Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.
Optus and Netgear provide a crap user experience
December 21st, 2008

Popped over to a friend’s place today to help him to connect his ASUS laptop to his Netgear Wireless Router.

I brought my Mac with me. It took my MacBook Pro a few seconds to connect once I entered the password for the WAP wireless network. I was surfing the net immediately.

Now, how about the ASUS PC running Windows XP? Three hours later I am not so sure. The NetGear Wireless router that was supplied by Optus is connected to my friend’s desktop machine. There was also a USB device for laptops, etc that would allow others to tap into the wireless network. We unpacked it and the installation CD-ROM that came with the device.

My friend and I ran the installation disc, plugged in the USB device, and it was recognised. During installation an alert appeared stating that a file named RtlGina2.dll was being installed and should we allow it? It was flagged as a virus by Windows. We denied installation of the file. As a result the installation failed.

Next time around we allowed installation of the RtlGina2.dll file. I felt it was risky. After all, viruses have piggy-backed on poorly mastered install discs before.

Now, the NetGear app was installed and it launched yet it would not consistentlty lock on to the wireless network. It was flaky. Very flaky. We worked on this for a while.

I changed the channel on the router and back at the NetGear app on the laptop and also conducted a ‘repair’ of the network on the laptop and it seemed to work fine. I had to access the routers control panel to change the channel. Not for the faint hearted. None of the materials provided by Optus or Netgear advised how to do it. I just happened to know the default url and access code for Netgear modems.

We rebooted the laptop to see if it would connect to the network without assistance. Well, guess what happened?

The Welcome screen had disappeared and we were left with the domain-style login box. All of the User account login choices for my friend’s family members had disappeared! When we tried to enable them again in Control Panel/User Accounts, we received an error alert informing us that another program, namely our little friend RtlGina2.dll, was preventing any enabling of the User logins! Can you believe it! I was dumbfounded, frustrated and angry!

The alert advised to launch the app that was using the RtlGina2.dll and disable it. Which app? Obviously it was the NetGear app as we had just installed it. But there was no way to diasble the RtlGina2.dll file at that level. What a load of crap, eh!? Plain, unmitigated crap!

Did some research on the Internet using my Mac which was still happily connected to the Internet and there were thousands of entries describing this problem. Various solutions are provided. I took my friend’s laptop home so I could work on the fix there. There were various solutions provided online: Fix #1 | Fix #2 | Fix #3 | Fix #4 | and so on….

I will have to take my friend’s laptop back to his place to see if it will connect to his wireless network now that the registries on the laptop have been altered.

The main point is this. Both Optus and Netgear should be ashamed.

The installation process should be seamless and worry free. Not so. What were some of the problems we encountered?

1. Getting the laptop to connect consistently to the wireless network was challenging and time consuming. My Mac had no problem at all.
2. Dealing with that RtlGina2.dll file during installation of the Netgear software. Allow or disallow?
3. Discovering that the Netgear had installation had removed the welcome screen and the user log-ins was a surprise.
4. Discovering that one had to switch off or disable the RtlGina2.dll file in order to reset the Welcome screen and user logins was a surprise.
5. Discovering that it could not be done via the Netgear software was a surprise.
6. Needed to surf the web to find a solution. What if you did not have an alternative Internet connection at home?

7. Having to alter registries on the PC! Registries! Can you believe it!!!!!

Shame Optus! Shame Netgear! What if I was an inexpereinced computer user? What if I was elderly?

This type of poor user experience is simple inexcusable.  Optus, it is pathetic. Netgear, it is pathetic. Get your act together. After reading the forums you will see it happens with a variety of Netgear wireless products. How can Optus and Netgear allow this to happen? Of course, Windows XP does not help much either.

How many inexperienced users, including the elderly and those on low incomes, have paid hundreds of dollars to have this problem fixed?

One Response to “Optus and Netgear provide a crap user experience”

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