zen.org Communal Weblog

August 27, 2005

Why the wireless never worked

Filed under: — brendan @ 02:27 GMT

Early last year, we spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out why the wireless connection between our house and some neighbors up the road just refused to work reliably. Sometimes it’d be going along just fine, then suddenly it would stop working. We were away, and it would work then not. Nothing seemed to be a clear cause. (By the way, we were having the exterior our house painted at the time.)

Fast-forward about a year. I’m upstairs, and have my laptop plugged into the wireless stuff trying to make something else work. On a whim, I try to ping the wireless access point that’s up the road. It works! Later that afternoot, we’re there and I sit down at their laptop. I bring up a browser, and then a terminal window. I make it use the ethernet device, then back to the browser: random site, please.

Voila, it works. An idea comes, as I continue to visit random sites successfully.

When I’m home later that night, Elana’s up in the office. I’m upstairs in the house, and give her a call on the house phone. After asking her to start pinging the access point I used earlier, I closed the window sitting in front of the Cantenna that’s doing the wireless connection. Elana quickly reports the pings have stopped.

I pulled down the window. “They’re back,” she announced. Each time the window went up, she said they weren’t responding anymore. When I put it down, they were going again.

Last year, the painters periodically used our upstairs windows to take care of some parts of the house instead of coming up on ladders. Didn’t really pay attention to it at the time.

So now the window’s stayed down for a couple of weeks, and connectivity up the road has been fairly consistent. The windows are double-glazed, but I’ve still got to look into the actual chemical structure of them. What could be 100% messing up the 802.11g wireless connection between our houses?

We’re relieved to know the basic premise of what I dreamed up last year is actually working. The pain: we have to come up with a placement of our Cantenna to be pointed at their house, but withstand things like rain, snow, sleet, and the rest of Mother Nature’s best attempts.

I’m dying to know what makes the windows wreck our connection.

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