AirPort dead in the morning

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 30th, 2004 • 1:09 am

Yesterday, I installed Apple’s recent Security Update and the AirPort 3.3 software update.

They both worked just fine, and I was back in business in little time. I used the Internet all evening without any problems.

Then I left my computer on all night, as well as my dialup connection in my AirPort Base Station. (I have unlimited access.) Mail was supposed to continue to check mail all night long at 15-minute intervals.

This morning, when I woke my monitor up from sleep, I saw that all my accounts in Mail were greyed out, indicating a connection failure.

I tried to bring them back to life by clicking on the small “danger” symbol and forcing Mail to check my mail, to no avail.

I went to Safari and tried to access web sites. Nothing.

I tried “jigging” Mac OS X’s network settings by switching to different settings and then back to my regular settings in the “Network” control pane. This makes the “Apply” button active and enables you to force System Preferences to reapply the network settings. (The Internet Connect application refreshes its settings as well.)

Still nothing.

I restarted the Base Station itself. Still nothing.

I tried connecting my G4 to my Ethernet hub, which is connected to the Base Station, and using that connection instead of the AirPort connection. It still wouldn’t work.

I asked my wife, and she told me she was able to check her email and browse the web with her PowerBook using the same Base Station and the same connection. So clearly the problem was with my machine.

I tried restarting the machine. Still nothing!

I had to leave for a couple of hours and, of course, I was fuming. This AirPort flakiness is starting to really get on my nerves. (Search this blog for “AirPort” if you want to see why.) During the two hours I was away from the computer, I was thinking about having to reinstall Mac OS X from scratch using the “clean install” procedure, etc.

When I came back home, I checked with my wife’s computer, and everything was working just fine. I went to my computer, went back to the Network control pane, changed the settings again by putting the “AirPort” connection back on top and the Ethernet one below it.

I launched Safari and tried a Google search. And it worked!

So not only is AirPort flaky, but on top of it it comes back to life without any apparent reason either.

This is highly infuriating. If you search this blog for “AirPort” and check reader comments, you’ll see that I am far from being alone in this. Ever since I’ve upgraded to Panther, I have been experiencing problems with AirPort. Some of these problems are not solved yet. Other problems, such as the one that I experienced this morning, keep popping up from time to time, unpredictably, without reason.

This is bad. Just bad. I suppose that if I were Walter Mossberg or someone like that, Apple would be scrambling to try and identify the problems and fix them. Instead, I suspect that thousands of Mac users like me have had to endure all these unexplained problems since upgrading to Panther and have seen no signs that Apple is even starting to acknowledge them and do something about them. By the time we reach Mac OS X 10.3.8, I suppose they will have been fixed…

But really, is this acceptable? We are talking about basic network connectivity here. Not some obscure bug that might cause irritating little problems for a handful of users. There are just too many reports of people experiencing major problems with AirPort since upgrading to Panther. And these days, a computer without its network connection is not worth much! It certainly is preventing me from getting my work done.

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