Charles Engelke's Blog

February 25, 2004

Network Problems at RSA

Filed under: RSA 2004 — Charles Engelke @ 8:18 pm

Maybe I’m jinxed. Starting Tuesday afternoon I’ve been having
network problems.

First, I tried to use the wireless network at the conference. There
were a lot of them available, but none of them would give me an
IP address. It turned out that the official conference WLAN
requires P-EAP authentication (no, I’ve never seen it used before
either). They gave us passwords after we waited in line, and I
followed the 75 steps needed to set it up.

It worked! I connected, and started using the network. The connection
kept dropping and then coming back. The my PC crashed with a
blue screen. On reboot, it crashed. On reboot, it started, then
crashed when I tried to use the network. When I rebooted, it crashed.

When I rebooted in a different building out of WLAN range, everything
worked fine. I think there’s a bug in my PC’s P-EAP code! So I
turned off wireless networking, and it’s been working since.

Until I tried to use the wired network at the hotel. It had been
working fine for me Monday night and Tuesday morning, but now I
got stuck on the welcome screen: do I want to pay $12.95 for
high-speed Internet? Well, no, but I will. You’re connected!
Click on a URL… do you want to pay $12.95 for high-speed
Internet? Over and over and over.

This couldn’t have been my PC, so I called the 800 number for support.
I’m pretty sure the support tech was in India, but the call went
exactly the way it would for domestic support. First, slavishly
follow a script to fix all sorts of problems I’m not having. In
fact, my symptoms prove that I don’t have any of these
problems. He finally decides the problem is with the hotel’s
equipment, and restarts it. He tells me to wait 10 minutes and
try later.

When I do try later, I can connect, but performance has been
terrible ever since. Sometimes I get fantastic throughput (I
I downloaded some big MP3 files very fast), but there’s a lot of
latency and a lot of failed connections.

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