How to install Realtek RTL8188CE WiFi drivers (ThinkPad Edge 13) on Ubuntu Natty 11.04

thinkpadedge_realtekwifi.gifAfter a two-week long battle trying to get Realtek’s RTL8188CE WiFi network card to work on Ubuntu Natty 11.04, countless reinstalls and email exchanges with Realtek’s customer support, I finally managed to get Realtek’s PCI Express Mini WiFi card to establish a stable connection. I figured I’d share my findings with the world and save other users some trouble.

Realtek’s RTL8188CE card uses the RTL8192CE chipset, which can be found in different kinds of Lenovo ThinkPad Edge laptops. Although drivers for the RTL8192CE chipset are included in Natty’s kernel, they don’t work reliably with a number of chipsets. This shouldn’t be a problem, since you can always just compile and install the official Realtek drivers yourself, right? Well, yes, you can. And in fact this worked quite well on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04) and Ubuntu Maverick (10.10). If you’re on Natty, however, you can’t simply install the original Realtek drivers over the ones already present. Also, Realtek offers two different versions of the 8192CE driver. Which is the right one to choose? Let’s take a look… [...]

IrDA (infrared) data transfer on Ubuntu

irda-ubuntu.pngMany mobile phones in Japan (still?) come equipped with IrDA ports which allow for data transfer with other IrDA enabled devices. It’s a cheap and easy way to send contact details from one phone to another, or to transfer content from your phone to your computer, and it’s a lot easier to set up on Linux than I had expected. In fact, I finished backing up my phone data so quickly that I had some spare time left and decided to write this short tutorial on how to set up IrDA on Ubuntu. This has been tested on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) and 10.10 (Maverick) with a SigmaTel IrDA dongle (“SigmaTel STIr4200″, according to dmesg) and a SoftBank Samsung 730SC mobile phone… [...]

Japanese company invents religion-free DVD player

religionfree-dvdplayer-th.jpgWith the global economy still staggering, many tech firms are having trouble maintaining market shares and are under pressure to innovate. Especially Japanese tech companies have long been under siege by Korean and Chinese competitors. Yet, with budget cuts and layoffs throughout the industry, R&D and marketing departments have very little room to manoeuvre. However, as LabaQ reports, there is one Japanese company has found the cure: religion-free DVD players. I think it is fair to say that this will be an innovation that will shake the industry. Originally posted on Reddit, news of this peculiar item quickly spread on Western internet forums and social networks. I have yet to find out when this product will reach European and American markets, but as soon as I can get my hands on one, I’ll let you know if it plays Passion of the Christ… [...]

The Chinese Nintendo 64: iQue

ique_player.gifA not-so-well-known and rather peculiar item on the video game market is the so-called “iQue Player”, a Chinese version of the Nintendo 64. When Nintendo had already abandoned the Nintendo 64 in favour of the GameCube in Western markets and Japan, they decided to re-release the system in China around 2003. At a time when companies around the world were exploring business opportunities in China, Nintendo set up iQue, a Suzhou-based Joint Venture with a Chinese company, to produce the iQue Player, a system based on the Nintendo 64 which uses System-on-chip technology — i.e. the whole Nintendo 64 has been reduced in size to fit on a single chip that rests inside the controller.

The iQue’s controller itself connects directly to the TV. Games are stored on a quite small (size- and memory-wise) 64MB memory cards (divided into 250 so-called “blocks”), which, by default, contain a full version of Dr. Mario and time-limited demo versions of Super Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Wave Race and Starfox. A dozen first party games are available for the system and can be downloaded to the memory card from iQue Depots (lit. “charging station”) or via USB from the Internet at 48 Yuan a game. Piracy is often cited as the motivation behind this choice of hardware architecture. After all, China was the place of origin of the Doctor V64, a Video CD player that was able to copy and run Nintendo 64 games from CD. By selling outdated but attractive games at a low price, Nintendo hoped to deter piracy… [...]

Downgrading Acer Aspire 2920/2920Z to Windows XP SP2

badvista.gifYesterday was my first time to try Windows Vista — let’s just say it wasn’t love at first sight. I wouldn’t have bothered so much, since all I use my computer for is office work, web browsing and e-mailing. But when I compared Vista’s performance against my five year old Windows XP system, the results brought me to the conclusion that there was no choice but to get rid of Vista. Compared to XP, Vista used about three times as much system memory — in idle state! This is especially harmful to smaller laptops like the Acer Aspire 2920, which heat up quickly. Also, higher hardware demands of the operating system translate into shorter battery life.

I therefore decided to install Windows XP again, since this is the operating system I’m most comfortable with. Linux would be an equally viable choice — but with a high reluctance on Acer’s side to even provide the propper XP drivers for the Aspire 2920 for the European and American markets, I don’t have any illusions about the amount of work required to find Linux drivers for a relatively new piece of hardware. Fortunately, thanks to a number of helpful websites, setting up Windows XP on an Aspire 2920 is something a person with average computer skills will be able to accomplish… [...]