Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WiFi Router is Down! Oops, it's back up!

I live in a townhouse duplex. The owner of the building, and my Landlord, occupies the other half of the property.

Paul, the Landlord, is a pretty good friend. Last September we were chatting in the rose garden which separates our driveways, and he asked: "Jerry, you have hi-speed internet don't you?" He knows I spend a lot of time on the computer at night, partly because during warm weather when the windows are open he can hear the music I play while I'm working on the 'puter.

(Currently playing: Queen, the Platinum Album)

After a little artful dodging, he got down the the point of the question: "Is there any way I can hook up to your internet connection?"

"Sure", I replied. "You pay for a Router, I'll set up an encrypted Wi-Fi site and give you the access codes. Cost to you will be about $50 bucks."

He agreed to it, and the next day I stopped off at Bellevue Computer, Inc. here in town and spent $49.99 on a Netgear 54mbps wireless router.

When the Frickin' BlueBird of Happiness flew into the local power substation, shorting out the whole neighborhood and (not incidentally) frying my motherboard, Bellevue built me a new computer for about $75o to my exact specifications, including my old hard drive as a secondary drive. I've been completely satisfied with their work, and besides SWMBO works as a purchasing agent for Benton County Computer support and does a lot of business with them, to the satisfaction of Benton County and SWMBO. You can't get a better recommendation.

Although the router was a simple, entry-level bit of hardware it took me over two hours to install, configure and apply security to it. But when I was done, I took my laptop around the property and out into the street. As nearly as I could tell, the promise of a 100' perimeter was proven and I could use my laptop anywhere close to the house. This guaranteed that Paul would have the same success, and he was pleased when I presented him with a bill for $50 and the ID/Password for entry to the net.
Fast forward to last night, when I tried to access the Blog via Firefox ... and couldn't.

After about a half-hour of fussing with the cable modem and the router, I disconnected the router from the circuit and hooked the modem directly to the 'puter. Success, I could get online as long as I didn't go through the router. I sent an email to Paul (fat chance of him receiving it ... he had no internet access!) with promises that I would re-establish contact within 24 hours.

On my lunch break from work, I went back to Bellevue with my router in my hand and asked for advice. Kim suggested that I reconfigure the router with the DOS command ipconfig /release followed by ipconfig /renew. That didn't work for me, so I went back to Kim and bought a new Wi-Fi router ($75, 2x the data-transfer rate and 4x the coverage, according to on-the-box ratings).

When I got home from work tonite, I tried to set up the network again. Failure, failure, and failure after three attempts.

It took me two hours to decide that my problem wasn't with the new router, but with the new 14' cables I bought so I could physically position the router in a better place than on top of the PC case, in the footwell of my computer desk. I used the original 4' cables and got a reliable connection, and reconfigured the whole circuit just as I had set it up originally.

Now I have the Wi-Fi connection working for me, as confirmed by using the laptop to connect to the net.

I sent an email to Paul (this one he is more likely to receive, having an internet connection again) to announce that if he noticed an interruption in web access, it has been fixed now.

I never did figure out what caused the router to fail, but I don't much care. I can use my laptop anywhere on the premises, which is an occasional convenience to me. More important, I've provided a similar convenience to my friend and landlord, Paul.

Since he hasn't raised my rent since 1995, I figure this is an investment in the continuance of an amiable relationship, and I'm happy with that.

If it matters, I noticed during the process that there are eight other Wi-Fi 'hotspots' within range of my house. They're all encrypted, so I can't use them. Still, it's an interesting data-point which demonstrates, if nothing else, that the proliferation of Internet Technology is a vibrant part of small-town America.

(I can also access the Internet on campus with my laptop, via my ownership of an account on the Oregon State University website.)

Aren't computers fun?

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