Archive for July 1, 2011

Weirdness with download speeds

For a couple of days there, it looked like there was something seriously wrong with my new laptop (an HP Compaq) — it seemed to be loading pictures and videos from the Internet incredibly slowly, even more slowly than my old laptop (an HP Pavilion).  I was used to a download speed for videos of roughly real time — a 5-minute video would take about 5 minutes to load.  But now it was taking two to five times as long, which made for a very long wait.  I was worried that this was a serious flaw with the new laptop, and I wondered if there was some way to repair it.  But anyway, when I needed to watch a video this morning (a Gargoyles episode on YouTube, because my stupid DVR failed to record it on TV last night), I decided to plug the DSL cable back into the Pavilion and watch it there.  And the video loaded just as slowly.  So it wasn’t a problem with the Compaq, but with the DSL connection.  That was a relief, but I was still annoyed about the slow connection.

But once I plugged the DSL cable back into the Compaq, I discovered that suddenly everything — pictures, videos, pages — was loading much faster.  I’m used to seeing download speeds of several dozen KB, but suddenly I’m getting hundreds.  It was a refreshing but bewildering acceleration.  Could just moving the DSL connection from one computer to another and back have had some effect?

Then I noticed something. I have to keep my DSL modem on the floor, because the layout of my apartment is such that the best place for the desk is inconveniently far from the phone jack, and the cord that goes from the modem to the jack is too short to reach the desk.  Since the modem gets somewhat warm, I keep it turned up on its side so that both its largest-area surfaces are exposed to the air for maximum ventilation.  Usually I keep it with one side down, so that the status lights are on the right when I face it; but moving the USB cable from the Compaq on my desk to the Pavilion on my dining table knocked the modem over, and when I put it on its side again, it was the other way up, with the status lights to the left.  It’s hard to believe this could have an effect, but it’s the one clear change that correlates with the sudden increase in speed.  Could there be some connection or something inside the modem that’s more firmly connected with gravity pulling it in one direction than in the other?  Could that be the difference between the sluggish, unreliable connection I’ve learned to put up with and the lightning-fast connection I’m getting this afternoon?  I hope so, because that means it’s a very simple fix to the problem.  And I hope it lasts.

Now if only I could fix the DVR so it stops being “unable to record this program”…

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