Firmware Hell & Nicknames Are Useful

One of my rules about blogging is not to blog when your emotional. Emotions cloud your judgment, and bypass perspective. Thus, blog posts become rants of nothing more than entertainment value to the occasional reader that has the inclination to read such things. My other rule, though, is if your still emotional about a topic after 10 minutes, and you’ve given it another few hours just in case it’s a simmer’er (something that actually builds, like plate tectonics pressure), you can wait for it to blow so you can later reflect. Reflection, even if written in discovery manner (like an audio learner when they ask you a question and answer it themselves and your left wondering why they asked you the question in the first place). Others seeing your discovery can potentially help them as well, or give perspective at least.

I’m still reflecting. It’s pretty weird, if you… well, actually me, take a step back, and recognize that the drama in my life is not recovering from a Tsunami, not worrying if my son or daughter is ok over there in Iraq, but dealing with a router firmware update. Pathetic, or point of reference? Those who belittle teenagers, saying that their hormone catalyzed emotions merely exemplify their self-importance on one of the most non-important part of their lives doing just that… belittling someone, being ignorant of their situation, and claiming to think that the reaction is not important.

Again, I quote what I read from an educated Sociologist in college, “Although people may react to situations that are not real, their reactions certainly are.”

Granted, in all fairness, those reactions in context of greater happenings, both recent and abroad may shave off or add weight the impact such happenings have on another’s digestion of the situation.

Why do I feel like I’m trying to justify my lamenting about my day because of my router upgrade debacle? Journalists don’t ask permission from their readers, do they? Well, anyway, I hope you came away with, “Jesse’s sorry he’s complaining about his router, but he feels he’s justified in it, and there may be some inkling of use in the description, so he feel’s it’s his duty to explain. He recognizes although his name is on his blog, it truly belongs to the readers.”

Without further ado…

Computer Scientists I’m sure are taught the nomenclature of the differences between a “patch” and an “upgrade”. I updated my firmware on my router, whichever one that is. I considered it an upgrade because it’s still a 1.x version, and all that’s changed is the minor version #. Talking to Spike about setting up my server so I can have Flex apps run on it, and the internet can actually hit my box behind my router; he was walking me through it.

Something in his email, the part about “is your firmware the latest”… it didn’t say to do anything. But, I felt it implied something. You can’t make someone do something, but I certainly felt compelled to go upgrade my router. I mean, hell, that’s the crux on which all of my work, professional and fun, runs. That might be important to keep in tip, top shape and secure, eh?

So, after I use their simple upgrade utility, all it saves is my username and password; all my connection data (Hi BellSouth, I’m really a computer, not a network… seriously), all my port forward settings, firewall switches… gone. The web interface is completely replaced by this insanely less intuitive interface (don’t give me that who moved my cheese bs, I do interface design for a living sucka!) with many options previously there removed and/or named something different, and I’m getting weird redraw issues in Firefox.

Ugh. I’m going to be ignorant, and stereotype Linksys, and say that a big company was behind this change. Some Director somewhere wanted to have a “Cisco” branding refresh done on some of their products, and naturally the only way to force branding on IT administrators is to change their router interface (those that don’t work via command line or other remote utilities). If it’s anything like her majesty’s company (my own interpretation here, no one’s words specifically quoted), everyone’s a designer, and business cases are merely “I’ve read stuff for 30 hours this week therefore I’m justified when I throw bs at you, therefore justifying this project. If anyone challenges you, and you pull rank, and that doesn’t work, I’ll throw a stack of business analyst documents at their Outlook as a feint”.

Negative? You tell me; I upgrade my firmware in the innocent, dare I say naive (remember, he who dares, wins), mind that I’m making my router better and more secure by having the most up to date software on it. Now, my internet, email, instant messaging, SSH, and Subversion doesn’t work.

I swear, as soon as I get this damn BA degree done, screw my masters, I’m going back instead for a minor in Networking. I can’t imagine what IT administrators go through when they handle this stuff. I can clearly remember my feelings every time an admin screwed up wherever I worked, big company or small: complete, and utter frustration at the individual who f’d with my connectivity.

My first law at being hired at any company is make immediate, and good friends with the admins. Not only do they give you straight, un-emotional answers to your questions when you ask in crisis like the above, but also more accurate estimated times of when things will be fixed, why they broke (in tech talk), and what they are doing to fix it. That still gives you the right to judge them as an idiot, but at least your talking to a friend, and not a “co-worker”. Your friend is an idiot? No no, you missed the point; they “leveled” with you. You don’t always get that with employees, but if you make an honest effort to get to know, take to lunch, and sincerely care about how someone’s weekend was in regards to IT, your life is soooo much better.

In this case, I can see how easy it is to screw up a network. Considering I work at home, this is a big deal to me. I’m suddenly disconnected from the world, an isolated, and not as productive individual. I feel a lot better now if I were to ever start my own company and forking over serious bling to my IT admins. They know when it’s best to “leave it the hell alone” and “I’m here all weekend making sure this gets working”. I truly admire that. And I KNOW they know that the same people they typically help are sometimes apt to take situations out of context, and take the lack of network access out personally on the IT admin, which is completely unfair… but the situations I’ve seen occur, most take it in stride.

“Cool, so, Jesse, your a fu#($*)(W ing idiot, my shiot doesn’t work, why in the hell did you upgrade your firmware when your router has worked fine with the same firmware for the past year?”

“I made a bad decision.”

“Damn right you did… but the important thing here is did you learn from it?”

“Absolutely. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Seriously… leave it the heck alone!”

“Good, always learn from your mistakes.”

So yeah, got internet, instant messaging, and email back up… the latter 2 by merely “waiting 5 minutes”, the first by release/renew, repeat x 100. SSH appears to have never been broken… but my SVN is f000|X3d beyond repair.

I reinstalled Tortoise SVN, and before I left for school, uninstalled and reinstalled Cygwin & friends. I guess tomorrow morning I’ll attempt once again to cache my SSH and hit my work’s Subversion repository.

:: reads above ::

Geez! It’s good thing I get paid for this. All I wanted to tell you was I upgraded the firmware on my router, and although it broke everything, I managed to get everything up again except for Subversion. I obviously know what concise is since I just consolidated an entire blog post of tons of paragraphs into 1 sentence. All about the application, baby.

Speaking of getting frustrated, I was reading a post JD linked too about AJAX and a few of the people who are frustrated with the naming of things already in existence, and leading to obscuring true definitions, etc. To their (AJAX word users’) credit, I’m all about contractions, any pragmatic developer is; they are more efficient at communicating; speaking in the Active Voice can only do so much. HTML + JavaScript + CSS vs. DTHML for example; what looks better on a book? What’s quicker to say to a friend? Does your friend know what HTML, JavaScript and CSS are? Do you? Do you both know DHTML is an acronym for it? Cool, save time, prevent errors, and use it! Communication is inherently a flawed process; using contractions and acronyms makes it easier and less prone to errors… except when I talk to that government worker (head of EMS/paramedics here in northern Georgia). He uses acronyms like their candy; every other sentence has some 3 letter organization he assumes I know who the heck they are merely by some adjective next to them in his sentence to provide context…

Anyway yeah, AJAX; you know what I’m talking about, right? 4 letters vs. HTTP+XML+HTML+XMLHttpRequest+JavaScript+CSS. The author in the article quoted some other dude, saying:

If the real name is too long (the name Ajax was apparently coined because “HTTP+XML+HTML+XMLHttpRequest+JavaScript+CSS” was too long) then just mention the important bits. For example, instead of REST, just “HTTP”; instead of DHTML just “HTML and script”, and instead of Ajax, “XML and script”.

The important bits? They are all equally important! If the team of technologies used together is common enough to place under a single phrase, acronym, or new name then by all means, use it to convey meaning of many different things through 1, single, portable term.

So yeah, this backend developer… Oh, oh.. I’m sorry, this .NET developer… well, wait, he’ll get pissed if I don’t mention he’s got some mean SQL Server statement skills up his sleeve. So yeah, this backend developer who does .NET and is good at SQL Server said he liked watching the A-Team.

…omg, like, knowing he was good at .NET and SQL really helped add context to that conversation. If I had said backend developer, couldn’t you have implied enough about said homeskillet’s background, and thus garnered, “Hrm… and server guy digs the A-team.” And you know, you have a mouth, you can ask a question for more details you know. “Does he do .NET? I always thought .NET guys didn’t dig the A-Team…?”

Wow, geez, you know what, you could of prevented and headed that question off at the pass SIMPLY if you had not used an acronym like “backend” vs. “.NET blah blah blah SQL blah blah”. …Hixie’s right, screw placeholders; they only work in programming anyway, and by God, those of us in the English speaking world, especially Americans, need to play literary Janitors. We need to ensure the maintenance of our language; it’s already foobarred fubared (darn, forgot the dual consonant after the vowel in past tense words) fubarred enough without people creating nicknames for things to consolidate terms for easier communication and understanding from the masses in an already information overloaded society.

Damn oxymoron’s… they just leak the sarcasm right out, don’t they, thus destroying the integrity they were supposed give the facade of, and thus have more impact. Whatever, if you made it this far, I’m sure you got the point.

Anyway, yeah, firmware upgrades suck and acronyms rock; don’t fix something that’s not broken, and don’t blame a society’s awakening & acceptance of new technology methodologies by using short nicknames for your insecurity of your slow-adopting technology.

5 Replies to “Firmware Hell & Nicknames Are Useful”

  1. Feel better now that you got all that off your mind?

    I hope so. I had a similar experience with my firewall. Had to pay for the privilege too! MY SW update license had expired. Paid money, and got the update. Why? Cause I got an e-mail that said there is a serious vulnerability in the firmware which allowed tunneling (or some such nonsense).

    Now I have studies networking, firewalling, etc

  2. yeah that article about not calling it AJAX was kinda silly to me, who cares. While i agree everything doesn’t need a brand, you can’t stop people from coming up with easier ways to say things. YES I said easier.

  3. It’s so great seeing you completely melt down online.

    You forgot to mention the part about your manager calling you up to say ‘Why the hell aren’t you working?!?’


  4. I enjoyed reading that. I hate the way that things are tied up too tightly by jargon and acronyms. Particularly in describing skills, job advertisements, etc.

    People often say that computing is moving so rapidly, that it is a struggle to keep up. I disagree. Clever marketeering creates the illusion of progress. Actual advances in computing are rare. Hardware gets faster – Software gets slower to compensate :)

    Programming is programming. Just adapt to new syntax and learn some new classes. Coding is only a fragment of the process anyway.

    …I like your picture of the three sisters.

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