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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Best Wireless Connections

This is sorta intermediate geekology. Ever wonder which of the available wireless networks will give you the best connection? At my house I have three wireless networks. I know, seems like a lot, but if you knew the story...well, okay...it's a lot. But I was sitting here watching the snow fall, thinking which of the three is the strongest. Your Mac gives you a way to check.

If you hold down the Option key and click on the signal strength indicator up in your task bar (I call it the amphitheater) then you'll see all of your wireless networks but the one that you're connected to will have a bunch more information available.

Take a look at the RSSI (received signal strength indication). It will be a negative number somewhere between 0 and -100. The closer to 0 the stronger your connection. I was surprised that the wireless network that is about 15 feet away is only second best in my house (-58) but the one that's in the basement, hidden in that dark corner, on top of the water heater, is giving me my strongest signal (-54). My weakest one is the one farthest away (-60). To check the strength of other networks all you have to do is hover your mouse over the other wireless networks that appear on your list and about a second later their information will pop up. Check your neighbors too! My neighbor's network was -80.

Or if you want all of their information on one screen go up to the Apple (top left), choose "About This Mac", then click on "More Info..." On the left sidebar click on Network > Airport and they'll all be listed on the screen to the right.

So, next time you're at Starbucks or camped outside my house on the curb you'll know which network to connect to in order to get the best results.

Update: There's also a cool little program called iStumbler that will show you all of the wireless stuff in one neat, little package.

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