Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

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USB-Ethernet-USB2-E1000

Several months ago I lost some network ports on different devices due to a power surge from a nearby lightning strike. Unfortunately, one of the devices that took a hit was the ASUS system I’m using for managing home automation. After the surge I configured the system to use wifi but it was struggling to keep up with network traffic (the system does more than just manage my home automation setup).

After I while I decided to purchase a Plugable USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. It’s worked great ever since and as far as I can tell I haven’t had any new problems with the system (and bandwidth has clearly improved over the wifi connection). The device retails from Amazon for about $25.

mControl 3 Activation Problem – License File

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Our house experienced a power surge caused by a nearby lightning strike that damaged one of our A/C units along with a few other devices. Today I figured out that it damaged the network ports on the Airport Extreme Base Station along with the ethernet port on the ASUS system, which is my home automation server.

Fortunately, the ASUS box also has wireless so I was able to shift all of the network services over to the wifi adapter. I had to re-establish the built-in VPN server, among other annoyances. Since the ethernet port was no longer usable I decided to disable it in Windows 7.

Well, that caused a stupid problem.

mControl 3 has activation. I’m not a fan of activation.

I noticed the service was no longer working and wouldn’t start. When I viewed mControl’s log I saw the following message every time I attempted to start it:

The Installation Code of the license file does not match with Code 2. Please contact your System Administrator.
mServer License Code=Hacked/Hacker, Ver=.

My version isn’t hacked. I paid the commercial price (less because it was an upgrade from a previous version that I had also paid for). At first I thought that perhaps the license information was damaged but then I remembered that I had disabled the ethernet port and I noticed that there were some entries in the log during the activation check that hinted toward a check of the network device.

I re-enabled the built-in ethernet port. Sure enough, the software passed the activation check and started up. It seems to use a hardware identifier that’s part of the network card for activation.

 

 

 

 

IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6)

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Last spring my brothers and I purchased a 32″ LCD Panasonic TV for our mother that includes several Internet streaming apps built-in (Netflix, Pandora, etc). At the time it would have cost an additional $90 for the wireless adapter so I decided to setup a Linksys AP in bridge-mode (to a Linksys wireless router) and connect it to the TV’s ethernet port.

Unfortunately, the AP to wireless router bridge required that I use WEP for her network. This wasn’t ideal considering the weak security that WEP provides but it worked well enough to get the television connected.

About a month ago I purchased an IOGear Universal WiFi N Adapter (GWU627W6) for about $40, which is a much more reasonable price than the other adapter and can easily be used with any ethernet-compatible device. A week ago I went over to my mother’s house and swapped out the AP with the IOGear device.

So far it seems to be working well and I’ve also changed her network to use WPA. I think this is a good device at a fair price.

Updated 11/18/2012: I also bought one for myself that I used to replace a Microsoft USB wifi adapter for my Xbox. Both IOGear adapters are still working great.

Updated 07/18/2013: The adapter connected to my Xbox still works great.

IR Repeater and Mixing and Matching HDMI Sources for Multiple TVs

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I summarized all of my issues with sending HDMI signals to two different TVs from multiple sources and getting the DirecTV remote working. The page includes my latest solution, which also provides the ability to control all connected devices from either room.

Read: Sending (and Controlling) Multiple HDMI Sources to Two TVs in Different Locations

Sending DirecTV to Two Televisions (Part 4)

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Updated 05/25/2011: Save yourself time, money, and frustration by checking out my latest solution.

I decided to replace the Monoprice HDMI/Ethernet extenders in an attempt to resolve the signal issues with the TV in the bedroom. I replaced those adapters with a Sabrent HDMI Extension cable over Cat5/6 RJ45 Extender adapter. It is an improvement but it hasn’t removed the problem. I did finally get a steady signal light on the switch and I was able to change channels several times without any problems but later tonight it dropped the signal a couple of times.

On the bright side, this eliminates one part of the problem (and I’ll have another use for the older adapters). At this point either I need to upgrade the Cat5 to Cat6 or get a better HDMI switch.

>> Continue to Part 5

Shut Off Wi-Fi when Ethernet is Active (OS X)

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Over at Mac OS X Hints a contributor has posted a hint with a script that will turn off Airport whenever the LAN port is used. For most folks this isn’t a concern but sometimes, in corporate environments, there are several reasons one may not want to be connected to ethernet and wi-fi at the same time.

The instructions are well explained though I had to reboot my system to get it working. In addition, you’ll also need to install growlnotify with Growl if you want to receive the pop-up notifications.

Auto-disable AirPort when ethernet is active Network (Mac OS X Hints)

Updated 08/18/2011: I’ve been using this for about ten months and it’s really not an essential function. Sometimes it’s convenient and other times it can get in the way. In some situations when I wake my laptop up, after it was previously connected to the WiFi, it doesn’t automatically start Airport. All-in-all, it’s no better or worse than not having it installed. Your mileage may vary depending on your needs and network environments.