Category Archives: Internet

Chromecast in Panama

I was just at the MultiMax in Plaza Terronal. I noticed that they are carrying Chromecast for $49. That is about a 40% increase of the price in the US.

However if you were going to order it from the US, you would probably pay the savings in postage to get it hear, so I guess that $49 is a reasonable price.

I would have bought one to play with for $35, but not $49. I have to think it would be a good alternative to the Amazon Fire Stick I use to run KODI and KODI is available in the Google Play Store, so installing KODI should be very easy.

Those wanting to try KODI in Chiriquí now have another source.

Are Your Shields Up?

As I have said many times, when you move to Panama you are going to be dependent on the Internet for many reasons one of which is keeping up with family. You are probably going to need WiFi in your residents to connect your laptop or other smart devices such as Amazon Smart Fire TVs or Fire Sticks.

Maybe you use your local router for apps on your smart phone such as Whatsapp or Magic Jack.

If you do any of that, are your shields up?

I have mentioned that I have started listing to Security Now every week and recently visited one of the product sites of Steve Gibson, who is the author of Spin Rite. This site will test your router security.

In this series of pages, it references a broadcast on Security Now that discussed why you need to be concerned about your home networks security. If you have a local network in your house, i.e. a router connection to other devices including WiFi device, it would be worth watching this youtube video.

Word of the day is get your Shields Up!

More on the Technology Front

This post will be 100% on technology. It may not be of interest to you, but I have found that some technology has been absolutely necessary living in Panama and therefore, I keep writing about it.

Internet

Connecting to the Internet is an absolute necessity for me. I could not exist here without it. I am happy to say that the Internet has improved a tremendous amount, since I moved here. A lot has been because I live in David, but a fair amount has been because of upgrades by the Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Panama as a whole.

I routinely have 10 Mbps download speed. While this is minuscule compared to what is normal in the US, if is fine for me and allows multiple rooms to simultaneously be accessing the Internet at the same time. When Lilliam’s family comes to visit, I may have as many as 8 people connected at one time.

Most of my news and entertainment come from the Internet, which will lead me to my next point about KODI.

KODI Continue reading More on the Technology Front

Day 5 – Cable Onda – Success

When I returned to the house this morning, there was a Cable Onda truck waiting with a crew of three men. Jose was the one that took control and they set to check all connections at the street, inside the house and above the house where the external street line connected.

As a little background, this house originally had been wired by Cable and Wireless. Jose said the cabling and connections were not the highest of quality. The CO crew made some temporary adjustments, but said they would set up another day to replace the line from the street and the one running to the living room.

Jose and his crew were very meticulous in checking everything. The fact that the old Cable and Wireless wiring could have been a source of problems is understandable and CO setting up a date to replace it is commendable.

The phone is working, I am running at maximum speed on multiple devices with zero Internet disconnections at present. If it were always like this, I would never complain. If every team that came to the house to troubleshoot were as though as this crew, I could not complain either.

Besides thanking Jose and his crew, it is only fitting that I thank the manager of MStore in Plaza Terronal (Juan Carlos Staff) for providing Ariel to come to my house and assist in trouble shooting. I should mention that in a matter of days, the MStore will have its permanent Apple service area staffed.

I would also like to thank Rogelio Chiari, who is Marketing manager for Grupo Mac Store in Panama City, who also provided assistance contacting Cable Onda after reading my blog. www.macstore.com.pa

There are so many pieces that can cause these sorts of problems and sometimes it requires getting several different people talking and I was fortunate to get them all to come together to get my problem solved.

Not to move on to more fun things in 2016!

Apple Routers And Diagnostic Software

It may be interesting to some to see the added information you have available when you are using an Apple AirPort Extreme, Apple Airport Time Capsule or an Apple AirPort Express to provide Wi-Fi for your house. They also provide the ability to connect devices via Ethernet cable.

The support/diagnostic application for the Apple devices is called the AirPort Utility. It is included with any Apple OS X operating system, and is a downloadable app for IOS. It can be downloaded for the Window’s operating system as well.

I have not used the utility on Microsoft systems, so I can only speak about the capability available on the OS X and IOS systems.

The AirPort Utility is used to configure each of the Apple devices and does an excellent job of guiding you through the setup.

Afterwards, it will provide a good visible indication of the condition of your network. It does this by multiple methods. First you have the color coding of the dot below the images.

The globe represents the Internet and if the dot is green, then you are connected. If it is orange, you are not connected.

The dot below the device images reflect the device’s status. Green indicates that the device has an IP address, DNS addresses and an Ethernet connection to another device.

The following graphics are from my network. You can see I have a current model AirPort Extreme connected to the Cable Onda modem and to an older model Apple AirPort Time Capsule.

The Time Capsule has an internal hard drive and does hourly backups of my primary Apple MacBook Pro. This is one of the benefits of the OS X operating system which includes backup software called Time Machine. It has saved my butt many times. I never have to remember to do backups.

Back to the discussion on network problem diagnosis. Continue reading Apple Routers And Diagnostic Software

Cable Onda Problems – Learning More

Cable Onda came out yesterday, two days ahead of schedule. The technician did not object in replacing the modem after he watched the Internet monitor. His first replacement was a dud and he had to go to the truck to get another.

The second was a brand new, never been used modem. It is the same model I have used for several months and one that CO installs with most, if not all, of their high speed installations (above 6 Mbps). It is an ARRIS TM822G.

People with simple installations, modem direct to PC or to a PC via a switch, should never see a problem.

People with their modem connected to a router may have some problems especially if it is a Wi-Fi router providing Wi-Fi for your house.

If you don’t have a network monitor capability, you may not even know you have problems. It might just look like slow response time, inability to use streaming, or you might not even see it.

If your primarily use of the Internet is to surf or respond to email, it may be a hidden problem.

I have Two Apple Routers connected by Ethernet, with the second configured as a bridge so the I use the same Wi-Fi network all over my house and my devices just choose the stronger signal.

The configuration is as follows:

ARRIS 822G modem –> Apple AirPort Extreme -> Apple Airport Time Capsule.

With yesterday’s exchange of modems, and further tests on the routers, I can now conclude that all cables, and hardware are good and the problem must lie in the configuration of my I house network.

The technicians coming to the house or answering the help desk will probably not be able to solve the problem.

The help desk will ask you to bypass your router and connect your PC directly to their modem. That proves that from their service area to your modem, all is well. That is as far as they can solve the problem. They will likely think that the problem is with your router or wifi device.

They may tell you to disconnect the power to their modem and to remove the battery, and depending on the nature of the problem, that may solve the problem temporally. For some it may completely solve the problem.

I have reset all routers, reset the modem, powered it off for 45 minutes still have the problem. I am stumped and out of ideas.

Tomorrow, I have an Apple technician coming to the house to observe the problem. Hopefully he will be able to talk to Apple in Panama City and in the U.S. and get another approach to try to solve the problem.

I don’t believe the problem is because of Apple hardware and believe others using routers from other manufacturers, may also have problems. It would be difficult to see this if you don’t have some software monitoring the internet connection between your modem and router. Apple’s AirPort Utility does this.

If you are in Panama, running Apple devices and Apple routers connected to Cable Onda (and specifically an ARRIS 822 router), it might be worth watching the Apple AirPort utility and see if you are having intermittent internet loss.

If you have had this problem and solved it, I would like to understand your solution. If you are having a similar problem with this modem and a non-Apple router, I would like to know it.

I can’t believe I am the only one having this problem.

As a side note, Cable Onda is also returning tomorrow because I don’t have phone service today.

Cable Onda Problems

Over the last year I have periodically had Internet problems. Cable Onda is my provider. I consider Cable Onda the best provider in Panama and it still if hard to get assistance when you have problems.

Sometimes the hardest problem is to get technicians to actually come to the house. They will run remote diagnostics and conclude that all is fine and try to dismiss you.

I have been working with telecommunications longer than most of the technicians have lived, so my tolerance level is a little short.

In the past, most of my problems would manifest themselves as poor internet speed. Usually I would have a high ping and an extremely low speed. Normally it has been because of line damage or system modifications.

This time the problem is harder to diagnose. My monitor software shows internet connectivity for a short period and then it will disconnect for 0 seconds or more and then reconnect. Enough to be very disruptive for most Internet work other than responding to email.

A side problem this time is that I also don’t have land line telephone dial tone. Since they both are on the same CO provided modem, I am thinking that is a possible problem source.

I called CO and they ran diagnostics and said the Internet was fine. It wasn’t. They asked me to disconnect power to the modem and wait 1 1/2 minutes and reconnect. When it came back it was up for 30 seconds and disconnected for 15 seconds and then reconnected. They concluded all was fine.

I told them it wasn’t because the internet was intermittent and I still didn’t have a land line and I wanted someone to come to the house.

The technician said he had a special deal on 20MB service he would like to sign me up for. I told him I didn’t need a higher speed; I needed a reliable connection.

The attendant finally agreed to send a technician on Monday sometime between 7:30 AM and 12:30 PM.

We will see.

To make things worse today, Chiriqui Chatter was down and I had problems contacting my host to report the outage. As of now, CC is back up.

Magic Jack Problem Fixed on El Capitan

You may remember that I wrote that Magic Jack was not working on El Capitan. I finally got around to contacting the MJ chat service center today and got instructions on how to fix it. They told me to put the following link into my browser and download the file.

http://upgrades.magicjack.com/mjupdate.dmg Clicking on this link will download the fix for El Capitan.

When the file downloads, you will find three items. First, a set of instructions that I will include below. Second a MJupdate terminal to execute, which will modify the code in the Magic jack device. Third is a Magic Jack setup program to finish the update.

I just got through executing their instructions and am happy to say that Magic Jack is now working on El Capitan.

The instructions, which are the first part of the download, follows. It will give you an idea of the process to fix the MJ problem. Continue reading Magic Jack Problem Fixed on El Capitan