Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weird LAN problem - wireless router degrades LAN performance

I'm suffering a strange LAN performance problem I can't figure out. I'm hoping somebody somewhere on the 'net might read this and offer a potential solution. Here goes....

I use Verizon FIOS for my internet connection. My service level is 20Mbps/5Mbps. My main PC is a alptop with a built-in 802.11n card. The card, according to Win7, is an Atheros AR9285.

Verizon FIOS supplied an ActionTec 802.11g router.

The wireless card in my laptop is DISABLED. The laptop is connected to the LAN using an ethernet cable, plugged in to the back of the ActionTec router.

Speed tests performed at consistently display results of 19.5+ Mbps / 6+ Mbps.

About a year ago I purchased a Belkin N150 router. I configured it as an Access Point and plugged it in to the back of the ActionTec router. I had found the ActionTec router to have unreliable wireless, and the Belkin's 802.11n would provide faster speeds and greater range.

A couple of weeks ago I started seeing frequent weird network drops. On my laptop network connectivity would seem to just stall every few minutes, although Windows diddn't  report that the connection had dropped. A few minutes later the connection would work again. If I disconnected the Belkin router from the network the problem disappeared.

I did a lot of troubleshooting, and ultimately found that if I used my laptop wired, with the wireless disabled, and disconnected the Belkin from the network, the problem disappeared. This would suggest the Belkin is broken somehow.

I've upgraded the Belkin firmware to the latest version. I've reset the Belkin to factory settings. Still, anytime the Belkin is on the LAN, my laptop gets terrible network performance. The speed test results drop dramatically, down as low as 0.54xx download speeds in some instances. The moment I disconnect the Belkin the network performance returns to 19.xxxMbps downloads.

There is something that makes the culprit less obvious, though. With the Belkin connected to the LAN, another laptop in the house sees no troubles at all, and still gets perfectly good network performance.

On my laptop I've reset the TCP/IP stack. I've deleted all entries from the ARP table. Of course I've rebooted multiple times. It just seems like my laptop is suddenly allergic to the Belkin router.

I'm stumped, and would really like to use the Belkin router if I can just resolve this.

Anybody out there have any idea what might be causing this?

Who matches the funds?

For several years now I've received frequent solicitations from various groups aligned with the national Democratic Party. Many times the solicitiations state that if I donate within a certain time period my donation will be matched, doubling its effectiveness.

I don't think these messages have ever stated who will be donating the matching amount.

I can speculate (i.e., guess) as well as anybody else. I want to know what person or organization matches the donations received.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On The Road Again...Just Can't Wait To Get On The Road Again...

At the end of July my family is going to a tiny resort town on the northern border of Georgia to attend a family reunion. Tonight I finally stopped procrastinating and spent some time online analyzing airfares and trying to choose which airport to fly into, given that there are 4 different commercial airports equidistant from the resort. The resort is about 2 hours from any airport.

After my analysis I concluded that my cost to fly was going to be approximately $368/person. For my 4-person family, that comes to $1472. That cost doesn't include any addl taxes/fees we'll undoubtedly end up seeing. We'll also have to rent a car. Let's call that an addl. $40/day though I think it would end up exceeding that by a lot. So the transportation costs are now up to $1592, so I'm calling it $1600.

Now let's figure travel time:
  • Home to airport -- 30 minutes
  • Arrive 90 minutes early -- 90 minutes
  • On plane, In-air -- 120 minutes
  • Wait for luggage -- 30 minutes
  • Drive from ATL airport to resort -- 136 minutes
  • Rent car -- 30 minutes
TOTAL: 7 hours, 16 minutes.
And that doesn't account for any time driving in circles as I try to exit Hartfield Airport, or trying to find the resort.

So, $1600, 7:16 travel time.

  • Gasoline to drive the MPV 782 miles, 22mpg = 35.54gallons at $2.65/gallon = $94.20.
  • Travel time = 12:55
SO, As I see it that comes to about $1500 for about 6 hours, or $250/hr if my math is correct.

!!!   ROADTRIP  !!!

(EDIT - was comparing air travel expenses round-trip to car-travel expenses one-way. The proper comparison would be approx. $1600 vs. approx. $200. My conclusion doesn't change a bit.)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Three Cheers for Sears

For as long as I've been a purchasing member of society, I've never really seen any appeal to shopping at Sears, with one notable exception.

I've always believed that if a person is buying tools, the person should buy Craftsman tools, from Sears of course. Craftsman tools are quality to begin with, and they have an unsurpassed (and unsurpassable) guarantee. Craftsman tools have a lifetime guarantee, and the few times I've need to swap one out the process has been completely hassle-free.

The latest episode occurred today. About 20 years ago I bought a 50-piece Craftsman ratchet and socket set from Home Shopping network. Honestly, it was the first time I'd ever seen Craftsman products sold outside of a Sears store.

A few months ago I discovered the entire set was covered in some nasty rust. Chrome wrenches, ratchets, screwdrivers, and sockets aren't supposed to rust. I thought of this while in Sears yesterday buying some deep sockets to work on the MPV. So I asked a clerk and he said that yes, I could still exchange the socket set after all these years.

So I returned toi Sears today, carrying the rusty set. It was no surprise that the store didn't carry an identical product. I was surprised at the way they handled the exchange. First, I found a similar socket kit (Retail - $39.99). That kit only had two wrenches however, and my original set had 6 wrenches. So the clerk let me pick out an 8-wrench wrench set as well (Retail $29.99). At that point I was almost completely whole, excepting a magnetic screwdriver handle with a set of interchangeable bits. I felt like I was pushing things though, so I went ahead and paid for the screwdriver & bits myself.

Still, the process was completely hassle-free, and Sears gave me a new $30 wrench set and a new $40 socket set in exchange for an approximately 20 year old socket set that had rusted.

I've got a new appreciation for Sears.

My new favorite network

In my previous post I wrote that I'm loving Doctor Who. Doctor Who airs on BBC America, a network I'd never previously watched.

During Doctor Who there are frequent promo spots for other BBC America programs that look like they might be entertaining - 'Ashes To Ashes', 'The Graham Norton Show', & 'Gavin & Stacey' come to mind. I haven't seen any of these yet but they look good from the ads. The network also shows 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' often (my favorite Star Trek series), and a very funny car review program - Top Gear.

Top Gear has three smart-ass car reviewers drive various cars and give tell their opinions about the cars. The show is very funny. In fact, I was watching an episode just now, and had to stop in the middle to write this post. The cast was tasked with reviewing 3 small economy cars. This was likely to be dreadfully boring - driving a Honda Fit around a racetrack doesn't promise excitement. So the three guys on the show recruited their mothers for the test. First, each of the guys drove the cars to the track, and parked them in a line.

Next, each of the mothers had to get into one of the cars (simultaneously), and get everything configured and adjusted appropriately for them to drive the car. They had to adjust the seats, the mirrors, and change the radio from the 'younger' station to a classic rock channel.

The first one to start the engine and begin driving would 'win' the race.

If you can pull the show up - Top Gear - on your On Demand and watch this episode, I recommend it. You'll laugh. (On Verizon FIOS OnDemand the show is listed as episode 6.04. )