Downgrading An Upgrade

Welcome to tonight's nested blog -- I started writing to draw some parallels between long-term sustainability of technology and other kinds of community efforts, and found out that my trusted iBook seemed to have lost its network connection. Then the kids chimed in: "Dad, the network is down." Nobody ever complains about the phone being busy in our house, but woe is me should we suffer DHCP failures.

Our entire house is wireless; we use a Linksys router in the basement and a variety of repeaters upstairs to get a 5-bar signal pretty much everywhere inside our stuccoed walls. Seems the Linksys decided to stop handing out IP addresses to the Macs. Tried a few resets, looked at some network traffic, and sure enough, the Macs were sending DHCP requests, the Linksys thought it was answering them, but the IP addresses were never assigned to the Airport network interfaces.

When things break, back track to the last thing you touched. In this case, I've been getting increasingly annoyed when the Linksys seizes up during periods of multiple high speed transfers (say, I'm reading email while one of the kids is sending homework to the wireless printer -- the best way to keep them from fighting over who has the last print cartridge is to make them jointly responsbile). Found a Linksys firmware upgrade, which I installed over lunch today. Felt like I had finally nailed this one. Until the firmware upgrade made DHCP expand to "Doesn't Have Connection, Pal" and DNS represent "Does Nothing, Stupid".

I have never, ever said this before and will never say it again, but I'm thankful I had a Windows XP box with a wired connection because that's the only thing that still was able to get an IP address via DHCP. Googled around for various combinations of "Linksys firmware" and "Mac OS X DHCP", modulo the very tempting bad words, and found the problem: the latest Linksys firmware doesn't seem to like Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher. Got a pointer to a Linksys ftp site for some downrev firmware, installed it, and everyone was happily emailing their friends, playing games, and watching Dad on YouTube (seriously).

Life was good for about 13 minutes, then the Linksys seized up again. At the least the firmware downgrade was consistently broken. Does Cisco actually test this stuff on non-Windows computers? Because some of us consider the Windows requirement the harshest downgrade of all.

Comments:

look on the bright side, the only investment you'd made in this particular purchase was your money. users of MSN Music get a free upgrade to buying their music all over again. users of webapps are subject to indiscriminate feature upgrades at any point, as determined by their webapp provider.

Posted by rektide on November 05, 2006 at 09:24 AM EST #

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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