Authentic Technical Gibberish

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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fixing instability on Verizon’s 4G LTE Novatel MiFi 4510L

Update (03/12/2012):

There is a new update to the firmware for the MiFi 4510L.  The newest version is 2.23.  I will report back with my experience with this new version of the firmware.  With the exception of the version number the information below is still valid, including the VZW knuckleheads *still* not getting the permissions correct for OS X.  If you download the latest Verizon Wireless update guide (link below) it contains a link to the latest software.

Update (2/11/2011):

I am back to using the 4G modem again with no issues (besides not automatically switching to 4G when in a 4G coverage area).  I do, however, wish that this modem and Verizon’s 4G network were more stable.  In my previous update I had quite a few weeks of instability in more than a few geographic areas.  I do have co-workers that have this same modem and they do have quite a bit more trouble than I do.  I know of at least two other peers that have Windows machines and their machines momentarily freeze up frequently and repeatedly when connected to this device, but the problem would immediately go away when re-connecting to some local wireless access point.  Since these are not my machines I have not spent any time to diagnose this issue.

Update (12/20/2011):

I have been experiencing issues again with my wireless connection connection to the MiFi 4510L  just dropping for 10-15 seconds and coming back.  Unfortunately this is enough to drop my VPN connection and is a major source of frustration for my colleagues and I.  The device was quite stable for some months after this original blog posting, but is now a major PITA to use.  I am going back into research mode when I have some time to see if I cannot solve the problem…again.

The Context

I typically travel regionally (aka in the car) about 1-2 days per week.  My employer provides me with mobile broadband capabilities so I can perform many of my job functions while I travel.  For the last couple of years I used the venerable Novatel MiFi 2200 wireless hotspot from Verizon and my jailbroken AT&T iPhone running MiWi.  I typically use my iPhone when I am in metropolitan areas because of the superior 3g speeds and I use the 2200 everywhere else.  The 2200 provides a rock solid 3G connection in almost every area I travel in, but it is relatively slow.  To be honest when I heard about the new 4G hotspots from Verizon I was pretty excited.  I had read many reports about phenomenal speeds so when I got an email from Verizon about upgrading my device for free I pounced on the opportunity immediately.  Unlike previous Verizon 3g devices there is no obvious de facto standard for 4g modems.  There are multiple choices like the Samsung SCH-LC11.  Based on my experience with the Novatel 2200 and AnandTech’s review I ordered the Novatel MiFi 4510L.  Within a couple of days I received the modem and quickly configured it similar to how I had the 2200 setup.

The Problem

After setup I started running through some tests.  I downloaded a large file, ran multiple tests on Speedtest,  and streamed some video from Netflix.  I was pretty impressed, but I started to notice a HUGE problem.  The MiFi 4510L would just drop my wireless connection and never come back.  Sometimes the client device would show it was connected, but it couldn’t connect to any host (including the admin interface on the device) and other times the hotspot would kick all the devices off.  This happened to all my devices and not just a particular device.  The first thing I wanted to do was understand if this was a common problem that many users had or just isolated to my device.  This would decide what course of action I should take to try to fix the issue.

The Research

I Googled around a bit and read through some of these forum postings (at least the ones that weren’t complete rubbish):

http://community.vzw.com/t5/Broadband-Netbook-Devices/4G-LTE-4510L-hotspot-mifi-device-won-t-stay-connected/td-p/524976

http://www.evdoforums.com/thread14929.html

It is clear that many people are having the sames issues I was experiencing.  Googling for “novatel mifi 4510l firmware update” I found the instructions to upgrade the firmware.  On September, 6th 2011 Verizon released version 2.16.07, lets see what we have.

The Solution

  • Open up your browser to http://192.168.1.1 and login with a password of “admin”.  If you have changed the IP range and/or password for the device use those values instead
  • Check the version of the firmware of your device, mine was 2.16.03

  • Download the upgrade guide from here and follow the directions.  The upgrade guide includes the locations of the required software to update the modem.

NOTE: I ran into a particular issue on the firmware update program for OS X.  The knuckleheads have incorrect permissions on the executable for the DUU_Verizon_MiFi4510L_FW2.16.07.app.  Checking the Console.app I noticed this in the system.log:

9/13/11 7:38:29.548 AM com.apple.launchd.peruser.501: ([0x0-0x25025].com.novatelwireless.DeviceUpgradeUtility[414]) posix_spawn("/Users/shh/Desktop/DUU_Verizon_MiFi4510L_FW2.16.07.app/Contents/MacOS/NW-DeviceUpgradeUtility", ...): Permission denied

So I fixed the permissions and reran the application and the NW-DeviceUpgradeUtility worked correctly updating the firmware on the hotspot to 2.16.07.

# pwd
 /Users/shh/Desktop/DUU_Verizon_MiFi4510L_FW2.16.07.app/Contents/MacOS

# ls -l
total 8712
-rw-r--r--  1 shh  staff  4458108 Aug 24 00:25 NW-DeviceUpgradeUtility

# chmod 755 NW-DeviceUpgradeUtility
# ls -1
total 8712
-rwxr-xr-x  1 shh  staff  4458108 Aug 24 00:25 NW-DeviceUpgradeUtility

It has been several days now and the device still has some issues switching to 4G when I go into a new area with 4G coverage.  The WiFi functionality, however, is as rock solid as my old 2200.  🙂

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Fix iStat Menus version 2 to work with OS X Lion

Update (11/03/2013):

According to some of the comments below this still works with Mountain Lion and the new Mavericks!  I have since purchased a family pack of iStat Menus 4.x so I cannot verify this myself.

The Context

I have recently upgraded to Apple’s OS X Lion and like a lot of other people I am updating the “Nooks and Crannies” of my software portfolio to work with Lion.  I wasn’t affected by Apple removing Rosetta from Lion (with the exception of the NoMachine client), but there were a couple of pieces of software that required upgrades.  iStat Menus was one such piece of software, but not in a traditional way.  I run version 2.x of the software because it meets my requirements and it is free, whereas version 3.x costs $16 US at the time of this writing.

The Problem

As long as you install iStat Menus under Snow Leopard and upgrade OS X to Lion it appears to work correctly.  If you make a change to what you are monitoring, however, you will no longer be able to change it back.  So for example if I turned off disk monitoring and went to turn it back on I get:

Could not load extra iStat menus could not load the disk activity extra

The Research

To investigate this problem open up the Console.app using Applications –> Utilities to see any error messages.  I have error messages in the system.log that look like the following:

Sep 12 06:38:41 <removed> SystemUIServer[277]: MenuCracker: Failed to swizzle -[SUISStartupObject createMenuExtra:atPosition:write:data:], can't load.
Sep 12 06:38:41 <removed> SystemUIServer[277]: failed to instantiate and get the principal class of bundle: NSBundle </Library/Application Support/iStat local/extras/MenuCracker.menu> (loaded)

Googling for “MenuCracker.menu iStat 2” I ran across Long Nguyen Hai’s blog.  On his blog he mentions that you can overwrite the .menu file with an updated version from SourceForge.  Lets try it out.

The Solution

  • Download the latest MenuCracker.menu from SourceForge and mount the disk image (.dmg)
  • Open Terminal.app and run the commands below.  killing the SystemUIServer will let you replace the menu file in subsequent steps:
sudo killall SystemUIServer
sudo cp -rp /Volumes/MenuCracker\ 2.2/MenuCracker.menu /Library/Application\ Support/iStat\ local/extras/
sudo killall SystemUIServer
  • Done!  Now iStat 2 menus should work as well as it did in Snow Leopard.