Greek Goddess Of Glue

I have a new religion. I’ve spurned millennia of popular belief and fallen for the sister of Aphrodite: the plainer, but much more practical, Araldite.

My wife has a couple of pieces from the Demdaco Willow Tree ornament collection – one of them is the Sisters by Heart duo. If you follow the link notice that it is two figurines, designed so their hands nestle closely together when artistically arranged on your sideboard.

Anyway, Lucy decided our positioning wasn’t artistic enough and tried to add her input – this unfortunately snapped the hand of one of the sisters making things look pretty daft.

Snapped hand

So on to a repair job. I wasn’t sure what the figure was made from (it seemed to be some sort of plastic), so I sent an e-mail to their customer service department and got a quick response suggesting I should use an epoxy glue, rather than superglue (which wouldn’t stick) or polystyrene cement (which would just melt everything and cause more damage).

A trip to B&Q on Friday turned up trumps with some Araldite Rapid – a two-part epoxy resin adhesive that cures in 5 minutes. With some trepidation, tonight I began to glue.

I started with something easy – a fridge magnet where the front bit had separated from the magnet itself. I made up a quick batch (a pea-sized gloop of resin and hardener), mixed for 45 seconds, then applied sparingly to both surfaces. Being paranoid about sticking my fingers together, I held the magnet steady with a metal object (a pair of scissors) and put the two surfaces together and squeezed. Checking none had leaked out of the sides I held this for about 90 seconds and then put it down. What a good fix that was.

Now onto the main show. I mixed up another batch of glue and carefully applied a smidge to both the wrist and the hand, carefully lined things up and held it steady for about 2 minutes. Putting the ornament down gently and the hand had appeared to stick. Leaving that to cure for another 10 minutes, I came back and everything seems rock-solid.

Neat repair 

Now I think that repair looks pretty neat, don’t you? There is a slight ridge of adhesive which has leaked out around the joint, but nothing which is noticeable.

What is currently lacking is any indication of the scale of things here. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed a small fibre on the arm in the first picture and deduced some sort of size from that. Well for reference, the photo below was taken with the figuring holding a 10p piece, giving you some idea of the size.



Now that’s a repair I’m proud of – I’m in love.

Working Remotely

Having given WiFi a miss for now with my iPAQ, I’ve not given up on the theory of connecting to it wirelessly – I’ve managed to sync with my PC using just Bluetooth (BT).

I bought a cheap USB Bluetooth dongle a while back, mostly so I could sync and backup my phone without resorting to fiddling with the rubbish cover for the phone’s USB port. The dongle was still plugged-in, so why not give it a go?

Well it took some faffing around – mostly because the first thing I tried was Bluetooth syncing with my Lenovo W500 laptop. Unfortunately that has some proprietary Bluetooth drivers installed and these don’t work in the same way as the native Windows BT stack. It took ages for me to concede defeat and realise it wasn’t going happen without a driver fix (and I’m running the most recent drivers).

Connecting to my home PC was reasonably straightforward, once you get the concept of what the BT devices are actually trying to do. It would seem Bluetooth creates a virtual serial port for you, and your application (in my case ActiveSync on the desktop) just listens for a serial device communicating using ye olde serial porte. I can now just use my iPAQ to say “establish a serial connection with DAISY*. That then triggers ActiveSync on the desktop and data is exchanged as usual.

There’s a couple of caveats: BT is a slow communications protocol – only ever really designed for low quantities of data (business cards, audio headsets etc), so transferring files and installing applications is a no-no. It also appears that ActiveSync doesn’t play very nicely with the fact both Katrina and I logon to the PC using separate accounts (and thus start-up new instances of ActiveSync). I’ll need to get round to changing that so it just starts for me.

On the plus side, both the iPAQ and the PC are “class 2” devices which have a range of about 10m, meaning I can be pretty much anywhere I want inside our house to successfully sync.

Who needs WiFi?

* DAISY is the name of my main PC

A Bit Too Protected

I’ve been trying to get my new iPAQ working with my home wireless network with no success.

I had a chat online with the HP technical support, who walked me through the standard scripted stuff with no luck. The wireless card definitely works because if I switch security to either off or WEP-only it works fine. For the iPAQ 5550 you need updated firmware and drivers to support WPA encryption (as per my current network config) and these have been applied.

After much digging, there is a suspicion that the problem lies with my Linksys WAG54G2 wireless router. In the wireless security configuration, setting it to “WPA” mode provides just one encryption option: “TKIP or AES”. I’m no WiFi security expert, but TKIP is a software-only thing (basically some wrappering around basic WEP functionality), while AES is hardware-supported functionality.

The theory behind the Linksys option is that devices which support AES can use that encryption method, while others can default back to TKIP. As a result of AES requiring hardware, this isn’t supported with my (relatively old) iPAQ. Unfortunately there seems to be a problem with the iPAQ talking to the router correctly with this proprietary system.

After much Googling, I discovered two things:

  1. There have been lots of people struggling to get Windows Mobile devices to talk to WPA networks
  2. This has been discussed at length on the Linksys forums, most specifically in this thread.

I also spoke to the Linksys technical support people, who were rubbish and couldn’t give me any advice.

It looks like my best hope at present is either to swap my current router for another one (I’m not that desperate for wireless connectivity), or hope that it is addressed in a future firmware update. Unfortunately the Linksys helpdesk person couldn’t tell me when this would be, so it looks like I’m stuck for now.

More iPAQ

I’m just starting to appreciate quite how good my new device actually is. It’s an HP iPAQ 5550 (with PDF link), which apparently was the PDA to have 6 years ago.

It comes with 128MB RAM, which to me sounds quite small but back in 2003 it was considered state-of-the-art. I’m now starting to see why though. The Windows Mobile 2003 OS it runs on is just so efficient. For a while I was very careful about having too many applications running at once, but starting up Word, Excel, Windows Media Player, Jawbreaker (a game), Internet Explorer, Contacts and Calendar all use less than 15MB of memory. With just under 64MB allocated for programs, that should easily be enough for my purposes.

I’ve yet to start downloading applications from the web to make it even more useful, but I’ve now got all of my contact and calendar data stored on it. In fact, it’s pretty much doing everything I wanted of it now. I can one-way sync from my work Lotus Notes calendar using Lotus EasySync, plus two-way sync with my home calendar. That lets me always know when I need to be in the office without firing up my laptop. It also lets me check to see when we’re supposed to be visiting family in the North, or when people are visiting us. Add to that governors’ meetings and the collection of contacts I’ve built-up over the years and it’s becoming near essential already.

The only thing I really want working now is the wireless, which seems to be a bit tricky at present, despite flashing to the very latest firmware and putting the newest drivers on.

The Audi Channel

You may be aware of “The Audi Channel”, broadcasting on one of the Sky channels up in the high 800’s.

I was flicking through the TV guide the other day and spotted a programme called “Model Hour: A8”. The synopsis looked good too: “An in-depth look at the Audi A8”, so I decided to record it. Obviously it wasn’t going to be a reasonable, balanced, review of Audi’s flagship model, but I thought an hour admiring some of the tech on a £50k+ Jaguar XJ rival would be time well spent.

How wrong I was.

The first five minutes started quite promisingly, offering a teasing glimpse at some of the various features. The car was being driven round Cambridgeshire by some wet bloke cooing over “the sleek but masculine lines”. As expected it was all puffed-up Audi-speak, with the bloke stating “Some cars evoke strange hand gestures from other road users, but in an Audi A8 people treat you with respect…”. Oh yeah? Even when you’re doing 90mph down the M40 just inches from someone’s bumper?

You could forgive that stuff really – after all it is basically a moving picture version of the Audi catalogue. But then things got really odd. Until about 30 minutes in, all that happened was a bunch of no-name presenters drove other C-list celebrities round London in the car, talking about not much in particular. I say “until”, because after that point I just switched it off. Not even Sky+ at 30x could cure me of this ill. They had Matt Dawson (some rugby bod) in the car, talking about his A4 cabriolet and getting quite anal about the subtle difference between his leather and the one on the show car. There was also someone else, whose name escapes me, but presumably they were part of the Audi fan club too.

Audi channel – don’t bother, just read the brochure out loud to yourself and watch something less boring instead.

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