Category Archives: PCTech

Note to self – Get a wifi router supported by DD-WRT.

After my wifi-router just stopped working one day, I had to get a new one. The one I got was Netgear WNR612v2 wifi router which was just enough for my basic needs. As I had assumed that any wifi-router will work fine, this one gave me real trouble. Connection drops every 5 mins just made me try all tricks in the book to make it just keep a connection for more than 10 mins. I did a firmware upgrade but did pay much attention to the fact that it has a really old firmware. After this one, to get rid of the connection drop pain I got a Belkin N150 F7D1301 wifi router.

Another cheap one in the market but costlier than the earlier Netgear one I had. But this one also totally disappointed me. It would also drop connections, not as frequently as the Netgear one, but just one every 45 mins. The drop frequency would be totally dependent on the number of connected devices. Add in 2-3 mobiles, 3 laptops and a tablet and a connection drop would happen every 15 mins. For this router as well the firmware upgrades had stopped in 2010 itself. The net is full of articles which complain about the connection drops of this Belkin N150 wifi router.
So now with two big flop shows of routers, I need to make this important self note that in the future invest only in routers which are DD-WRT supported. DD-WRT is the site run by BrainSlayer. It provides third party firmwares for routers running on Broadcom or Atheros chips. The firmwares are GPL’ed and uptodate with latest fixes. So hopefully in the future I will not be stuck in hardware with some old buggy software which keeps the devices from functioning.

RmClock : The nitro boost for mobile processors.

This experiment was done by me some time back to squeeze out more performance from my Acer Aspire 5052. Now if you check the specs it has a AMD Turion Processor MK38 maxing out at 2.2 Ghz. The AMD processor is known to be more cheap than the Intel line of similar mobile processors. But they are more like the Intel Celeron line, cheap but they heat on running cpu intensive tasks. So this laptop was being used to do Symbian application development, but the thing I noticed that it would take some time to build the code. I was not sure what was the reason for the extra build time taken, even though the laptop was decently powered!!

After doing some research on the net, I figured AMD employs, it calls the PowerNow! which is similar to Intel’s SpeedStep. PowerNow! offers performance on demand, so basically when you idle the processor will run at lower cpu speeds and when something processing heavy crops up the frequencies are switched to get more performance. This helps to keep the laptop cool and extend the battery life of the laptop. Now this also means that the fans of the laptop are engaged less and thus there is less noise. But this in turn also

RmClock : Nitro Boost for the mobile cpu’s

Rmclock is the tool that can stop the transitions and keep the CPU at the the mission-ready max frequency level. So in my case it was at 2.2 Ghz level.

Repercussions of using RmClock

While RMClock allows to tweak the CPU to extract maximum performance, it has some side-effects. I found that now my CPU fan would run full-on all the time. Especially when compiling it would literally make a humming sound like the servers racks. I had to get a USB cooling pad as well as make clear out the air-vents to make the CPU cool. This cooling pad was of great help as I noticed that Acer Aspire had this issue of heating up some part of the keyboard while doing cpu intensive tasks like code builds.

RmClock has a free version which can be downloaded from here.

References

Windows XP slowdown due to Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery.

Problem

There is a very peculiar problem of Windows XP getting slowed down nearly to a halt, particularly on laptops. The OS becomes unresponsive during boot and the only way to get back to normal speed is to remove the laptop battery. But the whole solution of removing the laptop battery is a big fail. It totally undoes the whole purpose of the laptop.

Alternative Solution

If removing the battery is not done for you, then the other solution is to disable the “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery“. To disable it, follows these steps:

  • Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”.
  • Select the “Hardware” Tab. In this tab select the “Device Manager”.
  • In the “Device Manager”, under the Battery Node, there will be two batteries listed.
  • Now right-click on “Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery” and select the “Disable” option.

Solution side-effects

With the above mentioned steps normal operation can be resumed, but it has a side-effect. Now there is no way of knowing the battery information in anyway. Rather in my case, the laptop was shown running on AC power always, when it was clearly running on the battery. This can be disconcerting as there is no way to know how much juice the battery has left, no low power notifications, nothing.


The above is the screenshot of a third party application,BatteryBar, failing to detect any battery in my laptop.
The biggest problem is that there has been no update to this driver from MS since 2001. So there is no way that updating the driver of the Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery component would fix this issue.