Sunday 19 October 2014

Samsung Galaxy S4 WiFi “Unable to obtain IP address” problem [SOLVED]

I have managed to solve a colleague’s problem with his Samsung Galaxy S4 phone on his home WiFi network: Error “Obtaining IP address”, then error: “Failed to obtain IP address”.

The problem appeared after he had installed a WiFi range extender device in his home.  All other devices like iPhones, iPads, Blackberries were “happy” and connected to the now (very) extended WiFi network without any problems and with greater range in the house.  So, for them, the problem of no coverage in their bedrooms was solved.SolvedStamp

The initial connection was successful for a few hours (and sometimes for a whole day), but then the connection was dropped and the S4 phone was unable to connect and showed an error: “Unable to obtain IP address”.  A restart of the TP-link extender usually fixed the problem for another (short) period of time.

Main ADSL router: Billion BIPAC 7300G/NA
Security: Security: WPA2-PSK (AES), AES-CCMP
WiFi extender: the TP-Link TL-WA850RE (EU) Ver: 1.25 {great device, by the way – and the after sales support team is fast and friendly}
S4 phones: Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9500
Android version: 4.4.2

Debugging steps:
1) I took the the WiFi extender to a friend’s house to test with the S4s and iPhones – all seem to be connecting well with no “Unable to obtain IP address” problem on the S4 – the duration of this test was too short, so I couldn’t really isolate the problem.  In fact, the friend also decided to buy one of those TP-Link extenders for themselves.
2) Change the channel to another unused channel – I used the Android app “WiFi Analyser” – this is a great free app and it has helped me extend the range of many-a-friend’s WiFi signals by reducing interference from nearby signals:
3) I changed the TPlink extender to have a different SSID from the main WiFi router – this is not ideal as I want the devices to auto-switch between the APs (Access Points) – this was a good workaround – but not ideal – and I wanted to get back to using the same SSID in the WiFi extender as on the main WiFi router.  So, reverted back to the original configuration of having a single, seamless SSID for the main WiFi router and the TPlink extender.
4) I contacted the friendly support team at TP-Link – they too were unable to solve the problem (they suggested many of the steps below)
5) I changed the config on the main WiFi router to give the S4 phone a fixed IP address.
6) I borrowed another brand new S4 phone – it had the same problem!
7) I changed the config on the main WiFi router to give the TPlink extender a fixed IP address.
8) I reset the TPlink WiFi extender (to factory default settings) and reconfigured it.
9) I looked at the TPLink system log files (system tools->system log) when the S4 failed to connect to WiFi.

So, what was the solution?:
After Googling a lot, I found some explanations describing how some old WiFi routers were released before the final WiFi protocols were defined – and suggested upgrading the WiFi router’s firmware.  This wasn’t applicable to the Billion router, because there was no new firmware on the manufacturer’s site Sad smile
I then found a forum that had the answer: a user called “Slug” suggested “…then the problem is most likely to be with your home Wi-Fi and not the handset.  Check that your Wi-Fi router is running the most recent firmware, and also that it's using AES rather than TKIP encryption as I've had problems with several different Android devices connecting to APs using the latter.”
Another user called “Soooperpotatonoted:

…S4 works fine except for WiFi.  I noticed a limit of a 4Mbps download speed (upload is fine) when using WPA2-PSK (AES) or (TKIP/AES) security modes on my router.  All other 802.11n phones and computers in the house are hitting around 30+ Mbps download on this setting.  However, when I set the security mode to the older WPA2-PSK (TKIP), I get speeds at about 20 Mbps download on my S4.  This is an improvement, but now using TKIP I've limited all other devices in my house to 802.11g speeds instead of the faster 802.11n speed that AES uses.

So, I decided to check my router’s security WPA2 algorithm, and sure enough it was set to AES – when I changed it to TKIP, then the connection problem went away.  I was hesitant to say it was fixed until after I waited for 2 or 3 days… and sure enough, it has been at least 4 days now, and that error “Obtaining IP address”, and “Failed to obtain IP address” has not reappeared Smile

So, even though Soooperpotato says that the speed is only 20Mps instead of 30+ Mbps, I’m happy with the stability.

So, if you are having this problem, go to your main router’s Wireless LAN settings page, and change the router’s security WPA2 algorithm from AES to TKIP: image

Thanks again to the TP-link support team for trying to assist – I hope this information will also help them to help their customers.
Also, I found out that the TP-Link extender has an Ethernet port that allows the Extender to function as a wireless adapter to connect wired devices – this means that if you have a device (like a TV) that doesn’t have WiFi, then you can plug its LAN connection into the extender and the TP-link device will then connect over WiFi to your LAN.



I purchased my TP-link WiFi extender for only R359 (with free delivery) from here:

Thursday 06 March 2014

How to figure out when your power will be cut in Cape Town with the 2014 load shedding schedules from Eskom

To figure out when your power will be cut…  follow these easy steps:

Step 1) Go to the Eskom page and see what “Shedding Stage” Eskom is in:
image It can be one of Stage 1 or Stage 2 or Stage 3. (Stage 3 is much worse than Stage 1)

Step 2) Next step depends on which stage Eskom is in.
Step 2a) If Eskom is in Stage 1 or Stage 2 then: 
i. Go to this page and click on the area where you live:
If your area doesn’t appear – then (I think) you are lucky that you will not be affected by Stage 1 or Stage 2 shedding.

ii. If in Stage 1 then the areas in those maps will only be load shed on certain days of the week.
iii. If in Stage 2 then the areas in those maps will be load shed on every day of the week.

Step 2b) If Eskom is in Stage 3 then:
i. Go to this page   and click on “map” to see which area you live in
and the 3 times that you will be affected which is printed on the top right of the map:

I hope this makes it easier to figure out what’s going on?

Monday 18 November 2013

TopTV changes to StarSat – what’s gone and what’s new? (and for how much)

So, the message arrived on my TopTV decoder this evening telling of the channel changes and the new pricing.  For December, we will get the new bouquet for the same pricing as for the “old” TopTV offering but from 1 Jan 2014 the pricing will change.
So, what will be added and removed from my package you might ask?
Well, a visit to the new TopTV web site redirects you to the new StarSat web site, so it’s a bit difficult to compare :(
So, I dug up my old calculator and started modifying it to see what’s new and what’s been removed.

To summarize (and what they don’t tell you on the new StarSat web site):
These are the channels that will not be on StarSat any more:
1KZN, Classica, Discovery Science, Fashion, Fuel TV, Magic TV, Natura, and Zee Cinema

These are the new channels to be added to the StartSat offering (a lot of Chinese stuff in these):
Animaux, Bollywood HD, CCTV9, CCTV News, Chinese 2, CNC, e Kasi, e Movies, eAfrica, Entertainment Stars, Extreme Sports Channel, Extremely Nigerian, Fox crime, Kung Fu 3, KZN TV, Nat Geo Gold, NBA TV, NBA TV HD, Novela E1, OH Africa, Science Channel, Smile of a Child, Star Africa 2, Star Bollywood, Star E1, Star Movies 1, Star Music, Star Novela E3, Times Now, Tshwane TV, Zing.

My main concerns and the reason why I’m probably going to say goodbye to TopTV/StarSat is that the 3 channels that we watch the most on our R169 pm bouquet (previously called Variety+Entertainment+Knowledge) are not available on the “Smart” offering for R149: Discovery Science and Natura (which – it seems - have both gone completely from StarSat) and ID Investigation Discovery (which is available on the “Super” bouquet for R199 pm). 
I don’t want to be forced into spending the extra R30 per month for those 2 channels and I may as well see what the DSTV people are offering for R199. 

Here’s the detail of my comparison of the old TopTV with the new StarSat bouquets:
image image image 
Luckily the old TopTV web site is still online on the site if you want to do your own comparisons.

The DSTV site for comparing what your R169 or R199 per month can buy you is here:

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