Using the Fritz!Wlan 1160 repeater to increase my wifi range [review]

Why I need a repeater and perhaps you as well

Recently with the hot weather we wanted to sit in our garden, but nowadays we take a tablet with us instead of a book.

Unfortunately the telenet router is all the way on the other side of the house, so the range is about nil and zilch once you go 2 meter further than our backdoor. So I needed a repeater, which is basically an extension for your wifi and is normally totally transparant to your tablet or laptop or smartphone.

In detail: your router talks to the wifi repeater (via wifi, no develo in sight here!) and the repeater is just a client on the network.
The repeater broadcasts the exact same wifi access name as your router (hence the name of the thing), and as it is closer to the devices that want to connect to the wifi, those devices use the more powerful radio of the repeater. Invisible to them, the repeater relays all those requests back to the router.

This is of course not optimal for speed but at least a slower connectivity is better than no connectivity. And it really depends on where you put the repeaters (yes, you can install multiple ones that connect to each other!). One caveat is that they need to be somewhere close enough to the router so that there still is a reasonable connection, but far enough that your devices farther away can still reach them.

So I recently purchased the Fritz!WLAN Repeater 1160, which I read some good comments about on tweakers and can be had for about 70 euros or slightly less.

It’s a stylish flat box with some red on it and some symbols so it is not the most un-noticable item in your room. If you can tuck it away in some powersocket nobody is using but still have good wifi connectivity, the better. On the box it says “Gigabit Wifi” but that all depends on how you configure it and how far away it is from the router (see above for more detail).

The front is actually quite well thought out.

You have a WLAN symbol, with below it the WPS button and under that status lights for power, WLAN and info.

The WLAN symbol lights up bars according to how strong the connection is to the router. In my case, I get about 3 bars, which is very good.
As such it gives you a rough estimation of how good the repeater can reach the router.

SETUP

Setup was so easy that I was actually doubtful that I done it :
1) plug it in somewhere close to the router
2) press the WPS button on your router
3) press the WPS button for 5 seconds on the repeater
4) done !

Connections can be either on 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz, or a combination of both, where you receive 2.4 and send on the 5 Ghz. This can help with the throughput speed, if you set it up right.

You can configure it manually if you don’t have a router with WPS, but for me WPS worked immediately. I actually reset it to factory settings just so I could try the other way as well. There are actually only 3 actions you can do with the device without going into the config screen :
– press the WPS button for 1s to turn the WIFI on or off
– hold the WPS button for more than 5 seconds : start the WPS handshake sequence
– hold the WPS button for more than 15 seconds : reset to factory settings

There was one problem that I had : once connected via wps to the router, I could not connect to the local fritz.repeater admin page that is described in the manual for further configuration. The only way I could access it was right after resetting it to factory settings. Once connected to the router the page was no longer accessible.

Performance

Surprinsingly good performance, and very stable. Both in seamlessly connecting to it and in the throughput to the router.
Absolutely no problem to watch youtube on the tablet all the way in the back of the garden !

So I heartily recommend this device if you want to extend your wifi for a low price !

G-Sync setup not showing in your menu ? Colors on your Dell S2716DG not right ?

I just bought this sweet, sweet new DELL monitor : the S2716DG monitor with G-Sync. This monitor has a TN panel that’s very good and can run at 144hz in G-Sync mode with selected nvidia cards like my GTX970.

G-Sync mode allows your card and your monitor to synchronize display refresh rates to the GPU in your GeForce GTX-powered PC, eliminating screen tearing and minimizing display stutter and input lag. The result in a game is no tear or blurry images, just buttery smooth gaming experience with crisp detail. I’ve tried Battlefield 1 before and after G-Sync and the experience is incredible.

One thing that bothered me was that when I initially searched on how to enable G-Sync, I could not find the menu entry in the nvdia control panel. I reinstalled all drivers and did a clean install of them just to be certain, but nothing changed. No “Set up G-SYNC” menu option. This really vexed me.

The solution seems to be a simple one, too simple really : just take out the displayport cable out of your screen or graphics card (you did use the dp cable to connect your screen, right?), then wait a moment, and plug it back in. After a second of hesitation, the “Set up G-Sync” menu option suddenly appears in the nvidia control panel. Problem solved !

The build of the screen itself is great, with small bezels, and can easely be lifted or lowered to the correct setting, as well as tilted or turned. The foot it connects to is solid and has a quick-release button.

But the default factory settings make the screen somewhat bright and harder to read than it should be. And the menu panel of the monitor doesn’t allow you to change the gamma settings, however with the nvidia control panel you can set it up correctly.

I found some settings on Reddit that I tried and quite liked. They are here for my own recall and perhaps your help should you want to try them out :

Nvidia Control Panel>Adjust desktop color settings:

  • Brightness-50% SAME
  • Contrast-50% SAME
  • Gamma-0.75% DIFFERENT
  • Digital vibrance-60% DIFFERENT
  • Hue-0 SAME

Click APPLY to save the settings.

DELL Monitor settings:

  • Brightness-30% DIFFERENT
  • Contrast-75% SAME
  • Color > Custom Color: R-97% G-99% B-96%

This definitely made the screen colors more vibrant and noticeable. The screen is a bit pricey, but not as much as the others, and the results are very good.

Moving from Android to iPhone 6S : First Impressions

I recently moved back from using a Samsung Note 2 for almost 3 years to a brand new iPhone 6S plus phone. Before my Note 2 I had a iPhone going back all the way to the original iPhone.

Why did I originally move to Android ?

Mainly because of the big screen and me being a voracious ‘binge sf reader’. iPhones didn’t offer large size screens at that time, and my eyes are having more and more difficulty reading tiny texts. Using a large screen and larger sized fonts on the Kindle app solved that problem for me and converted me to the big phablet phones.

Also, I became bored with my iPhone. Everything I could want was in there, but all the settings have been pre-selected by someone else. I wanted to see what I could do more with an Android.

While I definitely enjoyed tinkering with every Android setting possible, there came a time when I wanted to move back, especially when the iPhone 6 came out with the large screen variant.

The reasons why I moved back to an iPhone 6S Plus

  • The slowness of my existing phone: After using my android phone for almost 3 years, it became so very slow that I wanted to throw it at the wall. Having your phone ring and not being able to answer the call because the swipe you make takes 20 seconds to be recognised (and the caller has already hung up) is a major issue for me. Starting up your camera and waiting 10 seconds for it to come up ? Too much. I know that I could get some speed back by reinstalling, but really, this is not how it should work.
  • Not getting the 4G network: only 3G was possible. This is slowwww when you know that 4G is out there if you have the right phone.
  • No upgrade : almost every iphone gets an upgrade to the latest iOS for several years after. Not so with Samsung phones, which, due to the extra stuffing Samsung puts in, gets -maybe- one OS upgrade, and then almost a year after the upgrade originally came out. Then they promise another one, but never deliver. Anybody wanting to go for an Android phone, take a Motorola or Nexus phone, they upgrade easily.

Things that I noticed immediately on my iPhone

I’ve put a positive or negative score next to each item, to indicate how ‘bad’ I feel this is.

  • (–) No individual sound levels for sounds are available (eg. the alarm clock and the ringer share the same volume) !
  • (—) Worse, a bug that makes it that when you select ‘no sound’ for the alarm, only vibrate, the vibrate does not work!
  • (+++) The blazing speed of the new A9 chip !!
  • (+) Using 4G instead of 3G is nice, but to my surprise it is only a little bit smoother.
  • (+++) Integration with iTunes and Mac OS X in general is just so smooth and it. just. works. Photos sync, music syncs…
  • (-) Still no sd card integration, you must pay a premium for using the integrated memory, but I knew this already
  • (+) “Hey siri” works, but I don’t use it too much, not yet integrated in my old mind.
  • (++) Logging into your phone with the touch of your finger – nice !
  • (+++) Quickly checking the picture you have just taken – bliss !

Honestly, the thing that I could hardly believe was the alarm clock volume that is not separate from the ringer volume.

This new phone of mine can do just about anything, yet the alarm clock sound is stupidly fixed to the same volume as the ringer sound ! I kept looking for a setting that I missed, but no, forums confirm that this is not possible with the default alarm clock. It’s linked to the ringer volume.

I’m definitely not the only one having this problem… and meanwhile, in Android each app has it’s own volume setting.

Sure, there are plenty of third party apps out there that do, as well as workarounds. But really, for this expensive piece of integrated hardware and software to not have a user-optimised ‘John Ive’-fixed-it-for-you-way of doing this is beyond the pale.

Conclusion

I’m quite happy with my new iPhone 6S, it has wondrous new features and incomparable speed to my old phone, yet at the same time I’m stumped that basic things like individual sound volume didn’t get fixed or better said, *still* haven’t been fixed. All in all, it’s still a big improvement over my old phone and I enjoy using it every day, hopefully for the next few years !

Comparing the speed of a Devolo / TP-Link homeplug versus a RJ-45 cable

Procrastination can sometimes be measured in years.

In this particular case, 15 years passed between asking the electrician to run a CAT-5 RJ-45 cable to the first floor when building our house and today when I actually crimped the cable with ethernet plugs and made use of it. And boy, the speed difference is enormous !

There were of course a few years that I could not use the cable, due to the room being used for other things than intended. But the last five years or so I have used homeplug appliances like devolo and tp-link instead of connecting the network cable. The speed was okay, but not great, and I sometimes had network interrupts or slowdowns that I suspected originated from the homeplugs.

This weekend I finally bought the necessary tools to crimp the cable and perform a few speed tests. I used dslreports.com with my Safari browser, as this is an HTML5 test. Most of the other tests still seem to require flash, which I no longer wish to use.

Here is the short and sweet result of the speed test when using the homeplugs – you can get more results when clicking on the image :

And here is the result when I switched to using ethernet cable :

As you can see, the download speed of the connection is roughly 6 times faster by cable than via the electrical home network while the upload speed is only slightly higher. I redid the test with the cable using the Chrome browser to make sure that there was no caching from previous tests, and got just about the same results.

Wow. That’s a very, very big difference in download speed… I do wonder why the upload speed did not change significantly ?

Conclusion : while the homeplugs are certainly a viable solution for many houses where ethernet cable is not usable (old house, renting,…) you are certainly better of speed-wise in using a RJ-45 cat5 ethernet cable.

iPad.

Well, I’ve just returned from a 10 day trip or so around Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, and for once I didn’t take the laptop with me. Instead I brought my iPad along, and it served very well as a light-weight replacement ‘entertainment device’.

No programming at all, just consuming lots of different media, for which the iPad is more than up to it.

I watched a few movies on it using the Videos app, read a book using the Kindle iPad edition, and some comics on it via Comixology, and kept some spending figures in a spreadsheet using Numbers. I also used it a lot with Offmaps, an offline map reader for which I had downloaded the appropriate openstreetmap part of france before I left. It’s no match for a gps, but coupled with the GPS that is in the iPad it’s like map reading with the added ability of seeing where you are and zooming in and out of the map as you please. I really hate those small screens of the current gps devices, it’s so hard to get an overview of where you are going, with the iPad it’s just natural !

One thing I do miss is that I can’t download new pictures out of my camera like I do using the laptop with the SD Card reader although I believe there is a camera connection kit on the market.

The next few trips will also have an iPad as long as I don’t have to do any programming…

Gardena Accu Lawn mower – first impressions.


I had my old “Greenway” electric lawn mower for over 10 years now, and it did it’s job, but it was time to get something that was a bit less hard to work and wrestle with.

So I recently replaced it with a Gardena Accu Lawn mower – no more wires to cut accidently through, a lithium-ion battery that does not run down over the years, and a very functional design that allows you to raise or lower the mower with just one toggle. Plus a manual that is well written and if you follow the instructions correctly, it’ll have you up and running in no time. It’s very refreshing to read a manual that’s exact and knows what it is trying to explain and does it so well !

All in all, a difference of night and day. I do have two issues though:

One: The Battery.
Today, in hot weather of more than 30 degrees, I decided to cut my lawn using the mulch function of the mower. Previously I could cut more than half of the surface of my lawn with the one battery, and since it is divided into 2 already, I didn’t mind. And the battery lasted about 40 to 50 minutes.

But now, the battery ran down after just 20 to 30 minutes, even before I could finish one half of my lawn !!!

And since I have only the one battery, I’m done for the day. Charging times are 7 hours or so to fully top them up, so I put my lawn mower back into the shed.

I knew that I would have to buy another battery to be safe for future years and do my lawn in one go, but this is just ridiculous ! I hope it’s the heat that made the battery less performing, but it was a serious disappointment !

Two: The fail-safe handles.
The handles have a button you need to press and on both sides, a lever you need to pull out, preventing accidental startups of the machine. I totally get this. But do those handles need to be so tight ? My hands are in continual cramps of clutching those 2 handles all the time. They are so damn fiddly, you need to press really hard on them to prevent an instant stop.

Apart from that, a wonderful machine.

My HD Recorder KISS DP-558 is dead. So is the Kiss website.

Kiss Technology is dead

After 4 years of usage, my Kiss DP-558 recorder is dead. Done. No longer working. And the Kiss website is down as well. Cisco/Linksys has taken over and shut down Kiss Technologies. More’s a pity that they never *did* anything with what they bought…

A mains current failure that came and went made sure that it died an agonizing death, always switching on and then switching off again. I’m sorry to see you go mate, you earned the ‘wife-acceptance’ trophy, which is hard to come by.

So I’m looking for a replacement. I’ve finally settled on a Emtec S800 (I originally bought the S800H, but this only has a digital tuner, not an analog, and we’re still (stubbornly) analog.

Still, no more Electronic Program Guide to pick and choose from. And still no H.264 (which the S800H did have) codec support. And no more having something decent looking under your televison that fitted in with the Hi-Fi equipment.

Bummer.

Shiny Stuff: Sony Reader PRS-505

After more than a year of watching it go for the same price on Ebay without the price dropping, I finally cracked and bought me a Sony Ebook Reader, model PRS-505. The day after I ordered, Jeff Bezos from Amazon announces that the Kindle is now available worldwide for the price of about 200 euros, about the same price I bought my reader from Ebay. Not sure if I am happy about that or not.

Perhaps happy – maybe there will be more english books available to buy on our side of the ocean ? Sometimes I want to buy an ebook and get a refusal. Something to do with rights that can be sold seperately on either side of the ocean… and this is sometimes not done on both sides, or at the same time, so only one side of the ocean is served, so to speak.

Very frustrating, that is: seeing an ebook you want to buy in the eshop, wanting to buy that ebook and not being able to buy the frickin digital file.

First impressions of my Sony PRS-505: it’s small, and fairly heavy. It’s got a Sony memory stick reader, but also a SD card slot. Guess which card is cheaper to buy ? You guessed right, the SD card. I slotted in a 2GB card.

The buttons on the side are functional, but hard to press. But the e-ink page is phenomenal !

Once you get over the page refresh blackout (every time you change a page, the screen refreshes) it’s a delight to read. The e-ink paper is very sharp and clear. It charges over USB. So far I read a few hundred pages, and the battery level hasn’t even budged !

Using Calibre, a cross-platform ebook manager, I can organise my ebooks on my computer, and then transfer the one I want to read to my Sony ebook.

So far, so good. I’ve been taking it along on road trips and short vacations, and it’s holding up well.

EyeTV Elgato USB Device 1.1 error

EyeTV 3 is complaining when I plug in the Elgato EyeTV Hybrid device that my USB port is 1.1 and it’s needs a 2.0 device to operate.

Apparently this is a common problem for Elgato EyeTV hybrid devices, although EyeTV wants it to be called a ‘rare’ problem.

But! The fix is here! Apparently for most devices, you just have to ‘cook’ it. In other words, to (temporarely) get it working again, you need to get it warm again.

Several solutions have been proposed in this Elgato support forum, and I won’t keep you from a few:

  • stick the usb ‘stick’ between your chair and your bottom for a few minutes
  • put it in the oven for a few seconds or minutes on low temps (I would NOT recommend this)
  • put it on an external harddrive that gets hot (like for example, oooeh I don’t know, an Apple TimeCapsule ?)

Anyway, after warming it a bit on my TimeCapsule, it worked like a charm ! Elgato recognises the device again, and since my iMac hardly ever shuts down, this should keep going until the next reboot or so.