Monday, May 21, 2012

Wireless Issues

OK, so after talking with Comcast and Terraserver, the issue is...neither of them!  If I take my computer and plug it directly into the modem, Terraserver works just fine.  But if I try and get the site running while using my wireless connection, it doesn't.  So, nobody was blocking anything, the problem lies with the wireless router.

The question now is, does anyone have the slightest idea how I'm supposed to fix this now?  I've logged into the wireless router's control panel whatever thing (at this point you should be able to easily discern my level of computer knowledgeableness), and can't find anything related to what I need to fix.  The problem is that Terraserver is pulling map data from, and that is the linkup that I can't make for whatever reason when using wireless.

This is all slightly weird as it happened all of a sudden, but whatever, the site does work when I plug right into the modem so we've basically eliminated my ISP and Terraserver from the equation.

So, what am I supposed to do now to get this cooperating with my wireless router again?  Ideas?


James Moore said...

Try this with each connection:


(should work on linux/mac/windows, although the output will be different)

That'll at least tell you whether or not it's a DNS issue. (It may be that you get directed to a different DNS server when you're on the wireless router?)

Past that, you're probably going to need to know quite a bit of detail about exactly what Terraserver is doing. What ports does it use to communicate, that sort of thing. IMHO, you're not close to the point where you can eliminate them as the source of the problem. (Do they use ports other than 80? Did that change in the last month? Something weird going on with NAT across wireless + cable that they didn't do a month ago?)

You can always try just a complete factory reset on the wireless router.

Sean O'Connor said...

When I say Terraserver isn't the issue, I mean that they haven't overtly blocked me from using their service. And if they did do something they did it Friday night as I was in the middle of using the service. As they clearly stated that they in no way did anything to prevent my acces, I don't think they're the problem.

Also, if I jack directly into the cable modem with an ethernet cord and bypass the wireless altogether, everything works fine. Hence the idea that this is a router issue.

Pinging the site...I get a "request timed out" using wireless. Haven't tried it back on the cable yet since I'd have to move everything around again.

Factory reset is the next obvious step, that'll be tomorrow at some point.

Remember, this wasn't a "it worked one week and didn't the other" issue, it appeared as I was using the service. Given that it's the router that appears to be the issue for now, that raises all sorts of interesting questions.

Which I will find the answer to. And then post here in very easy to understand terms.

Anonymous said...

If possible, try a different router, see if this changes anything.

James Moore said...

There was probably some useful information along with that "request timed out". In particular, what ip address did it say it was using? You want to know if it's a different IP address between the two connections.

If you're on windows, it should look like:

Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:
Request timed out.

I have two suspicions right now:

1. DNS is configured differently on your wired and wireless router. The wireless router is returning a stale IP address for the Terraserver site. They have no way to help you with this, because DNS timeouts and caches are weird beasts and can take a _very long_ (weeks, months sometimes) time to take affect. It depends completely on what DNS server you're talking to, and in particular it matters whether or not your wired and wireless servers are talking to the same DNS servers.

I'd say it's something like 5/1 that it's a DNS problem.

2. Terraserver isn't just using port 80, and there's something weird going on with something like NAT traversal. Hard to figure out without pretty detailed information from Terraserver.

Both can explain the problem. #1 is the most likely. #2 is less likely given that Terraserver says they didn't do something different. However, there's always the chance that no one told tech support about network changes that aren't supposed to affect customers. (And when I say there's a chance that happened, what I mean is that no one ever tells tech support stuff like that. Everyone finds out because people call in.) Those are the sorts of changes you do at midnight on Friday so you have the least chance of affecting lots of customers.

Sean O'Connor said...

Whatever the reason, I seem to have fixed the problem by screwing with the MAC address on my router. Thanks for the help though, I've saved all of this stuff for future reference if anything else weird pops up.

csb said...

Since their new update, I've been having issues as well. I think they changed something internally on their end that causes the viewing screen to get the error.

Anonymous said...

If the problem you were experiencing was the "The provider did not return an image" error after submitting a search request, I've been tracking this issue since I first saw your post. If you had the problem described above, Terraserver support did not lie to you in that access to their website isn't being blocked. However, they might not have told you the whole truth either.

After conducting experiments and gathering relevent information, I just submitted all my findings to the Terraserver support people and received the following reply:

"Due to fraud and abuse, there is a throttle on the number of requests on the free viewer. We do block access if there is too many requests. However, we do not limit the number of image requests for paid subscribers."

It is interesting to note the following:

1. Terraserver does not define what they consider fraud and abuse. Maybe it is abuse to bypass the need to purchase a subscription by using the free viewer.
2. They don't define what they consider to be "too many requests."
3. There is nothing in the FAQs, nothing in the Terms of Use, and no warnings appearing anywhere on the Terraserver website relating to this issue.

Sean O'Connor said...

Interesting. I was told none of this, although I never did get that error message so I don't know if it was the same thing or not. Works now though, and I have a) been careful not to go nuts on it and b) actually contemplating subscribing to get the bigger, non-watermarked window. Seems like that'd prevent a repeat of the problem anyway.