Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.38.9) and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.

Firefly Media Server (not for television) FKA “mt-daapd” (but for iTunes)

I had looked at this product before, it’s a free GNU sourced media server project, as it’s used mostly for the RokuSoundBridge .  Recently I was pondering servers and looking into AirTunes via Airport Express wireless audio.  Airport Express (in its base configuration) require iTunes running to control where the audio is sent.  The slick thing since the advent of iPhone 2.0 and iPod Touch is the “Remote Software by Apple” which does what it says.  Your Apple TV, your Mac Mini server in the basement, anything connected to your 802.11/b/g network can be under its control via touch screen.  But back to Firefly Media Server.

Okay, say you have 3 rooms and in each room someone wants to listen to different music.  How?  Well, lets pretend again that on your home network you have a server where all the music is centrally located.  Firefly taps this by adding iTunes server compatibility through Bonjour networking.  On the old Dell XP machine it was a matter of installing Bonjour for Windows 1.04 and then the latest build of Firefly.  Right now over 802.11g I have two laptops listening to two different songs, where the Firefly shows up as a shared iTunes Library and amazingly the Dell still has enough resources to playback a separate FLAC audio stream over USB.  That makes 3 concurrent streams of audio, not bad for an old 900 MHz Pentium III.

I am not excited about taking the GREs.  That’s about all I can think of.  I ran 7 miles last Monday and climbed 3 other days last week.  The 7 mile run was too much.  Josh mentioned something about climbing trips in September.  It’s too much for me to think of right now and Ryan has been fing-jured.   On a completely unrelated mechanical note, I did do a little research into bit driver types for professional applications, as in putting two pieces of wood together with a screw.  The Phillips head was never  supposed to make it as far as it has.  From my reading, Canadian carpenters love the old square-Robertson drive. Hex and Torx also work better in high torque situations.  There is a better version of Phillips called the Pozidriv (I didn’t make that up) though it seems to be something of a hybrid Phillips with less public awareness.  The square bit will probably make its way into my tool box, though clearly we all can’t be Canadian woodsmen.