A refrigerator killed my wireless broadband. Not at the bottom of a steep gorge in the Blue Mountains No, this was just a plain old cafe in suburbia where wireless signals are strong.
Out on the road I use a wireless broadband router to connect to the Internet. The device works in some weird and wild places. Today my access died.
The killer is a commercial refrigerator. The big motor in the refrigerator is off most of the time. When it switches on, my wireless hub flashes every light as if it is breathing the last drop of air. Access disappears. Firefox tells me lies about Web sites not available.
After the panic about web sites being down, I notice it is the network that is dead. I puzzled about the problem for a long time before noticing the refrigerator motor was running and tried the hub in a different position.
The immediate solution was to move the hub. The one advantage of a wireless hub is the ability to position it anywhere. USB connected wireless access devices are limited by the length of the USB cable. Built in wireless access requires the movement of your whole computer which means changing tables and moving all the other junk you spread all over the table.
My wireless hub is wireless both from the Internet and from the hub to my netbook. The one disadvantage is the limited battery life. If I used a USB connected device, the wireless device could run as long as the computer battery lasts. Unfortunately netbook batteries are not powerful enough to run wireless devices all day.
My wireless hub battery lasts about the same time as the netbook battery and is a good match. If I had a big heavy duty notebook computer with an 8 hour battery life, I would look at using a built in or USB wireless connection.
Years ago I worked in an office where all the computers failed at similar regular intervals. Eventually I found the problem. Someone had mentioned surges from industrial machines. I found the building next door contained a giant electric welding machine used a couple of times per day.
I protected one computer with a surge protector but the huge welder sucked in so much power that there was a voltage drop in our building. The next step was full isolation using uninterruptable power supplies with full power conversion. Every device on the network had to be protected before the network worked.
Electric fork lift
At another site, a thick power cord ran along side the office and all the machines on that side of the office had strange problems at lunch time. The computer hardware people replaced parts but nothing fixed the problem.
Based on experience of other power problems, I tracked the power cable to the end and found a charging station for an electric forklift. The forklift had a power top up during the lunch break. That power surge blasted one side of the office with enough electromagnetic radiation to upset some computer hardware.
The solution was to lay a metal safety plate over the wire.
When the wire was installed, it should have been installed in a metal pipe. I hear many stories of wires installed in plastic pipes instead of metal and causing similar problems. If a wire is installed in a plastic pipe, the wire has to be twisted to suppress the electromagnetic radiation.
Every horror story helps
Add your own horror stories using the comments. Every horror story helps. People read what can happen then use the information when they are diagnosing their own problems. Someone out there will lose access, see a washing machine switched on, then realise the problem by association. If a refrigerator can do it then anything else with a big electric motor can do it.