Sunday, September 18, 2005

Conundrum du jour

Okay, help you people.

The new laptop (shall we call him Kevin) has built in WiFi, or wifi, or whatever it should properly be called. And we have Woosh. Which is (theoretically) wireless, but is in practice actually stuck very much in one place, as the signal is weak, and you have to hold you elbow just so to get a decent connection.

One of the beauties of Kevin is that I should (theoretically) be able to sit on the couch, or in bed, or on the toilet if I so desire with him. I decided what was needed was a wireless router. And Alan, I know the Apple Airport is the way I should go, but it is quite pricey, and I'm looking at solutions for under $150. So we bought something with ports and an aerial, and I can't get the bloody thing to work. The software it came with seems to be pretty pus-y, and Kevin simply won't cooperate and use all his best intuitiveness and make it work. On the upside, Dick Smith said they'd give us our money back if it doesn't work, so our spur of the moment, Sunday afternoon purchase hasn't actually set us back at all.

But I want the thing to work NOW. That way I could be multi-tasking by cooking dinner and blogging.

Whaddayareckon peeps?

18 comments:

Alan said...

My base station is not an Apple - they are too expensive... and anyway, the one I bought combines the function of both your Woosh modem (instead by connecting to Orcon via ADSL) then 802.11g wireless to distribute the fast internet connection across the neighbourhood.

No doubt you've got your new wireless box hooked up to your Woosh modem OK. So the problem must be somewhere else.

Can Kevin receive the wireless signal? You may need to find a software switch somewhere in the control panel to turn it on. Then you need to get Kev (if I may call him that) to scan the neighbourhood to try and find your new wireless network. Once the right network pops up, enter the username and password you've set up and you are away. Somewhere in that control panel there should be a setting to save this username and password so that you don't have to do this each time.

Hopefully you've changed the default admin password, the default SSID (=network name: I've got mine turned off completely) and have WPA enabled - these things will help stop the neighbours leeching your internet connection, or, worse still, strangers hacking Kevin from the street... which reminds me, make sure you've got the XP firewall on... :-)

Ben's much more of an expert on this sort of stuff than me, so if he drops by...

David said...

Build your own using an old transistor radio, some number 8, and a wok.

Make sure you clean your dinner out of the wok tho, or you won't get your maximum download speeds.

Martha said...

Thanks Alan, all the words you have mentioned look very much like what I had found on the microsoft site, but actually make a hell of a lot more sense. Have you thought of becoming a technical manual writer? We're going to take a breather on the efforts and try again tonight using all your advice.

And David. Very good, I shall, although we're having noodles for tea, so perhaps after that.

Alan said...

Probably overdoing it now, but I'm just looking at my work Windows laptop to see how it does it.

The switch to turn on the wireless receiver in my laptop is somewhere in the manufacturer supplied software - i.e., IBM supplies something that I can access (via the System Tray) that lets me turn wireless on or off for the laptop. So this may be the same for you, or it could also be somewhere in the Control Panels.

So once it's on, go to Control Panels -> Network Connections -> Wireless Network - in there where you'll be able to join your wireless network. And maybe the neighbors too, if you are lucky.

Martha said...

Hmmm, we have both tried every control panel switch scenario imaginable, to no avail. I can scan and see what networks are available - bloody neighbours have got firewalls. It just seems to be a connection problem - eveery time the computer tries to "dial" there is no reception.

And short of you coming here every 10 minutes to check my emails for me and do a bit of dictation, there is no such thing as overkill while trying to understand some of these things.

Brena said...

On the wireless access point I got for home I had to connect to the access point via a wired connection to set it up first before being able to connect to it via wireless. The SSID had to be set up and certain settings and stuff then I could connect to it. It sounds like Kevin is looking correctly but the access point is not set up to receive. Exactly what is it you've bought? Has it a Dick Smith code to look up on their site for more details and a manual? Might pay to read the manual on that set up bit. You are welcome to bring the whole caboodle to where I am and I will try to set it up for you if you like - have some experience in Windows networks - if it helps...

Martha said...

Thanks Brena. We've got a USB 2.0 Wireless LAN Dock with 802.11g Adapter. This looked the most like what we needed, and one of the youfs at Dick Smith thought it might do the trick.

The manual is pretty useless. We followed it to the letter to install the software, but it didn't really go beyond that. I'd love your help if you're around for a while still - we'll give it another shot - but I might give you a yell if that is okay (and you can drag yourself from the new PSP!)

Brena said...

Anytime just sing out...

Brena said...

Umm just looking on Dick's website it appears that beastie you bought needs to be directly connected to a computer to function and other computers connect to it. I think it's not a stand alone jobbie which I think you need. As I understand it you want to plug your woosh modem into a wireless access point and then connect your Kevin to the access point wirelessly. But that said try plugging it in to your Kevin, configure the wireless network then see if it runs in "stand alone" not plugged into Kevin...

Martha said...

Ahh, thank you Brena. We have tried to configure it as you suggest, and Kevin doesn't seem at all keen to recognise it. Perhaps it is time to take it back to Dick, and go to an actual computer store and see what they suggest. Which is what we would have done initially if the whim didn't take us at 3.30 on a Sunday, when most computer stores are nice and closed.

Do you have any recommendations? I've had a nose around trade me, and thought this might do the trick...

http://www.trademe.co.nz/structure/auction_detail.asp?id=35854543

Brena said...

I'm really not that sure about what to buy - I think those woosh modems require a usb connection so finding something that stands alone, is a wireless access point and powers a usb device could be a rarity. I bought one of those notebook card style woosh modems that slides in the side of the laptop but it was around $500 eeek and I am only using it for 3 or so months - double eek! One other slight idea could be to have your old computer running in the corner with the woosh modem and Dick's thingy which you have all ready and have that set up as a access point / lan thing - overkill to connect one Kevin though. Best talk to some computer store brainys...

Martha said...

I'm pretty sure we can buy an ethernet cable for the modem. We could set up a network with our old computer in the shed, but I think we'd have to have it running? How have you found the card thing? Our reception out here is pretty crap, which is the reason I'm not just using the woosh modem wirelessly.

I'm actually fairly sure if we just bide our time, technology and telecommunications companys will deliver the solution. I think once we finish our year with Woosh in Feb, we could well be changing companies...

Brena said...

Oh if the woosh modem has an ethernet port then that may work with a lan access point/hub thing - it kind of depends if the woosh modem is self contained as in it doesn't need to be connected to a pc for drivers etc. ie a stand alone gadget. Need more info. I can tag along and get all the right bits if you like but need to see the woosh modem for what it can do. I'm really not up to much these days, just filling in time so if I can help I'm in. Found your Dock thing on dicks site and looked at the manual - it sure looks like it must be connected to a pc to run - like it's an expansion thing for a pc to allow more devices to be connected. I think it needs to go back to Dick as it's not the right thing for your needs...

Alan said...

Oh yeah - the bit I forgot to mention where I had to cable up and set the thing up?

I had kinda hoped that the boys at tricky dicky's might have set you up better than they have. What you need would probably be called a wireless "router" or "access point". From what Brena says though, it's not looking like a straightforward thing to hook it up to your Woosh modem.

At DSE, there's something called a "Woosh Ethernet Cable" (search for "Woosh"). This *may* allow you to connect your Woosh modem to a standard Wireless router / access point - check with some spotty youth. You'll still need to get the access point though - there's some cheap ones on the DSE site but you are probably better off looking at the ones on Ascent:

http://www.ascent.co.nz/mn-product-template.asp?cname=Wireless

Something like this D-Link:

http://www.ascent.co.nz/mn-product-spec.asp?pid=9338834

On the other hand the PC card Brena mentioned is now down to $98 at DSE - but the drawback with this is that is supposed to be for "Core Coverage Areas" which is code for saying that its reception might not be that crash hot.

I always forget what a pain in the the arse this stuff is - but once it's going, it's really sweet.

Brena said...

$98!!!!! They saw me coming. Situation normal ;-)

Brena said...

It's exactly the same card! Arrrrrr I've been plundered! It really is pirate day...

llew said...

"Build your own using an old transistor radio, some number 8, and a wok."

I have all those things to hand, can you supply a wiring diagram david?

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