FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Cisco / Linksys E4200 router (Update)

For those of you who read my original posting on My home network setup and my upgrade to the Cisco Linksys E4200 may be wondering what has happened to my further testing?

Well I’m glad to say that I have some positive and negative news.

After purchasing a Virgin Super hub on e-bay and spending over an hour on the phone to them, only to find that Virgin Media won’t connect Virgin Super hub devices unless they supply them directly (some legal and technical reason that appears to me just to be a reason to try and force people to pay for an upgrade). I managed to get Virgin Media customer services to send out a super hub for free (which is better than the £20 they wanted to charge, better than the £4.50 per Month upgrade price and better than the £70 fee they wanted to charge only a few months ago.)

Now if you are thinking of getting a super hub (model VMDG480 [made by Netgear]) from Virgin Media I would warn you that it is very basic compared to Wireless routers that you can by online from Cisco/Linksys, Apple, Netgear and other related companies, but it is essential if you want to connect your own wireless router to Virgin’s network. The super hub supports the 802.11d, 802.11g and 802.11n standards but you must choose either the 2.4GHz (older, up to 42Megabits per second) or the 5GHz (more recent, up to 300 Megabits per second) frequencies, which may cause issues if you have a mix of old and new kit in your house (as we do). The router does allow ‘guest’ networks to be set up but these have to be on the same band as the normal network (so no chance of having both 2.4MHz and 5MHz).

After all this is said I would like to point out that in order to be able to use your own router (such as the Cisco Linksys E4200) that you need this (or it’s new upgraded Super hub 2), which can be switched into ‘modem’ mode to allow your own wireless router to be plugged onto virgin’s cable network without loosing some of the enhanced capabilities. In addition to that the Superhub has 4 Gigabit ports in the back which is essential for anyone looking to connect any network kit to the device (including a router), this is a big change from the old Virgin Hub (VMDG2800 By Netgear) which only acted as a 802.11b router and only had 4 10/100 Megabit connections which is, in my opinion, not sufficient nowadays. One big issue is that the LEDs at the front of the router are too bright, with no way to turn down or disable them. this has been such a issue that mine are now covered in electrical tape to make the device bearable.

Virgin do offer the newer Super hub 2, which appears to offer the ability to broadcast on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz ranges at the same time and has 5 antenna (2 for the 2.4MHz range and 3 for the more recent 5MHz range, which is better than the Cisco Linksys E4200 2 [2.4GHz] and 2 [5GHz] combination) and it’s capable of up to 450MHz (comparable to the Cisco Linksys E4200) however the USB port on the back of the device has been disabled and there is no option to enable it ) *(details from expertreviews.co.uk). Saying all that, it does allow you to at least dim the LEDs at the front of the modem ( the Cisco Linksys allows you turn off the lights altogether, although I haven’t found them to be any issue).

So, this article was supposed to be about the Cosco Linksys E4200, so
lets get back on track.

Well now that I have a Virgin Media router that I can put into Modem mode, I can finally test the functions of the E4200.

Firstly The public wireless, this works at a basic level, where a secondary set of networks are created on the same frequencies that are enabled on the main network. The guest network
is given a different IP range from the main network (strangely it shows in the DHCP Client Table report as a ‘LAN’ connection instead of a ‘wireless’ connection ?), it’s probably best described as ‘temperamental’, this may be because my devices are usually connected to the router so it may be getting confused when I change the wireless to the Guest one (which starts with the same name but tags ‘-guest’ to the end). The settings allow you to restrict the number of uses on the guest WI-FI and you have to specify a password of between 4 to 11 characters. To access the guest network the user has to choose the network and then they should get an Web page prompting for the password.
All In all I don’t like this setup, if you have to have a password I’d prefer to be able to use a longer length ( to make it more secure) and I’d like
to be able to change the guest network
screen to something that welcomes and provides contact detail to friends, family and people that need emergency access (I believe that this is important in today’s connected world – More on this in a possible future post).

Now that I have that rant out of the road, What about the wireless it’s self. Well so far the router (acting in both router and bridge mode) has worked well with the wide range of devices connected to it. Now that I have a Virgin Media Router set up in ‘modem’ mode I can now connect it to my 1TerraByte USB drive, which I can now browse on my 13″ MacBook Pro (retina display) and saving files is easy, however best performance is when I’m connected to the 5GHz frequency (obviously).

The main issue I have is that, despite the drive being connected to the USB port and showing as USB2.0 and the MacBook Pro being on the 5MHz frequency, TimeMachine will not use the device as a backup. Numerous attempts see TimeMachine attempt a backup only to see it fail. Now since I’ve used this USB drive to perform TimeMachine backups when it is connected locally to the MacBook Pro, I suspect that the issue is with the Cisco Linksys router. My attempts
to resolve this issue have been futile as the support site advises that the firmware is the last supported and the software provided for Apple OSX only supports older versions of OSX (which is frustrating as my old imac couldn’t run the software as OSX was to old to be supported by the software ?) , these issues appear to be because I possess version 1.0 of the router. The later version of the router may support TimeMachine better, but I’m not in the position to be able to test this.

So what about the streaming media capabilities?
Well I’m glad to report these appear to be working better.

I can connect to the Streaming media capabilities of the Cisco router using my iPhone 5 ( using the Twonky app, Twonky Beam app, Media Connect or FlexPlayer apps ) which will play back M4V files created using iMovie (it still
has issues with movies ripped via handbrake, Apple iTunes purchased movies or TV shows all of which are considerably larger [?]), Music files (MP3 and M4A [iTunes]) and photos.

So, from my testing it looks like streaming works but is still buggy on Apple devices.

Since the router I have is the original V1 and CiscoLinksys

A slice is nice

I, like most people in Scotland ( and probably most of the western world), like to have the occasional takeaway. In the Monklands area, there is a wide range of places to pick up something to eat when you just don’t have the time cooking or just fancy something different.

So, with such a wide choice, why is it that all the Pizza places ( I’m thinking Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Dimaggio’s and even the local chip shops) always have the same standard offerings?

Surely, with all the competition, these companies would try to draw in customers with something a bit more enticing? I did notice that Pizza Hut had some “gourmet” pizza choices, with rocket and balsamic glaze, but these were only for eat-in customers. The latest ideas appear to be to have cheese burgers built into the crust (not entirely enticing for vegetarians, such as myself) and to make things more bizarre they also started selling “chips” (because there aren’t enough places selling them?! Burger King, McDonald’s, any chip shop or pretty much every other take away !?!)

Even the local restaurants such as Dimaggio’s, who used to produce some interesting variations (such as the four cheese and tomato, which used to have chunks of cheese and tasty big slices of tomato ), now look very similar to every other Pizza place. There doesn’t look like four cheeses, and any chunks are tiny with only the odd pizza having any tomato slices on it at all.

The one restaurant that has always shone above the rest, Guidi’s has also fallen by the wayside as the quality dropped as the business grew. I’d still put them ahead of the competition for style but their quality lets them down and sometimes I feel that their menu doesn’t cater for vegetarians as much as they could.

So we are left with the standard boring pizza toppings, paying for the same bland flavours and choices, when there are so many great exciting possible topping combinations. Why?

Is there room for someone to take up the challenge of creating something different, exciting and tasty? or will the major chains eventually wake up to the opportunities that they have in the palm of their hands?