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Old 07-31-2012, 11:33 AM   #1
terrie
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Default mac - time machine & networking questions

On one of the hearing loss lists I frequent, there is a woman who has recently acquired a new captioned telephone (the CapTel 840i). The captioning is done via a broadband connection to the captioning center and she's been having some problems. She's mac based and they have a Time Machine which is used wirelessly--she said that it can only be used wirelessly and I don't know if that's a hardware function or the fact that their dsl box does not have an extra port.

When she first set up the phone, she was using it wirelessly and ran into problems with that. I suggested that the problem was that wireless connections can be slow (depending on the network), that she should see what would happen if she connected the phone directly via ethernet cable. I also suggeted that she talk to customer support at CapTel which she finally did and customer support talked her (actually her husband) through the process of getting the ethernet cable hooked up and that resolved the initial issues she was having with the captioning on the phone.

Because their dsl modem does not have any extra ports, they plugged the ethernet cable into a port on the Time Machine. She soon reported that they noticed a slow down when online--not all the time but periodically and often enough that it's driving them crazy. I asked what the speed tier they were on and suggested that it might be because they had slow dsl connection. She checked with her provider and discovered that they were eligible for a higher speed tier (6Mbps I think) at no extra cost--money is an issue for them. Their provider finally got the speed upgrade implemented and while the slow down they had been seeing is less, it's still slower than it used to be without the new phone.

I had suggested that it might be an issue of when the Time Machine was doing backup and apparently they have it set (and don't know how to change the setting) so that the TM system backup is being done hourly--I don't know if that's the norm for TM.

My gut feeling is that the slowdown is due to using the ethernet port on the TM and that the TM is constantly polling the ethernet port--it's already slow because TM is being used wirelessly on what is essentially a slow dsl speed tier.

I have suggested that she get an ethernet switch which would allow her to plug the ethernet switch into the dsl modem, hook the dsl modem into ethernet switch and provide an additional port for the phone. She's resisting that because she's a basic bozo when it comes to technical stuff and even though ethernet switches are inexpensive, I think she sees it as too much trouble and just another expense that won't fix the problem--depending on the suggestions I receive here, I'm seriously considering buying an ethernet switch myself and sending it to her.

I think I've finally convinced her that the problem is not the new phone per se--that any device hung off the TM's ethernet port would have the same slowdown effect.

Sooooo.....

Am I correct in thinking that using the TM's ethernet port is slowing down their online access speed?

Could they have used the wrong sort of ethernet cable? I know there are "cross over" (correct term?) ethernet cables. Should they have used one of those?

Do you think that the TM's hourly backups play a part in this? Can that be changed?

Suggestons?

Thanks!

Terrie
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:41 PM   #2
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Could you provide a quick and dirty diagram of what is connected to what via cable and wireless? I am not sure if the modem is connected to anything other the computer via cable and how the Time Machine is connected to other things.

Just to answer a couple of your questions - TM normally does its incremental backups at 1 hour intervals and I do not see any way to change that. However, you can turn TM off in System Preferences for a time to test if that is causing slow downs. Yes there are two types of Ethernet cables but most modern devices will auto-detect and work with either. If they do not and you are using the wrong type then connection would just fail, not slow down.

My guess is that installing a switch and connecting everything that way will make things speed up. Wireless is almost always going to be slower than a wired connection. However, to me it sounds as if she may be just seeing the normal slow downs of the Internet. Upping the DSL speed might help (as it already did somewhat) but sometimes the the net is just crowded.

   
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:59 PM   #3
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sky: Could you provide a quick and dirty diagram of what is connected to what via cable and wireless?
From what I can gather, they've got dsl with a dsl modem (probably with a single ethernet port if it is anything like the dsl modem I used to have) and their mac is connected to the dsl modem via ethernet cable. The TM is being used wirelessly and the ethernet port on the phone is connected to the TM's ethernet port via ethernet cable. Not sure which version of OS/X they are running but she said they were 2 versions back--not sure which kittycat that is...'-}}


>>TM normally does its incremental backups at 1 hour intervals and I do not see any way to change that. However, you can turn TM off in System Preferences for a time to test if that is causing slow downs.

Ahhhh...so what they'd be turning off is just the backup functionality and the ethernet port on the TM would remain live? Thanks for confirming the timing of the backup process. Can a TM be direct connected to a router/ethernet switch via ethernet cable or does it always have to run wirelessly?


>>Yes there are two types of Ethernet cables but most modern devices will auto-detect and work with either. If they do not and you are using the wrong type then connection would just fail, not slow down.

Excellent...I figured it probably didn't matter but I don't know squat about cross-over cables so I wasn't sure and wanted to check...


>>My guess is that installing a switch and connecting everything that way will make things speed up. Wireless is almost always going to be slower than a wired connection. However, to me it sounds as if she may be just seeing the normal slow downs of the Internet. Upping the DSL speed might help (as it already did somewhat) but sometimes the the net is just crowded.

Given what I know, I think what they are seeing is a problem more with the use of the wireless TM ethernet port than normal periodic net slowdowns.

Thanks for confirming my gut feeling that an ethernet switch would probably help. I had used one myself when I had Verizon dsl--switched to FiOS and got a router from Verizon with lots of ports. I may still have it somewhere but I think that I passed it on to someone. They are so inexpensive that if I don't have one, I am going get one and send it to her.

I know exactly how she feels--frustrated with the new phone that was supposed to offer so much, scared that she made a big mistake spending the money ($99) on the phone when money is tight and simultaneously overwhelmed by the technical aspects which leaves one being less than open to another suggestion on how to "fix" the problem. My spending $8-$10 seems like a no brainer...

Thanks much!

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:46 PM   #4
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The TM is being used wirelessly and the ethernet port on the phone is connected to the TM's ethernet port via ethernet cable.
This implies that the phone is still using wireless as part of its connection to the Internet: DSL modem->wireless to Airport or Time Capsule->Ethernet cable to phone. Also assuming it is a Time Capsule they are backing up to it is using wireless to talk to their Mac. This could cause a slow down on the Mac if the connection has interference. Getting a switch in there and using cables to connect everything will help.

   
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:12 PM   #5
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sky: This implies that the phone is still using wireless as part of its connection to the Internet: DSL modem->wireless to Airport or Time Capsule->Ethernet cable to phone.
I hadn't thought of it quite that way but you are right; however, this approach did fix the problems they were having with the phone--no to slow connection to the captioning center (basically when you pick up the phone handset it automatically connects to the captioning center and that wasn't happening at all or quickly enough) and dropped calls.


>>This could cause a slow down on the Mac if the connection has interference. Getting a switch in there and using cables to connect everything will help.

Glad you agree. As noted in my reply to Ann, they apparently have an old router they were not using and I've given them instructions on how to get that set up. The ethernet switch would be easier to set up but since they have the router, I think they are going to try and get that in the mix. I've not heard from them today so either I've totally boggled their minds or they've tried it and it's bollixed up their system completely...or...they've not gotten around to it yet because they need to get another ethernet cable...'-}}

I'll report back...

Thanks!

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Old 08-02-2012, 08:49 PM   #6
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Are they techie enough to reprogram the AirPort/Time Capsule not to be the router once they've configured the router? Also, depending on how old the router is, it might slow down their ADSL speed.

   
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:05 PM   #7
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ann: Are they techie enough to reprogram the AirPort/Time Capsule not to be the router once they've configured the router? Also, depending on how old the router is, it might slow down their ADSL speed.
No...I scared them witless with my instructions on how to set up the old router. I then told them again that the ethernet switch was the easiest and most straightforward approach laying out step by step how to plug everything in...

I was afraid adding the old router into the mix would overwhelm them. Apparently they have had someone come in to do their tech work for them in the past but it's too pricey for them to do that now--husband was laid off his job recently. What I'm hoping is that they might touch base with CapTel (maker of the phone) customer service and that CapTel might send someone out to help--CapTel customer service is *very* good about that sort of thing so we shall see...

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Old 08-03-2012, 07:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by terrie View Post
No...I scared them witless with my instructions on how to set up the old router. I then told them again that the ethernet switch was the easiest and most straightforward approach laying out step by step how to plug everything in...

I was afraid adding the old router into the mix would overwhelm them. Apparently they have had someone come in to do their tech work for them in the past but it's too pricey for them to do that now--husband was laid off his job recently. What I'm hoping is that they might touch base with CapTel (maker of the phone) customer service and that CapTel might send someone out to help--CapTel customer service is *very* good about that sort of thing so we shall see...

Terrie
Hmm, do they know how to log into the router and set up their username and password and other account details? The instructions including router password will be findable on the router manufacturer website, but they'll probably need to contact their ISP for detail assistance. And then go into the Airport setup on the Mac to change the network info so that the Airport/Time Capsule knows it's no longer the router.

   
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Old 08-03-2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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ann: Hmm, do they know how to log into the router and set up their username and password and other account details?
I'm going to guess that the answer to that would be a resounding...no...'-}}


>>And then go into the Airport setup on the Mac to change the network info so that the Airport/Time Capsule knows it's no longer the router.

I didn't really think about the fact that the AirPort/TC was a router until after I'd sent the instructions on how to set up the old router. I had told them that they might need to set something into Bridge Mode (wasn't sure if it were the dsl modem or the old router because it's been so long since I'd done anything like that) and that they'd need to contact their ISP. I think that's what sent them over the edge of "this is wayyyy tooo complicated for me"...'-}}

Given what I know, I suspect that whoever they had in to set up their current system, probably set up the AirPort/TC properly for them--no way really to know that of course...

Just got an email from them and thank goodness, they did touch base with CapTel's customer support. The CapTel phone has a "caption" button that you can turn on/off. If it's set to on, then captioning is enabled and when the handset is picked up, the phone is connected automatically to the captioning center and if the caption button is off, then the phone works like a regular phone and there is no connection to the captioning center. The tech person suggested that when they are online, to turn the caption button off because apparently that is actually the on/off switch for the phone's modem--my guess is that when the caption button is not lit, the phone isn't polling so there shouldn't be the online response time lag they've noticed since they installed the phone.

They are testing it now...given the randomness of what she terms "constipation" of their online response time, I figure they will need to see how things go over a couple of days or so to really see if that does the trick. I suspect that if their broadband speed tier were higher (higher than the 6Mbps that they now have), it probably wouldn't be an issue. I still think that the ethernet switch would be a good idea and I've asked her to ask the CapTel tech to see what she thinks...

I'll keep you posted...

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Old 07-31-2012, 09:20 PM   #10
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The Time Capsule (TC) is designed to work with extra ethernet peripherals hanging off it.

How old is their TC, do you know? I had a Gen 1 that always went slow when Time Machine (the software that backs up the Mac) was running. The new Gen 4 one has no effect on any of my connected devices, which include an iPad, an iPhone, a Mac laptop and a PC laptop - all connected wirelessly.

One thing they could do is check to make sure they have the latest firmware upgrade for their TC. The instructions in the Mac Knowledge Base is here.

   
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