December 30, 2008 – just a couple of feet to the left

For quite a while now Pam has had to suffer with crappy network cosmetics or crappy bandwidth on her desktop PC.
In our old house when we upgraded to Vista, the USB-based wireless device wasn’t Vista compatible at all, so I ran an ethernet cable from my office into the kitchen – down the hall and across the kitchen floor. (The house was on a slab, and the attic wasn’t really set up to run wiring thru it into the kitchen.) Very ugly. But it worked. Bandwidth was great, we could kick the cable under the edge of the cabinet overhang, and completely disconnect it when company came over.
When we moved into our new house in August, I checked online and sure enough, the wireless device manufacturer had an updated driver posted. I downloaded and installed it, and kazam! it worked. No ethernet cable stretched across the house. But the performance was still lacking. Sometimes absoluely horrid. As in, is the house still connected to the internet? and, we’re paying how much for 20MB up/ down, and this is the crap I have to put up with? Pam wasn’t very happy.
So this week, in honor of Pam’s birthday, I decided to be Mr Fixit, and run an ethernet cable from my office to the kitchen. In this house we have plenty of open attic space, so the job would be doable. And Pam would have her high speed internet.
But, just a few minutes ago, while procrastinating the wiring job, I decided to set up our Xbox 360 as a Media Center connector. Trouble is, I needed to connect it to Pam’s computer in the kitchen – the one with the crappy wireless connection. The Media Center setup even showed me graphically what a crappy connection Pam’s computer has. It wasn’t capable of analog TV, much less HDTV. Probably wouldn’t even be able to play music thru it, or watch a slide show.
In disgust, I grabbed hold of the USB wireless device, intending on yanking it out by its wires and throwing it in the pool, and suddenly – the graphical display for the connection speed jumped up into the HDTV-capable range. Very interesting. Problem solved: Pam, all you have to do to get a good internet signal, is hold your hand right here on the wireless device. And keep it there.
But I knew that wouldn’t work. So I moved the device around a little bit, held it by different parts of the device, and found that if I moved it to the left about 3 feet, I didn’t need to touch it at all, and the computer still had an excellent signal. Hmmmm! I draped the USB cord over a little whiteboard that’s mostly hidden behind the monitor, and it still worked great. And it was out of the way.
I finished the Media Center extender setup, opened up a web browser, and it was like magic. I could surf the internet from Pam’s PC at the speed of light. Ahhhh. She’s going to love it!
Happy Birthday, Pam!

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