29 December 2015


Yesterday after a  busy morning and early afternoon (exercise, cooking) I finally sat down at my Windows computer and the Internet didn't work. I use my laptop at a docking station with a wired connection (to a Power over Ethernet adapter) so I tried to switch to wi-fi.  But my laptop seems to have forgotten it ever had a wi-fi connection. There are no wi-fi connections listed, so no adapter to enable (in the event it was inadvertently disabled).

That's one mystery.

The next is why the wired connection couldn't get my laptop to the Internet. Tracing back to my router, the router was connected. It provided a solid wi-fi connection for my wireless devices (phone, tablet) and the wired connection for our iMac (also wired to a Power over Ethernet adapter) was working, though slow (which is normal). I could surf the Web just fine from the iMac.

So I thought--maybe it's just a blip. I'll restart everything and see what happens. Our media/tech center (cable modem, TV, AV equipment, router, NAS drives, etc.) are located in our guest room, mostly powered through a heavy-duty surge suppressor.  So I flipped that off for a minute and then turned it on again. Waited.

No help for the Windows computer connection. Restarted again, unhooked and rehooked cables. We have a lot of equipment and not enough ports on the router, so we use an Ethernet switch to connect the additional devices. I moved cables around, checked whether different devices were affected.

During the course of my efforts, wi-fi was utterly lost and later regained. But Sonos (our wireless sound system that plays music throughout the apartment) was gone. Later it came back, but only one or two units (we have speakers in every room). It could play stuff in our local music library but nothing accessed from the Internet. Later it couldn't find the music library but played stuff from the Internet just fine. Tivo wasn't working. Our Roku worked on wi-fi but seemed not to recognize any connection when wired. And the Apple TV worked fine when wired. (Our Apple TV is an older model without wireless capability.)  I checked to see if my laptop worked with a wired connection direct to the router.  It did.

By the time Victor came home from work I was really beside myself. I had just restarted all the equipment, and the phone stopped working (we have digital phone service through our cable provider).  I figured I'd broken EVERYTHING.  Victor said, why don't you shut down the power and restart?

I had done that, but now I did it again.  And the phone worked!  But neither Sonos nor Roku were functioning. I stopped struggling once I got Roku working on wi-fi, and Sonos working enough to play the sound from the TV.  We made dinner and later settled down to stream our evening's entertainment.

This morning, Sonos was gone.  So, back to the drawing board.  I thought maybe the Ethernet switch was bad, so I tested that by substituting a different switch used elsewhere in the apartment. No effect on Sonos (the critical path at this point). Anyhow, the problem with the bad switch hypothesis was that Sonos wasn't working even when directly connected  to the router. So I started checking cables, one after another, to see if there were cables that worked and cables that did not work. Switched one cable.  I can't even remember why I thought that was a good idea. No immediate effect, but after restarting everything, and moving cables from one port to another in the substitute switch, Sonos was back.  Totally back! I couldn't believe my eyes! I switched everything back to the original switch. Still working!  Checked NAS drive connections.

Not working.

Moved cables around.


Then came to sit at my computer and see if the wired connection would work.  YES! (I'm using it now.)

Still no sign that my laptop is wi-fi-capable.  How does that happen? It could be unrelated to recent events; I rarely undock my laptop, so I can't recall the last time I used its wireless adapter...

The fact is that even though most issues are resolved I remain completely mystified as to what the problem(s) was (were) and what solved it (them).  My best guess is weather (it was an awful, windy, sleety day yesterday) but it's not a very satisfactory one. 

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