Fake Plastic Souks: The Second Router

Posted on the January 23rd, 2017 under Personal Bloggers by

English: A Cisco Systems ASM/2-32EM router in ...This is a Cisco router in 1987. Today this device is the size of a Higgs Boson bla bla bla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)A ‘rooter’ routes network traffic but the implacable march of Americanisation has us calling it a ‘router’ as in the Rout of the White Hussars. And, living in a house with thick concrete walls, we found ourselves in need of extending our increasingly ubiquitous home network. For suddenly our lives are filled with Apple TVs, bluetooth speakers, iPads in every corner and a burgeoning collection of laptops. Sitting at the centre of all this stuff, like a spider in the centre of a web, is Alexa the Amazon Echo.The trouble was upstairs. The distance and concrete mass was simply too much for a nice, simple wireless repeater, what we needed was a second router up there so we could stay connected to the source of all cat memes in our sleeping hours.In order to extend your network with a second router, you run an Ethernet cable from the primary router to the secondary location (in our case upstairs) and then all you have to do is configure the second router. This is a process no normal human being should have to go through, involving hooking up the router to a PC, rolling up your sleeves and getting under the bonnet. It’s not nice in there, I can tell you. Not having been under a bonnet in many, many years, I found myself struggling. Quite what someone who hadn’t spent their lives around computers would make of this stuff, I really don’t know.It sort of boils down to this, in case you’re interested: you need to turn off any DHCP settings and switch the router to ‘fixed IP’, then give the router a different IP address to the primary router. So if your main router is 192.168.1.1 (which most are these days), you call this one 192.168.1.2. You need to switch the router to ‘access point’ or ‘bridge mode’. You should change the channel, too, unless like us your house is built like a Peenemunde bunker and contains huge wireless free zones. Having done all this, you plugs the Ethernet cable into the Internet ‘in’ plug and Robert is your father’s brother. This process should be documented somewhere in your router manual, but it’s usually not ‘up front’ for some reason.While you’re doing all this, you should probably change the default password on your router (all routers have ‘admin’ as their default password, like all dogs are called Malcolm*). It’s amazing how many people don’t. And write the new password down somewhere you’ll be able to find it easily in a couple of years when you’ve finally got over the trauma of configuring routers. Again, it’s amazing how many people don’t.Why, oh, why this stuff still – after all these years – doesn’t just plug in and work out of the box is beyond me. When we’re running around talking about the age of AI and the wonders of IoT (Internet of Things. It’s linking pencil sharpeners and hairdryers to the Internet so they can talk to your Amazon Echo. Why? Don’t ask.), to find the most basic building blocks of domestic networks still require hard configuration and demand people get to grips with IP addresses, channels and network settings is beyond belief.Never mind. Battered, bloodied and bruised, I sorted it out in the end and now we can gently fry ourselves in high frequency radiation upstairs as well…*This was a gag in, admittedly crap, TV comedy ‘My Hero’, which starred the admittedly brilliant Ardal O’Hanlon as Ardal O’Hanlon. It tickled us for some reason, and led to us taking to constantly calling The Niece From Hell’s Jack Russell terrier – which she had Christened ‘Holly’ – Malcolm to the point where poor Holly even answered to Malcolm. The dog was soon cruelly abandoned by said niece and, mentally scarred for life, was sent to a foster home where nobody calls it Malcolm any more.

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