12th June 2008

Murphy Ruled My Week

posted in Lakeland, Florida |

Before I explain my week, let me preface by saying that, in perspective, I realize nothing that happened was truly bad – in fact it was kind of funny and I have a pretty good sense of humor about things… Nevertheless, Murphy had a lot of fun at my expense and the chain reaction of glitches I experienced was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This week everything electronic in my house broke, failed, or needed to be replaced or reconfigured.

Some of this was the simple result of upgrading the AV receiver in my theater room – that necessarily involves the removal and replacement of just about every cable I had connected to the old unit. It also provides opportunities for improvement and re-configuring of my system. Here is what I set out to do:

  • Replace my AV receiver
  • Better connect my equipment closet to my home network
  • Replace my RF (radio frequency) remote control system with a whole new system
  • “Rejigger” the wiring in my closet to better reflect the way I am running things and clean up the mess of spaghetti cables

At the same time three other things occurred:

  • I received my new Roku box – that $99 Netflix box that allows you to stream 10,000 movies to your television with no additional fees
  • My computer “needed” to be reformatted and all the software reloaded. It was getting ridiculously slow and I found myself unable to podcast (see www.avrant.com as I’m in on many of the latest podcasts, an unusual occurrence as I usually leave those up to more capable people than myself)
  • I received a new projector for review

The three things above weren’t unexpected and I have given Murphy no credit for them. Now, I attacked my PC first, reformatting the drive and reloading the software I use. That was an unpleasant experience but it took the expected day and a half and really didn’t offer many surprises. In teh scheme of things – it could have gone much worse.

Then the fun began.

I completely removed everything from my equipment closet. AV receiver, cables, DVD player, Xbox 360, HD DVD player, “old” RF remote system and IR emitters, networking devices… everything. I strew everything around my bedroom (sorry, Honey!) and made a weak attempt to organize the cables into piles. At this point I was down – no audio or video for me until I got this mess put back together. Since this is what I do for a living and I have a projector to review I placed this on top priority.

Wiring everything back together wasn’t hard. I actually “drew a map” – meaning that I detailed everything on paper that outlined what devices went to what inputs. If you don’t do this then setup becomes a real pain. This is compounded by the fact that my equipment is located in a closet, so I can’t exactly get behind it. To help me get everything wired more easily, I mounted mirrors on the back wall. I had some left over from a vanity I put into our bathroom. This worked better than I expected and allow me to see behind my new AV receiver – something I had to use a handheld mirror for previously.

So where’s the Murphy-inspired rant coming from? Well, I went to hook up my cable modem and the ‘Online’ light wouldn’t come on. That means it’s not getting signal from the cable line. I pulled over my 20-inch bedroom LCD (which worked just fine, mind you) to test the line and sure enough – somehow my cable line had gone dead. The rest of the house worked fine. So I had to go underneath my house and re-run a cable line to my main cable box. That is a nasty job, but it got done.

When I got back in the new cable line worked like a charm. And now my bedroom line was dead.

That would be the bedroom line from the TV – that worked an hour ago – I had used to test my modem line. Apparently when we had installed the new siding on the house we placed the cables in a position where they were either punctured or severed by either a nil or a sharp edge somewhere… I lost two lines in 60 minutes. I re-ran the second cable line (another 60 minutes to get that figured out) and all was well… I thought.

Once I was back online – and by this time I had most of my equipment back into the closet – Tina alerted me to the fact that she couldn’t get on our wireless Internet with her laptop. She’s pretty savvy, so when she tells me something is up, then typically something is actually wrong. I look at the wireless router and it’s (atypically) flashing like crazy. Hmmm… that’s odd. Turns out I had apparently shorted a wire in the cable running between my closet and my office with the stepladder I used to get behind my more elevated equipment. I ended up losing a channel in my wireless router… 3 left, so I’m OK I guess…

After re-running the new cable I notice the router still having epileptic fits. And Tina still cannot get online – though she was fine when I had the closet  temporarily disconnected. Hmmm… Aha! It must be the new AV receiver. Denon is doing something weird and messing up my network. Unplugging it I start thinking of all the sarcastic comments I’m going to make to them about their new networking system… Of course, this does nothing to fix the wireless connection… Temporarily humbled (it never lasts long, unfortunately) I plug back in the receiver and think about other possibilities.

The living room! With my rewiring I have now connected the living room for the first time to my closet – and thus my home network. I am using a wireless router (antenna removed) as a simple hub. I must have forgotten to log into it and disable the wireless plus the DHCP server (A DHCP server issues IP address to your gear and you can’t have more than one on a network or you get confusion.) I bring the laptop and plug into the router, reconfiguring it to disable these items.

There, that did it. For about 5 minutes and then Tina lost Internet again. What?!?! At this point I just sit down and think.

Then it hits me.

My Logitech Transporter. I have it set “backwards” since I didn’t have a wired connection to it in the past. It’s connecting wirelessly to my network and “outputting” a network connection (called bridging) from its Ethernet port. Currently I have it wired to receive its Internet connection from the Ethernet port and, presumably, ignore wireless. I disconnect it and everything works perfectly.

The good news was that the new RF remote control system works like a charm and I can finally control my whole AV system without any glitches. It will be an endless tweaking experience but for the most part everything is much easier now.

So in the span of one week I had two cable TV lines fail, a complete network meltdown, a full AV upgrade, and a complete PC reformat and re-install. Ah, like I said – in the scheme of things it was kinda funny.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2008 at 8:09 am and is filed under Lakeland, Florida. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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