Wireless network woes.

For the past day I had been unable to connect wirelessly to the Internet from my laptop. Little did I know that I had just hit upon an issue that seems to be a very popular topic on wireless support forums across the Internet. These forums are overflowing with ideas on fixing the problem with wireless routers working fine one day and then suddenly losing their connections to the Internet the next.
I don’t consider myself an expert on wireless networks but I think I have an idea what may be causing this problem to happen. I’ve noticed that both the DSL modem and wireless router have DHCP to serve IP addresses, which are leased for a certain period of time. When it comes time to renew the lease, it’s possible that both the modem and router are trying to serve the same IP address, which causes confusion to ensue and the Internet connection to go kaput.
In fixing my problem, I modified the DHCP scope on the DSL modem so it leaves the 192.168.100.1 address alone to be used by the router. That means the starting address in the scope is 192.168.100.2 and going up to 192.168.100.253. The last address, 254, is used by the DSL modem.
Since modifying the DHCP scope on the DSL modem and doing one last hard reset on the router, I’ve been able to re-connect to the Internet from my laptop. Only time will tell if this is truly a definite solution to the problem.

The golden age of wireless.

I decided to take the plunge and get myself a wireless router for my laptop so I can enjoy Internet access from anywhere in the house. I knew right away that one of the side effects of owning such a router is turning my house into a Wi-Fi hotspot for anyone to park outside and help themselves to some free Internet. So I knew security was a must.
In fact, the minute I got my wireless card working, I could detect some of the other wireless networks in use in nearby houses, two of which were already secure but one was apparently set up as a print server and had no security set up.
I don’t know too much about wireless security and the various authentication methods available but I did come up with a good way to make my wireless router secure. When I ran the installation program to configure my new router, I was asked to create a passphrase up to 63 characters in length. I decided to utilize the password generator tool in KeePass Password Safe and had it create a password 63 characters long with a tasty mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. Then I saved that password to my database, then copied the database to the laptop, where I also have KeePass installed. From there I simply cut and paste the password into my client software and was surfing the Internet seconds later. I plan to change the password in my router at least once a month to make those network leechers absolutely miserable.

Troubleshooting a wireless network.

Nirsoft has always been a source of some great, helpful freeware but there are two programs from that site that really came in handy this week when I was troubleshooting a computer at a remote office that could not get on the wireless network there. This computer has a wireless card that enables it to communicate with a router connected to a DSL modem.
WirelessNetView is a tool that monitors wireless networks. When I ran it I could easily see the wireless network in use at the office so I knew for sure that the card was working. That really narrowed things down.
I ended up having to re-install the software that manages the network card as it was no longer starting up. Afterwards I had to log on to the wireless network with the network key that I had created last year when I set this network up. For a moment I had forgotten the network key, so I ran the WirelessKeyView utility to find out what it was. It listed its hexadecimal equivalent, which would have worked, but by then I had finally remembered the key so I was able to put that in and get the computer back on the wireless network. This time I remembered to document the key so I could have it handy for next time.

The wireless digital frame challenge.

One of my projects at work is setting up a wireless network at the Loxahatchee River Environmental Center which will open later this year. It will have hands-on exhibits, aquariums and nature trails. This is going to be a very cool place to visit once renovations have been finished.
I was charged with the task of configuring three Digital Spectrum wireless digital frames to use the wireless network. These frames have slots for USB key drives and memory cards and can display pictures stored in its memory or on the Internet. The frames can also play music and video.
Setting these frames up for wireless access was a little tricky. They could see the wireless network, which I configured to use WPA-PSK security, but I couldn’t connect to it even after typing in the correct passphrase. I had to download the firmware update for the frames to finally work properly.
Now the frames are all set. I still wonder why a mouse cursor briefly appears when you turn the frame on, though. Could it be running Windows? Weird.