Students and readers know that I love DD-WRT and open firmware.   I love finding old routers and refurbishing the routers with firmware or hacks.  Often I find a router that is not upgradeable by way of open source firmware.   What I do is reset the routers, upgrade to the latest manufacturer firmware and then hunt the web for hacks or mods to the routers.   Why?  Refurbish the hardware and reuse these devices for labs (for my students).

The Netgear WGR614 v6 cannot be upgraded but you can enable telnet and get more commands and have more control of the router.  You will first need an enable telnet program.  The enable telnet program can be downloaded here.

  • Login to Windows using an account which has administrative privileges (needed for sending custom crafted network packets which this tool does)
  • Open a command line as an administrator (Type cmd in the Search box and right click on the cmd icon and Run as Administrator).
  • Get the MAC address of your Netgear router. You can use either ‘arp -a’ and use the ‘physical address’ or look it up on the web interface of your router (Maintenance ->Router status -> LAN port –MAC Address)

  • Copy or type the MAC address to a text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad
  • Remove any minus signs (-) or colons (:), replace all characters by their upper caserepresentation (a = A, b =B etc.)
  • Copy the result of your editing to the clipboard and return to the command line window
  • type (without quotes) “telnetenable.exe“, the IP address of your router (e.g. ““), add another space (“ “), paste the contents of the clipboard, and append ” Gearguy Geardog”. These are the default username and password for telnet console access (they differ from those of the web interface), you need to modify them appropriately if you changed them previously. The result should look similar to this:
telnetEnable.exe YourMACAddress Gearguy Geardog

Correct character case is important here.

  • Now press Enter to run the tool. It should return to the shell pretty quickly with no error. If it takes a long time and returns a ‘send failed’ error message try again and double check your entry
  • Now login to the router via telnet from any computer in your local subnet (including the one you just used to activate the listening mode). To do so, type the following (no quotes): “telnet “, append the IP of your router and press enter (e.g.telnet (You may have to add telnet under features in Windows 7 )

  • You will be prompted for a login and a password. For the login, type Gearguy, for the password, type Geardog. Correct character case is important here.

  • After successful authentication you will be presented a prompt such as
  • For available commands, type help or ?. To quit the console, type exit.

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Readers offer their best tips for tweaking data files with text editors, bookmarking articles for later, and using dryer sheets as PC dust filters.

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About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons—maybe they’re a bit too niche, maybe we couldn’t find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn’t fit it in—the tip didn’t make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favorites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments, share it here, or email it to tips at

Open Data Files in Text Editors to See if They Can Be Tweaked

DanYHKim explores all possible options to tweak configuration files:

I was trying to work with an Adobe Acrobat .pdf form, and tried exporting the form data to a .fdf file (Form data file?). Of course, any filename.fdf will open by default in Acrobat, but I tried opening it using Notepad.

Notepad is pretty agnostic about how it opens files. The .fdf turns out to be plain text. It contains the names of all of the form fields, delimited by angle brackets, and any data in these fields.

With some study, I was able to make a spreadsheet to hold data for multiple forms, and then generate a plain text file that can be used to fill out the .pdf form. I don’t need to save each completed form as a separate file, or work through the hacks necessary for keeping forms that prohibit saving.

What other seemingly-proprietary files are actually text? Well, a VMware .vmx configuration is plain text. A Protein Data Bank molecular crystal structure file is plain text. An Acrobat .pdf file is a mix, but sometimes you can alter the text in a .pdf document by editing the plain text elements. It’s worth the look.

Linux users are certainly already used to this idea, but it does work across operating systems—although not with all types of files, sadly. Some will just come up as garbled text, and it takes some trial and error to see which file types you can tweak yourself. As always, back up the file before you mess with it.

Differentiate Bookmarks in the Bookmark Bar for Reading Later

leftymcrighty uses his bookmark bar for bookmarks and items to read later:

When I want to read a web page at a later time, I find bookmarking the page isn’t good enough, because I’ll just forget it’s there. My quick fix is to drop them on Firefox’s Bookmarks Toolbar, so that they’re always out in the open whenever I open the browser. To ease up on overcrowding (and make my “read later” bookmarks stand out even more), I remove the name from all my permanent bookmarks, leaving only the website’s icon. This works quite well in conjunction with Xmarks, because I can bookmark something at work to read when I get home. Also, with the wide-screen format so popular in most new monitors, this leaves plenty of room for links to pile up in the toolbar.

Use Dryer Sheets as PC Dust Filters

Cory finds a nice-smelling way to protect the inside of his PC from dust, while keeping air circulation:

My new computer case had LOTS of extra vent holes, which are great, but I was concerned about even more dust flooding in.

To solve this I took the sides off and cut unfolded dryer sheets a bit larger than each vent and taped them in place. Plus as the air passes thru them it creates a nice smell, well at least for a short while.

Organize Groceries on the Conveyor Belt for Quick Unpacking at Home

Photo by Matt MacGillivray.

Mike organizes his items at the store so he doesn’t have to later:

While I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, I organize my groceries on the conveyor belt so that they get bagged in categories. I’ll put up all of the produce, then canned goods, frozen foods, bathroom stuff, etc. When I get home, everything is more or less sorted and I can quickly get everything put away.

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