Melting the Wi-Fi

The canal in Birmingham

Back in the early noughties I remember attending edtech conferences and the wifi failing to cope with the number of delegates. That wasn’t surprising, they were often using a single wireless access point and when sixty plus edtech delegates hit the event with their laptops and PDAs it wasn’t much of a surprise to find the lone access point failing to deliver any wifi.

Even today I have been to events where the wifi struggles as delegates with their laptops, iPads, smartphones connect to the wifi. It is partly about the number of devices, it is also about how they are using the connection, refreshing twitter, uploading photographs, streaming video like Periscope. I also think that some people may take advantage of the fast connection (sometimes inadvertently) to download updates, podcasts and video.

The canal in Birmingham

At the recent UCISA Spotlight on the Digital Capabilities event in Birmingham, the conference centre wifi, which in theory could cope with 250 wireless clients, failed to deliver a stable consistent wifi connection. I found that if my laptop was connected to the wifi, it not only took time to get a connection, but every so often the connection would drop. I would say that when I had a connection it was fast and consistent. I felt lucky that I could still tweet and upload photographs using my phone on my Three 4G connection. I was getting over 60Mb/s on that connection in the main auditorium. I was quite pleased that the seats in the auditorium had tables and power sockets.

60Mb/s

The thing is, a conference with delegates from the edtech world are probably going to melt the wifi as most conference centres don’t plan their capacity on the extremes. For most events it probably works just fine. Personally since those early days I have come less and less to rely on the conference wifi, using a 3G dongle, 3G tethering, a 4G WiFI Hotspot to my current 4G tethering. This means that not only do I not worry so much about melting wifi, but it frees up the bandwidth for somebody else, and I think I might a pretty heavy user of bandwidth!

Upgraded the Airport Express

After having a few problems with the Airport Express, usually resolved by unplugging it and plugging it back in again, I took the plunge and upgraded the firmware to version 6.3

I was having issues with it failing too often. Though most of my Mac hardware and the iPad run off my 802.11n Airport Extreme, I still have some hardware that can only use 802.11g and that is what I was using the Airport Express for. The iPhone is one example, but as it has 3G it was less noticable when the Express failed and the wifi didn’t work. However my Canon printer also connected to the 802.11g Express network and when the Express fell over, no one was able to print!

I generally don’t upgrade unless there are security issues or as in this case I am having problems with the hardware. The upgrade went fine and it would appear after a few days now to have solved the issue. The Express has stayed up without falling over, so I am keen to see if this will continue.

If it keeps falling over then I may need to get a new one, of course it would have to be the AirPort Express 802.11n model.

Crack down on unsecured wireless networks

In Australia

The Queensland Police plans to conduct a ‘wardriving’ mission around select Queensland towns in an effort to educate its citizens to secure their wireless networks.

Once found…

When unsecured networks are found, the Queensland Police will pay a friendly visit to the household or small business, informing them of the risks they are exposing themselves to.

Read more

Can’t connect, won’t connect

Good article from Bill Thompson on wireless issues.

The BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, must be hoping that his neighbours don’t decide to have a larger family.

He recently spent ages setting up a high-speed wireless network (wi-fi) at home, documenting the whole tortuous process on the BBC Technology blog, but all his hard work could apparently be ruined by a single baby listener.

A197XP Issues

I mentioned back in July that I was having problems with my (quite old now) Sony VAIO A197X. Back then I considered re-installing Windows, but never got round to it.

I don’t really want to abandon it, as it does have a lovely 17″ screen, 1920 x 1080 resolution, which makes it great for watching video.

Sometimes the DVD player does not work as expected sometimes.

Tonight I was watching BBC iPlayer, I watched Doctor Who and that worked fine, but trying to watch Being Human and it decided that was too much…

I think it may have got too hot.

The video froze, despite restarting the browser, I couldn’t get the video working.

In the end I turned it off and watching iPlayer on my Mac.

I think I will now need to reinstall Windows.