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AirPort 3.4 (#4): Wake from sleep issues, fix; Lower signal strength specific to certain models?; Transmitter power setting; mor

AirPort 3.4 (#4): Wake from sleep issues, fix; Lower signal strength specific to certain models?; Transmitter power setting; mor

Wake from sleep issues Yesterday we reported a problem where, after updating to AirPort 3.4, systems are unable to auto-connect to a wireless network after waking from sleep.

Systems affected by this issue are able to see the wireless network/router but it fail to auto-connect even though the designated network may be the only one available, and the network settings are set to use the designated network as the default.

In-house at MacFixIt, a PowerBook G4 12" has been repeatedly affected by this issue, though not specifically after the AirPort 3.4 update. AirPort 3.2 and 3.3.1 displayed a similar issue.

MacFixIt reader Rebecca Gordon echoes our experience:

"I've had the same problem with having to manually enable my airport network on my 12" G4 iBook about 90% of the time as well - but I haven't upgraded to 3.4 yet, so it's possible this issue is not connected with the upgrade."

In fact, this problem has been attributed to a number of previous updates - including incremental Mac OS X 10.3.x updates and security updates.

Workaround In-house, we have been able to work around this problem by going into the "Network" pane of System Preferences, selecting "Network Port Configurations" from the "Show" drop-down menu, then moving (via drag and drop) the AirPort network port to the top of the list.

If you are still having problems with auto-connect after sleep, you might want to try disabling the other network ports in the Network Port Configuration window (built-in Ethernet, Bluetooth, Internal Modem, etc.)

Lower signal strength specific to certain models, AirPort Extreme? Based on a number of reader reports, it seems that some models (specifically metal-cased PowerBooks and G5s) are more susceptible to a drop in real-world signal strength after the AirPort 3.4 update than other models.

MacFixIt reader Bob Guthrie writes "After upgrading to Airport 3.4 my G4/Al. 17" immediately showed a lowered signal from my Snow Airport. And it located ONLY my LAN Airport link.

"But my Pismo/500 15" running same software but with half the memory and, of course, located in the identical spot, not only located my setup LAN, but also found a neighbor's LinkSys wireless link (although I could not make it active despite the fact that it did not have a WEP password installed). The signal strength was all the way up to the limit, while my G4 laptop sometimes dropped to zero bars in the menu bar and I would lose connection. Not so with the Pismo (in my mind the best laptop Apple ever built)

Similarly, MacFixIt reader Raul writes "Oddly, (the signal strength drop) only affected my G5s. The iBooks seemed to be ok.

"The issues: Much reduced signal strength; Internet connections would drop and then I would be forced to reboot to re-establish a connection. Note that there was still a signal, just no connection, other machines still had an internet connection, and a full reboot was required (not just logging out). Also the base station was not available in the airport admin tool even though it showed up as being connected. I didn't test thoroughly, but the connection drop seemed to consistently happen when I was downloading multiple large files simultaneously from our company Web site.""

Meanwhile, some reader reports indicate that reduced signal strength with AirPort 3.4 only occurred on systems equipped with AirPort Extreme, while systems equipped with a standard AirPort card experienced no loss:

David Rockoff writes "I have two powerbooks in use on my airport network, a 1.25ghz aluminum (Airport Extreme) and a 1Ghz titanium (Airport standard). It might be prudent to report to you that my titanium notebook has not experienced any loss of signal or connection since the latest upgrade, where my aluminum has been greatly affected."

Changing transmitter power for increased signal strength For some users, modifying the "transmitter power" setting in the AirPort Admin Utility (located in Applications/Utilities) allowed for greater signal strength.

Steve Wingard writes "I was seeing slightly lower signal power with the new AirPort software, and tried something. It might help you.

"With the new 5.4 firmware, the Airport Admin Utility now has a pulldown for Transmitter power rather than a slider. If you can get connected to your base station, press the "Show All Settings" button to get the advanced configuration settings. In the "Airport" form, there is a button labeled "Wireless Options...". Pressing it brings down a slip that includes the "Transmitter Power" control. I set it to a different value (30 or 31mw) and rebooted the base station, then went back into Airport Admin Utility, reconnected to the base station, went into the same form, and set the Transmitter Power BACK to 32mW and restarted the Base Station again.

"I think I'm about close to my 'pre-update' signal level now.

Feedback? late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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