Recently in vacation Category

Fixing the other home network

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Part of the blog-silence the past few weeks is because I was on vacation.

Nice, nice vacation.

However, it was at my parent's place and as with any technically savvy sprog who comes home, there be questions. In my case, it was an ongoing problem of slowness with the network. The first few days I didn't have time to delve, but I did eventually get into it.

The symptoms:

  • Wifi download speeds were about 75KB/s, and upload about 3x that. Yes, upload was faster. Yes, my 4G phone had faster downloads.
  • Wired speeds were at the rated speeds for the broadband connection.

Clearly, something was wrong with the wireless.

My little spectrum analyzer showed remarkably clean airwaves for a residential area. There was some congestion on their frequency, but moving it didn't help much.

And then I noticed something when I ran iwconfig on my laptop:

wlan0     IEEE 802.11abgn  ESSID:"dadhome"  
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.462 GHz  Access Point: 06:1D:61:FF:BB:00  
          Bit Rate=54 Mb/s   Tx-Power=15 dBm  
          Retry  long limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Encryption key:on
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=70/70  Signal level=-31 dBm 
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:2942  Invalid misc:1892   Missed beacon:0

Specifically, that "Tx excessive retired" statistic was incrementing, and I'd never seen that other than zero before. Most odd.

The router was a Cisco/Linksys, and a pretty new one at that. The firmware was latest, so that wasn't it. After a bit of poking about I found out that I could get vastly better throughput by setting the Wifi to G-Only, instead of B/G/N. In fact, setting it to N-only made the problem worse! Clearly, this router's N implementation is a bit off.

Wifi wasn't at the broadband speed yet, but it was still a vast improvement. That's where I left it, and they're happy.

And now a word about timeliness

I mentioned in the last post:

...since we're at a part of the product deployment schedule where hours count.
Yes, we are.

We're not yet at the WORKING EVERY WAKING MOMENT AND WHEN WE SLEEP WE'RE DREAMING ABOUT BEING GUILTY FOR NOT WORKING part of the cycle, but it's coming. And this, fair reader, is where you come in. Blogging, and ServerFault answering, are a category of activity that'll be greatly reduced in the coming weeks until that big dev milestone is behind us.

There may be some humorous posts where I blow some steam, but big thinky posts are not likely. I'll still be moderating on SF, since I was elected for that and I do have a duty to the community to keep up with it. I apologize in advance for that, but it's the business cycle.

Carry on.

I'm on vacation right now, so posting is light. However, that still isn't stopping my subconscious from bringing work here. Therefore, I NEED this vacation. Anyway.

This morning just before waking up I had a dream. I was in a car, driving, with another person. On our way to somewhere I needed to drop off a letter at the post-office. Whilst driving there my brain was trying to figure out how that would work. Post office.. port 25... obviously that would be a teller window with 'port 25' over it. Right?


Er, no. Even in my dream fogged state it realized that wasn't how it was supposed to work, so when we got there I dropped said letter into a regular old blue post-box.

Which in turn brought visions of SMTP routing and spam filters.


This vacation. I neeeeeds it.

Going on vacation

Next week I'll be on vacation. Expect postings to be nearly nonexistent. It could happen that I'll be struck with a blogable thought and need to post about it. Or not! And now for some quick bites.
  • The House budget is out and... ow. President Shepard has been vocal.
  • SLES11 shipped, which I forgot to mention. Still no hints on what OES-Next will be based on.
  • OES2-SP2's beta was open a while ago, but doesn't seem to be any more. This will be based on SLES10, very likely SLES10-SP3. I'm not doing it again because the stars are not in the correct alignment.

Back from vacation, part 2

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The downside to these vacations, especially ones with lots of other people, is the age old one Doctors know all to well.

"Oh, you work in computers?"

Those of you in the industry know the dread that phrase incurs. It means that you will shortly be asked a question about a computer problem, usually software. Or a strange error messages. Or a thingy that worked last week but just suddenly stopped. Any ideas? And in this age of laptops everywhere, even on vacation when there is zero WiFi coverage, the offending hardware can be whipped out for some on the spot troubleshooting.

The real demon of it is that while I do work "in computers", 95% of the questions I get from friends and relatives are for the part of "in computers" I don't do. Specifically, desktop OS and application support. I used to be able to do that sort of thing, but at the time I worked on a helpdesk doing that every day. Not any more.

What I do every day could be called "enterprise". One question I did field this weekend actually WAS near my area of speciality, someone wanted to know how to connect to a service hosted on a desktop machine behind their NAT router from the internet. For the rest, especially the Vista questions, I was singularly unhelpful.

For the OSS advocates out there, one guy did ask me about linux. His son had set him up with linux on a desktop system he gave him. Very nice, shows advocacy. Unfortunately, printing mysteriously stopped last week and did I know how to get it back? Um.... no. He didn't know what distribution he was using, or even if it was KDE or Gnome. How do you explain THAT? As with all things linux there are three completely different ways to set printing up, and each distro seems to configure it, or skin the configuration, its own way. It is much much harder to troubleshoot these things from the remove of a user who doesn't know the interface trying to describe it. In this case I'm pretty sure it was Ubuntu, and I've never used that distro.

So I'm considering revising my answer to the statement, "oh, you work in computers?" To, "no, I work in networks. Not the same thing." They'll still pitch their problems at me, but perhaps the expectation of getting a resolution will go down.

Back from vacation, part 1

The reason there haven't been any posts for the last 7 days is that I've been hanging out here:
Evening Fog
Which was quite nice. I even have the mosquito bites to prove that I had fun! It was relaxing.

And I come back to fine that OES2 hasn't released yet, but there is at least a public beta of the Novell Client for Vista out. Win one, lose one.


I have returned. I'm now going through the vast expanse of e-mail that stacked up in my absence. But things have already moved along since I was out, and I haven't even gotten all the way through the stacked up e-mail.
  • The NovusHR update was worked while I was gone, and the folk who managed it feel good about the whole process. This is good, as this was the first test of 'in production' procedures while we're in test.
  • The SymantecAV replacement of McAfee has proceeded apace. The lack of "oh crap!" mail suggests the process has been largely error free. [and as an aside, Sophos was notified of the RFP for this upgrade process, but they never submitted a bid that fit all the requrements and were therefore eliminated as a contender]
  • We're getting another UPS for our data-center to help share the load. The first round of rack moves to accomodate the new equipment will happen tomorrow!
And I should change my voice-mail message while I'm thinking about it.