The site was down most of today while I was struggling with a new router intended to make it easier for me to connect to the net from my laptop. It is a Linksys wired/wireless broadband router WRT54G, not completely dissimilar to the Linksys router that went flaky on me last winter (at least the management interface over the web seemed quite similar). I got it to the point where I was able to set up static IP on my LAN and ping out to the net, but for some reason when I pointed a web browser to those same servers and tried to get into any sites, it would just sit there. At the same time I was trying to figure out how to get the wireless card from IBM into my laptop, a procedure which involved updating the BIOS amid numerous warnings from the doc writers. I spent a lot of time going from the Linksys back to the Netgear wired router (to check settings) and vice versa, time which could perhaps have been better spent doing real work.
Here are my main gripes about the router configuration process.
- The wizard on the CD seems useless unless you want a plain DHCP configuration. In my case, to run a web server I wanted static IP on the LAN side, plus the connection to the Verizon WAN uses PPPoE and I didn't see any place to input the user name and password through the program. So I was forced to go to the web interface and tweak settings manually.
- The help text is pretty vague in places. The critical gateway setting which has to point to the local IP of the router isn't explained well, for instance. When I had the Netgear up I was able to go to linksys.com and use the self-help there which was a little better at explaining this.
- Also on the documentation side, the help doesn't clearly distinguish between the LAN and the WAN side (ambiguity about what they mean by "setting up Static IP" for instance), and also between incoming server-side ports and outgoing client ports. Since I'm not sure whether my problem might be related to (on the one hand) firewall settings or (on the other) access control, the distinction between these last two is crucial.