29 July 2005

Random Ramblings: Networking Here and There

Sigh, for the past 2 weeks I've been busy with networking tasks, both at home and at work. At work, we're looking to install video projectors in a few classrooms and I thought it would be a good idea to provide connectivity via wireless at least in the beginning (it's cheaper/easier than laying more cable). We've had a Wifi connection there for almost 2 years now, after I bought a D-Link 802.11g access point (AP) for use at home and relegated my older D-Link 802.11b AP to the workplace. We never advertised its existence and no one has really used it on an ongoing basis, except for the occasional visitor who had a wireless-equipped notebook computer with him/her and to their surprise found that they could surf the Internet while waiting for their children to finish class.

During a recent visit to Panthip Plaza, Petch and I discovered that a 3Com 11g wireless AP could now be had for a relatively affordable 3,700 Baht. Another IT-knowledgeable friend had long recommended using the likes of 3Com rather than the cheapo D-Link brand, but at the time I figured it was difficult to justify the cost differential. Given that we were going to be use wireless at work SERIOUSLY now and the price was no longer a disincentive, I purchased a 3Com Wifi unit without hesitation.

Before installing it at work, I took the opportunity to test it at home first. My home D-Link unit always had coverage limitations - I could never get access to all points on my bottom floor and the top floor was totally out the question. Well, the 3Com did a bit better than the D-Link on the bottom floor, but the top floor was still no go. Oh well, on to work. Tests there likewise found a moderate improvement over the existing D-Link, but again the improvements were incremental rather than monumental. I guess you get what you pay for.

At home, I also just switched Internet broadband packages. While most people opt for True Corporation's broadband package, I had long used Ji-Net's, which unfortunately has been costing me twice what True charges. (Note: Both of these packages need to be piggybacked onto a True/TA telephone line.) Recently, we installed broadband for someone who only had a TOT line. Discovering that Ji-Net had a 2 megabit TOT-based package that costed only 1/2 as much as their TA-based package, we decided to give it a try (they needed it in a hurry and it was less of hassle than requesting a new TA telephone line). The results were pretty good.

With that experience under my belt, I decided to change my Internet service at home as well - dumping my Ji-Net/TA 1 megabit link in favour of a Ji-Net/TOT 2 megabit link - at HALF the cost. I also took the opportunity to retire my Micronet ADSL modem/router, which had some shortcomings I found difficult to live with. First of all, it lacked the ability to save its configuration settings to a file. In my opinion, this is a unforgivable. Furthermore, after running for a while, it invariably prevents me from accessing its web-based configuration screens, short of resetting the unit by unplugging it. In its place is now an SMC router (which we use at work). While still one of the low-cost home varieties, I like it manageament features a whole lot better.

I also took the opportunity to do some drudge-work: upgrading the firmware of all my routers and access points, saving configuration files to a safe place, documenting IP addresses, login names, passwords, and re-juggling my IP address map table. Everything worked like clockwork except for the D-Link which decided to hang after its firmware ugrade. A simple reboot didnt help - only a factory default reset would do. Of course, I failed to save its configuration file before this happened. Who says I don't stupid things?

By the way, how goes my 2 megabit link? Well, like the 3Com vs D-Link Wifi, the difference is relatively minor. Granted, while the link speed from my home to my ISP has doubled, the speed from my ISP to the rest of world remains unchanged. And giiven that most of the websites I access tend to be of the overseas variety, the improvement wasn't bound to be earth shattering. But at least I've cut my costs in half. More importantly, I am now able to report more authoritatively on how well the less-travelled TOT broadband route works.

09 February 2002

Article: Home Networking

Double sigh. It's been a LONG time since I wrote a full blown article, but here's something I wrote on home networking for a computer networking course I'm taking.

16 July 2001

Updates: Internet Sharing Solutions (Part 3)

A short update note was added to my Internet Sharing Solutions (Part 3) piece, which dealt with WinRoute Pro.

16 February 2001

Updates: Cable Modem, Internet Sharing Solutions Part 6

Some minor update notes to my Cable Modem Adventures and Internet Sharing Solutions, Part 6 pieces.

28 January 2001

Updates: Internet Sharing Solutions, Part 6

Just added some update notes to my "Internet Sharing Solutions, Part 6" piece. The current issue of PC Magazine shows how to connect a mixed Phoneline/Ethernet network using Windows ME alone.

24 January 2001

Article: Internet Sharing Solutions Part 6

It's been a while since I've written a full-blown article (lots of half written pieces lying around though). Anyway, I've just posted an article, Part 6 of my "Internet Sharing Solutions" series which sort of explains why. This piece deals with connecting a U.S.-style home network to a consumer-grade internet router.

19 November 2000

Article: Internet Sharing Solutions, Part 5

While housecleaning my hard disk, I came across a half-written article on internet sharing under Linux. I've wrapped up the article, but because Linux isn't currently installed on my computer (I'm expecting Mandrake v7.2 to arrive any day now), one tiny part of the article was left "hanging". Anyway, you can read it here.

25 March 2000

Article: Japanese Networking Hardware

I just posted a short piece ("Affordable Japanese Networking Hardware") on inexpensive networking equipment made by a Japanese company called Planex Communications. The stuff is available at Challenger SuperStore or check out Planex's Thai website.

25 January 2000