WiFi Management for Parenting

I’ve been futzing for what feels like a year with the WiFi trying out various things. Basically, instead of the wife turning off all the WiFi and none of us having it, I’ve been playing with a few things to bring some sanity.

  1. The first approach was the wife disconnected the wifi router. That meant all of our devices were dead in the water too. No streaming devices. No laptops. Phones were using up data.
  2. Technically, I have a couple routers. One from the ISP and another I bought. So, I moved the devices to use the ISP router. However, I only want the devices on it, so I have not provided anyone else access to it. That still left the problem of the wife yanking the router all the humans are using for their phones.
  3. So, next, I replaced the router with a newer one that included a guest network feature. I built this router so that we connect to a new name and the teen connects to the old name which is the guest network. The nice thing about it was I the ability to schedule when it was available. We tried various settings to deal with different issues. For example, it doesn’t come on until 8am after the bus comes because when it was coming on at 7am, the bus would be missed a couple times a week due to watching videos while getting ready to lose track of time. We have not really settled on a shutoff time in trying to figure out what is appropriate for getting homework done while not enabling playing video games.
  4. I could manage access to the video games through router, but it is one of those things where you block one thing and the activity just moves on to the next thing. (Youtube, Netflix, etc.) So, it is a game of whack-a-mole where I want a sledgehammer.
  5. He complained about the WiFi being unstable. He described sudden extraordinarily high ping rates, a pattern of issues in the hour before cutoff, and other stuff. Part of that problem is he is in the basement while the router is a floor up, 25 feet away, with a staircase, ductwork, pipes, and stairs in the way.
  6. So, I rebuilt the guest network on an extender. Now, in theory, the WiFi router talks to the extender down the hallway. The extender sits directly overhead. It still might have to deal with some ductwork and pipes, but it should be significantly better.
  7. Also, I have Smart outlet that will turn it off when we need to cut him off. I set it on a schedule which is nicer because I can say an earlier time Sun-Thu and later Fri & Sat. Also, it can also be managed through an app which is easier than an obscure webpage URL and desktop designed web page.

ISP Maybe Not Neutral

It looks like maybe my ISP is forging their Ookla speed test results. Whenever I use that speed test, I get the speed I paid for, but performance otherwise still seems slow. Whenever I use other speed tests, I get results that are a quarter to a twentieth as fast.

The tests were not concurrently run. They were sequentially back and forth several times for consistent results. I’d need a lot more data to say one way or the other. I have not gotten to the point of running a thousand automated tests on every tester I can find.

Both consistently slow or intermittently slow Internet speeds might explain the issues streaming Hulu and Netflix. If it was intermittent, then in testing the speed the service might decide high speed means give me HD quality, but then a slow down causes it to start buffering and before it downgrades the fast speed is back.

Quarter the 2006 Price in 5 Years

I love it when I run across a prediction about the time of the deadline. Jakob Nielsen made one on November 20, 2006 that computers will be 1/4th their current price of $379 in five years. Five years later is November 20, 2011. That is today!

In areas like North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia’s advanced countries, computer cost is no longer an issue. Dell’s cheapest computer costs $379 (with a monitor) and is about 500 times as powerful as the Macintosh Plus I used to write my Ph.D. thesis. While it’s true that a few people can’t even afford $379, in another five years, computers will be one-fourth their current price. Would that all social problems would go away if we simply waited five years.

So $379 / 4 = approximately $95.

Dell, the company Nielsen picked on, the cheapest I found was in Dell Outlet a Latitude laptop for $239.

Walmart’s cheapest non-refurbished I found was $212 laptop. (There was a Pentium 4 refurbished desktop for $115 which is old even for 2006 but adding the cheapest $89 monitor is still $109 too expensive. You would be better off going to a garage sale and picking up the same computer for $25 and getting a kid in the neighborhood to refurbish it.)

Best Buy has a $205 laptop.

I guess after five years they are getting close to half? Maybe this is why the FCC started a $4 billion program to help close the digital divide at $150 a refurbished computer + training + $10 a month broadband. Even this is not Nielsen’s a quarter of 2006 prices. (FCC and “Connect to Compete” Broadband Fact Sheet)