Filed under pure, wild speculation”¦
Many Mac Pro’s since Leopard are experiencing interment signal drops with their Airport Extreme wireless cards. This issue was first brought to my attention only after I lugged my seventy-pound monster three blocks and hoisted it up on the counter of the Genius Bar.
“It’s a known issue with Leopard,” I was apprised and sent on my way, boat anchor in tow.
Not being content with a computer that’s price compatible with a mid-tier Hyundai, and similarly incapable of navigating the Internet with any reliability, I decided to dig into this a little bit deeper, what follows are my observations only.
#1. The problem seems to be especially active when Bittorrent clients are running.
With a BT client running I’m experiencing a drop at least every 15 minutes or so. I have segregated networks (a G only network, and a N only (5mhz) network) both are Airport networks. My Mac Pro and Macbook pro are the only two computers on the N network. When the Mac Pro drops connection the Macbook Pro does not.
The engineering answer to the problem of signal drop with a BT client active is that we’re pushing bits so hard and fast the silicon might be over heating, which causes signal loss on at the computer. I could believe this except:
#2. The problem doesn’t seem as active (with a BT client running) when the Network Preferences dialog is open.
Now this I discovered purely by accident. But If I leave my network preferences pane open (not minimized) on my second monitor, my signal doesn’t drop hardly at all. I have noticed a signal drop, but it is VERY infrequent. This suggests the problem lay in code, not in hardware.
Evil Speculation: Is there some connection intentional or otherwise between dropping wireless connections and the use of BT clients? Correlation does not equal causation but I have to wonder particularly in light of:
#3 I don’t seem to loose signal when we’re not running a Bittorrent Client.
I can’t go so far as to say that the signal drop problem doesn’t occur at all when my bittorrent client isn’t running, but after several days not running a BT client, I’ve yet to observe a signal drop. I also took steps to push bits as hard and fast as I could, downloading Linux distributions over HTTP, uploading thousands of photos over FTP. The signal seemed to stay rock solid.
So I’m back to Evil Speculation again: Is there something in code that is causing these drops to happen (at all or at least more frequently) when running Bittorrent clients?
I’d like to ask our fellow Cultists to run their own experiments. If you’re not having dropping problems fire up a bittorrent client (the problem happens with either BitRocket or Transmission) and download and seed a legal torrent (can I suggest Leander’s book?) and see if it starts happening. If you are experiencing the dropping problem: are you running a BT client in the background, does it go away when you stop?
If there are any bit-jockeys out there who can trace the actual code in memory, can we find a real connection, or is this just paranoid speculation?