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Fucking internet, how does it work?
May 13, 2010 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Weird internet blockage—problem resolved, but mystery remains. Macintosh and Time Warner cable internet inside…

What happened:

Due to variegated weirdness (mostly in having to keep my account balances artificially low), the Time Warner cable/internet got cut off. Or, kinda did. The tv signal was gone, but the internet…

The internet comes to my house through a series of tubes that terminates at my cable modem. That is then linked by ethernet to my desktop, an old and sallow thing, which then has an airport that I use to create a wireless network, allowing other devices (laptop, ipod touch) to connect untethered. When Time Warner shut it off, the desktop was unaffected, but the wireless devices showed their "Automated Provision" error screen (which caused any URL to reload and appended ap_index). It gave me the MAC address of the cable modem and told me to call Time Warner for setup.

I called, made the payment, everything was nominally turned back on. Except, the wireless devices still popped up the AP error. So, I called again, talked to tech support. They made sure everything was working—we power cycled everything, etc.—and the laptop worked when plugged into the cable modem directly. But once I tried wireless again, AP error on every page I tried to open, all the general start pages (yahoo, Apple, google, even Metafilter).

Cleared out cache and cookies, etc., again, then went back to wireless. Same AP errors again, but this time, I accidentally clicked on a CNN bookmark and found that I could get to CNN.com without the error. I started fiddling around and found that I could even get to subdomains, e.g. ask.metafilter.com, when I couldn't get to the regular domains, e.g. metafilter.com.

The girl on tech support had never heard of such a thing, and we went through several iterations of reboot, reload, power cycle, etc. She eventually bumps me up to the network specialist and tells me to do her a favor and make sure that I tell him that the desktop keeps working and that I'm able to get through to other sites, but that some keep being blocked. We check and reset DNS and Airport settings, double check the network preferences, all that stuff.

After a long wait, the level three guy can only tell me that the problem isn't the modem, that I've generated 192,000 errors (though he can't tell me the period in which the errors have happened, but I get him to refresh his error log so that I can tell that they're still occurring), and his first answer is that the firewalls are broken only answer is to "Call Apple, because we have no way of blocking specific pages." I remind him that this all started when they, apparently, tried to shut off all internet for me, and that my supposition is that the order to turn back on has somehow failed to make it through my network or something, but that there should still be more information he can give me. My cell drops the call, and when I try back, I'm routed into more phone chain bullshit, so I give up for the moment. We power cycle again, and this time everything works fine.

So, aside from being impressed with the Level Two tech support and annoyed with the Level Three, I'm curious as to what actually happened—why my desktop kept working, why the wireless devices didn't (despite the claim of the network specialist that there was no way to block one device and not another), and how I can avoid or troubleshoot this in the future. If you guys need to ask me any more questions, if I've left out anything vital, lemme know (Oh yeah, 10.4.11 on the desktop, 10.5.8 on the laptop.)
posted by klangklangston to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
 
Take the laptop to a known-good wifi hotspot and verify that it can surf the web.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:57 AM on May 14, 2010


It's back to working fine, so it can surf all of the web. It was surfing most of the web before, just not some handful of sites.
posted by klangklangston at 7:23 AM on May 14, 2010


Possiibly a DNS problem on the laptop. Google how to clear your DNS caches in Leopard and run that command at the command line.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2010


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