Life (7)


Kitten’s Big Day (Part 1)

Last Saturday, having thought about it for a while, we finally decided to let the cats explore outside a little bit. We still don’t have a cat flap installed, though, so we’re keeping them inside except for when we can be outside with them, and thus keep the sliding door open.

At first, I think they were a little shocked to find that the massive TV they had been watching for the past few weeks was actually a door!

Peeking Outside

Peeking Outside

Naturally, Kashka took the lead, scouting out the flower bed/lawn immediately outside the sliding doors. She has such an intense face when she’s checking something out… 😐

Checking everything out!

Checking everything out!

Malcolm remained unconvinced.

Nope.

Nope.

He’s such a softie anyway – he pretty much always lets his sister go first. I’m not sure if that’s sensible, or that he’s just worried about everything!

But, after much encouragement from Liz, Kashka and I, both Malcolm and his sister began to peer outside, and started getting interested in what was going on. Especially when the wind rustled the grass!

Well, if Mum says it's ok...

Well, if Mum says it’s ok…

**Poke**

**Poke**

Whassat?

Whassat?

Well, if the girls are doing it...

Well, if the girls are doing it…

Onwards to adventure! Part two will be coming when I have a moment to edit the photos.




Fixing the HTC One X’s WiFi

A year or so back, I picked up an OEM HTC One X – which at the time was the nicest quad-core phone around that didn’t also happen to be a phablet.

Initially, I had no problems with the device, and the Android Jelly Bean update only brought better performance and a nicer UI.

Unfortunately, at some point, my device must have taken a knock causing the WiFi antenna to be less effective, dropping it’s effective range.

Luckily, this was still more than enough to be usable in most situations and I just left it as it was for best part of 6 months, after which a new update was pushed out from HTC.

Unfortunately (again…) the update changed the behaviour of the radio, causing the effective range for WiFi to drop to around a few feet, through walls, or a dozen or so if I had line of sight – thankfully by this stage I had invested in an ‘unlimited data’ plan, so I could at least leave the phone on HSDPA and still connect to the internet that way, and living in a town meant that most of the time I had more than enough signal that way.

Today,  finally my patience ran out, having struggled with this set up for a few months, and wanted to fix the actual issue – antenna replacement can’t be that hard, right?

 Step One – Getting Inside

One of the first problems with this repair is the nature of the device’s construction.

Phone manufacturers have moved away from the nice, hackable, screwed-together cases of the previous generation of phones, and started building ‘unibody’ cases, whereby the outside of the device is essentially a near-unbroken smooth finish.

Obviously this is a much nicer finish, but it does mean that DIY repairs or tinkering is made much harder.

Thankfully, the folks over at TechRepublic have put together a photo set showing exactly how to crack open the HTC One X’s case and get at it’s juicy innards.

Step Two – What Has Actually Broken?

Next, to find out what was the likely cause of my WiFi woes, I scoured the forums over at XDA Developers (who are consistently awesome!) for anyone with similar problems.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, for them and I) many other One X owners have had problems with the WiFi antenna, and the problem is fairly well documented.

Following the [HARDWARE FAULT] WiFi antenna fault post, over on the One X forums, and digging around in the links therein, I elected to have a go at repairing this myself, rather than trying to get HTC to do a fix for me (how hard can it be?!).

Another user in the thread usefully posted photographs of their own modification to the One X to fix the problem, and it was these that I used to fix mine.

Step Three – Crunch Time

Now that I had a much better idea of what had happened, and a good idea of what to fix, I set to work, cracking the case open and soldering a tiny wire between the defunct antenna connection and the antenna plate.

Soldering a tiny wire to a contact on the antenna plate. Note the additional small drops of solder on each connection point on the unibody... just in case.

Soldering a tiny wire to a contact on the antenna plate.
Note the additional small drops of solder on each connection point on the unibody… just in case.

While the user I had been following had only attached a single wire from the top contact to the antenna, in my case this did not fix the WiFi problem, and I ended up attaching both contacts.

Initially I attached only one contact to the antenna, as per the original post, which did not work in my instance.

Initially I attached only one contact to the antenna, as per the original post, which did not work in my instance.

I ended up connecting both contacts to fix the problem, after some experimentation.

I ended up connecting both contacts to fix the problem, after some experimentation.

With this done, I very carefully reassembled my phone, et voila! Working WiFi again!

Look at all those pretty signals!

Lookit Ma! WiFi signals!

Lookit Ma! WiFi signals!

Hopefully, with that, this is the last I’ll see of the signal issues I’ve been experiencing, and I can finally have my phone back to normal.




Random Web Radio Station

To pull a random radio station from my stream list, using vlc, jshon and curl on the terminal, enter the following:

cvlc $(curl -s http://johnvidler.co.uk/radio/data/streams.js | jshon -e $(shuf -i 0-`curl -s http://johnvidler.co.uk/radio/data/streams.js | tr -cd ‘{‘ | wc -c` -n 1) -e stream -u)

It’s not terribly efficient, but what the heck, it’s only ran once per radio station 🙂




New Broadband – Revisited

A short while back, I posted about using A&A (Andrews & Arnold Ltd) as my broadband ISP, and said I would report back to say how things went.

I’m pleased to report this (bearing in mind this is just an ADSL2+ connection, on normal copper hung on poles…)

SpeedTest.net Results for A&A, 7.02Mb/s down, 0.75Mb/s up

Results from running SpeedTest.net on the A&A connection

And this!

What my router reports the connection is

Which makes this the fastest connection I’ve ever had the pleasure to be on, and providing that A&A manage to keep this sort of rate, I’ll be coming back to them whenever I need a new connection, and recommending them to anyone who asks!




New Broadband

Having messed about with ‘normal’ service providers for a while, I decided to go with a more ‘specialist’ provider this time, to save annoyance and frustration.

One of my previous house-mates discovered http://aaisp.net.uk/ who do not shape traffic to below the line limitations! Kickass!

I’ll report on how well they do after I’ve lived with them for a bit, but the outlook is awesome! 😀

Oh, and they have some excellently worded T&C:

The internet is a huge network of computers managed and controlled by thousands of separate organisations. Andrews & Arnold Ltd (A&A) do not control the internet. Do not blame A&A if you find things you don’t like.

Hah!




Useful LaTeX

Some snippets of LaTeX that I have used at some point or another, and may be useful to anyone else.

Package: hyperref

Simply including this package will make your table of contents have clickable links to pages in the document.

Package: todonotes

This package was an absolute life saver during my dissertation.

It provides the use of todo{} tags, which place a marker on the page with a virtual ‘sticky note’ showing your to-do item text, and also provides a listoftodos command, which creates a list of all your to-do notes.

Furthermore, with the hyperref package included in your document, the to-do item list will have links to their respective pages!

usepackage{todonotes}

% ========================= %
% ==== REMOVE ON FINAL ==== %
listoftodos
pagebreak
% ==== REMOVE ON FINAL ==== %
% ========================= %

Text text, texty text…
todo{This is a to-do note!}%
Stuff stuffs… list of stuff.

todo{This is another one!}%

Shorter List Style

The default list style in latex I found to be excessively spacious, and in any list heavy sections, the page numbers started to rack up!

To remedy this, I defined a new environment for a thinner list style

% This makes list spacing much better.
%
newenvironment{thinlist}{
begin{itemize
}
setlength{itemsep}{1pt}
setlength{parskip}{0pt}
setlength{parsep}{0pt}
}{
end{itemize
}
}

begin{thinlist}
item Item one
item Item two
item …
item Further items
end{thinlist}

Package: makerobust

During the course of writing my dissertation, I came across the problem of not being able to put url{} commands inside a footnote{} command, this is due to the way latex handles URLs, as the command is not considered to be ‘robust’.

Long story short, I searched around, and found the ‘makerobust’ package, which wraps non-robust commands in a robust frame, making them robust, as can be seen in the snippet below

usepackage{makerobust}

% Make the damn url command work in caption’s
%
MakeRobustCommandurl

Package: listings

I’m a computer scientist, so having code listings in a document is par for the course. To support this, I used the ‘listings’ package to nicely format my code.

usepackage{listings}

% Magic listing style!
%
lstset{basicstyle=tiny, tabsize=1, numbers=left}

The lstset{} command in the snippet above sets the basic style for code listings – I had a few large sections of code to include, so I set the font to tiny and a tab size of 1 space. You may wish to edit this to suit.

The full manual for the package can be found here: ctan.org’s copy of the listings manual

Package: pdflscape, pdfpages

My gantt charts for the dissertation were generated from Microsoft Project (The best I could get at the time! No hate mail plase!) in PDF format, so to include them in the Appendix, I used pdflscape.

This is nothing particularly spectacular, but I’m putting it here in case someone else stumbles upon it.

usepackage{pdfpages}
usepackage{pdflscape}

begin{landscape}
includepdf[pages={1,2},landscape=true]{gantt/gantt_chart.pdf}
end{landscape}

Note that you can include specific pages with the optional ‘pages’ argument.




WordPress

So I finally gave up on writing my own site by hand all the damn time, as I’m a combination of ‘too busy’ and ‘too bored’ to mess with it any more.

I’ll be moving the content from my older website (http://www.themoggie.co.uk) and the site that was here into this format whenever I get time, so expect a sporadic increase in pages/posts.

Until then, adieu.