Tuesday, March 08, 2005

[Edit: 1/4/05. I exchanged the Linksys WAG54G for new one, which is a Version 2 running Firmware version 1.00.19 (the previous one made no mention of which version it was, hence probably V.1 not V.2, and used different firmware). Other than the still slightly weak signal, I have not yet had any problems with it. If you have problems, take it back: in the EU it comes with a 3-year warranty].

Linksys WAG54GYay for stressy live.

And sorry about the whole not updating thing. I've done my usual trick of having more than one big and unfinished post on the go at once: sure way to guarantee that neither get finished or published (hmm, I think I have still have drafts which are over a year old).

Right, so what is all the fun craziness which has been happening? Well, there's the plumbing. Before Christmas the central heating at home was [eventually] done. They had the official repeat visit to check how it's all going. During that they tightened up the radiator valve which had been leaking ever since it was installed.

A while later: we notice that valve is still leaking. We ring up. They come. They fix. They leave.

Very recently: we notice that the pump seems to be making a lot of noise and there's still air jungling round the system. I bleed the bathroom radiator (being the tallest one upstairs, it tends to gather the air). Steam hisses out. Steam stops hissing out. And that's it. No water; no spurt to scald me as I scrabble to shut it off. There's just nothing. It's open but nothing is coming out. It has literally run out of steam.

A clamber up into the loft later (did I mention the excellent job they did of fitting a proper loft ladder? One which blocks the loft hatch unless you make a certain series of movements, which always makes me feel like a box somewhere should spring open to offer a reward. One does of course have to be standing on a ladder to be able to manoeuvre the hatch. Even better, the ladder when fully and properly extended - when only partially extended it collapses under the weight and swings worryingly - runs at about 45 degrees through a doorway, where the lintel makes it impossible to climb without being parallel to the ladder: the ladder which is at 45 degrees and bowing under the weight), to read the pressure gauge. Ah, I've obviously forgotten to insert the ignition key as the needle is resting at the base of the scale. Except it's not a petrol tank, and there is no ignition key.

Yes, that's right. There is no pressure in the system. Ok, so I presume it's actually lying and the scale is in excess of atmospheric pressure (unless the hissing noise for the bleeder valve was me breaking the vacuum, although I'm not quite sure how good a vacuum would be for transferring heat), and it just means there is no pressure beyond atmospheric. This is very not good.

So I open up the valve which feeds the system for the mains. And I watch the dial, ready to turn it off at the right pressure. The pipe thrums as water hisses through. The needle slowly rises. It starts to quiver. It stops rising. Water is still going in, but the pressure is constant. I yell down to check no-one else is doing anything with a radiator.

It turns out one of the people I live with heard me fiddling with the pipes, and decided to bleed the bathroom radiator. Which explains the never-ending loss. They then finish. The pressure slowly rises a bit, and then sits unmoving a bit further up the scale. Which means something somewhere is open.

I close off the mains valve, and go on a fountain hunt. I can't see water coming out of the bleeder valve on any radiator. And then I notice. The adjustment valve they fixed. The one they fixed twice. The one with the damp patch of carpet round it.

A j-cloth draining into a casserole later I discover that despite my best efforts, there's scalding water running down the back of the pipe. I belatedly realise turning the valve off might be a good idea. Still there is water pouring out.

Cue one rather annoyed phone call to the plumbers.

We find water coming through the ceiling and light fitting in the hall.

Cue another annoyed phone call to the plumbers.

Two plastic waste-bin-fuls of water later (well, one bin and a shuttle run), and the pressure is once again zero. But still more water is coming out, although my jury-rigged j-cloth seems to the guiding all the water into the casserole.

The plumbers appear.

They "Oooh". They talk about irrelevant things. They take off the valve, and cut off the leaking end of the upright pipe. They add in a new section of pipe and put it all back together. They mention the bill. We mention that they fitted the valve and "fixed" it twice. They go back to the main office to consult. We hear no more [yet].

The cut section of piper has a straight end and slanted end. Yep, that's right, the original plumber worried about the strain the pipe was under cut it on the bias. So when the collar for new valve went round the pipe, there wasn't contact all the way round, due to a distinct lack of pipe. Which as watertight systems go, isn't the greatest innovation.

And the all important irony is provided by the fact that each time the compression collar was tightened, the horizontal ring of contact was edged upwards, thus increasing the size of the hole once the oxidised gunk clears. And our efforts to get the system back up to the correct pressure only helped clear the debris holding the water in.

So, now it seems to be working fine. There is still air trundling round the system, but that will settle, so we can clear it.

But just because it wouldn't be a proper saga without a hint of a sequel: the valve at the other end of the radiator, which is the original valve, and hasn't been touched by the plumbers, has developed a certain dampness.

In other "why me" news: This week I've mostly up to my armpits in errant IP addresses. We have:
- A Linksys WAG54G, which is a router-cum-modem.
- A scavenged Compaq of unknown quality, with Windows 98SE. It connects using an internal network card and a lead running to the router.
- An aged Dell, with Windows 98SE, currently connecting via a Linksys WMP54G wireless network card. When it used to use the standard network card, networking was not its forte.
- A new Dell laptop, with Windows XP, currently connecting via the inbuilt wireless card.

Long running problems:
- The Dell desktop loses the connection to the router. This can only be resolved by resetting the router (in a different room).
- The Dell desktop suffers from decay of data transfer rates. This is not uniform. Sometimes huge amounts of data will shift quickly. Sometimes the first 5% will transfer at the maximum speed, the next 20% at some middling speed, and the rest will trickle on until the operation times out. The only way to regain full speed is to stop and start again. It always has been thus [despite many knowledgeable friends saying it shouldn't be, closely followed by "I don't know"].
- The Dell desktop is currently experiencing this same effect with the router. In this case the problem is only overcome by stopping all data transfer to the Dell, and either reset the router, or remotely access the configuration files and save changes [even if no changes are made].
- There has never been an internal network. Data transfer usually consists of email, or floppy disk. I have no idea why. The relevant help section on the Compaq is missing. I've tried everything Help on the Dell has suggested, at got back to the beginning again. When we had another computer round here briefly, we eventually managed to get the Dell desktop and the visiting laptop to acknowledge the existence of each other, but any attempt at further access caused all manner of problems. The Dell desktop has elsewhere worked within a network. Since getting the new laptop, we have not tried to establish a network.
- The status section of the router has never shown any wireless connection, even when that file is being accessed by a computer connected wirelessly.
- The router also has developed a habit of losing all awareness of the physical DSL connection. Red light for Internet, no light for DSL. Resetting has no effect. Turning it off and restarting it brings both lights back to green.
- Occasional complete loss of settings.

Recent problems:
- IP address conflict. The router is currently uses DHCP to assign IP addresses as and when the computers connect. Recently it has managed to assign the same IP addresses to two computers simultaneously (playing error message tennis is fun). Then it decided to give the same IP address to the laptop as well, just for hell of it. I only managed to sort this out by turning off the two desktops [and don't ya just love it when, mid managed-shut-down, someone decides to turn one back on] and the router, and then turning the router back on, shifting the range of possible IP addresses, and then turning on the computers one by one. I discovered that the Dell desktop still uses a now out of range IP address.
- IP address error. The Dell laptop keeps deciding to use an IP address that in no way resembles anything else in the system. Unsurprisingly this leads to problems.
- The router signal loss continues even with the Dell laptop, regardless of whether the Dell desktop is functioning. The signal does not tail off. The signal strength remains nearly constant, and then the signal will disappear without apparent reason.
- The Dell laptop is also experiences data transfer decay. Everything says it is loading, but it just is doing it as slowly as the connection can.

I think I need to set static IP addresses just to stop the router getting confused, but have no idea how to do that. I'm also wondering how Cisco, who own the Linksys brand, can possibly exist if their products are so shoddy. I initially thought it was my decrepit computer causing the signal loss problems, and I had no way to prove otherwise. So when a new computer using different hardware and software experiences the same problems, it tends to imply that the only common feature is at fault.

So lets recap the main features of the Linksys WAG54G gateway:
- Intermittant signal loss.
- Data transfer rate decay.
- IP address errors.
- Unexpected return to non-functioning factory defaults.
- Wireless router that works best [and often only] when wired.
- A host faults remedied only by physical contact.
Yes, this stunning Linksys WAG54G Wireless-G ADSL Gateway with 4 Port Switch, containing built in modem and router, brought to you by Cisco Systems, can be yours for only somewhere above a hundred pounds.

And why is it that searching for related items seems only bring up people on boards across the web complaining about the problems they have with Linksys products. Perhaps the company ought to copyright for its next trademark "Useless heap of shit", as there does seem to be a widespread use of that phrase when referring to Linksys products especially the WAG54G.

So is there anything else which is annoying me?
Um, well, there is Boots, or more precisely their imprecise photographic printing. I got the latest set of photographs developed, and skim through them. Oh dear. It would appear the viewfinder in my camera has a wider frame than that which the film is exposed to. Given my camera is an SLR, this is very not good. So I have some shots where I could have sworn I got the end of whichever feature I was aiming at in the frame, but the prints so otherwise. Decapitated is not a good look.

So I sit and worry, and try to find ways to check this misalignment. Someone else looks at the pictures, discovers that I thought I had everything in shot, and asks what the negatives show.

I really should have thought of that first, but well, I tend to think something is my fault, however complicated that makes the situation, rather than attribute it to someone else's incompetence.

I check the negatives. Boots are apparently defrauding me of about 10% of the image. So on most shots it doesn't matter much, although possibly throws the framing off. But where one has used the end of the frame, it wrecks the image.

So as developers go, Boots exemplify utter crapness. In recent years, I have not had one film go through them which has not had some fault in the printing. The faults in reverse chronological order:
- images cropped.
- black and white comes out as green and white.
- a big white blur in the same place on every frame of many films. I was told it was a camera fault (more than one camera), then film fault (more than one type of film), then user fault (more than one user), and then, because the image he was looking at showed a palm tree, it was x-ray damage (so how did that happen to the film which has travelled all of 3 miles? And how exactly did wound film get marked in the same part of each frame? And how come there's no sign of this damage on the negatives?).

Hmm, maybe I ought to start one of those GWB-style Googlebombing campaigns. Not that I could remember which phrase was linked to him (so it worked well then?).

So Linksys becomes useless heap of shit, and Boots [Photographic Development] becomes utter crapness.

And the betting Google won't even notice that last paragraph?


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?