Ian’s Birthday Party and Internet Woes

I am posting this on Monday, the day after Ian’s birthday party at Southland Leisure Centre, because last night we effectively had no proper Internet connection. It’s now working and the Shaw guy is coming this afternoon, but more on that later.

Originally, we were going to have Ian’s birthday party on Saturday, but we hesitated and the booking slot was lost. So we had Ian’s birthday party with his friends on Sunday. He invited his friends Ben (with whom he had a sleepover Friday), Ashton, and Tyler, and we also invited Ilia (with whom we went hiking the day before) and Miranda invited her friend Sierra. We had drinks and Doritos and watermelon, as well as a chocolate sour cream cake with chocolate frosting and sour gummy candies on top.

Ian about to blow out the candles (L-R: Ashton, Ian, Tyler, Ben)

The gummy sours were the biggest hit… note to self: more gummies next time.

Yum, cake!

Swimming was from 1 to 3, and the cake and stuff from 3 to 4. It worked out really well, with two exceptions:

  1. Ilia was late and only got about a half-hour of swimming and
  2. Tyler might never have been in a swimming pool before. We really had to supervise him to ensure the number of kids picked up by parents equalled the number dropped off.

Tammy was really happy with the results. The party “room” (really, just an area with movable dividers) was out of the way, and we weren’t rushed or anything. The kids had a good time.

Anyway… on to the network issues.

As you may be aware, I have been recording the Tour de France for the last few weeks. The details aren’t important, but the upshot is:

  • Hours of streaming HD video every day and
  • Huge video files that I edit and transfer back and forth.

There have been some technical issues during the three weeks, but nothing insurmountable, but Friday morning’s recording was trouble, and so was Sunday’s. In both cases, the streaming video from Sportsnet would pause. And it wasn’t the source or the player, it was the network. The Shaw internet connection would disappear and I’d be swearing at the frozen video until it came back.

Sunday night I tried streaming the video to fill in a gap in my recording and it started bad and proceeded to get horrible. To the point that Tammy got in touch with Shaw because of her own concerns, not mine. The Internet was on for one minute, off for two, repeated. The representative made no useful suggestions, but did schedule someone to come out. That was going to be Saturday, but ended up being today at 2 pm. We’ll see what comes of that.

Given that we were facing a week without a reliable network and I suspected the cause was the Shaw Hitron cable modem, before I left for work this morning I reconfigured the ethernet connections in an attempt to allow us to limp along.

And wouldn’t you know it, that caused the whole thing to start working properly. I still suspect that the problem is the Shaw cable modem. In the original configuration, the Shaw box was the hub for the highest density of network traffic.

This was by design: at the time I figured that the Shaw box’s ethernet switch had to be at least as good as the $25 D-Link one I put in to add more ports for the Vonage box and basement ethernet ports.

But I wanted to exclude the Shaw box from most traffic because of my misgivings. So I changed things so that the D-Link switch was the center of most traffic, leaving the Shaw box to be a connection to the Internet and supporting the basement ethernet, which generally isn’t used.

I figured that this would allow people to watch iTunes content on the Apple TV for the week, at least. But as soon as I did this, everything snapped into place. This leads me to believe that my original hypothesis was correct: when leaning on the Shaw box as a switch, it was failing. But leaving it to only firewall and Internet routing, it is fine.

So Tammy went out this morning to get herself a Thunderbolt 2 – Ethernet adapter so that she can connect her MacBook Air to the wired network to test it. She was trying to test with the old Titanium Powerbook this morning, with mixed success. Since she was out, I also asked her to pick up a larger, heavier-duty switch to replace the cheap D-Link, since it will be the focus point of the whole network.

I’m glad that we seem to have resolved things, but it will be difficult to convince the Shaw guy this afternoon, I think. Like going to the doctor and having your symptoms clear up beforehand.


Now the Shaw guy has been and gone. All he was able to do was replace the filter and short cable between the line from the street and the cable modem, and reset the cable modem. Of course, resetting the cable modem erased my port forwarding settings, so this site was down for a further three hours until I got home and reconfigured it.

In the evening, Miranda and I installed the new Netgear ProSafe GS108 switch. Wasn’t any trouble, and I did a nice job of mounting it on the cabinet board, so it looks pro. 😎 Too bad a switch is a silent asset. Other than being reliable, there’s nothing I can point to to say “See? That’s better with the new switch!” Oh well. Here’s to silent, trouble-free network traffic. 🍻