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Optical/IP

Newbies vs. Geeks

10:50 AM -- Probably like you, I hate buying a new wireless networking product only to find that the accompanying very brief documentation treats me like a complete idiot. Put the CD in the drive, now, and do what it says when the nice window pops up.

Please.

Unfortunately, there are way more people who need such a helping hand than those of us who don't. But it shouldn't be all that hard to meet the needs of both groups.

Here's what I want. First, every product with a processor in it should be able to explain to the user what's possible and how to do it. It should also be able to do updates by itself, automatically checking the Web for new software and firmware and installing it, without having to uninstall a driver and reboot. I realize there may be Windows issues preventing this degree of smoothness, but both vendors and we users have been far too tolerant of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s laziness in the ease-of-use and management (and maybe overall architecture) departments.

As to installation and configuration, sure, give the newbies their CDs and pretty scripts. But for the rest of us, a little consistency and consideration, please. For example, for a wireless router, include a card or sticker with the default IP address, username, and password prominently displayed. All we really need to do is set the actual IP address, the SSID, and security options, so put these on the first page we see. That's it. The way I look at it, the time this saves would allow me a week or two off this summer. Whoops, just kidding, Mr. Editor!

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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