Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Router fun (again)

Until yesterday, our internet has been holding up well. Apart from a strange glitch most mornings between 0730 and 0800 when it would go away for a minute or two, it's been really good.

And the glitch is probably the result of some traffic management on the part of our isp.

Yesterday was different - while the raw network speed was fine the service during the daytime was not as good and the internet radio kept buffering and dropping out - a sure sign of network congestion.

Yesterday, of course was the first Monday of school in Victoria, and given that the schools are still closed due to Covid-19, that meant the first day of the mass experiment in online learning by the school system, which of course will inevitably impact our network performance, with all the kids logging on from home and doing whatever they do.

So, no internet radio yesterday, but performance was good enough in the evening to watch an episode of Unorthdox on Netflix.

We were up late this morning so it wasn't until just before nine when I tried the internet radio for the news.

I wasn't too worried when I woke it up out of standby the internet radio said 'network disconnected'. Occasionally it does that anyway, and telling it to rescan and connect fixes the problem. Very rarely I have to power cycle the box, and do a network reconfigure, and after that it's fine.

Well this morning, I might as well have waved a rubber chicken over it - nothing would make it connect, however briefly.

So I went up to the study to log onto the network router to see if there was a problem, and I noticed that our multifunction Epson was complaining about not having an IP address, and the FujiXerox laser printer on my desk was saying it was offline.

So I logged into the router and looked at the connected devices, and  guess what, a lot of them, the less used mainly, had no ip addresses including the FujiXerox printer and the Epson printer.

I suspected a DHCP problem, but all the DHCP settings looked fine. So, being an engineer at heart I reset the box to wipe all the configuration information in the box and return it to the factory defaults.

This actually is more of a hassle than it seems, as our network is named after our previous Telstra ADSL connection, as when they installed our solar panels, the installers hard coded the SSID and network password of our then network connection into the power system's diagnostics module.

So, no matter how much I might like to name our network 'purpledishwasher', TelstraE730FB is what it has to be.

Resetting is a hassle. The admin password is ridiculously long and in an almost impossible to read minature font on the underside of the router, and the default network password makes those autosuggested by chrome look almost simple.

So much so that the first time around I stuffed up the admin password so many times (I'd actually written it down wrongly sometime previously in my network configuration notes) that I locked myself out of the router and had to start over.

The second time I was more successful, logged in, and changed the passwords to the Telstra ones and everything sprung back into life - well except for the internet radio which was still choppy and buffering, but which at least this time could see the network.

I'm guessing that whatever process in the router that responds to DHCP requests had just given up and died for reasons unknown, but I don't really know. It's been about nine months since I last did a reset, so I guess it just got tired of servicing requests.

And it's not just the internet radio - J was trying to watch some artwork videos on pastel techniques on her iPad this morning and they were equally choppy ....

... and later this afternoon after school was finished for the day, I tried the internet radio again, and guess what? - it worked perfectly, suggesting that the buffering and choppiness earlier today was due to network congestion.

[update 22/04/2020]

... and today the internet radio worked perfectly for well into the school day. QoS ? traffic shaping? Or? I'm guessing that the people who manage traffic etc for the NBN have tweaked things just a bit to cope with the extra school traffic ...

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