Google Voice

Suburban Station used to be a bomb shelter, back when people actually cared about bombs versus simple vaporization at the hands of nuclear weapons. We sort of brushed that fact under the carpet by taking away the signs on the walls but if you’re looking in center city you can find the signs. Mostly they’re on the forgotten byways but the really brutal part is that fallout shelters are typically lined with lead. Trying to get a piece of sky from the station is impossible. To add insult to injury, the stations are underground. Lead or no lead you simply won’t be getting signal in that much earth shadow.

Note to TMobile – want to be really popular in the city real quick? Put a low power cell antenna in the station.

That being said, I am a huge fan of google voice. If you have an android anything with as much as a speaker and a microphone, you want this. I use it for just about all my calls now when at home, since there’s no sense in using my minutes and I know my wifi isn’t going anywhere. Even if you want a “burner number” so you can finally call Taco Bell and order a Border Jumper, make a fake google account, grab a number and go nuts. The one big problem is that it doesn’t work unless it has cellphone signal. This is particularly hilarious when you realize that a lot of “tablets” (android devices which aren’t phones) can’t ever get cellphone signal by virtue of the fact that they’re not phones. No antenna, no SIM card, no NAM number.

The simple reason is because Google Voice integrates tightly with the cellular state machine. XDA has a whole thread on it. The amount of work that has to go into hacking Google Voice to not do a cellular state check is frankly over the top and manufacturers have gone out of their way to customize the OS and framework to prohibit you from taking a “tablet” device and using it as a cellphone (samsung, I am looking at you). AOSP ROMs get a bit of a pass since they have a more vanilla framework but the whole binary module loader thing that ATI and nVidia blazed a trail for means that the state machine sometimes ends up in one state and the API reports another because no-one has really dumped a working version of the modem firmware yet for samsung devices. Frankly Google I’m sort of happy this is biting you in the ass for having to support older phones.

Anyway, the good news is the same XDA thread above also mentions someone who solved the problem. If you have a 2.1 or better device (read: all samsung phones), you can download GrooVe IP which makes the calls for you. I have a bit of a problem paying him $5 for the registered version because literally all the developer did was enter the google voice API (voice is required to be installed) after the state machine check and just piggyback from there. The 1MB file size is UI cruft, the actual application is only a few KB. Now I can make calls over the comcast xfinity access points without burning up minutes and more importantly without any cellular connectivity at all.

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Can Wikipedia Solve the Vandalism Problem?

Update: Hi Wikipedians. This post was cited as a reason for an “indefinite block” and now has taken top spot on my blog for most read page. In the few hours it was up, I’ve had over 100 hits from Wikipedia alone.

Update 2: Hi Tosh Fans. If you’re here to help fix the Daniel Tosh page, this post is for you.

Today, I engaged in one of my favorite leisure activites: wikipedia vandalism.

Wikipedia has a fairly strict policy against vandals – you get banned by account name first, then by hostname, then my IP. The obvious thing to do, since most of the wikipedia people have no idea how the world wide waste works, is to simply keep registering accounts. Combined with Gmail’s M4 support (try adding +1 to the end of your mail address, as in josh.knarr+1@gmail.com) and it defeats all the automatic multiple registration protections. This works well for awhile if you enjoy vandalizing casual, back woods articles but it’s important to make changes stick, especially when going for the holy trolling grail of getting on the wikipedia-on-DVD. HOW CAN WE USE THE POWER OF THE ANDROID FOR EVIL?

Well, the obvious thing to do is to grab a proxy list and get into an edit war. People who take wikipedia seriously as an authoratative source tend to avoid 3 revert violations. All you need to do is get them into a situation where they would be the third revert and they tend to just leave it go. Remember, each time you revert an article from a new IP, it’s a fresh revert count. Each time they revert the article from their account, it’s a strike against them. They could ask for mediation, but pop culture articles and the like tend to simply be let go. The problem is that most proxy lists which would enable three anonymous edits and thus brick out a “real” identity are banned since wikipedia has those lists too. Wikipedia doesn’t care about if they actually work, they just scape the lists every so often and ban the entries wholecloth. We need some other way of getting new IPs without having 100 cable modems at our disposal. Enter the skyhook. It’s a google service, the rest of you can use Wigle but it’s the same thing. If you’re using skyhook on the droid it’s as simple as hitting the checkbox and it’ll use skyhook data to connect to wifi. Wigle gives you a more manual process but it shows you the same thing.

Pop open that browser, hit the link at the bottom for “full site” and revert away!

Things get slightly stickier when you’re going for semi-protected articles. Recently I tried to vandalize Daniel Tosh. I’m not sure why he’s semi protected but whatever. Here’s where patience counts. Make a legit account, make a few helpful edits, and then forget about it for a month. Do this about five times from your skyhooked or Wigle’d device and forget about them for a month. You’ll end up autoconfirmed when you come back. Pick a page and vandalize the life out of it. Your changes will be rolled back, but get into an edit war with a user. Eventually your user will be banned. From different IPs be sure you keep up editing it, but from the same IPs be sure to appeal your block. Remember, it’s Wikipedia and common opinion always wins, even if it’s wrong. If enough people say something, substantiated or not, it becomes the truth. In Staegenthaller’s case there, the valdalism was widely regarded as truthy, and cited in the news, which made it citeable in Wikipedia, and thus the truth is made by popular opinion.

The truth is out there.

XBOX 360 Wireless Part Deux

I scored the D-LINK DWL-G730AP for the XBOX 360. This was suggested when researching wifi solutions. Amazon shipped it and it got here the next day. Hows that for service? To make a long story short, I had exactly an hour to set it up yesterday before I was supposed to hop on for work.

How did that go?

For one, I’m running Linux, so I never got to review their quick start CD. The manual, however, is total crap and I ended up downloading the PDF from the website. D-Link tends to be better and consistent across their administration interface, and I had owned one previously before getting a netgear for the XBOX 360’s wired connection. The XBOX 360 shits fat packets, and if your hardware isn’t certified your connection used to completely suck. Nowadays people figured out the trick and the firmwares work, but be aware if your router crashes (and the REV A hardware and firmwares before 2 do for this device) you need a newer device. The old D-Link did this to a T and the Amazon reviews pretty much say nothings improved since 2006. It either works, or not. Thankfully buying it news means you get Rev B, and firmware 2.

This does nothing for the UI.

The UI is junk, frankly. To start with it depends on a swith on the bottom to configure it as a client (what you need for the XBOX), a router (with only one uplink port, lol) or a firewall. The last mode is next to useless, but if you’re looking to add wifi connectivity to a switch or router, it might scratch your itch. The problem is that the firewall settings are godawful. This doesn’t become a problem if you’re not using it as an AP. On the other hand, the other settings are godawful too and it’s not hard to see why there’s a totally seperate UI on the disk.

Configuration is the standard D-Link blue and white UI. The problems start with that switch. The UI changes from the position of the switch, but the modes are all roughly the same and bits and pieces either appear and disappear based on that switches positon. Sometimes this makes no sense at all. Trying to configure the device for a bridge lets me set the LAN side to DHCP. This makes sense, right? We want the XBOX to get a new IP when we plug it in, right? No. This means the LAN side of the bridge is DHCP, which means that it’s no longer 192.168.0.30 and now expects to have it’s IP assigned. Since the XBOX, or your laptop isn’t a DHCP server, this makes no sense at all in bridge mode. Similarly the gateway should be unconfigured (0.0.0.0) and the DNS server too. Since this device cannot be a DNS server (or relay) I’m not even sure why they put those features in there. Also completely weird is the SSID search –  you must find your router using the wizard and select it with the radio-button. You also need to specify a channel and it can’t figure out the authentication on it’s own. Why? No idea. The Netgear stuff can cloak the SSID and hop channels to avoid interference, but not using this device.

The final insult was that – for configuration – you need a static IP. After configuration, you need a dynamic IP. This is probably something gracefully handled by the install disc, but it’s not mentioned anywhere in the manual. I spent most of my time second guessing the config. Finally I fired up the DHCP client and bound it to the eth0 device which already had a static IP configuration and it magically worked. However, you’re not told (or prompted) to switch your settings once the device is configured. If you’re wondering, the gateway is set to the IP of the LAN side, but DNS needs to be another server. Your IP address is dynamically assigned and the device actually treats the whole process as full NAT, which is exactly what needs to happen to host XBOX games.

I’ve thrown these things under the bus pretty badly, but to be honest, once it’s configured you don’t have to worry about it. I played Modern Warfare 2 last night with no hiccups, and also watched a few Netflix. I saw no issues with either, and Netflix gives me the “five bars of signal”. If you can put up with the terrible UI once, it’s worth the money compared to the same crap from Microsoft. It has the bonus of being usuable for any device with an ethernet port, so in this way it’s superior. Friends and hunting buddies who want to get online with their computers now can just use this business card sized device instead of me having to run cable. If I had to reconfigure it many times, I probably would suggest passing on it.

XBOX 360 WiFi

After the disaster that was the first attempt at XBOX 360 wifi (protip – 802.11N isn’t a standard yet), I decided to look for alternatives. Paying $60 for a glorified USB-bridge wasn’t my cup of tea because routers themselves are cheaper. Plus I have a Wii and everyone knows the encryption support is a joke.

Turns out there’s a ton of people who felt the same way, and they wrote documentation.

So, why do this when “official” MS adaptors are out there? Because the official support sucks. The Wii has to use crap encryption, you can’t hide your SID, etc. The XBOX 360 adaptor won’t even work in the next rev (although you can get an original XBOX wifi adaptor working if you can find it). Also maybe I want a tivo, how do I wifi that? The solution is to buy a supported device (as silly as it sounds, “supported” only indicates “it works”).

Or, for the same price, you could just buy this from Amazon and not be a total geek.