mac

Wi-Fi Networks: Frequency Fracas

The Problem to Be Solved: Horrendously slow Wi-Fi in a large apartment building.

The Cast of Characters:

  • Gigabit Wired LAN
  • 6th Gen Apple AirPort Extreme
  • 50 Mbps symmetric fiber connection (shout out to Ellum Net, the best ISP. EVER.)
  • Two MacBook Pros
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPhone 6+
  • Nest Thermostat
  • Belkin WeMo Switches
  • Two Apple TVs and Rokus
  • A Very Frustrated Nerd

The Backstory: I moved into a new building in March 2015. It was an awesome building. Over 100 years old. Ford Model T's were once built where I now sleep! I was able to ditch Time Warner Cable and go with an indie ISP. Life was good.

My household has always been streaming-only when it comes to TV; everything I watch comes in via Netflix, Hulu, etc. As I settled in for my first night in the new place after a day of moving and unpacking life went from awesome to abysmal - the streaming quality was terrible! My "Friends" we're nothing but big pixelated blocks. I didn't understand how this could be with my big fast internet connection. Being the honorable nerd that I am, I set out to figure out what was going on. I was using the AirPort Extreme setup with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks both named Kennedy and a 2.4 GHz guest network named Clinton. Yes, I have a fascination with former Presidents.

The Process: Let the testing being! I first started with a good old fashioned speed test on iPhone 6+ using the Ookla speedtest app. Enter the problem: I was shocked when I saw I was getting only around 2 Mbps. I was certain my internet connection was better than that! When I wired up one of the MacBook Pros directy to the AirPort Extreme, I got around 90 Mbps both directions. Something wasn't right! Tested the MacBook on Wi-Fi and got the same 90 Mbps result.

After using "the Googles", my working theory was that because I live in a densely packed area of town in a large loft building the Wi-Fi frequencies were overloaded. Now, how to test this theory? Was it possible to test? Remembering back to wireless frequencies and that lower frequencies penetrate walls better, I wanted to split my 5 GHz network from my 2.4 GHz network and test them separately. Would the 5 GHz band be less crowded and stay "inside" my loft?

The Solution: Once I seprated Kennedy on the 2.4 GHz frequency and Johnson on the 5 GHz frequency (see what I did there? VP) I tested iPhone, iPad, and Mac on both bands. Sure enough, around 2 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and 50+ Mbps on 5 GHz. 

One Last Burning Question: The only question left was why did the iOS devices not prefer the 5 GHz network over the 2.4 GHz network when they were identically named? Without an Apple Engineer, I can only speculate, but it appears that they prefer networks based only on signal strength. This is my working assumption as most places in my loft the Wi-Fi "seashell" signal indicator shows only 2 of the 3 bars on Johnson (5 GHz) while showing full strength on Kennedy (2.4 GHz). All devices that support 5 GHz are now configured to only connect to Johnson, and I use Kennedy for devices that require 2.4 GHz - Nest, Wemos, etc. Problem solved - speed is king!

 

The Inverted Interrobang on iOS & Mac... ⸘What‽

The inverted interrobang can be used to start phrases in Spanish and other language. Some have asked about the inverted interrobang, so here it is!

Load this post in Safari, copy, then create a keyboard auto-correct, just like with the interrobang, and you can start typing an inverted interrobang on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I would recommend making the shortcut 'i?!' with the 'i' standing for inverted. This will only sync to your Mac if you're running a newer version of iOS and OS X with iCloud syncing enabled.

According to Wikipedia, some call the inverted interrobang a gnaborretni, or interrobang written backwards.

Reorder the Apple Menu Bar Icons in OS X

Just a quick tip I learned today trying to change my audio inputs.

Note you can only rearrange the Apple supplied Menu Bar icons such as AirPlay, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Audio, and Power; third-party Menu Bar icons are not moveable.  

Hold down Cmd and click on the icon to move, drag to it's new location and drop. Simple as that!  You can see in the screenshot below that I was moving the Wi-Fi icon.

 

OS X Menu Bar

OS X Menu Bar