Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another nerdy post that nobody would read

Before I go into another self-centered geek talk, one message has to be passed to the intended recipient.

ECHO 'nough said

In successive good news, Droid 2 goes on pre-order tomorrow. The improvements from the original droid include:
  • 1GHz OMAP 3630 SoC by TI almighty(Not official but almost certain)
  • 512MB RAM, 8GB(!) NAND and optional 32GB SD card
  • Hardware-based Wifi Tethering and DLNA support
  • Ships with Android 2.2(wow) and MOTOBLUR(ew)
  • Same 3.7in screen; improved keyboard
Maybe it is just my eyes, but the package reminds me strongly of Nokia N900, with the rounded edges, blue printing, etc. It also appears much thicker than the original Droid.

Overall, a very respectable brother of Droid X, however it will probably inherit the Blur disease too. I might consider the GSM/UMTS version once that is released. The 8GB internal storage is especially tempting; just don't expect the price to drop anytime soon.


Internet access is readily available at the University of Auckland, albeit much confusion about how to connect, even the official channels often give outdated or wrong information. I will try my best to summarise your options:
  1. Wired connection: Desktop computers at various places are connected to the network via a physical cable. You will have to login with your usual credentials(usually on EC but some faculties maintain their own domain) or . However to be able to connect to either internal or external services you need to run NetLogin(I will write more about it later). There are also LAN sockets in some places i.e. general library, I have not used them however I suspect they work in a similar manner.
  2. Wireless connection: The IT department has, over the years, added many wireless hotspots to most campuses so we will be able to surf the internet on the run. 
  • Physical Coverage can be checked here. In short, newer buildings are usually well served while older ones often miss out, with access only on some levels. Nevertheless the wireless connection is more erratic in some places, for example law school buildings(too many users saturating the channel), the general library(bookshelves block signal very efficiently, some corners are perfectly shielded) and Cafe86(Bad AP, only cover about half of their floor area). In general, coverage in Grafton is fragile at best, except level 12 of the hospital wing where the connection is always smooth.
  • The hotspots offer several SSIDs which may appear quote daunting for the untrained eye. I will try to go over the pros and cons of each option
  • UoA: The plain jane non-encrypted route, and probably the easiest to use. Simply connect, launch browser, type in your login details and you are good to go. The problems are multiple: The connection send packets in plain text which is extremely vulnerable to eavesdropping; the HTTP based proxy behaves just like NetLogin(more on this later, I promise) which asks you to re-authenticate every once in a while; finally the bandwidth is limited to 128kbps, unless NetLogin is present and working, mixed blessing indeed. 
  • UoA-Mobile: While intended for mobile devices, it works work just as well for laptops(or desktops if you like hauling heavy objects) with a little additional work using the official guide. Mobile OS handles it much better without having to mess with CA certificates, just put in your UPI and you are good to go. No high-speed connection though but it matters a little given our meager data cap.
  • UoA-Secure: Connect just like UoA-Mobile, except that you will be back in the same league of wired connections, where you are not getting anywhere without NetLogin. Avoid this one like plague.
  • UoA-Guest: Like the name suggest, this one is for guest access to university resources only. Users does not have access to the internet and other services. Particularly EC mail is unusable because it is hosted by I don't see any reason why any student would elect to use this one. 
  • Eduroam/Engineering/FMHS IT/....: This is a long list of mysterious SSIDs that have nothing to do with us. Out of interest, the Engineering network is protected only by the ailing WEP encryption, but this doesn't translate into "easily crackable" since there is absolutely no traffic on that channel at all.
The major problem with the network at uni is the lack of user account integration: Logging in on a domain allows access to AFS, printing and a few other services, however to get anywhere further you will need the NetLogin client, which is probably not an issue if this piece of binary actually worked.

Well it works, only to drop connection with the server every few minutes in the background and does not reconnect. I might be exaggerating, however it is extremely annoying when it happens. Beside that, I have not been able to find a cause leading to this erratic behavior.

The problems does not stop there: even with NetLogin running, frequently used services like Cecil still require manual log in; there are still many labs where the computers are isolated from the main network, and on many occasions lecturers were unable to use the lecture terminal because someone else have locked it down(you need to be that person or belong to an admin group to unlock).


Instead of using their precious life-time to correct these issues, the IT department, out of their infinite sense of political correctness, decided that the default language of Microsoft Word should be Maori. It would have been an non-issue if this had not crippled the built-in spellchecker, which innocently assumes whatever content we typed is in our second official language and arrogant software written by English speakers deserves brain spasm.

Apparently it is manually coded into the default template to make sure users are unable to bypass it(the global settings still list NZ English as the default language, even complete removal of Maori language support does not help). The only way to re-enable spell check is to create blank documents elsewhere, or manually select paragraphs and mark them as English.

ECHO Some people have brains the size of their eyes