Problems with Vista and my Belkin f5d9630-4 modem

I got a new laptop, and it came with Vista. To be honest, I didn’t really want Vista, but it’s being pushed in a big way – XP laptops are pretty rare already. (What I REALLY wanted was a Linux laptop, but that’s another matter).

Unfortunately, on firing up the machine and connecting it to my wireless hub, it could only see parts of the web. With my work laptop, sat right next to it, I could see any site that I tried to look at, but my new Vista laptop couldn’t – it couldn’t find microsoft sites, McAfee, Mozilla.com, cNet.com, etc.. But it could find google (and other sites) right away.

So, I tried pinging these sites – and got a response. But I couldn’t ever get a web page back. Curious.

I’ve seen this before, so I tried changing the MTU (Maximum Transfer Unit) settings for my machine – only to discover that they’ve moved in Vista. So, I found a little application to change the settings. I restarted, and it continued to not work.

Curious. So I took my laptop to work, and tried the problem sites there. Over my work connection, I could see whatever sites I wanted to. This upped it to Curious and Frustrating – it was some sort of inter-relationship between Vista, and my connection at home.

Thus, I contacted Belkin support. They took a wee while over replying, but I received a response, the guts of which is below:

To get the issue resolved, we suggest you to change the MTU on the Vista computer.The first method to set the MTU is using DrTCP (http://www.dslreports/drtcp). You will need to run DrTCP as Administrator (right click the executable and select `Run as administrator`), otherwise it will not work. The other tricky thing is that the names of the network interface are shown a bit cryptic – see the screenshot – but you should be able to identify them. As usual, enter the MTU value, click Save and click Exit. After making the change, you will need to reboot the PC.

When the PC has rebooted, you can check if the MTU is set correctly by going to a command prompt and issuing the command: netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces, which you can abbreviate to netsh int ip show int, as the screenshot shows. This will list all the network interfaces with their MTU`s in a readable way. (In case you were wondering, the MTU shown for the Loopback interface is a dummy value of 2^32-1 – or 32 binary 1`s).

You can also set the MTU using the command line, for that purpose open the command prompt as administrator (right click it and select `Run as administrator`), and issue the command: netsh int ip set interface “9” mtu=1400, where the 9 is the number of the interface for the previous screenshot (be sure to include the quotes) and you can change the MTU to any value desired. The change is effective immediately but will not survive a reboot. To make it permanent, repeat the command and append “store=persistent” to it: netsh int ip set interface “9” mtu=1400 store=persistent.

If you only run the last command and not the one without the store= option, you`ll need to reboot for the new MTU to take effect.

To test if the MTU is effective, ping the router with the -f and -l options: the maximum size of the ping packet should be 28 less than the MTU. In this example ping 192.168.2.1 -f -l 1372 should give a reply, ping 192.168.2.1 -f -l 1373 should give the message that fragmentation is needed but the DF flag is set.

“Okay”, I thought, “I’ve tried the MTU settings and that didn’t work. But I’ll try their way anyway”. I used the DrTCP application, followed their instructions – and the problem continued. Arse. Finally, as a last gasp, I used the command line instructions they’d also given and success! The MTU setting changes worked this time, although why they didn’t when I’d changed them both times before is a mystery.

Of course, by this time I’d gotten so annoyed with it all that I’d tried a reinstall of Vista, so I’ll have to reinstall all of the stuff it came with. This isn’t as daft as it might seem – I’ve had a similar problem to this before, but it turned out that it was a problem applying Windows 2000 SP4, and that I had to reinstall the service pack to fix it.

Oh well, I prefer a clean system anyway.

Anyway, kudos to Belkin UK tech support. I was impressed.

Problems with Vista and my Belkin f5d9630-4 modem

Power Supplies

So, I’ve had two power supplies blow on me in the last 6 months, for different things. My wireless router died, and my home laptop’s power died a couple of days ago.

This strikes me as very wrong. It’s not like they had to do anything complicated – they’re just transformers. The technology has been understood for a long time. I mean, batteries are one thing, but transformers?

The complication then comes that there are dozens of almost identical connectors, and finding out what connector you had is hard work.

So, couldn’t electronics companies build better power supplies? With fewer ‘standard’ connectors (and none of this proprietry bollocks like some laptop manufacturers use – there’s no need)? And perhaps some system of colour coding, or at least documentation of what the connector is? Would that be too much to ask?

Power Supplies

Microsoft Passport

Dear Microsoft,

Please fix the Microsoft Passport, or the applications that use it, ‘cos it never works when I try to use it. In fact, it is the most unreliable, useless heap of crap I’ve ever had to use to try to login to a website – and I’ve seen some that are pretty rubbish – but at least they didn’t, in effect, say ‘Site Closed’ all the time.

While you’re at it, please find the monkey who came up with the idea of the Microsoft Passport, and fire them. From a cannon. Into a lake of piranhas. Angry ones.

Fix it or ditch it, I don’t care, just let me at the content I need to do my job.

If a pub always says ‘We’re closed’, I stop going to it.

Microsoft Passport

Ubuntu – WOW!

So, on a whim I decided to have a bit of a look at Ubuntu Linux. Boy did I get a surprise

Previously when I’ve had a look at linux distros, I’ve had some problems. My home PC is a fairly antique laptop, with AMD powersaving built in, and an even older PCMCIA wireless network card. What that meant in the past was 1)No wireless network, and 2) a blisteringly hot CPU as it didn’t throttle back when there was nothing going on. That made Mandrake Linux, for me, interesting but not usable.

Ubuntu – well, it picked up the wireless quite happily. I’m writing this on it. And the CPU is running cool – it is truly excellent. I downloaded the ‘live’ CD (bootable CD that loads Ubuntu), and it was painless.

Very Impressed. I shall be making my machine dual boot – there are some applications I don’t want to do without – but this is a VERY usable system. And who’d have thought that a faintly brown colour could look so good – why is Windows so grey?

Anyway, it gives me pause for thought – Sharepoint and all those things I’m being trained up in aside, what does Windows give me that Ubuntu doesn’t? Open office gives me a word processor. I can browse the web. I have email. Yup, it’s a no brainer – as a home user, I’m a convert. I’ll keep using Windows for now – like I say, I have a number of applications I just don’t want to leave yet – but long term, I think I’ll move away. ‘Course I’m stuck with it for work – that’s their problem.

Anyway, Ubuntu – good enough for a

Comments from my old blog:

You know you’re really making me think about it too – I have an old laptop at home that *might* work too.

By Jonathan at 16:48:32 Thursday 11th May 2006

Ubuntu – WOW!

Windows Media Player

So the court case about Windows Media player rolls on, albeit that it’s somewhat obsolete. The court case, not the software. More on it in a minute…

Microsoft contend that customers don’t want a media player free version of Windows. They’ve not sold a copy. This isn’t, perhaps, surprising. I’d have bought one, except none were actually available to consumers. Also, given the choice between the two versions, just with or without Media player, for the same price, well, people will choose with. Even if they don’t want it.

It’s like, given the choice of a burger with a gherkin, or searching all over the place for a burger without a gherkin, most people will accept the easy to find burger, and TAKE OUT THE GHERKIN. Much the same has happened here – except that people can’t take the gherkin out as Microsoft have tied it to the OS. Again. Internet Explorer – ring any bell? And that worked, didn’t it? Continue reading “Windows Media Player”

Windows Media Player

Microsoft Stuff

So, lately at work we’ve started dealing more with Microsoft products, so I sort of think I should blog about them, if only to remind myself of the things I’ve discovered – like yesterday and my efforts with Sharepoint. Anyway, that’s for another posting.

It sort of goes against the grain to talk about Microsoft stuff, but some of the things I’ve been working with lately – Sharepoint, Biztalk, Content Management Server – are actually pretty good. Okay, so they tie you to MS SQL-Server, IIS, IE, Visual Studio (uck), Windows, Office, and the kitchen sink, but in terms of what they give users, they’re neat products actually. Sharepoint – well, it’s not a master of anything, but it’s pretty good at many things. CMS, well, it did what it said on the tin. Biztalk – silly name, but a good idea.

If they could just unbundle the browser, web server, database and IDE, that’d be great.

Microsoft Stuff

Why I hate Microsoft Products

In short, they’re fat. I’ve spent the entire morning installing Visual Studio .NET, and all it’s prerequisites. The damn thing is gigabytes in size, and I’m only installing it because I need it to do some work on their “Content Management Server”. Oh, and Biztalk needs it too. And they both need SQL server. And IIS. And Frontpage Extensions. And Internet Explorer extensions. And so on. And Office, I think.

Compare this with Ruby Rails – a little MySQL DB installation, a little Rails installation, maybe some GEMs – and a text editor to do your development in. I know it isn’t exactly a like for like comparision – you can create lots more than Web applications with Visual Studio – but given that that is what we’re dealing with in the CMS product, I don’t see why it all has to be so complicated. It’s like taking your entire collection of Snap-On tools to fix a leaky pipe – when a pipe wrench will do.

And the installation speed! Slow doesn’t cut it. Hours for Visual Studio, despite the fact that I could copy the entire DVD in less time.

All in all, I’d better be impressed with the functionality of all this, ‘cos right now I’m looking at the pipe wrench thinking that it is small, cheap, flexible and easy to use.

Why I hate Microsoft Products

No Logins…

What an interesting idea – no login/passwords, just a hard to quess URL. Provided that there’s nothing very valuable there, this seems a simple way of giving adequate security for some things – such as the invites app mentioned. I like it.

Comments from my old blog:

What about Search Engine’s spidering it? Of course you’ll want to include a <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>, but even then, I’ve read that certain search engines like askjeeves.com IGNORE those tags.

Brandon@Cstone

By Brandon@Cstone at 04:12:01 Thursday 29th September 2005

Well, I guess as you say it’ll have to be for urls that aren’t linked to anywhere. The URL itself is sent out by email in the example. That’s my guess anyway.

By Andy at 21:43:46 Saturday 19th November 2005

No Logins…