Recently, I announced on my Live in the Philippines Web Magazine that I am in Internet Heaven! Why? Because I got a new SmartBro ShareIt Wireless Internet setup. It delivers very fast service compared to what I’ve been able to get in the past. The speed is rated as “up to 2Mbps.” So far, I have seen speeds of between 1.3Mbps and 3.2Mbps. I am very happy with those speeds, I must say.
There are a couple of issues, though, that I am not completely happy with. In the scheme of things, though, they are manageable, and can be worked around. Both of these issues are DNS related.
For those of you who don’t know what DNS is, basically it stands for “Domain Name System” or “Domain Name Server” (there is debate in the Internet community over which is correct). Basically, the way DNS works is that the Internet really works by a series of numbers (IP addresses), although for the common person, we remember Internet addresses by words instead. For example, this site is “MindanaoBob.com” but when you type that name into your browser, the DNS system goes into play and converts that name into a series of numbers.
These numbers are dynamic and change often. For example, if I moved this site to a different server, the IP address of the site would change, but the name that you and I know would remain the same. Thus, the Domain Name Server needs to have a table that coordinates what numbers are tied to what names. Also, if a new site comes online, you won’t be able to access it until the DNS system is updated.
Some systems update many times per day with new DNS information. Some systems update once a day. It’s rare that any Internet Service Provider updates less than once per day though. Unfortunately, SmartBro’s “ShareIt” system seems to be using a different DNS server from the regular SmartBro service. One site that I go to regularly recently moved to a new server, and they have a different IP address. Well, the update happened 4 days ago, but SmartBro’s ShareIt service is still going to the old server. Yes, I’ve clared my cache, I’ve refreshed, etc. But, still, DNS is not updated after 4 days!
Normally, I like to use a service called “OpenDNS” to do my DNS lookup. When you use OpenDNS (or any other non-ISP provided DNS service) then you are basically bypassing the ISP, so SmartBro would be out of the loop completely for the DNS lookup. However, in the WiFi router that you are required to use for the service, you cannot change the DNS addresses!
Wait! There is one other way to do it. I can change each computer individually to use OpenDNS. That is a bit of a pain to do, but I did it. You see, if you can change the router, then every computer using that router for Internet access would automatically be using OpenDNS, but if you can’t change the router, then you can change each computer individually, which I did.
Oops! Another problem. You see, SmartBro has things set up so that many users all use the same IP address, instead of each person logged on to the system having their own IP. I don’t care for that, but that is an entirely different discussion. Anyway, somebody else who uses the same IP address that I use, has already used OpenDNS to set up site filtering for everybody who uses OpenDNS with the same IP! So, a whole bunch of sites that I want to visit have been deemed “inappropriate” by this person who has appointed himself as the “Network Administrator” for the IP address that I use!
So, I have gone to option #3. I found some other highly reliable DNS servers that are also open to the public. I’m not going to say who I am using for DNS service, because I am not 100% certain that they know that they have their DNS service open to the public! However, if you do a Google search for “public DNS server” you can get a lot of lists of DNS servers that are publicly accessible.
So, I’ve worked around the DNS issues with SmartBro ShareIt service. Not perfect, but workable. Let me say, as far as speed goes, though, I am extremely happy with this service. Even with these DNS issues, I would not change providers at this time. I do wish, though, that the modem/router that Smart provides were more robust and allowed more user changeable settings.