Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

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brenttraut
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Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby brenttraut » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:35 pm

Hello all,

I've been using Hardware Growler for nearly as long as it has been around without issue, but I recently ran into troubles with my new Time Capsule, and someone on Apple's forums pointed the finger at Hardware Growler.

While the Apple Discussion (linked below) sums up the issue in full, I'll reiterate here:

My new Time Capsule houses my iTunes library. The music is essentially streamed to my MacBook. About once every 2 or 3 minutes, Hardware Growler notifies me that I've connected to my airport network (without ever telling me I disconnected) at which time my music will stop and take 10 seconds to rebuffer. If Time Machine was running a backup, it would hang and take several minutes to timeout. I was told this was a bug in the Airport Extreme / Time Capsule software, and a quick fix is to run iStumbler all the time. This creates a Growl issue in itself, because running iStumbler in a city environment produces a TON of annoying notifications (only some of which are actually useful to me). Today, someone posted the following reply:

HardwareGrowler causes the Airport disconnects, AFAICT. It shows the same problem as MarcoPolo and other software that poll the Airport interface. Try to disable hardware growler and I'm ready to bet your connection will be much more stable. MarcoPolo's developer explained to me this was due to having to use some clunky way of querying the network interface, as OSX didn't offer a clean way to do it. I still have this problem with X.5.4.


My response to him is the same I offer the Growl community -- I love Hardware Growler and don't want to get rid of it, so I'd love if someone paid attention to this complication.

Apple Discussion Link

Thanks in advance for any replies!

- btraut

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The_Tick
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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby The_Tick » Mon Jul 07, 2008 6:54 pm

So the quick fix of running istumbler also means you stop using hg?

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Diggory
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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby Diggory » Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:10 pm

Hi,

I wrote much of HardwareGrowler, but not the Networking notification stuff. Alas, I'm not familiar with how that part of it works.

I too see these airport drop/reconnects. They appear not to have any regularity to the frequency of when they occur.

I have no firm evidence to back this up - but just based on a hunch I doubt that HG causes these drops - it appears to use a standard API (The SystemConfiguration framework.)

I'd like to test HG's effect on these drops - but alas, I can go days without them, and they reconnect so quickly that I doubt I'd be able to spot them unless HG was actually notifying me of them (sort of a Heisenberg bug if you will.)

I don't notice any drop-outs when using other wireless access points - so I'm assuming it's something to do with Time Capsule, rather than HG. Perhaps automatically changing channels to avoid wireless interference perhaps?

As I say - this is all conjecture - and I have no evidence either way, but would be keen to hear from anyone who could suggest a way of identifying the true culprit.

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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby brenttraut » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:57 pm

I understand the Heisenberg issue. I kept telling my friend that he was probably disconnecting and reconnecting just like I was, but couldn't tell because he didn't have HG to tell him. He wasn't getting the same pauses in iTunes, however, which supports the fact that he wasn't actually hitting the disconnects. He's had HG on his computer and when I was having issues, I had him install iStumbler, too. We never did do a clean vs HG test (without iStumbler), though. Perhaps I'll have him do it again to prove I'm not insane.

One thing I have noticed, though, is since killing HG my iTunes playback has been a lot smoother. Like I said, though, the rest of my life got just a tad bit harder because HG rocked so much.

One suggestion to me on the Apple Forums was to try to log all network traffic on en1 to try to catch the culprit. Unfortunately, the drops are very random and I was never able to catch one without making an extremely bloated log file.

I also can confirm this to only happen on Airport Extreme, Time Capsule, and possibly Airport Express, but certainly not on any other router. It definitely involves Apple's hardware somehow, but that doesn't fully absolve HG yet. Do you access the API in a different way for Apple routers? If not, perhaps the API handles it differently internally and there's bugs there.

Also, I have no idea what it means, but the disconnects really did stop after running iStumber along-side HG, as if iStumber was doing something to keep the connection active where HG wasn't. I'm not a software developer, so I have no idea if this tells you anything, but it seems as if it'd be a useful clue.

Anyway, let me know if you want any more help. I'd love to do my part for the Growl team.
-bt

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Diggory
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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby Diggory » Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:01 pm

Hmm - I spent a couple of days without HG running, and didn't notice any network disconnections. It may well be causing the issue - alas, I have no idea how to solve it.

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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby Diggory » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:45 am

Curiouser and curiouser - I now have no network disconnects at all, even though I'm back running HG.

I think the issue may have been wireless interference - there are a lot of wireless networks around my house (my macbook pro can see at least seven through the airport menu extra) and I was running two separate wireless routers (don't ask why). Since turning off the second wireless router which was next to my time capsule I have no drops in networking at all.

I now think this bug is nothing at all to do with HG and purely a factor of the radio environment your base station is in. Have you tried changing the wifi channel to a fixed one instead of 'automatic'?

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Re: Hardware Growler vs Airport Extreme

Postby brenttraut » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:58 am

I have tried changing the channel of my base station to no avail. When I was still using iStumbler, I tried to pick the channel most distant from all others, but iStumber sees almost 20 different wireless networks in my area and it was impossible to completely avoid them all. Perhaps you're right here, but I still find it fishy that interference or not, once quitting HG my iTunes stopped intermittently skipping tenfold. Maybe I'll give HG another chance here and hopefully find similar results.


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