08 January 2016

Being Your Own IT Department Can Be a Drag

I am the person in our household who understands computer and networking technology best, which seems pretty laughable. It is not that I understand these things well, but that even though my husband is an engineer, he's not that kind of engineer. Also, he doesn't apply himself to understand computers and networking--he doesn't need to. At work he has a real IT department to worry about that stuff and at home he has me.

So when the problems of last week recurred (my docked Windows laptop couldn't get to the Internet through its ethernet connection), it was on me to fix. Victor had already complained that his laptop was unable to get to the Internet via our home wireless network; I discounted his complaints because all my devices managed to access the Internet via wi-fi just fine and he has a cellular connection that he can use when wi-fi is unavailable.

This morning, testing revealed that while my iDevices (including the iMac) connected to the Internet--wired and wi-fi--the Windows laptop couldn't do it, nor could the Roku.  I didn't take the time to check the Apple TV--we use it very little.  But I guess--since it is an iDevice--that the Apple TV would have worked fine. I recall that was true last week.

Many power downs and power ups later, there was still no positive change. Except one: my laptop's wi-fi connection returned!  Mystified by why or how, but even though the connection returned the laptop could not reach the Internet through the network.

Changing Ethernet cords around didn't do any good, either; nor did (for example) connecting the Roku directly to the router instead of to an Ethernet switch. Since the problem came and went, I wondered whether the router, which is a few years old, might be going bad.  So I switched it with the router provided by the cable company.

The substitute router worked seamlessly for the iDevices and didn't make a bit of difference for the other devices. Worse--it broke Sonos.

It is another bad-weather day, and I would have been inclined to think that's what caused the trouble, but Victor was so disdainful of this conjecture when I brought it up a last week that I did some googling on the subject and learned that he is likely correct to be disdainful.

The inconsistency of the problem was particularly aggravating. The Power Over Ethernet adapter in the dining room worked fine (that's where the iMac is connected) while the one in my office (where my laptop was connected) was failing to convey the Internet signal.

Another thing bugged the hell out of me.  When I manually connected to "My Network" it became "My Network 2" after connection. There is no "My Network 2."  This had happened when I tried to troubleshoot Victor's laptop also.

Then I thought about what had changed recently. One thing is that I have been beta testing some software. That didn't seem relevant to network issues. The other thing is that I added a new Apple Airport Express to our network to support AirPlay with Sonos.

And suddenly, I thought, that's it. The Airport Express creates a wireless network; it's creating some kind of interference in the dining room (where it was connected to a Sonos speaker) and the non-iDevices are trying to get Internet from there  instead of the router, as if the Airport Express were a network extender.

This proved to be the case. Once I disconnected and unplugged the Airport Express from the Sonos device and restarted everything, everything functioned properly.

Except Sonos.  To bring back Sonos, I had to revert to the original router. Some day I will devote some time to figuring out why that is.

Another day I will also devote some time to understanding why the Airport Express should have caused a problem when (I am pretty sure) I had turned off its wi-fi broadcasting capability.

But enough hours have been spent on all this today. I would much prefer if I had someone knowledgeable to call on when stuff like this happens.  All this technology is fabulous when it works. When it doesn't it's incredibly disruptive.

I had so many things to do today and now I just want to go lie down.  

No comments: