Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Please Wait" Versus Getting up to Speed

Computers are supposed to be engines to help me do what I want to do. They are not supposed to be ends in themselves.

If they cannot help me with all my other interests what good are they?

It is like justice. If justice delayed is justice denied then computing delayed is computing denied.

"Please Wait" can be the downfall of Windows by requiring us to pay more attention to Windows than to what we are using it for.

Windows 8 just adds to the interference with what we want to get done.

But slowness can occur anywhere along the chain which leads to our computer.

I hate to see anybody dealing with exasperating delays in trying to get the full benefits of Internet while becoming reliant upon them.

Here is what I needed to do recently.

I set about to do away with delays , starting where internet comes into our apartment via cable.

It took some doing to get it done but finally my signal strength was checked. It turned out that the signal was being split before being accessible anywhere. That cut down the pipeline flow right at the start.

The removal of the initial splitter speeded up the whole system. Moving of the router to first place in line additionally speeded up the system. The signal had been split over a number of locations in the apartment.

I then had to deal with latency. Latency is the delay which occurs when the server at the other end of Internet does not respond quickly.

If the internet provider is not policing latency by monitoring servers and taking remedial action when they slow down, then I am left with one option. This option is to restart my internet connection after a short shutdown.

This hopefully automatically connects me to another server.

To make that easy I needed to install a remote switch which shuts down Internet quickly wherever I am and restarts it when I am ready.

Next, I installed a bridge or repeater which amplifies the Wi-Fi signal to cover where are I am away from my primary router, which was now in an awkward place order to be closest to first in line at my internet cable hook up point.

I needed to be sure the devices had adequate WiFi receivers and antennas.  I replaced my router with a dual band router, being careful to avoid a too fancy yet uncertified router.

The dual band router makes it possible automatically to select the best Wi-Fi connection when used with the newest devices, such as the iPad. Here at Willow Valley the 5 megahertz band is hardly used at all and is exposed to no interference.

Use of that band avoids  the congestion we have throughout this community.

It would be desirable to employ equipment to detect and avoid electrical interference, but we have no one here nor among outside consultants with such equipment or expertise.

Next, older devices are not so reliable with Wi-Fi, so I needed to update adapters and antennas. Indeed, it was necessary to replace older computers.

Note that even some new Windows 8 computers still use old hardware with limited Wi-Fi.

Windows, of course, has its own problems with delay. If I wanted to  reduce delay to the minimum, I needed to turn to something else.

That was easy to do with tablets and combo smartphone / tablets.

Still there are some things it is better to do with laptops and keyboards. I needed something which could handle a few applications common on Windows.

The alternative is Linux. Linux is a lean and mean operating system which can handle almost everything Windows can handle.

Google Chromebook laptops actually run on a system based on Linux.

Linux has gotten better and better and easier to use over the years. Chromebooks have also gotten better and better and now have taken a significant portion of the market from Windows.

The solution then came from an unlikely source when I began to read glowing reviews of a new Chromebook which could actually also run Linux with some doing.

This laptop is the Hewlett Packard Chromebook 14. When I found it for only $200  I immediately bought one to find it the best and fastest computer I have ever used, bar none.

What makes it work so well is its advanced basic processor, the Haswell processor.

The final result just blew me away. No more waiting. The Chromebook starts and runs instantly. No more battling constant interruptions from there on while I am doing my work.

That was the last link in their chain. Done.

(Note that some versions of the HP Chromebook 14 come with 200 megabytes of 4G service per month free for life.)

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