My WiFi network at home is all Apple. This is fortunate in one way - when it works it works really really well; and unfortunate in another way - the devices have stupid confusing names. I have an Apple Extreme base station, one of those new tall devices. Very nice, very strong, good range, very reliable.
I have two Apple Express extender type devices. One of the Express devices is for my stereo. The Express has a stereo plug in the side, and that plug goes into the back of my stereo. I can play music on my iPhone or iPad or Mac, and AirPlay to this Express and the music pumps out my stereo.
The other Express serves my TV system. The TV, the Tivo, the BluRay player all connect via network cable to a small switch. That switch plugs into the Express. The Express connects wirelessly to the Extreme base station, and hence out to the Internet.
The two Expresses are older devices, first generation devices and they run hot. Very hot. Disturbingly hot.
Last week I was fiddling with my wifi network and realised that I had passwords on all three devices. I knew the passwords for the Expresses, but did not know the password for the Extreme. I vowed to fix that. Then I forgot.
This week, the Express that connects the Tivo to the world got hotter, and then the wifi cut in and out, and eventually it cut out completely. I did some reading, and these older devices run hot and when the wifi is being continuously (Anne streams a lot from Netflix), they get hotter and the wifi goes out. Anne is getting ready to go to Australia and wants to control the Tivo remotely. This Express needs to work properly for that to happen. So we decided to replace this Express. The new Express devices (new design, new look, new wifi, new everything - same stupid name) look like the Apple TV but are slightly smaller and are white.
I bought one on the way home and tried to connect it tonight. I ran into the first problem - I needed the password for the Extreme base station. I did not have it, so I researched it on Apple's website and read how to reset it. First step - run around the house for about twenty minutes looking for a paper clip to unfold and use to press in the reset button. I was sure I had one somewhere, but no, could not find. Anne found one eventually. The instructions say to hold the reset button in for about a second. That didn't work. Hold it in until the green light starts flashing orange. Probably four or five seconds. Then you have five minutes (roughly) to reset the Extreme.
I was running the Airport Utility on my Mac Mini. It saw what was happening. But it got really upset with the Expresses. I shut them both down and let the app stabilise. It told me the Extreme was in orange state and let me edit it. I set the name and the password, then I had to set the SSID and WPA2 password again. The instructions said it would remember them. It didn't. I set them all again, entered the static IP address, the router, the DNS, got all that set and updated. It saved the details to the device. So far so good, except I had changed the name of the Extreme. So the app flashed between the old name and new name for about ten minutes, until it decided the new one was all it had. Then it stayed solid.
I turned on the new Express. It didn't find it, because I was attempting wireless. I turned it off, and connected it via a network cable to my main switch. Turned it on, the app saw it. I was able to configure it as an extender to my Extreme base station. Set the name. Updated the settings. It then got really confused. I had set the name of the previous Express and the app was confused and the Express rebooted repeatedly. I turned it off (pulled the cord) and waited, then plugged it in again and edited it and gave it a different name. The app then cycled through three different names - the old one, the new one, and the name for the stereo Express. Eventually, probably five minutes, the new name took. The app stabilised, the Express stabilised. So I unplugged it, took it outside and connected it to the Tivo and other gear. Turned it on, it worked. So far, so good.
Turned on the stereo Express. The app tried a few different names for it too, and made the TV Express cycle through some names too, but after five minutes, it all came good and each device had the right name. Looked good.
Then two phantom devices showed - the Extreme with the old name and the old TV Express. I clicked on both and the option to Forget them was available. I forgot them both, and then waited. The network was stable.
All in all, it took about 45 minutes. I think next time I have to do this, I could simplify it by doing two things:
- first, know the passwords to all these things (done)
- second, remove the old devices, then use the app and forget the old devices
The old Express still works, as long as you don't overwork it. I'll find a small use it for it somewhere.
I still have a working Apple Airport Extreme Original here. That's the really old one from 2003 that is shaped like a UFO. It only does 802.11b and g. It's slow. I'm not using it for anything. Maybe I could set up a small slow guest network with that Extreme Original and the unused Express. I still think the names are stupid and confusing.