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Network Boost

I purchased a bit of WiFi Tech for my home computer network. It’s called a WiFi range extender, model WN2500RP, made by Netgear. A.K.A N600. Cost is in the $50.00 range.

It is not the same brand as my WiFi router (Cisco) but works well with it. It provides a number of services and benefits to my home network. I will explain why and how.

I have three machine control computers in my workshop which is also my garage. My office where the Main WiFi Router is located is on the West side if the house. The router is located at the west wall of the room.

The workshop/garage is on the East side of the house. One computer is at the East wall and the other two are about the middle of the garage. Range is about 50 feet through several walls.

I can connect unassisted to the main Wifi router over that distance but I usually suffer a number of dropouts and reconnects every few minutes. Bearable for a file transfer, but very annoying waiting for a re-connect.

My plan was that this new Netgear range extender will cure the dropout issue.

The Netgear range extender works two ways. It contains both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios. It has four Ethernet ports for direct connection by Cat5 cable and can also be accessed by WiFi to act as a WiFi repeater. Both types of computer connections are then WiFi linked to the main Wifi router in my office using one or both of the radio link frequencies.

Initial tests (indicator lights) indicate I have a full strength connection between the range extender and the main router at both frequencies. Link performance on a computer connected by Cat5 wire to the extender is outstanding. Far superior to the WiFi bridge I had been using.

I tested a WiFi to WiFi connection using my netbook rather than the shop computer’s wired connection. I used the extender’s new access ID and the connection became immediately transparent.

I am not doing, nor intend to do, high data rate communication, such as video streaming. The Netgear WN2500RP is capable of dual band connections up to 600Mbps with proper WiFi gear at both ends of the connection. Not required in my application.

No Fault, Just Inconvenient

It certainly looks and reads here, like I am a Microsoft basher. Yes, I do point out the weaknesses that cause me to seek alternatives. What I do is pick the best tool for the requirements I need.

I can easily tolerate a Windows 10 system and its invasive habits as part of my office network. I need Windows 10 for all of my Microsoft OS design software I use every day. Windows 10 isn’t about to go away in my world.

I know my special needs make me a minority user, Microsoft (and all other) PC computers were never designed to be a primary machine control system. They are used for that because they CAN BE (until Windows 10.) So it is not a fault. Just an inconvenient change of operation system updating philosophy by Microsoft.

A machine control program named MACH3 specifically enabled CNC control on the Microsoft PC OS, to produce machine control operations. LinuxCNC does the same using Linux OS. It’s less polished but completely functional (and free).

My published comments are an alert that there are still workable alternatives available for using an omnibus multi-purpose tool such as a Microsoft personal computer for machine control. Use a Linux OS PC machine.

I will always have a Microsoft computer operating system in my list of active computers. There is just so much good software written only for the MS operating system. There is a reason it is number one in personal computers.

It is the lost of having total control using a Windows operating system that requires a near permanent connection to “outside” update management, that is my most serious concern. It keeps making fundamental changes to the system settings I choose. Second is the loss of privacy (real or imagined) this remote reporting and control requirement creates.

Primarily, I have now chosen Linux as my most secure machine control system. When I am using a computer to run machine tools I can’t tolerate any “outside” activity. Fiddling with my computer OS in a middle of a CNC run is NOT good.. My previous solution was to keep Microsoft machines off my network because of the Internet access. That works, but creates a need to manually transfer files between my MS based design computer and the machine control system. Or fiddling with a LAN cable plug-in on the rear of the shop computer to get connected again.

During “down” time I like to connect my CNC shop computers through my LAN and to the Internet to run system and software (such as LinuxCNC) updates. That’s done at MY convenience, not an automatic function of the operating system.

Linux continues to give me absolute manual control over Internet connections and updates. Microsoft has taken that absolute control away from the user and unto itself. That’s the real story of my cry of “Foul Ball!” No home run for Microsoft for machine control computers..

I also use the LAN connection for the reason of convenience and centralized management of file version control. I already mentioned, my network is more than an Internet connection. I use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) server to store my CNC production and development files. I always keep backup files on several computers for redundancy, and it is far easier to do that on a wired network rather than a “sneaker net” using USB thumb drives.

A high cost dedicated control-only computer is an ultimate CNC solution. I am thankful I still have a nearly free alternative that does what I need, using a general purpose PC. Life is still good!


The Surrender of Electronic Privacy

I now have six operational computers in regular use. Three of them for CNC machine control and one of them is a netbook (small laptop). Four of them run a Linux operating system. That will change to five in the near future. All my workshop computers will be Linux as I sort out and learn all the details of LinuxCNC for machine control.

I am currently building a network for the workshop computers. When that is operational, I will convert the third shop computer to LinuxCNC.

So far, I trust the Linux OS to not spy on my activities and report what I do to the […] Continue reading » The Surrender of Electronic Privacy

MS Office 365

Pulling the plug.

I pulled the plug on Microsoft Office 365 (subscription) last night. The primary reason is my use is not worth the $99 a year fee. Just another forgotten and ongoing cost I no longer need. An auto-renew notice popped up on my Windows screen and reminded me of the pending charge to my credit card..

There is nothing wrong with the office package. I just have no need for all the features. I can get what I need from an office suite from a free system such as LibreOffice which I am using to compose this post. […] Continue reading » MS Office 365

A User Managed PC Operating System

With the “socialization” and idiot protection now the highest priority with Microsoft’s PC operating system (OS) software Windows 10, it’s good to have a power user alternative. Because there are alternatives, I care less about what Microsoft is doing to OS10. They cater to the bumbling hacker attack prone masses and that is their business plan. Power, specific need, PC users are a minority.

Microsoft once had options. MS has produced stripped down “light-weight” operating systems for special commercial applications like cell phones. They used to produce light versions for low end consumer computers, so buyers would have to “upgrade” to get […] Continue reading » A User Managed PC Operating System