Aside from the, ‘WAN Connection: Ethernet link down.’, message I was seeing in my ASUS RT-N66U system log, there are two other error messages that appear often.

miniupnpd: unsupported NAT-PMP version : 2

This message appears in my log every hour on the hour. As near as I can tell it doesn’t cause any problems with my Internet connection or general network performance. I’ve figured out it only occurs when my wife’s Mac Mini is turned on. The Mac works just fine  during and outside times the error message is being logged. Either Mac OS itself or some program she has is using UPnP in a way the ASUS router doesn’t care for. I don’t have a good answer on this outside of saying it doesn’t seem to affect much.

kernel: eth1: received packet with  own address as source address

I have two access points in my home, both with the same SSID. The first access point is the one built into the ASUS RT-N66U, the second access point is an old Netgear router with everything but the access point functionality turned off.

This error occurs when a client moves from the ASUS RT-N66U to the Netgear access point. The network is general is not affected. The client moving between the two access points will lose some packets. The packet loss isn’t noticeable unless you are looking for it.

 

After a string of Kickstarter slim front pocket wallets I’ve finally found a replacement for my Dopp Wallet, a Ralph Lauren Silk Tie Card Case.

Problems with the Kickstarter wallets

The biggest problem I had with the Kickstarter wallets was their durability. Each wallet I tried ended up with either frayed cloth or elastic after a few months of use. In comparison my Dopp wallet has been with me since I was a teenager and looks great. A secondary problem, considering I was searching for function, was that they tended to look dorky, I would point out that The Ridge wallet was an exception to the dorkiness.

The Ralph Lauren Silk Tie Card Case

Card case is an apt name for this as there isn’t much room for cash, photos, business cards, or the other things people keep in their wallets. As a guy who only carries a couple of credit cards and IDs its perfect. The wallet is leather with one side covered in silk tie material. It’s small, not much wider than a credit card. The thickness is about three credit cards.

I’ve owned this wallet for about three months now. There is no wear and tear evident. If anything it looks better now as riding around in my pocket has polished the leather a bit.

I’ve not found a thing I don’t like about this wallet.

You can buy the Ralph Lauren Silt Tie Card Case directly from Ralph Lauren.ralph_lauren_wallet

 

 

A few weeks ago I began to have a recurring and incredibly frustrating problem with my Internet connection. Multiple times a day my Internet connection would drop for a couple of minutes at a time. My cable modem would show I had a good link. Upon checking my ASUS RT-N66U router I would see this in the system log:

WAN Connection: Ethernet link down.

Then a few minutes later the connection would come back on its own. I would see this in the log:

WAN Connection: Ethernet link up.

I work from home, mostly using SSH to log into remote servers. My connection would flake out just long enough for my SSH connection to drop. It drove me up the wall.

I did a lot of Google searching and couldn’t find much of anything about the problem. What I did find wasn’t productive.

Going strictly off of the error message I figured I had one of three problems, bad network cable between the router and modem, bad WAN port on the router, or bad WAN port on the modem. I changed network cables with no luck. I replaced my ASUS router with an old Netgear router I had. The problem stopped. I went back to the old cable, still no problem. I put the ASUS router back into play, the problem started again. I knew it had to be something with the ASUS router. I had owned it for too long to send it back for warranty coverage. I also thought it odd that the hardware in the WAN port could be flakey enough to cause an intermittent problem like this while otherwise working fine. I figured it was software related.

In order to simplify things I turned off every feature of the router I didn’t %100 need. Guest wifi network, QoS,  USB support, DDNS, cloud support, and so on and so forth were turned off. I even shut down the second access point I have in my house. After simplifying everything something wonderful happened. The problem stopped. I gave it a few days to be certain and sure enough, no more drops.

I then began to turn on each service again, one per day. When I turned on DDNS via no-ip.com the drops started again within a few hours. I turned off DDNS and the drops stopped. The culprit had been found.

I don’t have a good idea why the DDNS client causes the WAN Ethernet port to drop out. Its some sort of bug in the 3.0.0.4.376_1071 firmware I’m running.

In the end my solution was to leave DDNS turned off in the router and then to install a no-ip.com update client on my computer.

TL;DR

My ASUS RT-N66U router started dropping my Internet connection. It had something to do with updating no-ip.com. Turning off the DDNS client solved the problem.

Update 9/10/14: I switch to the Merlin Firmware and even with DDNS turned on the router has been fine with no drops. That aside the new firmware is working great, all of the features I would expect and I have not noticed any change in my speed.

Update 5/3/16: I’m still running the Merlin Firmware, updating it as they become available. No problems at all.

Several years ago I bought a split level home overlooking a lake on a steep hillside in Northwest Arkansas. The only access to the lake was via 114 rotten wooden steps. Attempting to walk down the hillside without the steps was next to impossible due to the grade. The soil was white, powdery, and full of limestone rock. Between the soil quality and the needles from several pine trees, nothing grew outside of some stunted bushes.

Things were OK until I cut down all of the trees and removed the steps to open up the view. After doing that I ran into a erosion problem. Bad enough that after a particularly heavy rain storm I found a newly formed ditch  a couple of feet deep. After a lot of trials and errors that involved bringing in several square yards of dirt to fix, I’ve finally hit upon some methods that work.

Trials and Errors

Surprisingly the Internet isn’t a good resource for erosion control. Most of what I could find related to erosion control in desert environments, such as southern California, or temporary control related to construction run off. Neither of which would help me build a permanent solution in my humid subtropical northwest Arkansas home that receives sixty inches of rain a year.

Spreading hay: In theory if you spread hay over bare dirt with some seed laid down the hay will hold in moisture, stop the rain from washing everything away, and keep birds away from the seeds. Three years after spreading hay I still find it random places. To say its messy is an understatement. The first windy day will spread your hay to every nook and cranny around. On a steep hill rain will wash the hay away along with whatever is under it.

Planting grass: During the first fall I planted some winter rye grass. As far as erosion control it worked pretty well. It grew quickly and held the dirt down well. The problem with grass is that it grows tall. You either have to mow it or knock it down with a string trimmer. Mowing on a steep hill side sits somewhere between pain in the ass and impossible.

Gravel: If you lay down a couple inch thick layer of 3-4 inch gravel, erosion stops. This works, but I don’t like the way it looks. I want some green.

Concrete: I had a concrete walking path built. It only served to stop the water in places it shouldn’t, and then speed up the water everywhere else. I wish I could jackhammer the whole thing up and get rid of it.

What worked

Control water at the top of the hill so you don’t have to worry about it at the bottom: I built two large drains that collect all of the water at the start of the slope and carry it all the way down to the lake, bypassing my backyard entirely. This stopped the majority of the problem all by itself. Once the drains were built the only water I had to deal with is what actually fell in the backyard. These drains were both hand dug, no way to get machinery where I needed it because of the slope.

Swales: The best way I can describe a swale is a drainage ditch that doesn’t go anywhere. You dig a ditch that is level to the grade. It fills up with water and holds it there until it naturally percolates down into the soil below.

Walking Trails: I had a zig zag of walking tails built down the slope. It took about a day for a guy with a small skid loader to do the job. The trails are covered in compost. The grade of the trails is slight enough and the compost absorbent enough that they act like swales.

Clover and Vetch: Clover and vetch are two low growing legumes. Clover looks just like you think. Vetch looks something like a fern. Both plants fix nitrogen into the soil improving the quality. Both look nice, stay green all year, have pretty flowers most of the summer, and grow low enough you never have to mow. Animals love it, I have deer, rabbits, and geese that hang out all day. Use white clover, other clover species can get tall.

Compost, compost everywhere: The city I live in sells compost by the yard so cheaply they almost give it away. Originally I used the compost to cover the walking paths I built down to the lake. Pretty quickly grass began to grow on the paths. It grew so well that I couldn’t keep it knocked down. I then ran with the idea and put down compost everywhere. I raked the soil a bit, dropped the clover and vetch seed, and then spread compost. Wash, rinse, repeat, for the entire back yard.

TL;DR

In my opinion what really worked to control erosion were three things, use drains/trenches to control water at the top of the hill, cover any bare dirt with compost, seed heavily with clover and vetch.

 

 

My review of XBMC on Amazon’s Fire TV can be summed up easily, I’ve moved from my custom built HTPC to using a Fire TV for my day to day TV watching.

Commonly asked question I see about the Fire TV

  • It’s easy to install.
  • You don’t need to root the Fire TV
  • I have it plugged into a 5.1 surround system via HDMI. I didn’t have to go to any trouble to make it work.
  • I have about 3TB of media on an SMB share. My library is shared via MySQL. I had no problems getting this to work with the Fire TV. Navigating the library is just as snappy as my old HTPC.
  • The Fire TV will play a 1080p 5.1 surround sound movie without issue.
  • The Fire TV will play a 1080p MPEG-2 stream from a HDHomerun device without issue.
  • The Fire TV will play an USTVNow stream without issue.
  • The default remote map isn’t good. There are much better keymaps out there.
  • I could not get it to work correctly with a FLIRC and a Harmony remote. (See Cons below)
  • You can side load emulators. Anything up the PS1/N64 generation works. Though you’ll want to root it so you can use storage devices other than the built-in. This is much, much easier than getting emulators to work on other XBMC hardware/operating systems.
  • XBOX 360 and PS3 controllers work.
  • It’s by far the easiest way to get Netflix, Amazon Prime, and XBMC all on the same box.

Pros for the Fire TV

  • It makes no noise
  • It doesn’t produce any heat
  • It’s small. I have it hidden behind a photo 5×6 frame on my entertainment center.
  • It’s cheap! The Fire TV is $100. I spent about $375 on my HTPC less than a year ago. I thought it was cheap at the time.
  • You don’t have to jack with it much to get XBMC going. No custom hardware to put together, no OS install, ect, ect.

Cons for the Fire TV

TL;DR

The Amazon Fire TV is the best hardware to run XBMC on.