David Cook (davidcook) wrote,
David Cook

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Graaaargh. Network. Kill. Yargh.

As much as I generally enjoy doing stuff with computers, sometimes they can be very frustrating to work with.

So. Around August or so, I bought a computer. Not the greatest gaming machine, but certainly capable of decent performance for games or whatever else I wanted to throw at it. Since we already had rwrylsin's PowerBook as well, we decided to go for a wireless network. I did a bit of research to make sure that I'd find a wireless card that would be supported by Linux, and then ordered low-flying collection of parts that I'd bolt together to make my PC. Unfortunately, I failed. Somewhere between the research and the buying, I had ended up with a wireless card not supported by Linux. A D-Link G520+, to be precise. I wanted G520, without the "+", to get an 802.11g card that worked easily with Linux. Still, I did a bit more Googling and searching around, and found the acx100 driver project. They are trying to write drivers for cards using acx100 and acx111 chipsets (as used in the G520+, for example). I figured that they'd make good progress and the driver would work soon enough.
So, I "temporarily" set the computer up the lounge.
(it had to be in the lounge because the cable network outlet was there, so the router had to be near that, and I only had a short cable to run from the router to the PC, and we didn't really want cables running through the flat anyway)

Time passed. I tried a few releases from the acx100 project, but couldn't get them working. That didn't matter, though, because their current drivers don't support WEP at all. We live in a block of apartments where there are at least two other wireless networks detectable, and who knows how many computers listening in, so WEP is essential. Still, I figured it would only be a little while before they added WEP support and all would be well.

Of course, all of this time, the computer was in the lounge, gradually accreting all the usual bits and pieces - pieces of paper, CDs, DAT tapes, random tools.

Finally, last Thursday night, I decided It Was Time. I did a bit of measuring, and I had just enough Cat 5 cable to make up a cable that could join up with another cable, if it went across the computer room (2nd bedroom) floor and we were careful not to trip over it. I moved the computer. I connected the cables. I turned the PC on ... and there was ... no network ?! I checked the cable connections. Reconnected them. Still no network. I rebooted from Linux to Windows, just in case Linux had suddenly decided that it hated the on-board Ethernet chip. Still no network.
I gave up and played games at that point, and figured I'd buy some more Cat-5 cable and make up another cable so that there wasn't such a stretch in joining the PC and router.
Friday, and more cable was bought (why make up my own cables ? Well, a 10m ready-made cable would be £10, whereas 10m of cable is £3.90. The crimping tool was about $AUS 40 (errr, £16 or so), and the plugs cost very little. I've already made enough cables with it to be ahead ... ).
I decided that rather than making a cable of the exact length required, I'd just make the whole 10m into another cable and join them together and see if it worked.

Yup, you guessed it ... still no network.

I gave up and played games again for a while (errr, quite a while, it was Baldur's Gate II, and it's still as cool a game as ever).

Tonight, I figured, was the night. I was going to sort this out, for once and for all. Out came the multimeter, and both 10m cables were checked - but both turned out to be ok. I tried joining them together and checking. Still ok, according to Mr Ohm. I joined the PC to the router with the joined cables - yup, still no network.

In a fit of desperation, I moved the main parts of the PC back through to the lounge and started it up, and tried the cables individually and together. One worked, the other worked, but together ... argh ! I did notice that one of the cables, even used by itself, did lead to rather more packet loss than you'd expect (around 50%!), so I decided that maybe there was something not 100% right with it ... and cut it in half ! (After checking that 5m joined to the good 10m cable would still reach the computer when back through in the computer room). After attaching plugs and checking both 5m sections, and trying both joined in turn to the 10m section, I found a combination that really truly did work. I carefully shut down the PC and moved it back through, connected the cables, started up, and ... had network. Just. Still getting disturbing amounts of packet loss (it's only trying to ping the next room, more than 0 is disturbing !). I bounced around a bit in exasperation, then decided to carefully arrange the computer and cables neatly in place, and try again.

And here I am. Packet loss appears minimal. LJ is working. E-mail is back. LJ is still working. All is (knock on wood) working happily. And yes, I do have a recent backup of my important files. Although I am tempted to tar up a bunch and e-mail it to my gmail account, Just In Case.

Sheesh. Computers. Can't live with 'em, and (in my case) probably can't live without 'em for long either.

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