Updated Airport Extreme Base Station

Apple have updated the AirPort Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule, which are now offering simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz dual-band networking “for optimal performance, range and compatibility.” The new models also offer the ability to set up a secondary Internet-only Wi-Fi network to allow family and friends to access the Internet without giving them the password to the primary network or allowing them access to networked drives and other peripherals. Finally, Time Capsule offers MobileMe members the ability to access files on their device’s hard drive over the Internet from anywhere.

Multiple Wireless Networks

When I first got a wireless router at home back in 2003 no one I knew locally had a wireless network. Partly as no one had DSL (our exchange hadn’t been upgraded) and cable wasn’t available either. I had got an Airport Extreme (802.11g) from Apple which came with a built in 56K modem.

Once DSL became available then wireless became more prevalent. My neighbour had a wireless network, but I could only pick up his and mine.

In the last year however the number of wireless networks has grown considerably. There are at least seven now which I can pick up from my house.

If I drive around the local area I can pick up many more. I am currently using an Acer Windows Mobile PDA as a Satnav as it comes with GPS and this picks up countless wireless networks as I drive round the local area; so much so that I have to turn the wireless off.

Most of these are Sky and BT supplied wireless networks (you can tell from the SSID) so they seem to be selling well.

Why is wireless doing well?

The fact that most laptops are wireless, the PS3 is wireless, the Nintendo Wii is wireless, the PSP is wireless means it can make sense to have wireless internet.

As households move from having a single computer to multiple computers, then wireless makes it much easier to connect them to the internet.

Of course the main issue with multiple wireless networks is interference so be aware of which channels your neighbours are on.

MacBook Pro issue resolved totally now I hope

In a previous blog posting I mentioned the problems here and here, I was having with my 802.11n WPA2 encrypted network and a MacBook Pro.

In the end what seemed to help was ensuring that Airport was at the top of the network configurations.

However even with that it still took the MacBook Pro some time after sleep to re-connect to my 802.11n Airport wireless network. Even then sometimes it failed to re-connect so I had to turn the Airport on the MacBook Pro off and back on again.

The MacBook Pro has now been upgraded to Leopard 10.5.2 and this does seem to have resolved the issue fully, with the MacBook Pro re-connecting to the wireless network immediately rather than after a minute or so.

Hopefully it will remain resolved and not happen again.

802.11n Airport Extreme update allows Time Machine backups

The latest Apple update for the 802.11n Airport Extreme now allows attached USB drives to be used as Time Machine backups.

This was always a disappointing non-feature of the 802.11n Airport Extreme that though you could share a USB drive wirelessly, you couldn’t use that same drive for your Time Machine backups.

It was especially disappointing as it had been mentioned in a lot of the build-up to Leopard.

Apple’s new Time Capsule did allow that functionality, and a lot of people were disappointed that still the 802.11n Airport Extreme did not.

This update fixes that and now you can.

Ouch, it’s hot!

After not using it for a while, I decided that I would move my Mac mini from under the TV and move it to another room and use it as a web server.

I never really got round to using it as a TV computer, or media centre or anything really. An old CRT television is never much cop for showing a computer screen so was always using VNC to control it and if I am doing that I might as well use the laptop I am using to control the mini to do my computer stuff.

As a media centre it failed, as the Mac mini could not cope with the streams that the USB EyeTV device provided. The EyeTV relied on the mini for encoding and could it do it, no, not very well.

I also found that I rarely watched TV which I wanted to pause if I got interrupted, for things I did care about I had already recorded it already on the iMac and was watching it through the EyeHome.

However after I moved it I realised I must have turned the Airport off, so I connected it back to the 802.11n Airport Extreme by ethernet and VNC’d back in.

Now here’s my advice, if you leave a Mac mini on top of an 802.11n Airport Extreme, be aware that both will get too hot to handle! The Mac mini’s fans were going like they were going to take off.

It’s incredible how hot the 802.11n Airport Extreme gets, what does it do which means it get’s so hot?

Well the Mac mini is now in a cooler place acting as a temporary web server.

MacBook Pro Airport issue resolved, possibly…

I think I may have resolved my MacBook Pro Airport re-connection issues.

I ensured that Airport is at the top of the network configurations and this seems to have solved my re-connection issue when running a pure 802.11n wireless network.

I find it strange that something as simple as moving a network configuration to the top should solve this issue with an 802.11n network. However it is not an issue when running in b/g compatible mode!

Well it’s working for me now.

MacBook Pro Airport Issues Continue…

Since I upgraded my Airport Extreme network to a pure WPA2 802.11n 5GHz wireless network, my MacBook Pro has consistently failed to re-connect to the network after waking from sleep.

It does this in both 10.4.10 and 11.5.1 and when connected to an Airport Express running 802.11g WPA/WPA2 no problems, will re-connect every time.

My iMac which is connected to the 802.11n network does not have this issue.

If I move back to 802.11n/b/g on the 2.4GHz radio mode the problem disppears.

I have followed the advice given by Apple here and another piece of advice which  said ensure the Airport is at the top of the network configurations, but alas no luck.

Once or twice the MacBook Pro has reconnected, but 99% of the time no re-connection and the only solution is to either join the 802.11g network or re-boot.


Can I Scan?

If you connect an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier type device to the USB port of an Airport base station, you will only be able to use the printing functionality of the all-in-one from a computer. This is the same regardless whether it is the older 802.11g Airport Extreme, the newer 802.11n Airport Extreme variants, the Airport Express and even the new Time Capsule.

Airport Express

It is not possible to use the scanning function of any all-in-one printer connected to the USB port of an Airport base station – and this limitation applies to all makes and models of all-in-one printers.

You will not be able to use the scanning functionality unless the all-in-one is connected directly to the computer.

Some all-in-ones are not compatible with the Airport base station and therefore no functions will be available.

Also you can not connect an USB scanner to the USB port of an Airport base station either.

From KB-article

The USB port is for connecting a printer, not for other devices.

From KB-article
remember that base station printer sharing is for printing only

The key question that some are asking is, can you connect a scanner or an all-in-one to the 802.11n Airport Extreme Base Station?

On this page on the new base station it is quite clear that you can plug in a USB printer or a USB hard drive, it never mentions a scanner, which to me is pretty obvious that you can’t plug in a scanner.

It also says

AirPort Extreme and the Mac- and PC-compatible Bonjour networking technology let everyone in the house, office, or classroom take advantage of one centrally available printer.

In the same way as the old base station it relies on Bonjour for printing and Bonjour doesn’t support network scanning.

So can you use a USB scanner or the scanning capability of an all-in-one with an Airport base station, the answer is a resounding no.

Airport Express Working

Since my 802.11g Airport Extreme stalled I have had in place running instead my spare Airport Express.

It’s been working fine and internal file transfers have been very fast (for 802.11g) and I have had no problems.

Hopefully it will stay that way.

802.11g Airport Extreme stalled and possibly dead

Well my (old) UFO shaped 802.11g Airport Extreme seems to be not working despite the three lights on the front flickering and flashing away.

Despite power cycling the base station, it would not broadcast a wireless signal and even when connected by ethernet it only appeared sometimes in the Airport Utility.

I may do a full reset, but in the meantime I have replaced it with my spare Airport Express which I usually take away with me when staying in hotels or need to use at conferences.