Homeplug problems – How to Speed up Powerline Networks

I acquired an early power line network kit to reach my printer at one end of the house, a few years ago. It was a Devolo kit with two transparent blue adapters saying 85Mbps on the outside.

Years went by and I needed to extend Wifi coverage to an upstairs bedroom, so bought a Netgear WiFi extender, with the words AV200 in the name. Sometimes this worked ok, but mainly it was a disaster and drove me mental, the connection to the external internet took a couple of minutes to stabilise, and was generally flaky.

I tried plugging the adapters directly into the wall, and tried other wall sockets. I investigated Wifi channels, I considered using a divining rod to find a good network signal, and finally considering burning the house down.

Then I came across this post: http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/basics/lanwan-basics/31238-slow-homeplug-five-ways-to-boost-powerline-network-speed

The magic answer is this: Don’t mix the 85Mbps equipment with the 200Mbps equipment, they don’t work on the same set of power wires, by removing the Devolo adapters the whole thing stabilised. I test the Netgear unit upstairs and got a solid 30Meg as reported by Speedtest, as I have fibre broadband from Plusnet.

Outlook 2014 on the Mac and Importing Contacts

Image you need to get contacts from the Mac (in vCard format) into a new MS Exchange account, on the face of it this isn’t easy. But, so you know, it’s actually straightforward. Don’t look at the File->Import option, do this:

  • Export your contacts from your Mac address book into .vcf format – it will make one big file with them all in
  • Open Outlook 2014 for Mac
  • Click on the Contacts tab
  • Drag and drop the file above onto the Contacts list
  • You should see a green + sign, Outlook should then import the contacts

This worked well for me, to take contacts from an old MS Exchange account into the new one.

For reference, I used the Mac address book to export the contacts from the old Exchange account to a .vcf file first. There are few clues on-line that the drag and drop technique above will work, let alone from Microsoft or Apple.

Clean Install of Mavericks OSX

As an opening blog post I wanted to highlight how easy, and yet pointless, a clean install of Mavericks is. Here’s the approach I took:

  1. Make a bootable Mavericks installer on a USB stick, one example of how is here
  2. Find yourself a drive big enough to contain everything on your current Mac
  3. Erase and reformat the drive, give it a single partition with journalling
  4. Get a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner, and copy your entire drive to the external unit, making a bootable copy
  5. Wait quite some time
  6. Reboot your Mac and check the external drive is bootable and working well (hold down Option when you boot up to choose the external drive)
  7. Run Disk Assistant
  8. Assuming you are confident, erase your Mac HD – scary
  9. Reboot again, but this time boot using the USB stick you made in step 1
  10. Install Mavericks – wait quite a while
  11. Reboot your fresh Mac and use Software Update to catch up with any new releases
  12. Phase 1 is done – your Mac is now blank
  13. Connect your external drive from step 5 above
  14. Run Migration Assistant – choose to copy from the external drive, and don’t choose Applications
  15. Wait quite a while – the MA will restore all your data and crucially all your settings too, including passwords and software keys
  16. Phase 2 complete – your Mac is now fresh plus your data (and your login)
  17. Now start replacing your software
    1. Use Mac App Store to re-install anything you bought – very easy
    2. Mount your external drive again, you can drag and drop apps from one Applications folder to another
    3. Keep going until all the software you need is added back and working

I was surprised this was easier than I expected, I managed it all on a Sunday evening for 500Gb of data to shuffle around. The bit that annoyed me was this: if I click the Finder or Safari in the Dock, their windows don’t restore properly, I don’t know why, maybe it’s RightZoom, but I don’t know.