Category Archives: Mac

Mac OS X Wireless Diagnostics to speed up WiFi

Did you know that Mac OS X has a hidden utility that will scan surrounding WiFi networks and suggest a better/faster channel for you to use?

Neither did I, until tonight.

After a few months of really slow Internet, I finally decided to contact CenturyLink to see what was wrong. My latency rates were over 800ms and, while speed tests showed good and Hulu and such would usually stream just fine, actual usage (web page loading) was SLOW SLOW SLOW. Anything with packets back and forth (not one way streaming, I guess) was SLOW.

After hooking my MacBook directly to the Actiontec Q1000 modem and shutting of WiFi, I found I was indeed getting fast speed… I then searched to see what could be the problem, and found this article:

In it, it suggested the Wireless Diagnostics feature of Mac OS X. By holding down Option when you pull down the WiFi menu from the menu bar, you get more options:

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X (hold down Option).

This brings up a neat little utility which has a Utilities menu with some cool features.

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X is a cool “hidden” utility.

From the Utilities menu, I found Scan to be particularly useful. It will look at all the WiFi access points around you and recommend what channel you should set your WiFi base station/modem to for fastest performance:

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X suggests the best channels to use.

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X suggests the best channels to use.

And, most surprisingly to me, there is a WiFi packet sniffer built in! Enjoy!

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X has a port sniffer!

Wireless Diagnostics in Mac OS X has a port sniffer!

P.S. – By switching from the “Automatic” channel 6 to channel 2, my latency went from 850ms to under 150ms. Still not great, but much better and maybe as much as I can do without moving my wireless devices around or building a Faraday cage around my home. 🙂

MacBook (late 2009) fan problem – solved!

For some time, my 4+ year old MacBook (late 2009 model) has had an issue with the fan spinning up and being really noisy. For awhile, I thought it was just newer software (like the current GarageBand) being more CPU intensive, but Activity Monitor seldom showed anything agressing going on.

I used things like smcFanControl to show the temperature and RMPs of the fan, and only last night did I do some further searching and realize my fan was running much faster, and the temperature was much higher, than it should be.

I did some searching and found various people reporting the same issue, and also some claims that Apple started using smarter hard drive firmware that the Macs could talk to and detect temperature. I had swapped out my hard drive twice, and wondered if I was just running an incompatible hard drive that was confusing the MacBook…

…turn out, it was far simpler. I ran across this post:

…and he suggested just cleaning the fan. I took my MacBook apart (eight screws on the bottom, then one micro tiny fan plug and another larger plug – be careful with the small one – VERY careful, tiny pins), and then took three screws out to release the fan and one more tiny screw to open it up. I used a can of compressed air from Radio Shack (which I bet I’ve had for 15 years) and cleaned it all out. The rear air vent (inside) was also clogged.

After reassembly, the MacBook is quiet like it used to be.


Mac Doesn’t Stand a Chance…

If I, a highly experience Mac user with a marketing, advertising and sales background, can’t convince the woman that loves me that she should get a Mac, Apple doesn’t stand a chance.

At least, not when it comes to the gamer geeks.

You see, while she admires all the things I easily do on my Mac, whether it be simple Internet mail and web surfing that “just works,” or advanced things like multi-track recording, podcasting or video editing, there is only little thing that keeps her from being able to afford a Mac.

World of Warcraft.

And, perhaps, The Sims 2.

In order for her to get a laptop that has a graphics card that will play these games decently, she has to spend $2000. And even then, unless she runs Windows on the machine, she won’t have access to all the plug ins and expansions and add ons she’s used to.

So, regardless of what I say or show her, and how “wowed” she is about everything she’s see, ultimately, her one “killer app” is something that the Mac just doesn’t have.

So, will someone please tell Cupertino we need a low-end MacBook that can play games? Please? I really don’t want to become XP tech support when she brings her new PC laptop over and tries to get it to connect to my wireless network or print to my printer wirelessly.

I went through that all with my ex who, fortunately, wasn’t a gamer and was able to buy an iBook…

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, after all.