Archive for September, 2011

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and WiFi Connection

So, I got an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer last weekend.  A beautiful little tablet computer, which docks into a very nice keyboard so easily and solidly that you just want to leave it docked. Indeed, when it is docked, it is like a small notebook – slim, tidy, good looking and very very light.
It is very easy to carry, even with the keyboard.  The touch screen works well, and you can readily type when it is sitting on your lap, even at speed.

It runs Android 3 – so there is a bunch of software available, including many of my favourite online apps which I have been using on the web and on my iPhone. And some of the functionality in the new Android apps is very good.

As you can see, I am quite happy with the new machine (I am writing this post on it at this very moment).

I do have a whinge though.

What is it about software developers?  Don’t they ever learn?

The WiFi connection capabilities of both the ASUS Eee Pad and Android leave a lot to be desired.

Firstly, my encounter with the ASUS WiFi.

The machine worked perfectly well in the shop.  Got it home and everything worked except it would not connect to the WiFi. Nothing I tried would work. It just would not see my nework, although it could see other people’s networks.  I went to someone else’s house and it connected to their network.

Some investigating on the internet (luckily I have many other computers available to do this investigation, and I am quite good at doing this research) revealed that it appears that the ASUS is programmed to only connect to WiFi on channels 1 thru 11 – any channel used above that will not be found.  It appears that in the US, no channels above 11 are used, whereas channels 12 and 13 are extensively used elsewhere in the world. So the dumb-ass programmers who think that there is no other place in the world than the US did not bother to think about making it work everywhere, nor testing it outside their lab.

I had to go into my WiFi Router and change its settings so that it did not use 802.1n but rather 802.1b/g only.  After rebooting everything, the ASUS Eee Pad connected and everything was fine.

For a while!

A couple of days later, the machine just would not connect to the WiFi again – but this time, it was even worse.  Every time that it tried to “Obtain an IP Address” it would reboot. Time after time after time. Absolutely frustrating.  This time I thought there must be something wrong with the hardware, so I rang the ASUSTek support line.  They told me that I need to reload the Android kernel image, since sometimes the WiFi connection settings are overwritten with bogus values and it causes the machine to reboot.

So I did the kernel image reset a number of times. Seemed to work once or twice and then back to the same rebooting behaviour.  Since this was now the weekend, I did some research in the internet again and read about some sort of weird behaviour relating to not getting addresses through the DHCP server on the WiFi Router, or something.  Not directly applicable, but close enough for me to follow up this lead.

Investigating both the WiFi Router and the Internet Modem Router (a legacy of the old setup I inherited at home), I noticed that the Modem Router was serving IP Addresses in a range from one address that was the WiFi Router address, upwards.  Thus, there was potentially a conflict. Well, NOTHING else that has connected to the network over the last couple of years has had a problem with this potential conflict.

Along comes Android, sees that there is some sort of problem (how, I am not sure at all) and then decides to REBOOT when it sees this problem.

REBOOT!!!

I ask you.  Couldn’t the programmers think of, what, an ERROR MESSAGE. Say, “Error obtaining IP Address” at its simplest.  Or even “Conflict in IP Address resolution”.  Displayed this message and then continued operation. How simple would that be.  Maybe they could be smart enough to move on and obtain another IP Address and avoid the problem entirely (I know, they will argue that my WiFi Router and Modem Router should not have been setup like that in the first place – but hey, everyone else seemed to be able to handle the situation).

But to REBOOT the machine. Automatically.  You have GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!

This strikes me as the stupidest piece of coding that I have ever come across in my life.  The people at Google that write this code should be ashamed of themselves.

It is another example of how the ICT industry shoots itself in the foot all the time.  And an example of why Apple is now the number 1 ICT company (by market capitalisation) in the world today.  Because they do try hard to design tools which are usable by anybody and everybody and do not suffer these types of issues.

What ordinary person is going to know what DHCP means? (Damn Huge Crappy Programming probably).
What ordinary person is going to know how to change settings inside a WiFi Router and a Modem Router, hidden deep in “Advanced” menus, to somehow get a WiFi connection going?
What ordinary person is going to want to know about a Kernel Image Reset – why on earth would they need to do something like that?

Honestly, I love the Android concept, and Google, and all that stuff. But you have to do better than this.

I am not giving up the machine – it is too nice. But golly, it makes it hard to recommend to novices – you know – all those consumers who make the bulk of the populace that you (Mr ASUS and Mr Google) want to sell too.

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