short update: new course, more speed tests, and a move

Realizing I could use a little more formal education in the area of systems administration, I am about 95% finished with Coursera and Google’s System Administration and IT Infrastructure Services course. It’s been a good overview, but definitely only covers the fundamentals.

I’ve been running some more speed tests on my Lollipop setup, comparing phone tethering to a cellular modem, as well as the connection options (onboard wifi vs. separate USB dongle). Results to be published in the near future. Here’s a short Lollipop Cloud update, and for friends following along with my journey, help is always welcome in the Lollipop department!

I will be moving soon– not long distance, but to a much smaller space, so things have been a bit hectic around here… and will likely continue to be hectic for a few weeks.

Still, I vow to update this more, despite the fact that my poor old computer is plagued with this (admittedly kind of funny) MacBook Pro keyboard glitch.

Troubleshooting Connection Speeds: T-Mobile cell phone tethering edition

this post was originally published on the Lollipop Cloud project’s blog.

I use my Lollipop as an access point for my devices to “the outside world,” by tethering my Lollipop to a cell phone. After some recent mobile account upgrades, I finally buckled down to do some serious Lollipop work… and discovered my connection speeds are *abysmal*, at less than 0.5 mbps, with two different phones (an iPhone 5S and an LG K20 Plus) on the T-mobile network.

But when using an iPhone 8 on the Verizon network as a hotspot, the connection speed jumped to 4.5 mbps.

These tests were without a VPN, so I was concerned that Unbound and Pi-hole may have been hindering my speeds. However….

It turned out that my cellular plan only allowed tethering at 3G speeds, even though I was under the impression I’d be getting 4G tethering. (“under the impression” as in “the rep at the store *and* the rep on the phone two days later said as much.” But I digress with my bitterness.)

After more digging, not only is it not transparent that tether speed limits are a thing, but the “unlimited 4G tethering” plan (AKA “One Plus International,” NOT to be confused with “One Plus” plan) had been discontinued on August 10, 2018: about two days after I ran these tests. See this post from the Mobile Internet Resource Center about T-mobile’s plan changes.

I got lucky: Because the changes to my account over the last several weeks were documented in their system before the retirement of the One Plus International plan, T-mobile was able to reinstate the One Plus International plan and now I’m seeing perfectly respectable greater-than-4-mbps tethering speeds.

If you’re using a Lollipop as your primary internet access point and you’re noticing sluggish network speeds, you may consider running some tests to compare your cellular connection to a non-cellular connection (such as home or coffee shop internet), and checking with your mobile plan to determine if you’re being similarly throttled.

For the purposes of troubleshooting this issue, I used speedtest.net‘s Android and iOS apps, and the speedtest-cli (command-line interface), installed directly on my Lollipop with apt install speedtest-cli. (For my novice friends: After it’s installed, it’s very easy to use: just type speedtest at the command line and hit enter.)

And if you’re a heavy mobile user on any network(s), the Mobile Internet Resource Center is a wealth of reliable, unbiased information. Some of it is paywalled but I’ve always found plenty of very helpful free information on their site: https://www.rvmobileinternet.com

I hope this helps you avoid similar hassles,

jmf.

Lollipops and Hugo

I appreciated this more formal recognition of my Lollipop contributions to date. Working with Kemonine has been a real “treat” (sorry not sorry), and we are making so much progress! I’ve got myself a little Orange Pi running as a router and data-cap-saver thanks to Pi-Hole.

Note (and an opinion) about data caps and advertisements: unlimited data plans are great, but they’re not quite as unlimited as they appear on the surface: see this post about unlimited data from the experts at the Mobile Internet Resource Center. Many sites and individuals rely on ads for revenue, but ads can be hogs, and are exceptionally annoying if not downright harmful: such as when they trigger migraines, trauma flashbacks, or other health problems. It might seem extreme to sent up an entire device specifically to avoid ads, but for today’s internet, I think of it as an accessibility tool. And I hope that someday we won’t need it, because advertisers will shift towards more ethical practices.

In other interesting news, I learned how to deploy a Hugo site: Gluten-Free RV. Hugo’s really nice. (jmf.codes may be switching over someday in the near future…)