Nybbles and Bytes...

loves good coffee!

Nybbles and Bytes...

wants to know if you need this button on your keyboard...?

Nybbles and Bytes

...loves exotic places...

Nybbles and Bytes

is occasionally old school...

Nybbles and Bytes

loves smartphone debates...!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Curb your enthusiasm... for WiFi.


Everything is WiFi nowadays.
There is hardly a dead spot anywhere, and we are constantly being bombarded by the wonderful convenience that is wireless internet.

From an end-user point of view, this is pure bliss.
To have internet everywhere in your home and office, to be able to walk around and be connected at all times - what's not to love?
Unfortunately, like a lot of things, WiFi solutions really should come with T's and C's, because there are some things that WiFi simply cannot do, no matter how much you wish it could.

Back in the days when internet speeds rarely exceeded 4Mbps (I remember how amazing a 4Mbps ADSL connection used to seem...), local connections (cabled and WiFi) always exceeded internet speeds.
This meant that your internet connection was always the bottleneck - every other part of the network was quicker.
Then internet got quicker. ADSL suddenly found itself running at 10Mbps, LTE took off, and fibre has now started to infiltrate offices and homes at the speed of light, literally. Well almost...

So now that internet connections are becoming faster and more stable, we have a situation where the internet speed is not always the bottleneck anymore.
To illustrate this, take the following example:


  • A local WIFI network runs at a theoretical maximum speed of 300Mbps:
    • First off, the "300Mbps" figure here is misleading - what the router manufacturers don't tell you is that this is shared bandwidth - i.e. you need to divide 300Mbps by the number of connected devices, to get your actual theoretical max. speed per device.
    • Secondly, shared bandwidth is not necessarily distributed evenly, in part because there are just so many factors that come into play around WiFi speeds.
      These include (but are not limited to):

      - Distance from the Access Point
      - Specs of the WiFi adapter that you are using to connect with
      - Environmental factors (a Netgear specialist even informed me that microwave ovens, office plants and water play a role in degrading WiFi signal)
      - Surrounding WiFi networks (channel interference)

      The list goes on and on.
      Some routers do offer more advanced features (QOS, Dual Band etc.) to try and workaround the above issues, but you'll be paying extra for that of course.
    • Thirdly, what you gain in range / stability, you will lose in speed.

      This applies in several scenarios:
      - I have found that using 40Mhz channel width on a 2.4Ghz network has resulted in higher speeds overall, but due to a wider channel, there is a higher likelihood of overlap with neighbouring WiFi networks, and potentially less stability.
      - In my experience, device connection speeds were lower when using 20Mhz channel width, however this setting is regarded as more robust - good for use in a highly congested 2.4Ghz environment.

      It is also important to consider range vs. speed, when installing a WiFi booster.
      WiFi boosters offer a simple, off the shelf, minimal config means of boosting your existing WiFi network signal and eliminating deadspots.
      In theory, a wonderful proposition.
      In practice, not quite so simple, especially if you are trying to cover a large area...

      Here's the thing - every boost results in a 50% speed decrease. 50%!!!
      This means that if you are boosting a 300Mbps WiFi network, your boosted signal will only have a theoretical maximum speed of 150Mbps - that's quite a drop off!
      Now connect 10 devices to that boosted network, and all of a sudden you're wondering where the hell your 100Mbps fibre internet speed just disappeared to... in this case, the boosted WiFi just won't be able to keep up with the 100Mbps internet speeds.

So next time you find yourself wondering why your internet is slow, don't forget to eliminate WiFi as the possible culprit as well.
If you're installing a new WiFi network, also be sure to properly survey where the WiFi is going to be installed, and give some thought to these points:

- Are there a lot of concrete walls nearby which will degrade the WiFi signal?
- Is the neighbourhood already flooded with other 2.4Ghz WiFi networks?
- Does the signal cover the entire premises or will you need to consider a booster of some sort?
- How many devices are likely to connect to the WiFi? Consider smartphones and tablets as well, not just PC's.

May your WiFi experiences be filled only with high speeds and low latency :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lumia is dead. Where to from here?


I tend to be a rather loyal consumer when it comes to brands.
I've always liked Nokia, and I have stuck it out with Cell C ever since I left MTN over 10 years ago, but there comes a point at which it just becomes illogical to flog a very nearly dead horse.

I am of course referring to the steady decline in popularity and market share of Microsoft's Lumia range (formerly Nokia), and how the decidedly lacking app ecosystem of Windows Phone has contributed to this factor.


When I received my first Lumia, the 920, I was unfazed by the critics and naysayers, all of whom were very quick to point out the lack of apps available on the Windows Phone platform.
At that point, apps weren't quite as big a deal as they are now, at least not to me.
I could do everything that I needed to, and for the most part I had all the apps that I required, with a decent piece of hardware to run it all on.
Also back then, Windows Phone was still gaining some traction, and developers were starting to work on more and more apps for the platform as a result.
Not so anymore it seems - all you see these days are Android and Apple logos all over the place.

This becomes especially troublesome when you work in the technology field daily - all the more reason to have all of the latest and greatest apps and tools at your fingertips.
Lately it just seems that the apps that I need the most, simply don't exist on the Windows Phone platform - very disappointing since the Lumia hardware has always been up for the challenge.

I then had an opportunity recently to play with the spaceship that is the Samsung Galaxy S7 - my mind was shredded when I started to grasp the sheer extent of the number and variety of apps that are available for Android.
This is of course common knowledge to Android users I would imagine, but for a Lumia user experiencing it for the first time, it's quite overwhelming.
The S7 also just does everything right - "it just works", as Apple once mistakenly claimed about every single one of their Macs... except this time, the S7 does just work, and damn well too.

Given my history with phones then, I would say that my next step would logically be to Android - possibly the Samsung S7, or whatever flagship is around when my upgrade is due early next year.
If you're an Apple user reading this, I can only begin to imagine what must be going through your head right now:

 - "...what about the exploding Samsung battery???";
 -"iPhones are the best!";
 -"the new iPhone 7 has the best hardware in the world!" (probably all made by Samsung anyway ;))
 -"iPhones are the best!";

Truth is, you either like a platform or you don't.
Of late, I've just warmed up to Android, and I like how Samsung releases smartphones that get people talking - not just about how they look or because they're "cool", but about the incredible technology and functionality that they pack into each new device that they release.

So let's have it - Samsung lovers, Apple lovers, Android lovers and haters, Nokia loyalists, Windows Phone lovers, Blackberry purists, bring it on.
What should I go for?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is your default printer changing randomly in Windows 10? Here's how to fix it...


Windows 10, by and large, has been a decent addition to the Microsoft OS family.
Apart from isolated glitches and snags which I have encountered, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the experience, and it makes things a lot easier when Microsoft release patches and updates that actually fix bugs (Apple could learn a lot here...).

Recently though, Microsoft released an update which has likely caused a bit of confusion.
In cases where a machine has multiple printers installed, Windows now changes default printers whenever it feels the need, or so it seems anyway...

In truth, Windows isn't playing silly buggers with you, but is in fact just sending print jobs to the last used printer, as opposed to the "default" printer.
While this may make sense in some scenarios, there is thankfully a setting to manage this:

Click on the Start Menu (bottom left of the screen), then click on Settings:


On the next screen, click on Devices:


Now scroll down through the printer settings, and find "Let Windows manage my default printer".
Switch this off:


Lastly, double check your printers in the Control Panel, to ensure that the correct default printer is now selected, and you should be good to go.

Happy printing!

 
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