20 August 2009

Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router, WRT54G2

So far I'm fairly impressed by how much difference changing a router can make. For the past eight months I'd been living with an inconsistent wireless home network, mostly evident with my Nintendo Wii.

My Nintendo would connect via wireless one day, and then with the identical settings throw up an error message the following day. I'd change my router to channel 11, and the Nintendo connected... and then it wouldn't next time I tried. Channel 1? Eureka -- but, no. I finally gave up and decided to try a new router.

Why did it take me so long to make the decision? I'd always thought that different routers differed in strength, speed, and area of coverage, and that's about it. Based on this erroneous assumption I wasn't optimistic a new router would change anything. After all, my Nintendo connected fine... sometimes. PS3, no problems.

Anywhoo, I started reading up on routers and my error quickly became evident. Most routers work at a 2.4 GHz which apparently is a frequency prone to interference from microwaves, cordless phones and the like. Living in an apartment building I can easily imagine my locale being full of potentially interfering devices.

So... I considered purchasing a "N" (or pre-"N") router with simultaneous dual band ability (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). Dual band, because much fewer devices use 5 GHz so there's less chance of interference. Simultaneous, because the mere thought of having to manually switch between 2.4 and 5 GHz depending on what device I'm currently using annoys me to no end.

After all this, as you may have guessed from the post title, I decided to buy a Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router (WRT54G2), broadcasting at a frequency of 2.4 GHz.


Unfortunately, all the simultaneous dual band N routers reviewed in my price range were lacking in some manner -- mostly poor efficiency/speed data transfer while in simultaneous mode. Still, this wouldn't have held me back from buying one, but I began to wonder whether any of my electronics were even compatible with this latest and greatest 5 GHz wireless "N" router technology, let alone being capable of taking advantage of it.

Anywhoo, my primary uses of a wireless router is to connect my Nintendo Wii and PS3, which I learned, after further reading, both operate at 2.4 GHz using "G" protocols/technology. Interesting.

The WRT54G2 is an older router, but the reviews I read were mostly positive; I decided to go with a proven performer rather than a router with all the latest bells and whistles. So far I haven't regretted my decision. Not only has my Nintendo Wii been connecting without fail, but another issue, one I had thought was unrelated to the router, has also been fixed. Thunderbird software on my desktop frequently failed to check/download POP3 e-mail, giving out "unable to connect" error messages for some or all of my e-mail accounts. No more.

The only negative of the WRT54G2 I've experienced is with its MAC filtering. My previous router allowed me to label each MAC address I added eg. "PS3" or "Nintendo" . With the Linksys... no. There's no way I'm going to be able to remember which MAC address is associated with each device. Still, all in all a minor quibble.

07 August 2009

Elections Canada

How novel. I phoned the 1-800 number for Elections Canada and it was picked up on the second ring by a... real, live person. I'd been expecting the typical automated menus, perhaps inputting my SIN to see whether I was still registered, or pressing a number dependent on the nature of my call, to determine whether Elections Canada had updated my previous U.S. address of six years to my new Canadian one (as an aside, apparently there's a five year limit to voting by mail for Canadian expats. No longer sufficiently Canadian, eh?).

Truthfully, I was so shocked a live person answered that I missed their initial greeting, and actually thought I had dialed the wrong number. In retrospect, perhaps I'd been a mite naive to assume Elections Canada would receive call volumes necessitating an automated answering service; who knows, maybe they do, but simply have refused to succumb to the dark temptation. How pleasant.

04 August 2009

PS3: Assassins Creed

I've always read good things about Assassins Creed for the PS3, so when I saw it at Best Buy for $30 I decided to pick it up. It's definitely worth $30, but I'm glad I didn't buy it for $50-60 when it was first released.

It's not that the game is poor; the game is quite good, actually. The story is interesting, the graphics and music are wonderful. Assassins Creed, unfortunately, has some fairly significant drawbacks in addition to all its positives.

The first issue... interesting story, I said, which is totally true. It left me wanting to learn the fate of Desmond (the character you play, and in an obvious lead-up for a sequel). Unfortunately, the game's in-story scientific premise sounded like just so much nonsense. Past memories inherited via genes? Lamarckism at work? Uh, no.

Gameplay was also another issue. Most of the time it was fine, but when moving quickly, ie. running from guards, it often became a headache. The automatic movement of the camera angle made controlling the character difficult, and gave me headaches requiring frequent breaks. The moving camera angle would obstruct my view of what I really wanted to see, and depending on where the character stood in relation to other objects difficult if not impossible to fix.

Assassins Creed is also short. Very short. Extrememly short. But ironically, its shortness turned out to be a mixed blessing; the missions quickly became quite repetitive and tedious so in part I was relieved the game was finished so quickly.

In-game beggars and crazy people? -- I really wish they wouldn't respawn, the latter more than the former. I have to admit the urge to break one of the assassins' rules regarding innocents was sometimes too much for me to resist.

I give Assassins Creed for the PS3 3.5 out of 5 stars.