I have been experiencing more wireless weirdness recently. What once was stable and reliable has become increasingly sporadic, unreliable and damned irritating for no obvious reason.

I am not a networking sort of guy. I am not particularly interested in wireless networking. I use WEP in an effort to secure my network and stop my neighbours piggy backing off it but that’s about it.

I am ashamed to admit that, on one occasion, when my wireless network was broken, I briefly piggy backed on an unsecured network just to temporarily solve the problem.

I am even more ashamed to admit that, on another occasion, I simply unplugged the USB wireless adapter and just plugged it into an alternative USB port. Coincidentally, this just happened to work and I thought I had somehow miraculously addressed the problem (but deep down inside, I knew I hadn’t).

Anyway, my kids have been moaning about this intermittent access to the internet for a while (can’t play World of Warcraft, can’t access email, can’t use MSN, can’t do homework etc etc) but today there was an important new development with very severe and wide reaching implications.

I was affected. I was trying to work from home and couldn’t because my VPN connection kept dropping as I got kicked off the network.

Time for action. Could this action be completed in five minutes ? Probably not but let’s have a go anyway.

I connected my laptop in directly to the Blueyonder cable modem with an Ethernet cable and the internet connection is fine. No need to waste anyone’s time by calling Telewest technical support.

Then I connected the laptop directly in to a wired port on the Linksys wireless router and, again, the connection is rock solid.

So I head over to www.linksys.com and register for an account as a precursor to searching the FAQ and support forums. Then I register the wireless router so I can check the latest available firmware version for this model - WRT54G (V2.0).

The latest firmware version is 4.20.7 (dated 25 August 2005). I check the current firmware version and am surprised to discover that I am running version 2.02.7 which dates from the 2004 Jurassic period.

Ooh - how exciting. A difference of two in the ‘major’ version number for the firmware. Why this is akin to upgrading from Oracle 8i (RULE) to Oracle 10g (ALL_ROWS) ! I immediately download the software and briefly pause for a moment to read the dire warnings on the Admin screens about ‘Only upgrade the router firmware if you are experiencing problems’.

I fleetingly worry that this is an American company and I stupidly reside in England so the firmware may be incompatible and could break absolutely everything. Then I take a sharp intake of breath and I press the inviting ‘Upgrade the firmware now’ button.

The firmware upgrade is successful ! There are some new menu options visible on the Administration screens. The firmware version is now listed as version 4.20.7.

I reconfigure to Channel 7 as Channel 11 is so ’last year’ and also limit connections to 802.11G only.

Everyone is reconnected, connectivity is much improved and very stable with no drop outs thus far. Service to the InterWeb is restored !