Sunday, December 16, 2007


So a couple of jobs ago, I worked at 3Com where I designed firmware for small office/home office routers. You know, the things you can buy at Best Buy for fifty bucks that let you share your DSL or Cable modem with more than one computer.

One of my responsibilities was to deal with the support group relating to customer problems. They would escalate cases where people were seeing the box reset or exhibit some other failure, and almost universally the first thing that came out my mouth was "upgrade to the latest firmware, and let me know if it is still a problem". Because I was also responsible for merging the code and building the releases of firmware, I could see all the bugs that were being fixed, and I had a firm appreciation for some of the nasty problems that people might run into that were fixed in newer versions.

I've been having trouble with my own wireless router recently. The wireless has been cutting out periodically, and it was bad enough that I was using somebody else's wireless even though my laptop is fifteen feet from my own router with no obstructions.

So I started to play around with the settings, and I happened across the firmware page:

Revision 1.00 - Aug 5, 2003

Yeah, so the router I've been using for a couple of years which has been giving me intermittent problems is running the very first version of firmware available for that device. Hmmm....

So I took my own advice and updated to the latest release. And what do you know? I've got 100% reception now, it hasn't gone down since the upgrade, and everything seems peachy.

Irony (n) - A router firmware developer who doesn't think to upgrade his own router's firmware when he encounters a problem.

Sometimes, I have to hit myself with the cluestick instead of others...