Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Why do they (I) make it so complicated?

[align=center]Why do they (I) make it so complicated? The ADSL Saga[/align]

Right, first things first, I’m no PC expert, nerd or geek but just somebody who believes in the power of search engines and (most of) the information to be found on th’internet. So basically all of this (and more) could be achieved by anybody with half a brain (a quarter more than me) and the patience of a saint.

The mission and I chose to accept it was to prepare French house number two for ADSL while still keeping a connection going in French house number one. House number one was a rental property and a modern build, so you can hear a rabbit farting from three miles away. The ADSL connection (such as it was) was crap due to the fact that as the crow flies, the exchange isn’t that far away but crows don’t build roads and so the distance the crackly copper wires had to travel was significantly further than our bird on the wing.

House number two is an old farmhouse built in 1800 and in the days when the locals were still sweeping up after the revolution so had no interest whatsoever in broadband. The walls or the original walls are as thick as your average PC World sales person and block any attempt to push a signal through and drilling holes requires the sort of machinery that you might use to look for oil. Fortunately the back of the house in keeping with its history is built of rustic concrete from the seventies with décor to match. The floorboards are in places wooden which do help distributing cables but can be unpleasant when a cat pukes up above and you’re under the drips. The connection is pleasantly and surprisingly fast so crows obviously fly in straighter lines and have more input in the building of roads in this part of the country. So with a connection speed three times faster than house number one, you can work it out:

3 X crap = adequate.

The following hardware needed to be connected by hard wiring or wireless:

Dell XPS630i (hard wiring)
Dell Dimension 9150 (hard wiring)
Dell Dimension 8100 (wireless)
Dell Inspiron 5160 Laptop (wireless)
Acer Travelmate 4020 Laptop (wireless)
HTC P3300 Smartphone/PDA jobber thing (wireless)

And using the following:

Speedstream (Siemens) 5400 Router/Modem (no wireless)
Linksys WAG200G Router Modem (wireless)
Linksys WRT160N Router (wireless)
Orange Mini-Livebox (wireless)

Right this is where it gets complicated. The WAG200G was running the crap connection at house number one as we weren’t due to move into house number two until late October. Actually it was mid-November but I don’t suppose the odd fortnight makes too much difference to the proceedings. At the time, the only other router I had was the Speedstream so after much Googling, I decided that to give the missus the hard wired connection she required as she works from home and to give me the same as while I don’t work from home, I’m totally addicted to the internet, then I would need another router and would then cascade the buggers. Cascading is connecting two routers together using the LAN ports (Ports 1-4 normally) on both pieces of equipment. The second router operates effectively as a switch and all the complicated mumbo jumbo is handled by the first router. I could have bought a switch or WAP (Wireless Access Point) but the router was a steal and seemed to serve my purposes better (and more simply).

So I configured the Speedstream, not an easy task as it’s a router/modem for those that like getting their hands dirty and there’s no setup CD to help you or in my experience, help you bugger things up. The Speedstream was pre-configured but for KPN in the Netherlands so that wasn’t going to bloody help. Eventually after more Googling and a few sharp taps with a hammer, the Speedstream was flying. Strange I thought, as it never used to fly in NL. Now usually Plan B involves undoing what you’ve already done and starting all over a-sodding-gain but this time, Plan B actually made things easier. I shoved a cable in one of the numbered ports on the Speedstream and the other end in the Internet port of the WRT160N, ran the setup CD and the bugger worked. By bugger worked, I mean not just the CD worked but it actually set the router up. So not quite what I’d planned but I had a hard wired and a wireless connection and they both flew.

Now this would have been fine. The missus would have her connection and with a quick hole through the wooden floor and a 10m cable, I’d have mine but we hadn’t reckoned with Orange or France Telecom which is basically the same thing. When we ordered our ADSL connection we subscribed to what we thought was internet and a landline. However the telephone connection we got was VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) so we’d effectively got a second line without even having the first. When we’d subscribed, we’d declined an Orange Livebox as the Linksys or then Linksys’s we had would do a far better job without the requirement to throw them against the wall on a weekly basis. But to get our phone working we would need a Livebox.

I found out about the Mini-Livebox after much Le Googling or was it Le Yahooing but anyway this was the new all singing and dancing version of the Livebox so I bought one online. Being ‘mini’ it was smaller so no bucking of trends there. It also handled the N wireless standard but that was as much use as t1ts on a bull to us as none of our equipment had an N card or things were built in, so no chance of upgrading. But the Mini-Livebox had apparently significant differences from its predecessor as it actually worked. It arrived in its brand new (mini) box and all that had been setup before could now be forgotten.

I followed the idiot’s guide of the Mini-Livebox to the letter or maybe that should be French letter, as all the instructions were in French. There was a setup CD but that got ignored (for now) but it would come in handy later and not just as a coaster. Orange is quite easy to setup with no static IP and in minutes few I had a connection. I perused the settings screen after hitting and looked for a change of menu language. You did have a choice but as long as it was French. I plugged the phone into the phone connection of the Mini-Livebox and a couple of days later, we had a working phoneline. The box has TWO Ethernet connections and one is a nice shade of red to match the plugs on the cable and despite clashing with the wallpaper, it seemed to work fine. The other Ethernet connection is confusingly marked TV and this would have some significance later on. I repeated what I’d done with WRT160N and lights flashed on the Livebox and it attempted to reset itself as if trying to commit some form of electronic hara-kiri. Well it obviously succeeded as out came the setup CD and let’s go through the whole process all over again.

I tried a couple of times to setup the WRT160N but it was having none of it and nor was the Livebox as it kept self destructing. I could swap the cables over but the yellow TV port seemed to be a non starter. Alarm bells started ringing (a bit late I know) and after some more Googling, I found out (in French) that the yellow Ethernet port, the one marked TV was for a TV decoder or the one we didn’t get and couldn’t use as we don’t get that service in our area. A quick wander through the Livebox setup settings and the yellow port forgot all about its previous TV loyalties. Of course the WRT160N was still having none of it and every time it protested, the Livebox came out in sympathy. More Googling and it was time for Plan C which actually was quite similar to Plan A.

Using my laptop, I connected to the WRT160N, hit and entered the highly original password of ‘admin’. This I changed as I’d done on the Livebox as (hopefully) no wardriver is taking my router for a spin without my knowledge or permission. In the basic settings I changed to, disabled DHCP and renamed the router from Linksys to Deadbox. Switching everything off (it was coffee time) I then connected the Deadbox to the Livebox going from the yellow port on the Livebox to one of the numbered ports on the Deadbox. This totally surprised the Livebox and it thought about topping itself but after a (nervous) few minutes it settled down with all lights steady. I tried a hard wired connection and then the wireless and bugger me sideways, that bloody worked as well. Welcome to the world of cascading I thought to myself.

As far as the wireless went, things were relatively simple except for the password you need to connect to the Livebox. Unless you can copy and paste the password, you have to manually type in the approximate equivalent of two chapters of War and Peace. This takes some time and yes it is case sensitive and no, there’s no margin for error. As to what channel you use for wireless and whether it should be the same or different, the jury seems to be undecided. Googling chucks up reams of contradictory information but I decided on using different channels as the house is not the sort of place you can roam. If you use the same channel you should be able to walk about the house and as one signal becomes weak, another should connect. I used channels 6 and 11 as there’s enough gap between them to (hopefully) eradicate any interference. Of course connecting to the Livebox is easy but on initial connecting you have to push the nanny wireless button, otherwise you’ll still be trying to connect when hell freezes over. This was voted in a poll of Orange customers as the most annoying thing about the Livebox with 97% agreeing. I bet 96% of them are talking from personal experience, I know I am.

For fans of the Speedstream and I’m sure there’s plenty, I’d just like to inform you that it has now retired. It’s had a hard life though unlike me, it does wear well. It’s packed up safe and sound in its box and is now a permanent resident of the attic along with all the other crap. The WAG200G now sits in the upstairs living room and is connected via 17m of cable to the WRT160N. Again using the laptop, I changed and went one higher with DHCP was again disabled, it uses channel 1 for wireless and I renamed it Cardboard Box. I also changed the user name and password to something more original (and more secure) than ‘admin’ and ‘admin’. Not all things are good if you say it twice.

So that’s it. It was a long and boring process which I hope I’ve turned into a long and boring post (awaiting incoming). I’ve learned plenty along the way but being well over fifty, I forgot it almost immediately. I’m sure all you experts and all you armchair experts will have differing views but it worked for me. I’d just like to finish with a song that I really feel sums up the whole thing:

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way"

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way

Lyrics courtesy of Paul Anka and no, I don’t want any thanks for sorting out your spelling mistakes. Also thanks to the first site I came across that didn’t want to send the lyrics to my sodding mobile or didn’t have copy and paste disabled.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Never mind mistersoft. You lost me after the first paragraph.

Like the karaoke at the end though.


Cable up wherever you can. Connect all desktops via cabling and place wireless access point anywhere you want wireless kit (WAPs have to be cabled in).
This lot won't be all that cheap, but if you have walls like Hadrian built it's probably the only way.
It's still working though there is a deadspot by the downstairs bog.

I did forget to mention that I've totally confused the neighbours as they're all wondering how I can connect to the internet using a Cardboard Box.


It actually sounds like you have done a remarkable job - I work in IT, and can't even get my Vista laptop to connect to the Linksys router on the floor next to me!

Every other computer in the house, and my mobile phone, can connect, but Windows Vista won't - so Vista has to connect to my old Orange Livebox at the other end of the house (luckily I remembered to push the magic button on the Livebox so it could do that!)
Cheers passing crab, it was probably more by luck than judgement (and incessant Googling).

There is a bit of an urban myth on th'internet that Linksys routers are not Vista compatible but at house number one which was a rental, I had to rely on wireless as it was like living in a sodding quarter again. That was the WAG200G and apart from the daily ritual of waggling my dongle or finding it a new place on the desk (ususally exactly where a puff of wind would send it crashing to the floor), it was an ish-ok connection. The dongle worked better with the Realtek drivers rather than the Trendnet ones as they were way out of date not that uptodate drivers are necessarily any better.


It's a lonely battle getting networks set up though - I feel your pain!

my Linksys has worked fine until recently - now it just loves XP boxes - it's these little things that make computing such a black art....

Latest Threads