Netgear WN3000 Universal WiFi Range Extender Review

Short summary: I can’t get this thing to work and will likely return it. Updated, it’s sort of working now. See updates below.

This is unfortunate because the device has most of the features I was looking for – easy router config and connect, MAC address filtering, and all the normal forms of connection encryption.

I was unsuccessful in connecting an XBox 360 and two different tablets (Win8 and Android). All devices failed to aquire an I.P. address. The extender also does something funky with virtual mac addresses I was never able to figure out. (Speaking of which, what the heck is a virtual mac address? The internet doesn’t have a good definition.) Another complaint, the web based admin interface seemed buggy, clicking on the main sectional nav links didn’t spin the throbber in my browser, and sometimes the interface I selected simply didn’t come up. One last complaint, the documentation through the web based admin interface wasn’t very good. One of those classic cases where the person who wrote the docs didn’t have good english skills.

Overall Netgear has a useful little device here if they work out the connection problems. The device had strong signal from various parts of my house, it connected to my WPS router with zero effort, and it had the security features I wanted. However getting a pc, tablet, or xbox connected to it should “just work”. It didn’t, and the support docs and support web site were of little help.

Update – I managed to get this working by performing a system reset. Basically, plug the device in, wait for green lights, then hit the device reset button using a paperclip. I then went through the same process of getting it connected to my router using WPS. After which I was able to connect via a Windows 7 laptop and the XBox 360. (However, I received a warning from the xbox about NAT issues which concerns me. Does this device have issues with UPnP?) Also, the xbox test connection process was very slow. I’ll run with this for a bit and see how things go. If the connection speeds are bad or I have issues with games, I’ll likely still ditch the unit. Linksys sells a similar model, I might try that product out if the Netgear extender totally fails to impress.

Update 2 – More connection problems, this time with an android tablet. The tablet connects and attempts to get an IP address which it seems to accomplish, but then it immediately loses the address, and attempts again. This cycle goes on continually. With all the issues I’ve had, I think in the end this device is going to be a waste of money. I am not impressed.

I did figure out the virtual mac address thing – the device maps a virtual address to the address of a device connected to it. If you use mac address filtering you’ll need to set up filters for both addresses on your router and the device itself. Kind of a pain really, since you have to maintain two lists. For devices connected to the extender, you’ll need to add the device address and then add the virtual address to your router. If you want to be able to connect to both access points simply add both addresses to both lists.

PRO:
1) easy router set up
2) mac address filtering and encryption

CON:
1) major issues with getting clients connected
2) Mysterious NAT warning on the xbox
3) Android connection cycling
4) buggy web based administration interface
5) crummy web site support

Underwater Housing

Ludwig von Mises explained that one government intervention leads to an endless succession of interventions to deal with the effects of the first and subsequent interventions. Ultimately, it comes down to two choices. “Either capitalism or socialism: there exists no middle way,” Mises wrote.

Likewise, there is no middle way to solve the housing crisis. For capitalism to work its magic and set underwater homeowners free, mortgage holders must be allowed to fail.

Daily Capitalist post

Best blog post I’ve read in a while summing up why we have an underwater homeowner problem, how we shouln’t fix the problem, and how we could.

Housing bottom?

In short, if you believe that the economic growth since 1996 was robust enough to justify the doubling of home prices during that time, then perhaps home prices are now at the ‘correct’ levels. But if you believe that most of the economic growth since 1996 was built on bubbles and debt, then it’s hard to find a reason why homes should be twice as expensive.

Link

Inflation may play a role in the second leg down in housing – prices would remain flat while the buying power of the almightly dollar falls. Also of note, the FED recently completed it’s 1.25 trillion buying spree of mortgage backed securites. It’ll be interesting to see where rates and the stock market head from here. Long term, it’ll be interesting to see if the FED gets back what it put in. If it doesn’t excess liquidity will be left floating around in the money supply. The next few years should be interesting.

Blue Ridge Mountains

I’ve been a little bummed about the properties I’ve been finding while searching around Central Florida for a place with a little more space. Generally the prices are still way too high and the types of homes are not to my liking. I’m also feeling a little tired of living on flat land year round. That probably has something to do with my having grown up near the mountains of Colorado. So now I’m wondering if slightly cooler weather and scenic views for part of the year might be a nice addition to my lifestyle. The Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina are peaking my interest. (Hat tip to my big sis for turning me on to this area of the country.) The Boone area in particular, looks really really nice.

To see more excellent photography of the area visit the Blue Ridge Blog. (The images above were taken by the author.)

Tea Party

Policy-makers better listen up and do so soon. This, along with Rick Santelli (and by the way, CNBC ran a poll on the “TeaParty”, and over eighty thousand people said they would show up!) is tapping into what America feels about all this nonsense.

Let’s face the facts – 92% of Americans are either paying their mortgage or don’t have one. We didn’t use our homes as ATM machines. We didn’t lie about our incomes. We played by the rules and do not have bone-crushing debt loads.

The rest of America is a different story.

Link

I was watching this video today of Nouriel Roubini, Paul Krugman, Suzy Welch and George Will. It’s interesting that the proponents keep making the point that this solution targets the “social problem” of people who lost their jobs and now can’t pay their loans. But this program doesn’t target people who lost their jobs, it targets people who qualify for the new lowered rate / principal loans. (i.e. people who still have a job.) The only folks I can think of who obviously wouldn’t qualify for their current mortgage, but do qualify for a reduced mortgage at taxpayers expense are the speculators who took out risky loans with balloon payments or interest only periods.

Also, in the interest of fairness, why is there no claw back in these subsidies so that when these owners sell their property down the road for a profit (assuming they don’t default anyway) the taxpayer gets paid back?

Finding a nice place to live is tough

Finding a nice place to live isn’t easy. So far I’ve researched a number of areas, including New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Key factors include – nice weather, mild winters, lots of open space, solar incentives, lots of greenery, reasonably priced property, and a low cost of living. Most of the above states have something to offer, but all also have downsides. Most of the western states suffer from cold winters, or excessive heat, high cost of living, or a lack of green space. A couple areas that received serious consideration – the Flagstaff area and the areas around Sante Fe, New Mexico. Unfortunately both are basically high planes deserts, so you’re stuck with very cold winters. Sante Fe is also fairly expensive. North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia suffer from a high cost of living. While Tennessee has a very low cost of living, it’s too hot and humid. With Florida, the northern area I currently live in, space is too limited – most of the property north of here is owned by the government, so property values tend to be elevated. Too far north and you run into trailer parks. Also, most of the forested areas around here were logged years ago and were susequently replanted with non-native pine. It’s also pretty flat country, so a good view is hard to come by. If you move down toward the beach you won’t find open space and property costs skyrocket. All in all, my year long search for the perfect place to live has been rough.

Recently I turned back to Florida again, and started looking for the first time in Central Florida, specifically in and around Ocala Florida. I like what I’m finding. It’s very scenic, there’s a lot of open space, property is cheap – a small 10 acre farm can sell for less than 250K. It’s also horse country, with over 1400 thoroughbred horse farms (think the ranch fencing of Dallas, with rolling green hills and 200 year old oaks and grand southern plantation style homes up on hills.) The weather is perfect, the cost of living low, and for solar geeks there’s tons of sunshine and of course Florida’s great solar incentive programs. (Florida probably has the best solar incentives of any state, even beating out California and New Mexico.)

So who knows, maybe I’ve found my future spot. I’ll post back with more as I dig into the area and real estate.