Another Cry for help yesterday...

On the way to see Cloverleaf yesterday, one of Squids' friends mentioned that their internet access was borked. So I offered to help, and for the price of a beer and a buscuit, had a peek.. Fairly standard stuff:

  • Windows XP box, IE7, hardwired into a Netgear 834g wireless router, connected to the ADSL line

  • Laptop running Vista, wireless access

For some odd reason, IE woudnt let the desktop browse to the IP address of the router, and wanted to force the user to some bizaree portal site on Odd. The laptop would browse to the router, and after some fun with passwords, got in and found the router had lost its memory. Five minutes laer, and it was back in action. Hint: Always use the setup wizard as this figures out the port VCI stuff, protocols. The desktop - I couldnt fix IE7 so we downloaded Firefox..

Oh - IE7. Dunno if anyone has mentioned this before - SUCKS. The UI SUCKS, the lack of menu SUCKS. And underneath - its still the same old IE6 configuration screens under there. And guess what - they SUCK.. Sigh. Friends don let friends use IE7..

Scary stuff indeed. Two separate faults had conspired to mask the problem, and two one-hour bouts on a 'helpline' (And a pay-per-minute one at that!) had failed to diagnose let alone fix this stuff. Remote support - telephone support - in this situation must be a nightmare. Coupled with the users normal lack of understanding of what they had, and you have 10 days downtime..

I keep looking at situations like and concluding that Windows is just too easily broken, and just too complicated to fix, for a consumer operating system. Linux, at least, would be more robust and not break. Dunno what the Mac would do in this situation, given its user-friendliness would be slighly better, but its lack of diagnoses and configurability might be an issue.

The Netgear router itself - an industry standard device and possbly one of the most common out there - really could be improved. The 2Wire device I have proactively breaks into your browser sessions and issues warnings with proactive advice, and I have no doubt that it would lead you through the issue and resolution far far easier than the netgear..

Lets not blame the users here. Squids friends' at Uni, and father is at the rather interesting interface of GPS devices and very heavy robot-controlled machinery..

I guess what I'm saying to both OS manufacturers and router manufacturers is that your no longer selling to Geeks. Your selling to People who frankly have no interest in tweaking stuff in the registry, or in modifying VCI numbers in the router. They just want this shit to work, and work reliably. (2Wire grok this). Have we all got that yet.. ?