26 August 2010

Being My Own IT Department

Sometimes, being my own IT Department gets old. No one can solve my technical problems but me, which can be rewarding, but also dismaying.  Dread of long stays in hold limbo with electronics manufacturers can keep me from resolving some issues for a ridiculously long time--like how my laptop stopped starting in its docking station.  I'm not even sure where the problem is--with the laptop, or the docking station? 

But in the five-plus years we've lived in this apartment, I've endured a worse problem (after all, the laptop starts perfectly outside the docking station, and then I can just dock it), which is that our wi-fi network just barely extends into my home office.  It is not a matter of distance--our apartment isn't so terribly large--but rather, interference.  Something in the kitchen--maybe the microwave, or pipes in the wall--doesn't like the wi-fi signal and degrades it to nearly nothing between one end of the room and the other (and my office is just past the other end of the kitchen).  For a while I tried a wi-fi extender, which helped, but was prone to signal drops and also interfered with Victor's VPN access.  Then we got a new router, at the recommendation of a guy from Best Buy who said we should have better equipment if we were going to stream video to our new Blu-Ray player, and it wasn't compatible with the wi-fi extender.  Then we found that it also wasn't compatible with Victor's VPN, and also was prone to signal drops, so we got yet another router.

This router has worked well so far, but the wi-fi still barely extends into my home office.  So I tried a new solution I just learned about: ethernet through electrical lines.  You plug this adapter into the wall outlet, and connect an Ethernet cable from your router to the adapter.  You plug its partner adapter into a wall outlet in another room (for example, the room in which you have a Blu-Ray player to which you want to stream video) and connect another Ethernet cable from that adapter to the Blu-Ray player.  And then get another adapter, and plug it into the wall in your home office, and connect yet another Ethernet cable, this time to your docking station.  And it works!  Best Internet connection I've had in here!

So today I'm my own genius IT Department. Tomorrow, of course, I'll be an idiot again...

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