort, few will care. Likewise, if we pray from a position of comfort, such prayer is cheap. But if we risk our lives and livelihoods, people will notice, and many hearts will be moved. Our words will be more convincing and our prayers more powerful if the cost is dear.

Woo hoo! Purple Fingers!

All over the news today are pics of Iraqis with purple fingers who voted, so many different pictures that it's actually become somewhat funny to me. The purple finger thing, the featuring of it, started off as a propaganda device used by the Republicans to try to justify the invasion of Iraq. Because people were able to vote, therefore progress had been made over Saddam Hussein and we were