More Information on My Northwestel Cable Problems (Update)

A few hours later, I’m still experiencing problems with my cable internet connection, to the point I find it unusable. Downloading web pages takes up to a minute, and I can’t watch even a short YouTube video without it stopping at least a few times.

However, when I tether my iMac to my iPhone speeds are adequate and page and video load times aren’t a problem. Here are my speed tests from my iMac over my iPhone.

To Edmonton:

To Vancouver:

It feels like a router somewhere is dropping packets. While the speeds have only a minimal measurable difference, the load times when actually using the two different connections are marked. Over my Northwestel cable modem I am forcing myself to be patient as pages stutter in loading and YouTube video feeds stall regularly; over Bell, the pages and videos are loading in a smooth, consistent fashion.

Technical Analysis

(Non-geeks, stop reading now!)

A few friends who also have cable modem accounts but aren’t having problems have shared their traceroutes with me. We’ve tested to Northwestel’s web site host in San Jose, California. Most of the route is the same, save for the fifth hop. My fifth hop is an IP address that does not have reverse-lookup configured, 198.135.216.102. Their fifth hop is a different address, 198.135.216.61, which is properly configured with the correct reverse lookup of so-410-0-drt02-edtnabss.nwtel.org.

This fifth hop is a router connecting to the outside world, a router in Edmonton: 64.230.177.85 (core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca).

I’m not sure why Northwestel would be routing some cable customers differently than others, but this seems to be the case, and there appears to be a problem in the routing between whatever Northwestel device handles the IP address 198.135.216.102 and the device that handles 64.230.177.85 for Bell.

Update

What’s also interesting, is that very different routing scenarios may be applied cable modems users depending on… something. And, depending on which routing scenario is applied to you, your traffic will either be routed through the IP address that’s causing me problems (198.135.216.102) or the one that’s not (198.135.216.61).

You can get new and/or different routing by plugging different devices into your modem or turning the devices on and off.

Bad Routing

First, the problem routing scenario. This one will get you routed through 198.135.216.102. (Let’s call it the Sad IP.)

IP Address: 199.247.234.174 (for example; notice the C class difference)
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Router Address: 199.247.234.1

That’ll get you routed to http://www.nwtel.ca like so…

  1.  10.0.1.1 (10.0.1.1)  2.286 ms  1.113 ms  1.131 ms
  2.  10.130.63.254 (10.130.63.254)  8.458 ms  13.277 ms  7.430 ms
  3.  vlan-600-crs02.nci.whthyttv.nwtel.org (205.234.44.221)  8.586 ms  10.352 ms  8.042 ms
  4.  198.135.216.217 (198.135.216.217)  8.556 ms  8.890 ms  8.410 ms
  5.  198.135.216.102 (198.135.216.102)  35.620 ms  34.291 ms  32.578 ms
  6.  core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.177.85)  40.843 ms  39.466 ms  43.286 ms
  7.  core4-vancouverbg_pos3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.126)  50.536 ms  51.032 ms  56.214 ms
  8.  core2-seattle_pos3-0-0_core.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.93)  60.074 ms  61.366 ms  57.041 ms
  9. (it’s the same from here)

 Good Routing

Then there’s the routing scenario that seems to work. This one will get you routed through 198.135.216.61. (Let’s call it the Happy IP.)

IP Address: 199.247.183.106 (again, compare the C class)
Subnet Mask: 255.255.240.0
Router Address: 199.247.176.1 (notice, totally different gateway)

That’ll get you to http://www.nwtel.ca like so… (I’ve bolded the only different in each route)

  1.  10.130.63.254 (10.130.63.254)  5.879 ms  6.186 ms  5.298 ms
  2.  vlan-600-crs02-hfc-whthyttv.nwtel.org (205.234.44.221)  8.229 ms  11.547 ms  7.604 ms
  3.  198.135.216.217 (198.135.216.217)  7.968 ms  6.651 ms  9.691 ms
  4.  so-410-0-drt02-edtnabss.nwtel.org (198.135.216.61)  31.365 ms  31.717 ms  31.468 ms
  5.  core3-edmonton_3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.177.85)  39.749 ms  37.944 ms  38.501 ms
  6.  core4-vancouverbg_pos3-0-1.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.126)  49.958 ms  50.293 ms  50.341 ms
  7.  core2-seattle_pos3-0-0_core.net.bell.ca (64.230.144.93)  50.319 ms  54.457 ms  47.679 ms
  8. (it’s the same from here)

I’ve been in contact with a very helpful Northwestel network engineer on this issue and he has confirmed that both IP addresses, 198.135.216.61 and 198.135.216.102 are different interfaces on the same router in Edmonton. He wasn’t able to identify precisely what may be causing me problems.

However, he has committed to helping me more over the next few days as I spend more time investigating the matter and collecting more data.

I’m posting this just in case anyone else is having similar problems, or can provide additional insight into what may be causing me problems when my traffic is being routed through that one network interface on that router.

Internet Report: More Backhoe Blues in the North?

The internet in the North seems to be sucking wind (again).

Speeds test fine to Northwestel over my cable modem connection:

But once you head southward, it gets pretty bad. Here’s Edmonton, for example:

And here’s Vancouver:

And here’s San Francisco (ugh):

Interestingly, however, the connection to Yellowknife is reasonable. And by reasonable, I mean not sucking as bad as the others. This is likely due to the pseudo-redundancy Northwestel recently implemented, however.

What’s more, the mobile internet connection to Edmonton appears to be doing fine:

However, the connection back into Northwestel’s network from the Bell network? Not so happy:

Anyone else out there experiencing slow internet? Northwestel’s support line reports no problems, but I find browsing the net today painfully slow.

Is the iPad just a poor man’s laptop?

I have no doubt that Apple’s head honcho, Steve Jobs, uses his iPad au naturel.

But I’m not so sure the rest of the world is buying into his less-is-more philosophy. Even as the world has already become overburdened with iPod and iPhone cases, we seem to be entering an era of iPad keyboards.

Oddly, most of this new niche of iPad accoutrement seems to be designed to make everyone’s favourite slab of glass less like a tablet and more like a laptop.

Regard:

Adonit takes the minimalist approach with their folio-like case

Adonit takes the minimalist approach with their folio-like Writer case

Qmadix is all-in on the laptop replacement look with their "Portfolio with Removable Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad 2"

Qmadix is all-in on the laptop replacement look with their "Portfolio with Removable Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad 2"

Zagg pretty much opened up the floodgates of this market with their "Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPad 2"

Zagg pretty much opened up the floodgates of this market with their "Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPad 2"

The Crux Loaded doesn't leave any doubt that laptop replacement is the goal. Their demo images even depict an iPad running a full version of Photoshop.

The Crux Loaded doesn't leave any doubt that laptop replacement is the goal. Their demo images even depicts an iPad running a full version of Photoshop.

So what’s your take? Are these manufacturers on to something — is the iPad a laptop wannabe?

Or is the iPad at its best a la Jobs: without any add-ons?

How many apps do you actually use on your smartphone?

So you’ve got a smartphone, an iPhone or Android device, whatever. How many apps have you installed on it? How many do you actually use?

An interesting post over at 37signal, Ten Apps is All I Need obviously suggests that 10’s the magic number.

Personally, I seem to use 16 apps on my iPhone on a daily basis, probably in this order:

  1. Mail
  2. Messages
  3. Feeddler Pro
  4. Twitter
  5. Safari
  6. Evernote
  7. 2Do
  8. Words with Friends
  9. Weather
  10. Billings
  11. Kindle/Kobo/iBooks (depends on what I’m reading)
  12. Remote
  13. RunKeeper (okay, maybe every other day)
  14. Instagram
  15. Globe News
  16. Tabs

There are a slew of other apps that I use irregularly, and then a ton of games that my son is indiscriminately wont to grab my iPhone our of my hand and play. In total, though, I have about 176 apps actually on my iPhone at any given time. And I’ve got over 1,000 in my iTunes library.

Clearly, most of my apps just sit around collecting dust. But, you know, it’s my job to download and try out random apps, so I’m probably quite different than the average smartphone user.

What about you? How many apps are on your smartphone? How many do you actually use?

You Shouldn’t Do the Things Geeks Say You Should

Like every other geek, I get wrapped up in the possibilities that technology offers.

I get lost in the gee-whiz and the whiz-bang.

I blow hours playing with new gadgets and apps just to see what they do, or how they behave.

Then my imagination ignites and I figure out how these things might actually be useful.

Inspired by my new discoveries (and the endorphins of geek play), I am then driven to evangelize.

I head out into the streets (okay, I really just fire up my web browser) with my loudspeaker in hand (aka my Twitter account).

“You should buy an iPhone because…”

It’s at that moment, with the full force of the human side of my DNA, that I have to stop my geekself. Continue reading

The North is Not Ready for the iCloud

On Monday Apple will introduce a new service called iCloud.

It will instantly make what’s known as “cloud computing” mainstream, changing the way we use computers in a fundamental way.

We’ll no longer store our stuff – our files, music, and movies – locally on our computers.

It will all be moved to the internet for instant access from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Except for Northerners. Our lamentable internet services aren’t nearly ready for such a significant paradigm shift.

So as an exciting new era in computing arrives, we’ll be left even further behind than we already are. Continue reading

How Big is Apple’s New Data Centre?

In my upcoming column I mention in passing that Apple’s new iCloud data centre is 500,000 square feet. That sounds pretty big, but it’s really just a number. So I began to wonder: how big is that compared to something I know, like the city I live in.

Well, it turns out it’s pretty freaking huge. Here’s Apple’s data centre superimposed over the downtown core of Whitehorse:

Apple iCloud Data Centre in Downtown Whitehorse

Apple iCloud Data Centre in Downtown Whitehorse

And here it is down by Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire (pretty much the two largest buildings in Whitehorse, I believe).

Apple iCloud Data Centre Compared to a Wal-Mart

Apple iCloud Data Centre Compared to a Wal-Mart

And, for my mom’s benefit, here’s the Apple iCloud data centre in her neighbourhood.

Apple iCloud Data Centre in Taipa, Macau

Apple iCloud Data Centre in Taipa, Macau