HTML5 evolves, a mystery solved and more Wi-Fi firmware

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A recent Network World article revealed a surprising fact: In the migration of Web browsers to HTML5 support, recent tests by the World Wide Web Consortium found that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 was more standards compliant than Google's Chrome 7.

What's happening is that Microsoft and Google and, for that matter, Apple, are putting a lot of effort into HTML5 for one major reason: Widespread HTML5 adoption will short circuit the market grip that Adobe's Flash has achieved. So, tell me, do you think Flash has outlived its usefulness?

In a recent Gearhead column I asked whether anyone could identify a mysterious piece of DEC hardware that was discussed in an article on Boston's Universal Hub.

Reader Bill Sevic solved the mystery: "I can verify that the piece of hardware is a VAX 9000 CPU … I was an engineer for DEC for about 15 years and acquired one of these in the early 90s (why I'm not sure). The part number should be printed on it 70-27213-01." And he even sent me a photo of him holding the part. Thanks, Bill!  

In another Gearhead from a few weeks ago I discussed Tomato, free open source firmware for LinkSys Wi-Fi devices, and since then I've had quite a bit of feedback on the topic.

Reader OldTimeCoder commented online that he had been a fan of Tomato since late 2007, but when he went all Jetsons-like by upgrading to a Linksys E3000 he despaired at the 1.04 firmware's "essentially non-functional" logging feature.

The Linksys E3000, which I hope to review soon, is a dual-band Wireless-N router that has been "optimized for wireless entertainment" and includes a built-in USB port and UPnP AV media server.

OldTimeCoder decided to use the Tomato USB variant: "I eventually got it loaded and working. It's still in beta, and not all the features … are fully implemented."

What Tomato USB offers is impressive and includes support for Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, LAN interfaces up to gigabit, external USB storage with file sharing support on LAN and WAN, print server support allowing USB printer access from your LAN, OpenVPN client and server support, and a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)-compatible media server. It also claims IPv6 compatibility, a feature that it shares only with the Tomato RAF firmware variant.

OldTimeCoder concluded, "My rating for this BETA distro is 4.5 of 5.0".

Another interesting free firmware alternative for your Wi-Fi router was suggested by reader Michael Young: Gargoyle

Michael wrote, "I installed it in my legacy WRT54GL router to use it as a wireless bridge (functionality that the factory firmware didn't support). I was impressed -- it all worked without a hitch, and the user interface is quite polished. One caveat -- Gargoyle only explicitly supports particular models -- make certain your router model is supported; otherwise, it may be a rough ride."

Actually Michael's caveat applies to all of the firmware alternatives for almost any Wi-Fi router from any manufacturer -- install the wrong firmware on pretty much any of them and you'll have a very attractive brick.

Gibbs knows the route in Ventura, Calif.  Your path to gearhead@gibbs.com.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

This story, "HTML5 evolves, a mystery solved and more Wi-Fi firmware" was originally published by Network World.

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