BT Infinity and 3rd Party Routers

BT Infinity and 3rd Party Routers

Introduction This article will cover my upgrade to BT’s Infinity service and also provide a guide to setting up a third party router with BT’s DSL and Fibre services. This article includes information on how to configure a DD-WRT router to work with Infinity’s IPTV channels. You can skip directly to the 3rd Party Router guide. BT Infinity Is Here! After enduring a painful waiting of “will they, won’t they?” BT has rolled through our little City of Wells and completed their Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) installation. We can now happily depart the dark age and enjoy Internet speeds of above 17 Mbps. In reality I was making do with 14.5 Mbps download and 0.9 Mbps upload. I opted for the BT Infinity 2 package that offers up to 80Mbps download and 20Mbps upload. It only costs £5 more than the basic 36Mbps package. A Little History The basics of any Internet connection involve a modem and a router. BT’s most recent policy favour self installations using their HomeHub 5. This unit includes: ADSL and VDSL modem 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports Works out the box Proprietary BT firmware (not so fun) In theory this sounds like a pretty sweet piece of hardware that BT provides for free to their subscribers. In practice my personal experiences with previous HomeHubs have been a little different. Without turning this into a rant my previous issues were centered around the limited firmware, poor routing capacity, and poor Wi-Fi. The 5 GHz wireless band would only work if you were in the same room, too many connections...
Macbook Pro Dual Hard Drive Conversion

Macbook Pro Dual Hard Drive Conversion

Introduction In this post I discuss adding a second hard drive to a 13″ Macbook Pro by swapping the optical drive with an HD caddy. This has to be one of my favourite laptop modifications because of how it makes up for what has become a pretty limited set of ports on Macbooks. Thunderbolt is great if you have the hardware, hubs, and money to invest. The Retina Macbook Pros only compounded the problem further by eliminating the Firewire and Gigabit Ethernet ports. Being offered a Thunderbolt to Firewire/Ethernet converter for $30 is a slap in the face considering you are sidelining Thunderbolt’s daisy chaining feature. Thunderbolt hubs are the most natural extension for the Thunderbolt standard and also come in at an additional premium. Spending $200-300 for a hub on top of what was probably a $2000+ laptop purchase in order to gain back ports that were until recently standard can ruffle a few feathers. As you can probably guess I wish that Apple had upgraded its Macbook Pro line along a different path. I like computers that can be taken apart, upgraded, and fixed. The new configuration will use a 240Gb Intel 530 SSD as the boot drive and will recycle the 500Gb Toshiba 5400 RPM drive as the secondary storage disk. In addition I will also change the now two year old stock thermal paste with Arctic Silver. Needless to say that the computer will receive a good cleaning and good old TLC. Hardware Installation Having already done several conversions on other computers the task at hand was pretty straightforward. As usual I refer to the...
Shrouded Album Completion

Shrouded Album Completion

Recording The album was originally recorded between January and April 2013 at Energy Plant in Chico, California. This was Scott’s first outing at a recording studio. I should probably mention that Scott is blind and lost his sight early in life. The only real challenge that this brought was in keeping his position in front of the microphones consistent between takes. The initial scope of the project was to record and mix the songs in their current state so that Scott had a product to preserve, promote, and sell his music. There were moments where songs were rewritten and rerecorded since it was the first time that Scott had been able to critique his work. Mixing and Production I started the principal mixing not too long after we had passed the halfway mark and quickly found it hard to resist adding production elements to some of the songs. The first song that I did this with was “Blank Brick Wall” where I added string elements that added to the tone and theme of the songs. From there on I started recording bass guitar for some of the others songs. In July 2013 I moved to the UK in order to apply for my US work visa, a process that placed a significant dampener on this project’s progress. Work resumed in early 2014 after I had settled in and acquired new equipment and mixing setup. Prior to that I had a chance to try out a couple of ideas that I approached Scott with. The most prominent example is the additional production on “Listen”. The middle of the Summer saw...
Home Network Upgrades

Home Network Upgrades

The How and Why? Simple. The wireless signal that the Home Hub 4 was transmitting was so pitiful that by nighttime you could barely connect to a website. The included 5 GHz band was only accessible if you are in the same room, therefore useless. The integrated modem and router design only adds insult to injury when you the unit lacks a bridge mode that would allow it to function only as a modem. Fix it, Fix it, Fix it! I try to look for the bright side in these situations. In this case it means news toys! This also presented an opportunity to branch out and research my options with regards to using Open Source router firmware. I already had some experience with dd-WRT since Energy Plant’s router already uses a Buffalo skinned version. All I had to do was to find a router and modem that were both capable and not complete ripoffs. Having used TP-Link in a recent network installation I researched what routers would be dd-WRT compatible and if they would indeed be stable. The router I chose is the TP-Link TL-WDR3600 and runs a stable dd-WRT build – v24-sp2 (03/25/13) std. The modem I chose was the D-Link DSL-320B ADSL2+ Modem because of its clear support for bridged mode operation and BT’s network. Infrastructure Up to this point the living room was set up with a 10 meter phone line extension cable running along the wall from the main socket. My first order of business was to remove this cable, replace it with plastic conduit, and run new CAT6 cable. I did run the...
Computer Upgrades Part 1

Computer Upgrades Part 1

Life After the Honeymoon This is the first of my entries into what it has been like living and working with the computer I built back in January 2014. For the most part everything has been working normally and without any major trouble. The initial round of discoveries through ownership I made related to how the pairing of Intel Core i7-3770K – Ivy Bridge CPU with the z68 chipset. While both are 1155 socket products they do have their hardware preferences. To that end the 3770K can only reach a clock multiplier of 39 on a z68 chipset, meaning that it cannot clock over 3.9 GHz. This in itself defeats the reason for owning an unlocked and overclockable CPU. At any rate I wasn’t too bothered about this since the CPU was still a solid performer. Superior Firewire I began to noticed that kernel_task in OS X was using a unusually high amount of CPU cycles at idle, 10% of one of eigth threads. Since Firewire busses are dependent on the CPU for processing this usage is reflected through kernel_task. I double checked of the same card with my 2010 Macbook Pro and saw that it was running at 5% on a slower four thread dual core system. In both tests I checked by having my Focusrite audio interface on or off. After further research I pinned it to the integrated Firewire controller on the motherboard and its behaviour in OS X’s Console logs. It was displaying an invalid GUID which would continue flagging during system uptime. This does have the knock on effect of affecting stability and increases...
Furlough Fridays: Let Me In EP

Furlough Fridays: Let Me In EP

Recording The album’s principal drum recording was done on 27th and 28th of July at Energy Plant in Chico, California. Nick Lemos was the supervising recording engineer. Subsequent overdubs and re-amping sessions happened over the course of the next six months. I was originally the intended project engineer, but due to last minute move to England we had to change engineers at the last minute. The initial recording sessions were done as live tracking sessions in order to capture the band’s natural sound and feel. There was a definite time crunch since this would be the last album for then current drummer Sam Casale, who would be moving to Sweden to study abroad. This meant that the drum and basic guitar tracks had to be recorded within two days. Mixing for an EP In February 2014 we decided to go ahead and mix four songs for an EP release. They wanted a Grungy sound and felt that I could deliver it. The experience proved to be a good time to start developing the foundation for the band’s signature sound, something that was further developed during the album mixing stage. The goal at this point was start sifting through the current recordings, editing and cleaning them up, and putting together the foundational mixes for the EP. For now the EP is done and the band had something to take on tour and build up interest in the October’s album...
New Audio Workstation Build

New Audio Workstation Build

Introduction This is a moment that I have been waiting for quite a while and finally having access to the kind of computing power that my work has grown accustomed to over the last several years. The last six months have been a stretch by having to work within the confines of just a laptop. It has been a humbling experience and has reinforced my love and need of the desktop. My corner of the computing world revolves around professional recording and mixing, design work, and WordPress. These are three areas that OS X excels at as well as being compatible with my software. The last cycle of Macintosh desktops have left me wanting more in terms of value for money and overall specification. Hence my choice to keep moving with the world of OSx86 builds. I do think the new Mac Pro’s are promising little machines that finally offer the new generation of components while being to upgrade and service them at yourself. In the long run I would like to get my hands on one that I can lovingly use and maintain for the next couple of years. The Build I love it when a job starts with a giant pile of boxes! In this case it turned out to be an early birthday present to myself. Specifications: Intel i7 3770K Gigabyte GA Z68X UD7-B3 16GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600 RAM EVGA GTX 760 ACX Graphics Card Seasonic 850W 80 Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair H60 CPU Hydro Cooler Antec Tru-Quiet 120mm Fans Antec 302 ATX Case Logitech G500s Laser Mouse Razer Sphex Mouse Pad Apple Keyboard...
Getting settled with some piano recording

Getting settled with some piano recording

I recently had the opportunity to work with local piano student, Lulwa Al Shamlan, by recording an audition tape for her. With the concert hall at the music school booked and my new AKG 214 stereo pair of microphones in tow we were ready to give this a shot. My thanks to local artist Rich Maya for lending his time and assistant engineer skills. The results can be seen and heard at this link....