PC Networking Tips

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Networking tips

When it is possible ALWAYS run a network wire and don't use wireless


If you require wireless, here are some tips:

1) Set a fixed IP Address instead of a Dynamic

In the task bar left click on the wireless connection status icon

The general tab should be highlighted click on properties

Scroll down until you see Internet Protcol (TCP/IP) and double click it

Now if you have the obtain an ip address automatically checked this could be your problem.

Check use the following ip address and enter in your

ip address

subnet mask

default gateway

Even though MainLobby supports using PC Names, a more reliable trouble free means is to reference IP address and not rely on Name Resolution to convert a PC Name to an IP address (which in reality is what the system is really using anyway).

You can use a DHCP server to administer static IPs by having the DHCP server provide an IP address for a particular network card MAC address that is trying to get an IP. So, the PC is configured for using a DHCP address and the DHCP server gives it a preconfigured IP address when the PC connects. Then, any MainLobby components that need to be configured for the LAN - use the IP address.

2) Use only one wireless hub in your Wireless Network Connections Preferred Networks.

3) If you are having issues connecting from a client machine you might want to consider making an 'entry' into the clients hosts file. This will explicity map an ip address to a PCname. So, on the client machine you would want a host file that 'resolves' the mlserver machine pcname to its correct ip. Hosts files are usualy found in the c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc directory and can be edited by notepad. an example of a hosts entry would be

192.168.123.109 mediaserver

wherein the .109 is the ip of the mlserver nachine and mediaserver is the pc name

Determining a PC's IP Address

  1. Click on "Run" from the Windows Start Menu.
  2. Type CMD and hit the Enter Key. A DOS window should open.
  3. Type IPConfig at the command line. You should see your PC's IP address in the list that is generated.
    • Note that if you have multiple network cards (wireless, ethernet, second ethernet etc.), you might see multiple IP addresses in the corresponding groups of network settings.


Using MLServer to ensure your router is online

Internet
This process pings the Internet every two minutes for a response. MLServer also attempts to open a webpage from a different Internet server If no response is received and the webpage is unsucessfully loaded, a command is issued to power the Internet router off and back on after a brief pause. Both are used to put better validation that the one webserver is just offline for some reason or is set to not respond to a ping (getting more popular now a days).

MLStartup Plugin – MLTimer|Enable~Internet is executed in the System.Startup script.
MLTimer Plugin – Timer 1 – Internet is set to run at an interval of 120 seconds. The Alias is Internet, and the MLServeCmd is MLPing|209.85.173.103. This is a repeating task. The results of this ping test update the Server Variable server_209.85.173.103_internetstate to 1 (pingable) or 0 (not pingable)
MLInsteonPLM Plugin - ID 0002 – Alias Internet Router is controlled via…
Automation Rule (1)
Whenever server_209.85.173.103_internetstate equals 0
AND
server_server1_internetstate equals 0
Then MLServeCmd.Macro|Lighting.0002|SwitchPower_Off!MLPause|5!Lighting.0002|SwitchPower_On

(note that you will not see this server variable until MLTimer fires the Ping command. To manually trigger the MLTimer to do that, send a MLTimer|Enable~Internet command in MLServer's Send Commands window.)

It is recommended that the router's power supply is plugged into an Appliance switch or other relay type device and not a lighting module. Lighting modules commonly pass some voltage even when "off" which a router may not respond well to.

Network Configuration for external viewing of MLServer graphics

(courtesy of TGraham)

  1. Verify what the MLServer variable is using to display the .swf files. In this example it was machine name (ie http://sr1710:6246/images/MLWeather/44.swf
  2. Add a port forward on the router to send 6246 to the inside LAN NAT of the server.
  3. Add a static entry to the HOSTS file on the remote windows machine that is running MainLobby outside the firewall. This is located in \windows\system32\drivers\etc. Add a line with the hostname from Step 1 above and the outside WAN address of the router. For the example one would have 'sr1710 67.220.21.55'. If the machine name was sr1710 and the IP address of the outside interface 67.220.21.55.
  4. Restart Mainlobby client on the machine. You should now see the WeatherLobby pictures.


Putting your MainLobby home on the Web

If you have a dynamic assigned IP address from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you can incorporate software / service from www.noip.com. You simply apply for the free service and configure your home's website address (like www.myhome1.servehttp.com). While you are online at www.noip.com, download their Windows application. Next, install the No-IP DUC software on your MLServer3 PC. You will be asked for your NoIP account name and password.

NoIP software then communicates your current IP address (assigned by your ISP) and NoIP maps that to your established www.myhome1.servehttp.com address.

Then, in MLServer3 Options, configure the Network tab so that the webserver is on port 80 (the standard Internet server port). Restart MLServer3.

Now, any web pages in your MLServer\HTML directory are accessible via the Internet at your new domain name.

How to use it: Build a index.html webpage and copy that to the MLServer\HTML\index.html You might use this page to link you to the various webpages for Lighting / HVAC / Movies / Music etc.

Try access to that new webpage from your work office: http://www.myhome1.servehttp.com/index.html

You should now see your webpage rendered for you in your office.

Note that your server is now on the Internet and you must use antivirus and firewall to keep hackers out of your LAN.

Mapping Drive Letters in Windows

Vista

XP

WeatherLobby Images not displaying

Question:

I have the weatherlobby client running on a newly loaded XP w/SP2 machine and a Vista machine. Both will not display the graphics weatherlobby but I can see them in the browser through the http://xxxxx:6246/images/mlweather/37.swf.


Answer:

Because you can see the images in a browser, that means the MLServer PC is working fine.

In Mainlobby,

Under the options tab, the startup tab.

Try connecting using the ip address of you server machine and not the 'name' of the machine.

Anyway, enter the ip, then close ML and reopen and connect.

If this works, you have a couple choices -

1) Leave it like that and assign the mlserver machine a static ip

2) Create a 'hosts' entry mapping that server ip to that machine (I made a wiki entry awhile ago on how to do this)

3) solve why your machice has issues resolving that ip to that machine.

If this doesn't work:

Make sure to look in the SETTINGS tab of WeatherLobby. There is a section to configure your server domain. It should be the server's computer name or ip address.

Another possible reason:

Check to ensure that Library 13 is correct (on the local / client machine). There is a default Library0013.swf that basically has nothing in it (about 1kb) and there there is one that has the icons (about 517kb).

The best way to check this is go into Main Lobby on the client machine, go to the menu, click on library, you should see lib 13 and when slected you should see the icons. Also make sure you are using the latest library0013.swf (and all other optional libraries) so that the MainLobby client installer won't overwrite these files during a Client upgrade.

Question: I am not able to see WeatherLobby images in MainLobby OR a browser

Answer: Try the MLServer IP address instead of the PC name. If this works, then double check your WeatherLobby server name setting that there isn't a keypunch error.


TabletKiosk Networking Tips

(might work with other UMPCs / wireless devices as well)


Another user submitted this information to improve wireless connectivity and eliminte wi-fi disconnects on the TabletKiosk:

  1. In the bottom right hand corner there is a “antenna”. Right click and select “Stop Zero Configuration”
  2. Now Double Click the Antenna…this will bring up this wireless connection utility and will display all available wireless networks
  3. Click on the one you want the tablet to lock onto and click “Configure”
  4. Input the information on the next screen….IE wep key
  5. Click “Close”…I think it is.
  6. There is now an entry called “Profile 0”. Select this and click “Connect”.
  7. Click that “Status” tab to see if it is connected.



TabletKiosk sent this information to help improve wifi reliability :

Click, ‘start’

Right click, ‘my computer’

Select ‘manage’

The computer management window will open.

Click on the ‘+’ sign next to ‘Services and Applications’

It will expand the tree…

Select ‘Services’..

In the right pane, scroll down to ‘Windows Zero Configuration’, click once to highlight

Click on ‘Stop’ the service to stop the Windows Zero Configuration.


If you want to stop the Windows Zero Configuration from starting up at all, upon startup, then you will need to Double click, the ‘Windows Zero Configuration’ to open up the ‘Wireless Zero Configuration Properties’ window.

Find the ‘startup type’ select ‘disabled’ from the drop down box. Click on ‘apply’ and then ‘ok’ to close the window.

Wireless Networking Tips

Netstubbler Network Tool

A great program for network management is "Netstubbler" (should be free) to truly discover how your wireless network perform and you can view any other network that enters the home and view what channel they are on and make sure your system is configured to another channel. Download this program directly on the touch screen so you can see exactly how it will react. Try to have the network between -30 to -50 at worst.


Wireless Access Point Tips

It is recommended that the wireless LAN run on a different subnet than the ethernet LAN. For example, wireless is 192.168.2.X and the wired would be 192.168.1.X. This is to make sure when a wireless device is docked (and connected to the wired LAN) and then the device is undocked (connected on the wireless LAN) that the transition is quick. Windows struggles with switching if on the SAME subnet, and then gets a different IP address. A quality router is used to bridge between the two LANs so that they both can talk to the other LAN. This is especially useful for wireless / dockable UMPCs.

Contributed by Lathanm:

Cheap APs are prone to drop connections even when they seem to have good signal strength. This is due to link quality. Radio strength has little impact on this and is very misleading. Most consumer APs start to roll off at ranges greater than 30 feet. Add a couple of walls or worse other wireless signals and thing can get ugly fast. To add insult to injury, combine signal hostile technologies like wimax and N and the problems multiply. The best way to combat this is to switch to better APs and in some cases more of them.

For a home user these are overkill, so take the suggestion as you like: look into some of the business class units by Proxim/Orinoco, Cisco/Linksys and Engenius. They are not cheap but make up for it in the way they handle low quality links. Most will throttle the connection to keep link quality up. Slowness is always better than dropping the signal and waiting for a reconnect. Also these units handle roaming better so you can install more than one without experiencing dropouts.

Look at the channels you are using. 1,6&11 are the only 3 that don't overlap. I recommend avoiding 6 however since it is the default on 90% of the APs on the market. I have found the best combination of channels to be 1,2,11-14. These have the least overlap and keep you as far from 6 as is possible.

Last thing most routers do not tolerate,is mixed speed connections. This will slow down the router to the lowest common denominator including signals from other APs. So if you are picking up old B signals in your area they can cause problems with your network. The same holds true for N and other booster technologies. These boost speed by using more channels. More channels mean more overlap and potentially more problems.

Recommended Networking Products

  • Netgear WPN802
  • D-link DWL-3200AP
  • D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme Wireless Router - 300Mbps, 802.11n (Draft N), 4x Gigabit Ports
  • Proxim Orinoco AP-600

Network Definitions

Default Router

A default router is a router that sends packets within the local network to destinations outside of the local network, or receives them from outside and propagates them onto the local network. It is also referred to as a Gateway.

Ethernet Hub

Inexpensive four to 16 port devices that provide a way to physically tap into an existing Ethernet connection and expand the plugs available, but do not perform any packet routing.

Gateway

See Default Router above.

IP Address

Internet protocol address is a unique number that is used to represent every single computer in a network. All the computers on the Internet have a unique IP address. The format of the IP address is four numbers separated by dots (e.g., 198.168.0.1).

IP Mask

An IP mask is a pattern of bits in IP address format (e.g. 255.255.255.0) which, when "and"ed with your IP address, produces a network address. If an outgoing packet's network address has the same network address as the source of the packet, it is sent on the local network wire, to be received by a device on that local network. Otherwise, it is sent to the gateway, to be routed to a device existing on another network. The IP mask for any device should be assigned by whoever manages the local network. An IP mask is also referred to as a Subnet Mask.

IP MTU

IP MTU is the maximum packet size that the device can transmit. It is not necessary to change this value from 1500 for an all Ethernet network.

IP Table

An IP table lists IP IDs and their corresponding IP addresses.

MAC Address

MAC address is a unique hardware address assigned to every network device in use. The MAC address is assigned by hardware factory and is never changed.

Network Address

A network address is a pattern of bits in IP address format that is shared by all network devices on a given local network. For example, network address 192.168.2.0 describes the local network where all devices have an IP address of 192.168.2.x, where x is any value from 1 to 254.

NMS TRAP CATCHER

NMS trap catcher is the address of a SNMP monitoring station that sends any alarm messages that the monitored device wishes to send. Router Router is a communications device that routes data between networks.

Subnet Mask

See IP mask above.

TCP/IP

TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. It is quite simply a standard set of protocols that govern the basic workings of the Internet that was implemented in 1982.

The TCP part is all about ensuring that data is transmitted correctly between two computers. If any errors occur these are detected and the data is retransmitted. The data transmitted is split up into small portions called data packets. The IP part of TCP/IP is how these data packets are moved from one point to another. Each computer on the Internet has a unique IP address and the data packets are moved from the source to the destination through many different computers which is controlled via TCP/IP. This protocol is used on the Internet and also by computers which are part of a LAN.