May 8, 2012 11:17 AM   Subscribe

More PowerBook frustration...last week I had this issue with my Powerbook's battery. As of yesterday, I now cannot get any connection to the internet via wireless, even though I am connected via airport.

So yeah last week the battery was the problem. I've been using it plugged in with no problems up until Sunday morning. I was on vacation in Florida where I was renting a house that had wifi. I signed in to the house's wifi, confirmed I was connected and then fired up Firefox, at which point I got a 'cannot find the server' message. Every browser and site I tried I got the same error. I then skipped wifi and plugged in directly using the network cable. Everything worked fine. So I chalked it up to the house's wifi.

Well, I get home last night, fire up the laptop....same problem! In this case I know for a fact the wireless is working because my phone was connected to the network and I was accessing the web using it. Laptop displays full 4 bars of wifi connection, it tells me it's connected to the airport at the correct IP, and that the connection is good. I just can't get a web page to load.

I have zero idea how to debug this.
posted by spicynuts to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The short answer is that MacOS gives you the ability to specify a different default DNS for each method of internet connectivity. You likely have a better/more universally accessible DNS specified for your Ethernet connection than you do for your WiFi/Airport connection.

If you Google the error message you'll find this issue has generated a lot of discussion, and several decent solutions. One common suggestion is to download a free utility, such as Namebench to determine the best DNS available to you from your current ISP, and then change the Airport connection preference to use that DNS as its default and secondary DNS.

I did this a few months ago and it solved this issue for me.
posted by mosk at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2012

Response by poster: But why would it work fine one day, and then the next not function at all?
posted by spicynuts at 11:47 AM on May 8, 2012

> But why would it work fine one day, and then the next not function at all?

Unless you specify a DNS for each method of connectivity you will use the default DNS provided by your ISP. If you change ISPs, you also change DNSes, but sometimes this setting doesn't updaste as it should. And furthermore, even if it does update, some of these are better than others. Your ISP may have changed DNSes in the background, or your local routing may be taking you on a roundabout method to reach their default DNS. The bottom line is that this is almost certainly a problem with your current DNS value for your given method of connectivity. It is an easy problem to fix, with immediate positive results.

If you run NameBench (or similar utility), you will see an evaluation of your current DNS and a comparison of it to several other DNSes, with an evaluation which DNS is best for your machine, expressed as a +/- percentage. Run the utility, change the DNS setting to the best one, throw in the second best one as the secondary choice, click OK, restart your browser, and you should be good to go. And by all means, write down the current value so you can change it back if you don't like the results. The worst that happens will be a further lack of connectivity, which is where you are now.
posted by mosk at 12:24 PM on May 8, 2012

Response by poster: Maybe I'm reading your suggestion incorrectly, but I'm not convinced you understand my issue. I didn't change ISPs - unless by that you mean when I tried to connect on vacation, the ISP for the house was a 'change'. Regardless, I ran NameBench, and the results that came back were the same DNS already listed in my airport properties. I still cannot connect via wireless. I connected at home directly through ethernet, restarted my router and then ran NameBench through the ethernet. That gave me a slightly different primary DNS but the same secondary and tertiary DNSs I was already running. I was able to connect via ethernet. So, I still don't get what's going on.
posted by spicynuts at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2012

> unless by that you mean when I tried to connect on vacation, the ISP for the house was a 'change'.

Yes, this is exactly what I meant.

> I'm not convinced you understand my issue.

It isn't that I fail to understand it. My recommendations were based on my own encounters with this same error, both on my laptop and on my parents' computers after they moved into a new house. The solution I proposed worked for me and my parents. I'm sorry this suggestion didn't solve your problem.
posted by mosk at 8:46 AM on May 9, 2012

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