Tag Archives: Modems

Turn It Off, Turn It On Again

Having spent the best part of a day trying to do something very basic, and yet failing, here’s another public service announcement for anyone having problems connecting their router, wireless or otherwise, to a cable modem:

  • If you have a cable Internet connection, but only through one computer, and nothing seems to correct the problem, you probably need to unplug the ethernet cable from your computer and turn off your cable modem.
  • Turn it off. Leave it off for a minute, and then turn it back on again. Reconnect the cable.
  • Chances are it will now connect. If it doesn’t, either you didn’t leave it turned off long enough, or something more sinister is afoot. But it worked for me.

Now, I know this is stupid of me not to think of, but in my defence I was out of sorts:

  • the modem was new, the setup was new, and I didn’t have a lot of faith in my Netgear WiFi Travel Router, mainly because I hadn’t used it for cable modem-ing. Nowhere in all the set-up palaver did it mention turning off your cable modem.
  • So I dashed off to buy a Linksys WRT54GC something or other. The installation CD wouldn’t run on my laptop, so I downloaded their impressive sounding troubleshooting software, EasyLink Home Networking Tools (note to self: anything with ‘easy’ in the name isn’t).
  • None of the EasyLink products worked for me, so I was reduced to copying the contents of the installation CD (which for some odd reason, worked fine on a Mac) to a USB drive and running the router set up from there. This is far more information than you’re interested in getting, but I’m trying to show that I wasn’t completely useless. This didn’t work either, by the way. The Linksys software just sits there like a useless lemon telling you that it’s not connecting. (Another note to self: The term ” wizard” for installation and troubleshooting software is vastly overused. Of course, they don’t take into account turnips like me, but they pretend they do. I don’t know which is worse.)
  • I have a Mac sitting around looking pretty, so I thought I’d give Mr Jobs a chance. He was no better. Couldn’t connect, but neither did he offer the sort of sage, grounded advice I’d expected: “Turn stuff off and turn them on again.” I guess, once again, Mac dudes are too smart for that kind of trash talk.
  • Finally I called up the guys who installed the modem, got bounced through a voice menu, until a sweet, albeit automated, voice said “If you’re having problems installing a router to your cable modem, switch off the modem first. Then reconnect. Have a nice day.” And hung up.
  • Now one final point: the modem in question doesn’t actually have an off/on switch. Or a reset switch. And nowhere in the manual could I find the words: “From time to time you may feel the need to switch the modem off and on again, to see whether that helps. Good idea. It might. We don’t know why exactly. If we did, we’d have mentioned it, and put an on/off switch in. But we felt that by putting one in that might have implied our products were not as cool as we like to think they are, so we haven’t put one in. Please don’t throw this manual or the modem across the room in frustration at hours of wasted productivity because this fact was not mentioned, as that voids warranty.” So I switched off the modem, counting to 20 in Thai, just because I can, and turned it on again.

So the little sweet-sounding lady was right. It all worked like a dream after that. So the moral of the story is: Don’t assume anything on the part of the products you’re testing. Just because your cable modem — or any other appliance — doesn’t actually have an on/off or reset switch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to turn it off. In fact turn everything off once or twice. Who knows, everything might work better that way.

Tags: , , , , , ,

VoIP for Dial-up?

How well does Voice over Internet work for folks who rely on dial-up?

I’ve not had much luck with Skype — it comes across as crackly, jerky and fenerky (I made up the last word.) A company called NetZero is now offering a VoIP service it says works well for dial-up users:

“We believe consumers should not have to have broadband Internet access in order to enjoy the price savings and feature content of Internet phone calling,” said Mark R. Goldston, CEO of United Online, the company that owns NetZero.

While a broadband connection is still recommended for the best voice quality, NetZero claims that users with a 56k modem would be able to make calls successfully by using the company’s proprietary technology it has created to reduce echo, latency and other issues.

I haven’t tried it yet but I will do. Some folk commenting on the above BetaNews story ask what is the point of VoIP over dialup — if you’re using dialup you’ve got a phoneline already — which is easy to enough to respond to. Just because you have a phone line doesn’t mean you want to be making expensive interlocal or international calls on it.

Anyway, this is potentially good news for folk in the developing world who only have access to dial-up. I’m going to check it out. The only problem, of course, is that NetZero folks can only chat to NetZero folks unless you make a SkypeOut type call.