Connect Four? No, just one.
February 24, 2011 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Please -- please! -- help me troubleshoot a vexing wireless connectivity problem. Just to put this front and center: I am not knowledgeable about computers.

Hello, smart people. Thank you in advance for helping little old me.

Here's the deal:
I have a desktop (Mac Mini) that is connected -- wired -- to my modem and Airport Extreme. I have a PowerBook G4 that connects wirelessly to the network via the Airport Extreme. Until this afternoon when it suddenly stopped.

Some facts about this situation:

-- The PowerBook does view other networks (my neighbors') and will connect to them. It just doesn't seem to "see" my own network now.

--The Airport Extreme has a green light. The connection is working fine on the wired computer.

-- Prior to this problem I hadn't installed any software, done any updates, etc.

-- I have no other wireless devices around the house to check the wireless connection.

Could you please explain in plain and possibly babyish language, what steps I could take to troubleshoot this?
posted by BlahLaLa to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Best answer: You've restarted the Airport Extreme? Either by unplugging it for a few moments or in the Airport Utility (found in the Utilities folder in Mac OS X)?
posted by birdherder at 5:52 PM on February 24, 2011

Response by poster: One more data point: Netflix (via the Wii) will not connect. So, seems like an Airport Extreme problem.

Birdherder: Will try that now.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:58 PM on February 24, 2011

Best answer: 1. Turn everything off and on again.
2. Make sure you can still connect in a wired way when you've restarted.
3. Go you your Utilities folder on the Mac Mini and open the Airport Utility
3. You should see your Airport Extreme on the page. Click it and click Continue or Manual Setup [do you know the password?] and see if it tells you anything useful.

A few questions for you

- Did you set up this network yourself?
- Does the Airport usually require a password or some sort of authentication or is it just open to everyone?
- When you say the laptop connects to neighbors' wireless, do you mean you can actually use their internet, or just that it connects to their router?
posted by jessamyn at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2011

I'm a little confused when you say the mini is connected via wire to the modem AND the airport extreme. Did you mean via the airport extreme?
posted by tomswift at 6:05 PM on February 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you, friends. I had forgotten the beginner's mantra of troubleshooting: turn off and restart. (I had restarted the laptop but had not tried the Airport Extreme.) Somehow that did the trick.

My only further question: In a case like this, where a restart solved the problem, is there any use doing further troubleshooting? Or just forget about it and continue onwards?
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:13 PM on February 24, 2011

Best answer: If you need to do a power cycle more than once in a blue moon, do a hard reset of of the AE and set it up again. A hard reset wipes all the settings from an AE and puts it into a "factory-fresh" state. This fixes 90% of odd, reoccuring problems.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:21 PM on February 24, 2011

Best answer: Sorry for the chatfilter, but I can't resist....

Have you tried turning it off and on again? (SLYT)

OK, I'll add something to the conversation. In my experience with (many) wireless routers, sometimes they just screw up and need to be rebooted. They're full of cheap electronics and yet are typically expected to run 24x7. I think you should just forget it and continue on with life.

If it keeps recurring, maybe take it to an Apple place, or just buy a new one. I consider myself lucky if one of my wifi routers lasts 2 years before it dies of old age.

(caveat: I have absolutely zero experience with Apple routers)
posted by Diag at 6:26 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

restart : wireless :: stretch : ankle
posted by flabdablet at 6:52 AM on February 25, 2011

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