Netgear WN3000 Universal WiFi Range Extender Review

Short summary: I can’t get this thing to work and will likely return it. Updated, it’s sort of working now. See updates below.

This is unfortunate because the device has most of the features I was looking for – easy router config and connect, MAC address filtering, and all the normal forms of connection encryption.

I was unsuccessful in connecting an XBox 360 and two different tablets (Win8 and Android). All devices failed to aquire an I.P. address. The extender also does something funky with virtual mac addresses I was never able to figure out. (Speaking of which, what the heck is a virtual mac address? The internet doesn’t have a good definition.) Another complaint, the web based admin interface seemed buggy, clicking on the main sectional nav links didn’t spin the throbber in my browser, and sometimes the interface I selected simply didn’t come up. One last complaint, the documentation through the web based admin interface wasn’t very good. One of those classic cases where the person who wrote the docs didn’t have good english skills.

Overall Netgear has a useful little device here if they work out the connection problems. The device had strong signal from various parts of my house, it connected to my WPS router with zero effort, and it had the security features I wanted. However getting a pc, tablet, or xbox connected to it should “just work”. It didn’t, and the support docs and support web site were of little help.

Update – I managed to get this working by performing a system reset. Basically, plug the device in, wait for green lights, then hit the device reset button using a paperclip. I then went through the same process of getting it connected to my router using WPS. After which I was able to connect via a Windows 7 laptop and the XBox 360. (However, I received a warning from the xbox about NAT issues which concerns me. Does this device have issues with UPnP?) Also, the xbox test connection process was very slow. I’ll run with this for a bit and see how things go. If the connection speeds are bad or I have issues with games, I’ll likely still ditch the unit. Linksys sells a similar model, I might try that product out if the Netgear extender totally fails to impress.

Update 2 – More connection problems, this time with an android tablet. The tablet connects and attempts to get an IP address which it seems to accomplish, but then it immediately loses the address, and attempts again. This cycle goes on continually. With all the issues I’ve had, I think in the end this device is going to be a waste of money. I am not impressed.

I did figure out the virtual mac address thing – the device maps a virtual address to the address of a device connected to it. If you use mac address filtering you’ll need to set up filters for both addresses on your router and the device itself. Kind of a pain really, since you have to maintain two lists. For devices connected to the extender, you’ll need to add the device address and then add the virtual address to your router. If you want to be able to connect to both access points simply add both addresses to both lists.

PRO:
1) easy router set up
2) mac address filtering and encryption

CON:
1) major issues with getting clients connected
2) Mysterious NAT warning on the xbox
3) Android connection cycling
4) buggy web based administration interface
5) crummy web site support

Collusion by Mozilla

Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web. It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.

www.mozilla.org/collusion – go get it.

One thing that isnt clear in the demo, you can grab the little circle web sites and drag them around to better see relationships.

Windows Classic is dead in Win8

In Windows Developer Preview, Windows Classic theming mode no longer exists, and UX theming mode has been modified to include support for high contrast themes. Also, the system now stores the current visual styles so that they are always available, even when the Themes service is not running. Because of these changes, applications that target only Windows Developer Preview no longer need two separate code paths to support visual styles and high contrast themes.

It’s crazy that the old Windows 95 widget support exists under the hood of every Win OS up to Windows 7. As a developer this presents added work in insuring support, especially in projects like Mozilla, which handle common control theme rendering internally. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for MS to kill Classic off – this is great news. Good F’n riddance!

Cheaper solar installations

The need for highly specialized labor and custom installations drives up the installed cost of solar to about $7 per watt nationwide, or roughly $35,000 for a 5 kW installation, before government incentives.

Korman wants to bring the cost down to about $21,600 or between $4 – $4.50 per watt. To achieve this goal, GE would offer a standardized kit that includes modules that output low-voltage alternating current (AC) power instead of the high-voltage direct current (DC) power of most modules. Roofers and electricians can safely install these lower voltage systems on standardized mounts, eliminating the high cost of installation.

Link

Wikipedia – Micro-inverters

Latest and greatest – Enphase M215

These in-panel or attached DC-to-AC inverters are relatively new to the market, and should have a huge impact on the cost and improve the reliability of these systems. Awesome!

Wonky political question – If the government susidized a $35,000 installation down to say $20,000, would manufacturers still have strong incentive to bring the cost down on their own?

Individual Freedom and Software

“If we allow ourselves to be lulled into satisfaction with walled gardens, we’ll miss out on innovations to which the gardeners object, and we’ll set ourselves up for censorship of code and content that was previously impossible.”

Fitting that I found this article by Jonathan Zittrain today, the same day Microsoft released details on the restrictions of thier new software store. I will not be supporting any “software store” that restricts what my software can display or do –

5.1 Your app must not contain adult content

Apps with a rating over PEGI 16, ESRB MATURE, or that contain content that would warrant such a rating, are not allowed.

5.2 Your app must not contain content that advocates discrimination, hatred, or violence based on membership in a particular racial, ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, or other social group, or based on a person’s gender, age, or sexual orientation

5.3 Your app must not contain content or functionality that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes illegal activity

5.4 Your app must not contain or display content that a reasonable person would consider to be obscene

5.5 Your app must not contain content that is defamatory, libelous or slanderous, or threatening

5.6 Your app must not contain content that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes excessive or irresponsible use of alcohol or tobacco products, drugs or weapons

5.7 Your app must not contain content that encourages, facilitates or glamorizes extreme or gratuitous violence, human rights violations, or the creation or use of weapons against a person or animal in the real world

5.8 Your app must not contain excessive or gratuitous profanity

In the software industry individual freedom is slowly dieing.

Stop SOPA

..it makes no difference that no judge has found you guilty of anything or that the DMCA safe harbors would shelter your conduct if the matter ever went to court. Indeed, services that have been specifically found legal, like Rapidshare, could be economically strangled via SOPA. You can file a counter-notice, but you’ve only got 5 days to do it (good luck getting solid legal advice in time) and the payment processors and ad networks have no obligation to respect it in any event. That’s because there are vigilante provisions that grant them immunity for choking off a site if they have a “reasonable belief” that some portion of the site enables infringement.

At a minimum, this means that any service that hosts user generated content is going to be under enormous pressure to actively monitor and filter that content. That’s a huge burden, and worse for services that are just getting started – the YouTubes of tomorrow that are generating jobs today. And no matter what they do, we’re going to see a flurry of notices anyway – as we’ve learned from the DMCA takedown process, content owners are more than happy to send bogus complaints. What happened to Wikileaks via voluntary censorship will now be systematized and streamlined – as long as someone, somewhere, thinks they’ve got an IP right that’s being harmed.

In essence, Hollywood is tired of those pesky laws that help protect innovation, economic growth, and creativity rather than outmoded business models. So they are trying to rewrite the rules, regulate the Internet, and damn the consequences for the rest of us.

The Stop Online Piracy Act

EFF Link

The side effects of single channels

The internet investing market is transitioning. Social was the driving force for the past three or four years. In the wake of Facebook and Twitter, how could it not be? Mobile has also been a hot theme. Both sectors have consolidated a few winners and a number of additional interesting emerging companies. But how many social platforms of scale will there be? Five, ten, twenty? And mobile is hard because distribution continues to be limited to the app store model where you get on the leaderboard and win or you don’t and you don’t. Investors are moving into new areas like cloud, peer to peer marketplaces, and trying to take what worked in consumer into the enterprise. There is no lack of interest in internet investing, but investors are having to learn new markets and new sectors. And that kind of transition takes the heat out of an overheated market.

Noticed this little blurb in the discussion about venture drying up – it sounds like locked down mobile app stores are hindering innovation.

A VC link

Jobs – R.I.P.

Knew it was coming, but wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it until now. Generally, feels a little bit like winning a game by default because the guy on the other team broke his leg. Sort of takes the fun out of it. Ballmer vs. Cook? There’s no ring to that. A sad end to a wonderful era, for sure.