27 May 2006

Hyderabad Hijinks

We've needed a new wifi router for quite some time. Our old Linksys has limited range and sometimes behaves like it's under a DoS attack the way it just stops working wireless for a while. Who knows...maybe there's a wardialer in my neighborhood, but it's still time for an upgrade.

I'd picked out the router I "wanted" a couple of months back, the Netgear RangeMax 240. I know there are draft N routers on the market now, but until that spec is finalized, I don't want to jump into it. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned that way. (Apparently not that old-fashioned.) Anyway, our anniversary is coming up, and amongst the themed presents I got was the router. (Got it early so I could set it up on a weekend, natch.)

As with most things, routers are a bit harder to set up if you have a clue, but even skipping the install CD and just plugging in and pointing Firefox to the right network addy, I was able to correctly configure it in less than 40 minutes. I consider that a serious win! I know it was correctly configured, because it finally succeeded in connecting to Netgear to look for firmware upgrades. Well, of course I want the upgrade, especially since this is supposed to fix XBox disconnect issues.

Firmware upgrades don't take 45 minutes. At that point, I realized there was a serious problem, but assumed I could reset to factory defaults and try again. Why, with my first pass so quick, I'd be able to get it configured right this time in sub-10! It won't reset. The test light just stays lit solid. I held the button, jiggled the button, held it while powering down, held it while powering up. Nothing.

Which leads us to my joyous phone callS to the lovely Indian subcontinent. I'm not sure we we're transported to Hyderabad; maybe it was Bangalore. First off, our connection is crappy. You can't tell me the world is at my fingertips if no one can hear anyone through all the static. If we insist on off-shoring all our call centers, maybe we should refurbish the Telstars and Westars we repositioned over SE Asia.

Alright, so, tin cans and string. Check. Now lets get to the content of the call...well, my product's not registered yet. I knew this would be a problem, as the interminable recorded voice let me know I needed to go online and do so first. A little chicken-and-egg there, (though honestly, I could hook the Linksys back up...I just don't want to cede that ground yet.) but I'm going to push through. The woman answers. You know those stories you hear about the offshore callcenter employees learning American accents? She missed that class. And so it begins.

We first must register the broken router. So we do. Five painful minutes of serial number, name, email address, phone number. A lot of readbacks and corrections. And she's inconsistent with her military alphabet. I hate that. She's finishing up the registration when Sputnik shifts orbit and we get disconnected. I'm pretty sure it's not her, as I'm pretty sure I've kept my voice calm to this point.

I call back. This time, hold is terminable, and I get a dude. He's quicker and understands me better, but his accent is about as thick. Did I mention I'm a software engineer? Quite accustomed to Indian accents? His is pretty damn thick. We register the router. Now, it's time to get to the heart of the darkness. It don't work. We try several basic things (really, there's not much you can do with a device with ports, a reset button, and no connectivity.) Finally, he gives up. It's time to replace my router.

The saga concludes
We went to BestBuy to exchange the router, but they couldn't find another RangeMax. But the new LinkSys draft N is in...eh, what the hell!