Monthly Archives: January 2011

ISP Research

My son, Michael, and I generally get along pretty well. We share the household and keep out of each other’s way for the most part. Conflict does arise, though, when we’re both on the internet at the same time. He’ll be on YouTube and I’ll be trying to download some files. Or he’ll be gaming and get big lags when I start doing something. We’re both trying to get too much out of too skinny a connection.

I started looking for a higher bandwidth solution.

Right now, we have Verizon DSL high speed internet. I have a few frustrations with it. Mostly that the fastest bandwidth I can get locally is about 750 kb/s. I’d love to try FIOS, but it just isn’t available in my part of Laguna Beach. I had also had some frustrations as I’ve written about previously regarding obtaining DHCP addresses when the MAC address changes, but I think I’ve figured out how to work with that. And there’s the tech support issue.
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Using a Router with Verizon DSL

You’d think that something as commonplace as using a wireless router with your DSL connection would be very straightforward and easy these day. Well, it actually isn’t too hard, but you have to be aware of some things that Verizon tech support doesn’t seem to clue you in to. As usual, first let me tell you about the pain I suffered along the way. If you’re not interested in that, you can just skip down to the “Getting It to Work” section.

How It All Started

This whole thing started when I finally couldn’t stand the hum on my phone line any more. That, plus really flakey internet performance, convinced me to suck it up and face the pain of calling Verizon and wading through their interminable phone menus to get to tech support. (In truth, I’ve got mixed reviews of Verizon’s tech support, sometimes it has been really good, but getting to them through their maze of phone prompts is a nightmare.)

When the phone guy got here, he quickly identified the ground loop causing the phone line hum and fixed it. While he was here, he checked out our Verizon High Speed Internet set up. He took one look at our old Westell 2100 DSL modem, pronounced it a failure waiting to happen, and told us we should call and get a newer model sent out.
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Fun With DD-WRT

What is DD-WRT?

In a nutshell, it’s very cool replacement firmware for your wired or wireless router. If this is of interest to you, check out the DD-WRT wiki page and the DD-WRT home page. DD-WRT looks like it is continuously maintained and supported. I found for my Linksys WRT-600N it added new functionality and appears much more stable than the factory firmware. I say appears because I just got it installed and working today. More on stability in a future post if issues arise. Stability is key to me as I had lots of trouble with the stock Linksys firmware and was always having to pull the plug on it to reset it.

An Accidental Discovery

I wasn’t really looking for router firmware when I found it. Like many serendipitous happenings on the web, I discovered DD-WRT after googling Wake On LAN, which lets you wake up a sleeping computer by sending it a command over a network. Oh by the way, DD-WRT has a web interface that will allow you to do this remotely over the internet. That, and a power strip that can be controlled via the web are probably my coolest two discoveries while off for the Christmas break from work.
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