Normal Blogging Will Resume Shortly…

Last time I wrote that I had a lot of stuff to catch up on with the resumption of broadband connectivity after the 5 week absence. This week was not a good time to achieve that catchup, because on Monday I decided to install Windows Vista on my home PC, and as a result have been busy all week getting everything reinstalled and configured. The PC is roughly four years old, a Celeron which originally had 512 MB of memory, increased last year to 1 GB and this week to 2 GB. RAM has nearly doubled in price in the last year, going from about $50 wholesale for 1 GB (DDR 400) to the current $90. In order to replace the router function of my ADSL modem, which had a built in DHCP server and so with a network switch could allow multiple PCs to be connected in a network, I bought a D-Link DVG-1402S, which is a VOIP router designed for cable use. This means its WAN interface is Ethernet, compared with the DSL-504T which Telecom sell to their users as it has a DSL interface. There isn’t actually an exact equivalent in DSL of the DVG-1402S, but you could connect one to a single port DSL modem, and in fact the DSL model is router and modem in one, which the 1402 actually isn’t, as it doesn’t replace the cable modem.

Apart from being able to service a small local computer network with its four LAN ports, the other significant function of this product is its VOIP capability. There are two ports on the rear for analogue phones which use the RJ12 connectors, and a cable is supplied for one. The main hurdle you face is working out how to configure it, if an ISP hasn’t supplied any details. Slingshot only supply a range of Dynalink, Grandstream and Linksys hardware so I wouldn’t expect them to know how to config this thing, so I didn’t bother them. I simply clicked options on the VOIP page of the router’s settings website until I found one lot that looked very much like the settings you put into X-Lite, and entered them. This in fact was the “User Agent” screen where username and password etc are entered. However in X-Lite you also have to enter the proxy address and in the D-Link this is on another screen called “Server Configuration”. I didn’t enter anything on the other screens and turned off “Provisioning” which is actually pre-configured for another provider. With that all done, reboot the router, and then wait for it to come back up, then pick up the phone… it all works!. So instead of buying a corded VOIP phone, or using the softphone with the computer on, I can use my existing Uniden cordless phone to make and answer calls on my old Telecom phone number. Great! (And I just finished a five minute conversation with someone who rang up, I was really startled to hear that phone ring for the first time in 6 weeks but it worked just like normal 🙂

There have been a few more things happening this week. IE8 came out and I installed it onto Vista here at home. But it was so slow that I switched over to Firefox, which I always used at home on XP, and will probably stick with that. At work it’s a little different: I use IE because it works better with our Microsoft servers’ various websites which use IWA etc so that you don’t have to enter a username and password. And that brings me to the work situation: we started sharing stuff around between different users on Exchange this week. It’s working very well; I’m sharing my calendar and tasks with my boss, and another couple of users are sharing calendars. So things are going well there. Things are also going well at home; I finally bought a clothes dryer (on Trademe) and it’ll be delivered tomorrow. I first looked at a full size one, but it would have taken up too much room, requiring me to move a lot of stuff around. The smaller one I’m getting won’t take as much stuff, but it will fit into the laundry as it is. Finally we had a positive meeting with the tenancy manager, and myself and my immediate neighbour will be maintaining our own gardens from now on; this means I can do some butterfly gardening without worrying about plants being pulled out or sprayed. And the very last thing (I know I said finally, but…) was that the gardener at school showed me nettle with admiral caterpillars feeding on it. The red admirals that I photographed on our bush last week haven’t been back, but I have had sightings of yellows most days. So I will be keeping a close eye on those nettles for the next week or two to see if any pupae hatch out.

I’ve created a new NZ Butterflies album on Picasaweb, and it will have more photos in it as time goes on. Some photos are going to be moved from other albums, of course. NZ doesn’t have that many species of its own, and probably the kahus are the most common, yet in this country they are much less common because people consider nettles a weed and pull them out. Monarchs are still great butterflies, but the smaller kahus are a lot more interesting for me because of their comparative rarity.

FOOTNOTE: The D-Link VOIP router is a bit expensive with a typical retail price of around $200. I got mine for about half that because of a supplier’s error (wrong price shown) but I wouldn’t have been prepared to pay the full price; there are cheaper products around. At the moment Slingshot, bless their cotton socks, is causing a bit more grief because the router is having a DNS problem when it tries to re-register with their VOIP server every so often. I have to check that out and see whether there is another setting I may have missed. I heard that Slingshot’s own DNS servers are pretty useless but Telstra’s seem to be able to resolve OK. We are likely to be getting VOIP as a new PBX system at work as well soon, so that should be interesting…