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joseph_mach Blog

And the spending begins!

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Uh-oh...Looks life wifey already found a way to start spending the money. I'm buying all new hardware for the kitchen cabinets. :o

Oh well, I have to admit I like them too, but it looks like it's going to be another busy weekend with home improvement.

New job on Monday

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It's always nice to get a pay increase...but I'm jumping up another $14 an hour. Where was that money last year when I needed it most? Anyways, still in the IT field, and for the most part doing the same type work as before, just a whole lot more pay...hurray!

Slow internet performace part 2. Going wireless and router problems.

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So, I talked about what might slow down your internet speeds even before the connection got to your home, now I'll talk about performance issues in your home. More specifically, lets talk about router problems and slow internet connection speeds. How can you tell if it's your wireless connection causing you to have slow downloads, well one way to find out is to simply try out a wired connection and see if there is any difference in speeds. Speedtest.net is a great place to check your download speed if your browser can view the page as the site will provide you with raw numbers to compare. Or you can try downloading a short demo and note the amount of time it took to download the item both wired, then wireless if you aren't able to view webpages on your console. There will usually be a difference between a wired and wireless connection, but it should be within roughly 2Mb/s if running well.

So, let's say you see a huge difference in performance between going wired and wireless with your connections. What could be causing it, and what can you do about it? Lets use these numbers as an example. Wired download 12Mb/s, upload .950Mb/s, wireless download .600Mb/s, upload .800Mb/s. That's a huge difference, and not uncommon numbers to see when people are having problems with their router. So, lets go on and start with the easiest way of trying to fix the problem.

Probable cause #1

Your firmware for your router might not be updated. Not much to say about why this could be a problem. Newer updates usually mean better compatibility, enhanced performance, etc.

Possible solution

Update your firmware if possible. Doing so could answer your problems and could drastically improve your connection speed performance.

Probable cause #2

The distance between your router and console. This is usually one of the most common reasons for poor performance. First things first. The speed at which your wireless signal is traveling through the air IS the speed of light. That is going to remain constant and is not the reason for any lag you may be having. What is probably causing the problem is the amount of stuff that the signal has to pass through, such as walls, floors, and other electronic devices that might be interfering with the signal and your router/console having to add the extra time to compensate for the additional processing needed. That is where the lag comes in.

Possible solutions

Lets break these down and list the possible fixes individually.

A) When talking about distance between your router and console, if possible, try to shorten the distance between them. While that is always not an option, if you are able to do so, it might help out your performance, but usually only when you are able to move it into a closer room. If you moved a router to a different spot in the same room, unless you cleared a few walls, or other obstructions, that probably isn't going to make much of a difference.

B) If your router has them, making slight adjustments to the antennas may also help. This is especially true if you have your router and console on different floors of a home or office. Waves do travel in certain paths off of different antennas, so making slight adjustments can help to "focus" a wave to your components a bit better.

C) Along with the antennas, try to make sure your console and router are roughly at the same level as one another. This along with antenna positioning helps to get the signal to your console more efficiently.

***Important Note***

The easiest way to see if any of these changes could have worked is by checking the signal strength now being registered by your console, indicated by either a numerical value or amount of bars being shown, etc. I'll use the PS3 as an example here. Write down the signal strength being read by your PS3 under your connection settings and compare it again after you have made the above changes. It's important to know that SIGNAL STRENGTH AND SPEED ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. Sorry about the caps, but that is a very commonly made mistake by many people. The signal strength is just a measurement of the signal power being read. That's it. It has nothing to do with speed. Once you are connected to the signal, it doesn't matter if you are at 100%, or 40%, you are simply connected to the signal. If the signal is coming in very low, say 20% or lower, then that is where the extra computing/processing times come in as mentioned above and you get dropped from your connection. If the signal strength is coming in at a higher number after the changes have been made, that means you've probably cleared a few obstacles and now have less stuff the signal has to go through, or interfere with which is a good thing. So again, speed vs power are two different things. Imagine two identical parked cars with their lights on pointing in your direction. They are both the same distance away from you, say 25ft. Now imagine it being a pretty foggy day. With the lights right next to each other, they would appear to have the same amount of brightness. Now, imagine one care is moved another 25ft back so it's 50ft away. You would still see the light, but it would appear dimmer because of all the extra fog the light had to move through. It's the same amount of light coming from the closer vehicle, but appears dimmer. The same thing kinda goes with signal vs speed. I mention that because someone will alway say I have faster speeds at 100% strength than I do 40%. While they probably do, it's not an accurate statement as there is more to it than just the incoming signal strength....anyways, enough of that....

D) Changing the default settings on your router can help out. When you buy your router, it's set to some very generic settings as the maker of the product has no idea what you'll be hooking up your router to, where you'll be hooking it up, what the signal will have to pass through or what other electronic devices you may have that could interupt your signal. In order to get the best out of it, you'll have to make some changes that help to get the most out of your router for your particular home. To do that, you'll have to look up on how to access your routers admin page. For example, my router is made by Linksys and to access my router admin page I have to type in 192.168.1.1 into my address bar. Then I have to enter my password and voila, I'm into the control settings for my router. To find out how to get into your admin page, you can do a quick Google search and get all the info you need. Once you are in, there are a few adjustments you can make to help you improve your wireless connection. Note, you'll want to write down the default settings to these items so you can change them back if you need to. While there isn't really much you can do here to "break" anything, please call your routers maker or tech support line if you don't feel comfortable messing around with these settings. Ok, so the settings we are looking for are:

1) MTU Size. It's probably set at about 1500 by default, but changing it to 1300 might help you out. Without getting to techy, it's the size of data that is being exchanged by your console/router.

2) Wireless Channel. Most routers come with at least 10 different channels to broadcast in. Try going through them and see if you get improved performance with any one of them. By changing them, you are increasing/decreasing the range on your router, and possible choosing a signal that interferes less with any cordless phones, microwaves, or other general electronics devices in your home.

3) I'd call up your tech support for your router before making changes here, but making adjustments to the Fragmentation Threshold and // RTS Threshold can really help to make a difference as well. Again, get the recommended numbers from your routers company or do a bit of research online.

4) Ports, ports, ports. Again, using the PS3 as an example, opening the correct ports can also help with game performance. You can find the port numbers for your console of choice on their website support forums. Sony's are TCP 80, 443, 5223, and 10070-10080, UDP 3478, 3479, 3658, 10070 and Microsofts are TCP 80, 3074, 53, UDP 88, 3074, 53.

Those values would be entered into your port range forward settings and help out your performance when going/playing online with your consoles.

Well, that's really about it as far as routers go. Update your firmware, close the distance when possible, remove or adjust to any obstacles blocking the path to your console and router, tinker a bit with the settings, and open up the ports. I would highly discourage anyone from opening a DMZ for your gaming console. Anytime you have personal info such as credit cards, etc between you and another server, I'd stay away from using one. If none of these tips helped, then contact your ISP or router maker and talk to their tech support. The calls are usually free and they are the experts on the matter. Hope that helped or taught you something new. If not, you could always just buy a 100 meter (about 300ft) ethernet cable and wire up your console =D.

Slow internet problems Part 1. Before the internet gets to your house.

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So, you've got a next gen console and a broadband internet connection but for some reason your connection seems really slow. What could be causing it and what can you do to improve it? Well, let's cover the basics starting with the type of internet connection you have.

Broadband's two most popular versions are DSL and Cable. There are a few other options out there, but for most of you reading this, it'll come down to a choice between these two forms. Both are fast, and come with their own set of pro's and con's which vary from area to area. Do yourself a favor and research them if you can before deciding what is best for you. No one can tell you which one is better than the other (dsl has more constant speed overall, cable much faster in general, etc) as performance can vary from area to area, and your wallet might not be as full of cash as someone elses. K, lets get to a few problems now.

So, you've got your shiney new console all plugged in and you're online, but game demos and patches are taking forever to download, lag is a problem for you and you keep getting dropped from your connection. Ideally, you want at least a 3Mb/s connection, faster is always better (I'm usually at 8-10Mb/s), but you just can't seem to get more than 1Mb/s. Lets talk first about what might be going on with your connection even before it reaches your house.

With DSL, distance is your biggest enemy. The further your ISP's hub is away from your home, the slower your connections will be. Also depending on distance is the type of DSL you will be using. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise as there are slower variations of DSL still out there that companies will sell you without warning. These technologies are ADSL, IDSL, RADSL, etc. The further you are away from the hub, the better chances are you'll be using one of these slower types of connections with restrictions to the speeds applied. Here are a few common distances and the types of DSL you could be using.

If you are less than 5,000 feet away from the hub, you'll be getting just about all the speed DSL can offer. That's a little less than 1 mile. Between 5000-10,600 feet, roughly 1-1.75 miles from the hub, you start losing connection speed but still be in the playable range. After that and about to almost 3 miles from the hub, you are in the "danger zone" for connection speeds and could be put onto ADSL and could be restricted to 300k-500k speeds. That's a far cry from the normally 3-5Mb/s you could be having with a fast DSL connection (average cap of 8Mb/s if using a wired connection). Past 3 miles from the hub and your talking about IDSL which is about 144k/s. Granted, technologies have changed a bit, and your ISP provider might have updated a bit, but these numbers are about the average nationwide and are things to look up before going with DSL. Make sure and ask your ISP customer service rep about the coverage in your area before signing up with them.

Now a bit about cable. The enemy here happens to be your neighbors! Yup, that's right. When you get a cable connection, it's being shared with a bunch of other people who are living in the same area as you. So, if there are a ton of people going online at the same time as you are, your bandwidth could be eaten up a bit, causing you to have a slower connection. Now, in all actuallity, there would have to be a pretty big number of people online all downloading movies, demos, patches, whatever the case may be to really cause a huge dent into your connection speeds. Even during peak hours, you should still be averaging between 3-6Mb/s which is plenty fast. But when combined with a few other problems, (going wireless in your home for example), that number could drop to under 1MB/s fairly quickly and create a few problems.

So, as you can see, there may be a few problems going on with your connection even before the internet gets turned on inside your home. Most of the time though, the problem is inside your home and is hardware (router, etc) related which I'll talk about in Part 2 of Slow internet problems.

My new blog project. My tech education shared with you.

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So, I've got a degree in electronics, multiple certifications with ISCET, I'm A+ certified, etc and have years of hands on with all sorts of electronics equipment. I see alot of threads where people are really confused, or just plain have the wrong info given to them when it comes to wifi performance, cables, and so on. By no means do I consider myself a master on the subjects, but I do have a very good understanding of what affect electronics and how to get the most out of them. I'll be writing up a few "How To's", "About _____ Topics", that will help give people looking for answers they can understand, and will not be written in all tech speak. Most of them will be gaming related, but there might be a few where I just add in some electronics basics info thrown in. While I'm sure there will be those that try to tear apart all my explanations, I'm just going to talk about things at their easiest to understand level so there will not be a need to blast my threads and say stuff like "But Joseph_Mach, you forgot to mention how "X" theory applies to the matter, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc." They will be simple guides with simple answers or points. If you need deeper answers that are supplied, feel free to message me, or to do a bit of research on your own at Google, or your search engine of choice.

Well, I'll start them off tomorrow, and add a few pointers every few days/weeks or so. Hopefully they help out a few people.

New Goal

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Well, seeing as how I've been on a roll for the past few months, I'm hoping to lose 10 pounds by the end of May. That would put me at under 190lbs and in probably the best shape I've been in since leaving the Army 5 years ago. It'll also mean I will have lost 70lbs in under 6 months which would crush my goal of losing 50lbs by June. If I do make it...I'm eating the biggest steak I can find...lol. Well, maybe not. :D

Thank you Move! for giving me back a healthier and happier life.

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It was December 9th, 2008, just two days after my birthday and I was sitting in my doctors office, waiting to been seen. I was there to ask for help with trying to get rid of all this excess weight I had been carrying around for several years now. I'm a disabled veteran you see, with two rods in my back going from T2-T9 that were put in to help fix 4 crushed vertebrae I suffered in an accident. It was a pretty bad accident, thankfully leaving me with the opportunity to learn to walk all over again. I broke my wrist as well, which took 3 plates, 9 screws and 3 wires to put it back together again. Needless to say, my range of motion in my back and wrist has been drastically lowered since my accident, and just walking around was pretty painful. I also inhereted a few nerve problems from my accident while serving in the Army, all of which made excersizing quite difficult, heck walking became difficult. I'm a married man with 3 children, and am now 36. It's been 7 years since my accident, but over those 7 years, I slowly but surely gained weight, growing to just over 261lbs. The pain I was feeling was becoming overwhelming at times, and it slowly taking over my life. All I wanted to do was to stay in bed, take a few pain pills, and just go to sleep because everyday life was now becoming more of a hassle than a gift.

It was December 9th, 2008 and I was in my doctors office. I was there because I had made a choice. I wanted life to be fun again, and I knew that I needed help. My doctor recommended that I start excersizing, and that I join a program called Move! It's a program that was established for Disabled Veterans such as myself, who were having problems maintaining their weight. I had my first orientation/counseling session on January 2, 2009 with the Move! program director at my local VA Clinic, and boy did I leave there excited. I had two professional doctors, guiding me, and advising me of how to lose the weight I had gained. It took awhile, but after a few weeks, I began seeing some positive results. My weight was slowly coming down, and my clothes were starting to become to loose to wear. My energy level was rising, and I was moving better than I had in a long time. The biggest benefit was being out with my family, and once again being able to go out and do all the fun things I had long since forgotten were fun. I was out hiking to the highest point in Texas, and some of the most beautiful underground caves I had ever seen in Carlsbad, New Mexico with my family. After a few months, I was out jogging, only for about 15 minutes a day at first, but now I'm running between 2-4 miles per day, 5 days a week depending on the workout planned for that day. The people at Move! really took the time to help me reach my goal of becoming healthier, and happier.

It's April 30, 2009, and I'm at my final Move! program meeting where I just weighed in at 199lbs. I've lost 62lbs in 5 months and am down almost 7" around my waist. I was a 44" waist before, but am now closing in on having a 36" waist. I'm not the type of guy to get really emotional when it comes to certain things, but man...I just couldn't help it today. I laughed and cried, and hugged everyone at that meeting today. All they kept saying was that it was me who did all the work, but without them and my family, I don't think I could have done as well as I have so far. My back still hurts just as bad, even worse on some days, but when I look in the mirror now, I'm really happy and proud of myself for what I've acheived. During the program, I was told that keeping a blog to keep track and to let others keep track of my achievements and successes would be a good idea. I didn't do it, as it just felt a bit weird. I've never posted a blog in my life, but today is different. This blog really isn't about what I've done, but it is a thank you to all those who supported me and helped me reach my goal. My first blog is dedicated to the people of Move!, both doctors and patients, and my loving, beautiful wife. I really felt as if I were becoming an ugly duckling in her eyes, despite her words and affection. I know she'd never think that way about me, but it's hard not to think that from time to time. Well, 62lbs down, and about 15-20 more to go. At 5' 11" tall, I think I'll feel pretty good at about 180lbs, and think I can get there in about another 2 months or so. I plan on posting again soon, but I want to add some pictures I have taken during these last few months. I think they'll tell the story better than I am able to, and, my family who is far away reading this now will see the results they helped me get to.

Thank you Move!, thank you Baby (my wife), and thank you to everyone else who helped me.