Router Rest Logic (rant)

This is a rant. This is only a rant.

It's another day in wireless hell. I get a call from one of my coffee shop wireless hot spot managers. None of the customers can see the SSID of their wireless router. I arrive the next morning, and sure enough, their SSID doesn't appear. However, there's a new SSID = dd-wrt which means that their router has been reset to the defaults. Grrr...

I restore the WHR-HP-G125 settings from a backup and verify that things are working normally. DD-WRT 2.4 did some weird things, but I worked around it. I also changed the passwords for good measure. That was the easy part.

Incidentally, I counted 24 customers and 16 laptops in the coffee shop.

This is not the first time their router setting magically went to defaults. The first time, I assumed it was just a "power glitch" as the building wiring was rather marginal. The 2nd time, I assumed a "power surge" as one wall wart and a different router were destroyed. However, this third time, I was fairly sure it wasn't power as I had a ferro-resonant voltage regulator in line, and the building wiring had allegedly been fixed.

I casually and diplomatically interrogated various employees to see if I could reconstruct what happened. I eventually found the culprit in the form of a helpful university student. His logic was impeccable. He said that when his cell phone, cable modem, game machine, calculator, computer, PDA, or whatever was hung, he would just push the reset button. The device would reboot and everything would work fine after that. He reasoned the wireless routers must work the same way. If the wireless was hung or lost connectivity, he would take a paper clip and punch the reset button. After all, it should work the same way as all the other devices with reset buttons.

What could I say? He's right. It *SHOULD* work the way he expected, but as anyone who has ever dealt with a wireless router, it usually doesn't. In my never humble opinion, once again, the wireless industry has screwed up on conventions[1]. Linksys had the right idea. A short tap of the reset button just reboots the router. Longer than about 20 seconds, resets the setting to defaults, except in the WRT54G v8, where it vaporizes most of the firmware.

[1] The other screwup is shipping routers that are not "secure by default".
Reply to
Jeff Liebermann
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This is a response. Just a pointless response.

I was just up by your place today. Had a meeting up where Granite Creek meets Branciforte. I took a little wardrive with my WRT54GS 1.1 running Kismet Drone with a biquad facing backwards on the back seat head rest and an omni on the coat hanger. Got little over 600 access points on PCH by the time I got to Moss Landing (for dinner before heading back to LA). The rest of the way down I got around 2800 more. But on the way to my meeting from Civic Center in San Fransisco, I had well over 3000 access points!

Thought I might share that pointless tid bit of information with you.

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Got a GPS log of the trip? Someone might want to verify the data.

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I think the problem is consumer grade routers don't have a power switch. So most people are comfortable operating a switch and not a power connection.

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George hath wroth:

Yep. There are a few details I left out. The 2nd time everything went to hell, someone decided that the wall warts might have been reversed between the router and DSL modem. There was also a 3rd wall wart in the cabinet which goes to some device that nobody can recall. I suspect the same logical employee tried every combination of wall wart and device to see if that was the problem. Unfortunately, the Buffalo router runs on 3.3 or 5VDC, while the modem on 12VDC. The result was a blown router and a fried wall wart, because he left them reverse connected overnight until I found them the next day. If the connectors fit, they should work, right?

In anticipation of a repeat performance, I Ty-wrapped the power connectors to the router and modem. I also labeled everything and set the router to reboot every night. I left instructions that if the router hung, use the switch on the nearby power strip. Unfortunately, with the high turnover at such establishments, everyone didn't get the word.

So, the logical employee reasoned that if he couldn't unplug the power connector, and there was no on-off switch on the router, and he hadn't had university level training in the operation of a power strip on-off switch, then perhaps the reset button would suffice.

Frankly, I don't blame him. A reset button should reset the router, not vaporize the settings. I did a fast tour of all the electronics at home to see how the reset button worked. All the computer and hi-fi stuff worked as expected and preserved the settings. A few offered some additional protection, usually by holding down the button while turning on the device, or holding it down for an extended time. However, my Speedstream DSL modem and a few odd routers would reset to defaults if the reset button were just tapped.

It's the little things that drive me insane.

Sorry about the typo in the title. It should say "reset", not "rest".

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

I unfortunately don't have a GPS unit yet. I'm trying to find one that is just right for me. One that is compatible across the operating system board. Suggestions?

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