Tag: review

Qwest DSL Review

I originally signed up for Qwest DSL when it became available in my area many years ago. The first available package I had included 256k download speeds, and I gradually upgraded over the years to 512k, 1500k, and eventually my max which is now 3072k. I use my DSL connection primarily for web browsing and connecting to my home server. The other option in my area is MediaCom Cable, which offer high-speed cable modem access. At this time Qwest DSL is cheaper than MediaCom service, but not by much. It essentially comes down to what you prefer, either cable or DSL.

DSL Versus Cable

The general differences between DSL and Cable have really diminished over the years and now that both technologies are matured, the choice becomes one of personal preference and requirements. Qwest offers ADSL, which is in fact a more complicated technology than high speed cable. However once you figure out DSL, this difference no longer matters. With a DSL connection your TCP/IP packets are put into PPP packets which are then transmitted over an ATM connection. You then have three protocols of transmission: TCP/IP in PPP, PPP in ATM. The ATM layer adds about 10% overhead to the transmission size, so a 1024k connection is degraded into about 922k connection. This is probably the first thing to understand about actual DSL speed.

The other issue which concerns online gamers is delay. All networks have some sort of lag, and while the debate goes on as to which has less delay, Cable or DSL, the truth is that you have to try both services in your area to see which one in fact has less delay. One thing to consider about DSL is that you do not have to have Qwest as your ISP. You can choose between MSN and a variety of other ISPs, most of them being local internet service providers. I personally have always had a local ISP and have even switched ISPs. The process usually takes about four days to get done. Depending on your ISP with DSL, your network delay will vary. As of last week when I tested my lacency, the delay is equal to about 79 miliseconds for my 3072k connection.

DSL Modems & Routers

At this time, Qwest offers an excellent 2Wire router which includes wireless connections. As for going with a basic modem, I actually am using a Netopia 2240N modem in combination with a Linksys wireless router. This allows me more options and makes it easier to upgrade my wireless options in the future. If you are looking for the simple solution, then the 2Wire router from Qwest is your best option.

Changing your hardware or first installing it usually requires calling your third party ISP. They usually need to rebuild (or setup) your circuit (connection) to recognize your modem or router. Once they do that DSL is up and running. If you do not do this, the result is usually that your modem/router will connect to the ATM network (Qwest), but not be able to connect to the Internet (ISP’s network).

DSL Stability

On average DSL outages are rare. I have only had problems where my ISP has had network issues and at most the Qwest ATM connection has failed about three times. The vast majority of DSL issues will be on your end. DSL routers can get stuck and need an occasional reboot, but if configured correctly and adequately cooled, they usually can run for months without a restart.

DSL In The Future

Eventually ADSL2 will become the standard in the future. If you are replacing your DSL equipment make sure you keep ADSL2 compatibility in mind just in case Qwest rolls out ADSL2 in your area. ADSL2 can provide speeds up to 24 megabytes. The current ADSL Qwest uses now offers only up to 7 megabytes, with most customers qualifying for 3 to 5 megabyte connections. However many people would be happy with even a basic 1.5 megabyte connection, depending on your internet usage.

Filed under: NetworkingTagged with: , , , , , , ,

Netopia 2240N-VGx Review

Netopia 2240N-VGx ADSL2 ModemSince upgrading my Qwest ADSL to a higher speed, I have noticed that my old Cisco 678 router was getting pretty outdated by today’s standards. Qwest primarily uses ActionTec modems which are pretty basic and a bit unreliable, depending on whether you believe the complaints on DSLReports.com. They recently upgraded the firmware on the 701 ActionTec modems and are now offering a more user-friendly 2Wire gateway modem, but I already have a couple of wireless routers at home and with Intel pushing a new wireless standard, it is just a matter of time before a wireless router will be outdated. The undeniable solution is to get a reliable standard ADSL modem and hook it up to whatever wireless router you want. In this case the least inexpensive reliable ADSL modem that I can find was Netopia’s 2240N-VGx ADSL2 modem.

Netopia makes a variety of 2200 series products. These are an inexpensive line of ADSL2 compliant routers that are meant for home consumers versus their higher end business series. The 2240N is the least expensive and is available online for about $67. The 2241N adds a USB connection, and the 2246N is a basic 4 port ethernet router. There is also the 2247NWG which includes wireless features.

Purchasing the 2240N or 2241N can be quite hard, since almost every online distributor has them out of stock. Even eBay doesn’t have much in the way of Netopia 2200 series products. I had to wait about about ten days for my 2240N to be delivered. In case you are interested in purchasing either one of these single ethernet port modems, your best bet is Froogle. Do a search for Netopia 2240N or 2241N on Froogle.com. The two major retailers are Buy.com and TechDepot.com.

The 2240N Out Of The Box

Once I opened the rather plain white box what I found inside was pretty sparse. There was the 2240N modem itself, a standard AC brick powersupply, a purple telephone cable, and a yellow ethernet cable. There is a one page sheet of instructions for setting up the “gateway”, and a setup CD that most advanced users will not need.

For setup purposes, I disconnected my Powerbook from the network. Hooked up the 2240N directly to the Powerbook. I had to change Networking to DHCP and let the Powerbook get a new IP address. Following the included instructions, I then simply used Safari to access the web based interface. The Basic Setup option failed to setup my Qwest DSL connection of course.

Two things were needed for the DSL line to work. The first one is easy, once you find the advanced options, you need to change the ATM connection to Qwest’s preferred settings. Look for VPI and VCI settings. VPI needs to equal 0, and VCI should be set to 32. In my case the last thing to do was to call my 3rd party ISP. It seems that my ISP requires that the DSL line be rebuilt or essentially, reset by them in order for new equipment to be recognized. Perhaps a simple MAC Address change would have fixed it on my end, but since my ISP reset it for me in less than two minutes, I was connected and running.

I then hooked up my Linksys Wireless router to the 2240N and hooked my Powerbook back to the Linksys, changed my Network settings in Mac OS X and I was back to normal.

Cisco 678 Versus Netopia 2240N

Continue reading

Filed under: NetworkingTagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The CSS Anthology

The CSS Anthology BookI finished reading Rachel Andrew’s The CSS Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks and I have to say, that this is a very well written book.

There is nothing more frustrating for me than to buy a technical computer book and find out that it was totally useless. I often run into the problem where most computer books are either too easy, (like explaining how to install something or edit a preference), or they are tomes of reference material which I get bored with very easily. It seems like everything is written for the absolute beginner or experienced professional, perhaps publishers do not like to market to articulate readers who can do multiple things well. However Rachel Andrew’s book happen to be a welcomed and exceptional computer book.

To begin with this is a CSS book, and in case you do not have much experience with CSS, this is a very intimidating subject. CSS does two things for html web design, it removes the layout leaving only the content for you to write, and it styles the content. CSS layout and CSS styling are where most web designers are aiming for these days, but if you are just learning CSS, you will soon find out that CSS styling is the easiest concept to grasp and CSS layout is quite the opposite. Given this, every CSS book tries to conquer both layout and style, and usually fails miserably when it comes to explaining layout. Part of the problem is that there are multiple browsers and each one supports CSS positioning in different ways, and you end up having to find a layout that works well in most browsers, while with font styles, even if a font does not display quite right, it still displays, so web designers has an easier time with CSS styling.

Although the title of this book states to have a 101 essential topics, while reading it cover to cover, you do not have the impression of counting each topic and that some topics are not all that essential. Rachel Andrew’s writing style makes each topic seem important and relevant to the overall discussion which is important, because it also allows you to read the book in multiple ways. Most computer book authors tend to reiterate the same things over and over again too, because they know most people will not be reading the entire chapter at once, as if they also know their book is boring; Rachel Andrew avoids a lot of repetition which is good, but obviously some points have to be restated for clarity. Personally I found the book a better read if you can finish the whole chapter at once, and this tends to work very well until you get to the later chapters which tend to be less consistent and have more random points.

Continue reading

Filed under: Book ReviewsTagged with: , , , , , , , ,