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Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?

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Sales Dude McBoob
Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 1:42:56 pm

Hi-

I'll be honest. One of my neighbors has a wireless network that is not password protected. If I hold my laptop up to my bedroom window I can get it pretty well sometimes, but not all the time. When my friend comes over with her iBook, she gets online anywhere in the apartment without trouble. She had to buy the wireless extreme card for her iBook and have it installed, where my PowerBook G4 came with a built in wireless card when I bought it in 2005. Please don't tell me to continue to hold my computer up to the window because I will eventually drop it. That would be a bummer.

Turns out that the built-in card in the 2005 PowerBook is pretty weak. Hopefully things have improved and all you MacBook Pro users are not being put to shame by 2004 iBook G4s.

Is there anything I can do to improve my wireless reception? Can I get a different card than the lousy one Steve Jobs installed in the machine I paid $2000 for? Please don't tell me I'm stuck with this.

It's an issue when I go to a cafe with wireless. It's an issue at airports. It's an issue at work because we have a wireless network here and I can't pick it up in my cube, but the guy next to me with a ThinkPad gets great reception.

Help. My Apple is souring.

Thanks,
Sam



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GranitW
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 2:08:08 pm

An iBook has the best airport reception. So good that Apple uses it as a guideline for all the other computers, it's antenna wraps around the screen so its pretty big. A Powerbook has as Apples says the worst reception, mainly do that the antenna is hidden under titanium alloy that blocks the signal. Apple fixed this problem with the new MacBook Pros and Late PowerMacs by adding a plastic cover over the antenna insted of the titanium alloy thats used for the shell of the computer.

Video Specialist
Apple Developer
Owner of GranitWorks


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 2:13:56 pm

Thanks Granit. Is there anything I can do to remedy this?



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GranitW
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 8, 2007 at 2:31:37 am

Well If your friend is allowing you to use their network then you could get an Airport express and link it to your neighbors network, there is also an external antenna from QuickerTex that can trible the strength of a Powerbook G4, go to http://www.quickertek.com/PBConnect.php

Video Specialist
Apple Developer
Owner of GranitWorks


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zrb123
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 6:15:58 pm

[GranitW] "A Powerbook has as Apples says the worst reception, mainly do that the antenna is hidden under titanium alloy that blocks the signal."

And where did Apple say that?

Besides he says that his computer was purchased in 2005 Apple had already switch from titanium to aluminum by then. So there is no titanium in his machine.


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GranitW
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 8, 2007 at 2:24:38 am

Apple said that the iBook had the best reception on the old iBook page which doesn't exist any more(it brings you to macbook). http://www.apple.com/ibook

Apple released an article about the PowerMacs that had built in Antennas and explained that the part that the Antenna is in is covered by plastic instead of metal to have better reception, they were using the Powerbooks as an example of the bad reception due to metal interference.

They switched to Aluminum in 2003, I forgot all about that, thanks for the edit, but Aluminum has the same problem. They only switched because it was lighter, not for airport.

Video Specialist
Apple Developer
Owner of GranitWorks


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zrb123
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 6:13:48 pm

[Sales Dude McBoob] "I'll be honest. One of my neighbors has a wireless network that is not password protected. If I hold my laptop up to my bedroom window I can get it pretty well sometimes, but not all the time. "

[Sales Dude McBoob] "Turns out that the built-in card in the 2005 PowerBook is pretty weak. Hopefully things have improved and all you MacBook Pro users are not being put to shame by 2004 iBook G4s.

Is there anything I can do to improve my wireless reception? Can I get a different card than the lousy one Steve Jobs installed in the machine I paid $2000 for? Please don't tell me I'm stuck with this. "


Well the best solution is for you to actually get your own internet connection and wireless. Eventually your neighbor will catch on to what you are doing when he looks at the computers on his network and see yours and he will password it.

depending upon the exact models of Powerbook and iBook they probably have the exact same wireless card in them, the way the antennas are is different though.

Don't blame Steve Jobs because you get poor wireless reception on wireless that isn't even yours.

Besides there are a lot of environmental things that can effect wireless reception, power conduits being one. If your Cubical is closer to a power conduit running through the building then the neighboring cubical you can vary easily get a lower signal no matter what computer you are using.

And there is nothing that you can do to the computer to improve its antennas.

If you truly do have poor reception everywhere then perhaps there is a problem with the antennas or the card in the computer. Sign up for a appointment at the genius bar at your closest Apple Store and lat them take a look.


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 7:20:59 pm

There are plenty of people who don't block their neighbors out on purpose. Maybe these folks fall into that camp. Who knows? There a half dozen wireless networks that are all blocked, but they did not block their own. Maybe they are generous. It isn't bad karma until you know you are doing something wrong. There is nothing wrong with sharing.

Cable modem installation is $150. Internet service is then around $70 a month. That's a huge bite. I wish there was more competition in the ISP world. I have no other chioce except for Verizon DSL. I had that for four years and the quality of the connection and especially the quality of their customer service went way way way down hill.

The fewer modems and wireless routers that are running all day long, the better it is for the planet. I'm trying to save the world from global warming, one modem at a time. You can't knock that!



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Curtis Thompson
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 7:28:06 pm

hello

[Sales Dude McBoob] "There a half dozen wireless networks that are all blocked, but they did not block their own. Maybe they are generous. It isn't bad karma until you know you are doing something wrong. There is nothing wrong with sharing. "

i agree that sharing is nice, but i would counter that you should most definitely go over to your neighbor and ask them if they mind sharing with you. it seems like you are justifying your usage by saying that "it's ok to share" and that you figure that they must just like to share their connection because it's not locked down, but you don't know that. there are a zillion improperly configured network setups in the world. by using their connection, you are taking up X% of their bandwidth, and you might be severely impacting their internet experience.

perhaps you could go over, ask them if they mind sharing their network and offer to pay them a bit each month to help offset the cost. then you are sharing, you are being upfront about it, and you are saving the planet's resources...

(i just never quite buy the "they must be ok with people using it because they haven't protected it" line of thought - go find out for sure once and for all and then you know)

sitruc


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 7:46:59 pm

I hear ya, but I live in a downtown area. The signal is likely coming from an adjacent building, each with several apartments in them. It'd be kinda weird to ring everyone's doorbell and say "Hi, I'm your neighbor, are you the wireless network called Kentucky Squirrel?"

My mom has a wireless network, and she left her's open on purpose. So there you go. These people are like my mother. End of story. The karmic gods are smiling on all of us.

It's kind of like a message board in a way. Heck, this is the essence of Creative Cow itself. Helpith thy cyber stranger selflessly. I, for one, applaud my neighbors, as I applaud you. Each and every one of us.



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Curtis Thompson
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 8:00:24 pm

hello...

well - i'm not here to judge - i will say in the end that i don't know if i buy the argument, but i do understand the other side of that if you leave a wireless setup unprotected, then you take that risk...and yes - you are right that tracking them down in that situation is not feasible...

so go forth, i say. but wrt to your other cable modem install issue - you really don't need them to install anything - depending on your setup, they should be able to turn on the access remotely and then you can go just pick up a cable modem and plug it in - the whole "install" thing is sort of a farce, and the majority of it is usually installing software on your box that you don't need (you need nothing to attach to a cable modem software-wise, except for some sort of firewall, but that is just for protection)...

best of luck to you! :-)

sitruc


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 7, 2007 at 10:19:08 pm

Believe it or not, our building has never had cable installed in it. The other two apartments have those TV dish things on the roof. So the cable dudes would be required to come in and drill holes and stuff.

I wish I could install it myself. That would rock.

Thanks for your thoughts everyone!



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zrb123
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 8, 2007 at 4:04:21 am

[Sales Dude McBoob] "There are plenty of people who don't block their neighbors out on purpose. Maybe these folks fall into that camp. Who knows? There a half dozen wireless networks that are all blocked, but they did not block their own. Maybe they are generous. It isn't bad karma until you know you are doing something wrong. There is nothing wrong with sharing.

Cable modem installation is $150. Internet service is then around $70 a month. That's a huge bite. I wish there was more competition in the ISP world. I have no other chioce except for Verizon DSL. I had that for four years and the quality of the connection and especially the quality of their customer service went way way way down hill.

The fewer modems and wireless routers that are running all day long, the better it is for the planet. I'm trying to save the world from global warming, one modem at a time. You can't knock that! "



Those are still not good reasons for you to mooch off of others, and saying that you are doing it to save the planet, PLEASE, you are just to cheep to pay for it yourself.




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Chuck Reti
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 8, 2007 at 4:57:18 am

[Sales Dude McBoob] "Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?"

To just answer the question, no, you can't improve the internal card/antenna.
But, you can purcase a third-party wireless PC Card that in most instances will provide much better performance. Some cards also offer a connector for an external antenna. Check online retailers like OWC (macsales.com) or macwireless.com for some product choices.


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 8, 2007 at 10:02:51 pm

Thanks Chuck!

I emailed the question to macwireless.com

I also stopped by Tekserve here in NYC last night. A tech there said the only real option was to have my internal card removed, and to install a 3rd party card in the PCMCIA slot. It's a gamble though, because there is no way to tell if it will actually improve the reception. The labor cost to remove the card is $130.





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Chuck Reti
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 9, 2007 at 4:22:52 am

...A tech...said the only real option was to have my internal card removed, and to install a 3rd party card in the PCMCIA slot. It's a gamble though, because there is no way to tell if it will actually improve the reception. The labor cost to remove the card is $130.

You DO NOT have to remove the internal Airport card!! Someone wants to rip you off, or simply just doesn't know his stuff. You can plug in a 3rd party PC Card in the slot (that's pretty much the hardware "install" part), install any needed software drivers. Make sure it's a card that's known to play nicely with the Powerbook and OS X - some don't. You will be able to decide whether to use the internal Airport wireless or the PC Card wireless. They'll have to be properly configured as Locations in your Network settings in System Prefs. It's been a couple of years since I briefly used the dual system TiBook i mentioned earlier, so I don't and won't remember the specifics of setup.
Of course it's a gamble. But there is a reasonable possiblity the PC Card will perform better .
As others here have mentioned, seriously consider getting your own internet connection, for technical and ethical reasons.


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Sales Dude McBoob
Re: Can I improve the wireless card on my PowerBook G4?
on May 9, 2007 at 1:42:13 pm

Thanks again Chuck. I'll seriously consider giving this a go.

I just got this email from Macwireless.com:

"Hi McBoob,
We have cards, boosters, and antennas that would help, but you may want to try this first.


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