Apple Wireless Network

11 08 2013

Apple AirPort Extreme is Apple’s router for Internet access. It’s directly connected to a modem and provides wired as well as wireless access for computers, mobile devices like an iPhone or an iPad, printers, and media devices.
Apple offers three different routers (Airport Express, AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule) which can be connected to either a DSL or a Cable modem.

A complete wireless network build with solely Apple products follows the the company’s strategy to provide users with a perfect experience regarding design, setup, and reducing features to those which are necessary. KISS is the motto.

KISS
KISS = Keep it simple, stupid
A design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 that states that most systems work best if they are kept simple. Unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Variations of this phrase are:
Keep it simple sir, Keep it simple and straightforward, Keep it short and simple, Keep it simple or be stupid

The hardware …

See this mind map which summarizes all properties of Apple’s hardware for wireless networking with mobile devices. As you can see Apple built it’s own ecosystem where components perfectly work together.

Remark
The router hardware was replaced by new versions on June 10, 2013 on occasion of Apple’s WWDC.

Here are the main features of Apple’s routers summarized in a mind map.

20130603-090815.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Please visit

The Apple group on Biggerplate

to see and download all mind maps related to Apple.

This more realistic view shows the kernel with a modem and the router as well as some examples of wirelessly connected hardware components for interactive usage.

20130809-060731.jpg

The integration of all you need for a perfect user experience goes along with limitations when using non-Apple hardware. It’s Apple’s strategy to say NO to some features other vendors offer and to say YES to a seamless integration of its hardware with its custom-built software.

Professionals may argue that performance, configuration options, and price is not what should be expected. On the other hand the running system convinces users who see the technology as as a serving and not an experimental environment. So do I after many years with other configurations not following the motto ‘It just works’ or ‘Buy, connect, and use it’ for the tasks you want to use it for.

A complete configuration …

Follow these steps in the order specified.

Step 1 Connect the modem to the multimedia connector with a coaxial cable.

Modem
A modem (modulator-demodulator) is a device used to connect a computer or router to a telephone/cable line to allow the computer to connect to the Internet. It modulates a carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data.

Step 2 Connect the modem to the power supply.

Wait until the LEDs indicate a functioning connection to your ISP. It may take up to 30 min.

Step 3 Connect the APE to the modem with an Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cable
Ethernet cabling is standardized. If you go to a store you may find a variety of “categories” of cabling. These categories tell you the quality of the cabling. The quality determines, essentially, how much the cable can handle. Recommendation: Cat 6 – works for 10/100/1000Mb.

Step 4 Connect the APE to the power supply.

Here we go.
The configuration with any iOS device and the helper apps Settings and AirPort Utility starts.

Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad and tap on WiFi.
The APE already is sending signals so that your device suggests the set up of a WiFi network.

20130220-181647.jpg

Tap on the right-pointing arrow to set up an AirPort basestation.
Enter a name for your network and set a password. Other users like your neighbors, if not too far away, will see this name as an additional WiFi network. Use a strong password for joining this network.

20130220-182613.jpg

Tap on Next and that’s all.
Your new WiFi network will connect all your devices with the internet after entering the password you set for your network.

20130220-185605.jpg

The utility app …

For controlling the network Apple offers an app called ‘Airport Utility’ which is available for iOS devices, Macs, and Windows PCs.
The slideshow shows the usage of this app when configuring a wireless network with an Airport Extreme router connected to a cable modem.

The most important configuration options can be controlled with the app for iOS devices. For some less important options like adjusting the signal strength Airport Utility for computers must be used.

The benefits …

Apple’s ZEROCONF technique minimizes your efforts to install a usable internet access.

Zero configuration networking (zeroconf)
is a set of techniques that automatically creates a usable Internet Protocol (IP) network without manual operator intervention or special configuration servers.
Zero configuration networking allows devices such as computers and printers to connect to a network automatically. Without zeroconf, a network administrator must set up services, such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS), or configure each computer’s network settings manually, which may be difficult and time-consuming.

Apple does not permit the AirPort Extreme to engage in channel bonding on the 2.4GHz frequency band. This is a very neighbor-friendly policy, because only three channels in this band—channels 1, 6, and 11—don’t overlap. A router engaging in 2.4GHz channel bonding can hog more than its share of bandwidth and will likely interfere with other 2.4GHz routers operating nearby.

The AirPort Utility also makes it very easy to update the router’s firmware. The AirPort Extreme is so much easier to set up than any other router of the many competitors.
The reason is that if you stay in Apple’s ecosystem you will benefit from all the efforts Apple did for an easy-to-use experience.

The performance on 802.11n standard transmission technique is high.
The APE is powerful even if thick walls hamper propagation of electromagnetic waves.

Interference …

In physics, interference is a phenomenon in which two waves superimpose to form a resultant wave of greater or lower amplitude. Interference usually refers to the interaction of waves that are correlated or coherent with each other, either because they come from the same source or because they have the same or nearly the same frequency like electromagnetic waves sent from WiFi networks.

20130603-194224.jpg

If you get problems with interference or the performance of your network is slow which may be caused by interference follow these guidelines:

Apple about potential sources of interference

Macworld, Troubleshooting Airport Interference

The Airport Utility …

Apple’s ZEROCONF technique minimizes your efforts to install a usable internet access.

Zero configuration networking (zeroconf)
is a set of techniques that automatically creates a usable Internet Protocol (IP) network without manual operator intervention or special configuration servers.
Zero configuration networking allows devices such as computers and printers to connect to a network automatically. Without zeroconf, a network administrator must set up services, such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS), or configure each computer’s network settings manually, which may be difficult and time-consuming.

Look at the details to get a deeper understanding of what happened when configuring the network.
To see the details of your own WiFi network go to Settings – WiFi and tap on the right-pointing blue arrow of you network. Go to the bottom and tap on ‘Manage network’. This will open the Airport Utility. Airport Utility can be used to individualize the configuration.

Regarding to my blog Network (1) from April 20 you will now understand the configuration details set by the APE:

  • DHCP ON
    the APE acts as a DHCP server and assigns private IP addresses (10.0.1.x) to all devices joining the WiFi network after entering the password.
  • NAT ON
    the APE does the network address translation that means, NAT converts your private LAN IPs into a external WAN IP
  • Security
    the APE encrypts all WiFi network traffic with WPA2
    (Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) is a security communication protocol developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks)

This slideshow shows all settings displayed in Apple’s app AirPort Utility:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to the automatic configuration I entered the following settings:

  • Reservations for IP addresses
    the APE reserves an IP address for all devices. Reservations are useful if you want that the DHCP feature of your APE assigns a fixed IP to your devices. Otherwise DHCP is free to assign any free IP address in the range 10.0.1.2 – 10.0.1.200 every time you join your network.
  • 5 GHz network
    The APE works in the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency band. The iPad is able to connect on the 5 GHz band and I named this (second) network as ‘Apple Airport 5 GHz’.
    If you have interference problems with other WiFi networks you may vary the channel or move over to the 5 GHz network.
  • With the help of Airport Utility for PCs I additionally limited the signal power to 50% which is enough to get connected in all rooms and hampers other WiFi capable devices outside my home to detect my network.

The result is a working internet connection checked by the app Fing which is available at Apple’s App Store.

20130221-053306.jpg

The disadvantages …

The AirPort Extreme has only one USB 2.0 port, so it can share either a printer or a storage device over your network. This is in the line with Apple’s strategy that printers should be connected via AirPrint. I miss the support of USB 3.0.

Apple’s design decisions help its product blend into a home’s décor and so the old version of AirPort Extreme was designed to rest flat while the new version was redesigned in June 2013 due to an improved output power. It’s still an eyecatcher.

20130612-091620.jpg

Related links …

Airport Extreme Tec Specs

Airport Extreme User Guide

Airport Extreme Easy Setup

Setting up your wireless network

Cisco, 20 Myths of Wi-Fi Interference

Thanks for visiting my blog.
Wireless as well as wired connections are welcome.





Network (3) Port Forwarding

25 04 2013

Parts (1) and (2) of my articles about networks gave you some basic knowledge about networks and discussed the possibility to connect from the LAN to the WAN or in other words from the devices at home to the webservers in the outer world.

The reverse way, connecting from WAN to LAN, is basically not possible. Only in case of requests from a device within the LAN data goes the reverse way, e.g. entering an URL like http://iNotes4You.com as the request and getting the answer (the website content) delivered by WordPress.com servers.

The main reasons why a WAN-LAN connection won’t work:

  • 1 Most of the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) assign varying IP addresses to your connection so that it is not possible to keep a stable connection over the time.
  • 2 For security reasons nobody should be able to compromise your LAN.
    So a Firewall/Router will not accept incoming requests which were not initiated by a device within the LAN.

20130223-103821.jpg

The solution is Port Forwarding an applications communication with another application.

Dynamic DNS …

The first problem of varying WAN IPs can be solved by using a service called Dynamic DNS (DDNS). Some companies offer this service without charging.

For example you can register at no-ip.com. After completing the registration process you can define a hostname and download the so-called DUC software (Dynamic Update Client) which has to be installed on the computer you want to connect to.

20130404-162705.jpg

The main idea is to get a HOSTNAME which can be used instead of the varying WAN IP. The DUC client on the computer inside the LAN frequently determines the actual WAN IP and transmits the result to the DDNS provider. Your request from outside your LAN first is transmitted to your DDNS provider via the HOSTNAME. DDNS returns the actual WAN IP of your LAN and a connection can be established.

So DYNAMIC DNS SERVICE provides a constant ALIAS for a varying WAN IP of your LAN.

Opening the firewall …

You already know that data on the Internet is sent to and from IP addresses. Sending or receiving data is done on ports. Ports are virtual pathways on which Internet data flows.

For a Watchguard SOHO Firewall a custom service has to be defined and the related traffic has to be allowed. The service must include the definition of an IP of the computer you want to connect to as well as the port for communication.

20130223-113321.jpg

While things may differ slightly depending on your Firewall’s/Router’s firmware, the below mentioned fields are pretty standard:

  • Application or Service Name
    The name of the application you’re forwarding this port for. You can use any descriptive text you want—this field is here to help you remember why you set this up; like the name suggests, you normally want to use the name of the application you’re setting up port forwarding for. I’s a good idea to also include the computer’s name along with the service if port forwarding is used for the same applications on different computers.
  • Port to
    ‘Port to’ is the port on your local IP address. If you were setting up VNC for a local computer, you’d fill this in with 5900 as that’s the standard port number for VNC services.
  • Port from
    ‘Port from’ is the port on your external IP address. Generally you use the same port as entered in ‘Port to. This works just fine when you’re configuring only one machine for one type of service. But say you wanted to be able to remotely access two or more computers using VNC. If you used 5900 on a single, external IP address they would be in conflict. The router would see a request for port 5900 and not know which Local IP address should handle that request since the port forwarding table has two. To solve this problem, you can use the standard port for one and not for the other—kind of like an apartment building has a single address but multiple apartments. You can use port 5900 for one and 5901 for the other computer. In that case you have to first set the port (the computer you want to access) when using VNC on an external IP address. This way you can set up identical services with a single External IP and different Local IPs without conflicts.
  • Protocol
    This is where you specify whether or not your service uses the TCP protocol, UDP protocol, or both. When you look up your ports you’ll also want to make note of the protocols used. In most cases it will just be TCP.
  • IP Address or Service Host
    This is where you specify the LAN IP of the computer you want to access. You can easily find this information in your computer’s network settings. The IP address will generally be in the 10.0.x.x, 192.168.x.x, or 172.31.x.x format. Because these IP address are generally dynamic (changing over the time), you have to set up static IPs or so-called DHCP reservations.
  • Enable
    You need to enable the port forwarding rule (on Watchguard routers you do it by setting the rule to ALLOW). By using DENY you are able to save the rule but it won’t be active or function in any way.

The firewall is now opened for authorized incoming traffic to a specific computer using a specific port.

The communication is done by the VNC Server software which can be downloaded from the RealVNC website.

After installing the DUC client software from No-Ip and the VNC server software from RealVNC on your PC it looks like this:

20130223-123521.jpg

VNC viewer on an iOS device …

To configure the VNC Viewer app on an iOS device you just have to enter the HOSTNAME, the PORT for communication and the credentials you defined in the VNC Server software on your computer.

20130223-122829.jpg

Summary …

The connection to a computer inside a LAN from an iOS device outside the LAN works with a

  • Dynamic DNS account and an Update Client (DUC)
  • Configuration of the firewall for a specific computer and a specific communication port
  • Server software (VNC Server) on the computer
  • Client software (VNC Viewer) on the iOS device

In a typical small office environment, a router assigns private network addresses to internal computers while the router gets a public IP from the ISP.
If the public IP is not static, Dynamic DNS services must be used to configure the VNC Client
by using the Dynamic DNS address instead of an IP address.

Connection to a computer in the LAN requires an installation of VNC Server software.
A unique port number must be assigned to each computer that should be reached from outside the LAN.
20130223-134054.jpg

Useful links …

Former articles about networks

Network (2) Apple Airport Router

Network (1) Addressing

If you want to use Port Forwarding you should visit

Portforward.com

Port Forwarding VNC on Apple Airport

You will find the settings for many Soft- and Hardware products as well as a software product called PFConfig which supports automatic configuration (29.29$).





Network (2) Apple Airport router

22 04 2013

Part (2) of my articles about networks is about the installation of an Apple Airport Extreme router (APE). The internet connection is established via a Cisco modem which is connected to a cable internet plug connection.

You remember, a router is the device which mainly does the addressing within your local area network (LAN) that means, assigns IP addresses to all devices. Furthermore it handles the communication between a device inside the LAN with another device as well as the communication between LAN devices and ressources outside your LAN e.g. webservers like Apple’s iCloud servers or WordPress servers where the blog http://iNotes4You.com is hosted.

Note
The main content of this article is also available in German and refers to the German Cable Internet provider UNITYMEDIA. It can be downloaded from my page Documents.

Requirements …

  • Modem with cables
    Usually you will het the modem from your ISP.
  • Apple Airport Extreme router
    The description is also valid for an Apple Airport Express router or Apple’s Time Capsule, a router with an integrated Harddisk.
  • Ethernet cable
    for connecting the APE to the modem
  • Apple’s app AirPort Utility for iOS
    You can download the app from Apple’s App Store for free.
  • Optional Apple’s app Airport Utility for Mac/PC
    The iOS app Airport Utility has limited capabilities and not all settings for your network can be done with this app. For example: You cannot set the signal strength (10-100%) with the iOS app.

Setting up the APE router …

20130219-220300.jpg

Follow these steps in the order specified.

Step 1 Connect the modem to the multimedia connector with a coaxial cable.

Modem
A modem (modulator-demodulator) is a device used to connect a computer or router to a telephone/cable line to allow the computer to connect to the Internet. It modulates a carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data.

Step 2 Connect the modem to the power supply.

Wait until the LEDs indicate a functioning connection to your ISP.
It may take up to 30 min.

Step 3 Connect the APE to the modem with an Ethernet cable.

Ethernet cable
Ethernet cabling is standardized. If you go to a store you may find a variety of “categories” of cabling. These categories tell you the quality of the cabling. The quality determines, essentially, how much the cable can handle. Recommendation: Cat 6 – works for 10/100/1000Mb.

Step 4 Connect the APE to the power supply.

Here we go.
The configuration with any iOS device and the helper apps Settings and AirPort Utility starts.

Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad and tap on WiFi.
The APE already is sending signals so that your device suggests the set up of a WiFi network.

20130220-181647.jpg

Tap on the right-pointing arrow to set up an AirPort basestation.
Enter a name for your network and set a password. Other users like your neighbors, if not too far away, will see this name as an additional WiFi network. Use a strong password for joining this network.

20130220-182613.jpg

Tap on Next and that’s all.
Your new WiFi network will connect all your devices with the internet after entering the password you set for your network.

20130220-185605.jpg

Summary …

Apple’s ZEROCONF technique minimizes your efforts to install a usable internet access.

Zero configuration networking (zeroconf)
is a set of techniques that automatically creates a usable Internet Protocol (IP) network without manual operator intervention or special configuration servers.
Zero configuration networking allows devices such as computers and printers to connect to a network automatically. Without zeroconf, a network administrator must set up services, such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS), or configure each computer’s network settings manually, which may be difficult and time-consuming.

Look at the details to get a deeper understanding of what happened.
To see the details of your own WiFi network go to Settings – WiFi and tap on the right-pointing blue arrow of you network. Go to the bottom and tap on ‘Manage network’. This will open the Airport Utility. Airport Utility can be used to individualize the configuration.

Regarding to my blog Network (1) from April 20 you will now understand the configuration details set by the APE:

  • DHCP ON
    the APE acts as a DHCP server and assigns private IP addresses (10.0.1.x) to all devices joining the WiFi network after entering the password.
  • NAT ON
    the APE does the network address translation that means, NAT converts your private LAN IPs into a external WAN IP
  • Security
    the APE encrypts all WiFi network traffic with WPA2
    (Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) is a security communication protocol developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks)

This slideshow shows all settings displayed in Apple’s app AirPort Utility:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to the automatic configuration I entered the following settings:

  • Reservations for IP addresses
    the APE reserves an IP address for all devices. Reservations are useful if you want that the DHCP feature of your APE assigns a fixed IP to your devices. Otherwise DHCP is free to assign any free IP address in the range 10.0.1.2 – 10.0.1.200 every time you join your network.
  • 5 GHz network
    The APE works in the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency band. The iPad is able to connect on the 5 GHz band and I named this (second) network as ‘Apple Airport 5 GHz’.
    If you have interference problems with other WiFi networks you may vary the channel or move over to the 5 GHz network.
  • With the help of Airport Utility for PCs I additionally limited the signal power to 50% which is enough to get connected in all rooms and hampers other WiFi capable devices outside my home to detect my network.

The result is a working internet connection checked by the app Fing which is available at Apple’s App Store.

20130221-053306.jpg

Problems …

A well-known problem may arise and is frequently mentioned in several forums.
There is an easy way to fix it. Just do what Apple tells you in the help text.

20130220-203618.jpg

Connecting to a DSL service provider …

If the Airport Extreme router has to be installed in a Microsoft Windows network with an existing internet connection via DSL some changes in the settings of the APE are necessary.
It’s because the server of the Windows network is the DHCP server now and therefore assigns the IP addresses instead of the APE.

But don’t get nervous. The strategy of Apple’s Zeroconf is to make it easy for you. And it’s easy because the APE automatically collects relevant informations about the existing network and then sets most of the relevant values automatically.

20130221-061058.jpg

The last article about networks will answer the question how to get into a private network with varying WAN IPs from outside the LAN e.g. For accessing files on a computer inside the LAN.

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





Lost WLAN-Connection

13 11 2012

There is still something going wrong with the WLAN-Connection under iOS 6.0.1 update from 2012-11-01.

Configuration …

  • iPhone 4 S with iOS 6.0.1
  • Cellular data turned on
  • WLAN turned on
  • Apple Airport Extreme Router
  • PPPoE-Connection from APE to DSL-Provider

20121111-131622.jpg

Symptoms …

  • iPhone 4S does not connect to WLAN
  • iPhone 4S looses WLAN-Connection and switches to Cellular Data -Connection
  • After rebooting the device it connects to WLAN or sometimes does not
  • In rare cases the device connects to WLAN after turning off and on WLAN

Solution …

  • Go to Settings… WLAN… and choose your WLAN
  • Tap the blue arrow to set up the properties
  • Set HTTP-Proxy from OFF to AUTOMATIC

Additional information …





Lacks of iWork

24 10 2012

There are some lacks in Apple’s iWork-Suite.
Consider the following situation.

20121024-190625.jpg

It is not possible to store the document directly on a USB-Stick attached to an Apple Airport-Router. That does not go together with Apple’s aspiration to ensure highly integrated connectivity.

A possible, but not convenient scenario is …

  • Select the document.
  • Select ‘Open in …’ from the menu.
  • Select an app, which can establish a connection to Airport attached storages.

These are for example …

App Developer
Files Connect Antecea
File Browser Stratospherix
GoodReader Goodiware

Another deficit of iWork is …
You cannot send more than one document via E-Mail.
Sorry, I have no simple way of doing it. Even the following scenario did not work:

  • Tap on ‘Send as E-Mail’.
  • Copy the attachment to clipboard.
  • Click on ‘Cancel’ and do not delete the draft.
  • Create a new E-Mail for another document.
  • Insert the first attachment from the clipboard.
  • This looks good, but unfortunately doesn’t work.

If somebody receives this E-Mail he won’t have access to the first attachment.

20121024-201753.jpg

I think all of you agree with me …
There is still some work for Apple to make iPad ready for business use.








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