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Matts (1087)

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I work for MessageLabs [] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Monday August 16, 2004
04:45 AM

AirPort Profiles

[ #20424 ]

I treated myself to an AirPort Express in Portland (and probably saved myself a heap on the UK price of it). I'm not terribly happy with the device though, and here's why:

  1. It takes forever to reboot when you change the configuration. This is just dumb - why should it take so long? I thought we were past the time when computers needed to be rebooted for a configuration change?
  2. iTunes streaming doesn't work terribly well when working in "join a network" mode. Sometimes the AirPort loses the basestation, and so it temporarily drops out. Sometimes iTunes doesn't give me a drop-down box to select other output. Sometimes the drop down box doesn't contain my AirPort.
  3. The range is terrible. I expected this due to no aerial, however it's hard to reconcile that I can't access my airport from 1 floor down directly below it.

All of the above are mostly teething problems though, I suspect that once I get used to it things will work just swimmingly.

However there's one showstopper: Profiles

The AirPort express gives you a feature where you can treat the AirPort as a mobile device, with multiple profiles, so you can switch between "on the road" and "in the office" and "at home" at a whim.

The key word there is switch, because they don't tell you that you really can't switch profiles. It's the most stupid design I've ever seen from Apple. You see you can't switch profiles unless you can connect to the AirPort (or it's on your network). And you can't connect to the AirPort unless it can correctly configure itself.

If I unplug my AirPort at home, where it joins to my basestation at home so I can stream iTunes, and then plug it in at work, it can't see my basestation any more (it's about 3 miles away). So it sits in inaccessible mode (yellow light flashing). It may well have its old IP address (a address) but I can't connect to that from our network. So I can't get at the AirPort via the Admin Utility and tell it to change profiles. It just doesn't work.

You know what I have to do? And this is the most stupid thing ever... I have to reset the AirPort completely, and reconfigure it from scratch. Typing in the name and password all over again. This is the most lame thing ever.

What Apple needs to do is provide a way to recognise this AirPort without going through TCP/IP, and switch profiles that way. Or make pressing the reset button once (rather than holding it down) cycle through the profiles. Or make it automatically switch profiles depending on the situation. Anything to make this damn thing work.

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  • Not working directly above/below is a "feature" of omnidirectional antennae often used in WiFi gear. If it works in the next room horizontally but not the below room vertically, try standing the device at an angle to the horizontal, say 30 degrees or so.

    Omnidirectional antenna are (usually) only omnidirectional through one plane, almost always horizontal. The further you get away from the device the less apparent this becomes, but then you start loosing range due to low power transmission. That's why most