adventures in wifi

Okay, so I now have my main router plugged into my cable modem, and a secondary wireless router plugged into the main router via a hard wire. Everything's basically working, except...

My "main" router is on channel 6, and my "secondary" router is on channel 11 (same SSID, same key). Because of the way the house is laid out, the secondary router is actually more centrally located, so most things should prefer to connect to it. However, I'm finding that my laptop is insisting on preferring the main router on channel 6, even when it's right next to the secondary router (and NetStumbler shows a much higher SNR to the secondary router). I have to get pretty far away from the main router and manually disconnect/reconnect to get it to look at the closer router. Do wireless devices look for lower-numbered channels first or something?

iPod physics

Apropos of news that listening to an iPod increases the severity of lightning injuries, I have my own fun iPod-related physics question.

I've been taking BART a lot lately, and I've noticed that on my way home, when I'm in the Transbay Tube or just coming out of it, my (5G) iPod's volume control will sometimes briefly fluctuate, as if I had touched the scroll wheel.

I'm assuming that some kind of electrical interference is confusing the scroll wheel and making it think it's being touched. Has anyone else noticed this?

goodbye, house

Assuming all goes well tomorrow, tonight is the last night we'll be staying in our current house. We're not moving far, and almost every good feature of this house is even better in the new house--the rooms are larger, the layout is more convenient in various ways, the kitchen is tremendously nicer, the schools are top-notch, and on and on.

The only thing I think I'll miss from this house is the view.

Tonight, I can see a dozen different fireworks shows, stretching from north Oakland down to what looks like Mountain View--though I can't tell whether that one is really on the other side of the Bay. I remember the fireworks on Y2K eve, as we all pretended to watch for the power grid to go out at midnight. And every couple of years we got an amazing light show from an electrical storm.

The new house has a wonderful view too, but wonderful in a totally different way--steep green forested hills, with a hint of the northern end of the Bay visible in the distance. It's a more tranquil view than the expanse of East Bay sprawl we look out over now, and on any day other than July 4th (or December 31, 1999), I'll probably like it just as well. But on fireworks days, I think we'll need to try to get invited over to a neighbor's view.

Tonight, I'm choosing to think of the fireworks as our sendoff from this house. Bye bye, Geranium Place.

dear lazyweb: second router vs. range extender

In the house we're moving to, the various devices that need wireless access are going to be more spread out than in our current house, so I'm thinking one wireless router isn't going to cut it. I currently have a Linksys WRT54G.

The obvious thing to do is buy a range extender ($99). But it seems like just picking up another WRT54G would be cheaper (on sale various places for around $50).

Is there some way to set up a second router to basically act like a range extender? From my (very limited) understanding of IP routing, it seems like the standard way to get two routers to talk is to have them own different subnets, and then set up a static route between them. I'm fine trying to figure out how to set that up (assuming it's fairly straightforward), but I'm wondering if there's a more seamless way to do it, so it looks like they're basically sharing the same network (the same way a range extender would).

If I do end up carving them into different subnets, should I just make them each be in the 192.168.0 range (e.g. 192.168.0.[0-127] and 192.168.0.[128-255]), with subnet mask