ZyXEL WAP3205 – Not Recommended

Last Fall, I got it into my head that I needed to upgrade my home network’s wireless access point (WAP).  I’d been using an old, but trustworthy, Netgear WG602V2 since around 2001-2002, and while it worked, I was hoping to get something with a bit more range, that supported 802.11N and various newer features.  I decided to try out the ZyXEL WAP3205.

The ZyXEL started out OK, although it did not seem like much of an upgrade over the Netgear.  The range and data throughput weren’t noticeably better.  The problems started after a few months, when I upgraded my Macbook Pro to Mountain Lion.  When I woke my laptop from sleep mode, the wi-fi would no longer automatically re-connect.  I had to manually re-join the network every time.  A pain, but not a show stopper.

The next problem started when I began playing around with AirPlay/AirPrint, both of which use Apple’s Bonjour service, which uses multicasting.  With the ZyXEL, Bonjour was flaky at best: sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I couldn’t figure out any rhyme or reason to it, other than that the WAP was definitely the culprit, as Bonjour services worked fine over wired connections.

I read on a web site somewhere that the latest firmware on the WAP3205 addressed some issues with Bonjour.  I was skeptical, because the firmware release notes didn’t mention anything about Bonjour, but I went ahead and updated anyway.  This turned out to be a disaster.  Not only did the new firmware not fix the Bonjour issues, it also messed up the networking on the WAP somehow.  After upgrading, the wired ethernet interface on the WAP started randomly freezing up.  The wireless was still active, but the WAP stopped responding to pings.  This happened a couple of times.  Another time, the interface stayed up for several hours, then froze up my entire LAN.  None of my wired devices could connect to anything else on the LAN.  When I unplugged the WAP3205, LAN connectivity instantly came back.  Word of warning to WAP3025 owners: don’t install firmware version 1.00(BFR.7)C0 (released November 2012).  This is the version that caused the instability with the LAN interface.  I’d recommend waiting until a newer firmware revision is released before updating.  Caveat Emptor.

After the LAN freeze-up, I ditched the WAP3205 and went back to my old Netgear.  With the Netgear, Bonjour works great, I’m able to use AirPlay/AirPrint without any issues, and when my laptop wakes from sleep, the wi-fi reconnects without any problems.  The Netgear isn’t perfect, though.  I’m not able to get AirPlay mirroring working.  The mirroring starts up and works for a few seconds, but then it shuts itself off.  I had the same issue with the ZyXEL, so I’m not sure if the WAP is to blame for this or not.  Searching the net hasn’t turned up a good explanation for this behavior so far, but I’m going to keep looking for a fix.

In short: If you need a reliable wi-fi access point that works with Bonjour, stay away from the ZyXEL WAP3205!

Riding in 2013 – Another warm winter so far

So it’s 2013, and I’m still riding.  A lot has changed with my riding routine this year.  For starters, I’m no longer recording ride stats in a spreadsheet.  I am using RunKeeper instead, and it’s been a great time saver.  I still plan to keep track of mileage for each of my bikes separately, though, so I’ll know when to replace tires, chains, etc.

I am also commuting to a new office, on the 6th floor of the Administration building at UMBC.  This requires me to ride the elevator to get in and out of the building, a prospect I was initially dreading.  However, so far it hasn’t been too bad.  The wait for the elevator isn’t bad, because it tends to be going the same direction I’m going, that is, up in the mornings and down in the evenings.  Although the elevators are sometimes crowded, I can wait for the next one and it’ll usually be empty.  The elevators aren’t huge, but the bike fits inside just fine.  Granted, it’s winter session and the campus isn’t crowded to begin with.  My tune may change in a couple of weeks when the spring semester starts.  We’ll see.

And finally, I’m trying out an Osprey Momentum 34 backpack, in lieu of panniers.  I really like the pack so far, and will write more on it after I’ve been using it for a month or so.

This winter has started off warm, similar to last winter.  I’ve been riding my road bike almost exclusively.  The past few days have been wet and drizzly.  A couple days ago, my rear fender started making this insidious rubbing noise.  It sounded like a leaf was caught between the fender and the tire, but I couldn’t find one.  It kept getting worse and worse, until finally I took the wheel off to get to the bottom of it.  It turns out that the silver mylar lining on the inside of the fender (Planet Bike Cascadia) was starting to peel away from the fender, and the loose end was rubbing against the tire.  I pulled on it, and about half of it peeled off the fender.  Now I have a fender that’s half silver and half clear, but no more rubbing noise.  I wonder how long before the remaining mylar starts to peel away.  The mylar seems to be totally cosmetic, and the fender is 5 years old and still fully functional, so no complaints.