Home networking woes

Sunday afternoon my home network went down.  The way it went down I assumed it was simply a hiccup in the service from our ISP.  After waiting a while I went to check on it and it was still down.  Obviously not a glitch.  Ugh.  I don’t have time for this!

I spent some time with it late Sunday night and determined the router had gone bad.  Odd?   Yes.  Unprecedented?  No.  I had a Linksys WRT54G go bad a few years ago.  What is odd is that the whole thing wasn’t dead, just one interface, albeit and important one, didn’t work.  When this happened a couple years ago I ended using the WRT54G as an extra access point (can’t have too many right?) and it has worked just fine in that capacity.

The WRT110 I replaced it with was behaving similarly.  I figured I’d pick up a replacement in the AM at Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately Wal-Mart didn’t have what I was looking for so I then went to Staples.  At Staples I was going to buy a Linksys E2000 Wireless-N router but it was $129 which seemed high to me.  I checked Best Buy on my iPhone and they had it on sale for $79 this week so I figured I could wait a while and ordered it over the web.

I should have stopped there.  But I didn’t.  When I got home I started thinking and for some reason, decided it couldn’t be the router.  One interface just doesn’t go bad and the rest of it work fine.  In my case, the router would not get an IP address via DHCP from the Cable Modem.  Everything else worked as it should.

I decided to pull the router out of the loop and connect my laptop directly to the Cable Modem.  A simple ipconfig /release followed by an ipconfig /renew didn’t work.  But a reboot did.  After rebooting my laptop I was on the Internet.  That helps me but not the rest of the house.  Back to the router.  I reset, I updated firmware, I tried a number of things.  None worked.  I called Earthlink (who at one point told me I wasn’t a home networking customer and would have to pay an additional $18 per month – uh, no, I don’t think so) and called Linksys.  Neither had any ideas.  I hindsight, think I got off track because the woman from Linksys I was speaking with assured me the router was working properly based on the information on the status page and the lights on the box.

I dug up the old router and tried it (I had forgotten why I replaced it) and it too didn’t work (as it shouldn’t have).  I was trying to take care of this while I was working and had to stop messing with it to attend a couple conference calls.  I had to go a meeting and left the house to deal with it later.

Later in the day I still hadn’t made it to Best Buy to pick up the router I purchased but happened to be passing by CompUSA.  I ended up buying a Linksys WRT160N for $35.  Seemed like a pretty low risk solution.  Took it home and plugged it in, change a couple settings, and ta-da, the Internet was working again!  There was much rejoicing from the rest of the family.

It really is amazing how dependent my family has become on the Internet, myself included.  Going without it or having limited access for 24 hours was a challenge.  Can’t imagine what we’ll do if the power goes out for a few days!  It’s been a while since we’ve had a hurricane or an ice storm to knock out the power, we must be due.

First impressions with a Verizon MiFi

Today I got a Verizon MiFi (Novaltel Wireless MiFi 2200) to replace the AT&T Broadband card which came with my Dell E4300.  For the last couple months I have really struggled with the AT&T card and I’ve finally given up.  I think this is a Dell issue more than an AT&T issue.  Dell’s software stinks, I’ve had nothing but problems with it when I ran XP and again now that I am running Windows 7.

Even though Verizon has flooded the airwaves with their “There’s a map for that” advertising campaign I’ve been happy with AT&T’s 3G coverage.  The places I go it has worked well.  I went back to using my Express Card but ever since I broke the antenna off, it hasn’t worked very well and getting a replacement from AT&T has been difficult.

I have been holding out using a Sony-Ericsson Z750i UMTS phone as a modem in hopes that AT&T would offer the GSM version of the MiFi (Novatel Wireless MiFi 2372) but last week our AT&T rep told me they have no plans to offer anytime soon.  Bummer – the GSM version is newer, faster, and has a few more features.  So I could continue to limp along with the Z750, keep fighting with my built in card and Dell’s crappy software or I could get a MiFi from Verizon.

The MiFi is really what I wanted so I decided to drop my AT&T broadband service and get one from Verizon.  It arrived today.  Set up was pretty simple and it seemed to work fine in the office but testing in the office isn’t a real test.  I used it for a while in the car this evening waiting for my daughter to finish basketball practice and it worked well.

I have a netbook now so having a solution which I can use with my laptop, netbook, iPhone, or iPod Touch is pretty appealing to me.  Now that I have it, I am sure that AT&T will announce the GSM version of it within the next month!

Lenovo Warehouse Sale

There was a blurb in the N&O yesterday that Lenovo was having a warehouse sale today. The hand-me-down laptops that the kids are using are showing thier age so I decided to check out the sale. Apparently everyone else in Wake County had the same idea. There are at least 500 people in line from where I can see, it could be a lot more. Line isn’t moving very quickly either. Guess I should have gotten here earlier!