Friday, May 23, 2008

Wrong route for an upgrade

I have a DLink DSL-504T DSL router at home connecting me to the internet, and I have got to say, I have never liked this box. It drops off for no apparent reason, and fails to reconnect automatically. The log is less than helpful and invariably shows the time and date as "00:00 Jan 1". The interface to punch holes through the router to me seem incredibly unintuitive. In fact the whole web interface thing is pretty confusing. Three times I have upgraded the firmware on it, and three times the upgrade has failed. Each time I have corrupted the device and it has required the "Corrupted Image" install.

This last time was the most frustrating. Knowing I have had problems in the past I took all the extra precautions I thought were necessary. I downloaded everything I could, manuals, readme files, all versions of the firmware and the little recovery utilities, as nothing is more frustrating than realising that you need information from the internet when you are sitting behind a DSL router that is impersonating a brick. I read as many forums as I could about the process and the troubles that people had with the process. I made sure that I had a Windows XP machine to do the upgrade, since the documents were all XP-centric. They are even XP- and Internet Explorer-centric, which is totally opposed to my Linux and Firefox theology. I disabled the firewall on the PC as instructed. I ensured that the IP address was static and the network parameters were correct.

The instructions, I have to say at this point, vary wildly between being annoyingly vague and confusing to annoyingly simplistic. A lovely little photograph of the back of the unit to show you were the reset button is? A step-by-step that gives a few steps, then just a huge block of text, as if they got sick of the whole step-by-step thing? Instructions that are just plain wrong: "Enter the username and password..." What username? It doesn't ask you for it. Lovely little screenshots of an Interner Explorer login dialog box. Can't I use Firefox?

And after all this, I still stuffed it up. Somehow. I have no idea what caused it to fail this time. I started the firmware upgrade application and it stalled half-way through. I had to run it in "Corrupted Image" mode to get it to install. But eventually it installed and I was able to re-configure it and re-connect to the internet. The log still shows "00:00 Jan 1". '

This is my last Dlink product ever I swear. And don't get me started on the DLink wireless router I have.

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