giovedì 19 luglio 2007

Buy a MacBook and enter the Twilight Zone

I am puzzled. I have a brand new MacBook sporting an enhanced 801.11n super airport card (Atheros for the normal beings). The problem is that the macbook while working perfectly all over the house just refuses to connect to the wireless network from my room+bathroom. I will refer to this area as the Twilight Zone since strange things happen to the macbook standing there.

Being a technician, or something close to it, I started troubleshooting the problem. I was running a endless ping loop to the router in a dedicated program (Network Utility) and I'd been going around the house holding the macbook to see if any area was problematic. Everything was fine except for a small zone encompassing my room and my bathroom. In the "Twilight Zone" ping latencies were up to 22 seconds.

I now had an idea of the area causing trouble. I was determined to trace the fault either to a electrical appliance or a wireless coverage problem. In order to do so I installed KisMac aa wireless network auditing tool pretty much like Kismet and Network Stumbler. I discovered that while standing in the twilight zone the signal had spikes and canyons. Eventually I traced the cause to the air conditioner. Turning that off gave a smooth and consistent signal level. But unfortunately I was very wrong thinking that it had been the air conditioner. Even with the conditioner turned off the problem of the twilight Zone was still there. The MacBook refused to connect to the internet while in the room.

In a last effort of desperation I started windows xp risolutet to run Network Stumbler. To my surprise I am now writing this post from the macbook still inside the heart of the twilight zone with a perfect signal and very good ping timings. Holy cow of OS X!!!!

MacBook+OSX=No network - MacBook+WindowsXP=Network.

I guess this is gonna take more than a ride to the genius bar to explain the isssue.

Proposed Explanations:

  1. OS X reads a integrated secret positioning system that is set up to stop the airport from working near my room
  2. The engineers behind the Airport Driver are funny people and added a hidden "interference enhancement" option that is automatically selected as soon as I enter the room.
  3. God hates me and punishes my efforts to find a logical explanation for the airport malfunction
  4. Windows XP is better than OS X at least in dealing with wireless networks.
Fake Solution: After sleeping on the subject for a whole night I changed the wireless channel of the dlink basestation from 6 to 2. The problem was solved for a couple of minutes. This is anyway still puzzling since there is just a very weak network nearby but it didn't cause trouble to any of the Windows Pcs, only the macbook runnin OSX looks affected.

UPDATE: As you can see HERE many people are experiencing some odd behaviour on they macbooks as well

UPDATE2: Solved as the new airport upgrade from Apple eliminates the issue.

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