New Cable Internet, 22″ LCD, and WiFi!


Today was my work Christmas! I work from home most of the time, so I’m finally getting around to upgrading some of the equipment I use for my job every day. Today I got 3 new pieces of technology and just finished setting them all up!

Goodbye ATT&T!

I switched from 1.5 Mbps/386 Kbps DSL to 10 Mbps/1 Mbps cable broadband today. I used to download packages at 140 KBps to 160 KBps, but now I easily reach over 1 MBps. Tomorrow I get to call AT&T and cancel not only my DSL but also my landline phone.

The only downside is starting in 2008, my local cable company, Insight, is going to become Comcast. It took me about 10 seconds to get a human on the line when calling Insight. When I tried to call Comcast to find out if anything was going to change, I had to call 3 different phone numbers until I finally reached a sales person who kept trying to sell me a package deal for broadband/tv/phone even though Comcast isn’t in my area yet!

Sales representatives for both companies seemed very confused that a person would only want Internet access. My wife & I watch all of our TV online or through Netflix, and we don’t need a landline phone. Is that really so strange these days? I suppose most people still have cable TV or satellite, but with more shows becoming available for free online I don’t see the point.

Hello 22″ LCD!

I finally got a nice LCD and got rid of my $5 19″ inch CRT (thanks Chris, it was nice while it lasted). Its a Hanns-G HG216D no frills monitor. There was a similarly priced Acer monitor, by the Hanns-G is Energy Star which I like. It looks beautiful to me, but I have to admit the built-in 1 watt speakers are a complete joke for anything error than error beeps. Luckily they’re hidden in the back of the LCD case, so no one even has to notice them.

Setup in Linux was as simple as pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace in GDM to restart X. It worked as soon as I plugged it in, but restarting X Windows auto-detected the resolution properly so I didn’t have to mess around in my xorg.conf file.

X Windows has come a very very long way in the past year or two. My xorg.conf file is tiny, and I’m not sure why I even have it. Last time I tried, X Windows autodetected everything just fine!

Oh come on… 3 days later and my monitor has already dropped $20 in price. Yeesh.

Working Wi-Fi in Linux? Yes, but…

My office is upstairs, and our only cable connections are downstairs. Instead of running unsightly cables through our house or drilling holes, I just bought a Wi-Fi card for my desktop. Finding a card that works well with Linux was very very difficult.

In the end I bought a TP-Link TL-WN651G (Ver 1.5), but the box also lists the model as TL-WN650G. Most importantly it works perfectly with the MadWiFi (it uses an Atheros chipset). Its running at 802.11g with WPA2. The PCI card was only $25, so I didn’t even have to spend too much more for Linux compatibility. I question the reliability of those $10-$15 adapters anyway…

The only caveat is caused by Debian’s insistence on freeness and hatred of binary modules. The MadWiFi module uses a binary module, so Debian makes you download a source package and compile it using module-assistant. Now m-a is a wonderful program, but this is still the reason I always recommend Ubuntu to desktop users. Expecting anyone other than a Linux hacker to install some random package and run some random command line tool to get WiFi working is deranged.

My motto: Debian is for developers, Ubuntu is for people.

At any rate, I’ve had a wonderful day and am excited all my new toys play well with Linux.