Cat5 vs Cat6 Cable: What Are The Differences – FireFold


Saving this one for posterity. I’ve always meant to find something that quickly and easily lets me see the difference. Here it is.

Learn the difference between Cat5 vs Cat6 cables at FireFold Blog. Which cable should you choose for your network? Tested speeds and crosstalk details.

Source: Cat5 vs Cat6 Cable: What Are The Differences – FireFold


Home Internet Monitoring Appliance


My home internet has been pretty flakey of late and I needed a way to monitor the performance of the connection over long periods of time so that I could gather evidence to escalate to my ISP for support and troubleshooting.

Due to the absence of a suitable machine at home to run the tools on I decided to build an Ubuntu VM with smokeping and Cacti. This would allow me to build the environment quickly and then move the VM to a temporary laptop running VMware Workstation at home.

The following steps describe the sequence of events and references I used to complete the work.

Vodafone #Fail & Goodbye

I posted a few months ago about the problems I was having getting a Vodafone (Huawei) K3765 USB dongle to work on Windows 7 64bit. I’m happy to say I resolved the fault however I failed to get the equipment working to my satisfaction.
I had time recently to follow up my case with Vodafone and get the software working on my laptop. I called the Vodafone contact centre on 1555 and got through to Valencia. I gave her my case number and SIM number and put me through right away to the Vodafone contact centre in Tasmania. I was impressed by that, its always a pleasure to speak to local people and for extra bonus the person I spoke to in Tasmania (Sonya) knew her stuff, understood my situation and did many things to try and resolve the problem.
Alas nothing she could think to try would make the dongle work. What I did learn though is that one should always use the software that comes on the USB key and not the software that comes with the dongle on CD-ROM or from the Vodafone website.
During our troubleshooting and the subsequent troubleshooting I did over the course of the following weekend I was able to determine that the cause of the issues appeared to be that Windows considered the drivers for the K3765 to be unsigned and refused to load them. By default Windows 7 64bit will not run unsigned drivers. Sonya had told me that she wasn’t working on the following Monday and that I should expect a call back from one of her work mates on Monday morning.
By 3pm the following Monday I had not had the return call I had been promised. I wended my way through the Vodafone IVR again and ended up speaking to Valencia again. She got me through to Heath in the Tasmanian contact centre. Heath put a lot of effort into troubleshooting and resolving the problems. He had me put Windows 7 into test mode so that it would accept the unsigned drivers. Hardly a satisfactory solution but hey, I’m prepared to try anything at this stage. Unfortunately the solution didn’t resolve the fault. After a reboot and reinstall of the software the same problems persisted. Heaths conclusion at this stage was that a reinstall of Windows 7 was the only way to go.
During the course of the call I had been poking a lot of fun at the reliability and quality of the Huawei brand of equipment and software. Heath was careful to not make any comments about my fun at the expense of Huawei.
I spent a few hours the next day gathering all the CDs and DVDs I would need to complete the reinstall. The day after that I completed my backups and reinstalled Windows. Once the base OS was installed and patched and the vendor drivers were all updated I installed the Vodafone dongle and Vodafone Mobile Connect software that comes with the key (not the CD in the box). Success! Worked first time, no errors, no faults.
From this point I ran through my software installation and patching. Once I had all my tools and apps installed I connected the USB dongle again and it failed to show in Device Manager, only one of its devices showed up. A few reboots and more testing later and my problem had returned. I was not impressed BUT at least I knew now that the cause was something I had installed.
I had a look through the list of installed applications and decided to start troubleshooting by uninstalling all the applications which had a driver component. First one to go was Daemon Tools. That didn’t resolve it. The next to uninstall was VMware Workstation 7.1.3. After a reboot I tested the Vodafone dongle again and it was now working fine.
So, having successfully identified the cause of the failure I had a decision to make. Stick with the Vodafone dongle or use VMware workstation. Hardly a pleasant choice since I use both to do my job.
At the moment I’m still using the Vodafone dongle. With all the ongoing problems Vodafone is having in Australia at the moment the company I work for is about to churn to Telstra Nextgen which hopefully wont have this problem.
The only task that remained was to contact Heath in Tasmania again and let him know my findings so that some other poor Vodafone customer wouldn’t have to suffer my fate. I contacted 1555 again, wended my way through their IVR and ended up speaking to Suraj who, on the quality Vodafone VoiP connected to sunny India, I was sure was telling me his name was Sewerage. I gave Suraj the case number and he tells me that he needs my mobile number and account password to access my history because he cannot use a case number to look up a customers history. I describe the case to him in a nutshell and request connection to the Tasmanian call centre and he tells me that Vodafone doesnt have any call centres in Australia.
At this stage I’m pretty unhappy. I’m going out of my way to help Vodafone and they are giving me the run around. I push on Suraj a little harder and after about 5 minutes on hold I’m talking to Heath. Heath laughs when I explain what just happened. I relay my findings to Heath who expresses gratitude and assures me the notes are going to his supervisor for further action internally.
So, what did I learn from this exercise?
– The software that Vodafone provides with the USB key package on CD isn’t the best software to use.
– Huawei USB keys don’t have a fantastic reputation for reliability and I suspect Vodafone knows this.
– Level 1 Vodafone support/customer service need substantially more training, particularly about what countries do in fact have call centres.
– The software that Huawei provide Vodafone is not compatible with VMware Workstation 7.1.X.
I’m glad that this exercise is over and I’m also glad that my employer has decided to ditch Vodafone as seems to be somewhat of a theme going on in Australia at the moment.

Check that Windows license before you P2V


Another quick tip for those of you doing P2V’s. Check that Windows license type before you start the P2V. The main thing you want to watch out for is OEM Windows licenses. OEM licenses cannot be P2V as OEM licenses are forever bound to the hardware on which they are sold.

How do you tell what sort of license is Windows using? The Product ID is the key. You can tell what channel the media & key used to install Windows was from by the product ID. See here.

Obligatory Device Manager post


This is my obligatory “how to make Device Manager display non-present devices” post. If you’ve done any Windows P2V’s you know what I’m talking about.

Here is the MSKB.

And here is the detail.

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
start devmgmt.msc

Vodafone #Fail and how to unfsck a botched USB stick install


The purpose of this post is to draw attention to poor customer service from Vodafone and document how to fix a botched driver install for their USB internet stick.

My new employer has given me a very nice Dell Latitude E4310. It has an SSD hard drive and with Windows 7 64bit its a real pleasure to use. Fast, smooth, solid. My employer also gave me a Vodafone USB stick for mobile internet access.

Before this nice new laptop I had some old clunker as a loaner. After some wrangling with the laptop and the Vodafone USB stick I was able to get it working. Only after downloading and installing version 10 of the Vodafone Mobile Connect software. I don’t know where I downloaded version 10 of the software from but I suspect it was the Vodafone UK website. All good and happy for three weeks.

Now back to the new laptop, I took a day out of my current engagement to sit in the office and get my new laptop all setup and ready to go. Installed and patched Windows. Downloaded and installed the latest Dell drivers for the laptop. All good.

Installed version 10 of the Vodafone Mobile Connect software, plugged in the USB modem, thought I saw the drivers installing. Then it didn’t work. I toyed with it over the next week or so and couldn’t ever get the Vodafone Mobile Connect software to recognise that I had a USB modem plugged in. What was worse was that with the Vodafone Mobile Connect version 10 software installed my laptop wouldn’t sleep, hibernate or reboot properly. If I uninstalled the software the laptop worked fine.

Yesterday (11/11/2010) I called Vodafone Australia to get their assistance to resolve this. I called at 0900 and navigated my way through the Vodafone IVR and everntually found myself talking to someone in India. I explained the problems I was having and was promptly told that the fault was a network outage that was affecting NSW and VIC and I should try again later in the day. I explained again that my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t connect to the network, the problem is that the USB modem I have isn’t being recognised by Windows and I would like some help to troubleshoot it. The technician took my through some basic Device Manager troubleshooting and determined that a more senior person would need to call me and assist me. No problem, always happy to speak to someone more experienced and technical. I was promised a callback within 90 minutes.

2.5 hours later no call back. I head off to a meeting and sure enough when I get back there is a missed call from the tech asking me to call him back. I ran out of time that day and didnt return the call.

Today (12/11/2010) I realised that I might actually need some mobile internet access on the weekend so called Vodafone Australia on my lunch break, navigated their IVR and found myself talking to Raj at about 1330. Raj took me through some sensible troubleshooting steps. He seemed to get a bit confused though when my Device Manager only contained a few of the Vodafone dongle device he was expecting. He then very sensibly asked me to plug the USB stick into another laptop and see if it worked. I conveniently had a 2nd laptop handy running WinXPsp3. When I plugged the USB dongle in it was installed immediately with no errors.

Raj concluded at this point that my new laptop was faulty and I would need to have it repaired or troubleshooted and that Vodafone couldn’t and wouldn’t assist me with this. I started pushing back, asking polite open questions about what he could do to help me resolve this problem as I disagreed with his conclusion based on the fact that the laptop was brand new and the USB ports worked fine for everything else plugged into them. Poor Raj was having a bad day I think and he started to get quite rude with me, despite my being very polite but firm with him. I was left with no option but to request a chat with his supervisor which Raj was very happy to arrange.

After a few moments on hold I was now talking to Rheese the supervisor. I explained to Rheese why I thought Raj’s conclusion was incorrect and Rheese agreed that there was more that could be done to assist me and that they had seen similar issues with Windows 7. Rheese hunted up another tech for me, first he tried Raj but he was on another call and I didnt really want to talk to him again, then Rheese found a more senior guy called Dev.

After ten more minutes on the phone with Dev my USB dongle was working fine and I thanked him kindly and we went our seperate ways.

For the benefit of other Vodafone users what Dev had me do was:

  • Disconnect the USB stick from the laptop.
  • Uninstall the Mobile Connect Software from my laptop and reboot.
  • Connect the USB stick to the laptop and open Device Manager
  • Uninstall all the Vodafone devices I could find including all the USB Composite Devices.
  • Waited a few minutes in case Windows redetects the USB stick. Mine didn’t but if it does and it reinstalls the devices just uninstall them again. This part is important. You MUST be sure you have uninstalled all the devices for the USB stick.
  • Rebooted again.
  • Plugged in the USB stick. Windows detected the device this time and installed ALL of the correct devices (CDROM, Network Card, Modem, Serial Ports, USB Composite Devices)
  • Installed the Vodafone Mobile Connect software that comes on the USB key and NOT version 10.
  • Dev was very specific that version 10 shouldn’t be used with my model USB key. Thanks for not pointing this out when I downloaded it Vodafone!

My questions for Vodafone are:

  • Why wasn’t I called back on Thursday when you said I would be?
  • Why was Raj so reticent to resolve my problem?
  • Why was Dev able to resolve the problem and Raj wasn’t?
  • Why didn’t your web page for Version 10 of the software tell me NOT to use it with the USB modem I had?

Update (20101116)

The problems have returned and the device is non functional again. Based on what I learnt previously Im trying to make it go again and im not having a lot of luck so far. Watch this space.

Update (20110125)

I finally tracked down the cause of the fault. See here.

Internode IPv6 up and running


Tonight I got IPv6 running on my home internet connection. It’s pretty easy to do now that there is some CPE on the market that supports it. Here’s how I did it.

Start with an ISP that rocks. Internode is the only choice. Their IPv6 page will give you useful information.

Get an ADSL router which supports IPv6. The Billion 7800NL is the one you need. Download and upgrade to firmware 2.02a. Be aware that upgrading the firmware will factory reset your modem.

When your 7800NL reboots with the new firmware you will need to re-run its config wizard and setup your ADSL connection and username/password again. Don’t forget to enter your username with the suffix.

That’s all there was to it. Quick, easy, painless. Time will tell how stable it is. Thank you Internode and Billion for allowing the Australian internet to take the next step forward.