Tag: IP

Airport Express

Finally!!!

Considering the amount of hassle I’ve had trying to setup and configure my new Airport Express, I’ve jotted down some information which I hope may be of use to others.

I may end up waffling my way through this so, if you want, skip straight to the summary.

Firstly some notes on my setup as it will differ from many. I am on Telewest Broadband (UK) and my cable modem is a Scientific Atlanta Webstar 100 connected to the PC using a USB cable (as installed by Telewest). My wireless connection is provided by a D-Link AirPlus G DWL-G122 USB Adapter (NOT a Wireless Router but it offers the same functions for a third of the cost), and I am running Windows XP Pro SP2. My Airport Express is versioned at 6.2 and I’m using iTunes 6.0.1.3.

Ohh and before I detail how I got it working, some snippets of info to note, this may be useful if you too are having hassles setting up Airport Express on Windows XP.

The gotchas

  1. If you have a cable modem that is connected to your PC using a USB cable DO NOT EXPECT TO SEE A CONSTANT GREEN LIGHT. Flashing amber is the best you can hope for (because you are not using an ethernet cable to connect your cable modem to your PC) … given that piece of information you should also note that…
  2. A constant green light means that the Airport Express has been correctly assigned an IP address. It does not necessarily mean it is connected properly (this threw me for a while).
  3. Patience is a virtue. It takes five minutes or so for my wireless connection to kick in and for the connection to be made to the Airport Express. It may show up via the Admin Utility before then but leave it alone for a wee while if you can. No I don’t know why.

So enough of the trivia, how did I get it to work?

Well the secret, for me, was to alter the “binding order” of my PC’s network connections. You can do this by:

  1. Opening the Network Connections control panel.
  2. Selecting Advanced from the menu bar, and then select Advanced settings.
  3. On the Adapters and Bindings tab you will see a box labelled Connections.
  4. Re-order the connections to ensure your broadband connection is first, and your wireless connection comes after that (for me I also moved my Bluetooth connection to last).

Contrary to what I’ve read elsewhere, you CAN let Airport Express use DHCP to grab an IP address. In my head the rationale is – based on re-ordering the network connections – that the cable modem gets assigned an IP address first, then the Wireless connection gets assigned an IP address, then when that is done it connects with the Airport Express and it too gets assigned an IP address.

If the network connection order is wrong you end up with the Airport Express trying to assign the IP address for the PC and the Wireless connection, this is all well and good except that it breaks your internet connection. Not ideal, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Note: the previous two paragraphs might not be technically accurate but I THINK they explain what happened to me.

I spent hours mucking around trying to set the IP address manually, all to no avail (see the “green light gotcha” above) and whilst I managed three or four times to get music to stream to the Airport Express it was always at the expense of my internet connection. Re-ordering the network connections seems to have sorted that out.

So far so good then. I had fallen prey to the “audio drop” issue and turned to some of these suggestions, specifically changing the channel and turning on “interference robustness” but the key seems to be leaving the Admin Utility running. No I don’t know why either.

A final note. If you turn off your PC at night, you’ll need to restart the base station when you turn your PC back on or you won’t be able to connect to it (because it needs to have the IP address re-assigned ya see… I hope you are still following all this).

Frankly the Airport Express is not inspiring much confidence, a first for when me it comes to Apple products.

To summarise (and re-order things) then:

  1. Check your network connections order before you start.
  2. Use the setup tool, the Admin Utility can be confusing if you aren’t 100% sure what you are up to.
  3. If you don’t need to, don’t use any security.
  4. Don’t worry if you don’t get a green light, the Airport Express may still function correctly.
  5. If you restart your PC, restart your Airport Express (highlight the base station in the Admin Utility/Base Station Choose and select the Base Station menu then Restart).

I’d like to publically thank a man called Henry B. who managed to help me solve my problem. The discussion is here and may be of use to others. I’d also point out that the Discussions area on the Apple website is surprisingly open, active and helpful. A small beam of light in the quagmire that has been the “Airport Express experience”.

In closing then… no I’m not including any screenshots in this writeup as my problems were a lot simpler than I had realised. No Bonjour didn’t help (it’s only really concerned about wireless printing on the Windows platform). Yes this has lowered my opinion of Apple products.

Right, I’ve got a beautifully crafted playlist sitting in iTunes, so I’m off downstairs to listen to it!

Damned lies and stats

Blogging malaise? Pah, easily solved. Check your stats!

Except it’s not always that easy.

Personally I’ve been using Extreme Tracking for quite a while now, but it’s not that reliable as it seems my “hit count” is always lower there than anywhere else. The Sitemeter site appears to be dead – although I’m sure I received my weekly email from them last week – Re_invigorate appears to have stalled, and the details offered as part of my hosting package are fine for raw numbers but don’t include referrers and whatnot (unless I’m missing something, any 34sp customers wanna put me right?).

So it was with some interest that I read yesterday’s announcement about a new stats package called Mint (not sure the credit card people will be too happy with that…). Created by Shaun Inman it certainly LOOKS very nice, but I think it may only appeal to a certain type of user as it doesn’t have a free (cut-down) offering. I would venture that this is on purpose to ensure the quality of the service remains high, but I think that at $30 a site it’ll still attract some customers. Jon Hicks has more details.

Now, a feel eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a few funny ‘code’ messages appearing at the top of my site a couple of weeks back, and with a huge slice of coincidence (side helping of “who’da thunk it?”) I can now tell you what that was… of course if you didn’t see anything untoward then apologies for wasting the last 6 seconds of your life, please don’t hate me but DO read on..

I spotted a call for testers a few weeks ago and thought I’d give it a go. The details were scant but legitimate, with all that was required to help test this new “web app” was a few lines of PHP on my site as the developer wanted to gather some stats from various sites. Those stats have been whizzing back and forth for the past couple of weeks and it’s only now that I can tell you what it’s for and confirm to myself that I was right with my initial guess (which I didn’t blog about as the testing was to be carried out in “secret”, honest!).

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I was helping test a new stats package! This one is called Vestigo and BETA sign ups are now open. As it’s creator, Ben Sekulowicz, says it’s:

“a community driven visitor tracker – On a basic level, it gives you a (IMO) very good statistics, traffic and trend tracking package… On an entirely new level, you can cross reference your data with everyone else’s – to see how your browser stats compare to similar sites, what people who visit your site look for on other sites and where in the world your visitors come from.”

Can’t say fairer than that I guess. Currently it’s only available for PHP enabled sites, and testing has only included Firefox and Safari but if you ask me, it looks pretty damn good (check out those browser stats!). The accuracy of the stats seems to be pretty spot on as well (in comparison to my host provided stats) and there are some nice touches including a Google Map hack to display the physical location of your visitors.

Update: Just had an email from Ben where he pointed out another neat feature. If you have looked at the screenshot, above, then check out the details you get when you click on the Referrer time link (the “When” column on the left), some more details about the visitor (the location may be off as it is probably based on the IP address).

As always you should remember it’s still in BETA but I always take the view that this is a good thing as you could possibly influence new/improved features in the product. Sign up and have a look.

So there you have it, two new stats packages in one day. What are the chances?

Snippets

R.I.P. Mo Mowlam. Sad news indeed, one of the “good” politicians. I won’t say anything about who should be attending her funeral, but he had better!

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Thanks to all who commented on yesterdays Top 100 post. Despite it being a subject many don’t see any value in it has still managed to stir up the most comments of the week. I’ll stop there rather than read anything into that…

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Extras. Getting funnier, even though the “star” of last nights appeared for all of 5 minutes. Has to be the most cringeworthy thing on telly at the moment, and has managed to up the “laugh out loud” count (or LOL for our txt spk redrs). Even the small lines are improving – particularly the throwaway “Pig” insult. Subtle.

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HaloScan news. There is now HaloScan News and HaloScan Help will be formally announced soon. I’m preparing myself for some backlash once the help pages are opened up but they should help people. If you want a brief sample of what I do as a part of my day job have a gander.

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Forgot to record “Ever Wondered About Food?” last night, which Graybo says was quite good. It’s presented by Paul Merrett who I know from the “The Best” cooking show, which is something of a guilty pleasure (what an awful photo of the lovely Silvana that is…). Another guilty pleasure is …. no no, I’ll save that for another time.

P.S. Graybo – I did look but how the hell do I get that SPEWS thing to let me leave comments? It just blocks ALL blueyonder IP addresses, surely there is a whitelist or something?

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That’s yer lot for a couple of days. Busy weekend ahead and an upgrade to WordPress to fit in somewhere. Have a good weekend everyone.

Customisation: Take 2

So you wanna see my desktop then?

If you can make it out on this resized screenshot – you’ll spot that I’ve got a different XP Style running. Rob mentioned StyleXP in a comment, which will let you do this and a lot more, but I didn’t like the 2MB (!!) overhead, and found a nice little patch that let’s you load other XP Styles without an application.

Next up, the text on the left hand side has the time and date, current CPU usage, RAM usage, number of processes running, internet traffic (up and down, handy if I was, say, running eMule or something..), IP address, Uptime, Last restart time and date and the wee bars at the bottom of the chunk show my hard drive partitions and their status – provided by a Samurize configuration.

Top-right, that black square is the cover of the currently playing track in iTunes (Jay-Z’s Black Album at the moment) – provided by a Samurize script.

Along the bottom is the aforementioned Y’z Dock – it’s a way of replicating the Mac bar thingy, and was so Mac like Apple told the guy who developed it to ‘cease and desist’ – as I mentioned, you can still download it in a few places, didn’t take me long to find it, but it is no longer being developed.

That’s it really. There are several custom icons used to mark specific folders – e.g. for all my photos – but not much else going on. I’m a bit of geek (yes, really) and find it all fascinating. I’ve been running all this stuff for months and not had a single crash although, as with most PC software YMMV. Next up, that box of mine and Knoppix I reckon.

Click for 1280 x 1024 screenshot (~250kb)